Odes of Pindar (Myers)/Fragments
Nearly two-thirds of the Fragments cannot be assigned to any distinct class: the rest are divided among (1) Ἐπινίκια, or Triumphal Odes (such as are the odes remaining to us entire), (2) Ὕμνοι, or Hymns sung by a choir in honour of gods, (3) Παιᾶνες, or Hymns of a like kind but anciently addressed especially to Apollo and Artemis for their intervention against pestilence, (4) Διθύραμβοι, or choral songs of more general compass, verging sometimes on the drama, (5) Προσόδια, or Processional Songs, (6) Παρθένια, or Songs for a Choir of Maidens, (7) Ὑπορχήματα, or Songs with Accompaniment of Dance, (8) Ἐνκώμια, or Odes sung by a κῶμος in praise of some person but not necessarily on any special occasion, (9) Σκόλια, or Songs to be sung at Banquets, (10) Θρῆνοι, or Dirges.
FRAGMENT OF A DITHYRAMB,
TO BE SUNG AT ATHENS.
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-entwinëd 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-crownëd god, whom we call Bromios, even the god of clamorous shout.
To sing the offspring of the Highest and of Kadmean 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.
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 . . .
FRAGMENTS OF A PROCESSION-SONG (προσόδιον),
IN HONOUR OF DELOS.
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 . . . . . .
. . . . For of old time it drifted before the waves and stress of winds from every side; but when she 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. . . . . . . . .
FRAGMENT OF A SONG WITH ACCOMPANIMENT OF DANCE (ὑπόρχημα), WRITTEN ON OCCASION OF AN ECLIPSE OF THE SUN, PROBABLY THAT OF APRIL 30, B.C. 463.
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 . . . . .
FRAGMENTS OF DIRGES (θρῆνοι).
. . . .For them shineth below the strength of the sun while in our world it is night, and the space of crimson-flowered 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.. . . . . .
- Dionysos, son of Zeus and of Semele, daughter of Kadmos.
- Böckh 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.
- The old mythical name of Delos was Asteria.
- The island.