Pindar and Anacreon/Pindar/Nemean Odes/2

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THE SECOND NEMEAN ODE.


TO TIMODEMUS, THE ATHENIAN, ON HIS VICTORY IN THE PANCRATIUM.


ARGUMENT.

The poet declares this to be the first victory which Timodemus has obtained, considering it as a presage of future success in the Pythian and Isthmian games. This is the more probable, as his ancestors have rendered the family illustrious by their numerous victories gained in many preceding contests, several of which he enumerates.—Concludes with an exhortation to the citizens to celebrate with hymns the glorious return of Timodemus to his country.




As bards of the Homeric train [1]
From Jove preluding, weave the strain,
So has this hero the foundation laid
Of conquests in the sacred games,
And now his earliest chaplet claims 5
Where Nemea's grove expands her hallow'd shade.
Still oft as onward age proceeds,
And in the track paternal leads,
Adorning spacious Athens with renown,
Triumphant in the Isthmian fray, 10
Timonous' son shall bear away
Her brightest wreath, and oft the Pythian crown. 16


As where the mountain Pleiads burn, [2]
Not far they see Orion turn.
How potent, Salamis, thy might 15
To nourish heroes for the fight!
Hector perceived, in Troy's sad hour,
Thy son, intrepid Ajax' power;
And the sustain'd pancratium's praise
Shall thee, oh Timodemus, raise! 24 20


Acharnæ's glorious tribe of old
Have flourish'd with their heroes bold;
And foremost in each solemn game
The Timodemidæ proclaim.
They near Parnassus' height obtain'd, 25
Four times the victor's meed have borne,
And from Corinthian judges gain'd
In glades where valiant Pelops reign'd,
Eight several wreaths their brows adorn.
Seven chaplets in the Nemean field— 30
But to recount each various meed
Which Jove's Olympic contests yield,
The power of numbers would exceed.
Him, citizens, in revels sing,
As Timodemus home you bring 35
With glorious pomp, and let your voice
In strain, as honey sweet, rejoice! 40

 



  1. The scholiast, in commenting on the opening lines of this ode, gives a variety of conjectures on the origin of the phrase ῥαρτειν ωδας, and quotes a fragment of Callimachus, (cxxxviii. Bentl.,) whence some consider ῥαψωδους and ῥαπδωδους as synonymous. The author of the Etymologicum Magnum says that ωδη was anciently used as a generic term for a poem: and in all probability nothing more is meant by a rhapsodist than a composer of verses. The scholiast quotes Hippostratus as his authority for asserting that Cinæthus the Syracusan was the first who rhapsodised or wove together the scattered portions of Homer's divine poems. The same expression occurs in Isth. ii., 66, on which passage the classical reader will do well to consult Heyne's elaborate comment (in vv, lect.) Sudorius's paraphrase is opere expolito.
  2. The scholiast has a very long note on this passage, relating the mythological story of the Pleiades, whom Pmdar designates under the epithet ορειαν, as being the daughters of Atlas, who was metamorphosed into the famous African mountain. It appears that Orion, being violently enamoured of Pleione, who is sometimes understood as denoting the whole cluster of the Pleiades, and having pursued her for a considerable time, Jupiter recorded their history by converting them into neighbouring constellations; the former lying to the northwest, and the latter to the southeast of Taurus. The scholiast further informs us, that Crates read θερειαν instead of ορειαν, as the rising of the Pleiades was to Greece the indication of approaching harvest: in like manner the Nemean crown is the precursor of Isthmian and Pythian victories, to be achieved hereafter by Aristoclides.