Once as she struggled alone, without spear, with a terrible lion, he of the wide quiver, far-darting Apollo, found her: and straightway he called Cheiron from his hall and spake to him aloud: 'Son of Philyra, come forth from thy holy cave, and behold and wonder at the spirit of this woman, and her great might, what strife she wageth here with soul undaunted, a girl with heart too high for toil to quell; for her mind shaketh not in the storm of fear. What man begat her? From what tribe was she torn to dwell in the secret places of the shadowing hills? She hath assayed a struggle unachievable. Is it lawful openly to put forth my hand to her, or rather on a bridal-bed pluck the sweet flower?'
To him the Centaur bold with a frank smile on his mild brow made answer straightway of his wisdom: 'Secret are wise Lovecraft's keys unto love's sanctities, O Phoibos, and among gods and men alike all deem this shame, to have pleasure of marriage at the first openly. Now even thee, who mayest have no part in lies, thy soft desire hath led to dissemble in this thy speech.
The maiden's lineage dost thou, O king, enquire of me—thou who knowest the certain end of all things, and all ways? How many leaves the earth sendeth forth in spring, how many grains of sand in sea and river are rolled by waves and the winds' stress, what shall come to pass, and whence it shall be, thou discernest perfectly. But if even against wisdom I must match myself, I will speak on. To wed this damsel camest thou unto this glen, and thou art destined to bear her beyond the sea to a chosen garden of Zeus, where thou shalt make her a city's queen, when thou hast gathered together an island-people to a hill in the plain's midst. And now shall queenly Libya of broad meadow-lands well-pleased receive for thee within a golden house thy glorious bride, and there make gift to her of a portion in the land, to be an inhabiter thereof with herself, neither shall it be lacking in tribute of plants bearing fruit after all kinds, neither a stranger to the beasts of chase. There shall she bring forth a son, whom glorious Hermes taking up from his mother's arms shall bear to the fair-throned Hours and to Earth: and they shall set the babe upon their knees, and nectar and ambrosia they shall distil upon his lips, and shall make him as an immortal, a Zeus or a holy Apollo, to men beloved of him a very present help, a tutelar of flocks, and to some Agreus and Nomios; but to others Aristaios shall be his name.'
By these words he made him ready for the bridal's sweet fulfilment. And swift the act and short the ways of gods who are eager to an end. That same day made accomplishment of the matter, and in a golden chamber of Libya they lay together; where now she haunteth a city excellent in beauty and glorious in the games.
And now at sacred Pytho hath the son of Karneadas wedded that city to the fair flower of good luck: for by his victory there he hath proclaimed Kyrene's name, even her's who shall receive him with glad welcome home, to the country of fair women bringing precious honour out of Delphi.
Great merits stir to many words: yet to be brief and skilful on long themes is a good hearing for bards: for fitness of times is in everything alike of chief import.
That Iolaos had respect thereto seven-gated Thebes knoweth well, for when he had stricken down the head of Eurystheus beneath the edge of the sword, she buried the slayer beneath the earth in the tomb of Amphitryon the charioteer, where his father's father was laid, a guest of the Spartoi, who had left his home to dwell among the streets of the sons of Kadmos who drave white horses. To him and to Zeus at once did wise Alkmene bear the strength of twin sons prevailing in battle.
Dull is that man who lendeth not his voice to Herakles, nor hath in remembrance continually the waters of Dirke that nurtured him and Iphikles. To them will I raise a song of triumph for that I have received good at their hands, after that I had prayed to them that the pure light of the voiceful Graces might not forsake me. For at Aigma and on the hill of Nisos twice ere now I say that I have sung Kyrene's praise, and by my act have shunned the reproach of helpless dumbness.
Wherefore if any of the citizens be our friend, yea even if he be against us, let him not seek to hide the thing that hath been well done in the common cause, and so despise the word of the old god of the sea. He biddeth one give praise with the whole heart to noble deeds, yea even to an enemy, so be it that justice be on his side.
Full many times at the yearly feast of Pallas have the maidens seen thee winner, and silently they prayed each for herself that such an one as thou, O Telesikrates, might be her beloved husband or her son; and thus also was it at the games of Olympia and of ample-bosomed Earth, and at all in thine own land.
Me anywise to slake my thirst for song the ancient glory of thy forefathers summoneth to pay its due and rouse it yet again—to tell how that for love of a Libyan woman there went up suitors to the city of Irasa to woo Antaios' lovely-haired daughter of great renown; whom many chiefs of men, her kinsmen, sought to wed, and many strangers also; for the beauty of her was marvellous, and they were fain to cull the fruit whereto her gold-crowned youth had bloomed.
But her father gained for his daughter a marriage more glorious still. Now he had heard how sometime Danaos at Argos devised for his forty and eight maiden daughters, ere mid-day was upon them, a wedding of utmost speed—for he straightway set the whole company at the race-course end, and bade determine by a foot-race which maiden each hero should have, of all the suitors that had come.
Even on this wise gave the Libyan a bridegroom to his daughter, and joined the twain. At the line he set the damsel, having arrayed her splendidly, to be the goal and prize, and proclaimed in the midst that he should lead her thence to be his bride who, dashing to the front, should first touch the robes she wore.
Thereon Alexidamos, when that he had sped through the swift course, took by her hand the noble maiden, and led her through the troops of Nomad horsemen. Many the leaves and wreaths they showered on him; yea and of former days many plumes of victories had he won.
[Footnote 1: A Thessalian maiden, from whom, according to this legend, the colony of Kyrene in Africa took its name.]
[Footnote 2: I. e. Libya, the continent which we now call Africa.]
[Footnote 3: I. e. by seizing the moment left to him before it should be too late to act. Thebes and Kyrene were connected by the fact that members of the Aigid family lived at both places.]
[Footnote 4: Nereus. Powers of divination and wisdom generally are often attributed to sea-deities.]
[Footnote 5: I. e. at Delphi or Pytho. As being the supposed centre of the Earth it was the place of the worship of the Earth-goddess.]
FOR HIPPOKLEAS OF THESSALY,
WINNER IN THE TWO-STADION FOOT-RACE OF BOYS.
* * * * *
The only reason we know for the digression about Perseus which occupies great part of this ode seems to be that Thorax, who engaged Pindar to write it for Hippokleas, and perhaps Hippokleas himself, belonged to the family of the Aleuadai, who were descended through Herakles from Perseus.
This ode is the earliest entire poem of Pindar's which survives. He wrote it when he was twenty years old. The simplicity of the style and manner of composition are significant of this. But there can scarcely be said to be traces here of Pindar's early tendency in dealing with mythological allusions to 'sow not with the hand but with the whole sack,' which Korinna advised him to correct, and which is conspicuous in a fragment remaining to us of one of his Hymns.
* * * * *
Happy is Lakedaimon, blessed is Thessaly: in both there reigneth a race sprung from one sire, from Herakles bravest in the fight. What vaunt is this unseasonable? Nay, now, but Pytho calleth me, and Pelinnaion, and the sons of Aleuas who would fain lead forth the loud voices of a choir of men in honour of Hippokleas.
For now hath he tasted the joy of games, and to the host of the dwellers round about hath the valley beneath Parnassos proclaimed him best among the boys who ran the double race.
O Apollo, sweet is the end when men attain thereto, and the beginning availed more when it is speeded of a god. Surely of thy devising were his deeds: and this his inborn valour hath trodden in the footsteps of his father twice victor at Olympia in panoply of war-affronting arms: moreover the games in the deep meadow beneath Kirrha's cliff gave victory to the fleet feet of Phrikias.
May good luck follow them, so that even in after days the splendour of their wealth shall bloom. Of the pleasant things of Hellas they have no scanty portion to their lot; may they happen on no envious repentings of the gods. A god's heart, it may be, is painless ever; but happy and a theme of poet's song is that man who for his valiance of hands or feet the chiefest prizes hath by strength and courage won, and in his life-time seen his young son by good hap attaining to the Pythian crown. Never indeed shall he climb the brazen heaven, but whatsoever splendours we of mortal race may reach, through such he hath free course even to the utmost harbourage. But neither by taking ship, neither by any travel on foot, to the Hyperborean folk shalt thou find the wondrous way.
Yet of old the chieftain Perseus entered into their houses and feasted among them, when that he had lighted on them as they were sacrificing ample hecatombs of asses to their god. For ever in their feasts and hymns hath Apollo especial joy, and laugheth to see the braying ramp of the strange beasts. Nor is the Muse a stranger to their lives, but everywhere are stirring to and fro dances of maidens and shrill noise of pipes: and binding golden bay-leaves in their hair they make them merry cheer. Nor pestilence nor wasting eld approach that hallowed race: they toil not neither do they fight, and dwell unharmed of cruel Nemesis.
In the eagerness of his valiant heart went of old the son of Danae, for that Athene led him on his way, unto the company of that blessed folk. Also he slew the Gorgon and bare home her head with serpent tresses decked, to the island folk a stony death. I ween there is no marvel impossible if gods have wrought thereto.
Let go the oar, and quickly drive into the earth an anchor from the prow, to save us from the rocky reef, for the glory of my song of praise flitteth like a honey-bee from tale to tale.
I have hope that when the folk of Ephyra pour forth my sweet strains by Peneus' side, yet more glorious shall I make their Hippokleas for his crowns and by my songs among his fellows and his elders, and I will make him possess the minds of the young maidens.
For various longings stir secretly the minds of various men; yet each if he attain to the thing he striveth for will hold his eager desire for the time present to him, but what a year shall bring forth, none shall foreknow by any sign.
My trust is in the kindly courtesy of my host Thorax, of him who to speed my fortune hath yoked this four-horse car of the Pierides, as friend for friend, and willing guide for guide.
As gold to him that trieth it by a touch-stone, so is a true soul known.
His noble brethren also will we praise, for that they exalt and make great the Thessalians' commonwealth. For in the hands of good men lieth the good piloting of the cities wherein their fathers ruled.
[Footnote 1: Hippokleas' birth-place.]
[Footnote 2: Down the stadion (220 yards) and back.]
[Footnote 3: I. e. in the race run in full armour, like that at Pytho which Telesikrates, of Kyrene won, celebrated in the fore-going ode.]
[Footnote 4: Probably a horse with which Hippokleas' father won a race at Pytho.]
FOR THRASYDAIOS OF THEBES,
WINNER IN THE BOYS' SHORT FOOT-RACE.
* * * * *
The date of this victory was B.C. 478, nearly two years after the battle of Plataea, and the deliverance of Thebes from Persian influence and the sway of a tyrannous oligarchy. But beyond this we have nothing certain to which we can refer the allusions to Theban affairs, public and private, which we have reason to think present in the ode.
* * * * *
Daughters of Kadmos, thou Semele whose goings are with the queens of Olympus, and thou Ino Leukothea who housest with the Nereids of the sea, come ye up with the mother of a mighty son, even of Herakles, unto the temple of Mĕlia and into the holy place of the golden tripods, which beyond all others Loxias hath honoured, and named it the shrine Ismenian, a truthful seat of seers; where now, O children of Harmonia, he calleth the whole heroic sisterhood of the soil to assemble themselves together, that of holy Themis and of Pytho and the Earth-navel of just judgments ye may sing at early evening, doing honour to seven-gated Thebes, and to the games at Kirrha, wherein Thrasydaios hath made his father's house glorious by casting thereon a third wreath for his victory in the rich cornlands of Pylades, who was the host of Lakonian Orestes.
Orestes, on the murder of his father, Arsinoe his nurse saved from the violent hands of Klytaimnestra and out of the ruinous treason, what time the daughter of Dardanid Priam, Kassandra, was by the glittering bronze in company with Agamemnon's soul sped to the shadowy shore of Acheron by the woman who had no pity.
Did then the slaughter of Iphigenia far from her own land on Euripos' shore so sting her mother to the arousal of a wrath of grievous act? Or had nocturnal loves misguided her, in thraldom to a paramour's embrace? a sin in new-wed brides most hateful, and that cannot be hidden for the talk of stranger tongues: for the citizens repeat the shame. For prosperity must sustain an envy equalling itself: but concerning the man of low place the rumour is obscure.
Thus died the hero himself, the son of Atreus, when after long time he came unto famous Amyklai, and drew down with him to death the maiden prophetess, after that he consumed with fire the Trojans' habitations of softness.
And thus Orestes, in the tenderness of his youth, came and was the guest of the old man Strophios, who dwelt at the foot of Parnassos: but with long-tarrying sword he slew his mother, and left Aigisthos' body in its blood.
Verily, my friends, by triple roads of interchanging ways I have wound about, though heretofore I had kept on a straight track. Or hath some wind blown me out of my course, as when it bloweth a boat upon the sea? But thine it is, my Muse, since thou for reward didst promise the loan thereof, to raise thy voice for silver now on this tale, now on that, so that for this time at least it is on behalf either of Thrasydaios or of his sire who conquered at Pytho: for of both are the joy and glory burning lights.
Of old for victories in the chariot-race they had bright glory at Olympia in the famous games for the swiftness of their steeds: and now have they gone down among the naked runners in the stadion, and have put to rebuke the host of the Hellenes by their speed.
God grant me to desire things honourable, seeking things possible in my life's prime.
The middle course I find to prosper most enduringly in the commonwealth, and a state of tyranny I condemn. On well-doing for the common good I bestow my pains: so are the envious baffled, if one hath excelled in such acts to the uttermost, and bearing it modestly hath shunned the perilous reproach of insolence: so also at the end shall he find black death more gracious unto him, to his dear children leaving the best of possessions, even the glory of an honourable name.
This it is that beareth abroad the name of Iolaos in song, and the names of the mighty Kastor and of thee, king Polydeukes, ye sons of gods, who one day in Therapnai and the next in Olympus have your dwelling-place.
[Footnote 1: Alkmene.]
[Footnote 2: Mother of Ismenios and Teucros, by Apollo.]
[Footnote 3: In Phokis.]
[Footnote 4: Agamemnon. It is a strange variety of the tale that he is spoken of as having been murdered at Amyklai and not at Argos or Mykenai. So above Orestes is called Lakonian.]
[Footnote 5: Kassandra.]
[Footnote 6: (Not for a party.)]
FOR MIDAS OF AKRAGAS,
WINNER IN THE FLUTE-PLAYING MATCH.
* * * * *
This is an early ode: the victory was won either in 494 or 450. It was to be sung, it would seem, at Akragas, and very probably in a procession to the shrine of the tutelar divinity of the city, with an address to whom it seemingly begins, though it is difficult to say what degree of personification is intended.
* * * * *
I pray thee, lover of splendour, most beautiful among the cities of men, haunt of Persephone, thou who by the banks of Akragas' stream that nourisheth thy flocks, inhabitest a citadel builded pleasantly—O queen, graciously and with goodwill of gods and men welcome this crown that is come forth from Pytho for Midas' fair renown; and him too welcome therewithal who hath overcome all Hellas in the art which once on a time Pallas Athene devised, when she made music of the fierce Gorgon's death-lament.
That heard she pouring from the maiden heads and heads of serpents unapproachable amidst the anguish of their pains, when Perseus had stricken the third sister, and to the isle Seriphos and its folk bare thence their doom.
Yea also he struck with blindness the wondrous brood of Phorkos, and to Polydektes' bridal brought a grievous gift, and grievous eternally he made for that man his mother's slavery and ravished bed: for this he won the fair-faced Medusa's head, he who was the son of Danae, and sprung, they say, from a living stream of gold.
But the Maiden, when that she had delivered her well-beloved from these toils, contrived the manifold music of the flute, that with such instrument she might repeat the shrill lament that reached her from Euryale's ravening jaws.
A goddess was the deviser thereof, but having created it for a possession of mortal men, she named that air she played the many-headed air, that speaketh gloriously of folk-stirring games, as it issueth through the thin-beat bronze and the reeds which grow by the Graces' city of goodly dancing-ground in the precinct of Kephisos' nymph, the dancers' faithful witnesses.
But if there be any bliss among mortal men, without labour it is not made manifest: it may be that God will accomplish it even to-day, yet the thing ordained is not avoidable: yea, there shall be a time that shall lay hold on a man unaware, and shall give him one thing beyond his hope, but another it shall bestow not yet.
[Footnote 1: The three Grey Sisters, whose one common eye Perseus stole,
[Greek: daenaiai korai treis kyknomorphoi koinon omm' ektaemenai monodontes, has outh' haelios prosderketai aktisin, outh' hae nukteros maenae pote.]
Aesch. Prom. 813.
This must mean some kind of twilight, not total darkness, or they could hardly have missed their eye.]
[Footnote 2: Athene.]
[Footnote 3: One of the Gorgons.]
[Footnote 4: A certain [Greek: nomos aulaetikos] was known by this name.]
THE NEMEAN ODES.
FOR CHROMIOS OF AITNA,
WINNER IN THE CHARIOT-RACE.
* * * * *
This Chromios was a son of Agesidamos and brother-in-law of Hieron, and the same man for whom the ninth Nemean was written. He had become a citizen of Hieron's new city of Aitna, and won this victory B.C. 473.
This ode seems to have been sung before his house in Ortygia, a peninsula on which part of Syracuse was built, and in which was the fountain Arethusa. The legend of Arethusa and Alpheos explains the epithets of Ortygia with which the ode opens. The greater part of the ode is occupied with the story of Herakles, perhaps because Chromios was of the Hyllean tribe and thus traced his descent to Herakles.
* * * * *
O resting-place august of Alpheos, Ortygia, scion of famous Syracuse, thou that art a couch of Artemis and a sister of Delos, from thee goeth forth a song of sweet words, to set forth the great glory of whirlwind-footed steeds in honour of Aitnaian Zeus.
For now the car of Chromios, and Nemea, stir me to yoke to his victorious deeds the melody of a triumphal song. And thus by that man's heaven-sped might I lay my foundations in the praise of gods. In good fortune men speak well of one altogether: and of great games the Muse is fain to tell.
Sow then some seed of splendid words in honour of this isle, which Zeus, the lord of Olympus, gave unto Persephone, and bowed his hair toward her in sign that this teeming Sicily he would exalt to be the best land in the fruitful earth, with gorgeous crown of citadels. And the son of Kronos gave unto her a people that wooeth mailed war, a people of the horse and of the spear, and knowing well the touch of Olympia's golden olive-leaves. Thus shoot I arrows many, and without falsehood I have hit the mark.
And now at the doors of the hall of a hospitable man I stand to sing a goodly song, where is prepared for me a friendly feast, and not unwonted in that house are frequent stranger-guests: thus hath he found good friends to pour a quenching flood on the mouldering fire of reproach.
Each hath his several art: but in straight paths it behoveth him to walk, and to strive hard wherein his nature setteth him. Thus worketh strength in act, and mind in counsels, when one is born to foresee what shall come after. In thy nature, son of Agesidamos, are uses both for this and that.
I love not to keep hidden in my house great wealth, but to have joy of that I have, and to have repute of liberality to my friends: for the hopes of much-labouring men seem to me even as mine.
Now I to Herakles cleave right willingly, among high deeds of valour rousing an ancient tale; how that when from his mother's womb the son of Zeus escaping the birth-pang came quickly into the glorious light with his twin-brother, not unobserved of Hera did he put on the saffron swaddling bands; but the queen of gods in the kindling of her anger sent presently the two snakes, and they when the doors were opened went right on into the wide bedchamber, hasting to entwine the children, that they should be a prey to their fierce teeth.
But the boy lifted up his head upright and was first to essay the fight, seizing with inevitable grasp of both his hands the two serpents by the necks, and time, as he strangled them, forced the breath out of their monstrous forms.
But a shock unendurable startled the women about Alkmene's bed, yea and herself too started to her feet from the couch half-robed, and would fain have beaten back the fierce beasts' violence.
And quickly ran thronging thither with bronze arms the captains of the sons of Kadmos; and brandishing in his hand his sword bare of its sheath came Amphitryon smitten with sharp pain; for everyone alike is grieved by the ills of his own house, but the heart is soon quit of sorrow that careth but for another's care.
And he stood in amazement, and gladness mingled with his fear; for he saw the marvellous courage and might of his son, since the immortals had turned to the contrary the saying of the messengers unto him.
Then he called a man that lived nigh to him, a chosen prophet of the most high Zeus, Teiresias the true seer: and he set forth to him and to all his company with what manner of fortune should the child have his lot cast, how many lawless monsters on the dry land, how many on the sea he should destroy.
Others moreover, of men the hatefullest, who walked in guile and insolence, he prophesied that he should deliver over unto death: saying that when on Phlegra's plain the gods should meet the giants in battle, beneath the rush of his arrows their bright hair should be soiled with earth; but he in peace himself should obtain a reward of rest from his great toils throughout all time continually within the house of bliss, and after that he had received fair Hebe to be his bride, and made his marriage-feast, should remain beside Zeus, the son of Kronos, well-pleased with his dwelling-place divine.
[Footnote 1: I. e. so honoured by Artemis as to rank with her native Delos.]
FOR TIMODEMOS OF ATHENS,
WINNER IN THE PANKRATION.
* * * *
The date of this ode is unknown. It would seem to have been sung at Athens on the winner's return home. He belonged to the clan of the Timodemidai of Salamis, but to the deme of Acharnai.
As to the nature of the Pankration see Dict. Ant. It was a combination of wrestling and boxing, probably with wide license of rules. The best extant illustration of it in sculpture is the famous group of the Pankratiasts (commonly called the Luttatori) in the Tribune of the Uffizi at Florence.
* * * * *
From the self-same beginning whence the Homerid bards draw out the linked story of their song, even a prelude calling upon Zeus—so also Nemeaian Zeus it is in whose far-famous grove this man hath attained unto laying his first foundation of victory in the sacred games.
And yet again must the son of Timonooes, if in the way of his fathers' guiding him straight this age hath given him to be a glory of great Athens—yet again and often must he pluck the noble flower of Isthmian games, and in the Pythian conquer. Like is it that not far from the mountain-brood of Pleiads shall be the rising of Orion.
Well able verily is Salamis to rear a man of battles: so at Troy was Hektor aware of Aias; and so now, O Timodemos, art thou glorified by thy stubborn prowess in the pankration.
Acharnai of old was famous for its men, and as touching games the Timodemidai rank there pre-eminent. Beneath Parnassos' lordly height they won four victories in the games; moreover in the valleys of noble Pelops they have obtained eight crowns at the hands of the men of Corinth, and seven at Nemea; and at home more than may be numbered, at the games of Zeus:
To whose glory, O citizens, sing for Timodemos a song of triumph, and bring him in honour home, and chant our prelude tunefully.
[Footnote 1: The Pleiads were daughters of Atlas. One victory betokens another to come, as the rising of a constellation betokens the rising of its neighbour.]
FOR ARISTOKLEIDES OF AIGINA,
WINNER IN THE PANKRATION.
* * * * *
The date of the victory is unknown: the ode seems to have been written long afterwards, probably for some anniversary celebration of the event.
* * * * *
O divine Muse, our mother, I pray thee come unto this Dorian isle Aigina stranger-thronged, for the sacred festival of the Nemean games: for by the waters of Asopos young men await thee, skilled to sing sweet songs of triumph, and desiring to hear thy call.
For various recompense are various acts athirst; but victory in the games above all loveth song, of crowns and valiant deeds the fittest follower. Thereof grant us large store for our skill, and to the king of heaven with its thronging clouds do thou who art his daughter begin a noble lay; and I will marry the same to the voices of singers and to the lyre.
A pleasant labour shall be mine in glorifying this land where of old the Myrmidons dwelt, whose ancient meeting-place Aristokleides through thy favour hath not sullied with reproach by any softness in the forceful strife of the pankration; but a healing remedy of wearying blows he hath won at least in this fair victory in the deep-lying plain of Nemea.
Now if this son of Aristophanes, being fair of form and achieving deeds as fair, hath thus attained unto the height of manly excellence, no further is it possible for him to sail untraversed sea beyond the pillars of Herakles, which the hero-god set to be wide-famed witnesses of the end of voyaging: for he had overcome enormous wild-beasts on the seas, and tracked the streams through marshes to where he came to the goal that turned him to go back homeward, and there did he mark out the ends of the earth.
But to what headland of a strange shore, O my soul, art thou carrying aside the course of my ship? To Aiakos and to his race I charge thee bring the Muse. Herein is perfect justice, to speak the praise of good men: neither are desires for things alien the best for men to cherish: search first at home: a fitting glory for thy sweet song hast thou gotten there in deeds of ancient valour.
Glad was King Peleus when he cut him his gigantic spear, he who took Iolkos by his single arm without help of any host, he who held firm in the struggle Thetis the daughter of the sea.
Also the city of Laomedon did mighty Telamon sack, when he fought with Iolaos by his side, and again to the war of the Amazons with brazen bows he followed him; neither at any time did man-subduing terror abate the vigour of his soul.
By inborn worth doth one prevail mightily; but whoso hath but precepts is a vain man and is fain now for this thing and now again for that, but a sure step planteth he not at any time, but handleth countless enterprises with a purpose that achieveth naught.
Now Achilles of the yellow hair, while he dwelt in the house of Philyra, being yet a child made mighty deeds his play; and brandishing many a time his little javelin in his hands, swift as the wind he dealt death to wild lions in the fight, and boars he slew also and dragged their heaving bodies to the Centaur, son of Kronos, a six years' child when he began, and thenceforward continually. And Artemis marvelled at him, and brave Athene, when he slew deer without dogs or device of nets; for by fleetness of foot he overcame them.
This story also of the men of old have I heard: how within his cavern of stone did deep-counselled Cheiron rear Jason, and next Asklepios, whom he taught to apportion healing drugs with gentle hand: after this it was that he saw the espousals of Nereus' daughter of the shining wrists, and fondling nursed her son, strongest of men, rearing his soul in a life of harmony; until by blowing of sea winds wafted to Troy he should await the war-cry of the Lykians and of the Phrygians and of the Dardanians, cried to the clashing of spears; and joining in battle with the lancer Ethiops hand to hand should fix this purpose in his soul, that their chieftain Memnon, Helenos' fiery cousin, should go back again to his home no more.
Thenceforward burneth ever a far-shining light for the house of Aiakos; for thine O Zeus is their blood, even as thine also are the games whereat my song is aimed, by the voice of the young men of the land proclaiming aloud her joy. For victorious Aristokleides hath well earned a cheer, in that he hath brought new renown to this island, and to the Theoroi of the Pythian god, by striving for glory in the games.
By trial is the issue manifest, wherein may one be more excellent than his fellows, whether among boys a boy, or among men a man, or in the third age among elders, according to the nature of our mortal race. Four virtues doth a long life bring, and biddeth one fit his thought to the things about him. From such virtues this man is not far.
Friend, fare thee well: I send to thee this honey mingled with white milk, and the dew of the mixing hangeth round about it, to be a drink of minstrelsy distilled in breathings of Aiolian flutes; albeit it come full late.
Swift is the eagle among the birds of the air, who seizeth presently with his feet his speckled prey, seeking it from afar off; but in low places dwell the chattering daws. To thee at least, by the will of throned Kleio, for sake of thy zeal in the games, from Nemea and from Epidauros and from Megara hath a great light shined.
[Footnote 1: I. e. commemorating the Nemean games and the victories obtained by citizens of Aigina there.]
[Footnote 2: There seems to have been a stream of this name in Aigina, as well as in Boeotia.]
[Footnote 3: Cheiron's mother.]
[Footnote 4: Sent from Aigina to Apollo's temple at Delphi.]
[Footnote 5: This is very obscure: Boeckh said that the longer he considered it the more obscure it became to him. Donaldson 'is inclined to think that Pindar is speaking with reference to the Pythagorean division of virtue into four species, and that he assigns one virtue to each of the four ages of human life (on the same principle as that which Shakespeare has followed in his description of the seven ages) namely temperance as the virtue of youth, courage of early manhood, justice of mature age, and prudence of old age.']
[Footnote 6: Snakes.]
[Footnote 7: Or 'on vile things feed.']
FOR TIMASARCHOS OF AIGINA,
WINNER IN THE BOYS' WRESTLING-MATCH.
* * * * *
The date of this ode is unknown: we can only infer, from the way in which Athens is spoken of, that it was written before the war between that state and Aigina. It seems to have been sung on the winner's return home, very likely in a procession through the streets.
* * * * *
Best of physicians for a man's accomplished toil is festive joy: and the touch of songs, wise daughters of the Muses, hath power of comforting. Less doth warm water avail to bathe limbs for soothing than words of praise married to the music of the lyre. For speech is longer-lived than act, whensoever by favour of the Graces the tongue hath drawn it forth out of the depth of the heart.
Be it the prelude of my hymn to dedicate it to Zeus the son of Kronos, and to Nemea, and to the wrestling of Timasarchos; and may it have welcome in the Aiakids' stronghold of goodly towers, the common light of all, which aideth the stranger with justice.
Now if thy sire Timokritos were still cheered by the quickening sun, full oft with music manifold of the lute would he have bent him unto this my theme, and sounded a hymn for the fair triumphs that have brought thee a chain of wreaths, even from the games of the Kleonaians now, and erewhile from the bright and famous Athens, and at seven-gated Thebes: for beside Amphitryon's splendid sepulchre the sons of Kadmos nothing loth sprinkled the winner with flowers for Aigina's sake. For thither as a friend to friends he came, though to a city not his own, and abode in the fortunate hall of Herakles.
With Herakles on a time did mighty Telamon destroy the city of Troy, and the Meropes, and the man of war, the great and terrible Alkyoneus, yet not until by hurling of stones he had subdued twelve four-horse chariots, and horse-taming heroes twice so many thereupon. Unversed in battles must he be who understandeth not this tale, for whoso will do aught is like to suffer also.
But to tell the tale at length custom forbiddeth me, and the constraining hours: and a love-spell draweth me to put forth my hand to the feast of the new moon.
Albeit the deep brine of the sea hold thee even to thy waist, nevertheless bear bravely up against conspirings; assuredly shall we shine forth above our enemies as we sail home in open day; while another man of envious eye turneth about in darkness an empty purpose that falleth to the ground. For me I know certainly that whatsoever excellence Fate that is our lord hath given me, time creeping onward will bring to its ordained fulfilment.
Weave then this woof too presently, sweet my lute, a strain with Lydian harmony that shall be dear to Oinone, and to Cyprus, where Teukros, son of Telamon, holdeth rule in a new land.
But Aias hath the Salamis of his father: and in the Euxine Sea Achilles hath a shining isle, and at Phthia hath Thetis power, and Neoptolemos in wide Epeiros, where cattle-pasturing headlands, from Dodona onwards, slope forward to the Ionian Sea. And beside the foot of Pelion did Peleus set his face against Iolkos, and deliver it over to be a servant to the Haimones, after that he had proved the guileful counsels of Hippolyte, Akastos' wife.
For by (stealing) his sword of cunning workmanship the son of Pelias prepared death for him in an ambush; but Cheiron delivered him out of his hand; and thus he fulfilled the destiny ordained him of Zeus, and having escaped the violence of the fire and the dauntless lion's claws exceeding keen, and the bitings of teeth most terrible, he espoused one of the Nereids high-enthroned, and beheld the circle of fair seats whereon were sitting the kings of heaven and of the sea, as they revealed unto him their gifts, and the kingdom that should be unto him and unto his seed.
Nightward beyond Gadeira none may pass. Turn back again to the mainland of Europe the tackle of our ship; for it were impossible for me to go through unto the end all the tale of the sons of Aiakos.
For the Theandrid clan came I a ready herald of games that make men's limbs wax strong, to Olympia and to Isthmos, and to Nemea according to my promise, where having put themselves to the proof they are returning homeward, not without wreaths whose fruitage is renown; and there report hath told us, O Timasarchos, that thy clan's name is preeminent in songs of victory.
Or if further for thy mother's brother Kallikles thou biddest me set up a pillar whiter than Parian stone, lo as the refining of gold showeth forth all his splendours, so doth a song that singeth a man's rare deeds make him as the peer of kings. Let Kallikles in his dwelling beside Acheron find in my tongue a minstrel of his praise, for that at the games of the deep-voiced wielder of the trident his brows were green with parsley of Corinth; of him, boy, did Euphaenes, thy aged grandsire, rejoice erewhile to sing.
Each hath his own age-fellow; and what each hath seen for himself that may he hope to set forth best of all. How for Melesias' praise must such an one grapple in the strife, bending the words beneath his grasp, yielding not his ground as he wrestleth in speech, of gentle temper toward the good, but to the froward a stern adversary.
[Footnote 1: Aigina. See Ol viii. 21; Pyth. viii. 22.]
[Footnote 2: Kleonai was very near Nemea, and the Kleonaians were for a long time managers of the Nemean games.]
[Footnote 3: Seemingly the same personage as Aigina.]
[Footnote 4: Akastos.]
[Footnote 5: Thetis, resisting her wooer Peleus, changed herself into fire and wild beasts. See Dict. Myth.]
[Footnote 6: Westward.]
[Footnote 7: The Isthmian games.]
[Footnote 8: Timasarchos' trainer in wrestling. He is here praised in terms borrowed from the wrestling-school.]
FOR PYTHEAS OF AIGINA,
WINNER IN THE BOYS' PANKRATION.
* * * * *
The date of this ode is uncertain. The winner's brother Phylakidas, gained the two victories, also in the pankration, which are celebrated in the fourth and fifth Isthmians.
* * * * *
No statuary I, that I should fashion images to rest idly on their pedestals, nay but by every trading-ship and plying boat forth from Aigina fare, sweet song of mine, and bear abroad the news, how that Lampon's son, the strong-limbed Pytheas, hath won at Nemea the pankratiast's crown, while on his cheeks he showeth not as yet the vine-bloom's mother, mellowing midsummer.
So to the warrior heroes sprung from Kronos and Zeus and from the golden nymphs, even to the Aiakidai, hath he done honour, and to the mother-city, a friendly field to strangers. That she should have issue of goodly men and should be famous in her ships, this prayed they of old, standing beside the altar of their grandsire, Zeus Hellenios, and together stretched forth their hands toward heaven, even the glorious sons of Endais and the royal strength of Phokos, the goddess-born, whom on the sea-beach Psamatheia bare. Of their deed portentous and unjustly dared I am loth to tell, and how they left that famous isle, and of the fate that drove the valiant heroes from Oinone. I will make pause: not for every perfect truth is it best that it discover its face: silence is oft man's wisest thought.
But if the praise of good hap or of strength of hand or of steel-clad war be my resolve, let one mark me a line for a long leap hence: in my knees I have a nimble spring: even beyond the sea the eagles wing their way.
With goodwill too for the Aiakidai in Pelion sang the Muses' choir most fair, and in the midst Apollo playing with golden quill upon his seven-toned lyre led them in ever-changing strains. They first of all from Zeus beginning sang of holy Thetis and of Peleus, and how that Kretheus' dainty daughter Hippolyte would fain have caught him by her wile, and persuaded his friend the king of the Magnetes her husband by counsels of deceit, for she forged a lying tale thereto devised, how that he essayed to go in unto her in Akastos' bridal bed. But the truth was wholly contrary thereto, for often and with all her soul she had besought him with beguiling speech; but her bold words vexed his spirit; and forthwith he refused the bride, fearing the wrath of the Father who guardeth host and guest. And he, the cloud-compelling Zeus in heaven, the immortal's king, was aware thereof, and he promised him that with all speed he would find him a sea-bride from among the Nereids of golden distaffs, having persuaded thereto Poseidon, their kinsman by his marriage, who from Aigai to the famous Dorian Isthmus cometh oftentimes, where happy troops with the reed-flute's noise welcome the god, and in bold strength of limb men strive.
The fate that is born with a man is arbiter of all his acts. Thou, Euthymenes, at Aigina falling into the goddess victory's arms didst win thee hymns of subtle strain: yea and now too to thee, O Pytheas, who art his kinsman of the same stock and followest in his footsteps, doth thy mother's brother honour. Nemea is favourable unto him, and the month of his country that Apollo loveth: the youth that came to strive with him he overcame, both at home and by Nisos' hill of pleasant glades. I have joy that the whole state striveth for glory. Know that through Menander's aid thou hast attained unto sweet recompense of toils. And meet it is that from Athens a fashioner of athletes come.
But if thou comest to Themistios, to sing of him, away with chill reserve, shout aloud, hoist to the top-yard of the mast the sail, and tell how in the boxing and the pankration at Epidauros he won a double prize of valour, and to the portals of Aiakos bare fresh wreaths of flowers, led by the Graces of the yellow hair.
[Footnote 1: Wife of Aiakos and mother of Peleus and Telamon. They killed Phokos.]
[Footnote 2: A sea-nymph, mother of Phokos by Aiakos.]
[Footnote 3: Maternal uncle of Pytheas.]
[Footnote 4: The month called in Aigina Delphinios (April-May) when the Nemean games took place.]
[Footnote 5: At Megara]
[Footnote 6: Pytheas' trainer, an Athenian.]
[Footnote 7: Maternal grandfather of Pytheas.]
FOR ALKIMIDAS OF AIGINA,
WINNER IN THE BOYS' WRESTLING-MATCH.
* * * * *
The date of this ode is unknown, but from the mention of the trainer Melesias it has been inferred that it was among Pindar's later works. It would seem to have been sung at Aigina, perhaps at some feast of the Bassid clan given in honour of the victory.
* * * * *
One race there is of men and one of gods, but from one mother draw we both our breath, yet is the strength of us diverse altogether, for the race of man is as nought, but the brazen heaven abideth, a habitation steadfast unto everlasting.
Yet withal have we somewhat in us like unto the immortals' bodily shape or mighty mind, albeit we know not what course hath Destiny marked out for us to run, neither in the daytime, neither in the night.
And now doth Alkimidas give proof that it is with his kindred as with fruitful fields: for they in turn now yield to man his yearly bread upon the plains, and now again they pause, and gather back their strength.
From the pleasant meeting-places of Nemea hath the athlete boy come back, who following the ordinance of Zeus hath now approved him no baffled hunter in his wrestling-quest, and hath guided his feet by the foot-prints of Praxidamas, his father father, of whose blood he sprang.
For Praxidamas also by his Olympian victory first won olive-wreath from Alpheos for the Aiakidai, and five times been crowned at Isthmos, and at Nemea thrice, he took away thereby the obscurity of Sokleides, who was the eldest of the sons of Agesimachos.
For these three-warriors attained unto the topmost height of prowess, of all who essayed the games, and by grace of God to no other house hath the boxing-match given keeping of so many crowns in this inmost place of all Hellas. I deem that though my speech be of high sound I yet shall hit the mark, as it were an archer shooting from a bow.
Come, Muse, direct thou upon this house a gale of glorious song: for after that men are vanished away, the minstrel's story taketh up their noble acts, whereof is no lack to the Bassid clan; old in story is the race and they carry cargo of home-made renown, able to deliver into the Muses' husbandmen rich matter of song in honour of their lofty deeds.
For at sacred Pytho in like wise did a scion of the same stock overcome, with the thong of the boxer bound about his hand, even Kallias in whom were well-pleased the children of Leto of the golden distaff, and beside Kastaly in the evening his name burnt bright, when the glad sounds of the Graces rose.
Also the Bridge of the untiring sea did honour unto Kreontidas at the triennial sacrifice of bulls by the neighbour states in the holy place of Poseidon; and once did the herb of the lion shadow his brows for a victory won beneath the shadeless primal hills of Phlious.
Wide avenues of glory are there on every side for chroniclers to draw nigh to do honour unto this isle: for supreme occasion have the children of Aiakos given them by the showing forth of mighty feats.
Over land and beyond the sea is their name flown forth from afar: even unto the Ethiopians it sprang forth, for that Memnon came not home: for bitter was the battle that Achilles made against him, having descended from his chariot upon the earth, what time by his fierce spear's point he slew the son of the bright Morn.
And herein found they of old time a way wherein to drive their car: and I too follow with my burden of song: and all men's minds, they say, are stirred the most by whatsoever wave at the instant rolleth nearest to the mainsheet of the ship.
On willing shoulders bear I this double load, and am come a messenger to proclaim this honour won in the games that men call holy to be the five-and-twentieth that the noble house of Alkimidas hath shown forth: yet were two wreaths in the Olympian games beside the precinct of Kronion denied to thee, boy, and to Polytimidas, by the fall of the lot.
Peer of the dolphin hurrying through the brine—such would I call Melesias by whom thy hands and strength were guided, as a chariot by the charioteer.
[Footnote 1: Earth.]
[Footnote 2: The ancients understood little of the rotation of crops, and often let their fields lie fallow alternate years.]
[Footnote 3: Of the celebrity of alternate generations.]
[Footnote 4: The order of descent was: Agesimachos, Sokleides, Praxidamas, Theon, Alkimidas. Of these the first, third, and fifth, were distinguished athletes, the others not.]
[Footnote 5: The Isthmos.]
[Footnote 6: The parsley which grew near the lair of the Nemean lion.]
[Footnote 7: This can hardly mean, as some commentators take it, the drawing of any particular tie; for if better men than any given competitor were entered for the match, his defeat would be inevitable whether they were encountered sooner or later.]
[Footnote 8: Alkimidas' trainer.]
FOR SOGENES OF AIGINA,
WINNER IN THE BOYS' PENTATHLON.
* * * * *
This victory was probably won B.C. 462. The ode would seem to be full of allusions, which however we cannot with any certainty explain. It is partly occupied with the celebration of Achilles' son Neoptolemos, and Pindar seems anxious to repel the charge of having on some occasion depreciated that hero.
* * * * *
O Eileithuia that sittest beside the deep-counselling Moirai, child of the mighty Hera, thou who bringest babes to the birth, hearken unto us! Without thee looked we never on the light or on the darkness of the night, nor came ever unto her who is thy sister, even Hebe of the comely limbs.
But we receive our breath not all for a like life; each to his several lot is kept apart by the yoke of fate.
Now by thy grace hath Sogenes the son of Thearion been foremost in prowess, and his glory is sung aloud among the winners of the five-game prize.
For he is a dweller in a city that loveth song, even this city of the spear-clashing sons of Aiakos, and exceeding fain are they to cherish a spirit apt for the strife of the games.
If a man have good hap in his attempt, he throweth into the Muses' stream sweet cause of song: for even deeds of might for lack of song fall into deep darkness, and in but one way have we knowledge of a mirror for fair deeds, if by the grace of Mnemosyne of the shining fillet they attain unto a recompense of toils by the sound of voice and verse.
Wise shipmates know that the wind which tarrieth shall come on the third day, nor throw away their goods through greed of more: the rich and the poor alike fare on their way to death.
Now I have suspicion that the fame of Odysseus is become greater than his toils, through the sweet lays that Homer sang; for over the feigning of his winged craft something of majesty abideth, and the excellence of his skill persuadeth us to his fables unaware.
Blind hearts have the general folk of men; for could they have discovered the truth, never would stalwart Aias in anger for the arms have struck through his midriff the sharp sword—even he who after Achilles was best in battle of all men whom, to win back his bride for fair-haired Menelaos, the fair breeze of straight-blowing Zephyros wafted in swift ships toward Ilos' town.
But to all men equally cometh the wave of death, and falleth on the fameless and the famed: howbeit honour ariseth for them whose fair story God increaseth to befriend them even when dead, whoso have journeyed to the mighty centre-stone of wide-bosomed earth.
There now beneath the floor of Pytho lieth Neoptolemos, dying there when he had sacked the city of Priam where the Danaoi toiled with him. He sailing thence missed Skyros, and they wandered till they came to Ephyra, and in Molossia he was king for a little while: howbeit his race held this state continually. Then was he gone to the god's home, carrying an offering of the chief spoils from Troy: and there in quarrel concerning meats a man smote him with a knife.
Thereat were the Delphian entertainers of strangers grieved exceedingly: nevertheless he but paid a debt to destiny: for it was needful that in that most ancient grove someone of the lords the sons of Aiakos should abide within thenceforward, beside the goodly walls of the god's house, and that when with plenteous sacrifice the processions do honour to the heroes, he should keep watch that fair right be done. Three words shall be enough: when he presideth over the games there is no lie found in his testimony thereof.
O thou Aigina, of thy children that are of Zeus I have good courage to proclaim that as of inheritance they claim the path to glory, through splendour of their valorous deeds: howbeit in every work a rest is sweet, yea even of honey cometh surfeit and of the lovely flowers of Love.
Now each of us is in his nature diverse, and several are the lots of life we draw, one this and one another: but that one man receive perfect bliss, this is impossible to men. I cannot find to tell of any to whom Fate hath given this award abidingly.
To thee, Thearion, she giveth fair measure of bliss, first daring in goodly deeds, and then understanding and sound mind. Thy friend am I, and I will keep far from the man I love the secret slander, and bring nigh unto him praise and true glory, as it were streams of water: for meet is such recompense for the good.
If there be near me now a man of the Achaians who dwelleth far up the Ionian sea, he shall not upbraid me: I have faith in my proxeny: and among the folk of my own land I look forth with clear gaze, having done naught immoderate, and having put away all violence from before my feet. So let the life that remaineth unto me run cheerly on.
He who knoweth shall say if indeed I come with slanderous speech upon my lips to strike a jarring note. To thee, Sogenes of the house of the sons of Euxenos, I swear that without overstepping the bound I have sent forth the swift speech of my tongue as it were a bronze-headed javelin, such as saveth from the wrestling the strong neck sweatless yet, or ever the limbs be plunged in the sun's fire.
If toil there were, delight more abundant followeth after. Let be; if somewhat over far I soared when I cried aloud, yet am I not froward, that I should deny his glory unto one that conquereth.
The weaving of wreaths is an easy thing: tarry a little: behold the Muse fasteneth together gold and white ivory, and a lily flower withal, that she hath plucked from beneath the deep sea's dew.
Of Zeus be mindful when thou tellest of Nemea, and guide the multitudinous voices of our song with a quiet mind: meet is it that with gentle voice we celebrate in this land the king of gods: for they tell how he begat Aiakos of a mortal mother, to be for his own fortunate land a ruler of cities, and for thee, Herakles, a loving friend and brother.
And if man receiveth aught from man, then may we say that neighbour is to neighbour a joy worth all else, if he loveth him with steadfast soul: now if even a god will consent hereto, then in such bond with thee, O conqueror of the giants, is Sogenes fain to dwell happily in the well-built sacred street of his ancestors, cherishing a mind of tenderness toward his sire: for as when four horses are yoked together in a car, so hath he his house in the midst of thy holy places, and goeth in unto them both on the right hand and on the left.
O blessed spirit, thine is it to win hereto the husband of Hera, and the grey-eyed maid; and thou art able to give to mortals strength ever and again against baffling perplexities. Make thou to cleave to them a life of steadfast strength, and wind the bliss thereof amid both youth and a serene old age, and may their children's children possess continually the honours that they now have, and greater in the time to come.
Never shall my heart confess that I have outraged Neoptolemos with irreclaimable words. But thrice and four times to tell over the same tale is emptiness in the end thereof, even as he of the proverb that babbleth among children how that Korinthos was the son of Zeus.
[Footnote 1: Retaining the reading [Greek: hupo kerdei balon]. I conjecture it to mean, 'do not in their eagerness for trade choose an unfavourable and dangerous time for their voyage, but wait for the [Greek: kairos], the right opportunity.']
[Footnote 2: The kingdom of Epeiros. Pyrrhos, the invader of Italy, called himself a descendant of Neoptolemos (who was also called Pyrrhos).]
[Footnote 3: Delphi.]
[Footnote 4: Father of Sogenes.]
[Footnote 5: Pindar would seem to have been [Greek: proxenos] at Thebes for some state of Epeiros, to which fact he appeals as a proof that he stood well with the Epirot descendants of Neoptolemos.]
[Footnote 6: The Pentathlon was composed of five contests, namely, the jump, throwing the disk, throwing the javelin, the foot-race, and wrestling. The prize was for the best man in three contests out of the five. These came in the order in which they are enumerated above; thus if the best javelin-thrower had already won two of the other matches he would not be challenged to wrestle, as the prize of the Pentathlon would be already his. Very probably this had been the case with Sogenes, so that it would naturally occur to Pindar thus allusively to expand his not unfrequent comparison of his own art of poetry to that of a javelin-thrower or archer. On the Pentathlon may be consulted an article by Professor Percy Gardner in the Journal of Hellenic Studies for October, 1880; and also Smith's Dictionary of Antiquities (revised edition).]
[Footnote 7: Coral.]
[Footnote 8: Herakles.]
[Footnote 9: Thearion's house seems to have had a shrine, or at least some sacred ground, of Herakles at each side of it, so that he might regard that hero as his neighbour.]
[Footnote 10: Athene.]
[Footnote 11: Thearion and Sogenes.]
[Footnote 12: A proverbial equivalent for vain and wearisome repetition.]
FOR DEINIS OF AIGINA,
WINNER IN THE SHORT FOOT-RACE.
* * * * *
The date of this ode is unknown. It was probably sung before the shrine of Aiakos at Aigina.
* * * * *
Spirit of beautiful youth, thou herald of Aphrodite's loves ambrosial, who on the eyes of girl or boy alighting, with tenderly constraining hands dost handle one, but other otherwise—it is enough if one not swerving from the true aim, in his every act prevail to attain to the fulfilment of his worthier loves.
Such loves were they that waited on the bridal-bed of Zeus and Aigina, and were dispensers unto them of the Cyprian's gifts: and thence sprang there a son to be king of Oinone, in might of hand and in counsel excellent, and many a time did many pray that they might look on him: for the chosen among the heroes that dwelt around him were fain of their own will to submit them unto his sovereignty, both whoso in rocky Athens were leaders of the host, and at Sparta the children of Pelops.
So Aiakos' holy knees clasp I a suppliant for a city well-beloved and for these citizens, and I bear a Lydian crown wrought cunningly with the sound of song, a glory out of Nemea for two races run, of Deinis and of his father Meges.
Behold, the happiness that is planted with the favour of God is most abiding among men; even such as once in the isle of Cyprus loaded Kinyras with riches.
With poised feet I stand, and take breath for a little ere I speak. For much and in many ways hath been said ere now; and the contriving of new things and putting them to the touchstone to be tried is perilous altogether.
In words find the envious their dainties: envy fasteneth ever on the good, and careth not to strive against the base.
Yea thus did envy slay the son of Telamon, thrusting him through with his own sword. Verily if one be of stout heart but without gift of speech, such an one is a prey unto forgetfulness in a bitter strife, and to the shiftiness of lies is proffered the prize of the greatest. For in the secret giving of their votes the Danaoi courted Odysseus, and thus did Aias, robbed of the golden arms, wrestle in the grip of a bloody death.
Yet diverse verily were the strokes wherewith those twain had cloven the warm flesh of the foe, what time they bare up the war against the hedge of spears, whether about Achilles newly slain, or in whatsoever labours else of those wide-ruining days.
Thus was there even of old the treacherous speech of hate, that walketh with the subtleties of tales, intent on guile, slander that breedeth ill: so doth it violence on the thing that shineth, and uplifteth the rottenness of dim men's fame.
Never in me be this mind, O our father Zeus, but to the paths of simplicity let me cleave throughout my life, that being dead I may set upon my children a name that shall be of no ill report.
For gold some pray, and some for limitless lands: mine be it amid my townsfolk's love to shroud my limbs in earth, still honouring where honour is due, and sowing rebuke on the evildoers.
Thus groweth virtue greater, uplifted of the wise and just, as when a tree watered by fresh dew shooteth toward the moist air on high.
Manifold are the uses of friends, chiefest truly amid the press of toil, yet doth joy also desire to behold his own assurance.
Ah Meges, to bring back thy spirit to earth is to me impossible, and of empty hopes the end is naught. Yet for thy house and the clan of Chariadai I can upraise a lofty column of song in honour of these two pairs of fortunate feet.
I have joy to utter praise meet for the act, for by such charms of song doth a man make even labour a painless thing. Yet surely was there a Komos-song even of old time, yea before strife began between Adrastos and the sons of Kadmos.
[Footnote 1: Aphrodite.]
[Footnote 2: Aiakos.]
[Footnote 3: Aigina.]
[Footnote 4: Through celebration in song, which a friendly poet can give.]
[Footnote 5: Of Meges and Deinis.]
[Footnote 6: The invention of encomiastic hymns was attributed by legend to the time of the expedition of Adrastos and the other six against Thebes.]
FOR CHROMIOS OF AITNA,
WINNER IN THE CHARIOT-RACE.
* * * * *
This ode is placed by usage among the Nemeans, but the victory was not won at Nemea, but at Sikyon, in the local games called Pythian. Its date is unknown: it must have been after the founding of Aitna, B.C. 476. Probably the ode was sung in a procession at Aitna, some length of time after the victory. The Chromios is the Chromios of the first Nemean, Hieron's brother-in-law.
* * * * *
From Apollo at Sikyon will we lead our triumph forth, ye Muses, unto the new-made city of Aitna, where doors are opened wide to greet the invading guests, even to the fortunate house of Chromios. Come claim for him a song of sweetness: for he goeth up into the chariot of his victory, and biddeth us sing aloud to the mother and her twin children who keep watch over high Pytho in fellowship.
Now there is a saying among men, that one hide not in silence on the ground a good deed done: and meet for such brave tales is divine song.
Therefore will we arouse the pealing lyre and rouse the flute, in honour of the very crown of all contests of steeds, which Adrastos in honour of Phoibos ordained beside Asopos' stream.
Whereof when I make mention with voiceful honour I will celebrate withal the Hero, who then being king in that place did by the founding of a new feast and struggles of the strength of men and of carven cars make his city known abroad and glorious.
For he was flying before Amphiaraos of bold counsels, and before a dangerous civil strife, from Argos and his father's house: for no longer were the sons of Talaos lords therein, for a sedition had thrust them forth. The stronger man endeth the contention that hath been before.
But when they had given to the son of Oikleus for his wife, as one should give surety of an oath, Eriphyle, the slayer of her husband, they became the greatest of the fair-haired Danaoi. So thereafter led they on a time against seven-gated Thebes a host of men, but not by a road of signs propitious: nor would the son of Kronos speed them on their mad journey from their homes, but by the quivering lightnings he darted forth he bade them hold from their road.
But unto a revealed calamity hasted that company to go forth with bronze shields and the gear of steeds; and on the banks of Ismenos, stayed from their sweet return, they fed the white smoke with their bodies.
For seven pyres devoured the young men's limbs, but for Amphiaraos Zeus by almighty thunderbolt clave the deep-breasted earth, and buried him with his steeds, or ever the warrior's soul should be shamed by the smiting of him in the back by Periklymenos' spear. For when the terror cometh of heaven, then flee even the sons of gods.
If it be possible, O son of Kronos, this trial of valour against Phenician spears for life or death I would fain defer unto the utmost: and I beg of thee to grant unto the sons of the men of Aitna for long time a portion in good laws, and to make their people to dwell among glories that the citizens have won. Men are there here that love steeds and that have souls above desire of wealth. Hard of credence is the word I have spoken; for the spirit of honour which bringeth glory is stolen secretly by lust of gain.
Hadst thou been shield-bearer to Chromios among foot and horse and in fightings of ships, thou hadst judged concerning his jeopardy in the fierce fray, for in war did that divine honour stir his warrior-soul to ward off havoc of Enyalios. Few are there who may prevail by strength or valour to contrive a turning of the cloud of imminent death against the ranks of the enemy. Howbeit they tell how Hektor's glory flowered beside Skamander's streams, and thus on the steep cliffs of Heloros' banks, where men call the ford the Fountain of Ares, hath this light shined for Agesidamos' son in the beginning of his praise.
And other deeds on other days will I declare, many done amid the dust on the dry land, and yet others on the neighbouring sea. Now out of toils which in youth have been done with righteousness there ripeneth toward old age a day of calm.
Let Chromios know that he hath from the gods a lot of wondrous bliss. For if one together with much wealth have won him glorious renown, it is impossible that a mortal's feet touch any further mountain-top.
The banquet loveth peace, and by a gentle song a victory flourisheth afresh, and beside the bowl the singer's voice waxeth brave. Let one mix it now, that sweet proclaimer of the triumphal song, and in silver goblets hand the grapes' potent child, even the goblets which for Chromios his mares erst won, and sent to him from sacred Sikyon, entwined with well-earned crowns of Leto's son.
Now claim I, father Zeus, to have well sung this excellent deed by aid of the Charites, and beyond many to do honour to this victory by my words, for the javelin that I throw falleth nearest to the Muses' mark.
[Footnote 1: Leto.]
[Footnote 2: Adrastos.]
[Footnote 3: Lightning and thunder were often an encouraging sign (there is an instance in the fourth Pythian), but this would depend on the manner of them.]
[Footnote 4: War with the Carthaginians, who were still threatening the Hellenic colonists in Sicily, in spite of their recent defeat.]
[Footnote 5: About B.C. 492 a battle was fought on the Heloros between the Syracusans and the army of Hippokrates, tyrant of Gela.]
FOR THEAIOS OF ARGOS,
WINNER IN THE WRESTLING-MATCH.
* * * * *
This ode, like the last, is improperly called Nemean. It commemorates a victory won at the feast of the Hekatombaia at Argos. The date is unknown.
* * * * *
The city of Danaos and of his fifty bright-throned daughters, Argos the home of Hera, meet abode of gods, sing Graces! for by excellencies innumerable it is made glorious in the deeds of valiant men.
Long is the tale of Perseus, that telleth of the Gorgon Medusa: many are the cities in Egypt founded by the hands of Epaphos: neither went Hypermnestra's choice astray when she kept sheathed her solitary sword.
Also their Diomedes did the grey-eyed goddess make incorruptible and a god: and at Thebes, the earth blasted by the bolts of Zeus received within her the prophet, the son of Oikleus, the storm-cloud of war.
Moreover in women of beautiful hair doth the land excel. Thereto in days of old Zeus testified, when he followed after Alkmene and after Danae.
And in the father of Adrastos and in Lynkeus did Argos mingle ripe wisdom with upright justice: and she reared the warrior Amphitryon. Now he came to the height of honour in his descendants, for in bronze armour he slew the Teleboai, and in his likeness the king of the immortals entered his hall, bearing the seed of fearless Herakles, whose bride in Olympos is Hebe, who by the side of her mother, the queen of marriage, walketh of all divinities most fair.
My tongue would fail to tell in full the honours wherein the sacred Argive land hath part: also the distaste of men is ill to meet. Yet wake the well-strung lyre, and take thought of wrestlings; a strife for the bronze shield stirreth the folk to sacrifice of oxen unto Hera and to the issue of games, wherein the son of Oulias, Theaios, having overcome twice, hath obtained forgetfulness of the toils he lightly bore.
Also on a time at Pytho he was first of the Hellenic host, and won crowns at Isthmos and at Nemea, led thither by fair hap, and gave work for the Muses' plough by thrice winning at the Gates of the Sea and thrice on the famous plains in the pastures of Adrastos' home. Of that he longeth for, O Father Zeus, his mouth is silent, with thee are the issues of deeds: but with a spirit strong to labour and of a good courage he prayeth thy grace. Both Theaios, and whosoever struggleth in the perfect consummation of all games, know this, even the supremacy of the ordinance of Herakles that is holden at Pisa: yet sweet preluding strains are those that twice have welcomed his triumph at the festival of the Athenians: and in earthenware baked in the fire, within the closure of figured urns, there came among the goodly folk of Hera the prize of the olive fruit.
On the renowned race of thy mother's sires there waiteth glory of games by favour of the Graces and the sons of Tyndareus together. Were I kinsman of Thrasyklos and Antias I would claim at Argos not to hide mine eyes. For with how many victories hath this horse-breeding city of Proitos flourished! even in the Corinthian corner and from the men of Kleonai four times, and from Sikyon they came laden with silver, even goblets for wine, and out of Pellene clad in soft woof of wool. But to tell over the multitude of their prizes of bronze is a thing impossible—to count them longer leisure were needed—which Kleitor and Tegea and the Achaians' high-set cities and the Lykaion set for a prize by the race-course of Zeus for the conquerors by strength of hands or feet.
And since Kastor and his brother Polydeukes came to be the guests of Pamphaes, no marvel is it that to be good athletes should be inborn in the race. For they it is who being guardians of the wide plains of Sparta with Hermes and Herakles mete out fair hap in games, and to righteous men they have great regard. Faithful is the race of gods.
Now, changing climes alternately, they dwell one day with their dear father Zeus, and the next in the secret places under the earth, within the valleys of Therapnai, fulfilling equal fate: because on this wise chose Polydeukes to live his life rather than to be altogether god and abide continually in heaven, when that Kastor had fallen in the fight.
Him did Idas, wroth for his oxen, smite with a bronze spearhead, when from his watch upon Taygetos Lynkeus had seen them sitting within a hollow oak; for he of all men walking the earth had keenest eyes. So with swift feet they were straightway come to the place, and compassed speedily a dreadful deed.
But terrible also was the vengeance which by the devising of Zeus those sons of Aphareus suffered: for on the instant came Leto's son in chase of them: and they stood up against him hard by the sepulchre of their father. Thence wrenched they a carved headstone that was set to glorify the dead, and they hurled it at the breast of Polydeukes. But they crushed him not, neither made him give back, but rushing onward with fierce spear he drave the bronze head into Lynkeus' side. And against Idas Zeus hurled a thunderbolt of consuming fire.
So were those brothers in one flame burnt unbefriended: for a strife with the stronger is grievous for men to mix in.
Then quickly came back the son of Tyndareus to his great brother, and found him not quite dead, but the death-gasp rattled in his throat. Then Polydeukes wept hot tears, and groaned, and lifted up his voice, and cried: 'Father Kronion—ah! what shall make an end of woes? Bid me, me also, O king, to die with him. The glory is departed from a man bereaved of friends. Few are they who in a time of trouble are faithful in companionship of toil.'
Thus said he, and Zeus came, and stood before his face, and spake these words: 'Thou art my son: but thy brother afterward was by mortal seed begotten in thy mother of the hero that was her husband. But nevertheless, behold I give thee choice of these two lots: if, shunning death and hateful old age, thou desirest for thyself to dwell in Olympus with Athene and with Ares of the shadowing spear, this lot is thine to take: but if in thy brother's cause thou art so hot, and art resolved in all to have equal share with him, then half thy time thou shalt be alive beneath the earth, and half in the golden house of heaven.'
Thus spake his father, and Polydeukes doubted not which counsel he should choose. So Zeus unsealed the eye, and presently the tongue also, of Kastor of the brazen mail.
[Footnote 1: Son of the Argive Danae.]
[Footnote 2: Son of the Argive Io.]
[Footnote 3: Or perhaps: 'Neither were Hypermnestra's story misplaced here, how she, &c.']
[Footnote 4: Amphiaraos.]
[Footnote 5: Disgust at hearing anything profusely praised.]
[Footnote 6: At Corinth, in the Isthmian games.]
[Footnote 7: Nemea.]
[Footnote 8: The Olympic games.]
[Footnote 9: The Argives.]
[Footnote 10: The Athenian prize seems to have been an olive-bough in a vase of burnt clay.]
[Footnote 11: Near Nemea.]
[Footnote 12: I. e. with prizes of cloaks.]
[Footnote 13: An ancestor of Theaios. Probably he had given Theoxenia. See Ol. III.]
[Footnote 14: Kastor and Polydeukes.]
[Footnote 15: They slew Kastor.]
[Footnote 16: Idas and Lynkeus.]
[Footnote 17: Polydeukes.]
[Footnote 18: Either of the thunderbolt, or of a funeral-pile.]
[Footnote 19: Both brothers were nominally sons of Tyndareus, but really only Kastor was: Polydeukes was a son of Zeus.]
FOR ARISTAGORAS OF TENEDOS,
ON HIS ELECTION TO THE PRESIDENCY OF THE SENATE.
* * * * *
This ode again was written neither for a Nemean nor for any other athletic victory, but for the [Greek: eisitaeria] or initiatory ceremonies at the election of a new [Greek: prytanis] of Tenedos. The Prytanis would seem to have been a kind of President of the Senate. The date is unknown.
* * * * *
Daughter of Rhea, who hast in thy keeping the city halls, O Hestia! sister of highest Zeus and of Hera sharer of his throne, with good-will welcome Aristagoras to thy sanctuary, with good-will also his fellows who draw nigh to thy glorious sceptre, for they in paying honour unto thee keep Tenedos in her place erect, by drink-offerings glorifying thee many times before the other gods, and many times by the savour of burnt sacrifice; and the sound of their lutes is loud, and of their songs: and at their tables never-failing are celebrated the rites of Zeus, the stranger's friend.
So with fair fame and unvexed heart may Aristagoras fulfil his twelve-month term.
Blessed among men I count his father Arkesilas, and himself for his splendid body and his heritage of a dauntless heart.
But if any man shall possess wealth, and withal surpass his fellows in comely form, and in games have shown his strength to be the best, let such an one remember that his raiment is upon mortal limbs, and that the earth shall be his vesture at the end.
Yet in good words of his fellow-citizens is it meet that his praise be told, and that we make his name comely with notes of honey-sounding song.
Now among the neighbouring peoples sixteen illustrious victories have crowned Aristagoras and his famous clan in the wrestling-match and in the pankration of weighty honour. But hopes too diffident of his parents kept back the might of their son from essaying the Pythian or Olympian strife: yet verily by the God of Truth I am persuaded that both at Castaly and at the tree-clad hill of Kronos, had he gone thither, he should have turned back home with more honour than any of his rivals who had striven with him, when that he had kept the fifth year's feast ordained of Herakles with dance and song, and with the shining shoots had bound his hair.
But thus among mortals is one cast down from weal by empty boasts, while another through overmuch mistrusting of his strength is robbed of his due honours, for that a spirit of little daring draggeth him backward by the hand.
This were an easy thing to divine, that Peisander's stock was from Sparta in the time of old (for from Amyklai he came with Orestes, bringing hither an army of Aiolians in bronze mail): and also that the blood of his mother's brother Melanippos was blended with Ismenos' stream.
The virtues of an old descent repeat their vigour uncertainly in the generations of men. Neither doth the black-soiled tilth bring forth fruit continually, neither will the trees be persuaded to bear with every year's return a fragrant flower of equal wealth, but in their turns only. Thus also doth destiny lead on the race of mortals. From Zeus there cometh no clear sign to men: yet nevertheless we enter on high counsels, and meditate many acts: for by untameable hope our bodies are enthralled: but the tides of our affairs are hidden from our fore-knowledge. Meet is it to pursue advantage moderately: fiercest is the madness that springeth from unappeasable desires.
[Footnote 1: The sacred fire of the state, over which Hestia watched, was kept in the Prytaneion.]
[Footnote 2: The other Senators.]
[Footnote 3: The Olympic.]
[Footnote 4: Ancestor of Aristagoras and head of his clan.]
[Footnote 5: 'In the loins of his father.']
[Footnote 6: I. e. a Theban alliance.]
THE ISTHMIAN ODES.
FOR HERODOTOS OF THEBES.
WINNER IN THE CHARIOT-RACE.
* * * * *
The date of this ode is unknown. We gather from the first strophe that Pindar was engaged at the time to write an ode in honour of the Delian Apollo to be sung at Keos, but that he put this off in order first to write the present ode in honour of a victory won for his own native state of Thebes.
* * * * *
O mother, Thebe of the golden shield, thy service will I set even above the matter that was in my hand. May rocky Delos, whereto I am vowed, be not therefore wroth with me. Is there aught dearer to the good than noble parents?
Give place O Apollonian isle: these twain fair offices, by the grace of God, will I join together in their end, and to Phoibos of the unshorn hair in island Keos with men of her sea-race will I make my choral song, and therewithal this other for the sea-prisoning cliffs of Isthmos.
For six crowns hath Isthmos given from her games to the people of Kadmos, a fair glory of triumph for my country, for the land wherein Alkmene bare her dauntless son, before whom trembled aforetime the fierce hounds of Geryon.
But I for Herodotos' praise am fain to do honour unto his four-horsed car, and to marry to the strain of Kastoreian or Iolaic song the fame that he hath earned, handling his reins in his own and no helping hand.
For these Kastor and Iolaos were of all heroes the mightiest charioteers, the one to Lakedaimon, the other born to Thebes. And at the games they entered oftenest for the strife, and with tripods and caldrons and cups of gold they made fair their houses, attaining unto victorious crowns: clear shineth their prowess in the foot-race, run naked or with the heavy clattering shield; and when they hurled the javelin and the quoit: for then was there no five-fold game, but for each several feat there was a prize. Oft did they bind about their hair a crowd of crowns, and showed themselves unto the waters of Dirke or on Eurotas' banks, the son of Iphikles a fellow-townsman of the Spartoi's race, the son of Tyndareus inhabiting the upland dwelling-place of Therapna among the Achaians.
So hail ye and farewell: I on Poseidon and holy Isthmos, and on the lake-shores of Onchestos will throw the mantle of my song, and will among the glories of this man make glorious also the story of his father Asopodoros' fate, and his new country Orchomenos, which, when he drave ashore on a wrecked ship, harboured him amid his dismal hap. But now once more hath the fortune of his house raised him up to see the fair days of the old time: and he who hath suffered pain beareth forethought within his soul.
If a man's desire be wholly after valour, and he give thereto both wealth and toil, meet is it that to such as attain unto it we offer with ungrudging heart high meed of praise. For an easy gift it is for a son of wisdom, by a good word spoken in recompense for labour manifold to set on high the public fame. For diverse meeds for diverse works are sweet to men, to the shepherd and to the ploughman, to the fowler and to him whom the sea feedeth—howbeit all those strive but to keep fierce famine from their bellies; but whoso in the games or in war hath won delightful fame, receiveth the highest of rewards in fair words of citizens and of strangers.
Us it beseemeth to requite the earth-shaking son of Kronos, who is also neighbour unto us, and to sound his praise as our well-doer, who hath given speed to the horses of our car, and to call upon thy sons, Amphitryon, and the inland dwelling of Minyas, and the famous grove of Demeter, even Eleusis, and Euboia with her curving race-course. And thy holy place, Protesilas, add I unto these, built thee at Phylake by Achaian men.
But to tell over all that Hermes lord of games hath given to Herodotos by his horses, the short space of my hymn alloweth not. Yea and full oft doth the keeping of silence bring forth a larger joy.
Now may Herodotos, up-borne upon the sweet-voiced Muse's shining wings, yet again with wreaths from Pytho and choice wreaths from Alpheos from the Olympian games entwine his hand, and bring honour unto seven-gated Thebes.
Now if one at home store hidden wealth, and fall upon other men to mock them, this man considereth not that he shall give up his soul to death having known no good report.
[Footnote 1: The Pentathlon. See Introduction to Ol. xiii, and note on Nem. vii, p. 129.]
[Footnote 2: Rivers were [Greek: kourotrophoi] (nurturers of youth), and thus young men who had achieved bodily feats were especially bound to return thanks to the streams of their native places.]
[Footnote 3: In Lakonia.]
[Footnote 4: Asopodoros seems to have been banished from Thebes and kindly received in his banishment by Orchomenos.]
[Footnote 5: Here, as elsewhere probably in the special sense of a poet.]
[Footnote 6: Herakles and Iolaos.]
[Footnote 7: Orchomenos.]
FOR XENOKRATES OF AKRAGAS,
WINNER IN THE CHARIOT-RACE.
* * * * *
This is the same winner for whom the sixth Pythian ode was written. Its date would seem to be 476, while that of the sixth Pythian was 494. Yet the opening passage of this ode seems to imply that Xenokiates' son Thrasyboulos was still little more than a boy, whereas in 494 he had been old enough to be his father's charioteer, and this would be eighteen years later. But perhaps the passage is only an allusion to Thrasyboulos' boyhood as a time past. And certainly both Xenokrates and his brother Theron seem to be spoken of in this ode as already dead, and we know that Theron did not die till 473. Perhaps therefore Thrasyboulos was celebrating in 472 the anniversary of his deceased father's victory, four years after the victory itself.
* * * * *
The men of old, Thrasyboulos, who went up into the Muse's car to give welcome with the loud-voiced lyre, lightly for honour of boys shot forth their honey-sounding songs, whensoever in one fair of form was found that sweetest summer-bloom that turneth hearts to think on fair-throned Aphrodite.
For then the Muse was not yet covetous nor a hireling, neither were sweet lays tender-voiced sold with silvered faces by Terpsichore of honeyed speech. But now doth she bid heed the word of the Argive man which keepeth nigh to the paths of truth:
'Money, money maketh man,' he said, when robbed of goods at once and friends.
Forasmuch as thou art wise it is nothing hidden to thee that I sing, while I do honour to the Isthmian victory won by speed of horses, which to Xenokrates did Poseidon give, and sent to him a wreath of Dorian parsley to bind about his hair, a man of goodly chariot, a light of the people of Akragas.
Also at Krisa did far-prevailing Apollo look upon him, and gave him there too glory: and again when he attained unto the crowns of the Erectheidai in shining Athens he found no fault in the chariot-saving hand of the man Nikomachos who drave his horses, the hand wherewith in the instant of need he bare on all the reins.
Moreover the heralds of the seasons, the Elean truce-bringers of Zeus the son of Kronos, recognized him, having met belike with hospitality from him, and in a voice of dulcet breath they gave him greeting for that he had fallen at the knees of golden Victory in their land which men call the holy place of Olympic Zeus, where the sons of Ainesidamos attained unto honour everlasting.
For no stranger is your house, O Thrasyboulos, to pleasant shouts of triumph, neither to sweet-voiced songs. For not uphill neither steep-sloped is the path whereby one bringeth the glories of the Helikonian maidens to dwell with famous men.
By a far throw of the quoit may I hurl even so far as did Xenokrates surpass all men in the sweetness of his spirit. In converse with citizens was he august, and upheld horse-racing after the Hellenes' wont: also worshipped he at all festivals of the gods, nor ever did the breeze that breathed around his hospitable board give him cause to draw in his sail, but with the summer-gales he would fare unto Phasis, and in his winter voyage unto the shores of Nile.
Let not Thrasyboulos now, because that jealous hopes beset the mind of mortals, be silent concerning his father's prowess, nor from these hymns: for not to lie idle have I devised them. That message give him, Nikesippos, when thou comest unto my honoured friend.
[Footnote 1: Aristodemos.]
[Footnote 2: I. e. either tightened the near or slackened the off reins to the utmost in turning the goal, or perhaps, gave full rein to his horses between each turn or after the final one.]
[Footnote 3: The heralds who proclaimed throughout Hellas the approach of the Olympic games, and an universal solemn truce during their celebration.]
[Footnote 4: Theron, the tyrant of Akragas, and Xenokrates.]
[Footnote 5: Metaphorically, in the extent of his hospitality.]
FOR MELISSOS OF THEBES,
WINNER IN THE PANKRATION.
* * * * *
The date of this ode is uncertain, though some on the hypothesis that the battle alluded to is the battle of Plataiai, have dated it 478 or 474. In this battle, whatever it was, the Kleonymid clan to which Melissos belonged had lost four men. The celebrity of the clan in the games seems to have been eclipsed for some time, but Melissos revived it by a chariot-victory at Nemea and this pankration-victory at the Isthmus, won in spite of his small stature which might have seemed to place him at a disadvantage. The ode compares his match against his antagonists with that of Herakles against the African giant Antaios.
Very probably this ode was sung at a night meeting of the clan, while the altars of Herakles were blazing.
* * * * *
If any among men having good fortune and dwelling amid prizes of renown or the power of wealth restraineth in his heart besetting insolence, this man is worthy to have part in his citizens' good words.
But from thee, O Zeus, cometh all high excellence to mortals; and longer liveth their bliss who have thee in honour, but with minds perverse it consorteth never steadfastly, flourishing throughout all time.
In recompense for glorious deeds it behoveth that we sing the valiant, and amid his triumphal company exalt him with fair honours. Of two prizes is the lot fallen to Melissos, to turn his heart unto sweet mirth, for in the glens of Isthmos hath he won crowns, and again in the hollow vale of the deep-chested lion being winner in the chariot-race he made proclamation that his home was Thebes.
Thus shameth he not the prowess of his kinsmen. Ye know the ancient fame of Kleonymos with the chariot: also on the mother's side being akin to the Labdakidai his race hath been conversant with riches, and bestowed them on the labours of the four-horse car.
But time with rolling days bringeth changes manifold: only the children of gods are free of wounds.
By grace of God I have ways countless everywhere open unto me: for thou hast shown forth to me, O Melissos, in the Isthmian games an ample means to follow in song the excellence of thy race: wherein the Kleonymidai flourish continually, and in favour with God pass onward through the term of mortal life: howbeit changing gales drive all men with ever-changing drift.
These men verily are spoken of as having honour at Thebes from the beginning, for that they cherished the inhabitants round about, and had no part in loud insolence; if there be borne about by the winds among men aught of witness to the great honour of quick or dead, unto such have they attained altogether. By the brave deeds of their house they have touched the pillars of Herakles, that are at the end of things. Beyond that follow thou no excellence.
Horse-breeders moreover have they been, and found favour with mailed Ares; but in one day the fierce snow-storm of war hath made a happy hearth to be desolate of four men.
But now once more after that wintry gloom hath it blossomed, even as in the flowery months the earth blossometh with red roses, according to the counsels of gods.
For the Shaker of Earth who inhabiteth Onchestos and the Bridge between seas that lieth before the valley of Corinth, now giveth to the house this hymn of wonder, and leadeth up out of her bed the ancient glory of the famous deeds thereof: for she was fallen on sleep; but she awaketh and her body shineth preeminent, as among stars the Morning-star.
For in the land of Athens proclaiming a victory of the car, and at Sikyon at the games of Adrastos did she give like wreaths of song for the sons of Kleonymos that then were. For neither did they refrain to contend with the curved chariot in the great meetings of the people, but they had delight to strive with the whole folk of Hellas in spending their wealth on steeds.
Touching the unproven there is silence, and none knoweth them: yea and even from them that strive Fortune hideth herself until they come unto the perfect end; for she giveth of this and of that.
The better man hath been ere now overtaken and overthrown by the craft of worse. Verily ye know the bloody deed of Aias, that he wrought beneath the far-spent night, when he smote himself through with his own sword, whereby he upbraideth yet the children of the Hellenes, as many as went forth to Troy.
But lo! Homer hath done him honour among men, and by raising up his excellence in the fulness thereof hath through the rod of his divine lays delivered it to bards after him to sing.
For the thing that one hath well said goeth forth with a voice unto everlasting: over fruitful earth and beyond the sea hath the light of fair deeds shined, unquenchable for ever.
May we find favour with the Muses, that for Melissos too we kindle such beacon-blaze of song, a worthy prize of the pankration for this scion of Telesias' son.
He being like unto the roaring lions in courage taketh unto him their spirit to be his own in the struggle: but in sleight he is as the fox that spreadeth out her feet and preventeth the swoop of the eagle: for all means must be essayed by him that would prevail over his foe. For not of the stature of Orion was this man, but his presence is contemptible, yet terrible is he to grapple with in his strength.
And verily once to the house of Antaios came a man to wrestle against him, of short stature but of unbending soul, from Kadmean Thebes even unto corn-bearing Libya, that he might cause him to cease from roofing Poseidon's temple with the skulls of strangers—even the son of Alkmene, he who ascended up to Olympus, after that he had searched out the surface of the whole earth and of the crag-walled hoary sea, and had made safe way for the sailing of ships. And now beside the aegis-bearer he dwelleth, possessing happiness most fair, and hath honour from the immortals as their friend, and hath Hebe to wife, and is lord of a golden house, and husband of Hera's child.
Unto his honour upon the heights Elektrai we of this city prepare a feast and new-built altar-ring, where we offer burnt sacrifice in honour of the eight mail-clad men that are dead, whom Megara, Kreon's daughter, bore to be sons of Herakles.
To them at the going down of the day there ariseth a flame of fire and burneth all night continually, amid a savoury smoke hurling itself against the upper air: and on the second day is the award of the yearly games, a trial of strength.
Therein did this our man, his head with myrtle-wreaths made white, show forth a double victory, after another won already among the boys, for that he had regard unto the many counsels of him who was the pilot of his helm. And with Orseas' name I join him in my triumphal song, and shed over them a glory of delight.
[Footnote 1: 'Many themes on which I can justly praise the clan.']
[Footnote 2: The Isthmus.]
[Footnote 3: The rod or staff carried anciently by poets and reciters of poems.]
[Footnote 4: I. e. throwing herself on her back with feet upward. If it is meant that she counterfeits death, then of course the parallel with the pankratiast will only hold good to the extent of the supine posture.]
[Footnote 5: His trainer, Orseas.]
FOR PHYLAKIDAS OF AIGINA,
WINNER IN THE PANKRATION.
* * * * *
This Phylakidas was a son of Lampon, and a brother of the Pytheas for whom the fifth Nemean was written. This ode must have been written shortly after the battle of Salamis, probably B.C. 478, and was to be sung at Aigina, perhaps at a festival of the goddess Theia who is invoked at the beginning. She, according to Hesiod, was the mother of the Sun, the Moon, and the Morning, and was also called [Greek: Euruphaessa] and [Greek: chruse], from which latter name perhaps came her association with gold and wealth.
* * * * *
Mother of the Sun, Theia of many names, through thee it is that men prize gold as mighty above all things else: for ships that strive upon the sea and horses that run in chariots, for the honour that is of thee, O queen, are glorified in swiftly circling struggle.
And that man also hath won longed-for glory in the strife of games, for whose strong hand or fleet foot abundant wreaths have bound his hair. Through God is the might of men approved.
Two things alone there are that cherish life's bloom to its utmost sweetness amidst the fair flowers of wealth—to have good success and to win therefore fair fame. Seek not to be as Zeus; if the portion of these honours fall to thee, thou hast already all. The things of mortals best befit mortality.
For thee, Phylakidas, a double glory of valour is at Isthmos stored, and at Nemea both for thee and for Pytheas a pankratiast's crown.
Not without the sons of Aiakos will my heart indite of song: and in company of the Graces am I come for sake of Lampon's sons to this commonwealth of equal laws. If then on the clear high road of god-given deeds she hath set her feet, grudge not to mingle in song a seemly draught of glory for her toil.
For even the great men of old that were good warriors have profited of the telling of their tale, and are glorified on the lute and in the pipe's strains manifold, through immeasurable time: and to the cunning in words they give matter by the grace of Zeus.
Thus by their worship with the blaze of burnt-offerings among Aitolians have the mighty sons of Oineus honour, and at Thebes Iolaos the charioteer, and at Argos Perseus, and by the streams of Eurotas Polydeukes and Kastor's spear:
But in Oinone the great souls of Aiakos and his sons, who after much fighting twice sacked the Trojans' town, first when they went with Herakles, and again with the sons of Atreus.
Now drive me upward still; say who slew Kyknos, and who Hektor, and the dauntless chief of Ethiop hosts, bronze-mailed Memnon. What man was he who with his spear smote noble Telephos by Kaikos' banks? Even they whose home my mouth proclaimeth to be Aigina's glorious isle: a tower is she, builded from long ago, to tempt the climb of high-adventuring valour.
Many arrows hath my truthful tongue in store wherewith to sound the praises of her sons: and even but now in war might Aias' city, Salamis, bear witness thereto in her deliverance by Aigina's seamen amid the destroying tempest of Zeus, when death came thick as hail on the unnumbered hosts. Yet let no boast be heard. Zeus ordereth this or that, Zeus, lord of all.