Odes are typically composed of three part sections – strophe, antistrpohe, and epode.


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Ceremonious lyric poem on an occasion of dignity in which personal emotion and universal themes are united. The form is usually marked by exalted feeling and style, varying line length, and complex stanza forms. The term ode derives from a Greek word alluding to a choric song, usually accompanied by a dance. Forms of odes include the Pindaric ode, written to celebrate public events such as the Olympic games, and the form associated with Horace, whose intimate, reflective odes have two- or four-line stanzas and polished metres. Both were revived during the Renaissance and influenced Western lyric poetry into the 20th century. The ode (qasidah) also flourished in pre-Islamic Arabic poetry.

The terms “strophe”, “antistrophe”, and “epode”, used in Svarlien’s translations of Pindar, are fairly technical. (In fact, you do not really need to understand them for this course.) Some of you, however, have expressed an interest in the terms, and it may therefore be legitimate to present a brief discussion of them  especially since some use of a pattern of strophes and corresponding antistrophes was made in the choral sections of all Greek plays. (In the translations in H & P, however, only the Cook and Fitts & Fitzgerald translations of Sophocles utilize this terminology.) On the other hand, the term “epode” is more limited, occurring principally just in the odes of Pindar and comparable epinician poets.

“Strophe” and “antistrophe” are ways of referring to the metrical or rhythmical pattern of a text which was originally sung. Basically, the antistrophe picks up the pattern of the strophe, more or less as the melody and rhythm of the first “verse” of a modern song is picked up in the second “verse”, and then in the third “verse”, etc. In fact, one could print the words of the antistrophe in Pindar, Olympian 1 directly underneath the words of the corresponding part of the strophe, as follows. (Variation in word order between Greek and English, though, renders this a bit artificial):

str. Water is best, and
ant. who wields the scepter

str. gold, like a blazing fire
ant. of law in Sicily

str. in the night, stands out
ant. of many flocks, reaping

str. supreme of all lordly wealth.
ant. every excellence at its peak,

str. But if, my heart, you wish
ant. and is glorified

str. to sing of contests,
ant. by the choicest music,

str. look no further for any star
ant. which we men often play

str. warmer than the sun,
ant. around his hospitable

str. shining by day
ant. table. Come, take the Dorian

str. through the lonely sky,
ant. lyre down from its peg,

str. and let us not proclaim any contest
ant. if the splendor of Pisa

str. greater than Olympia. From there
ant. and of Pherenicus

str. glorious song enfolds
ant. placed your mind under

str. the wisdom of poets,
ant. the influence of sweetest thoughts,

str. so that they loudly sing the son
ant. when that horse ran swiftly beside the Alpheus,

str. of Cronus, when they arrive
ant. not needing to be spurred on in the race,

str. at the rich and blessed hearth of Hieron,
ant. and brought victory to his master,

As already stated, the significance of “strophe” and “antistrophe” was, as in a modern song, mainly a matter of musical accompaniment. Unfortunately, almost all ancient music (in the sense of melody) is lost, but some idea of the original rhythm is recoverable. In the case of the first couple of lines in the strophe and antistrophe of Olympian 1, for example, the pattern of short and long syllables, which one could represent as quarter and eighth notes respectively, is as follows:


Source: http://www.pitt.edu/~edfloyd/Class1130/strophe.html

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