For Timasarchus of Aegina
?473 B. C.
When toils have been resolved, festivity is the best physician; and songs, the skillful daughters of the Muses, soothe with their touch. And warm water does not wet the limbs so gently
as praise that accompanies the lyre. Speech lives longer than deeds; whatever words the tongue, with the favor of the Graces, draws from the deep mind.
May it be mine to set forth such speech, in honor of Zeus the son of Cronus, and Nemea
and Timasarchus' wrestling, as a prelude to my song. And may it be welcomed by the home of the Aeacids, with its fine towers, that light which shines for all, with justice that defends the stranger. And if your father Timocritus had still been warmed by the strength of the sun, playing embroidered notes on the cithara
and bending to this strain, he would have often celebrated his triumphant son,
because he had sent back from the contest at Cleonae a chain of garlands, and from splendid, illustrious Athens; and because in seven-gated Thebes,
beside Amphitryon's splendid tomb, the Cadmeans gladly crowned him with flowers, for the sake of Aegina. For he looked on1
a hospitable city, when he came as a friend to friends, to the prosperous court of Heracles,
with whom once powerful Telamon destroyed Troy
and the Meropes and the great and terrible warrior Alcyoneus, but not before that giant had laid low, by hurling a rock, twelve chariots and twice twelve horse-taming heroes who were riding in them.
A man who did not understand this proverb would appear to be inexperienced in battle: since “it is likely that the doer will also suffer.”
The laws of song and the hurrying hours prevent me from telling a long story,
and I am drawn, by a magic charm on my heart, to touch on the new-moon festival. Nevertheless, although the deep salt sea holds you around the middle, strain against treacherous plots. We will be seen arriving in the light far above our enemies. But another man, with an envious glance,
broods in the darkness over an empty thought
that falls to the ground. As for me, I know that whatever excellence ruling destiny gave me, time will creep forward and bring it to its appointed perfection. Weave out, sweet lyre, right now,
the beloved song with Lydian harmony, for Oenone and Cyprus
, where Teucer the son of Telamon reigns far from home; but Aias holds ancestral Salamis
and Achilles holds the shining island in the Euxine sea.
Thetis rules in Phthia
, and Neoptolemus in the expanses of Epirus
, where jutting ox-pasturing headlands, beginning in Dodona
, slope down to the Ionian sea. But beside the foot of Pelion
Peleus turned a warlike hand against Iolcus and gave it in subjection to the Haemones2
after encountering the crafty arts of Acastus' wife Hippolyte. With the sword of Daedalus, the son of Pelias sowed the seeds of death for Peleus
from an ambush. But Cheiron rescued him and carried out the destiny which had been fated by Zeus. And Peleus, having thwarted all-powerful fire, and the sharp claws of bold-plotting lions, and the edge of their terrible teeth,
married one of the Nereids throned on high, and saw the fine circle of seats in which the lords of sky and sea were sitting, as they gave him gifts and revealed the future strength of his race. Beyond Gadeira towards the western darkness there is no passage; turn back
the ship's sails again to the mainland of Europe
, for it is impossible for me to tell the full story of the sons of Aeacus.
For the Theandridae, having pledged my word, I went as a ready herald of the limb-strengthening contests
and the Isthmus and Nemea
, where, whenever they make trial of their skill, they return home with the glorious fruit of garlands; in that home, Timasarchus, we hear that your family is an attendant of victory songs. But if
in honor of your uncle Callicles you bid me
to build a monument whiter than Parian stone, know that gold, when it is refined, shows all radiance, and a song in honor of noble deeds makes a man equal in fortune to kings.
May that man, who dwells beside the stream of Acheron
, hear my voice singing, where in the contest of the loud-roaring wielder of the trident he flourished with crowns of Corinthian wild celery.
Euphanes, your aged grandfather,
once willingly sang his praises, child. Each man has his own generation; and each man expects to speak best of what he has seen himself. If he were praising Melesias, how he would throw his opponent in the struggle! Weaving his words, impossible to wrestle down in speech;
with gentle thoughts towards noble men, but a rough adversary to his opponents.