Ti///// de/ tij; ti/ d' ou/) tij; skia=j o)/nar a!nqrwpoj.
"What is someone? What is not someone? Man is the dream of a shadow." Pindar, Pythian 8, 95.
Michael Johnson. Photo from ABC News Online
This saying comes at the end of Pindar's 8th Pythian Ode, in line 95. Pindar is writing about the triumph of Aristomenes of Aegina in the wrestling competition at the Pythian Festival in 446 BC. While celebrating the noble spirit of the victors in competitions, Pindar is also describing the comparative insignifigance of earthly glory. He is essentially saying that there is a power greater than even the greatest heroes of mankind.
Poet with instrument, Getty Museum
Pindar (approx. 522-438 B.C.) is considered by many the greatest lyric poet of ancient Greece. He was born in Boeotia, raised in Thebes, and educated in Athens. He is mainly known for his epinicia, choral odes of victory. These odes of victory celebrated the exploits of athletes in the Pythian, Olympic, Isthmian, and Nemean (pan-hellenic) games. He also wrote poetry to celebrate and inspire Theban soldiers in their wars with the Persians and Athenians. Only a small portion of his work survives to this day.
Website of an Art Exhibit related to saying
Poem related to saying
N.Travers, St. Paul's School, 2002