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Whose Line is it Anyway? Rhetoric Aimed at Short-term Benefits in Some of Pindar’s Epinician Odes Composed for Sicilian laudandi (Pi. O. 4, 5, 6 and 12, P. 12, N. 1 and 9)

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An epinician ode is a vehicle that can guarantee the κλος of laudandus, and this could be called a long-term benefit for the laudandus. However, there are more immediate pay-offs: an epinician ode can also justify political privileges or affirm status among fellow privileged. It is well-known, for example, that the tyrant Hieron of Syracuse used epinician odes to prop up his Pan-Hellenic status. This article suggests that an epinician ode is, to a great extent, a creation of the patron in the sense that its blueprint and outline originates with the patron, not with the poet. It then looks at seven odes composed for Sicilian laudandi other than tyrants or their relatives. First, it examines political propaganda and short-term benefits in these odes and concludes that, more often than not, the odes assisted in neutralising ill feelings fellow citizens (as well as overlords) might have harboured against the laudandi. Secondly, it suggests that the persons who commissioned these particular odes may already have been problematic before they entered Pan-Hellenic competition, rather than because they had become Pan-Hellenic victors. Therefore the concept of the ‘homecoming of the victor’ should be handled with care.

Affiliations: 1: Hemonystraat 36-E, 1074 BR Amsterdam Netherlands


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