a1 University of Toronto
Hieron of Syracuse was the most powerful Greek of his day. He was also, and the two facts are not unrelated, the most frequent of Pindar's patrons. A singular feature of the four poems for this Sicilian prince is their obsession with sin and punishment: Tantalus in the First Olympian, Typhoeus, Ixion, and Coronis in the first three Pythians – all offend divinity and suffer terribly. But even in this company, where glory comes trailing clouds of pain, the Third Pythian stands out. The other three odes are manifestly epinician and celebrate success, both athletic and military. The Second Pythian, for instance, is a sombre canvas, and a motif of ingratitude dominates the myth. Yet it rings at the outset with praise of Syracuse and of Hieron's victory. The Third Pythian, by comparison, is not obviously a victory ode.