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VI.


FOR STREPSIADES OF THEBES,


WINNER IN THE PANKRATION.




The date of this ode is not fixed, but it has been supposed that the battle referred to—apparently a defeat—in which the winner's uncle was killed was the battle of Oinophyta, fought B.C. 457. But this, and the notion that the democratic revolution at Thebes is referred to, are only conjectures.




Wherewithal of the fair deeds done in thy land, O divine Thebe, hath thy soul had most delight? Whether when thou broughtest forth to the light Dionysos of the flowing hair, who sitteth beside Demeter to whom the cymbals clang? or when at midnight in a snow of gold thou didst receive the mightiest of the gods, what time he stood at Amphitryon's doors and beguiled his wife, to the begetting of Herakles? Or when thou hadst honour in the wise counsels of Teiresias, or in Iolaos the cunning charioteer, or the unwearied spears of the Spartoi? or when out of the noise of the strong battle-cry thou sentest Adrastos home to horse-breeding Argos, of his countless company forlorn? or when thou madest the Dorian colony of the men of Lakedaimon stand upright upon its feet[1], and the sons of Aigeus thy progeny took Amyklai, according to the oracles of Pytho?

Nay, but the glory of the old time sleepeth, and mortals are unmindful thereof, save such as married to the sounding stream of song attaineth unto the perfect meed that wisdom[2] giveth. New triumph now lead for Strepsiades with melodious hymn: for at Isthmos hath he borne away the pankratiast's prize. Wondrous in strength is he, and to look upon of goodly shape, and his valour is such as shameth not his stature.

So shineth he forth by grace of the Muses iris-haired, and to his uncle of like name hath he given to share his crown, for albeit bronze-shielded Ares gave him over unto death, yet remaineth there for the valiant a recompense of renown. For let whoso amid the cloud of war from his beloved country wardeth the bloody shower, and maketh havoc in the enemy's host, know assuredly that for the race of his fellow-citizens he maketh their renown wax mightily, yea when he is dead even as while he was yet alive.

So didst thou, son[3] of Diodotos, following the praise of the warrior Meleagros, and of Hektor, and of Amphiaraos, breathe forth the spirit of thy fair-flowering youth amid the company of fighters in the front, where the bravest on slenderest hopes bare up the struggle of war.

Then suffered I a pang unspeakable, but now hath the earth-grasper[4] granted unto me a calm after the storm: I will set chaplets on my hair and sing. Now let no jealousy of immortals mar whatever sweet thing through a day's pursuit I follow, as it leadeth on up to old age, and unto the term of life appointed.

For all we in like manner die, albeit our lots be diverse. If any lift up his eye to look upon things afar off, yet is he too weak to attain unto the bronze-paved dwelling of the gods. Thus did winged Pegasos throw his lord Bellerophon, when he would fain enter into the heavenly habitations and mix among the company of Zeus. Unrighteous joyance a bitter end awaiteth.

But to us, O Loxias of the golden-flowing hair, give also at thy Pythian games a new fair-flowering crown.




  1. The Theban Aigidai helped the mythical 'return of the Herakleidai.'
  2. Wisdom of bards.
  3. Strepsiades the uncle.
  4. Poseidon.