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IX.


FOR CHROMIOS OF AITNA,


WINNER IN THE CHARIOT-RACE.




This ode is placed by usage among the Nemeans, but the victory was not won at Nemea, but at Sikyon, in the local games called Pythian. Its date is unknown: it must have been after the founding of Aitna, B.C. 476. Probably the ode was sung in a procession at Aitna, some length of time after the victory. The Chromios is the Chromios of the first Nemean, Hieron's brother-in-law.




From Apollo at Sikyon will we lead our triumph forth, ye Muses, unto the new-made city of Aitna, where doors are opened wide to greet the invading guests, even to the fortunate house of Chromios. Come claim for him a song of sweetness: for he goeth up into the chariot of his victory, and biddeth us sing aloud to the mother[1] and her twin children who keep watch over high Pytho in fellowship.

Now there is a saying among men, that one hide not in silence on the ground a good deed done: and meet for such brave tales is divine song.

Therefore will we arouse the pealing lyre and rouse the flute, in honour of the very crown of all contests of steeds, which Adrastos in honour of Phoibos ordained beside Asopos' stream.

Whereof when I make mention with voiceful honour I will celebrate withal the Hero[2], who then being king in that place did by the founding of a new feast and struggles of the strength of men and of carven cars make his city known abroad and glorious.

For he was flying before Amphiaraos of bold counsels, and before a dangerous civil strife, from Argos and his father's house: for no longer were the sons of Talaos lords therein, for a sedition had thrust them forth. The stronger man endeth the contention that hath been before.

But when they had given to the son of Oikleus for his wife, as one should give surety of an oath, Eriphyle, the slayer of her husband, they became the greatest of the fair-haired Danaoi. So thereafter led they on a time against seven-gated Thebes a host of men, but not by a road of signs propitious: nor would the son of Kronos speed them on their mad journey from their homes, but by the quivering lightnings he darted forth he bade them hold from their road[3].

But unto a revealed calamity hasted that company to go forth with bronze shields and the gear of steeds; and on the banks of Ismenos, stayed from their sweet return, they fed the white smoke with their bodies.

For seven pyres devoured the young men's limbs, but for Amphiaraos Zeus by almighty thunderbolt clave the deep-breasted earth, and buried him with his steeds, or ever the warrior's soul should be shamed by the smiting of him in the back by Periklymenos' spear. For when the terror cometh of heaven, there flee even the sons of gods.

If it be possible, O son of Kronos, this trial of valour against Phenician spears[4] for life or death I would fain defer unto the utmost: and I beg of thee to grant unto the sons of the men of Aitna for long time a portion in good laws, and to make their people to dwell among glories that the citizens have won. Men are there here that love steeds and that have souls above desire of wealth. Hard of credence is the word I have spoken; for the spirit of honour which bringeth glory is stolen secretly by lust of gain.

Hadst thou been shield-bearer to Chromios among foot and horse and in fightings of ships, thou hadst judged concerning his jeopardy in the fierce fray, for in war did that divine honour stir his warrior-soul to ward off havoc of Enyalios. Few are there who may prevail by strength or valour to contrive a turning of the cloud of imminent death against the ranks of the enemy. Howbeit they tell how Hektor's glory flowered beside Skamander's streams, and thus on the steep cliffs of Heloros' banks[5], where men call the ford the Fountain of Ares, hath this light shined for Agesidamos' son in the beginning of his praise.

And other deeds on other days will I declare, many done amid the dust on the dry land, and yet others on the neighbouring sea. Now out of toils which in youth have been done with righteousness there ripeneth toward old age a day of calm.

Let Chromios know that he hath from the gods a lot of wondrous bliss. For if one together with much wealth have won him glorious renown, it is impossible that a mortal's feet touch any further mountain-top.

The banquet loveth peace, and by a gentle song a victory flourisheth afresh, and beside the bowl the singer's voice waxeth brave. Let one mix it now, that sweet proclaimer of the triumphal song, and in silver goblets hand the grapes' potent child, even the goblets which for Chromios his mares erst won, and sent to him from sacred Sikyon, entwined with well-earned crowns of Leto's son.

Now claim I, father Zeus, to have well sung this excellent deed by aid of the Charites, and beyond many to do honour to this victory by my words, for the javelin that I throw falleth nearest to the Muses' mark.




  1. Leto.
  2. Adrastos.
  3. Lightning and thunder were often an encouraging sign (there is an instance in the fourth Pythian), but this would depend on the manner of them.
  4. War with the Carthaginians, who were still threatening the Hellenic colonists in Sicily, in spite of their recent defeat.
  5. About B.C. 492 a battle was fought on the Heloros between the Syracusans and the army of Hippokrates, tyrant of Gela.