Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2003.08.23

Douglas E. Gerber, A Commentary on Pindar, Olympian Nine. Hermes Einzelschriften, 87.   Stuttgart:  Franz Steiner Verlag, 2002.  Pp. 94.  ISBN 3-515-09092-9.  EUR 34.00.  

Reviewed by Shirley Darcus Sullivan, University of British Columbia (
Word count: 383 words

Once again, as in his commentaries on other odes of Pindar, Gerber shows his knowledge and expertise in commenting on the text of Olympian Nine of Pindar. This major ode of Pindar has not received a detailed commentary before and this book is a welcome addition to Pindaric scholarship. The book presents an analysis of the meter of the ode. It then offers the Greek text of the ode, following that of Maehler's Teubner edition. What follows thereafter is a detailed commentary on the ode itself. In his commentary Gerber discusses variant readings. He also presents valuable parallels within Pindar's own works and in other Greek poets. He offers information that expands specific references. For example, at lines 15-16 where Themis is mentioned, Gerber gives other references to Themis in the poems of Pindar and then adds valuable bibliography on Themis in other contexts.

Elsewhere Gerber places aspects of this ode in the wider context of Pindar's works as a whole. His note on light and dark at line 22 offers important insights into Pindar's use of imagery in general. Gerber offers very full presentation and analysis of scholarly discussions of different passages in Olympian Nine. This is especially true of the difficult lines, 29-35 and 48-49. The commentary abounds with the usual bibliographical information on issues mentioned in different lines, especially on those related to political issues and myth.

Gerber offers an up-to-date and comprehensive bibliography on this ode. He provides useful indices of words, passages, and general subject. In a special appendix he analyzes victory catalogues in Pindar, Bacchylides and the agonistic epigrams.

One would like to find a translation of the ode in this book, even if borrowed directly that given by William Race in the Loeb Classical Library. Gerber speaks with praise of the analysis given of the ode by Andrew M. Miller, namely "Inventa Componere: Rhetorical Process and Poetic Composition in Pindar's Ninth Olympian Ode," TAPhA 1993) 109-147. This is an excellent article on Olympian Nine, but it would have been very interesting to have Gerber's own analysis, drawing on the rich range of detail that he presents in the commentary.

All in all this is an excellent work of scholarship and those studying Pindar will learn much, both about this ode and about Pindar's poetry in general.

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