Pindar and Anacreon/Pindar/Nemean Odes/9

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THE NINTH NEMEAN ODE.


TO CHROMIUS THE ÆTNÆAN, ON HIS VICTORY IN THE CHARIOT RACE.


ARGUMENT.

Pindar invokes the muses to bring the Pythian pomp from Sicyon to the new-built city of Ætna in honour of Chromius, who has obtained a victory in these games when celebrated at the former city.—Digresses to the history of Adrastus the Argive chief, by whom they were instituted, and the fate of Amphiaraus, together with reflections arising therefrom.—Returns to his subject, and offers up prayers to Jupiter for the welfare of the Ætnæans.— Concludes the ode with the praises of Chromius, and supplications to Jupiter that he will crown the victor with future triumphs.




From Sicyon, ruled by Pytho's king,
The pomp, oh muses! we will bring
To new-built Ætna, Chromius' mansion bless'd,
Whose doors are open to the frequent guest.
But weave a dulcet epic strain—5
For when he mounts the victor car,
The mother and her offspring twain [1]
Hail the triumphant voice from far;
Whose joint-inspecting eyes survey
From Pytho's height the glorious fray. 1210


By man's consenting voice 'tis said
No act to prosperous issue brought
Should on the earth in scorn be laid.
The song with boastful praises fraught
Offers the due, the noblest meed15
To recompense the victor's deed.
The sounding harp then let us raise—
And in th' equestrian contests' praise
Give the sonorous flute to blow—
Those contests which in Phœbus' name20
Adrastus consecrates to fame,
Where pure Asopus' waters flow.
These my recording muse shall trace,
And with illustrious wreaths the hero grace. 24


Who ruling then with sceptred sway25
In contests of corporeal might,
And in his polish'd chariots' flight,
Raised his loved city's name on high
With new and festal revelry.
From bold Amphiaraus far30
Fell discord and intestine war,
And Argive home he urged his way.
No more by this dire fiend oppress'd,
Their empire Talaus' sons possessed:[2]
But a good man composes hate,35
And enmities of ancient date. 36


As when the firmest pledge of truth,
Adrastus to Œclides' bed
His sister Eriphyle led,
Her who subdued the hapless youth—40
Over the bright-hair'd Grecian train
'Twas theirs dominion to obtain.
When they to Thebes' seven portals bring
(Cheer'd by no bird's auspicious wing)
Their numerous host—Saturnian Jove,45
Who hurls his lightning shafts above,
Exhorted their mad haste to stay,
Nor urge from home their lengthen'd way. 48

 

With brazen arms and steeds elate
The crowd rush'd on to open fate;50
And vanquish'd on Ismenus' banks,
Cut off from hope of sweet return,
The bodies of their slaughtered ranks,
Fattening the lurid volumes, burn;
For, placed on seven funereal pyres,55
The youthful heroes feed the fires.
Jove the earth's solid bosom broke
By his all-potent thunder stroke,
And low Amphiaraus laid
In chariot with the steeds array'd,60
Ere, Periclymenus, thy spear
Controll'd his warlike mind's career,
And on his wounded back a trace
Fix'd of indelible disgrace. 63


For when the gods with fears excite,65
Their very sons are moved to flight.
Oh! that my prayers, Saturnian Jove,
The dire essay and warlike boast
That rouses the Phœnician host
Could far from Ætna's walls remove,70
Of thee a long and prosperous fate
I for her children supplicate; 75


Whose favour can the people crown
With civic honour and renown.
A race of men inhabit there,75
Well pleased the generous steed to train,
Who an exalted spirit bear,
That soars above the thirst of gain.
Incredible my words must prove
For shame and glory's noble fire,80
Quench'd in unequal strife, expire
With lucre's mercenary love.
Oh! hadst thou stood by Chromius' side
In the pedestrian battle's tide,
And when his coursers whirl'd the car,85
And vessels waged the naval war,
Then had thine eye discern'd aright
The peril of that deadly fight;
And how that goddess' power endued
His warlike mind with fortitude,90
The terrors of the dire affray
And Mars' assaults to drive away. 88


But few by strength or prudent mind
From their own threaten'd ranks can find
Of present death to turn the cloud95
Backward upon the hostile crowd.
Hector's bright fame is said to glow
Near where Scamander's waters flow. 95


By steep Helorus' banks of stone,[3]
Where men Area's traject name,100
In his first youth with glory's flame
Agesidamus' offspring shone.
His labours wrought in other days,
Whether upon the dusty plain,
Or islands of the neighb'ring main,105
With due encomium will I praise.
Such as in fervid youth are wrought,
If justice sanctify the deed,
Through life with sweet enjoyment fraught,
To age's latest hour proceed.110
From heaven's immortal rulers know
Such wondrous happiness must flow. 108


If ever wealth's abundant store
Illustrious glory should convey,
No higher eminence explore,115
No farther mortal feet can stray.
As the convivial board is crown'd
By jocund youth's enlivening sound,
Thus the soft luxuries of song
To recent conquest's praise belong.120
Where'er the festal cup is shown
The voice assumes a bolder tone.
Let this by any mingled be,
Sweet harbinger of revelry! 120


Let him in silver goblets pour125
The potent offspring of the vine;
With which the steeds in days of yore
Enrich'd triumphant Chromius' store;
While Phœbus gloried to entwine
For him the justly woven crown130
From Sicyon's venerable town.
To thee, oh Father Jove! I pray
Grant me this conquest to display,
Assisted by the Graces' choir—
Oh! may I honour in my strain135
The various wreaths his efforts gain,
And to the muses let my shafts aspire. 132

 



  1. I. e., Latona with Apollo and Diana.
  2. The children of Talaus were Adrastus, Parthenopæus, Pronax, Mecistheus, and their sister Eriphyle, who was married to the prophet Amphiaraus.
  3. The Helorus was a very rapid river in the southeast of Sicily, mentioned by Virgil, (Æn., iii., 698,) on the banks of which the scholiast informs us that Gelon, with the assistance of Chromius, obtained a victory over the Carthaginians. Area's traject is not so clearly defined by geographers. The scholiast is of opinion that it was a name given to that part of the Fretum Siculum contiguous to Rhegium, in commemoration of the warlike events which took place on that coast, and tells us that it is a doubtful point whether the true reading be Αρειας, or Ρεας. One edition gives αρειας, from αραις, as denoting the traject of threats—(viz., of the Carthaginians.)