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Ancient Tyranny$
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Sian Lewis

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780748621255

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748621255.001.0001

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Pindar and kingship theory

Pindar and kingship theory

(p.150) (p.151) Chapter 10 Pindar and kingship theory
Ancient Tyranny

Simon Hornblower

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter explores Pindar's construction of the good and bad ruler, and his ideas about the nature of kingship and the king's relation with the people. These ideas, worked out in practice at the court of Hieron I, find echoes among the fourth-century orators and especially in the works of Plato. Pindar had one thing in common with Plato: first-hand knowledge of Sicilian tyranny. Where the upstart Sicilian tyrants are concerned, Pindar naturally stresses inherited excellence less on the whole. The chapter asks how, if at all, Pindar influenced kingship theory in the fourth century BC and the post-classical period. Pindar is an oblique author who uses metaphor richly, sometimes packing several metaphors into a single short sentence. Medicine is a favourite topic with Pindar generally, not just as a vehicle for ruler-advice. There are many relevant passages: Pythian 3 is the most obviously ‘medical ode’ in Pindar. Both Pindar and Thucydides, or at least a Thucydidean speaker, treat politics as a kind of medicine: ruler as doctor.

Keywords:   Pindar, kingship, Plato, tyranny, tyrants, kingship theory, metaphors, Pythian 3, Thucydides, politics

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