The catalogue of familial victories that concludes Nemean 5, a poem for the young Aiginetan victor Pytheas, is one of the most difficult passages to interpret in Pindar’s corpus. Scholars have contested in particular the meaning of almost every line in the victory-catalogue of Pytheas’ uncle, Euthymenes (41–6). I endorse both Christopher Carey’s analysis of this passage (1989, 290–5) and David Fearn’s recent defense of Carey (2007, 342–50) against the counter-arguments of Ilya Pfeijffer (1999, 159–72): Euthymenes, Pytheas’ maternal uncle (43; I.6.62), has won twice at the Isthmos (41–2; cf. I.6.60–2), and, in descending order of prestige, at Nemea (43–44), Aigina (44–5) and Megara (46).
Carey’s argument for the conventional structure of Euthymenes’ victory-catalogue does not account for peculiar features of the catalogue that have vexed scholars: the allusive treatment of Euthymenes’ Isthmian victories (41–2), shifts between second-personal addresses (41–2, 43) and third-personal description (44–6), and a double reference to victory on Aigina within a μÎν . . . δÎ construction (44–5). These features of the catalogue are, I argue, part of a larger strategy of praise by which Pindar situates the first victory of a young victor within the context of the victories of his maternal uncle and grandfather. Pindar wishes to praise three successive generations of victory, but there are two difficulties: the number and prestige of Euthymenes’ wins could overshadow the single achievement of the laudandus, and the victories of prior generations derive from the maternal side of the victor’s family.
I argue that Pindar shapes the praise of Euthymenes to reflect glory on Pytheas, the laudandus. First, though Pindar introduces Euthymenes with an emphatic second-personal address (41–2), he manages to mention and simultaneously to de-emphasize Isthmian victories that are superior in number and prestige to the Nemean victory of the laudandus. Second, Pindar notes, in an apostrophe to Pytheas, that his uncle’s Nemean victory follows upon that of Pytheas himself (43), a reversal of the more usual situation in which the victor, often a boy, “follows in the tracks” of the prior athletic success of an older relative (P.8.35–8, 10.11–14; N.6.15–16). Pindar playfully notes that Pytheas, though a younger and inexperienced athlete, anticipates Euthymenes’ victory at Nemea with his own victory, possibly because his competition was scheduled ahead of Euthymenes’ event (Von der Mühll 1964, 96–7; Fearn 2007, 346). Finally, a μÎν . . . δÎ construction distinguishes Euthymenes’ Nemean and Aiginetan victories as an adult (44) from his Aiginetan and Megarian victories as a boy or youth (45–6). The double reference to Aiginetan games makes explicit the fact that Euthymenes’ victories as a boy or youth, while more numerous than Pytheas’ lone victory, are at locations less prestigious than Nemea. Thus the catalogue of Euthymenes’ victories, while laudatory because of its extensiveness, is also subtly comparative: Euthymenes can be proud of his Panhellenic and local victories, but Pytheas debuts as a young victor at a Panhellenic venue, while anticipating his uncle’s victory at Nemea. Thus Pindar skillfully exploits this extensive catalogue of Euthymenes’ victories to define the quality of Pytheas’ first athletic victory.
By means of a sharp shift in subject to Themistios, the father of Euthymenes and maternal grandfather of Pytheas, Pindar then adds more victories to the familial total: two at Epidauros, one each in boxing and the pankration (50–4). Euthymenes, by contrast, has multiple victories at Megara and Aigina as a boy or youth, as well as local and Panhellenic victories as an adult. Thus, by the poem’s end Pindar has articulated an escalation in prestige over three generations of athletic victory: athletic victory may originate on the victor’s maternal side, but it culminates in the victor’s paternal oikos with the laudandus’ victory as a young athlete at a Panhellenic venue.