Pindar and Anacreon/Pindar/Nemean Odes/11

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In this ode the poet supplicates Vesta to receive propitiously Aristagoras and his colleagues, who were entering on their annual dignity at Tenedos.—Commends him on account of his father Arcesilaus, his own beautiful form and numerous triumphs, blaming his parents, whose cautious fears would not allow him to engage in the more illustrious Pythian and Olympic contests.—Details the origin of the victor's ancient family from Pisander and Melanippus; but his race having been for a time obscured and inglorious, he concludes the ode with reflections on human vicissitudes, exhorting his hero to aim at attainable objects.

Hail, Vesta, Rhea's offspring! thou whose care
The hearths of Prytanæan mansions share, [1]
Sister of Juno, throned on high
With Jove in kindred majesty—
Let Aristagoras and social train 5
A friendly welcome entertain,
Where thine illustrious sceptred sign is found,
Who guard fair Tenedos and thee adore,
Slay the fat victims, the libations pour,
While lyre and song, thee, first of gods, resound; 10
And at the constant board they prove
The rites of hospitable Jove.
May they with heart unwounded still
Their annual dignity fulfil. 12

But I the joyful song will raise 15
In his great sire Arcesilaus:
That beauteous form I hail with glee,
And kindred intrepidity.
Let him with rich possessions bless'd,
Whose form excels above the rest, 20
Seen in the varied contests bright
With glory and surpassing might,
Survey his frame of mortal limbs composed,
Doom'd at the last to be in common earth enclosed.

'Tis just his fellow-townsmen should proclaim 25
In words and varied songs' mellifluous tone,
Great Aristagoras' victorious fame,
For sixteen palms from neighb'ring rivals won.
His noble country these with high renown
In the pancratium gain'd and wrestler's contest crown. 27 30

But their son's might the parents' sluggish fear
From Pythian and Olympic fields restrain'd—
Fix'd in my sentiment, I firmly swear,
That when the hero's footsteps have attained
The waters of Castalia's fount, 35
And Saturn's wood-encircled mount,
Again he seeks his native land,
More honour'd than the rival band,
Observes the laws, a frequent guest
Of Hercules' quinquennial feast; 40
And gayly revelling has bound
The purple boughs his hair around. 37

But oft through empty-minded boast
Mortals th' expected good have lost;
While he by diffidence oppress'd, 45
Failing of bliss he once possess'd,
Sudden withdraws his backward grasp,
Nor dares in mind the blessing clasp.
'Twere easy his high birth to trace
From old Pisander's Spartan race; 50
For hither as he bent his course,
He from Amyclæ's walls convey'd,
With bold Orestes' friendly aid,
His brazen-arm'd Æolian force;
And by his mother near Ismenus' flood 55
From Melanippus drew his mingled blood. 47

Oft since their pristine strength renew'd
Shines forth in after times vicissitude.
Not loaded with perpetual grain,
The fields their yellow hue retain: 60
Nor trees an ample harvest bear
Of flowers and fruit through all the year;
But with just change—thus equal fate
Man's faded strength can renovate.
No sign proceeding from above 65
Makes clear the fix'd intent of Jove. 57

But swell'd by many a vain desire,
Too high our mortal thoughts aspire;
For bound in hope's adhesive chain,
The vital energies remain. 70
The foresight of the human mind
By narrow limits is confined.
Seek not unbounded wealth—nor prove
The raging pangs of hopeless love! 63


  1. The Prytanæum was the place at Athens where the council of five hundred held their deliberations, and where the sacred fire of Vesta was kept—(πυροταμειον.) In this part of the city they who had deserved well of their country were maintained at the public charge.