Odes of Pindar (Myers)/Olympian Odes/13

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The Extant Odes of Pindar, translated into English  (1874)  by Pindar, translated by Ernest Myers
Olympian Ode XIII.




The date of this victory is B.C. 464, when Xenophon won both the Stadion, or short foot-race of about a furlong or 220 yards, and also the Pentathlon, that is, probably, he won at least three out of the five contests which composed the Pentathlon—the Jump, the Foot-race, Throwing the Disk, Throwing the Javelin, and Wrestling, (ἅλμα ποδωκέιαν δίσκον ἄκοντα πάλην). For details, see Dict. Antiq. and Note on Nem. vii. 71–73.

This ode and the speech of Glaukos in the sixth Book of the Iliad are the most conspicuous passages in poetry which refer to the great Corinthian hero Bellerophon.

It is thought that this ode was sung on the winner's public entrance into Corinth.

Thrice winner in Olympic games, of citizens beloved, to strangers hospitable, the house in whose praise will I now celebrate happy Corinth, portal of Isthmian Poseidon and nursery of splendid youth. For therein dwell Order, and her sisters, sure foundation of states. Justice and likeminded Peace, dispensers of wealth to men, wise Themis' golden daughters. And they are minded to keep far from them Insolence the braggart mother of Loathing.

I have fair witness to bear of them, and a just boldness stirreth my tongue to speak. Nature inborn none shall prevail to hide. Unto you, sons[1] of Aletes, ofttimes have the flowery Hours given splendour of victory, as to men excelling in valour, pre-eminent at the sacred games, and ofttimes of old have they put subtleties into your men's hearts to devise; and of an inventor cometh every work.

Whence were revealed the new graces of Dionysos with the dithyramb that winneth the ox[2]? Who made new means of guidance to the harness of horses, or on the shrines of gods set the twin images of the king of birds[3]? Among them thriveth the Muse of dulcet breath, and Ares in the young men's terrible spears. Sovran lord of Olympia, be not thou jealous of my words henceforth for ever, O father Zeus; rule thou this folk unharmed, and keep unchanged the favourable gale of Xenophon's good hap. Welcome for him this customary escort of his crown, which from the plains of Pisa he is bringing, having won with the five contests the stadion-race beside; the like whereof never yet did mortal man.

Also two parsley-wreaths shadowed his head before the people at the games of Isthmos, nor doth Nemea tell a different tale. And of his father Thessalos' lightning feet is record by the streams of Alpheos, and at Pytho he hath renown for the single and for the double stadion gained both in a single day, and in the same month at rocky Athens a day of swiftness crowned his hair for three illustrious deeds, and the Hellotia[4] seven times, and at the games of Poseidon between seas longer hymns followed his father Ptoiodoros with Terpsias and Eritimos. And how often ye were first at Delphi or in the Pastures of the Lion[5], though with full many do I match your crowd of honours, yet can I no more surely tell than the tale of pebbles on the sea-shore. But in everything is there due measure, and most excellent is it to have respect unto fitness of times.

I with your fleet sailing a privateer will speak no lie concerning the valour of Corinth's heroes, whether I proclaim the craft of her men of old or their might in war, whether of Sisyphos of subtlest cunning even as a god, and Medea who made for herself a marriage in her sire's despite, saviour of the ship Argo and her crew: or whether how of old in the struggle before the walls of Dardanos the sons of Corinth were deemed to turn the issue of battle either way, these with Atreus' son striving to win Helen back, those to thrust them utterly away[6].

Now when Glaukos was come thither out of Lydia the Danaoi feared him. To them he proclaimed that in the city of Peirene his sire bare rule and had rich heritage of land and palace, even he who once, when he longed to bridle the snaky Gorgon's son, Pegasos, at Peirene's spring, suffered many things, until the time when maiden Pallas brought to him a bit with head-band of gold, and from a dream behold it was very deed.

For she said unto him 'Sleepest thou O Aiolid king?[errata 1]' Come, take this charmer of steeds, and show it to thy father[7] the tamer of horses, with the sacrifice of a white bull.

Thus in the darkness as he slumbered spake the maiden wielder of the shadowy aegis—so it seemed unto him—and he leapt up and stood upright upon his feet. And he seized the wondrous bit that lay by his side, and found with joy the prophet of the land, and showed to him, the son of Koiranos, the whole issue of the matter, how on the altar of the goddess he lay all night according to the word of his prophecy, and how with her own hands the child of Zeus whose spear is the lightning brought unto him the soul-subduing gold.

Then the seer bade him with all speed obey the vision, and that, when he should have sacrificed to the wide-ruling Earth-enfolder the strong-foot beast[8], he should build an altar straightway to Athene, queen of steeds.

Now the power of Gods bringeth easily to pass such things as make forecast forsworn. Surely with zealous haste did bold Bellerophon bind round the winged steed's jaw the softening charm, and make him his: then straightway he flew up and disported him in his brazen arms.

In company with that horse also on a time, from out of the bosom of the chill and desert air, he smote the archer host of Amazons, and slew the Solymoi, and Chimaira breathing fire, I will keep silence touching the fate of him: howbeit Pegasos hath in Olympus found a home in the ancient stalls of Zeus.

But for me who am to hurl straight the whirling javelin it is not meet to spend beside the mark my store of darts with utmost force of hand: for to the Muses throned in splendour and to the Oligaithidai a willing ally came I, at the Isthmos and again at Nemea. In a brief word will I proclaim the host of them, and a witness sworn and true shall be to me in the sweet-tongued voice of the good herald[9], heard at both places sixty times.

Now have their acts at Olympia, methinks, been told already: of those that shall be hereafter I will hereafter clearly speak. Now I live in hope, but the end is in the hands of gods. But if the fortune of the house fail not, we will commit to Zeus and Enyalios the accomplishment thereof.

Yet other glories won they, by Parnassos' brow, and at Argos how many and at Thebes, and such as nigh the Arcadians[10] the lordly altar of Zeus Lykaios shall attest, and Pallene, and Sikyon, and Megara, and the well-fenced grove of the Aiakidai, and Eleusis, and lusty Marathon, and the fair rich cities beneath Aetna's towering crest, and Euboea. Nay over all Hellas if thou searchest, thou shalt find more than one sight can view.

O king Zeus the Accomplisher, grant them with so light feet[11] to move through life, give them all honour, and sweet hap of their goodly things.

  1. The clan of the Oligaithidai, to which Xenophon belonged.
  2. I.e. as a prize. But the passage may be taken differently as referring to the symbolical identification of Dionysos with the bull. Dithyrambic poetry was said to have been invented or improved by Arion of Corinth.
  3. This refers to the introduction into architecture by the Corinthians of the pediment, within or above which were at that time constantly placed images of eagles.
  4. The feast of Athene Hellotis.
  5. Nemea.
  6. The Lykians who fought under Glaukos on the Trojan side were of Corinthian descent.
  7. Poseidon.
  8. A bull.
  9. Proclaiming the name and city of the winner in the games.
  10. Reading Ἀρκάσιν ἆσσον.
  11. As in their foot-races.


  1. Original: . was amended to ?: detail