A Hodgepodge of Myths for a Song

Suda, K 2087

“Korinna was the daughter of Akheloodoros and Prokatia. She was from Thebes or Tanagra. She was a student of Myrtis and was nicknamed “Fly”. She was a lyric poet who is said to have defeated Pindar five times. She wrote five books along with epigrams and lyric nomes.”

Κόριννα, Ἀχελῳοδώρου καὶ Προκατίας, Θηβαία ἢ Ταναγραία, μαθήτρια Μύρτιδος· ἐπωνόμαστο δὲ Μυῖα· λυρική. ἐνίκησε δὲ πεντάκις ὡς λόγος Πίνδαρον. ἔγραψε βιβλία ε΄ καὶ ἐπιγράμματα καὶ νόμους λυρικούς.

Plutarch, On the Glory of Athens 4. 347f–348a 

“When Pindar was young and still flashing his wit all around, Korinna warned him that he was uninspired because he didn’t compose with myth, which was the proper focus of poetry, but instead relied on strange diction, metaphors, songs and rhythms, and all kinds of decorations for his work. Pindar took her seriously and composed his famous song:

“Shall we sing of Ismenos or gold-staffed Melia
Or Kadmos, or the sacred race of the Sown-Men
Or Dark-cowled Thebe
Or the super-bold strength of Herakles
Or the many-pained honor of Dionysus.”

When he showed the song to Korinna, she laughed and said that he needed to sow with one hand not the whole bag! In truth, Pindar had mixed up and bundled together a hodgepodge of myths and poured it into a song.”

ἡ δὲ Κόριννα τὸν Πίνδαρον, ὄντα νέον ἔτι καὶ τῇ λογιότητι σοβαρῶς χρώμενον, ἐνουθέτησεν ὡς ἄμουσον ὄντα μὴ ποιοῦντα μύθου ὃ τῆς ποιητικῆς ἔργον εἶναι συμβέβηκε, γλώσσας δὲ καὶ καταχρήσεις καὶ μεταφορὰς καὶ μέλη καὶ ῥυθμοὺς ἡδύσματα τοῖς πράγμασιν ὑποτιθέντα. σφόδρ᾿ οὖν ὁ Πίνδαρος ἐπιστήσας τοῖς λεγομένοις ἐποίησεν ἐκεῖνο τὸ μέλος (fr. 29 Snell)·
Ἰσμηνὸν ἢ χρυσαλάκατον Μελίαν
ἢ Κάδμον ἢ Σπαρτῶν ἱερὸν γένος ἀνδρῶν
<ἢ τὰν κυανάμπυκα Θήβαν>
ἢ τὸ πάντολμον σθένος Ἡρακλέος
ἢ τὰν <Διωνύσου πολυγαθέα τιμὰν> . . .
δειξαμένου δὲ τῇ Κορίννῃ γελάσασα ἐκείνη τῇ χειρὶ δεῖν ἔφη σπείρειν ἀλλὰ μὴ ὅλῳ τῷ θυλάκῳ. τῷ γὰρ ὄντι συγκεράσας καὶ συμφορήσας πανσπερμίαν τινὰ μύθων ὁ Πίνδαρος εἰς τὸ μέλος ἐξέχεεν.

Aelian, Varia Historia 13.25

“When Pindar was competing in Thebes he encountered unlearned audiences and was defeated by Korinna five times. When he was trying to refute his own lack of poetic ability [amousia], he used to call Korinna a pig.”

Πίνδαρος ὁ ποιητὴς ἀγωνιζόμενος ἐν Θήβαις ἀμαθέσι περιπεσὼν ἀκροαταῖς ἡττήθη Κορίννης πεντάκις. ἐλέγχων δὲ τὴν ἀμουσίαν αὐτῶν ὁ Πίνδαρος σῦν ἐκάλει τὴν Κόρινναν.

in the middle is a ‘Twist and Twirl’ coleus, surrounded by six ‘Figaro Yellow Shades’ dahlias. On the edges are two ‘Silver Sand’ silver bushes, two ‘Nicoletta’ plectranthus and two ‘Silver Falls’ dichondra.

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