Pindar (c. 520- 445 BCE) was a Greek poet born just outside of Thebes.
He was recognized in his lifetime as the author of many Odes, but only four books survive today. These describe and honor the champions of the Olympian, Pythian, Nemean and Isthmian games.
Pindar was the first Greek poet to reflect on the nature of poetry and on the poet’s role. Like other poets of the Archaic Age, he has a profound sense of the vicissitudes of life, but he also articulates a passionate faith in what men can achieve by the grace of the gods, most famously expressed in the conclusion to one of his Victory Odes:
Creatures for a day! What is a man?
What is he not? A dream of a shadow
Is our mortal being. But when there comes to men
A gleam of splendour given of heaven,
Then rests on them a light of glory
And blessed are their days.¹