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VI.


FOR ALKIMIDAS OF AIGINA,


WINNER IN THE BOYS' WRESTLING-MATCH.




The date of this ode is unknown, but from the mention of the trainer Melesias it has been inferred that it was among Pindar's later works. It would seem to have been sung at Aigina, perhaps at some feast of the Bassid clan given in honour of the victory.




One race there is of men and one of gods, but from one mother[1] draw we both our breath, yet is the strength of us diverse altogether, for the race of man is as nought, but the brazen heaven abideth, a habitation steadfast unto everlasting.

Yet withal have we somewhat in us like unto the immortals' bodily shape or mighty mind, albeit we know not what course hath Destiny marked out for us to run, neither in the daytime, neither in the night.

And now doth Alkimidas give proof that it is with his kindred as with fruitful fields: for they in turn now yield to man his yearly bread upon the plains, and now again they pause, and gather back their strength[2].

From the pleasant meeting-places of Nemea hath the athlete boy come back, who following the ordinance[3] of Zeus hath now approved him no baffled hunter in his wrestling-quest[errata 1], and hath guided his feet by the foot-prints of Praxidamas, his father's father, of whose blood he sprang.

For Praxidamas also by his Olympian victory first won the olive-wreath from Alpheos for the Aiakidai, and five times being crowned at Isthmos, and at Nemea thrice, he took away thereby the obscurity of Sokleides, who was the eldest of the sons of Agesimachos[4].

For these three warriors attained unto the topmost height of prowess, of all who essayed the games, and by grace of God to no other house hath the boxing-match given keeping of so many crowns in this inmost place of all Hellas. I deem that though my speech be of high sound I yet shall hit the mark, as it were an archer shooting from a bow.

Come, Muse, direct thou upon this house a gale of glorious song: for after that men are vanished away, the minstrel's story taketh up their noble acts, whereof is no lack to the Bassid clan; old in story is the race and they carry cargo of home-made renown, able to deliver into the Muses' husbandmen rich matter of song in honour of their lofty deeds.

For at sacred Pytho in like wise did a scion of the same stock overcome, with the thong of the boxer bound about his hand, even Kallias in whom were well-pleased the children of Leto of the golden distaff, and beside Kastaly in the evening his name burnt bright, when the glad sounds of the Graces rose.

Also the Bridge[5] of the untiring sea did honour unto Kreontidas at the triennial sacrifice of bulls by the neighbour states in the holy place of Poseidon; and once did the herb[6] of the lion shadow his brows for a victory won beneath the shadeless primal hills of Phlious.

Wide avenues of glory are there on every side for chroniclers to draw nigh to do honour unto this isle: for supreme occasion have the children of Aiakos given them by the showing forth of mighty feats.

Over land and beyond the sea is their name flown forth from afar: even unto the Ethiopians it sprang forth, for that Memnon came not home: for bitter was the battle that Achilles made against him, having descended from his chariot upon the earth, what time by his fierce spear's point he slew the son of the bright Morn.

And herein found they of old time a way wherein to drive their car: and I too follow with my burden of song: and all men's minds, they say, are stirred the most by whatsoever wave at the instant rolleth nearest to the mainsheet of the ship.

On willing shoulders bear I this double load, and am come a messenger to proclaim this honour won in the games that men call holy to be the five-and-twentieth that the noble house of Alkimidas hath shown forth: yet were two wreaths in the Olympian games beside the precinct of Kronion denied to thee, boy, and to Polytimidas, by the fall of the lot[7].

Peer of the dolphin hurrying through the brine—such would I call Melesias[8] by whom thy hands and strength were guided, as a chariot by the charioteer.




  1. Earth.
  2. The ancients understood little of the rotation of crops, and often let their fields lie fallow alternate years.
  3. Of the celebrity of alternate generations.
  4. The order is descent was: Agesimachos, Sokleides, Praxidamas, Theon, Alkimidas. Of these the first, third, and fifth, were distinguished athletes, the others not.
  5. The Isthmos.
  6. The parsley which grew near the lair of the Nemean lion.
  7. This can hardly mean, as some commentators take it, the drawing of any particular tie; for if better men than any given competitor were entered for the match, his defeat would be inevitable whether they were encountered sooner or later.
  8. Alkimidas' trainer.


Errata:

  1. Original: guest was amended to quest: detail