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IV.


FOR TIMASARCHOS OF AIGINA,


WINNER IN THE BOYS' WRESTLING-MATCH.




The date of this ode is unknown: we can only infer, from the way in which Athens is spoken of, that it was written before the war between that state and Aigina. It seems to have been sung on the winner's return home, very likely in a procession through the streets.




Best of physicians for a man's accomplished toil is festive joy: and the touch of songs, wise daughters of the Muses, hath power of comforting. Less doth warm water avail to bathe limbs for soothing than words of praise married to the music of the lyre. For speech is longer-lived than act, whensoever by favour of the Graces the tongue hath drawn it forth out of the depth of the heart.

Be it the prelude of my hymn to dedicate it to Zeus the son of Kronos, and to Nemea, and to the wrestling of Timasarchos; and may it have welcome in the Aiakids' stronghold of goodly towers, the common light of all, which aideth the stranger with justice[1].

Now if thy sire Timokritos were still cheered by the quickening sun, full oft with music manifold of the lute would he have bent him unto this my theme, and sounded a hymn for the fair triumphs that have brought thee a chain of wreaths, even from the games of the Kleonaians[2] now, and erewhile from the bright and famous Athens, and at seven-gated Thebes: for beside Amphitryon's splendid sepulchre the sons of Kadmos nothing loth sprinkled the winner with flowers for Aigina's sake. For thither as a friend to friends he came, though to a city not his own, and abode in the fortunate hall of Herakles.

With Herakles on a time did mighty Telamon destroy the city of Troy, and the Meropes, and the man of war, the great and terrible Aikyoneus, yet not until by hurling of stones he had subdued twelve four-horse chariots, and horse-taming heroes twice so many thereupon. Unversed in battles must he be who understandeth not this tale, for whoso will do aught is like to suffer also.

But to tell the tale at length custom forbiddeth me, and the constraining hours: and a love-spell draweth me to put forth my hand to the feast of the new moon.

Albeit the deep brine of the sea hold thee even to thy waist, nevertheless bear bravely up against conspirings; assuredly shall we shine forth above our enemies as we sail home in open day; while another man of envious eye turneth about in darkness an empty purpose that falleth to the ground. For me I know certainly that whatsoever excellence Fate that is our lord hath given me, time creeping onward will bring to its ordained fulfilment.

Weave then this woof too presently, sweet my lute, a strain with Lydian harmony that shall be dear to Oinone[3], and to Cyprus, where Teukros, son of Telamon, holdeth rule in a new land.

But Aias hath the Salamis of his father: and in the Euxine Sea Achilles hath a shining isle, and at Phthia hath Thetis power, and Neoptolemos in wide Epeiros, where cattle-pasturing headlands, from Dodona onwards, slope forward to the Ionian Sea. And beside the foot of Pelion did Peleus set his face against Iolkos, and deliver it over to be a servant to the Haimones, after that he had proved the guileful counsels of Hippolyte, Akastos' wife.

For by (stealing) his sword of cunning workmanship the son[4] of Pelias prepared death for him in an ambush; but Cheiron delivered him out of his hand; and thus he fulfilled the destiny ordained him of Zeus, and having escaped the violence of the fire and the dauntless lion's claws exceeding keen, and the bitings of teeth most terrible[5], he espoused one of the Nereids high-enthroned, and beheld the circle of fair seats whereon were sitting the kings of heaven and of the sea, as they revealed unto him their gifts, and the kingdom that should be unto him and unto his seed.

Nightward[6] beyond Gadeira none may pass. Turn back again to the mainland of Europe the tackle of our ship; for it were impossible for me to go through unto the end all the tale of the sons of Aiakos.

For the Theandrid clan came I a ready herald of games that make men's limbs wax strong, to Olympia and to Isthmos, and to Nemea according to my promise, where having put themselves to the proof they are returning homeward, not without wreaths whose fruitage is renown; and there report hath told us, O Timasarchos, that thy clan's name is preeminent in songs of victory.

Or if further for thy mother's brother Kallikles thou biddest me set up a pillar whiter than Parian stone, lo as the refining of gold showeth forth all his splendours, so doth a song that singeth a man's rare deeds make him as the peer of kings. Let Kallikles in his dwelling beside Acheron find in my tongue a minstrel of his praise, for that at the games[7] of the deep-voiced wielder of the trident his brows were green with parsley of Corinth; of him, boy, did Euphanes, thy aged grandsire, rejoice erewhile to sing.

Each hath his own age-fellow; and what each hath seen for himself that may he hope to set forth best of all. How for Melesias'[8] praise must such an one grapple in the strife, bending the words beneath his grasp, yielding not his ground as he wrestleth in speech, of gentle temper toward the good, but to the froward a stern adversary.




  1. Aigina. See Ol. viii. 21; Pyth. viii. 22.
  2. Kleonai was very near Nemea, and the Kleonaians were for a long time managers of the Nemean games.
  3. Seemingly the same personage as Aigina.
  4. Akastos.
  5. Thetis, resisting her wooer Peleus, changed herself into fire and wild beasts. See Dict. Myth.
  6. Westward.
  7. The Isthmian games.
  8. Timasarchos' trainer in wrestling. He is here praised in terms borrowed from the wrestling-school.