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XII.


FOR ERGOTELES OF HIMERA,


WINNER IN THE LONG FOOT-RACE.




Ergoteles was a native of Knosos in Crete, but civil dissension had compelled him to leave his country. He came to Sicily and was naturalized as a citizen of Himera. Had he stayed in Crete he would not have won this victory; nor the Pythian and Isthmian victories, referred to at the end of the ode, for the Cretans seem to have kept aloof, in an insular spirit, from the Panhellenic games.

The date of the ode is B.C. 472, the year after the Himeræans had expelled the tyrant Thrasydaios of Akragas. The prayer to Fortune would seem to have reference specially to this event. The ode was probably sung in a temple either of Zeus or of Fortune.




I pray thee, daughter of Zeus the Deliverer, keep watch over wide-ruling Himera, O saviour Fortune.

By thee upon the sea swift ships are piloted, and on dry land fierce wars and meetings of councils.

Up and down the hopes of men are tossed as they cleave the waves of baffling falsity: and a sure token of what shall come to pass hath never any man on the earth received from God: the divinations of things to come are blind.

Many the chances that fall to men when they look not for them, sometimes to thwart delight, yet others after battling with the surge of sorrowful pain have suddenly received for their affliction some happiness profound.

Son of Philanor, verily even the glory of thy fleet feet would have fallen into the sere leaf unrenowned, abiding by the hearth of thy kin, as a cock that fighteth but at home, had not the strife of citizen against citizen driven thee from Knosos thy native land.

But now at Olympia hast thou won a crown, O Ergoteles, and at Pythos twice,[errata 1] and at Isthmos, whereby thou glorifiest the hot springs where the nymphs Sicilian bathe, dwelling in a land that is become to thee as thine own.




Errata:

  1. Original: Ergoteles, was amended to Ergoteles, and at Pythos twice,: detail