Payne, Mark. On Being Vatic: Pindar, Pragmatism, and Historicism

In this paper I argue that the large truth claims made in Pindar's gnomic language have a correspondingly large cultural function since they instantiate the capacity for unprecedented conceptual invention within a culture that lacks any master discourse in which its own self-understanding is embedded. I discuss the famous Nomos basileus fragment and its handling by Callicles in Plato's Gorgias, and by Holderlin in his Pindar Fragments. I argue that, by using Pindar's claim as a starting point for reflections of their own, these thinkers recognize its contingency, and future orientation, as vatic speech.

American Journal of Philology 127.2