Ta tou Pindarou Sesosmena
Pindar was a Greek lyric poetry born around 518BCE in Cynoscephalae, Boeotia.  He already had panhellenic (across Greece) recognition by the age of 20 when he was commissioned by the rulers of Thessaly, which was followed by many commissions by ruling and aristocratic families which required him to travel all over Greece. His ancient reputation is clearly established through the praise of Herodotus and attribution “by many in antiquity as the greatest of the nine poets of the lyric canon.”
Pindar’s only four works which survive intact—and are contained in this Glasgow edition in the original ancient Greek (Ta tou Pindarou Sesomena: Olympia, Pythia, Nemia, Isthmia)—are the celebratory choral victory songs composed for the four great panhellenic athletic festivals: the Olympic Games (in Olympia), the Pythian Games (in Delphi – so named for the mythical Python killed by Apollo prior to establishing his oracle and games there), the Nemean Games (in Nemea), and the Isthmian Games (in Corinth – so named for the fact that Corinth is an isthmus). Athletic competitions were very important to the ancient Greeks, as they provided a measuring ground for the “highest human qualities” of physical fitness and prowess. Pindar’s victory songs, like other poets’, were sung either right after the victory while still at the Games or when the victor went back to his native city. The victory songs consist of a usually elaborate announcement of victory though rarely were details of the victory provided beyond the location and specific victorious event. The victor’s association with any previous victors in his family or his patron is listed, then the song takes a somber turn by delving into moralizing themes reminding the victor of his mortality and the necessity of divine aid. For this moral component, Pindar often chose myths from the victor’s city and describes specific scenes (assuming that the audience has a familiarity with the myth) which highlight his moral message and illuminate particular traits of the victor or his situation.
This work was published by two well-known and regarded Scottish publishers. Robert and Andrew Foulis (ne Faulls) were brothers who opened their own publishing company and printing press in 18th century Glasgow. [David Murray, Robert & Andrew Foulis and the Glasgow Press with some account of The Glasgow Academy of the Fine Arts (Glasgow: James Maclehose and Sons, Publishers to the University), 8.] Robert was a barber before enrolling in University of Glasgow courses, while Andrew “received a more regular education…[as] a student of Humanity” who taught Greek, Latin and French for a time after he graduated. The brothers began as booksellers and then transitioned to publishing and printing books, with Robert initiating each endeavor before later being joined by Andrew. In 1740-42, Robert had other printers print what he chose to publish, but began printing his own books in 1742 which continued until his and his brother’s deaths in 1775 and 1776, respectively, when Andrew’s son Andrew took over The Foulis Press. The Foulis Press primarily produced text books and other “works of learning…and of general literature,” as it was the printer to the University of Glasgow. The press is unique for the plethora of variant issues and editions of published books on special paper, in special font, or even on copper plates.
|Ta tou Pindarou Sesosmena|
Title page from Ta tou Pindarou Sesosmena, volume one, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.
|Published||Glasguae: Excudebat R. & A. Foulis|
|Edition||Ex editione Oxoniensi|
|Volumes||4 volumes in 3 volume set|
|Desc.||80 mm. General t.p. in 1st vol. only; each volume has individual t.p. Signatures: v. 1. A-K⁸; v. 2. A-M⁸ (G1 not signed, M6-M8 blank, present); v. 3. A-H⁸; v. 4. A-E⁸.
Individual t.p. to v. 1 printed as leaf K8 (v. 1.), and is bound in signature K in library copy.
Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library
Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as Pindar. 3.v. p.f. Foul. Gr. and given by Thomas Jefferson to his grandson Thomas Jefferson Randolph. The Foulis Press published a four-volume, Greek, trigesimo-segundo (32mo) edition of Pindar between 1754 and 1758. It is the only Greek edition they published. Both George Wythe's Library on LibraryThing and the Brown Bibliography include this edition and note a copy of volume two at the University of Virginia with the inscription "T. J. Randolph" inside the front board which may be Wythe's actual copy (there are no Wythe markings). The Wolf Law Library purchased the 1746 edition.
Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy
Bound in mottled crimson calf with covers framed in gilt beaded roll. Spines with gilt-stamped title and compartment decorations and board edges with gilt roll. Each front fly-leaf with early inked inscription of Henry Moore, Worcester College, Oxford. Front pastedowns have bookplate of H.M. Purchased from SessaBks.
View this book in William & Mary's online catalog.
- " Pindar " in Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World, ed. by John Roberts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).
- Ibid 3.
- Ibid 6-10.
- Philip Gaskell, The Foulis Press (Hampshire, England: St. Paul’s Bibliographies), 15-17.
- Ibid 17-18.
- Ibid 18-19.
- Philip Gaskell, A Bibliography of the Foulis Press, 2nd ed. (Winchester, Hampshire, England: St Paul's Bibliographies, 1986), 190.
- LibraryThing, s. v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on November 14, 2013, http://www.librarything.com/profile/GeorgeWythe
- Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at: https://digitalarchive.wm.edu/handle/10288/13433