FIRST PYTHIAN ODE.
In honor of a victory with the chariot in the Pythian Gaines won by Hiero, king of Syracuse, in 470 B. C. Reference is made to a recent volcanic eruption of Mt. Aetna, and to the newly founded city Aetna, which Hiero had recently established with a Spartan constitution, near the foot of that mountain, on the site of the modern Catania. There Hiero had made his son Deinomenes king. Matthew Arnold paraphrases part of this ode in his Empedocles on Etna.
Hail, golden lyre! whose heav'n-invented string
To Phoebus and the blaek-hair'd nine belongs;
Who in sweet chorus round their tuneful king
Mix with thy sounding chords their sacred songs.
The dance, gay queen of pleasure, thee attends; 5
Thy jocund strains her list'ning feet inspire;
And each melodious tongue its voice suspends
Till thou, great leader of the heav'nly quire,
With wanton art preluding giv'st the sign—
Swells the full concert then with harmony divine. 10
Then, of their streaming lightnings all disarm'd,
The smould'ring thunderbolts of Jove expire;
Then, by the music of thy numbers charm'd,
The birds' fierce monarch drops his vengeful ire;
Perch'd on the sceptre of th' Olympian king, 15
The thrilling darts of harmony he feels;
And indolently hangs his rapid wing,
While gentle sleep his closing eyelid seals;
And o'er his heaving limbs in loose array
To ev'ry balmy gale the ruffling feathers play. 20
Ev'n Mars, stern god of violence and war,
Soothes with thy lulling strains his furious breast,