Time in the foundation myths of Pindar’s Olympian 10 and Pythian 4.

 

Time in its various forms and its various ramifications plays a prominent role in Pindar’s poetry, especially his epinicians. My paper will focus on two victory odes, Olympian 10 and Pythian 4, the mythical narrative of which dwells on the foundation of a new institution and a new location respectively; Olympian 10 narrates the establishment of the Olympic Games by Heracles, while Pythian 4 provides an extensive and elaborate account of the foundation of Cyrene by Battus. One of the things that link these two foundation myths is the great emphasis that Pindar lays upon the notion of time. In Olympian 10 on the one hand time (chronos) is personified, depicted as a reverent figure, and allotted a central place in Olympia’s transformation from space to place. In Pythian 4 on the other the narrative of Cyrene’s foundation stands out in the Pindaric corpus as one of the most precise in terms of chronology, a noteworthy and striking feature considering Pindar’s typical indifference to chronology in his mythical accounts.