Pythia 8 by Pindar

Hesychia, kind goddess of peace, daughter
of Justice and lady of the greatness of cities:
you who hold the high keys
of wars and of councils,
accept for Aristomenes this train of Pythian victory.
For you understand, in strict measure of season,
deeds of gentleness and their experience likewise.

And you, when one fixes
anger without pity fast in his heart,
are stern to encounter
the strength of the hateful ones, and sink
pride in the bilge. Porphyrion understood you not
when wantonly he vexed you. Gain is sweet
if one carry it from the house of him who gives in good will.

But violence and high vaunting fail at the last.
Typhon the Kilikian, the hundred-headed, avoided not this,
nor yet the king of the Giants. They were smitten down by the thunderbolt
and the bow of Apollo, who now in mood of kindness
has received Xenarkes’ son, home from Kirrha and garlanded
with leaves of Parnassos and with song in the Dorian strain.

This island, that in its city’s
righteousness has touched
the famed valors of the Aiakidai, has not
fallen away from the Graces. She keeps
glory perfect from the beginning and is sung of many
for her shaping of heroes that surpassed in excellence
of games, and in the speed of their fighting, also.

These things shine in her men likewise.
In my haste I cannot lay
leisure of long-drawn speech
on the lyre and the soft singing,
lest surfeit come to vex. Let your own need, my child,
and your youngest splendors run the path at my feet,
made a thing of speed by my fashioning.

For at wrestling you go the way of your mother’s brethren,
nor shame Theognetos at Olympia,
nor Kleitomachos’ victory of tough limbs at Isthmos.
Prospering the city of the Meidylidai, you wear the saying
Oikleos’ son spoke darkly once, as he watched
the young men enduring the spears in the seven gates of Thebes,

when the latter-born came again
to Argos, a second journey.
Thus he spoke, in their striving:
“The heritage of valor from their fathers shines
through in the sons’ blood. I gaze in wonder and see plain
Alkmaon steering the spangled snake on his bright
shield, foremost in the gates of Kadmos.

“And he that flinched in that first disaster,
the hero Adrastos, now
goes compassed by message of augury
more favorable. Yet in his own house
otherwise shall he fare. Alone out of the Danaan host,
he shall gather the ashes of his son perished, and by the gods’ chance
shall come home with the rest of his people scatheless

“to the wide streets of the city of Abas.” Thus
the voice of Amphiaraos. And I also take joy
to cast a garland on Alkmaon and drench him in song.
He is my neighbor and the keeper of my possessions;
he met me in the way as I went to the singing centerstone of the earth,
and with the sooth that is his by blood made prophecy.

But you, archer of the far cast, lord
of the famed temple, where all gather,
in the deep folds of Pytho,
have granted this boy delight that is highest;
and, aforetime, a gift to fold in the arms,
you brought him home in triumph of your own five-contests.
My lord, I pray you that of my heart’s will

I look on each thing in my course
even as you look also.
Justice herself stands over
the sweet singing in celebration; but I ask, Xenarkes,
the gods’ gaze unresentful upon your fortunes.
For if one, even without long-drawn labors, compass splendors,
to many he seems as a wise man among fools

to crown his life with device and straight counsels.
Yet this lies not with men; God’s luck is the giver,
that casts one man now aloft, and yet another beneath his hand.
Come back to measure. You have your prize at Megara,
and in the recess of Marathon; and with three successes,
Aristomenes, you have won at home the games of Hera.

And above four bodies you threw
your weight and your rage.
To these lads was ordained
at the Pythiad no delightful homefaring,
nor, as they came to their mothers, did laughter break sweetly about them
to stir delight. Down back ways, avoiding mockers,
they skulk, all stricken with their sad fortune.

But he that has won some new
splendor, in high pride
of hope rides the air
on the wings of his man’s strength, and keeps
desire beyond his wealth. In brief space mortals’
delight is exalted, and thus again it drops to the ground,
shaken by a backward doom.

We are things of a day. What are we? What are we not ? The shadow of a dream
is man, no more. But when the brightness comes, and God gives it,
there is a shining of light on men, and their life is sweet.
Aigina, dear mother, bring this city to haven
in free guise, by Zeus’ aid and strong Aiakos’,
Peleus and goodly Telamon aiding, and with Achilles.

From: Pindar and Lattimore, Richmond (ed.), The Odes of Pindar, 1947, University of Chicago Press: Chicago, pp. 77-80.
(https://archive.org/details/odesofpindar035276mbp)

Date: 446 BCE (original in Greek); 1942 (translation in English)

By: Pindar (c522-c443 BCE)

Translated by: Richmond Alexander Lattimore (1906-1984)

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