Pindar and Anacreon/Pindar/Isthmian Odes/5

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This ode opens with an invocation to Thia; who, according to the ancient theogony, was the mother of the Sun, Moon, and Aurora.—Under this name the poet designates glory and renown; for the sake of which men achieve the most illustrious deeds.—He then makes a transition to the victor, with a digression commemorating the heroes of Ægina.—Then to the battle of Salamis.—Returns to Phylacides, and concludes by the praise of Pytheas, his alipta: (the person whose office it was to train and anoint the combatants for the games.)

Illustrious mother of the solar beam,[1]
Mankmd, bright Thia, for thy sake esteem
The first of metals, all-subduing gold;
And ships, oh queen! that struggle in the deep,
With car-yoked coursers o'er the plain that sweep,
To honour thee, the wondrous contests hold.6
Through thee in every warlike game
Heroes the frequent meed of fame
Achieve, whose hair the wreath around,
By strength or swiftness won, is bound.10
When two events propitious meet,
They make the span of life most sweet,
If any combatant success
And fair report united bless. 17

Then seek not Jove's immortal state,15
Since thine is all this prosperous fate.
Mortals in mortal thoughts should rest.
The Isthmian plain and Nemea's fray
To thee, Phylacides, convey
Their double wreaths, and Pytho's day,20
Whose heroes the pancratium's meed contest.
But hymns shall never touch my heart
If Æacus receive no part.
To this fair city have I come,
Which law and justice make their home,25
To Lampo's offspring, by the muses' aid.
Envy not him whose foot proceeds
In the pure path of heavenly deeds,
If by a mingled song his labours are repaid. 31

Brave warriors of heroic race30
Ere now have won the meed of fame,[2]
Whom harps and sounding flutes proclaim
Victors through lengthen'd ages' space;
Affording to the vocal train,
From Jove, high matter for their strain.35
Th' equestrian chaplet Iolaus gain'd
At Thebes, in Argos Perseus' skill obtain'd;
And where the waters of Eurotas flow
Castor and Pollux' spear dealt the triumphant blow. 43

But in Ænone's island bright40
Th' Æacidæ's high natures shone,
They by whose conquering arms in fight
Twice were the Trojan walls o'erthrown.
First tracking Hercules' career,
Then ranged beneath th' Atridæ's spear.45
Now urge thy chariot o'er the plain,
And say by whom was Cycnus slain;
By whom great Hector? tell whose blade
In death the fearless Memnon laid,
Chief of the Æthiopian ranks,50
Who by his spear's impetuous force
Arrested Telephus' bold course,
And smote him near Caïcus' banks?
To them Ægina's beauteous isle
Report assigns the native soil. 5655

That tower was built in ancient time,
To which their virtues soar sublime:
Sounding their praise, my fluent tongue
Can hurl full many a dart of song.
And now shall Ajax' city prove60
A witness in the dire affray;
Fair Salamis, whose seamen strove
In the destructive shower of Jove
The deadly hail of countless hosts to stay. 64

But let forgetful Silence veil65
In her cold dews the boasting tale;
For Jove, the lord of all, at will
Directs alike the good and ill.
These honours, gain'd by each triumphant deed,
Delight to win the poet's honey'd meed.70
Let him who labours to this end
Like Cleonicus' race contend:
Never in dark oblivion's shade
The heroes' lengthen'd toils shall fade;
Nor care distract the mind that views75
What cost the wish'd-for palm pursues. 74

Now Pytheas' praise demands the strain,
Who foremost in th' athletic train
With dexterous arm and mind as free
Directs the blows to victory.80
Then for his temples weave the crown,
To him the woolly chaplet bear,
The winged strain of high renown,
As to Phylacides, prepare. 74


  1. Pindar, in this magnificent exordium, addresses Thia, the goddess of splendour, and, according to Hesiod, cited by the scholiast, the mother, by Hyperion, of Sol, Luna, and Aurora. By this invocation he intimates the glory of the Æginetans, to whose exertions in the battle of Salamis the victory over the Persian fleet was mainly attributable. (See l. 56, et. seq.)
  2. The metaphor in this line is repeated with greater amplification in the opening of the next ode, addressed to the same hero.