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Monday, June 5, 2017

045 - Music and Victory Odes

In this episode, we discuss the various types of ancient Greek musical instruments during the Classical Period and how and for what purpose they were used; and the lives and works of the three great 5th century BC lyric poets who pioneered the genre of the epinikion (victory ode)—Simonides of Ceos (556-468 BC), Bacchylides of Ceos (ca. 525-ca. 450 BC), and Pindar of Thebes (522-443 BC), as well as their connections with the lesser known poets Corrina of Tanagra, Lasos of Hermione, and Timocreon of Rhodes

526 BC - Simonides was drawn to Athens and the court of the tyrant Hipparchus
514 BC - Upon the assassination of Hipparchus, Simonides traveled north to Thessaly, where he received patronage from the Scopadae and Aleuadae, the two most powerful aristocratic clans (while there he developed his "memory palace")
498 BC - Pindar received first commission by a ruling family in Thessaly to compose his first victory ode (labeled Pythian Ode 10)
490s BC - Bacchylides (the nephew of Simonides) received his first commissions from Athens for the great Delian festival (known as Ode 17) and from Macedonia for a song to be sung at a symposium for the young prince, Alexander I
490 BC - Simonides composed an epitaph honoring the Athenian war-dead at Marathon
490 BC - At the Pythian Games, Pindar met Thrasybulus, nephew of Theron of Akragas and formed a lasting friendship, paving the way for his subsequent visit to Sicily
480s BC - Pindar and Bacchylides compete to write victory odes for the Aeginetans
480 BC - Simonides composed an epitaph honoring the Spartan war-dead at Thermopylae
470s BC - Simonides, Bacchylides, and Pindar traveled west to Sicily where they received patronage at the courts of the tyrants, Hieron of Syracuse and Theron of Akragas
476 BC - The rivalry of Bacchylides and Pindar reaches high point when Pindar composed a poem for Hiero’s first victory in the chariot race at the Olympic Games (known as Olympian Ode 1), and Bacchylides composed an ode too for Hieron (his Ode 5) free of charge in the hope of attracting future commissions
470 BC - Bacchylides received the commission to celebrate Hieron's triumph at the Pythian Games (which would be his Ode 4), and taking a page out of his rival’s playbook, Pindar too composed an ode free of charge for Hieron’s victory (his Pythian Ode 1)
468 BC - Simonides died while at the court of Theron of Akragas
468 BC - Bacchylides was commissioned to celebrate Hieron’s second and most prestigious victory in the chariot race at the Olympic Games (his Ode 3)
465-440 BC - Arkesilaos IV served as a client king of Cyrene under Persian authority, was the eighth and last king of the Battiad dynasty 
464 BC - Diagoras of Rhodes wins boxing contest at Olympics (Pindar's Olympian Ode 7)
462 BC - Pindar composed two odes in honor of Arkesilaos IV's chariot race victory at the Pythian Games (his Pythian Odes 4 and 5)
447 BC - Athens was defeated by Thebes at the Battle of Coronea (possible influence for Pythian Ode 8 where he describes the downfall of the giants Porphyrion and Typhon)
440 BC - Pindar died while attending the Nemean festival in Argos

Primary Sources:
Text/Simonides' Epigrams
Text/Bacchylides' Dithyrambs
Text/Bacchylides' Epinicians
Text/Pindar's Olympian Odes
Text/Pindar's Pythian Odes
Text/Pindar's Nemean Odes
Text/Pindar's Isthmian Odes
Text/Pindar's Fragments

Supplementary Resources (Videos, Photos, Other Podcasts)

Video/Music and Creativity in Ancient Greece (TED-Ed)


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