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VII.


FOR KLEANDROS OF AIGINA,


WINNER IN THE PANKRATION.




All that we can be certain of as to the date of this ode is that it was written soon after the final expulsion of the Persians. From the first strophe we learn that Kleandros had won a Nemean as well as an Isthmian victory, and perhaps this ode really belongs to the former. It was to be sung, it seems, before the house of Telesarchos the winner's father, at Aigina.




For Kleandros in his prime let some of you, ye young men, go stand before the shining portal of his father Telesarchos, and rouse a song of triumph, to be a glorious recompense of his toils, for that he hath achieved reward of victory at Isthmos, and hath showed his strength in the games of Nemea.

For him I also, albeit heavy at heart[1], am bidden to call upon the golden Muse. Yea since we are come forth from our sore troubles let us not fall into the desolation of crownlessness, neither nurse our griefs; but having ease from our ills that are past mending, we will set some pleasant thing before the people, though it follow hard on pain: inasmuch as some god hath put away from us the Tantalos-stone that hung above our heads, a curse intolerable to Hellas.

But now hath the passing of this terror ended my sore disquietude, and ever it is better to look only on the thing hard by. For the guile of time hangeth above the heads of men, and maketh the way of their life crooked, yet if Freedom abide with them, even such things may mortals cure.

But it is meet that a man cherish good hope: and meet also that I, whom seven-gated Thebes reared, proffer chiefly unto Aigina the choicest of the Graces' gifts, for that from one sire were two daughters[2] born, youngest of the children of Asopos, and found favour in the eyes of the king Zeus.

One by the fair stream of Dirke he set to be the queen of a city of charioteers, and thee the other he bare to the Oinopian isle, and lay with thee, whence to the sire of great thunderings thou didst bear the godlike Aiakos, best of men upon the earth.

This man even among divinities became a decider of strife: and his godlike sons and his sons' sons delighting in battle were foremost in valour when they met in the ringing brazen melley: chaste also were they approved, and wise of heart.

Thereof was the god's council mindful, what time for the hand of Thetis there was strife between Zeus and glorious Poseidon, each having desire that she should be his fair bride, for love had obtained dominion over them.

Yet did not the wisdom of the immortal gods fulfil for them such marriage, when they had heard a certain oracle. For Themis of wise counsels spake in the midst of them of how it was pre-destined that the sea-goddess should bear a royal offspring mightier than his father, whose hand should wield a bolt more terrible than the lightning or the dread trident, if she came ever into the bed of Zeus, or of brethren of Zeus.

'Cease ye herefrom: let her enter a mortal's couch and see her son fall in war, who shall be as Ares in the might of his hands, and as the lightning in the swiftness of his feet. My counsel is that ye give her to be the heaven-sent prize of Peleus son of Aiakos, whom the speech of men showeth to be the most righteous man yet reared in Iolkos' plain. Thus straightway let the message go forth to Cheiron's cave divine, neither let the daughter of Nereus put a second time into your hands the ballot-leaves of strife. So on the evening of the mid-month moon shall she untie for the hero the fair girdle of her virginity.'

Thus spake the goddess her word to the children of Kronos, and they bowed their everlasting brows. Nor failed her words of fruit, for they say that to Thetis' bridals came those twain kings even with the rest.

Out of the mouths of the wise hath the young valour of Achilles been declared to them that beheld it not. He it was who stained the vine-clad Mysian plain with the dark blood of Telephos that he shed thereon, and made for the sons of Atreus a safe return across the sea, and delivered Helen, when that he had cut asunder with his spear the sinews of Troy, even the men who kept him back as he plied the work of slaughterous battle on the plain, the strength of Memnon and high-hearted Hektor, and other chiefs of pride. Unto all these did Achilles, champion of the Aiakid race, point the way to the house of Persephone, and thereby did he glorify Aigina and the root whence he was sprung.

Neither in death was he of songs forsaken, for at his funeral pyre and beside his tomb stood the Helikonian maiden-choir, and poured thereon a dirge of many melodies. For so the immortals willed, to give charge unto the songs of goddesses over that valorous man even in his death.

And now also holdeth such charge good, and the Muses' chariot speedeth to sound the glories of Nikokles the boxer[3]. Honour to him who in the Isthmian vale hath won the Dorian parsley: for he even as Achilles overcame men in battle, turning them to confusion, with hand from which flight was vain. Him shameth not this kinsman of his father's noble brother. Wherefore let some one of the young men his fellows twine for Kleandros a wreath of tender myrtle for his pankratiast victory. For the games whose name is of Alkathoos[4], and the youth of Epidauros[5], have ere now entertained him with good hap. To praise him is given unto the good: for in no hidden corner quenched he his youth, unproven in honourable deeds.




  1. Because, though the Persians had been defeated, Thebes, Pindar's city, had not shared the glory.
  2. Thebe and Aigine.
  3. Uncle of the winner.
  4. A son of Pelops: he slew the lion of Kithairon.
  5. The Epidaurian games were in honour of Asklepios.