Pindar and Anacreon/Pindar/Isthmian Odes/8
THE EIGHTH ISTHMIAN ODE.
TO CLEANDER OF ÆGINA, VICTOR IN THE PANCRATIUM.
The poet in this ode exhorts the youths liberated from the calamities of the Persian war to apply their minds to the framing of hymns in honour of the victor.—It becomes a Theban to sing the praises of an Æginetan, on account of their common origin.—Thence he digresses to fables of the Æacidæ and the nuptials of Peleus and Thetis; which leads him to panegyrize Achilles.—Returns to the praise of the victor, and his uncle Nicocles, with which he concludes the ode.
To celebrate Cleander's praise,
Oh youths! the hymn of triumph raise,
That ever forms the glorious meed
To crown the blooming hero's deed.
To Telesarchus' splendid halls5
Some friend his victor offspring calls
The pomp and revel to convey:
Potent upon the Isthmian plain,
The wreath of conquest to obtain,
And Nemea's guerdon bear away.10
For him, though bitter grief control
The wonted ardour of my soul,
To me is given th' unequal task
The golden muses' aid to ask. 12
Now from our mighty sorrows free,15
No want of chaplets may we find,
Around the victor's head to bind,
Nor feed again our misery.
Pausing a while, from fruitless wo
Let us direct the patriot mind20
Some public blessing to bestow;
Since a kind god hath turn'd aside
Of threat'ning ills the direful shock
That hung like the Tantalean rock 
O'er Græcia's land, unskill'd the storm to bide. 23
But now my fear has pass'd away,26
And anxious Care relax'd her sway.
To seize each object as it lies
Before his foot becomes the wise.
O'er man impends deceitful age,30
Revolving still life's onward stage.
Yet mortals e'en these ills may cure,
While liberty continues sure.
In calm contentment let them rest,
Of favourable hope possess'd.35
Me too the happy task awaits,
(Nurtured where Thebes expands her sevenfold gates,)
With the bright muses' wreath to grace
Ægina, nymph of kindred race.
Twin daughters of a common sire,40
And youngest of Asopus' line,
Whose beauties could the soul incline
Of Jove himself to fond desire. 41
To her the heavenly lover gave
By Dirce's sweetly flowing wave45
O'er that fair city to preside,
Who joys the rapid car to guide.
Thee to Œnopia's isle convey'd,
The thundering sire a parent made
Of Æacus, whose honour'd birth50
Raised him above the sons of earth.
His godlike offspring's latest line
With might from him reflected shine,
Who erst, their skill and prudence to display,
Appeased the brazen din of the celestial fray. 55
This on the memory dwells impress'd56
Of the assemblies of the bless'd.
What time for lovely Thetis Jove
And the illustrious Neptune strove;
Each wishing the fair nymph to gain,60
Bound in the hymeneal chain;
For mighty love their souls possess'd.
But to complete their nuptial state
The counsels of th' immortal kind,
Soon as they heard the will of fate,65
And prudent Themis' voice, declined; 67
Who to the circle of the skies
Pronounced the destinies' decree,
That soon a sovereign progeny
From the sea goddess would arise,70
Superior to his potent sire,
Whose hand should wield a dart of fire,
Fiercer than lightning's rapid flame,
Or trident which no force can tame.
Such is the fruit of Jove's embrace,75
Or brother's, of immortal race.
Then cease your strife—in battle slain
She who could but a mortal couch obtain
Is doom'd her offspring to behold,
With hands that rivall'd Mars in deed,80
And feet which mock'd the lightning's speed.
Should I my mind's intent unfold,
Let the fair prize decreed by heaven
To Peleus, sprung from Æacus, be given;
That pious hero, bred upon Iolcos' plain. 8785
To Chiron's venerable cave
Quick let the messengers repair:
Nor Nereus' daughter give, as once she gave,
To us the records of contention there.
But when at evening's highest noon90
Rides in her state the full-orb'd moon,
The hero may untie the zone,
And make the virgin prize his own.
'Twas thus the goddess spoke to the Saturnian train;
When from immortal lids reveal'd95
Th' approving nod their purpose seal'd.
Nor fell her words with empty sound,
Like fruitless blossoms on the ground:
For, as 'tis said, high-ruling Jove
Thetis with him to join in wedlock strove.100
Hence to th' unskill'd the poet's tongue
Achilles' youthful valour oft has sung;
Who on the Mysian soil, with vines o'erspread,
By Telephus possess'd, black streams of slaughter shed. 110
Who gave th' Atridæ back to roam105
With liberated Helen home,
And sever'd with his spear Troy's nervous strength;
Hector, who in the murderous fray
With Memnon dared a while to stay
His fury o'er the plain's extended length:110
And other chiefs to whom Achilles show'd
The path that led to Proserpine's abode.
Guard of th' Æacidae, whose virtues grace
Ægina and his own illustrious race.
Him the sweet song's melodious breath115
Deserted not when cold in death,
But round his tomb and funeral pyre
Stood the fair Heliconian choir,
And gave the sounding notes of wo
In honour of his name to flow;120
Since to their hymns it pleased th' immortal train
To render back the valiant hero slain. 132
And now to haste with loud acclaim
The muses' rapid car, agrees
With him who would exalt the fame125
Of pugilistic Nicocles,
Whose valour on the Isthmian plain
The Doric parsley could obtain:
Since he as well in days of yore
The palm from neighb'ring rivals bore;130
And their presumptuous spirit broke
With his inevitable stroke. 141
Actions like these will ne'er disgrace
His valiant uncle's noble race.
May one of the coeval band135
The laurel crown with friendly hand,
For the pancratium's victor twine,
Around Cleander's brow to shine;
Since him before with prosperous fate
Alcathous' game in festal state140
Throng'd by the Epidaurian youth, received.
Well may the good resound his praise
Who ne'er the morning of his days
Consumed in idle sloth, by no fair deeds retrieved.
END OF PINDAR.
- See the note on Ol., i., 90.
- I. e., Neptune's.