For Cleandros of Aegina
?478 B. C.
Young men! One of you go, in honor of Cleandros and his youth, to the splendid doorway of his father Telesarchus, and awake the victory-song, glorious recompense for his troubles, as a reward for his victory at the Isthmus, and
because he found strength in the Nemean games. Therefore I too, though grieving in my heart, am asked to invoke the golden Muse. Released from great sorrows, let us not fall into bereavement of garlands; do not nurse your pain. Having ceased from insurmountable troubles, we will sing something sweet for the people, even after toil. Since
one of the gods has turned aside for us the stone of Tantalus above our heads,
an unbearable hardship for Greece. But as for me, the passing away of terror has stopped my mighty worry. It is always better to look at what lies before one's foot, in every case. For a treacherous lifetime hangs over men's heads,
twisting around the path of life. Yet even this may be healed for mortals, if only they have freedom. It is right for a man to take to heart good hope; and it is right for a man raised in seven-gated Thebes to offer the choicest bloom of the Graces to Aegina. For as twin daughters they were born to the same father, the youngest of Asopus' children, and they were pleasing to Zeus the king. He caused one of them to dwell beside the beautiful stream
of Dirce, to lead a chariot-loving city;
but he carried you to the island Oenopia and slept with you there, where you bore Aeacus, the dearest of all men on earth to the loud-thundering father. Aeacus settled disputes even for the gods. His god-like
sons and their sons, devoted to war, were the best in manliness, engaged in the brazen battle-throng that causes groans, and they were wise and prudent in spirit. All this was remembered even by the assembly of the blessed gods, when Zeus and splendid Poseidon contended for marriage with Thetis, each of them wanting her to be his lovely bride; for desire possessed them.
But the immortal minds of the gods did not accomplish that marriage for them,
when they heard the divine prophecies. Wise Themis spoke in their midst and said that it was fated that the sea-goddess should bear a princely son, stronger than his father, who would wield another weapon in his hand more powerful than the thunderbolt
or the irresistible trident, if she lay with Zeus or one of his brothers. “No, cease from this. Let her accept a mortal's bed, and see her son die in battle, a son who is like Ares in the strength of his hands and like lightning in the swift prime of his feet. My counsel is to bestow this god-granted honor of marriage on Peleus son of Aeacus,
who is said to be the most pious man living on the plain of Iolcus.
Let the message be sent at once to Cheiron's immortal cave, right away, and let the daughter of Nereus never again place the leaves of strife in our hands. On the evening of the full moon
let her loosen the lovely bridle of her virginity for that hero.” So the goddess spoke, addressing the sons of Cronus, and they nodded assent with their immortal brows. The fruit of her words did not perish, for they say that Zeus shared the common concern even for the marriage of Thetis. And the voices of poets made known the youthful excellence of Achilles to those who had been unaware of it—Achilles, who
stained the vine-covered plain of Mysia, spattering it with the dark blood of Telephus
and bridged a homecoming for the Atreids, and freed Helen, cutting with his spear the sinews of Troy, which had once tried to keep him from marshalling on the plain the work of man-slaying war—he cut down
the high-spirited strength of Memnon, and Hector, and other excellent heroes. Achilles, champion of the sons of Aeacus, showed them the way to the house of Persephone, and thus brought fame to Aegina and to his race. Even when he was dead songs did not forsake him; beside his pyre and tomb the Muses of Helicon stood, and poured over him the many-voiced dirge. It proved to be the will of the immortals
to make a noble man, even when dead, a theme for the hymns of goddesses;
and even now this brings up a subject for words, and the Muses' chariot rushes forward to shout praises in memory of Nicocles the boxer. Honor him, who won the garland of wild Dorian celery in the Isthmian valley; since
he too was once victorious over all that lived around him, battering them with his inescapable hands. He is not dishonored by the offspring of his father's distinguished brother. Therefore let another young man weave for Cleandros a garland of tender myrtle in honor of the pancratium, since the contest of Alcathous and the young men of Epidaurus welcomed him before in his success. A good man may praise him,
for he did not restrain his youth, keeping it hidden in his pocket1
and ignorant of fine deeds.