Pindar and Anacreon/Pindar/Nemean Odes/8

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This ode opens with an address to the flower of youth, the harbinger of successful as well as calamitous love.—This leads to the happy amour of Jupiter with the nymph Ægina, the fruit of which was the valiant Æacus, from whom he supplicates as great a degree of prosperity for the Æginetans as was enjoyed by Cinyras, king of Cyprus.—Returns from his digression, lest he should excite envy and blame.—This was the cause of the death of Ajax, who by an unjust decree was deprived of the arms of Achilles, and of many other mischiefs.—The poet addresses a prayer to Jupiter that he may never indulge this malevolent disposition.—On the other hand, he delights in celebrating by his verses the valour of Deinis, his father Megas, and the tribe of the Chariadæ; since the framing of poetical encomia has always afforded a pleasing alleviation of the heaviest calamities.

Bless'd prime of youth! the herald sweet
Of Aphrodite's golden joys,
Who on the eyelids hast thy seat
Of tender nymphs and amorous boys;
While one in gentle arms is borne,5
And from th' embrace another torn.
How pleased who in each deed of love
Occasion's fair advantage prove,
Seizing with a successful aim
The objects of their happy flame. 910

Such were the guards of Venus' gifts, who shed
Their genial influence round Ægina's bed;
From whom and mighty Jove was given to spring
In arm and counsel strong, Œnone's king.
Him many oft begg'd to survey,15
Since of the nations dwelling round,
The flower of that heroic train
Who led their armies on the plain
By rock-protected Athens crown'd,
And they of Pelops' valiant band20
Scatter'd throughout the Spartan land,
Would fain his lordly will obey. 21

While I in suppliant action seize
Great Æacus' time-honour'd knees,
Imploring the loved city's weal,25
And citizens' with anxious zeal.
To Deinis now the wreath I bring,
With Lydian melodies entwined,
And Nemea's double stadium sing,
His father Megas' praise combined.30
From bounties which the god bestows
More lasting bliss to mortals flows;
Who royal Cinyras erewhile
Loaded with wealth in Cyprus' isle. 31

Now on suspended foot I rest,35
Pausing ere I my tale unfold—
Since they who carry to the test
Whate'er by ancient bards is told,
Seeking to feign a story new,
All that is perilous pursue.40
Such fictions give the envious food,
Who spare the feeble, but assault the good. 38

Pierced by the sword, through these undone,
Died Telamon's heroic son.
Unskill'd in speech, though brave in soul,45
Oblivion's waves his deeds control;
While varied falsehood in the fray
The mighty guerdon bears away.
For by the fraudulent decree,
When sought the Greeks Ulysses' love,50
Reft of the golden panoply,
With fate in vain brave Ajax strove. 47

Yet dealt their arms far different blows
On the warm bodies of their foes,
Under the man-defending spear—55
Some for Achilles newly slain,
Some they for other toils sustain,
That mark those slaughterous days' career.
But among men of old had sprung,
Companions of the glowing tongue,60
Deceit and hatred's foul disgrace;
Which often with insidious blow
Lays fortune's towering minion low,
And gives th' obscure his glorious place. 58

Never, oh Father Jove! be mine65
Manners so stamp'd by false design;
But let my steps, life's journey through,
Simplicity's straight paths pursue;
That my surviving sons may claim
Inheritance of spotless fame.70
While some for golden treasures pray,
Others for land's unbounded sway,
May I acquire the townsmen's love,
Ere in the earth my limbs are laid—
Boldly their virtuous deeds approve,75
But be their sins with blame repaid! 68

Virtue her growing strength renews,
Nurtured by poets' fostering care,
As the tree fed by tender dews
Shoots proudly through the liquid air.80
The aid of friends man ever needs,
But chiefly in laborious deeds.
A faithful mirror true delight
Requires to place before the sight. 75


'Tis not in my imperfect art85
Thy soul, oh Megas! to restore;
And empty hopes can but impart
The issue vain they ever bore.
But a musæan stone to raise
To thee, and in thy tribe's high praise,90
The brave Chariadæ, 'tis mine—
With joy I hail thy double speed,
And to reward the glorious deed
Send forth the tributary line.
Full oft before the child of grief95
Has found in song a sure relief.
Th' encomiastic hymn was rife
Before Adrastus' and the Thebans' strife. 87