Until a century ago, the fifth-century Greek poet Bacchylides was known only by 107 nonsequential lines buried as quotations in the writings of other ancient authors. With the discovery in 1896 of a papyrus containing his work, 1,382 lines were reassembled and the poems of Bacchylides finally began to take shape for the modern reader. Slavitt argues in the Introduction to this collection that, although Bacchylides is often considered a "lesser Pindar," he is a poet who warrants consideration. "He deserves attention not because he is beetling, like Pindar, but because he is not. He relies on craftsmanship and reliably displays an attractive grace and elegance."
"Slavitt has an astonishing knack for making classical poetry readable and, above all, experienceable. . . . [He] seems to have a free and easy—and very personal—conversance with the ancient world, and this is refreshing indeed; it makes that whole world available to us in ways it has not been before. . . . He has such an easy, tolerant, believable relationship with the ancient world and its authors that making the changeover from that world to ours is less a leap than an enjoyable stroll."—James Dickey