For Alcimedon of Aegina
460 B. C.
Mother of golden-crowned contests, Olympia
, queen of truth! where prophets, judging from burnt sacrifices, inquire of Zeus of the flashing thunderbolt, if he has any message to give concerning men
whose spirits are seeking to attain great excellence and a breathing-space from toils.
Accomplishment is granted to the prayers of men in gratitude for their piety. Well-wooded grove of Pisa
beside the Alpheus,
welcome this victory-procession and the garland we bring to the victor; the man who is attended by your splendid prize of honor has great glory forever. Some good things come to one man, some to another; with the favor of the gods, there are many paths of success.
Timosthenes, fortune has allotted you and your brother to the care of your ancestor Zeus, who made you renowned at Nemea
, and made Alcimedon an Olympic victor beside the hill of Cronus. He was beautiful to look at, and his deeds did not belie his beauty
when by his victory in wrestling he had Aegina with her long oars proclaimed as his fatherland. There the savior Themis, seated beside Zeus the god of hospitality, is honored
more than among all other men. For when there is a heavy weight in the balance that sways many ways, to judge with a straight mind and not inopportunely
is a difficult struggle. But some ordinance of the immortals set up as a divine pillar for visitors of all kinds this sea-girt land—and may the dawning time to come never tire of fulfilling this—
guarded by the Dorian people since the time of Aeacus, whom wide-ruling Poseidon and the son of Leto, when they were about to build the crown of walls to encircle Ilium
, summoned as a fellow worker; for it was fated that when war arose,
in the city-destroying battles, that wall would breathe forth ravening smoke.
And three gray-green serpents, when the wall was newly built, tried to leap into it; two of them fell down, stunned, and gave up their lives,
and the third leapt up with a cry. Pondering this adverse omen, Apollo said right away: “Pergamos
is taken, hero, through the works of your hands—so says a vision sent to me from the son of Cronus, loud-thundering Zeus—
not without your sons: the city will be destroyed 1
with the first generation, and with the third.”2
The god spoke clearly, and then hurried on his way, driving to Xanthus
, and to the Amazons with their fine horses, and to the Danube
. And the wielder of the trident drove his swift chariot to the sea-washed Isthmus,
bringing Aeacus here on his golden horses,
and going to see the ridge of Corinth
, famous for its feasts. But nothing can be equally delightful to all men. If I have, in my song, exalted the glory of Melesias for his training of beardless youths,
let envy not strike me with a rough stone. For I will tell how he himself won the same grace at Nemea
, and later, among men, in the battle
of the pancratium. To teach
is easier for one who has knowledge himself. And it is foolish not to learn in advance; for the minds of those with no experience are insubstantial. Melesias, beyond all others, could speak of those deeds: what manner of training will advance a man who is going to win the most longed-for glory from the sacred games.
Now it is his honor that his thirtieth victory has been won for him by Alcimedon,
who, with divine good fortune, yet without falling short in his own manliness, thrust off from himself and onto the four limbs of other boys a hateful homecoming with contemptuous talk and a secret way back,
and breathed into his father's father the force that wrestles off old age. Hades is forgotten by a man with good accomplishments.
But I must awaken memory and tell
of the choicest victory of hands for the Blepsiads, who are now crowned with their sixth garland from the contests flourishing with leaves. Even the dead have a share in rites performed according to law; the dust does not cover
the good grace of their kinsmen.
Having heard the voice of Hermes' daughter, Angelia,3
Iphion might tell Callimachus of the splendid adornment at Olympia
, which Zeus gave to their race. May he be willing to grant noble deeds upon noble
deeds, and to ward off bitter diseases. I pray that, for the share of fine things allotted to them, Zeus may not cause the mind of Nemesis to waver; rather, may he grant a painless life, and thus give new growth to themselves and their city.