Odes of Pindar (Myers)/Isthmian Odes/1





The date of this ode is unknown. We gather from the first strophe that Pindar was engaged at the time to write an ode in honour of the Delian Apollo to be sung at Keos, but that he put this off in order first to write the present ode in honour of a victory won for his own native state of Thebes.

O mother, Thebe of the golden shield, thy service will I set even above the matter that was in my hand. May rocky Delos, whereto I am vowed, be not therefore wroth with me. Is there aught dearer to the good than noble parents?

Give place O Apollonian isle: these twain fair offices, by the grace of God, will I join together in their end, and to Phoibos of the unshorn hair in island Keos with men of her sea-race will I make my choral song, and therewithal this other for the sea-prisoning cliffs of Isthmos.

For six crowns hath Isthmos given from her games to the people of Kadmos, a fair glory of triumph for my country, for the land wherein Alkmene bare her dauntless son, before whom trembled aforetime the fierce hounds of Geryon.

But I for Herodotos' praise am fain to do honour unto his four-horsed car, and to marry to the strain of Kastoreian or Iolaic song the fame that he hath earned, handling his reins in his own and no helping hand.

For these Kastor and Iolaos were of all heroes the mightiest charioteers, the one to Lakedaimon, the other born to Thebes. And at the games they entered oftenest for the strife, and with tripods and caldrons and cups of gold they made fair their houses, attaining unto victorious crowns: clear shineth their prowess in the foot-race, run naked or with the heavy clattering shield; and when they hurled the javelin and the quoit: for then was there no five-fold game[1], but for each several feat there was a prize. Oft did they bind about their hair a crowd of crowns, and showed themselves unto the waters of Dirke or on Eurotas' banks[2], the son of Iphikles a fellow-townsman of the Spartoi's race, the son of Tyndareus inhabiting the upland dwelling-place of Therapna[3] among the Achaians.

So hail ye and farewell: I on Poseidon and holy Isthmos, and on the lake-shores of Onchestos will throw the mantle of my song, and will among the glories of this man make glorious also the story of his father Asopodoros' fate, and his new country Orchomenos, which, when he drave ashore on a wrecked ship, harboured him amid his dismal hap[4]. But now once more hath the fortune of his house raised him up to see the fair days of the old time: and he who hath suffered pain beareth forethought within his soul.

If a man's desire be wholly after valour, and he give thereto both wealth and toil, meet is it that to such as attain unto it we offer with ungrudging heart high meed of praise. For an easy gift it is for a son of wisdom[5], by a good word spoken in recompense for labour manifold to set on high the public fame.

For diverse meeds for diverse works are sweet to men, to the shepherd and to the ploughman, to the fowler and to him whom the sea feedeth—howbeit all those strive but to keep fierce famine from their bellies; but whoso in the games or in war hath won delightful fame, receiveth the highest of rewards in fair words of citizens and of strangers.

Us it beseemeth to requite the earth-shaking son of Kronos, who is also neighbour unto us, and to sound his praise as our well-doer, who hath given speed to the horses of our car, and to call upon thy sons[6], Amphitryon, and the inland dwelling[7] of Minyas, and the famous grove of Demeter, even Eleusis, and Euboia with her curving race-course. And thy holy place, Protesilas, add I unto these, built thee at Phylake by Achaian men.

But to tell over all that Hermes lord of games hath given to Herodotos by his horses, the short space of my hymn alloweth not. Yea and full oft doth the keeping of silence bring forth a larger joy.

Now may Herodotos, up-borne upon the sweet-voiced Muse's shining wings, yet again with wreaths from Pytho and choice wreaths from Alpheos from the Olympian games entwine his hand, and bring honour unto seven-gated Thebes.

Now if one at home store hidden wealth, and fall upon other men to mock them, this man considereth not that he shall give up his soul to death having known no good report.

  1. The Pentathlon. See Introduction to Ol. xiii, and Dict. Ant.
  2. Rivers were κουροτρόφοι (nurterers of youth), and thus young men who had achieved bodily feats were especially bound to return thanks to the streams of their native places.
  3. In Lakonia.
  4. Asopodoros seems to have been banished from Thebes and kindly received in his banishment by Orchomenos.
  5. Here, as elsewhere, probably in the special sense of a poet.
  6. Herakles and Iolaos.
  7. Orchomenos.