FOR THERON OF AKRAGAS,
WINNER IN THE CHARIOT-RACE.
This ode celebrates the same victory as the preceeding one. It was sung at the feast of the Theoxenia, given by Theron in the name of the Dioskouroi (Kastor and Polydeukes) to the other gods. Hence the epithet hospitable (φιλοξείνοις) applied to the Dioskouroi in the first line. The clan of the Emmenidai to which Theron belonged was especially devoted to the cult of the Twins.
Tyndareus' hospitable sons and lovely-haired Helen shall I please assuredly in doing honour to renowned Akragas by a hymn upraised for Theron's Olympian crown; for hereunto hath the Muse been present with me that I should find out a fair new device, fitting to feet that move in Dorian time the Komos-voices' splendid strain.
For crowns entwined about his hair demand from me this god-appointed debt, that for Ainesidamos' son I join in seemly sort the lyre of various tones with the flute's cry and ordering of words.
And Pisa bids me speak aloud, for from her come to men songs of divine assignment, when the just judge of games the Aitolian man, fulfilling Herakles' behests of old, hath laid upon one's hair above his brows pale-gleaming glory of olive.
That tree from Ister's shadowy springs did the son of Amphitryon bear to be a memorial most glorious of Olympian triumphs, when that by his words he had won the Hyperborean folk, who serve Apollo. In loyal temper he besought for the precinct of Zeus, whereto all men go up, a plant that should be a shadow of all folk in common, and withal a crown for valorous deeds.
For already, when the altars had been sanctified to his sire, the midmonth Moon riding her golden car lit full the counter-flame of the eye of Even, and just judgment of great games did he ordain, and the fifth year's feast beside the holy steeps of Alpheos.
But no fair trees were nursed upon that place in Kronian Pelops' glens; whereof being naked his garden seemed to him to be given over to the keen rays of the sun.
Then was it that his soul stirred to urge him into the land of Ister; where Leto's horse-loving daughter received him erst when he was come from the ridged hills and winding dells of Arcady, what time his father laid constraint upon him to go at Eurystheus' bidding to fetch the golden-horned hind, which once Taÿgete vowed to her of Orthion and made a sign thereon of consecration. For in that chase he saw also the land that lieth behind the blast of the cold North-wind: there he halted and marvelled at the trees: and sweet desire thereof possessed him that he might plant them at the end of the course which the race-horses should run twelve times round.
So now to this feast cometh he in good-will in company with the Twins Divine, deep-girdled Leto's children. For to them he gave charge when he ascended into Olympus to order the spectacle of the games, both the struggle of man with man, and the driving of the nimble car.
Me anywise my soul stirreth to declare that to the Emmenidai and to Theron hath glory come by gift of the Tyndaridai of goodly steeds, for that beyond all mortals they do honour to them with tables of hospitality, keeping with pious spirit the rite of blessed gods.
Now if Water be the Best, and of possessions Gold be the most precious, so now to the furthest bound doth Theron by his fair deeds attain, and from his own home touch the pillars of Herakles. Pathless the things beyond, pathless alike to the unwise and the wise. Here I will search no more; the quest were vain.
- I. e. probably a new combination of lyre and flute to accompany the singing.
- When the Dorians invaded Peloponnesos one of their leaders is said to have been Oxylos, a man of Elean descent but living in Aitolia. As a result of the invasion he became king of Elis; and the judge at the Olympic games seems to have been considered a descendant of him or of some Aitolian who came with him.
- The Olympic games were held in the middle of the month Hekatombaion, when the moon was full. It is here implied that Herakles wished to institute them when the moon was full, as that was a season of good luck.
- See Ol. i. 1.