In Pindar’s Verbal Art, James Bradley Wells argues that the victory song is a traditional art form that appealed to a popular audience and served exclusive elite interests through the inclusive appeal of entertainment, popular instruction, and laughter. This is the first study of Pindar’s language that applies performance as a method for the ethnographic description and interpretation of entextualized records of verbal art. In Mikhail Bakhtin’s terms, Pindar’s Verbal Art is a sociological stylistics of epinician language and demonstrates that Pindar’s is a highly dialogical form of art, an intertextual web of voices, whose study enables us to appreciate popular dimensions of his songs. Wells offers a new take on recurrent Pindaric questions: genre, the unity of the victory song, tradition, and, principally, epinician performance.
James Bradley Wells is Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics at Hamilton College.