For Phylacidas of Aegina
?478 B. C.
Mother of the Sun, Theia of many names, for your sake men honor gold as more powerful than anything else;
and through the value you bestow on them, o queen, ships contending on the sea and yoked teams of horses in swift-whirling contests become marvels.
And in athletic contests, someone who has wreathed his hair with many garlands has achieved longed-for fame, when he has been victorious with his hands
or with the swiftness of his feet. But the valor of men is judged by gods, and there are only two things that cultivate the sweetest flower of life in blossoming prosperity:
to have good fortune and a noble reputation. Do not seek to become Zeus; you have everything,
if a share of these fine things comes to you. Mortal aims befit mortal men. But for you, Phylacidas, flourishing twofold excellence is recorded at the Isthmus, and at Nemea
for both you and Pytheas in the pancratium. But my heart
cannot taste songs without telling of the race of Aeacus. I have come with the Graces for the sons of Lampon
to this well-governed city. If Aegina turns her steps to the clear road of god-given deeds, then do not grudge
to mix for her in song a boast that is fitting recompense for toils. In heroic times, too, fine warriors gained fame, and they are celebrated with lyres and flutes in full-voiced harmonies
for time beyond reckoning. Heroes who are honored by the grace of Zeus provide a theme for skilled poets:
among the Aetolians the brave sons of Oeneus are worshipped with shining sacrifices; in Thebes
the horseman Iolaus has his honor, and Perseus in Argos
, and the spearman Castor together with Polydeuces by the streams of Eurotas.
But in Oenone the honors belong to the great-hearted spirits
of Aeacus and his sons. Twice in battles they sacked the city of the Trojans: the first time following Heracles, the second time the sons of Atreus. Now, drive me into the air! Tell me, who killed Cycnus, and who Hector,
and the fearless commander of the Ethiopians, bronze-armed Memnon? Who wounded noble Telephus with his spear by the banks of Caïcus?
Men whose voices name the outstanding island of Aegina as their fatherland, built long ago
as a tower for lofty excellence to ascend. My swift tongue has many arrows, to shout the praises of these heroes. And now the city of Aias, Salamis, could testify that she was saved by her sailors in Ares' confrontation
in the destructive storm sent by Zeus,
when slaughter poured like hail on countless men. Nevertheless, quench this boast in silence. Zeus dispenses both good and bad, Zeus the master of all. But such honors as these also welcome the joy of triumph, covered with the delicious honey of song. Let a man strive and contend
in the games when he has learned from the race of Cleonicus. The long toil of their men is not hidden in blind darkness, nor has thought of the expense fretted away their devotion to their hopes. I praise Pytheas also among limb-subduing pancratiasts,
skillful with his hands in guiding straight the course of Phylacidas' blows, and with a mind to match. Take a garland for him, and bring him a fillet of fine wool, and send along this winged new song.