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I.


FOR HIERON OF AITNA,


WINNER IN THE CHARIOT-RACE.




The date of this victory is B. C. 474.

In the year 480, the year of Salamis, the Syracusans under Hieron had defeated the Carthaginians in the great battle of Himera.

In 479 a great eruption of Etna (Aitna) began. In 476 Hieron founded, near the mountain but we may suppose at a safe distance, the new city of Aitna, in honour of which he had himself proclaimed as an Aitnaian after this and other victories in the games.

And in this same year, 474, he had defeated the Etruscans, or Tuscans, or Tyrrhenians in a great sea-fight before Cumae.

Pindar might well delight to honour those who had been waging so well against the barbarians of the South and West the same war which the Hellenes of the mother-country waged against the barbarians of the East.




O golden Lyre, thou common treasure of Apollo and the Muses violet-tressed, thou whom the dancer's step, prelude of festal mirth, obeyeth, and the singers heed thy bidding, what time with quivering strings thou utterest preamble of choir-leading overture—lo even the sworded lightning of immortal fire thou quenchest, and on the sceptre of Zeus his eagle sleepeth, slackening his swift wings either side, the king of birds, for a dark mist thou hast distilled on his arched head, a gentle seal upon his eyes, and he in slumber heaveth his supple back, spell-bound beneath thy throbs.

Yea also violent Ares, leaving far off the fierce point of his spears, letteth his heart have joy in rest, for thy shafts soothe hearts divine by the cunning of Leto's son and the deep-bosomed Muses.

But whatsoever things Zeus loveth not fly frighted from the voice of the Pierides, whether on earth or on the raging sea; whereof is he who lieth in dreadful Tartaros, the god's foe, Typhon of the hundred heads, whom erst the den Kilikian of many names did breed, but now verily the sea-constraining cliffs beyond Cumae, and Sicily, lie heavy on his shaggy breast: and he is fast bound by a pillar of the sky, even by snowy Etna, nursing the whole year's length her dazzling snow:

Whereout pure springs of unapproachable fire are vomited from the inmost depths: in the daytime the lava-streams pour forth a lurid rush of smoke: but in the darkness a red rolling flame sweepeth rocks with uproar to the wide deep sea.

That dragon-thing[1] it is that maketh issue from beneath the terrible fiery flood, a monster marvellous to look upon, yea a marvel to hear of from such as go thereby and tell what thing is prisoned between the dark-wooded tops of Etna and the plain, where the back of him is galled and furrowed by the bed whereon he lieth.

O Zeus, be it ours to find favour in thy sight, who art defender of this mountain, the forehead of a fruitful land, whose namesake neighbour city hath been ennobled by her glorious founder, for that on the race-course at the Pythian games the herald made proclamation of her name aloud, telling of Hieron's fair victory in the chariot-race.

Now the first boon to men in ships is that a favourable breeze come to them as they set forth upon the sea; for this is promise that in the end also they shall come with good hap home. So after this good fortune doth reason show us hope of crowns to come for Aitna's horses, and honour in the banquet-songs.

O Phoibos, lord of Lykia and of Delos, who lovest the spring of Castaly on thy Parnassos, be this the purpose of thy will, and grant the land fair issue of her men.

For from gods come all means of mortal valour, hereby come bards and men of mighty hand and eloquent speech.

This is the man I am fain to praise, and trust that not outside the ring shall I hurl the bronze-tipped javelin I brandish in my hand, but with far throw outdo my rivals in the match.

Would that his whole life may give him, even as now, good luck and wealth right onward, and of his pains forgetfulness.

Verily it shall remind him in what fightings of wars he stood up with steadfast soul, when the people found grace of glory at the hands of gods, such as none of the Hellenes hath reaped, a proud crown of wealth.

For after the ensample of Philoktetes he went but now to war: and when necessity was upon them even they of proud spirit sought of him a boon.

To Lemnos once they say came godlike heroes to fetch thence the archer son of Paian, vexed of an ulcerous wound; and he sacked the city of Priam and made an end of the Danaoi's labours, for the body wherewith he went was sick, but this was destined from the beginning.

Even thus to Hieron may God be a guide for the time approaching, and give him to lay hold upon the things of his desire.

Also in the house of Deinomenes do me grace, O Muse, to sing, for sake of our four-horsed car: no alien joy to him is his sire's victory.

Come then and next for Etna's king let us devise a friendly song, for whom with god-built freedom after the laws of Hyllic pattern hath that city been founded of Hieron's hand: for the desire of the sons of Pamphylos and of the Herakleidai dwelling beneath the heights of Taÿgetos is to abide continually in the Dorian laws of Aigimios. At Amyklai they dwelt prosperously, when they were come down out of Pindos and drew near in honour to the Tyndaridai who ride on white horses, and the glory of their spears waxed great.

Thou Zeus, with whom are the issues of things, grant that the true speech of men ever bear no worse report of citizens and kings beside the water of Amĕnas. By thine aid shall a man that is chief and that instructeth his son after him give due honour unto his people and move them to be of one voice peacefully.

I pray thee, son of Kronos, grant that the Phenician and the Tuscan war-cry be hushed at home, since they have beheld the calamity of their ships that befell them before Cumae, even how they were smitten by the captain of the Syracusans, who from their swift ships hurled their youth into the sea, to deliver Hellas from the bondage of the oppressor.

From Salamis shall I of Athenians take reward of thanks, at Sparta when I shall tell[2] in a song to come of the battle[3] before Kithairon, wherein the Medes that bear crooked bows were overthrown, but by the fair-watered banks of Himĕras it shall be for the song I have rendered to the sons of Deinomenes, which by their valour they have earned, since the men that warred against them are overthrown.

If thou shalt speak in season, and comprehend in brief the ends of many matters, less impeachment followeth of men; for surfeit blunteth the eagerness of expectancy; and city-talk of of others' praise grieveth hearts secretly.

Nevertheless, for that envy is preferred before pity[4], let slip not fair occasion: guide with just helm thy people and forge the sword of thy speech on an anvil whereof cometh no lie. Even a word falling lightly is of import in that it proceedeth from thee. Of many things art thou steward: many witnesses are there to thy deeds of either kind.

But abiding in the fair flower of this spirit, if thou art fain to be continually of good report, be not too careful for the cost: loose free like a mariner thy sail unto the wind.

Friend, be not deceived by time-serving words of guile. The voice of the report that liveth after a man, this alone revealeth the lives of dead men to the singers and to the chroniclers: the loving-kindness of Craesus fadeth not away; but him who burned men with fire within a brazen bull, Phalaris that had no pity, men tell of everywhere with hate, neither will any lute in hall suffer him in the gentle fellowship of young boys' themes of songs.

To be happy is the chiefest prize; to be glorious the next lot: if a man have lighted on both and taken them to be his, he hath attained unto the supreme crown.




  1. Typhon.
  2. Reading ἐρεων.
  3. Plataea.
  4. I. e. it is better to be envied than to be pitied.