The Extant Odes of Pindar
by Pindar
Previous Part     1  2  3  4
Home - Random Browse

Now in pleasant song even these honours also of the games welcome the joy for a fair victory. Let any strive his best in such, who hath learnt what Kleonikos' house can do. Undulled is the fame of their long toil, nor ever was their zeal abated by any counting of the cost.

Also have I praise for Pytheas, for that he guided aright[4] the course of Phylakidas' blows in the struggle of hands that bring limbs low, an adversary he of cunning soul.

Take for him a crown, and bring the fleecy fillet, and speed him on his way with this new winged hymn.

[Footnote 1: Aigina.]

[Footnote 2: Poets.]

[Footnote 3: Meleager and his brothers.]

[Footnote 4: Pytheas had given his brother example, and very probably precept also, in the pankration.]




* * * * *

This ode seems to be of earlier date than the last, though placed after it in our order. The occasion is similar. Probably it was sung at a banquet at Lampon's house.

* * * * *

As one may do amid merry revel of men, so mingle we a second time the bowls of Muses' melody in honour of Lampon's athlete progeny.

Our first, O Zeus, was unto thee, when at Nemea we[1] won thy excellent crown, and now is this second unto the lord[2] of Isthmos and unto the fifty daughters of Nereus, for that Phylakidas the youngest son is winner in the games. And be it ours to make ready yet a third for the Saviour[3], the Olympian one, and in honour of Aigina make libation of our honey-speaking song.

For if a man rejoice to suffer cost and toil, and achieve god-builded excellence, and therewithal fate plant for him fair renown, already at the farthest bounds of bliss hath such an one cast anchor, for the glory that he hath thereby from God. With such desires prayeth the son[4] of Kleonikos that he may fulfil them ere he meet death or hoary eld.

Now I call on high-throned Klotho and her sister Fates to draw nigh unto the praying of the man I love.

And upon you also, golden-charioted seed of Aiakos, I say it is clear law to me to shed the dew of my good words, what time I set my foot[5] upon this isle.

For innumerable hundred-foot[6] straight roads are cleft for your fair deeds to go forth, beyond the springs of Nile, and through the Hyperboreans' midst: neither is any town so barbarous and strange of speech that it knoweth not the fame of Peleus, that blissful son-in-law of gods, or of Aias son of Telamon, and of Aias' sire; whom unto brazen war an eager ally with Tirynthian men Alkmene's son took with him in his ships to Troy, to the place of heroes' toil, to take vengeance for Laomedon's untruth.

There did Herakles take the city of Pergamos, and with help of Telamon slew the nations of the Meropes, and the herdsman whose stature was as a mountain, Alkyoneus whom he found at Phlegrai, and spared not of his hands the terrible twanging bowstring.

But when he went to call the son of Aiakos to the voyage he found the whole company at the feast. And as he stood there in his lion's skin, then did Telamon their chief challenge Amphitryon's son of the mighty spear to make initiative libation of nectar, and handed on unto him the wine-cup rough with gold.

And Herakles stretched forth to heaven his invincible hands and spake on this wise: 'If ever, O father Zeus, thou hast heard my prayer with willing heart, now, even now, with strong entreaty I pray thee that thou give this man a brave child of Eriboia's womb, that by award of fate my friend may gain a son of body as staunch[7] as this hide that hangeth about me, which was of the beast that I slew at Nemea, first of all my labours; and let his soul be of like sort.'

And when he had thus spoken, the god sent forth the king of birds, a mighty eagle, and sweet delight thrilled him within, and he spake aloud as a seer speaketh: 'Behold, the son whom thou askest shall be born unto thee, O Telamon:' also after the bird's name that had appeared unto them he said that the child's name should be the mighty Aias[8], terrible in the strife of warring hosts: so he spake, and sate him down straightway.

But for me it were long to tell all those valiant deeds. For for Phylakidas am I come, O Muse, a dispenser of thy triumphal songs, and for Pytheas, and for Euthymenes[9]; therefore in Argive fashion my tale shall be of fewest words.

Three victories have they won in the pankration of Isthmos, and others at leafy Nemea, even these noble sons and their mother's brother: how fair a portion of song have they brought to light! yea and they water with the Charites' delicious dew their clan of the Psalychidai, and have raised up the house of Themistios, and dwell here in a city which the gods love well.

And Lampon, in that he bestoweth practice on all he doth, holdeth in high honour the word of Hesiod which speaketh thereof[10], and exhorteth thereunto his sons, whereby he bringeth unto his city a general fame: and for his kind entreating of strangers is he loved, to the just mean aspiring, to the just mean holding fast; and his tongue departeth not from his thoughts: and among athlete men he is as the bronze-grinding Naxian whetstone amid stones[11].

Now will I give him to drink of the holy water of Dirke, which golden-robed Mnemosyne's deep-girdled daughters made once to spring out of the earth, beside the well-walled gates of Kadmos.

[Footnote 1: I. e. Pytheas. See Nem. v.]

[Footnote 2: Poseidon.]

[Footnote 3: [Greek: Zeus Sotaer], to whom the third cup at a feast was drunk. He is here invoked also to give a third victory to the family at the Olympic games.]

[Footnote 4: Lampon.]

[Footnote 5: Figuratively said, as elsewhere.]

[Footnote 6: A hundred feet wide, seemingly.]

[Footnote 7: Not 'invulnerable.' A magic invulnerability was only attributed to heroes by later legend.]

[Footnote 8: From [Greek: aietos] an eagle.]

[Footnote 9: Maternal uncle of Pytheas and Phylakidas.]

[Footnote 10: [Greek: melete de ergon ophellei]. Opp. 411.]

[Footnote 11: I. e. he stimulates their zeal and skill. The Naxian whetstone seems to be emery.]




* * * * *

The date of this ode is not fixed, but it has been supposed that the battle referred to—apparently a defeat—in which the winner's uncle was killed was the battle of Oinophyta, fought B.C. 457. But this, and the notion that the democratic revolution at Thebes is referred to, are only conjectures.

* * * * *

Wherewithal of the fair deeds done in thy land, O divine Thebe, hath thy soul had most delight? Whether when thou broughtest forth to the light Dionysos of the flowing hair, who sitteth beside Demeter to whom the cymbals clang? or when at midnight in a snow of gold thou didst receive the mightiest of the gods, what time he stood at Amphitryon's doors and beguiled his wife, to the begetting of Herakles? Or when thou hadst honour in the wise counsels of Teiresias, or in Iolaos the cunning charioteer, or the unwearied spears of the Spartoi? or when out of the noise of the strong battle-cry thou sentest Adrastos home to horse-breeding Argos, of his countless company forlorn? or when thou madest the Dorian colony of the men of Lakedaimon stand upright upon its feet[1], and the sons of Aigeus thy progeny took Amyklai, according to the oracles of Pytho?

Nay, but the glory of the old time sleepeth, and mortals are unmindful thereof, save such as married to the sounding stream of song attaineth unto the perfect meed that wisdom[2] giveth. New triumph now lead for Strepsiades with melodious hymn: for at Isthmos hath he borne away the pankratiast's prize. Wondrous in strength is he, and to look upon of goodly shape, and his valour is such as shameth not his stature.

So shineth he forth by grace of the Muses iris-haired, and to his uncle of like name hath he given to share his crown, for albeit bronze-shielded Ares gave him over unto death, yet remaineth there for the valiant a recompense of renown. For let whoso amid the cloud of war from his beloved country wardeth the bloody shower, and maketh havoc in the enemy's host, know assuredly that for the race of his fellow-citizens he maketh their renown wax mightily, yea when he is dead even as while he was yet alive.

So didst thou, son[3] of Diodotos, following the praise of the warrior Meleagros, and of Hektor, and of Amphiaraos, breathe forth the spirit of thy fair-flowering youth amid the company of fighters in the front, where the bravest on slenderest hopes bare up the struggle of war.

Then suffered I a pang unspeakable, but now hath the earth-grasper[4] granted unto me a calm after the storm: I will set chaplets on my hair and sing. Now let no jealousy of immortals mar whatever sweet thing through a day's pursuit I follow, as it leadeth on up to old age, and unto the term of life appointed.

For all we in like manner die, albeit our lots be diverse. If any lift up his eye to look upon things afar off, yet is he too weak to attain unto the bronze-paved dwelling of the gods. Thus did winged Pegasos throw his lord Bellerophon, when he would fain enter into the heavenly habitations and mix among the company of Zeus. Unrighteous joyance a bitter end awaiteth.

But to us, O Loxias of the golden-flowing hair, give also at thy Pythian games a new fair-flowering crown.

[Footnote 1: The Theban Aigidai helped the mythical 'return of the Herakleidai.']

[Footnote 2: Wisdom of bards.]

[Footnote 3: Strepsiades the uncle.]

[Footnote 4: Poseidon.]




* * * * *

All that we can be certain of as to the date of this ode is that it was written soon after the final expulsion of the Persians. From the first strophe we learn that Kleandros had won a Nemean as well as an Isthmian victory, and perhaps this ode really belongs to the former. It was to be sung, it seems, before the house of Telesarchos the winner's father, at Aigina.

* * * * *

For Kleandros in his prime let some of you, ye young men, go stand before the shining portal of his father Telesarchos, and rouse a song of triumph, to be a glorious recompense of his toils, for that he hath achieved reward of victory at Isthmos, and hath showed his strength in the games of Nemea.

For him I also, albeit heavy at heart[1], am bidden to call upon the golden Muse. Yea since we are come forth from our sore troubles let us not fall into the desolation of crownlessness, neither nurse our griefs; but having ease from our ills that are past mending, we will set some pleasant thing before the people, though it follow hard on pain: inasmuch as some god hath put away from us the Tantalos-stone that hung above our heads, a curse intolerable to Hellas.

But now hath the passing of this terror ended my sore disquietude, and ever it is better to look only on the thing hard by. For the guile of time hangeth above the heads of men, and maketh the way of their life crooked, yet if Freedom abide with them, even such things may mortals cure.

But it is meet that a man cherish good hope: and meet also that I, whom seven-gated Thebes reared, proffer chiefly unto Aigina the choicest of the Graces' gifts, for that from one sire were two daughters[2] born, youngest of the children of Asopos, and found favour in the eyes of the king Zeus.

One by the fair stream of Dirke he set to be the queen of a city of charioteers, and thee the other he bare to the Oinopian isle, and lay with thee, whence to the sire of great thunderings thou didst bear the godlike Aiakos, best of men upon the earth.

This man even among divinities became a decider of strife: and his godlike sons and his sons' sons delighting in battle were foremost in valour when they met in the ringing brazen melley: chaste also were they approved, and wise of heart.

Thereof was the god's council mindful, what time for the hand of Thetis there was strife between Zeus and glorious Poseidon, each having desire that she should be his fair bride, for love had obtained dominion over them.

Yet did not the wisdom of the immortal gods fulfil for them such marriage, when they had heard a certain oracle. For Themis of wise counsels spake in the midst of them of how it was pre-destined that the sea-goddess should bear a royal offspring mightier than his father, whose hand should wield a bolt more terrible than the lightning or the dread trident, if she came ever into the bed of Zeus, or of brethren of Zeus.

'Cease ye herefrom: let her enter a mortal's couch and see her son fall in war, who shall be as Ares in the might of his hands, and as the lightning in the swiftness of his feet. My counsel is that ye give her to be the heaven-sent prize of Peleus son of Aiakos, whom the speech of men showeth to be their most righteous, an offspring of Iolkos' plain. Thus straightway let the message go forth to Cheiron's cave divine, neither let the daughter of Nereus put a second time into your hands the ballot-leaves of strife. So on the evening of the mid-month moon shall she unbind for the hero the fair girdle of her virginity.'

Thus spake the goddess her word to the children of Kronos, and they bowed their everlasting brows. Nor failed her words of fruit, for they say that to Thetis' bridals came those twain kings even with the rest.

Out of the mouths of the wise hath the young valour of Achilles been declared to them that beheld it not. He it was who stained the vine-clad Mysian plain with the dark blood of Telephos that he shed thereon, and made for the sons of Atreus a safe return across the sea, and delivered Helen, when that he had cut asunder with his spear the sinews of Troy, even the men who kept him back as he plied the work of slaughterous battle on the plain, the strength of Memnon and high-hearted Hektor, and other chiefs of pride. Unto all these did Achilles, champion of the Aiakid race, point the way to the house of Persephone, and thereby did he glorify Aigina and the root whence he was sprung.

Neither in death was he of songs forsaken, for at his funeral pyre and beside his tomb stood the Helikonian maiden-choir, and poured thereon a dirge of many melodies. For so the immortals willed, to give charge unto the songs of goddesses over that valorous man even in his death.

And now also holdeth such charge good, and the Muses' chariot speedeth to sound the glories of Nikokles the boxer[3]. Honour to him who in the Isthmian vale hath won the Dorian parsley: for he even as Achilles overcame men in battle, turning them to confusion, with hand from which flight was vain. Him shameth not this kinsman of his father's noble brother. Wherefore let some one of the young men his fellows twine for Kleandros a wreath of tender myrtle for his pankratiast victory. For the games whose name is of Alkathoos[4], and the youth of Epidauros[5], have ere now entertained him with good hap. To praise him is given unto the good: for in no hidden corner quenched he his youth, unproven in honourable deeds.

[Footnote 1: Because, though the Persians had been defeated, Thebes, Pindar's city, had not shared the glory.]

[Footnote 2: Thebe and Aigine.]

[Footnote 3: Uncle of the winner.]

[Footnote 4: A son of Pelops: he slew the lion of Kithairon.]

[Footnote 5: The Epidaurian games were in honour of Asklepios.]


Nearly two-thirds of the Fragments cannot be assigned to any distinct class: the rest are divided among (1) [Greek: Epinikia], or Triumphal Odes (such as are the odes remaining to us entire), (2) [Greek: Hymnoi], or Hymns sung by a choir in honour of gods, (3) [Greek: Paianes], or Hymns of a like kind but anciently addressed especially to Apollo and Artemis for their intervention against pestilence, (4) [Greek: Dithyramboi], or choral songs of more general compass, verging sometimes on the drama, (5) [Greek: Prosodia], or Processional Songs, (6) [Greek: Parthenia], or Songs for a Choir of Maidens, (7) [Greek: Hyporchaemata], or Songs with Accompaniment of Dance, (8) [Greek: Enkomia], or Odes sung by a [Greek: komos] in praise of some person but not necessarily on any special occasion, (9) [Greek: Skolia], or Songs to be sung at Banquets, (10) [Greek: Thraenoi], or Dirges.



Hither! Olympian gods to our choice dance, and make your grace to descend thereon and to glorify it, ye who in sacred Athens visit the city's incensed centre-stone, and her famed market-place of splendid ornament; receive ye violet-entwined crowns and drink-offerings of spring-gathered herbs, and look on me who am come from the house of Zeus with my bright song a second time unto the ivy-crowned god, whom we call Bromios, even the god of clamorous shout.

To sing the offspring[1] of the Highest and of Kadmeaen mothers am I come.

In Argive Nemea the prophet of the god overlooketh not the branch of palm, what time with the opening of the chamber of the Hours, the nectarous plants perceive the fragrant spring[2].

Then, then are strown over the face of the eternal earth the lovely violet-tufts, then are roses twined in hair, then sound to the flute's accompaniment voices of song, then sound our choice hymns unto the honour of bright-filleted Semele ...

[Footnote 1: Dionysos, son of Zeus and of Semele, daughter of Kadmos.]

[Footnote 2: Bockh has suggested the following ingenious explanation of this passage. In the temple of Zeus at Nemea grew a sacred palm, and a branch of this was given, together with his crown, to a winner in the Nemean games. Pindar had been at those games in the winter, and means that he, like the priest of the temple, could foresee from the tokens of the branch that spring was approaching, and with spring the vernal Dionysia at Athens.]



Hail! god-reared daughter of the sea, earth-shoot most dear to bright-haired Leto's children, wide earth's immoveable marvel, who of mortals art called Delos, but of the blessed gods in Olympus the dark earth's far-seen star[1]... ... For of old time it[2] drifted before the waves and stress of winds from every side; but when she[3] of Koios set foot thereon, as the swift pains of her travailing drew nigh, then verily from roots deep down in earth there sprang upright four pillars with adamantine base, and on their capitals they held up the rock: there was the goddess delivered, and looked upon her blessed brood........

[Footnote 1: The old mythical name of Delos was Asteria.]

[Footnote 2: The island.]

[Footnote 3: Leto.]

* * * * *


Wherefore, O Light of the Sun, thou that seest all things and givest bounds unto the sight of mine eyes—wherefore O star supreme hast thou in the daytime hidden thyself, and made useless unto men the wings of their strength and the paths that wisdom findeth, and hastest along a way of darkness to bring on us some strange thing?

Now in the name of Zeus I pray unto thee, O holy Light, that by thy swift steeds thou turn this marvel in the sight of all men to be for the unimpaired good hap of Thebes. Yet if the sign which thou showest us be of some war, or destruction of harvest, or an exceeding storm of snow, or ruinous civil strife, or emptying of the sea upon the earth, or freezing of the soil, or summer rains pouring in vehement flood, or whether thou wilt drown the earth and make anew another race of men, then will I suffer it amid the common woe of all....




.... For them shineth below the strength of the sun while in our world it is night, and the space of crimsonflowered meadows before their city is full of the shade of frankincense-trees, and of fruits of gold. And some in horses, and in bodily feats, and some in dice, and some in harp-playing have delight; and among them thriveth all fair-flowering bliss; and fragrance streameth ever through the lovely land, as they mingle incense of every kind upon the altars of the gods....


.... BY happy lot travel all unto an end that giveth them rest from toils. And the body indeed is subject unto the great power of death, but there remaineth yet alive a shadow of life; for this only is from the gods; and while the limbs stir, it sleepeth, but unto sleepers in dreams discovereth oftentimes the judgment that draweth nigh for sorrow or for joy..


But from whomsoever Persephone accepteth atonement made for an ancient woe, their souls unto the light of the sun above she sendeth back again in the ninth year. And from those souls spring noble kings, and men swift and strong and in wisdom very great: and through the after-time they are called holy heroes among men......


Previous Part     1  2  3  4
Home - Random Browse