Pindar and Anacreon/Pindar/Nemean Odes/3

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This ode opens with a beautiful address to the muse, whom the poet invites to pass at Ægina, which was a Doric colony, the sacred month in which the Nemean festival is held.—This leads to the praises of the island Ægina, which the victor, son of Aristophanes, has exalted by his triumphs, as much as if he had sailed to the Pillars of Hercules, and thus gained the extreme point attainable by human exertion.—The poet then checks himself, and enters on a theme more closely connected with his subject, the panegyric of the native heroes of Ægina, Peleus, Telamon, Achilles.—He then returns to the victor, declaring him to have fulfilled the various duties of boyhood, manhood, and more advanced age.—Concludes with bidding adieu to his friend, whom he pronounces worthy of the meed which the poet sends him, on account of his triumphs at Nemea, Epidaurus, and Megara.

Oh sacred muse!—on thee I call,
Mother of our poetic band,
Come to Ægina's Doric strand,
So throng'd at Nemea's festival;
For near Asopus' hallow'd wave 5
The youths who frame their choral lay,
And sweet-toned minstrelsy display,
Thy voice with eager fondness crave.
Each deed a different object claims—
While the proud victor in the games 10
To the sweet strain his wishes bends,
That still his virtues and his wreath attends. 13

Then grant this vocal boon to me
In unrestrain'd satiety.
Th' accepted hymn, oh child of Jove, 15
Who dwells enthroned in clouds above,
Begin, for I to chant his praise
Their voice and social lyre will raise.
The fruit of my delightful toil
Shall crown the glory of the soil. 20
Where dwelt the Myrmidons of yore,
Whose ancient and illustrious race
Aristoclides with disgrace
Of tarnish'd fame ne'er cover'd o'er;
Subdued in the pancratium's fight, 25
Where heroes strive with valiant might. 27

He who on Nemea's fertile plain
The palm of conquest wins, has found
An antidote to labouring pain,
A healing balm for every wound. 30
With his sweet form's unequall'd grace
The valour of his arm agrees,
And onward bears in glory's race
The son of Aristophanes.
No farther o'er the trackless main 35
An easy passage hope to gain
Than where Alcides' pillars stand. 37

Placed by the hero god, to stay
The wandering seaman on his way,
And witness the proud naval band 40
What time on the Herculean main
The mighty monsters he had slain.
Impell'd by his adventurous mind
The springs of marshy lakes to find,
Proceeding far as he could roam, 45
He traced the realm and voyage home.
But to what distant headland, say,
Waft'st thou, oh mind, my sail away?
To Æacus I charge thee bear
And to his race the chaplet fair; 50
For Justice adds her flower to raise
A tribute to the good man's praise. 50

Unjust the love that only views
With pleasure names of foreign lore—
Wouldst thou a worthy hero choose 55
To raise and ornament thy muse,
Domestic chronicles explore.
His royal virtues thus prolong
King Peleus' fame in ancient song;
Who his hewn spear exulting shook, 60
And all alone Iolcos took;
Then with aspiring labour strove
To win the seaborn Thetis' love;
While Telamon's far-potent might
With Iolas overthrew Laomedon in fight. 63 65

Him to the Amazonian band,
Whose bow of brass twang'd in their hand,
He follow'd—nor subduing fear
Quench'd his impetuous mind's career;
For true nobility of soul 70
Prevails beyond all weak control.
The man that darkling gropes his way,
But for his borrow'd wisdom blind,
With foot uncertain where to stray,
And hopes that various objects sway, 75
Grasps all alike with feeble mind. 74

Meanwhile in Philyra's abode
Achilles of the golden hair
In sports of active childhood show'd
The ripen'd hero's manly care; 80
Shaking his iron-headed dart
In hands that play'd the warrior's part.
He combated with lions wild,
And swift as storms destruction wrought.
The boars he slew when scarce were fled 85
Six winters o'er his youthful head,
And to Centaurus, Saturn's child,
Their palpitating bodies brought.
Him ever wonder'd to behold
Diana and Minerva bold, 90
Without or dogs or nets' deceit,
O'ercome the stags with rapid feet. 89

I find it thus in legends old:
Wise Chiron in his stony cave
Long since to Jason nurture gave; 95
And taught Asclepias there to gain
The manual art that softens pain;
Then bound in matrimonial tie
Nereus' fair-handed progeny;
Storing her noble offspring's mind 100
With every excellence combined. 100

That soon as to the Trojan coast
Him winds and urging waters bore,
He might sustain the battle roar
Of Lycia's and of Phrygia's host. 105
Mingled with Æthiopia's band,
On high the martial spear who wield,
Combining mind with active hand;
That ne'er returning from the field
Should Helenus' brave kinsman roam, [1] 110
Memnon their liege, and trace his journey home. 111

Jove, from this source the glories shine
Of Æacus' illustrious line,
Since from thy sacred blood they spring;
While thy great influence rules the game, 115
Which native youths with loud acclaim,
And hymns of joy tumultuous sing.
Shouts which the victor's triumphs tell
Become Aristoclides well;
Whose noble deeds this island raise 120
To heights of glory and of praise;
Gracing with Phœbus' Pythian strain
Thearion's venerable fane.
The issue of the contest tells
In what high efforts each excels. 125
When with the stripling band a boy,
A man with men of riper age,
He made triumphant aims employ
Each period of life's mortal stage;
And lengthened time with wisdom fraught 130
Prudence, the fourth best virtue, taught; 130

That can success on each design bestow.
Then hail, my enterprising friend;
To thee this beverage sweet I send,
Where the white milk and mingled honey flow. 135
Thus with the dew of song aspire
Soft breathings of th' Æolian lyre,
Though tardy be the lay. 138

Swiftest of birds, the eagle wends
Her flight, and with sharp talon rends 140
On high th' ensanguined prey;
While daws, below, a chattering brood,
Inglorious crop their earthly food.
For thee, if high-throned Clio raise
In thy victorious spirit's praise 145
The hymn, from Nemea shines the light,
From Megara and Epidaurus bright. 148


  1. Tithonus, father of Memnon, and Priam, father of Helenus were brothers.