Pindar and Anacreon/Pindar/Nemean Odes/6

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THE SIXTH NEMEAN ODE.


TO ALCIMIDAS OF ÆGINA, VICTOR IN THE PALÆSTRA, IN THE CLASS OF BOYS.


ARGUMENT.

This ode begins with a moral reflection on the emanation of divinity by which the mind of man is enlightened, being of the same origin with the divine race.—This is illustrated by the example of Alcimidas, who, though a mere youth, treads in the footsteps of his grandfather Praxidamas.—His victories in the different games are enumerated, by which he has restored the glory of his house, that had been tarnished by the inactivity of his father Theo.—The victories of the tribe of Bassidæ are celebrated.—Pindar then proceeds to expatiate on the glories of the Æginetan heroes.—Returns to the victor, whose five-and-twentieth triumph is celebrated in this ode.—His kinsman Timidas, and his alipta, or charioteer, Melesias, whose rapid skill in guiding the car is compared to that of a dolphin cleaving the waves.




Of mortal or immortal race,
From the same mother earth we trace
Our lives—but not the same degree
Of power and vital energy
To man of transient space is given, 5
As in the brazen soil of heav'n.
Yet some resemblance can we find
Of nature or the mighty mind
That links us to the powers divine,
Howe'er 'tis not in us to know 10
When shall stern fate's recorded blow,
By day or night, our course define. 13


Now by Alcimidas is found
The kindred excellence display'd,
As fields with rich luxuriance crown'd, 15
To mortal life subservient made.
Renew their annual vigour, bless'd
With due vicissitudes of rest.
Warm from the pleasing Nemean game,
'Twas thus the hardy stripling came, 20
This contest, which began from Jove,
Pursuing with unwearied pace,
He for the wrestler's chaplet strove,
Eager as huntsman in the chase;
Tracking his grandsire's bright career, 25
Praxidamas, his steps appear.
He, where Alpheus' waters flow,
Olympia's wreath around his brow
To grace th' Æacidæ entwined,
Five times on him the Isthmian crown 30
And Nemea's thrice conferr'd renown;
No longer in oblivion pined
Soclides, plant of elder shoot
From Agesimachus, the parent root. 37


Since they, the triple chaplet gain'd, 35
To valour's summit have attain'd—
With labour and triumphant might
Contending in the glorious fight.
More numerous palms by favouring Heav'n
Have to no other house been given, 40
Won in the pugilistic fray,
Than such as on the Isthmian strand,
Recess of all the Grecian land,
This noble tribe has borne away. 45


With lofty eloquence of speech 45
The destined mark I hope to reach.
Thither, oh muse, from out thy bow
The shaft of epic sweetness throw.
To them the bards of other days
Have given the meed of honest praise; 50
Since frequent acts transmit to fame
The Bassidæ's illustrious name.
A race renown'd in ancient lore,
Who their own high encomium bore,
And by their vigorous deeds could yield 55
To such as till Pieria's field
Full many a hymn—his hands around
The cæstus' leathern safeguard bound,
From the same tribe in Pytho's fray
Brave Callias erst the prize obtain'd, 60
And Phœbus' high approval gain'd,
From golden-sceptred Lato sprung; [1]
Whose triumphs at the close of day
The Graces' choir in bright array
Have by Castalia's waters sung. 66 65


And where the Isthmian bridge divides
Th' unwearied and opposing tides,
To him the Amphictyons' high decree
Assign'd their palm of victory,
Who by triennial bullocks slain 70
Appeased the monarch of the main.
Him too the lion's parsley crown'd
Triumphant on that sacred ground
Which lies beneath the shade outspread
Of Phlius' ancient mountain's head. 74 75


Open to bards on every side
Is the fair theme, the entrance wide,
Who to this glorious island raise
The tribute of poetic praise.
To them the Æacidæ have shown 80
Their mighty virtues' ample fame;
While far o'er earth and sea has flown
The sound of their illustrious name.
Even to the distant Æthiops' seat, 84
Ere Memnon homeward urged his wandering feet.

 

On them fell strife and heavy war, 86
What time Achilles from his car,
Leaping with hasty step on earth,
By wrathful spear's ensanguined head
The monarch number'd with the dead, 90
Who to bright morning owed his birth.
Poets of other ages here
Have urged their chariots' swift career:
And I in this pursuit am join'd—
The waves that near the rudder flow, 95
While the ship cleaves the depths below,
First occupy the steersman's mind. 97


But I on willing shoulders bear
A double load of anxious care,
And come a herald to proclaim 100
The glories of the sacred game,
Whose five-and-twenty garlands grace
Alcimidas' illustrious race.
Thee, boy, and Timidas, who strove
By the Saturnian monarch's grove, 105
The guerdon of Olympia's fray
Thy lot forbade to bear away.
E'en like the dolphin race that sweep
On rapid fin the watery deep,
Melesias would I name, whose force 110
And hands direct the chariot's course. 111

 



  1. The epithet here given to Latona is the same by which Thetis is distinguished—(Nem., v., 65 ;) and Amphitrite, wife of Neptune—(Ol., ii., 168.)