Writing a Pindaric Epinicion


Length: at least 25 lines


Celebrate the success of an individual athlete


In a Mythic Context

(compare the athlete’s accomplishments to those of great athletes of the past)


Expression of Aesthetic and Moral Values

     Arete (Excellence)


     Thrill of the Game

Here are some more suggestions about writing a Pindaric Ode:


1.)     Greek poetry does not rhyme but uses a fixed meter. Your ode does not need to use either rhyme or meter.

2.)     Use the second-person singular to address your athlete directly.

3.)     Use the first-person singular to refer to yourself and express your opinion.

4.)     Simile (comparison with like or as) or metaphor (comparison without like or as) is a basic foundation of poetic expression. You should use it frequently. “My love is like a rose.” (simile). “My love is a rose.” (metaphor)

5.)     Repetition, i.e., expressing the same thing twice in different words, is an important poetic concept which you should imitate. “My love is a rose, a blossom, a bud.”

6.)     Frequent use of descriptors (adjectives): “My love is a beautiful rose.”

7.)     Use of descriptors or epithets instead of the thing itself: “The Olympian deity” instead of Zeus.

8.)     Fondness for geographic references.

9.)     Use of myths and well-known stories as examples or models (paradeigms).

10.)    Figures of speech like:

Asyndeton: omission of connectors or conjunctions like “and”: “My love is a rose, a blossom, a bud.”

Polysyndeton: excessive use of connectors or conjunctions like “and.” “My love is a rose and a blossom and a bud.”

Personification: Treating inanimate objects as if they are alive and have feelings. E.g., talk directly to the athlete’s equipment or to the playing field.

Apostrophe: Direct address of people who cannot hear you because they are far away or even dead.

Other Figures of Speech


See how many of these features you can recognize in Pindar’s poetry.


See "Ode to Athens" (ancient Greek original) by Armand D'Angour / "Ode to Athens" (English translation) by Armand D'Angour  for an example written for the 2004 Games in Athens.