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IV.


FOR PHYLAKIDAS OF AIGINA,


WINNER IN THE PANKRATION.




This Phylakidas was a son of Lampon, and a brother of the Pytheas for whom the fifth Nemean was written. This ode must have been written shortly after the battle of Salamis, probably B.C. 478, and was to be sung at Aigina, perhaps at a festival of the goddess Theia who is invoked at the beginning. She, according to Hesiod, was the mother of the Sun, the Moon, and the Morning, and was also called Εὐρυφάεσσα and χρυσῆ from which latter name perhaps came her association with gold and wealth.




Mother of the Sun, Theia of many names, through thee it is that men prize gold as mighty above all things else: for ships that strive upon the sea and horses that run in chariots, for the honour that is of thee, O queen, are glorified in swiftly circling struggle.

And that man also hath won longed-for glory in the strife of games, for whose strong hand or fleet foot abundant wreaths have bound his hair. Through God is the might of men approved.

Two things alone there are that cherish life's bloom to its utmost sweetness amidst the fair flowers of wealth—to have good success and to win therefore fair fame. Seek not to be as Zeus; if the portion of these honours fall to thee, thou hast already all. The things of mortals best befit mortality.

For thee, Phylakidas, a double glory of valour is at Isthmos stored, and at Nemea both for thee and for Pytheas a pankratiast's crown.

Not without the sons of Aiakos will my heart indite of song: and in company of the Graces am I come for sake of Lampon's sons to this commonwealth of equal laws[1]. If then on the clear high road of god-given deeds she hath set her feet, grudge not to mingle in song a seemly draught of glory for her toil.

For even the great men of old that were good warriors have profited of the telling of their tale, and are glorified on the lute and in the pipe's strains manifold, through immeasurable time: and to the cunning in words[2] they give matter by the grace of Zeus.

Thus by their worship with the blaze of burnt-offerings among Aitolians have the mighty sons[3] of Oineus honour, and at Thebes Iolaos the charioteer, and at Argos Perseus, and by the streams of Eurotas Polydeukes and Kastor's spear:

But in Oinone the great souls of Aiakos and his sons, who after much fighting twice sacked the Trojans' town, first when they went with Herakles, and again with the sons of Atreus.

Now drive me upward still; say who slew Kyknos, and who Hektor, and the dauntless chief of Ethiop hosts, bronze-mailëd Memnon. What man was he who with his spear smote noble Telephos by Kaïkos' banks? Even they whose home my mouth proclaimeth to be Aigina's glorious isle: a tower is she, builded from long ago, to tempt the climb of high-adventuring valour.

Many arrows hath my truthful, tongue in store wherewith to sound the praises of her sons: and even but now in war might Aias' city, Salamis, bear witness thereto in her deliverance by Aigina's seamen amid the destroying tempest of Zeus, when death came thick as hail on the unnumbered hosts.

Yet let no boast be heard. Zeus ordereth this or that, Zeus, lord of all.

Now in pleasant song even these honours also of the games welcome the joy for a fair victory. Let any strive his best in such, who hath learnt what Kleonikos' house can do. Undulled is the fame of their long toil, nor ever was their zeal abated by any counting of the cost.

Also have I praise for Pytheas, for that he guided aright[4] the course of Phylakidas' blows in the struggle of hands that bring limbs low, an adversary he of cunning soul.

Take for him a crown, and bring the fleecy fillet, and speed him on his way with this new wingëd hymn.




  1. Aigina.
  2. Poets.
  3. Meleager and his brothers.
  4. Pytheas had given his brother example, and very probably precept also, in the pankration.