The Choral Ode, Pindaric Ode or Dorian Ode distinguishes itself from other odes because of its three part order. It is also strophic, not stanzaic like the Horatian, Keatsian and Ronsardian Odes. The strophe may differ in structure within the poem, while the stanza is uniform in structure within the poem. This verse form introduced by Pindar 522-433 BC Greece was originally written to be performed by chorus and dance and was therefore emotional, intense, brilliant and changeable to entertain an audience. Of course it like all Odes, exalts or praises its subject.
The names Choral and Pindaric Odes are obvious from the “choral” design of the frame and the name of the originator. The Dorians were one of the three tribes of ancient Greece who had their own dialect and culture. I couldn’t find Pindaric named as a Dorian poet but he did live in the same era so I am making an assumption there must be some association between the Dorians and Pindaric.
The verse is structured in a triad or three parts, which can be repeated within the poem. The parts are the strophe, the antistrophe, and epode. The individual parts are also referred to as the Turne, Counterturne and Stand. Originally created for a chorus from one side of the stage to sing or recite the strophe. The response or antistrophe is sung or chanted from the chorus on the other side of the stage. The triad is concluded by both choruses singing the epode. The strophe and antistrophe are written in exactly the same structure or frame, at the discretion of the poet. The epode must change in structure. This variation is meant to bring more drama to the ode.
To the immortall memorie, and friendship of that noble paire,
Sir Lucius Cary and Sir H. Morison by Ben Jonson
BRAVE Infant of Saguntum, cleare
Thy coming forth in that great yeare,
When the Prodigious Hannibal did crowne
His rage, with razing your immortall Towne.
Thou, looking then about,
Ere thou wert halfe got out,
Wise child, did’st hastily returne,
And mad’st thy Mothers wombe thine urne.
How summ’d a circle didst thou leave man-kind
Of deepest lore, could we the Centre find !
Did wiser Nature draw thee back,
From out the horrour of that sack,
Where shame, faith, honour, and regard of right
Lay trampled on ; the deeds of death, and night,
Urg’d, hurried forth, and hurld
Upon th’ affrighted world :
Sword, fire, and famine, with fell fury met ;
And all on utmost ruine set ;
As, could they but lifes miseries fore-see,
No doubt all Infants would returne like thee.
For, what is life, if measur’d by the space,
Not by the act ?
Or masked man, if valu’d by his face,
Above his fact ?
Here’s one out-liv’d his Peeres,
And told forth fourescore yeares ;
He vexed time, and busied the whole State ;
Troubled both foes, and friends ;
But ever to no ends :
What did this Stirrer, but die late ?
How well at twentie had he falne, or stood !
For three of his four-score he did no good.