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V.


FOR PYTHEAS OF AIGINA,


WINNER IN THE BOYS' PANKRATION.




The date of this ode is uncertain. The winner's brother Phylakidas, gained the two victories, also in the pankration, which are celebrated in the fourth and fifth Isthmians.




No statuary I, that I should fashion images to rest idly on their pedestals, nay but by every trading-ship and plying boat forth from Aigina fare, sweet song of mine, and bear abroad the news, how that Lampon's son, the strong-limbed Pytheas, hath won at Nemea the pankratiast's crown, while on his cheeks he showeth not as yet the vine-bloom's mother, mellowing midsummer.

So to the warrior heroes sprung from Kronos and Zeus and from the golden nymphs, even to the Aiakidai, hath he done honour, and to the mother-city, a friendly field to strangers. That she should have issue of goodly men and should be famous in her ships, this prayed they of old, standing beside the altar of their grandsire, Zeus Hellenios, and together stretched forth their hands toward heaven, even the glorious sons of Endais[1] and the royal strength of Phokos, the goddess-born, whom on the sea-beach Psamatheia[2] bare. Of their deed portentous and unjustly dared I am loth to tell, and how they left that famous isle, and of the fate that drove the valiant heroes from Oinone. I will make pause: not for every perfect truth is it best that it discover its face: silence is oft man's wisest thought.

But if the praise of good hap or of strength of hand or of steel-clad war be my resolve, let one mark me a line for a long leap hence: in my knees I have a nimble spring: and even beyond the sea the eagles wing their way.

With goodwill too for the Aiakidai in Pelion sang the Muses' choir most fair, and in the midst Apollo playing with golden quill upon his seven-toned lyre led them in ever-changing strains. They first of all from Zeus beginning sang of holy Thetis and of Peleus, and how that Kretheus' dainty daughter Hippolyte would fain have caught him by her wile, and persuaded his friend the king of the Magnetes her husband by counsels of deceit, for she forged a lying tale thereto devised, how that he essayed to go in unto her in Akastos' bridal bed. But the truth was wholly contrary thereto, for often and with all her soul she had besought him with beguiling speech; but her bold words vexed his spirit; and forthwith he refused the bride, fearing the wrath of the Father who guardeth host and guest. And he, the cloud-compelling Zeus in heaven, the immortal's king, was aware thereof, and he promised him that with all speed he would find him a sea-bride from among the Nereids of golden distaffs, having persuaded thereto Poseidon, their kinsman by his marriage, who from Aigai to the famous Dorian Isthmus cometh oftentimes, where happy troops with the reed-flute's noise welcome the god, and in bold strength of limb men strive.

The fate that is born with a man is arbiter of all his acts. Thou, Euthymenes[3], at Aigina falling into the goddess victory's arms didst win thee hymns of subtle strain: yea and now too to thee, O Pytheas, who art his kinsman of the same stock and followest in his footsteps, doth thy mother's brother honour. Nemea is favourable unto him, and the month[4] of his country that Apollo loveth: the youth that came to strive with him he overcame, both at home and by Nisos' hill of pleasant glades[5]. I have joy that the whole state striveth for glory. Know that throughMenander's[6] aid thou hast attained unto sweet recompense of toils. And meet is that from Athens a fashioner of athletes come.

But if thou comest to Themistios[7], to sing of him, away with chill reserve, shout aloud, hoist to the top-yard of the mast the sail, and tell how in the boxing and the pankration at Epidauros he won a double prize of valour, and to the portals of Aiakos bare fresh wreaths of flowers, led by the Graces of the yellow hair.




  1. Wife of Aiakos and mother of Peleus and Telamon. They killed Phokos.
  2. A sea-nymph, mother of Phokos by Aiakos.
  3. Maternal uncle of Pytheas.
  4. The month called in Aigina Delphinios (April-May) when the Nemean games took place.
  5. At Megara.
  6. Pytheas' trainer, an Athenian.
  7. Maternal grandfather of Pytheas.