For Alcimidas of Aegina
?465 B. C.
There is one race of men, one race of gods; and from a single mother we both draw our breath. But all allotted power divides us: man is nothing, but for the gods the bronze sky endures as a secure home forever. Nevertheless, we bear some resemblance to the immortals, either in greatness
of mind or in nature, although we do not know, by day or by night, towards what goal fortune has written that we should run.
Even now Alcimidas gives visible proof that his hereditary qualities are like the fruitful fields, which, in alternation,
at one time give men yearly sustenance from the plains, and at another time gather strength from repose. He has come from the lovely games of Nemea
, the athletic boy who, pursuing this ordinance of Zeus, has shown that he is a successful hunter in the wrestling ring,
by planting his step in the tracks of his grandfather, his blood-relative. For that man, an Olympic victor, was the first to bring garlands from the Alpheus to the Aeacidae; and he had himself crowned five times at the Isthmus,
and three times at Nemea
, putting an end to the obscurity of Socleides, who proved to be the greatest of the sons of Hagesimachus,
since he had three victorious sons who reached the summit of excellence,
and who had a taste of toils. With the favorable fortune of the gods, no other family has been proclaimed by the boxing contest in the center of all Greece
as the guardian of more garlands. I hope, with this great praise, to hit the target squarely, like one who shoots from a bow. Come, Muse, give a straight course to the glorious wind of song for this man.
For when men pass away
songs and stories preserve their fine deeds for them, and there is no shortage of these in the house of the Bassids. Their race has long been famous, carrying a cargo of their own victory songs; for those who plough the field of the Pierian Muses, they are able to provide a rich supply of songs, because of their proud achievements.
In very holy Pytho
the blood of this family was once victorious, his hands bound with leather straps—Callias, who had found favor with
the children of Leto of the golden distaff, and beside Castalia at evening he was made radiant by the loud chorus of the Graces.
And the bridge of the untiring sea1
honored Creontidas in the biennial festival of those who live around, when bulls are slain in the sacred precinct of Poseidon. And the herb of the Nemean lion once
crowned him when he was victorious beneath the shady primeval mountains of Phlius.
There are broad avenues open on every side for storytellers to adorn this glorious island, since the Aeacids provided them by example with an outstanding share of great excellence.
Their name flies far, over the land and across the sea. It even reached the Ethiopians, when Memnon did not return to his home; Achilles descended from his chariot and fell upon2
them, a grievous antagonist,
when he slew the son of the shining Dawn with the edge
of his raging sword. Poets of former times found this highway, and I myself am following them; this is my concern. But the wave that rolls nearest to the ship is said to stir the spirit most of all. I came as a messenger, willingly bearing on my back a double burden,
to proclaim that this twenty-fifth
boast of victory from the games which men call sacred, Alcimidas, has been provided by you for your glorious family. Beside the sacred precinct of the son of Cronus, child, you and Polytimidas were deprived of two Olympic garlands
by a sudden drawing of lots. I would say that Melesias is equal in speed to a dolphin that darts through the salt sea; he is the charioteer who guided your hands and strength.