London Mayor reads Olympic Ode in ancient Greek

PUBLISHED: 09:00 26 July 2012

Ode was not all Greek to Boris Johnson

Ode was not all Greek to Boris Johnson


London Mayor Boris Johnson read out an Olympic Ode in ancient Greek at the Opening Gala for the International Olympic Committee.

The full text of the Ode, written by Dr Armand D’Angour of Oxford University’s Classics Faculty will be engraved in Greek and English on a bronze plaque in the Olympic Park.

It was written at the instigation of Mayor Boris Johnson, who took his degree in Classics at Balliol College Oxford.

Boris Johnson said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to declaim Dr D’Angour’s glorious Olympic Ode at the Opening Gala, a work that breathes new life into the ancient custom of celebrating the greatness of the Games through poetry.”

Dr D’Angour, who wrote the Ode in the style of the poet Pindar, said: “I hope that these Odes will help to raise the profile of the Classics, which is an endlessly fascinating and inspiring subject.

“Writing an Ode for the Games revives a musical and poetic tradition from ancient Greece, where Odes were commissioned to celebrate athletic winners at the Games. Pindar was the greatest poet of his time, and sponsors paid a great deal of money for athletic victors to be honoured with an Ode by him.

“I have aimed to be faithful to ancient style and form, and used alcaic metre. Of course the puns may make people groan, but Pindar’s audiences may have done so too.”

The Ode was read out by the Mayor in both Greek and English, as the introductory item of the IOC’s Opening Gala in the Royal Opera House on July 23. The permanent plaque in the Olympic Park, funded privately by supporters and friends of the Classics, will be unveiled at a later date.

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