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Ode 5
For Hieron of Syracuse Single-horse victory at Olympia 476 B. C.

Fortunate in your fate, commander of the Syracusans, riders of whirling horses: you, [5] if any man on earth today, will rightly understand this honor, sweet gift of the violet-garlanded Muses. Now, calm your righteous mind; rest it from cares, and consider: a hymn, woven with the help of the deep-waisted Graces, [10] is sent from the holy island1to your glorious city by your guest-friend, the brilliant servant of Ourania with her golden headband. He wants [15] to pour forth his voice from his heart to praise Hieron. High above, slicing the deep air with his swift golden wings, the eagle, messenger of loud-thundering, wide-ruling [20] Zeus, trusts boldly in his powerful strength, and thin-voiced birds crouch in fear. The peaks of the great earth do not restrain him, [25] nor the rough, choppy waves of the untiring sea. In the everlasting void he shifts his delicate wings, riding the gusts of the west wind, [30] a conspicuous sight for men. So now for me there are countless paths of song leading in every direction, thanks to dark-haired Nike and Ares with his bronze breastplate, to sing of your excellence, [35] noble sons of Deinomenes. May the god not tire of doing good. Beside the wide-whirling Alpheus, golden-armed Dawn saw the victory of the chestnut horse Pherenicus, a runner swift as a wind-storm, [40] and she saw him win in very holy Pytho. Laying my hand on the earth, I make this declaration: never in any contest has he been fouled by the dust of faster horses [45] as he strained toward the finish-line. In force he is like Boreas; obeying his rider, he speeds a new victory and new applause to hospitable Hieron. [50] Prosperous is he to whom a god has given a share of fine things, and a rich life to live out with enviable luck. For no man on earth [55] was born to be fortunate in everything. So it was, they say, that the gate-destroying unconquerable son2of Zeus of the flashing thunderbolt went down to the halls of slender-ankled Persephone [60] to bring up into the light from Hades the razor-toothed dog,3son of the fearsome Echidna. There he saw the souls of miserable mortals by the streams of Cocytus, [65] like leaves swirled by the wind along the sheep-pasturing headlands of shining Ida. Among them, the shade of Porthaon's bold, [70] spear-wielding descendant4stood out. When the marvellous hero, son of Alcmene,5saw him shining in his armor, he stretched the clear-sounding bowstring onto his bow, and opened the lid of his quiver and drew out a bronze-tipped [75] arrow. But the soul of Meleager appeared in front of him and spoke to him, knowing him well: “Son of great Zeus, [80] stand where you are, and calm your spirit— Do not shoot a harsh arrow from your hands in vain against the souls of those who have perished. You have no need to fear.” So he spoke. And the son of Amphitryon6was astonished, [85] and said, “What god or mortal raised such a fine young plant as you? In what land? Who killed you? No doubt Hera with her beautiful belt will soon [90] send that killer after me. But that must be the concern of golden-haired Pallas.” And Meleager answered him, in tears, “It is hard [95] for men on earth to sway the minds of the gods; for otherwise my father, horse-driving Oineus, would have appeased the anger of holy, white-armed Artemis with her garland of buds, [100] when he entreated her with sacrifices of many goats and red-backed cattle. But the maiden goddess' anger was unconquerable; she sent an immensely violent [105] boar, a ruthless fighter, to Calydon, the place of lovely choruses; there, his strength raging like a flood, he cut down vine-rows with his tusk, and slaughtered flocks, and whatever mortals [110] came across his path. We, the best of the Hellenes, fought hard to sustain the hateful battle against him, for six days continuously. But when some god gave the upper hand to the Aetolians, [115] we buried those whom the loud-roaring boar had killed in his violent attacks: Ancaeus, and Agelaus, the best of my dear brothers, whom [120] Althaea bore in the far-famed halls of Oineus. Ruinous fate destroyed ... 7For not yet did the hostile goddess, the savage daughter of Leto, [stop] her anger. We fought hard for the beast's fiery hide [125] with the Couretes, steadfast in battle. Then I killed, among many others, Iphiclus and noble Aphares, my mother's swift brothers; for [130] strong-spirited Ares does not discern a friend in battle—shafts fly blindly from the hands against the souls of the enemy, and bring death [135] to whomever the god wishes. My mother, the hostile daughter of Thestius, did not take this into account; she brought about my evil fate, the fearless woman, and planned my destruction. [140] She took the log of my swift doom out of the ornate chest, and burned it. Fate had marked off that this should be the boundary of my life. I happened to be slaying [145] Clymenus, Daïpylus' valiant son, whose body was flawless; I had overtaken him in front of the towers. The others [150] were fleeing to the well-built ancient city of Pleuron. And my sweet soul diminished; I knew that my strength was gone, aiai! I breathed my last breath in tears, as I left behind splendid youth.” [155] They say that was the only time that the son of Amphitryon, fearless in battle, ever wetted his eyes with tears, pitying the fate of the man who endured grief. And he answered him in this way: [160] “For mortals it is best never to be born, never to look on the light of the sun. But there is no profit in lamenting this; one must speak of what can be accomplished. [165] Is there, in the halls of battle-loving Oineus, any daughter, unsubdued by love, whose appearance is like yours? I would gladly make her my splendid bride.” [170] And to him the soul of Meleager, steadfast in battle, answered: “I left behind at home Deianeira,8with her neck like a fresh olive; golden [175] Cypris, charmer of mortals, is still unknown to her.” White-armed Calliope, stop your well-made chariot right there. Sing of the Olympian ruler of the gods, Zeus son of Cronus, [180] and the untiring stream of the Alpheus, and the strength of Pelops, and Pisa, where glorious Pherenicus won victory in the race with his feet, and returned to Syracuse with its fine towers, [185] bringing to Hieron the leaf of good fortune. For the sake of truth we must give praise, pushing away envy with both hands, [190] if any mortal man does well. A Boeotian man, Hesiod, attendant of the sweet Muses, said this: “He whom the gods honor has a good name among men as well.” [195] I am easily persuaded to send to Hieron my illustrious voice, not ... from the path ... .9For in this way the roots of fine fortune flourish; may the great father [200] Zeus guard them, undisturbed, in peace.

1 Ceos, off the coast of Attica; homeland of Bacchylides and his uncle, the poet Simonides.

2 Heracles.

3 Cerberus.

4 Meleager. Porthaon is his grandfather; his father is Oineus.

5 Heracles. Alcmene is his mother.

6 Heracles has both a divine father (Zeus) and a nominal mortal father (Amphitryon).

7 There is a gap of two or three words in the papyrus here (lines 120-23).

8 Deianeira did marry Heracles; later she killed him unintentionally by giving him a robe treated with poison, which she thought was a love-charm.

9 There is another gap in the papyrus here, and the text is uncertain.

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