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VIII.


FOR ALKIMEDON OF AIGINA,


WINNER IN THE WRESTLING-MATCH OF BOYS.




The date of this victory is B.C. 460. Long as the ode is, it would seem however to have been written, like the fourth Olympian, to be sung in the procession to the altar of Zeus on the night of the victory.

Of the forty-four odes remaining to us no less than eleven are in honour of winners from Aigina.




O mother of gold-crowned contests, Olympia, queen of truth; where men that are diviners observing burnt-offerings make trial of Zeus the wielder of white lightnings, whether he hath any word concerning men who seek in their hearts to attain unto great prowess and a breathing-space from toil; for it is given in answer to the reverent prayers of men—do thou, O tree-clad precinct of Pisa by Alpheos, receive this triumph and the carrying of the crown.

Great is his glory ever on whom the splendour of thy honour waiteth. Yet this good cometh to one, that to another, and many are the roads to happy life by the grace of gods.

Thee, O Timosthenes[1], and thy brother hath Destiny assigned to Zeus the guardian of your house, even to him who hath made thee glorious at Nemea, and Alkimedon by the hill of Kronos a winner in Olympic games.

Now the boy was fair to look upon, neither shamed he by his deeds his beauty, but in the wrestling match victorious made proclamation that his country was Aigina of long oars, where saviour Themis who sitteth in judgment by Zeus the stranger's succour is honoured more than any elsewhere among men[2].

For in a matter mighty and bearing many ways to judge with unswayed mind and suitably, this is a hard essay, yet hath some ordinance of immortals given this sea-defended land to be to strangers out of every clime a pillar built of God. May coming time not weary of this work.

To a Dorian folk was the land given in trust from Aiakos, even the man whom Leto's son and far-ruling Poseidon, when they would make a crown for Ilion, called to work with them at the wall, for that it was destined that at the uprising of wars in city-wasting fights it should breathe forth fierce smoke.

Now when it was new-built three dragons fiery-eyed leapt at the rampart: two fell and perished in despair; but the third sprang in with a war-cry[3].

Then Apollo pondering the sign spake straightway unto Aiakos by his side: 'Hero, where thy hands have wrought is Pergamos taken: thus saith this sign, sent of the son of Kronos, loud-thundering Zeus. And that not without thy seed; but with the the first and fourth it shall be subdued[4]'.

Thus plainly spoke the god, and away to Xanthos and the Amazons of goodly steeds and to Ister urged his car.

And the Trident-wielder for Isthmos over seas harnessed his swift chariot, and hither[5] first he bare with him Aiakos behind the golden mares, and so on unto the mount of Corinth, to behold his feast of fame.

Now shall there never among men be aught that pleaseth all alike. If I for Melesias[6] raise up glory in my song of his boys, let not envy cast at me her cruel stone. Nay but at Nemea too will I tell of honour of like kind with this, and of another ensuing thereon, won in the pankration of men.

Verily to teach is easier to him that knoweth: it is folly if one hath not first learnt, for without trial the mind wavereth. And beyond all others can Melesias declare all works on that wise, what method shall advance a man who from the sacred games may win the longed-for glory.

Now for the thirtieth time is honour gained for him by the victory of Alkimedon, who by God's grace, nor failing himself in prowess, hath put off from him upon the bodies of four striplings the loathed return ungreeted of fair speech, and the path obscure[7]; and in his father's father he hath breathed new vigour to wrestle with old age. A man that hath done honourable deeds taketh no thought of death.

But I must needs arouse memory, and tell of the glory of their hands that gave victory to the Blepsiad clan, to whom this is now the sixth crown that hath come from the wreathed games to bind their brows.

Even the dead have their share when paid them with due rites, and the grace of kinsmen's honour the dust concealeth not. From Hermes' daughter Fame shall Iphion[8] hear and tell to Kallimachos this lustre of Olympic glory, which Zeus hath granted to this house. Honour upon honour may he vouchsafe unto it, and shield it from sore disease[9]. I pray that for the share of glory fallen to them he raise against them no contrary discontent, but granting them a life unharmed may glorify them and their commonwealth.




  1. Alkimedon's brother. He had won a victory at the Nemean games.
  2. Aigina had a high commercial reputation, and strangers were equitably dealt with in her courts.
  3. The two first dragons typify the Aiakids, Aias and Achilles, who failed to enter Troy, the third typifies Achilles' son, Neoptolemos, who succeeded.
  4. Aiakos' son, Telamon, was with Herakles when he took Troy: his great-grandson Neoptolemos was in the Wooden Horse.
  5. To Aigina.
  6. Alkimedon's trainer.
  7. I. e. Alkimedon has escaped the disagreeable circumstances of defeat and transferred them to the four opponents against whom he was matched in four successive ties.
  8. Iphion seems to have been the father and Kallimachos the uncle of Alkimedon.
  9. Perhaps Iphion and Kallimachos died of some severe illness.