The Extant Odes of Pindar
by Pindar
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Sometime Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford


First edition printed 1874.

Reprinted (with corrections) 1884, 1888, 1892, 1895, 1899, 1904



Probably no poet of importance equal or approaching to that of Pindar finds so few and so infrequent readers. The causes are not far to seek: in the first and most obvious place comes the great difficulty of his language, in the second the frequent obscurity of his thought, resulting mainly from his exceeding allusiveness and his abrupt transitions, and in the third place that amount of monotony which must of necessity attach to a series of poems provided for a succession of similar occasions.

It is as an attempt towards obviating the first of these hindrances to the study of Pindar, the difficulty of his language, that this translation is of course especially intended. To whom and in what cases are translations of poets useful? To a perfect scholar in the original tongue they are superfluous, to one wholly ignorant of it they are apt to be (unless here and there to a Keats) meaningless, flat, and puzzling. There remains the third class of those who have a certain amount of knowledge of a language, but not enough to enable them to read unassisted its more difficult books without an expenditure of time and trouble which is virtually prohibitive. It is to this class that a translation ought, it would seem, chiefly to address itself. An intelligent person of cultivated literary taste, and able to read the easier books in an acquired language, will feel himself indebted to a hand which unlocks for him the inner chambers of a temple in whose outer courts he had already delighted to wander. Without therefore saying that the merely 'English reader' may never derive pleasure and instruction from a translation of a foreign poet, for to this rule our current version of the Hebrew psalmists and prophets furnish one marked exception at least—still, it is probably to what may be called the half-learned class that the translator must preeminently look to find an audience.

The other causes of Pindar's unpopularity to which reference was made above, the obscurity of his thought and the monotony of his subjects, will in great measure disappear by means of attentive study of the poems themselves, and of other sources from which may be gathered an understanding of the region of thought and feeling in which they move. In proportion to our familiarity not only with Hellenic mythology and history, but with Hellenic life and habits of thought generally, will be our readiness and facility in seizing the drift and import of what Pindar says, in divining what has passed through his mind: and in his case perhaps even more than in the case of other poets, this facility will increase indefinitely with our increasing acquaintance with his works and with the light thrown on each part of them by the rest[1].

The monotony of the odes, though to some extent unquestionably and unavoidably real, is to some extent also superficial and in appearance only. The family of the victor, or his country, some incident of his past, some possibility of his future life, suggest in each case some different legendary matter, some different way of treating it, some different application of it, general or particular, or both. Out of such resources Pindar is inexhaustible in building up in subtly varying forms the splendid structure of his song.

Yet doubtless the drawbacks in reading Pindar, though they may be largely reduced, will always in some degree exist: we shall always wish that he was easier to construe, that his allusions to things unfamiliar and sometimes undiscoverable to us were less frequent, that family pride had not made it customary for him to spend so many lines on an enumeration of prizes won elsewhere and at other times by the victor of the occasion or by his kin. Such drawbacks can only fall into insignificance when eclipsed by consideration of the far more than counterbalancing attractions of the poems, of their unique and surpassing interest, poetical, historical, and moral.

Of Pindar as a poet it is hard indeed to speak adequately, and almost as hard to speak briefly, for a discussion of his poetical characteristics once begun may wander far before even a small part has been said of what might be. To say that to his poetry in supreme degree belong the qualities of force, of vividness, often of impressive weight, of a lofty style, seeming to be the expression of a like personality, of a mastery of rhythm and metre and imaginative diction, of a profoundly Hellenic spirit modified by an unmistakable individuality, above all of a certain sweep and swiftness as of the flight of an eagle's wing—to say all this would be to suggest some of the most obvious features of these triumphal odes; and each of these qualities, and many more requiring exacter delineation, might be illustrated with numberless instances which even in the faint image of a translation would furnish ample testimony[2]. But as this introduction is intended for those who purpose reading Pindar's poetry, or at any rate the present translation of it, for themselves, I will leave it to them to discover for themselves the qualities which have given Pindar his high place among poets, and will pass on to suggest briefly his claims to interest us by reason of his place in the history of human action and human thought.

We know very little of Pindar's life. He was born in or about the year B.C. 522, at the village of Kynoskephalai near Thebes. He was thus a citizen of Thebes and seems to have always had his home there. But he travelled among other states, many of which have been glorified by his art. For his praise of Athens, 'bulwark of Hellas,' the city which at Artemision 'laid the foundation of freedom,' the Thebans are said to have fined him; but the generous Athenians paid the fine, made him their Proxenos, and erected his statue at the public cost. For the magnificent Sicilian princes, Hieron of Syracuse and Theron of Akragas, not unlike the Medici in the position they held, Pindar wrote five of the longest of his extant odes, and probably visited them in Sicily. But he would not quit his home to be an ornament of their courts. When asked why he did not, like Simonides, accept the invitations of these potentates to make his home with them, he answered that he had chosen to live his own life, and not to be the property of another. He died at the age of 79, that is, probably, in the year 443, twelve years before the Peloponnesian war began. Legend said that he died in the theatre of Argos, in the arms of Theoxenos, the boy in whose honour he wrote a Skolion of which an immortal fragment remains to us. Other myths gathered round his name. It was said that once when in childhood he had fallen asleep by the way 'a bee had settled on his lips and gathered honey,' and again that 'he saw in a dream that his mouth was filled with honey and the honeycomb;' that Pan himself learnt a poem of his and rejoiced to sing it on the mountains; that finally, while he awaited an answer from the oracle of Ammon, whence he had enquired what was best for man, Persephone appeared to him in his sleep and said that she only of the gods had had no hymn from him, but that he should make her one shortly when he had come to her; and that he died within ten days of the vision.

Two several conquerors of Thebes, Pausanias of Sparta and Alexander of Macedon,

'bade spare The house of Pindarus, when temple and tower Went to the ground.'

At Delphi they kept with reverence his iron chair, and the priest of Apollo cried nightly as he closed the temple, 'Let Pindar the poet go in unto the supper of the god.'

Thus Pindar was contemporary with an age of Greek history which justifies the assertion of his consummate interest for the student of Hellenic life in its prime. It was impossible that a man of his genius and temperament should have lived through these times without representing to us with breadth and intensity the spirit that was in them, and there are several points in Pindar's circumstances which make his relation to his age peculiarly interesting. We may look on him as in some points supplementary to the great Athenian dramatists, whose works are doubtless far the most valuable literary legacy of the time. Perhaps however the surpassing brilliance of Athenian literature and history has made us somewhat prone to forget the importance of non-Athenian elements in the complex whole of Hellenic life and thought. Athens was the eye of Hellas, nay, she had at Marathon and Salamis made good her claim to be called the saving arm, but there were other members not to be forgotten if we would picture to ourselves the national body in its completeness.

Pindar was a Boeotian, of a country not rich in literary or indeed any kind of intellectual eminence, yet by no means to be ignored in an estimate of the Hellenic race. Politically indeed it only rises into pre-eminence under Epameinondas; before and afterwards Boeotian policy under the domination of Thebes is seldom either beneficent or glorious: it must be remembered, however, that the gallant Plataeans also were Boeotians. The people of Boeotia seem to have had generally an easy, rather sensually inclined nature, which accorded with their rich country and absence of nautical and commercial enterprise and excitement, but in their best men this disposition remains only in the form of a genial simplicity. Pelopidas in political, and Plutarch and Pausanias in literary history, will be allowed to be instances of this. That the poetry which penetrated Hellenic life was not wanting in Boeotia we have proof enough in the existence of the Sacred Band, that goodly fellowship of friends which seems to have united what Hallam has called the three strongest motives to enthusiastic action that have appeared in history, patriotism, chivalric honour, and religion. Nor is there any nobler figure in history than that of Epameinondas.

One fact indeed there is which must always make the thought of Pindar's Theban citizenship painful to us, and that is the shameful part taken by Thebes in the Persian war, when compulsion of her exposed situation, and oligarchical cabal within her walls, drew her into unholy alliance with the barbarian invader. Had it been otherwise how passionately pure would Pindar's joy have uttered itself when the 'stone of Tantalos' that hung over the head of Hellas was smitten into dust in that greatest crisis of the fortunes of humanity. He exults nobly as it is, he does all honour to Athens, 'bulwark of Hellas,' but the shame of his own city, his 'mother' Thebes, must have caused him a pang as bitter as a great soul has ever borne.

For his very calling of song-writer to all Hellenic states without discrimination, especially when the songs he had to write were of the class which we still possess, triumphal odes for victories in those great games which drew to them all men of Hellenic blood at the feet of common deities, and which with each recurring festival could even hush the clamour of war in an imperious Truce of God—such a calling and such associations must have cherished in him the passion for Panhellenic brotherhood and unanimity, even had there not been much else both within and without him to join to the same generous end. It was the time when Panhellenic feeling was probably stronger than ever before or after. Before, the states had been occupied in building up their own polities independently; the Hellenic activity had been dispersing itself centrifugally among the trans-marine colonies, and those of Italy and Sicily seemed at one time to make it doubtful whether the nucleus of civilization were to be there or in the mother-country. But by the time of the Persian war the best energies of the race had concentrated themselves between the Aegean and Ionian seas; and the supreme danger of the war had bound the states together against the common enemy and taught them to forget smaller differences in the great strife between Hellene and barbarian. Yet again when that supreme danger was past the old quarrels arose anew more deadly and more complicated: instead of a Persian there was a Peloponnesian war, and the Peloponnesian war in its latter stages came, by virtue of the political principles involved, to partake much of the character of a civil war. But the time of Pindar, of Aeschylus, of Sophocles, of Pheidias, of Polygnotos, was that happy interval when Hellas had beaten off the barbarian from her throat and had not yet murdered herself. And Pindar's imagination and generosity were both kindled by the moment; there was no room in his mind for border squabbles, for commercial jealousies, for oligarchic or democratic envy: these things were overridden by a sentiment of nationality wanting indeed in many circumstances which modern nationalities deem essential to the existence of such sentiment, and many of which are really essential to its permanence—yet a sentiment which no other nation ever before or since can have possessed in the peculiar lustre which it then wore in Hellas; for no other nation has ever before or since known what it was to stand alone immeasurably advanced at the head of the civilization of the world.

Pindar was of a noble family, of the house of the Aigeidai, and it is probable that his kinsmen, or some of them, may have taken the side of oligarchy in the often recurring dissensions at Thebes, but of this we know nothing certain. He himself seems to have taken no part in politics. When he speaks on the subject in his odes it is not with the voice of a partisan. An ochlocracy is hateful to him, but if he shows himself an 'aristocrat' it is in the literal and etymological meaning of the word. Doubtless if Pindar had been asked where the best servants of the state in public life were most likely to be found he would have answered that it would be among those ancient families in whose veins ran the blood of gods and demigods, who had spent blood and money for the city's honour, championing her in war or in the mimic strife of the games, who had honourable traditions to be guided by and an honourable name to lose or save. These things were seldom undervalued by Hellenic feeling: even in Athens, after it was already the headquarters of the democratic principle, the noble and wealthy families obtained, not probably without wisdom of their own in loyally accepting a democratic position, as fair a place and prospects as anywhere in Hellas. But that, when the noble nature, the [Greek: aretae], which traditions of nobility ought to have secured, was lacking, then wealth and birth were still entitled to power, this was a doctrine repugnant utterly to Pindar's mind: nor would his indignation slumber when he saw the rich and highborn, however gifted, forgetting at any time that their power was a trust for the community and using it for their own selfish profit. An 'aristocrat' after Pindar's mind would assuredly have a far keener eye to his duties than to his rights, would consider indeed that in his larger share of duties lay his infinitely most precious right.

But he 'loved that beauty should go beautifully;' personal excellence of some kind was in his eyes essential; but on this he would fain shed outward radiance and majesty. His imagination rejoiced in splendour—splendour of stately palace—halls where the columns were of marble and the entablature of wrought gold, splendour of temples of gods where the sculptor's waxing art had brought the very deities to dwell with man, splendour of the white-pillared cities that glittered across the Aegean and Sicilian seas, splendour of the holy Panhellenic games, of whirlwind chariots and the fiery grace of thoroughbreds, of the naked shapely limbs of the athlete man and boy. On this characteristic of Pindar it is needless to dwell, for there are not many odes of those remaining which do not impress it on our minds.

And it is more with him than a mere manner in poetical style. The same defect which we feel more or less present in all poets of antiquity—least of all perhaps in Virgil and Sophokles, but even in them somewhat—a certain want of widely sympathetic tenderness, this is unquestionably present in Pindar. What of this quality may have found expression in his lost poems, especially the Dirges, we can scarcely guess, but in his triumphal odes it hardly appears at all, unless in the touches of tender gracefulness into which he softens when speaking of the young. And we find this want in him mainly because objects of pity, such as especially elicit that quality of tenderness, are never or seldom present to Pindar's mind. He sees evil only in the shape of some moral baseness, falsehood, envy, arrogance, and the like, to be scathed in passing by the good man's scorn, or else in the shape of a dark mystery of pain, to be endured by those on whom it causelessly falls in a proud though undefiant silence. It was not for him, as for the great tragedians, to 'purge the mind by pity and fear,' for those passions had scarcely a place in his own mind or in the minds of those of whom he in his high phantasy would fain have had the world consist. And as in this point somewhat, so still more in others, does Pindar remind us, even more than might have been expected in a contemporary, of Aeschylus. The latter by virtue of his Athenian nurture as well as of his own greater natural gifts reveals to us a greater number of thoughts, and those more advanced and more interesting than we find in Pindar, but the similarity in moral temper and tone is very striking, as also is the way in which we see this temper acting on their beliefs. Both hold strongly, as is the wont of powerful minds in an age of stability as opposed to an age of transition, to the traditions and beliefs on which the society around them rests, but both modify these traditions and beliefs according to the light which arises in them, and which is as much moral as intellectual light. In so doing they are indeed in harmony with the best instincts of the society around them, but they lead and guide such instincts and give them shape and definiteness. In the Oresteaen trilogy of Aeschylus we have an ever-memorable assertion of the supreme claims of human morality to human allegiance, of the eternal truth that humanity can know no object of reverence and worship except itself idealised, its own virtues victorious over its own vices, and existing in the greatest perfection which it can at any given time conceive. Somewhat the same lesson as that of the Oresteia is taught later, with more of sweetness and harmony, but not with more force, in the Oedipus Coloneus of Sophokles. And in Pindar we see the same tendencies inchoate. Like Aeschylus he does by implication subordinate to morality both politics and religion. He ignores or flatly denies tales that bring discredit on the gods; he will only bow down to them when they have the virtues he respects in man. Yet he, like Aeschylus and Sophokles, does so bow down, sincerely and without hesitation, and that poets of their temper could do so was well indeed for poetry. By rare and happy fortune they were inspired at once by the rich and varied presences of mythology, 'the fair humanities of old religion,' and also by the highest aspirations of an age of moral and intellectual advance. We do not of course always, or even often, find the moral principles clearly and consciously expressed or consistently supported, but we cannot but feel that they are present in the shape of instincts, and those instincts pervading and architectonic.

And if we allow so much of ethical enlightenment to these great spokesmen of the Hellenic people, we cannot deny something of like honour to the race among whom they were reared. Let us apportion our debt of gratitude to our forerunners as it is justly due. There would seem to be much of fallacy and of the injustice of a shallow judgment in the contrast as popularly drawn between 'Hellenism' and 'Hebraism,' according to which the former is spoken of as exclusively proclaiming to the world the value of Beauty, the latter the value of Righteousness. In this there is surely much injustice done to Hellas. Because she taught the one, she did not therefore leave the other untaught. It may have been for a short time, as her other greatness was for a short time, though its effects are eternal, but for that short time the national life, of Athens at any rate, is at least as full of high moral feeling as that of any other people in the world. Will not the names of Solon, of Aristeides, of Kallikratidas, of Epameinondas, of Timoleon and many more, remind us that life could be to the Hellene something of deeper moral import than a brilliant game, or a garden of vivid and sweet sights and sounds where Beauty and Knowledge entered, but Goodness was forgotten and shut out? For it is not merely that these men, and very many more endowed with ample portion of their spirit, were produced and reared among the race; they were honoured and valued in a way that surely postulated the existence of high ethical feeling in their countrymen. And even when the days of unselfish statesmen and magnanimous cities were over, there were philosophers whose schools were not the less filled because they claimed a high place for righteousness in human life. To Solon and Aristeides succeeded Socrates and Plato, to Epameinondas and Timoleon succeeded Zeno and Epictetus. That the morality of the Hellenes was complete on all sides, it would of course be irrational to maintain. They had not, for instance, any more than the Hebrews, or any other nation of antiquity, learnt to abhor slavery, though probably it existed in a milder form at Athens than anywhere else in the old or new world: they were more implacable in revenge and laxer in sexual indulgence than the Christian ethics would allow in theory, though not perhaps much more so than Christendom has shown itself in practice. And though undoubtedly the greatest single impulse ever given to morality came from Palestine, yet the ground which nurtured the seeds of Christianity was as much Hellenic as Hebrew. It would be impossible here to enter on an exhaustive comparison of the ethical capacities of the two races, but before we pronounce hastily for the superiority of the Hebrew there are surely some difficulties to surmount. We may well ask, for example, Would Hellas ever have accepted as her chief national hero such a man as David a man who in his life is conspicuous by his crimes not less than by his brilliant gifts, and who dies with the words of blood and perfidy on his lips, charging his son with the last slaughterous satisfaction of his hate which he had sworn before his God to forego? And though the great Hebrew prophets teach often a far loftier morality than this, they cannot have been nearly so representative of the feeling of this nation as were Aeschylus and Sophocles and Pindar of the feeling of theirs. The Hebrews of the prophets' age 'slew the prophets,' and left it to the slayers' descendants to 'build their sepulchres,' and at the same time to show their inherited character still more unmistakeably by once more slaying the last prophet and the greatest.[3]

In truth in the literature, the art, the life generally of Hellas in her prime, the moral interest whenever it appears, and that is not seldom, claims for itself the grave and preponderant attention which it must claim if it is to appear with fit dignity. But it is not thrust forward unseasonably or in exaggeration, nor is it placed in a false opposition to the interests of the aesthetic instincts, which after all shade into the moral more imperceptibly than might be generally allowed. There must be a moral side to all societies, and the Hellenic society, the choicest that the world has seen, the completest, that is, at once in sensibilities and in energies, could not but show the excellence of its sensibilities in receiving moral impressions, the excellence of its energies in achieving moral conduct.

This, however, is no place to discuss at length questions in the history of ethics. Yet it must be remembered that in the ancient world departments of thought, and the affairs of men generally, were far less specialized than in modern times. If the philosophy of Hellas be the most explicit witness to her ethical development, her poetry is the most eloquent. And scarcely at any time, scarcely even in Aristotle, did Hellenic philosophy in any department lose most significant traces of its poetical ancestry. But enough here if I have succeeded in pointing out that in the great poet with whom we are concerned there is an ethical as well as a poetical and historical interest, supplying one more reason against neglect of his legacy of song.

Yet indeed even now there remains a further question which to the mind of any one who at present labours in this field of classical scholarship must recur persistently if not depressingly, and on which it is natural if not necessary to say a few words. If the selection of Pindar in particular as a Greek poet with claims to be further popularized among Englishmen may be defended, there is still a more general count to which all who make endeavours to attract or retain attention to Greek literature will in these times be called upon to plead by voices which command respect. To such pleas this is not the place to give large room, or to discriminate in detail between the reasonable and unreasonable elements in the attacks on a system of education in which a preeminent position is allotted to the literature of antiquity. While fully admitting that much time and labour are still wasted in efforts to plant the study of ancient and especially of Greek literature in uncongenial soil, while admitting also most fully the claims, and the still imperfect recognition of the claims, of physical science to a rank among the foremost in modern education, I should yet be abundantly willing that this attempt to help in facilitating the study of a Greek author should be looked on as implying adhesion to the protest still sometimes raised, that in the higher parts of a liberal education no study can claim a more important place than the study of the history and the literature of Hellas. The interest which belongs to these is far wider and deeper than any mere literary interest. To the human mind the most interesting of phenomena are and ought to be the phenomena of the human mind, and this granted, can there be any knowledge more desirable than the knowledge of the most vigorous and sensitive and in some ways also the most fruitful action of human minds that the world has known hitherto?

But again, we are told that the age we seek thus toilsomely to illustrate and realize is too remote to justify the attempt, that our civilisation is of too different a type from the Hellenic, and that a gulf of three-and-twenty centuries is too much for our sight to strain across. But is not the Hellenic life at least less remote now to Western Europe than it has ever been since the Northern invasions? Though the separation in time widens does not the separation in thought decrease? Is not one civilisation more like another than it can be to any barbarism? And shall not this same Physical Science herself by accustoming us to look on men in large masses at once, and on the development of humanity as a process of infinite duration, as a sectional growth included in universal evolution—Science, in whose eyes a thousand years are as a watch in the night—shall she not thereby quicken our sympathies with the most gifted race that has appeared in our short human history, and arouse the same feeling toward it as a family may cherish toward the memory of their best and choicest, who has died young?

Only let us take heed that such regret shall make us not more but less unworthy of those noble forerunners. One symptom of the renewed influence of antiquity on the modern world is doubtless and has been from time to time since the Revival of Letters a tendency to selfish and somewhat sickly theories so-called of life, where sensibility degenerates through self-consciousness into affectation, and efforts to appreciate fully the delightfulness of life and art are overstrained into a wearisome literary voluptuousness, where duty has already disappeared and the human sympathies on which duty is based scarcely linger in a faint aesthetic form, soon to leave the would-be exquisiteness to putrefy into the vulgarity of egoism. Such tendencies have less in common with the Hellenic prime than with the court of Leo the Tenth, though even that had perhaps an advantage over them as being in some ways a more real thing. But that the Hellenic prime with all its exquisite sensibility was deficient in recognition of a high ideal of duty can never be believed among those who have studied it candidly and attentively; I have endeavoured above to suggest that in this point, take it all in all, it yields to no age or race. It would indeed be a mistaken following of those noble servants of humanity to draw from their memories an argument for selfish isolation or for despair of the commonwealth of man. He who has drunk deeply of that divine well and gazed long at the fair vision of what then was, will, if his nature be capable of true sympathy with the various elements of that wonderful age, turn again without bitterness to the confused modern world, saddened but not paralysed by the comparison, grieving, but with no querulous grief, for the certainty that those days are done.



The few notes appended to this translation are not intended to supply the place of such reference to Dictionaries of Mythology, Antiquities and Geography, as is needful to the student of Pindar who is not already somewhat accomplished in knowledge of the customs, history and legendary traditions of Hellas. And although it may reasonably be supposed that the chief of these will be already known to most readers of Pindar, yet so profusely allusive is this poet that to understand his allusions will very often require knowledge which would not have been derived from a study of the more commonly read Hellenic writers.

Nor have I attempted to trace in detail the connection of the parts in each ode which binds them into one harmonious whole with many meanings—a connection so consummately contrived where we can trace it that we may suppose it no less exquisite where we cannot. Study and thought will generally suggest explanations, though these will sometimes approve themselves differently to different minds. Too often we must acknowledge, as elsewhere in ancient literature, that the key is lost beyond all certain hope of recovery.

Still less have I attempted to discuss questions of critical scholarship. Sometimes where there are more than one plausible reading I have signified which I adopt; once only (Ol. 2. 56.) I have ventured on an emendation of my own. For the most part I have, as was natural, followed the text of Boeckh and Dissen.

In the spelling of names I remain in that inconsistency which at present attaches to most modern writers who deal with them. Olympus, Athens, Corinth, Syracuse, and the like are naturalized among us by long familiarity; it seems at present at least pedantic to change them. In the case of other less familiar names I have concurred with the desire, which seems in the main a reasonable one, that the names of Hellenic persons and places should be reproduced, as far as possible, without Latin mediation.

Of the Fragments I have translated six of the longest and most interesting. They are 289 in all, but the greater part are not longer than a line or two, and very many even shorter.

The odes are unequal in poetical merit, and many readers may not unreasonably wish to have those pointed out which, in the judgement of one acquainted with all, are among the best worth reading; though of course the choice of individual readers will not always be the same. To those therefore who would wish to begin with a selection, the following may be recommended as at any rate among those of preeminent merit: Pyth. 4, 9, 1, 10, 3; Ol. 7, 6, 2, 3, 13, 8, 1; Nem. 5, 10; Isthm. 2, 7; all the Fragments translated.

In the arrangement of the odes I have adhered to the traditional order. I should much have liked to place them in what must always be the most interesting and rational arrangement of a poet's works, that is, in chronological order. This would have been approximately possible, as we know the dates of the greater part of them. But convenience of reference and of comparison with the Greek text seems to supply a balance of reasons on the other side. Subjoined however is a list of the odes in their probable chronological order so far as it can be obtained.

Pythian 10——————-B.C. 502. " 6——————- " 494. " 12——————- " 494 or 490. " 7——————- " 490. " 3——————- " 486 or 482. Olympian 10 } ————— " 484. " 11 } ————— " 484. Isthmian 5 Nemean 5 Isthmian 7 —————— " 480. Isthmian 3 Pythian 8——————— " 478. " 9——————— " 478. " 11——————— " 478. " 2——————— " 477. Olympian 14——————— " 476. " }————————- " 476. " }————————- " 476. Pythian 1 Nemean 1———————- " 473. Olympian 1———————- " 472. " 12——————— " 472. Nemean 9 Isthmian 2 Olympian 6——————— " 468. Pythian 4 }——————- " 466. " 5 } Olympian 7——————— " 464. " 13——————— " 464. Nemean 7 " 3 " 4 " 6 " 8 Olympian 9——————— " 456. Isthmian 6 Olympian 4 }—————— " 452. " 5 }

The Olympic games were held once in four years, in honour of Zeus. The prize was a wreath of wild olive.

The Pythian games were held once in four years, in honour of Apollo. The prize was a wreath of bay.

The Nemean games were held once in two years, in honour of Zeus. The prize was a wreath of wild parsley.

The Isthmian games were held once in two years, in honour of Poseidon. The prize was a wreath of wild parsley or of pine.

[Footnote 1: The importance and interest to a student in Hellenic literature of a collateral study of whatever remains to us of Hellenic plastic art—statues, vases, gems, and coins—can hardly be too strongly insisted on.]

[Footnote 2: In Mr. J.A. Symonds' 'Studies of the Greek Poets' there is an essay on Pindar which dwells with much appreciative eloquence upon the poets literary characteristics.]

[Footnote 3: In thus touching on the obligations of our morality to the Hebrew and to the Hellene respectively, I have insisted more exclusively on the weak points of the former than I should have done in a fuller discussion of the subject: here I am merely concerned to question in passing what seems to be a popular one-sided estimate.]

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This ode seems to owe its position at the head of Pindar's extant works to Aristophanes the grammarian, who placed it there on account of its being specially occupied with the glorification of the Olympic games in comparison with others, and with the story of Pelops, who was their founder.

Hieron won this race B.C. 472, while at the height of his power at Syracuse. Probably the ode was sung at Syracuse, perhaps, as has been suggested, at a banquet.

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Best is Water of all, and Gold as a flaming fire in the night shineth eminent amid lordly wealth; but if of prizes in the games thou art fain, O my soul, to tell, then, as for no bright star more quickening than the sun must thou search in the void firmament by day, so neither shall we find any games greater than the Olympic whereof to utter our voice: for hence cometh the glorious hymn and entereth into the minds of the skilled in song, so that they celebrate the son[1] of Kronos, when to the rich and happy hearth of Hieron they are come; for he wieldeth the sceptre of justice in Sicily of many flocks, culling the choice fruits of all kinds of excellence: and with the flower of music is he made splendid, even such strains as we sing blithely at the table of a friend.

Take from the peg the Dorian lute, if in any wise the glory of Pherenikos[2] at Pisa hath swayed thy soul unto glad thoughts, when by the banks of Alpheos he ran, and gave his body ungoaded in the course, and brought victory to his master, the Syracusans' king, who delighteth in horses.

Bright is his fame in Lydian Pelops' colony[3], inhabited of a goodly race, whose founder mighty earth-enfolding Poseidon loved, what time from the vessel of purifying[4] Klotho took him with the bright ivory furnishment of his shoulder.

Verily many things are wondrous, and haply tales decked out with cunning fables beyond the truth make false men's speech concerning them. For Charis[5], who maketh all sweet things for mortal men, by lending honour unto such maketh oft the unbelievable thing to be believed; but the days that follow after are the wisest witnesses.

Meet is it for a man that concerning gods he speak honourably; for the reproach is less. Of thee, son of Tantalos, I will speak contrariwise to them who have gone before me, and I will tell how when thy father had bidden thee to that most seemly feast at his beloved Sipylos, repaying to the gods their banquet, then did he of the Bright Trident[6], his heart vanquished by love, snatch thee and bear thee behind his golden steeds to the house of august Zeus in the highest, whither again on a like errand came Ganymede in the after time.

But when thou hadst vanished, and the men who sought thee long brought thee not to thy mother, some one of the envious neighbours said secretly that over water heated to boiling they had hewn asunder with a knife thy limbs, and at the tables had shared among them and eaten sodden fragments of thy flesh. But to me it is impossible to call one of the blessed gods cannibal; I keep aloof; in telling ill tales is often little gain.

Now if any man ever had honour of the guardians of Olympus, Tantalos was that man; but his high fortune he could not digest, and by excess thereof won him an overwhelming woe, in that the Father hath hung above him a mighty stone that he would fain ward from his head, and therewithal he is fallen from joy.

This hopeless life of endless misery he endureth with other three[7], for that he stole from the immortals and gave to his fellows at a feast the nectar and ambrosia, whereby the gods had made him incorruptible. But if a man thinketh that in doing aught he shall be hidden from God, he erreth.

Therefore also the immortals sent back again his son to be once more counted with the short-lived race of men. And he when toward the bloom of his sweet youth the down began to shade his darkening cheek, took counsel with himself speedily to take to him for his wife the noble Hippodameia from her Pisan father's hand.

And he came and stood upon the margin of the hoary sea, alone in the darkness of the night, and called aloud on the deep-voiced Wielder of the Trident; and he appeared unto him nigh at his foot.

Then he said unto him: 'Lo now, O Poseidon, if the kind gifts of the Cyprian goddess are anywise pleasant in thine eyes, restrain Oinomaos' bronze spear, and send me unto Elis upon a chariot exceeding swift, and give the victory to my hands. Thirteen lovers already hath Oinomaos slain, and still delayeth to give his daughter in marriage. Now a great peril alloweth not of a coward: and forasmuch as men must die, wherefore should one sit vainly in the dark through a dull and nameless age, and without lot in noble deeds? Not so, but I will dare this strife: do thou give the issue I desire.'

Thus spake he, nor were his words in vain: for the god made him a glorious gift of a golden car and winged untiring steeds: so he overcame Oinomaos and won the maiden for his bride.

And he begat six sons, chieftains, whose thoughts were ever of brave deeds: and now hath he part in honour of blood-offerings in his grave beside Alpheos' stream, and hath a frequented tomb, whereto many strangers resort: and from afar off he beholdeth the glory of the Olympian games in the courses called of Pelops, where is striving of swift feet and of strong bodies brave to labour; but he that overcometh hath for the sake of those games a sweet tranquillity throughout his life for evermore.

Now the good that cometh of to-day is ever sovereign unto every man. My part it is to crown Hieron with an equestrian strain in Aeolian mood: and sure am I that no host among men that now are shall I ever glorify in sounding labyrinths of song more learned in the learning of honour and withal with more might to work thereto. A god hath guard over thy hopes, O Hieron, and taketh care for them with a peculiar care: and if he fail thee not, I trust that I shall again proclaim in song a sweeter glory yet, and find thereto in words a ready way, when to the fair-shining hill of Kronos I am come. Her strongest-winged dart my Muse hath yet in store.

Of many kinds is the greatness of men; but the highest is to be achieved by kings. Look not thou for more than this. May it be thine to walk loftily all thy life, and mine to be the friend of winners in the games, winning honour for my art among Hellenes everywhere.

[Footnote 1: The Olympic games were sacred to Zeus.]

[Footnote 2: The horse that won this race for Hieron.]

[Footnote 3: Peloponnesos.]

[Footnote 4: I. e. immediately on his birth, for among the Fates Klotho was peculiarly concerned with the beginning of man's life. Pindar refuses to accept the legend which made Pelops' ivory shoulder a substitute for his fleshly one eaten at Tantalos' table by the gods; for thus the gods would have been guilty of an infamous act.]

[Footnote 5: Goddess of Grace or Beauty. Often there are three Charites or Graces. Pindar means here that men are prone to believe an untrue tale for the sake of the beauty of the form in which it is presented, but that such tales will not stand the test of time.]

[Footnote 6: Poseidon.]

[Footnote 7: Sisyphos, Ixion, and Tityos.]




* * * * *

Theron's ancestors the Emmenidai migrated from Rhodes to Sicily and first colonized Gela and then Akragas (the Latin Agrigentum and Italian Girgenti). His chariot won this victory B.C. 476.

* * * * *

Lords of the lute[1], my songs, what god, what hero, or what man, are we to celebrate?[2] Verily of Zeus is Pisa the abode, of Herakles the Olympian feast was founded from the chief spoils of war, and Theron's name must we proclaim for his victory with the four-horse-car, a righteous and god-fearing host, the stay of Akragas, of famous sires the flower, a saviour of the state.

They after long toils bravely borne took by a river's side a sacred dwelling place, and became the eye of Sicily, and a life of good luck clave to them, bringing them wealth and honour to crown their inborn worth.

O son of Kronos and of Rhea, lord of Olympus' seat, and of the chief of games and of Alpheos' ford, for joy in these my songs guard ever graciously their native fields for their sons that shall come after them.

Now of deeds done whether they be right or wrong not even Time the father of all can make undone the accomplishment, yet with happy fortune forgetfulness may come. For by high delights an alien pain is quelled and dieth, when the decree of God sendeth happiness to grow aloft and widely.

And this word is true concerning Kadmos' fair-throned daughters, whose calamities were great, yet their sore grief fell before greater good. Amid the Olympians long-haired Semele still liveth, albeit she perished in the thunder's roar, and Pallas cherisheth her ever, and Father Zeus exceedingly, and her son, the ivy-bearing god. And in the sea too they say that to Ino, among the sea-maids of Nereus, life incorruptible hath been ordained for evermore.

Ay but to mortals the day of death is certain never, neither at what time we shall see in calm the end of one of the Sun's children, the Days, with good thitherto unfailing; now this way and now that run currents bringing joys or toils to men.

Thus destiny which from their fathers holdeth the happy fortune of this race[3], together with prosperity heaven-sent bringeth ever at some other time better reverse: from the day when Laios was slain by his destined son[4] who met him on the road and made fulfilment of the oracle spoken of old at Pytho. Then swift Erinys when she saw it slew by each other's hand his war-like sons: yet after that Polyneikes fell Thersander[5] lived after him and won honour in the Second Strife[6] and in the fights of war, a saviour scion to the Adrastid house.

From him they have beginning of their race: meet is it that Ainesidamos receive our hymn of triumph, on the lyre. For at Olympia he himself received a prize and at Pytho, and at the Isthmus to his brother of no less a lot did kindred Graces bring crowns for the twelve rounds of the four-horse chariot-race.

Victory setteth free the essayer from the struggle's griefs, yea and the wealth that a noble nature hath made glorious bringeth power for this and that, putting into the heart of man a deep and eager mood, a star far seen, a light wherein a man shall trust if but[7] the holder thereof knoweth the things that shall be, how that of all who die the guilty souls pay penalty, for all the sins sinned in this realm of Zeus One judgeth under earth, pronouncing sentence by unloved constraint.

But evenly ever in sunlight night and day an unlaborious life the good receive, neither with violent hand vex they the earth nor the waters of the sea, in that new world; but with the honoured of the gods, whosoever had pleasure in keeping of oaths, they possess a tearless life: but the other part suffer pain too dire to look upon.

Then whosoever have been of good courage to the abiding steadfast thrice on either side of death and have refrained their souls from all iniquity, travel the road of Zeus unto the tower of Kronos: there round the islands of the blest the Ocean-breezes blow, and golden flowers are glowing, some from the land on trees of splendour, and some the water feedeth, with wreaths whereof they entwine their hands: so ordereth Rhadamanthos' just decree, whom at his own right hand hath ever the father Kronos, husband of Rhea, throned above all worlds[8].

Peleus and Kadmos are counted of that company; and the mother of Achilles, when her prayer had moved the heart of Zeus, bare thither her son, even him who overthrew Hector, Troy's unbending invincible pillar, even him who gave Kyknos to death and the Ethiop son[9] of the Morning.

Many swift arrows have I beneath my bended arm within my quiver, arrows that have a voice for the wise, but for the multitude they need interpreters. His art is true who of his nature hath knowledge; they who have but learnt, strong in the multitude of words, are but as crows that chatter vain things in strife against the divine bird of Zeus.

Come bend thy bow on the mark, O my soul—at whom again are we to launch our shafts of honour from a friendly mind? At Akragas will I take aim, and will proclaim and swear it with a mind of truth, that for a hundred years no city hath brought forth a man of mind more prone to well-doing towards friends or of more liberal mood than Theron.

Yet praise is overtaken of distaste, wherewith is no justice, but from covetous men it cometh, and is fain to babble against and darken the good man's noble deeds.

The sea-sand none hath numbered; and the joys that Theron hath given to others—who shall declare the tale thereof?

[Footnote 1: In Hellenic music the accompaniment was deemed subordinate to the words.]

[Footnote 2: Here are three questions and three answers.]

[Footnote 3: The Emmenidai.]

[Footnote 4: Oedipus.]

[Footnote 5: Son of Polyneikes. Theron traced his descent from him.]

[Footnote 6: The War of the Epigonoi against Thebes.]

[Footnote 7: Reading [Greek: ei ge min echon]. The old readings were [Greek: ei de min echon] and [Greek: ei de min echei; eu de min echon] has also been suggested; but of these three none seems to me to be at all satisfactory. In the reading I suggest the change is very slight, and it makes good sense.]

[Footnote 8: For Pindar's ideas as to a future life see especially the fragments of his Dirges which remain to us. He seems to have been influenced by Pythagoreanism.]

[Footnote 9: Memnon.]




* * * * *

This ode celebrates the same victory as the preceeding one. It was sung at the feast of the Theoxenia, given by Theron in the name of the Dioskouroi (Kastor and Polydeukes) to the other gods. Hence the epithet hospitable ([Greek: philoxeinois]) applied to the Dioskouroi in the first line. The clan of the Emmenidai to which Theron belonged was especially devoted to the worship of the Twins.

* * * * *

Tyndareus' hospitable sons and lovely-haired Helen shall I please assuredly in doing honour to renowned Akragas by a hymn upraised for Theron's Olympian crown; for hereunto hath the Muse been present with me that I should find out a fair new[1] device, fitting to feet that move in Dorian time the Komos-voices' splendid strain.

For crowns entwined about his hair demand from me this god-appointed debt, that for Ainesidamos' son I join in seemly sort the lyre of various tones with the flute's cry and ordering of words.

And Pisa bids me speak aloud, for from her come to men songs of divine assignment, when the just judge of games the Aitolian[2] man, fulfilling Herakles' behests of old, hath laid upon one's hair above his brows pale-gleaming glory of olive.

That tree from Ister's shadowy springs did the son of Amphitryon bear to be a memorial most glorious of Olympian triumphs, when that by his words he had won the Hyperborean folk, who serve Apollo. In loyal temper he besought for the precinct of Zeus, whereto all men go up, a plant that should be a shadow of all folk in common, and withal a crown for valorous deeds.

For already, when the altars had been sanctified to his sire, the midmonth Moon riding her golden car lit full the counter-flame of the eye of Even, and just judgment of great games did he ordain, and the fifth year's feast beside the holy steeps of Alpheos[3].

But no fair trees were nursed upon that place in Kronian Pelops' glens; whereof being naked his garden seemed to him to be given over to the keen rays of the sun.

Then was it that his soul stirred to urge him into the land of Ister; where Leto's horse-loving daughter[4] received him erst when he was come from the ridged hills and winding dells of Arcady, what time his father laid constraint upon him to go at Eurystheus' bidding to fetch the golden-horned hind, which once Taygete vowed to her[5] of Orthion and made a sign thereon of consecration. For in that chase he saw also the land that lieth behind the blast of the cold North-wind: there he halted and marvelled at the trees: and sweet desire thereof possessed him that he might plant them at the end of the course which the race-horses should run twelve times round.

So now to this feast cometh he in good-will in company with the Twins Divine, deep-girdled Leto's children. For to them he gave charge when he ascended into Olympus to order the spectacle of the games, both the struggle of man with man, and the driving of the nimble car.

Me anywise my soul stirreth to declare that to the Emmenidai and to Theron hath glory come by gift of the Tyndaridai of goodly steeds, for that beyond all mortals they do honour to them with tables of hospitality, keeping with pious spirit the rite of blessed gods.

Now if Water be the Best[6], and of possessions Gold be the most precious, so now to the furthest bound doth Theron by his fair deeds attain, and from his own home touch the pillars of Herakles. Pathless the things beyond, pathless alike to the unwise and the wise. Here I will search no more; the quest were vain.

[Footnote 1: i. e. probably a new combination of lyre and flute to accompany the singing.]

[Footnote 2: When the Dorians invaded Peloponnesos one of their leaders is said to have been Oxylos, a man of Elean descent but living in Aitolia. As a result of the invasion he became king of Elis; and the judge at the Olympic games seems to have been considered a descendant of him or of some Aitolian who came with him.]

[Footnote 3: The Olympic games were held in the middle of the month Hekatombaion, when the moon was full. It is here implied that Herakles wished to institute them when the moon was full, as that was a season of good luck.]

[Footnote 4: Artemis.]

[Footnote 5: Artemis.]

[Footnote 6: See Ol. i. 1.]




* * * * *

Psaumis won this race in the year 452; therefore this ode and its companion, the next following, are the latest work of Pindar possessed by us to which we can assign a date.

The mule-chariot-race was introduced at Olympia B.C. 500 and abolished B.C. 444, according to Pausanias.

This ode seems to have been written immediately on Psaumis' victory, to be sung the same night beneath the moon by the company of friends who escorted the winner to return thanks at the altar of Zeus.

* * * * *

Hurler of thunderbolts unfaltering, the most high Zeus, for that thy chosen hour recurrent hath sent me with a song set to the music of the subtle lute for a witness to the greatest of all games—and when friends have good hap the good are glad forthwith at the sweet tidings—now therefore, O son of Kronos, unto whom AEtna belongeth, the wind-beaten burden that crusheth fierce Typhon's hundred heads, receive thou this band of triumph for an Olympian victory won by the Graces' aid, a most enduring light of far-prevailing valorous deeds.

For the sake of Psaumis' mule-chariot it draweth nigh to thee—Psaumis, who, crowned with Pisan olive, hasteth to raise up glory for Kamarina. May God be gracious to our prayers for what shall be! For I praise him as a man most zealous in the rearing of horses, and delighting in ever-open hospitality, and bent on peace and on the welfare of his city, with guileless soul.

With no lie will I tinge my tale: trial is the test of men; this it was that delivered the son of Klymenos from the Lemnian women's slight. He, when he had won the foot-race in bronze armour[1], spake thus to Hypsipyle as he went to receive his crown: 'For fleetness such am I: hands have I and a heart to match. So also on young men grow oftentimes grey hairs even before the natural season of man's life[2].'

[Footnote 1: See introduction to Pythian ix.]

[Footnote 2: We may suppose that Psaumis probably had grey hair.]




* * * * *

This ode is for the same victory as the foregoing one, but was to be sung after Psaumis' return home, at Kamarina, and probably at, or in procession to, a temple of either Pallas, Zeus, or the tutelary nymph Kamarina, all of whom are invoked. The city is called 'new-peopled' ([Greek: neoikos]) because it had been destroyed by Gelo, and was only restored B.C. 461, nine years before this victory, the first which had been won by any citizen since its restoration.

* * * * *

Of lofty deeds and crowns Olympian this sweet delight, O daughter[1] of Ocean, with glad heart receive, the gift of Psaumis and his untiring car. He to make great thy city, Kamarina, with its fostered folk, hath honoured six twin altars in great feasts of the gods with sacrifices of oxen and five-day contests of games, with chariots of horses and of mules and with the steed of single frontlet[2].

To thee hath the victor consecrated the proud token[3] of his fame, and hath glorified by the herald's voice his father Akron and this new-peopled town.

Also, returning from the gracious dwelling place of Oinomaos and Pelops, thy sacred grove, O city-guarding Pallas, doth he sing, and the river Oanis, and the lake of his native land, and the sacred channels wherethrough doth Hipparis give water to the people, and build[4] with speed a lofty forest of stedfast dwellings, bringing from perplexity to the light this commonwealth of citizens.

Now ever in fair deeds must toil and cost contend toward an accomplishment hidden in perilous chance: yet if men have good hap therein, even to their own townsfolk is their wisdom approved.

O guardian Zeus that sittest above the clouds, that inhabitest the Kronian hill and honourest the broad river of Alpheos and Ida's holy cave, suppliant to thee I come, making my cry on Lydian flutes, to pray thee that thou wilt glorify this city with brave men's renown.

For thee also, Olympian victor, I pray that, joying in the steeds Poseidon[5] gave, thou mayest bear with thee to the end a serene old age, and may thy sons, O Psaumis, be at thy side. If a man cherish his wealth to sound ends, having a sufficiency of goods and adding thereto fair repute, let him not seek to become a god.

[Footnote 1: Kamarina.]

[Footnote 2: I. e. probably with horses ridden, not driven.]

[Footnote 3: His Olympian crown of wild olive.]

[Footnote 4: This seems to mean that the new city was built with wood brought down the stream of the river Hipparis.]

[Footnote 5: When Poseidon and Athene were contending for the protectorate of Athens, Poseidon brought the first horse up out of the earth, Athene the first olive-tree.]




* * * * * One of the Iamid clan, to which belonged hereditary priestly functions in Arcadia and at Olympia, had come with the first colonists to Syracuse, and from him the present victor Agesias was descended. Thus the ode is chiefly concerned with the story of his ancestor Iamos. Agesias was a citizen of Stymphalos in Arcadia, as well as of Syracuse, where he lived, and the ode was sung by a chorus in Stymphalos, B.C. 468.

* * * * *

Golden pillars will we set up in the porch of the house of our song, as in a stately palace-hall; for it beseemeth that in the fore-front of the work the entablature shoot far its splendour.

Now if one be an Olympian conqueror and treasurer to the prophetic altar of Zeus at Pisa, and joint founder[1] of glorious Syracuse, shall such an one hide him from hymns of praise, if his lot be among citizens who hear without envy the desired sounds of song? For in a sandal of such sort let the son of Sostratos know that his fortunate foot is set. Deeds of no risk are honourless whether done among men or among hollow ships; but if a noble deed be wrought with labour, many make mention thereof.

For thee, Agesias, is that praise prepared which justly and openly Adrastos spake of old concerning the seer Amphiaraos the son of Oikleus, when the earth had swallowed him and his shining steeds. For afterward, when on seven pyres dead men were burnt, the son[2] of Talaos spake on this wise: 'I seek the eye of my host, him who was alike a good seer and a good fighter with the spear.'

This praise also belongeth to the Syracusan who is lord of this triumphal song. I who am no friend of strife or wrongful quarrel will bear him this witness even with a solemn oath, and the sweet voice of the Muses shall not say me nay.

O Phintis[3] yoke me now with all speed the strength of thy mules that on the clear highway we may set our car, that I may go up to the far beginning of this race. For those mules know well to lead the way in this course as in others, who at Olympia have won crowns: it behoveth them that we throw open to them the gates of song, for to Pitane by Eurotas' stream must I begone betimes to-day.

Now Pitane[4], they say, lay with Poseidon the son of Kronos and bare the child Euadne with tresses iris-dark. The fruit of her body unwedded she hid by her robe's folds, and in the month of her delivery she sent her handmaids and bade them give the child to the hero son[5] of Elatos to rear, who was lord of the men of Arcady who dwelt at Phaisane, and had for his lot Alpheos to dwell beside.

There was the child Euadne nurtured, and by Apollo's side she first knew the joys of Aphrodite.

But she might not always hide from Aipytos the seed of the god within her; and he in his heart struggling with bitter strain against a grief too great for speech betook him to Pytho that he might ask of the oracle concerning the intolerable woe.

But she beneath a thicket's shade put from her silver pitcher and her girdle of scarlet web, and she brought forth a boy in whom was the spirit of God. By her side the gold-haired god set kindly Eleutho and the Fates, and from her womb in easy travail came forth Iamos to the light. Him in her anguish she left upon the ground, but by the counsel of gods two bright-eyed serpents nursed and fed him with the harmless venom[6] of the bee.

But when the king came back from rocky Delphi in his chariot he asked all who were in the house concerning the child whom Euadne had born; for he said that the sire whereof he was begotten was Phoibos, and that he should be a prophet unto the people of the land excelling all mortal men, and that his seed should be for ever.

Such was his tale, but they answered that they had neither seen nor heard of him, though he was now born five days. For he was hidden among rushes in an impenetrable brake, his tender body all suffused with golden and deep purple gleams of iris flowers; wherefore his mother prophesied saying that by this holy name[7] of immortality he should be called throughout all time.

But when he had come to the ripeness of golden-crowned sweet youth, he went down into the middle of Alpheos and called on wide-ruling Poseidon his grandsire, and on the guardian of god-built Delos, the bearer of the bow[8], praying that honour might be upon his head for the rearing of a people; and he stood beneath the heavens, and it was night.

Then the infallible Voice of his father answered and said unto him: Arise, my son, and come hither, following my voice, into a place where all men shall meet together.

So they came to the steep rock of lofty Kronion; there the god gave him a twofold treasure of prophecy, that for the time then being he should hearken to his voice that cannot lie; but when Herakles of valorous counsels, the sacred scion of the Alkeidai, should have come, and should have founded a multitudinous feast and the chief ordinance of games[9], then again on the summit of the altar of Zeus he bade him establish yet another oracle, that thenceforth the race of Iamidai should be glorious among Hellenes.

Good luck abode with them; for that they know the worth of valour they are entered on a glorious road.

The matter proveth the man, but from the envious calumny ever threateneth them on whom, as they drive foremost in the twelfth[10] round of the course, Charis sheddeth blushing beauty to win them fame more fair.

Now if in very truth, Agesias, thy mother's ancestors dwelling by the borders of Kyllene did piously and oft offer up prayer and sacrifice to Hermes, herald of the gods, who hath to his keeping the strife and appointment of games, and doeth honour to Arcadia the nurse of goodly men,—then surely he, O son of Sostratos, with his loud-thundering sire, is the accomplisher of this thy bliss.

Methinks I have upon my tongue a whetstone of loud sounding speech, which to harmonious breath constraineth me nothing loth. Mother of my mother was Stymphalian Metope[11] of fair flowers, for she bare Thebe the charioteer, whose pleasant fountain I will drink, while I weave for warriors the changes of my song.

Now rouse thy fellows, Aineas, first to proclaim the name of maiden[12] Hera, and next to know for sure whether we are escaped from the ancient reproach that spake truly of Boeotian swine. For thou art a true messenger, a writing-tally[13] of the Muses goodly-haired, a bowl wherein to mix high-sounding songs.

And bid them make mention of Syracuse and of Ortygia, which Hieron ruleth with righteous sceptre devising true counsels, and doth honour to Demeter whose footsteps make red the corn, and to the feast of her daughter with white steeds, and to the might of Aetnaean Zeus. Also he is well known of the sweet voices of the song and lute. Let not the on-coming time break his good fortune. And with joyful welcome may he receive this triumphal song, which travelleth from home to home, leaving Stymphalos' walls, the mother-city of Arcadia, rich in flocks.

Good in a stormy night are two anchors let fall from a swift ship. May friendly gods grant to both peoples[14] an illustrious lot: and thou O lord and ruler of the sea, husband of Amphitrite of the golden distaff, grant this my friend straight voyage and unharmed, and bless the joyous flower of my song.

[Footnote 1: Agesias is so called because an Iamid ancestor of his had gone with Archias when he planted the Corinthian colony of Syracuse.]

[Footnote 2: Adrastos.]

[Footnote 3: Phintis was Agesias' charioteer.]

[Footnote 4: I. e. the nymph who gave her name to the place.]

[Footnote 5: Aipytos.]

[Footnote 6: Honey.]

[Footnote 7: Iamos, from [Greek: ion]: the iris was considered a symbol of immortality.]

[Footnote 8: His father, Apollo.]

[Footnote 9: At Olympia.]

[Footnote 10: The course in the chariot-race was twelve times round the Hippodrome.]

[Footnote 11: The nymph of the lake Metope near Stymphalos.]

[Footnote 12: Hera was worshipped in her prenuptial as well as her postnuptial state.]

[Footnote 13: It was a custom between correspondents who wished for secrecy to have duplicate [Greek: skutalai], or letter-sticks. The writer wrote on a roll wrapt round his stick, and the receiver of the letter read it wrapt similarly on his. And thus Aineas the bearer of this ode would teach the chorus of Stymphalians how rightly to sing and understand it. See [Greek: skutalae] in Dict. Ant.]

[Footnote 14: I. e. of Stymphalos and Syracuse. Agesias was a citizen of both, and thus his two homes are compared to two anchors.]




* * * * *

Rhodes is said to have been colonised at the time of the Dorian migrations by Argive Dorians from Epidauros, who were Herakleidai of of the family of Tlepolemos. They founded a confederacy of three cities, Kameiros, Lindos, and Ialysos. Ialysos was then ruled by the dynasty of the Eratidai. Their kingly power had now been extinct two hundred years, but the family was still pre-eminent in the state. Of this family was Diagoras, and probably the ode was sung at a family festival; but it commemorates the glories of the island generally. The Rhodians caused it to be engraved in letters of gold in the temple of Athene at Lindos.

There is a noteworthy incident of the Peloponnesian war which should be remembered in connection with this ode. In the year 406, fifty-eight years after this victory of Diagoras, during the final and most embittering agony of Athens, one Dorieus, a son of Diagoras, and himself a famous athlete, was captured by the Athenians in a sea-fight. It was then the custom either to release prisoners of war for a ransom or else to put them to death. The Athenians asked no ransom of Dorieus, but set him free on the spot.

* * * * *

As when from a wealthy hand one lifting a cup, made glad within with the dew of the vine, maketh gift thereof to a youth his daughter's spouse, a largess of the feast from home to home, an all-golden choicest treasure, that the banquet may have grace, and that he may glorify his kin; and therewith he maketh him envied in the eyes of the friends around him for a wedlock wherein hearts are wedded—

So also I, my liquid nectar sending, the Muses' gift, the sweet fruit of my soul, to men that are winners in the games at Pytho or Olympia make holy offering. Happy is he whom good report encompasseth; now on one man, now on another doth the Grace that quickeneth look favourably, and tune for him the lyre and the pipe's stops of music manifold.

Thus to the sound of the twain am I come with Diagoras sailing home, to sing the sea-girt Rhodes, child of Aphrodite and bride of Helios, that to a mighty and fair-fighting man, who by Alpheos' stream and by Kastalia's hath won him crowns, I may for his boxing make award of glory, and to his father Demegetos in whom Justice hath her delight, dwellers in the isle of three cities with an Argive host, nigh to a promontory of spacious Asia.

Fain would I truly tell from the beginning from Tlepolemos the message of my word, the common right of this puissant seed of Herakles. For on the father's side they claim from Zeus, and on the mother's from Astydameia, sons of Amyntor.

Now round the minds of men hang follies unnumbered—this is the unachievable thing, to find what shall be best hap for a man both presently and also at the last. Yea for the very founder[1] of this country once on a time struck with his staff of tough wild-olive-wood Alkmene's bastard brother Likymnios in Tiryns as he came forth from Midea's chamber, and slew him in the kindling of his wrath. So even the wise man's feet are turned astray by tumult of the soul.

Then he came to enquire of the oracle of God. And he of the golden hair from his sweet-incensed shrine spake unto him of a sailing of ships that should be from the shore of Lerna unto a pasture ringed with sea, where sometime the great king of gods rained on the city golden snow, what time by Hephaistos' handicraft beneath the bronze-wrought axe from the crown of her father's head Athene leapt to light and cried aloud with an exceeding cry; and Heaven trembled at her coming, and Earth, the Mother.

Then also the god who giveth light to men, Hyperion, bade his beloved sons see that they guard the payment of the debt, that they should build first for the goddess an altar in the sight of all men, and laying thereon a holy offering they should make glad the hearts of the father and of his daughter of the sounding spear. Now Reverence, Forethought's child, putteth valour and the joy of battle into the hearts of men; yet withal there cometh upon them bafflingly the cloud of forgetfulness and maketh the mind to swerve from the straight path of action. For they though they had brands burning yet kindled not the seed of flame, but with fireless rites they made a grove on the hill of the citadel. For them Zeus brought a yellow cloud into the sky and rained much gold upon the land; and Glaukopis herself gave them to excel the dwellers upon earth in every art of handicraft. For on their roads ran the semblances of beasts and creeping things: whereof they have great glory, for to him that hath knowledge the subtlety that is without deceit[2] is the greater altogether.

Now the ancient story of men saith that when Zeus and the other gods made division of the earth among them, not yet was island Rhodes apparent in the open sea, but in the briny depths lay hid. And for that Helios was otherwhere, none drew a lot for him; so they left him portionless of land, that holy god. And when he spake thereof Zeus would cast lots afresh; but he suffered him not, for that he said that beneath the hoary sea he saw a certain land waxing from its root in earth, that should bring forth food for many men, and rejoice in flocks. And straightway he bade her of the golden fillet, Lachesis, to stretch her hands on high, nor violate the gods' great oath, but with the son of Kronos promise him that the isle sent up to the light of heaven should be thenceforth a title of himself alone.

And in the end of the matter his speech had fulfilment; there sprang up from the watery main an island, and the father who begetteth the keen rays of day hath the dominion thereof, even the lord of fire-breathing steeds. There sometime having lain with Rhodos he begat seven sons, who had of him minds wiser than any among the men of old; and one begat Kameiros, and Ialysos his eldest, and Lindos: and they held each apart their shares of cities, making threefold division of their father's land, and these men call their dwelling-places. There is a sweet amends for his piteous ill-hap ordained for Tlepolemos leader of the Tirynthians at the beginning, as for a god, even the leading thither of sheep for a savoury burnt-offering, and the award of honour in games[3].

Of garlands from these games hath Diagoras twice won him crowns, and four times he had good luck at famous Isthmos and twice following at Nemea, and twice at rocky Athens. And at Argos the bronze shield knoweth him, and the deeds of Arcadia and of Thebes and the yearly games Boeotian, and Pellene and Aigina where six times he won; and the pillar of stone at Megara hath the same tale to tell.

But do thou, O Father Zeus, who holdest sway on the mountain-ridges of Atabyrios glorify the accustomed Olympian winner's hymn, and the man who hath done valiantly with his fists: give him honour at the hands of citizens and of strangers; for he walketh in the straight way that abhorreth insolence, having learnt well the lessons his true soul hath taught him, which hath come to him from his noble sires. Darken not thou the light of one who springeth from the same stock of Kallianax. Surely with the joys of Eratidai the whole city maketh mirth. But the varying breezes even at the same point of time speed each upon their various ways.

[Footnote 1: Tlepolemos.]

[Footnote 2: That is, probably, without magic, or the pretence of being anything but machines. This is considered an allusion to the Telchines who lived before the Heliadai in Rhodes, and were magicians as well as craftsmen. For illustrations of Rhodian art at various times the British Museum may be consulted, which is particularly rich in vases from Kameiros and Ialysos.]

[Footnote 3: That is, he presides over the celebration of games, as tutelar hero of the island.]




* * * * *

The date of this victory is B.C. 460. Long as the ode is, it would seem however to have been written, like the fourth Olympian, to be sung in the procession to the altar of Zeus on the night of the victory.

Of the forty-four odes remaining to us no less than eleven are in honour of winners from Aigina.

* * * * *

O mother of gold-crowned contests, Olympia, queen of truth; where men that are diviners observing burnt-offerings make trial of Zeus the wielder of white lightnings, whether he hath any word concerning men who seek in their hearts to attain unto great prowess and a breathing-space from toil; for it is given in answer to the reverent prayers of men—do thou, O tree-clad precinct of Pisa by Alpheos, receive this triumph and the carrying of the crown.

Great is his glory ever on whom the splendour of thy honour waiteth. Yet this good cometh to one, that to another, and many are the roads to happy life by the grace of gods.

Thee, O Timosthenes[1], and thy brother hath Destiny assigned to Zeus the guardian of your house, even to him who hath made thee glorious at Nemea, and Alkimedon by the hill of Kronos a winner in Olympic games.

Now the boy was fair to look upon, neither shamed he by his deeds his beauty, but in the wrestling match victorious made proclamation that his country was Aigina of long oars, where saviour Themis who sitteth in judgment by Zeus the stranger's succour is honoured more than any elsewhere among men[2].

For in a matter mighty and bearing many ways to judge with unswayed mind and suitably, this is a hard essay, yet hath some ordinance of immortals given this sea-defended land to be to strangers out of every clime a pillar built of God. May coming time not weary of this work.

To a Dorian folk was the land given in trust from Aiakos, even the man whom Leto's son and far-ruling Poseidon, when they would make a crown for Ilion, called to work with them at the wall, for that it was destined that at the uprising of wars in city-wasting fights it should breathe forth fierce smoke.

Now when it was new-built three dragons fiery-eyed leapt at the rampart: two fell and perished in despair; but the third sprang in with a war-cry[3].

Then Apollo pondering, the sign spake straightway unto Aiakos by his side: 'Hero, where thy hands have wrought is Pergamos taken: thus saith this sign, sent of the son of Kronos, loud-thundering Zeus. And that not without thy seed; but with the first and fourth it shall be subdued'[4].

Thus plainly spoke the god, and away to Xanthos and the Amazons of goodly steeds and to Ister urged his car.

And the Trident-wielder for Isthmos over seas harnessed his swift chariot, and hither[5] first he bare with him Aiakos behind the golden mares, and so on unto the mount of Corinth, to behold his feast of fame.

Now shall there never among men be aught that pleaseth all alike. If I for Melesias[6] raise up glory in my song of his boys, let not envy cast at me her cruel stone. Nay but at Nemea too will I tell of honour of like kind with this, and of another ensuing thereon, won in the pankration of men.

Verily to teach is easier to him that knoweth: it is folly if one hath not first learnt, for without trial the mind wavereth. And beyond all others can Melesias declare all works on that wise, what method shall advance a man who from the sacred games may win the longed-for glory.

Now for the thirtieth time is honour gained for him by the victory of Alkimedon, who by God's grace, nor failing himself in prowess, hath put off from him upon the bodies of four striplings the loathed return ungreeted of fair speech, and the path obscure[7]; and in his father's father he hath breathed new vigour to wrestle with old age. A man that hath done honourable deeds taketh no thought of death.

But I must needs arouse memory, and tell of the glory of their hands that gave victory to the Blepsiad clan, to whom this is now the sixth crown that hath come from the wreathed games to bind their brows.

Even the dead have their share when paid them with due rites, and the grace of kinsmen's honour the dust concealeth not. From Hermes' daughter Fame shall Iphion[8] hear and tell to Kallimachos this lustre of Olympic glory, which Zeus hath granted to this house. Honour upon honour may he vouchsafe unto it, and shield it from sore disease[9]. I pray that for the share of glory fallen to them he raise against them no contrary discontent, but granting them a life unharmed may glorify them and their commonwealth.

[Footnote 1: Alkimedon's brother. He had won a victory at the Nemean games.]

[Footnote 2: Aigina had a high commercial reputation, and strangers were equitably dealt with in her courts.]

[Footnote 3: The two first dragons typify the Aiakids, Aias and Achilles, who failed to enter Troy, the third typifies Achilles' son, Neoptolemos, who succeeded.]

[Footnote 4: Aiakos' son, Telamon, was with Herakles when he took Troy: his great-grandson Neoptolemos was in the Wooden Horse.]

[Footnote 5: To Aigina.]

[Footnote 6: Alkimedon's trainer.]

[Footnote 7: I. e. Alkimedon has escaped the disagreeable circumstances of defeat and transferred them to the four opponents against whom he was matched in four successive ties.]

[Footnote 8: Iphion seems to have been the father and Kallimachos the uncle of Alkimedon.]

[Footnote 9: Perhaps Iphion and Kallimachos died of some severe illness.]




* * * * *

The date of this ode is uncertain. Its last line seems to imply that it was sung at a banquet at Opous, after crowning the altar of Aias Oileus, tutelar hero of the Lokrians. From the beginning we gather that on the night of the victory at Olympia Epharmostos' friends had sung in his honour the conventional triple strain of Archilochos—

[Greek: (o kallinike chair' anax Herakleaes autos te k' Iolaos, aichmaeta duo. taenella kallinike)]

to which perhaps some slight additions had been made, but not by Pindar.

* * * * *

The strain of Archilochos sung without music at Olympia, the triple resonant psalm of victory, sufficed to lead to the hill of Kronos Epharmostos triumphing with his comrade friends: but now with darts of other sort, shot from the Muses' far-delivering bow, praise Zeus of the red lightning, and Elis' holy headland, which on a time Pelops the Lydian hero chose to be Hippodameia's goodly dower.

And shoot a feathered arrow of sweet song Pythoward, for thy words shall not fall to the ground when thou tunest the throbbing lyre to the praise of the wrestlings of a man from famous Opous, and celebratest her and her son. For Themis and her noble daughter Eunomia the Preserver have made her their own, and she flourisheth in excellent deeds both at Kastalia and beside Alpheos' stream: whence come the choicest of all crowns to glorify the mother city of Lokrians, the city of beautiful trees.

I, to illuminate the city of my friends with eager blaze of song, swifter than high-bred steed or winged ship will send everywhere these tidings, so be it that my hand is blessed at all in labouring in the choice garden of the Graces; for they give all pleasant things to men.

By fate divine receive men also valour and wisdom: how else[1] might the hands of Herakles have wielded his club against the trident, when at Pylos Poseidon took his stand and prest hard on him, ay, and there prest him hard embattled Phoibos with his silver bow, neither would Hades keep his staff unraised, wherewith he leadeth down to ways beneath the hollow earth the bodies of men that die?

O my mouth, fling this tale from thee, for to speak evil of gods is a hateful wisdom, and loud and unmeasured words strike a note that trembleth upon madness. Of such things talk thou not; leave war of immortals and all strife aside; and bring thy words to the city of Protogeneia, where by decree of Zeus of the bickering lightning-flash Pyrrha and Deukalion coming down from Parnassos first fixed their home, and without bed of marriage made out of stones a race to be one folk: and hence cometh the name of peoples[2]. Awake for them the clear-toned gale of song, and if old wine be best, yet among songs prefer the newer flowers.

Truly men say that once a mighty water swept over the dark earth, but by the craft of Zeus an ebb suddenly drew off the flood. From these first men came anciently your ancestors of the brazen shields, sons of the women of the stock of Iapetos and of the mighty Kronidai, Kings that dwelt in the land continually; until the Olympian Lord caught up the daughter[3] of Opoeeis from the land of the Epeians, and lay with her in a silent place among the ridges of Mainalos; and afterward brought her unto Lokros, that age might not bring him[4] low beneath the burden of childlessness. But the wife bare within her the seed of the Mightiest, and the hero saw the bastard born and rejoiced, and called him by the name of his mother's father, and he became a man preeminent in beauty and great deeds: and his father gave unto him a city and a people to rule over.

Then there came unto him strangers, from Argos and from Thebes, and from Arcadia others, and from Pisa. But the son of Aktor and Aigina, Menoitios, he honoured above all settlers, him whose son[5] went with the Atreidai to the plain of Teuthras and stood alone beside Achilles, when Telephos had turned the valiant Danaoi to flight, and drove them into the sterns of their sea-ships; so proved he to them that had understanding that Patroklos' soul was strong. And thenceforward the son of Thetis persuaded him that he should never in murderous battle take his post far from his friend's conquering spear.

Fit speech may I find for my journey in the Muses' car; and let me therewith have daring and powers of ample scope. To back the prowess of a friend I came, when Lampromachos won his Isthmian crown, when on the same day both he and his brother overcame. And afterward at the gates[6] of Corinth two triumphs again befell Epharmostos, and more in the valleys of Nemea. At Argos he triumphed over men, as over boys at Athens. And I might tell how at Marathon he stole from among the beardless and confronted the full-grown for the prize of silver vessels, how without a fall he threw his men with swift and cunning shock, and how loud the shouting pealed when round the ring he ran, in the beauty of his youth and his fair form and fresh from fairest deeds.

Also before the Parrhasian host was he glorified, at the assembly of Lykaian Zeus, and again when at Pellene he bare away a warm antidote of cold winds[7]. And the tomb of Iolaos, and Eleusis by the sea, are just witnesses to his honours.

The natural is ever best: yet many men by learning of prowess essay to achieve fame. The thing done without God is better kept in silence. For some ways lead further than do others, but one practice will not train us all alike. Skill of all kinds is hard to attain unto: but when thou bringest forth this prize, proclaim aloud with a good courage that by fate divine this man at least was born deft-handed, nimble-limbed, with the light of valour in his eyes, and that now being victorious he hath crowned at the feast Oilean Alas' altar.

[Footnote 1: This is the common interpretation, implying that Herakles in contending with the gods here mentioned must have been helped by other gods. But perhaps it might also be translated 'therefore how could the hands, &c.,' meaning that since valour, as has just been said, comes from a divine source, it could not be used against gods, and that thus the story ought to be rejected.]

[Footnote 2: Perhaps the story of the stones arose from the like sound of [Greek: Laos] and [Greek: Laas], words here regarded in the inverse relation to each other.]

[Footnote 3: Protogeneia.]

[Footnote 4: Lokros.]

[Footnote 5: Patroklos.]

[Footnote 6: The Isthmus, the gate between the two seas.]

[Footnote 7: A cloak, the prize.]




* * * * *

This ode bears somewhat the same relation to the next that the fourth does to the fifth. It was to be sung at Olympia on the night after the victory, and Pindar promises the boy to write a longer one for the celebration of his victory in his Italian home. The date is B.C. 484.

* * * * *

Sometimes have men most need of winds, sometimes of showered waters of the firmament, the children of the cloud.

But when through his labour one fareth well, then are due honey-voiced songs, be they even a prelude to words that shall come after, a pledge confirmed by oath in honour of high excellence.

Ample is the glory stored for Olympian winners: thereof my shepherd tongue is fain to keep some part in fold. But only by the help of God is wisdom[1] kept ever blooming in the soul.

Son of Archestratos, Agesidamos, know certainly that for thy boxing I will lay a glory of sweet strains upon thy crown of golden[2] olive, and will have in remembrance the race of the Lokrians' colony in the West.

There do ye, O Muses, join in the song of triumph: I pledge my word that to no stranger-banishing folk shall ye come, nor unacquainted with things noble, but of the highest in arts and valiant with the spear. For neither tawny fox nor roaring lion may change his native temper.

[Footnote 1: Perhaps [Greek: sophos] (which means often rather clever or skilful than wise) has here the special reference to poetic skill, which it often has in Pindar.]

[Footnote 2: Golden here means supremely excellent, as in the first line of the eighth Olympian.]




* * * * *

It would seem by his own confession that Pindar did not remember till long afterwards the promise he made to Agesidamos in the last ode. We do not know how long afterwards this was written, but it must have been too late to greet the winner on his arrival in Italy; probably it was to be sung at the anniversary or some memorial celebration of his victory.

* * * * *

Read me the name of the Olympic winner Archestratos' son that I may know where it is written upon my heart: for I had forgotten that I owed him a sweet strain.

But do thou, O Muse, and thou Truth, daughter of Zeus, put forth your hands and keep from me the reproach of having wronged a friend by breaking my pledged word. For from afar hath overtaken me the time that was then yet to come, and hath shamed my deep debt.

Nevertheless from that sore reproach I may be delivered by payment with usury: behold how[1] the rushing wave sweepeth down the rolling shingle, and how we also will render for our friend's honour a tribute to him and to his people.

Truth inhabiteth the city of the Lokrians of the West, and Kalliope they hold in honour and mailed Ares; yea even conquering Herakles was foiled by that Kykneaen combat[2].

Now let Agesidamos, winner in the boxing at Olympia, so render thanks to Ilas[3] as Patroklos of old to Achilles. If one be born with excellent gifts, then may another who sharpeneth his natural edge speed him, God helping, to an exceeding weight of glory. Without toil there have triumphed a very few.

Of that light in the life of a man before all other deeds, that first of contests, the ordinances of Zeus[4] have stirred me to sing, even the games which by the ancient tomb of Pelops the mighty Herakles founded, after that he slew Kleatos, Poseidon's goodly son, and slew also Eurytos, that he might wrest from tyrannous Augeas against his will reward for service done[5].

Lying in ambush beneath Kleonai did Herakles overcome them on the road, for that formerly these same violent sons of Molos made havoc of his own Tirynthian folk by hiding in the valleys of Elis. And not long after the guest-betraying king of the Epeans saw his rich native land, his own city, beneath fierce fire and iron blows sink down into the deep moat of calamity. Of strife against stronger powers it is hard to be rid. Likewise Augeas last of all in his perplexity fell into captivity and escaped not precipitate death.

Then the mighty son of Zeus having gathered together all his host at Pisa, and all the booty, measured a sacred grove for his sovereign Father; and having fenced round the Altis he marked the bounds thereof in a clear space, and the plain encompassing it he ordained for rest and feasting, and paid honour to the river Alpheos together with the twelve greatest gods. And he named it by the name of the Hill of Kronos; for theretofore it was without name, when Oinomaos was king, and it was sprinkled with much snow[6].

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