For Hippocleas of Thessaly
Boys« Double Foot Race
498 B. C.
is prosperous; Thessaly is divinely blessed. Both are ruled by the race of a single ancestor, Heracles, the best in battle. Why do I make this untimely boast? Because Pytho summons me, and Pelinna
and the sons of Aleuas; they want me to present to Hippocleas the glorious voices of men in celebration.
For he is trying his hand at contests, and the gorge of Parnassus
proclaimed him to the people that live around as the greatest of the boys in the double-course footrace.
Apollo, the end and the beginning both grow sweet when a god urges on a man«s work. No doubt he accomplished this with the help of your counsels. Kinship has stepped into the footprints of the father,
who was twice an Olympic victor in the war-enduring armor of Ares;
and the contest in the deep meadow that stretches beneath the rock of Cirrha
made Phricias victorious in the race. May a good fate follow them in their future days as well, so that their noble wealth will blossom;
having received no small share of the delights of Greece
, may they encounter no envious reversals at the hands of the gods. A god«s heart should be free from pain; but a man is considered fortunate, and wise poets sing his praises, if he wins victory with his hands or the excellence of his feet, and takes the greatest prizes through his courage and strength,
and lives to see his young son duly winning Pythian garlands. He can never set foot in the bronze heavens; but whatever splendor we mortals can attain, he reaches the limit of that voyage. Neither by ship nor on foot could you find
the marvellous road to the meeting-place of the Hyperboreans—
Once Perseus, the leader of his people, entered their homes and feasted among them, when he found them sacrificing glorious hecatombs of donkeys to the god. In the festivities of those people
and in their praises Apollo rejoices most, and he laughs when he sees the erect arrogance of the beasts.
The Muse is not absent from their customs; all around swirl the dances of girls, the lyre«s loud chords and the cries of flutes.
They wreathe their hair with golden laurel branches and revel joyfully. No sickness or ruinous old age is mixed into that sacred race; without toil or battles
they live without fear of strict Nemesis. Breathing boldness of spirit
once the son of Danae went to that gathering of blessed men, and Athena led him there. He killed the Gorgon, and came back bringing stony death to the islanders, the head that shimmered with hair made of serpents. To me
nothing that the gods accomplish ever appears
unbelievable, however miraculous. Hold the oar! Quick, let the anchor down from the prow to touch the bottom, to protect us from the rocky reef. The choicest hymn of praise flits from theme to theme, like a bee.
And I hope that, while the Ephyreans pour forth my sweet voice beside the Peneius, with my songs I will make Hippocleas even more admired for his garlands by boys his age and by his elders, and I will make the girls think of him. For
people«s minds are tickled by various desires;
but whatever each man strives for, let him hold on to it eagerly if he gets it, the concern that is close at hand. It is impossible to foresee what will happen a year from now. I trust in the gentle friendship of Thorax; he made busy efforts for my sake,
and yoked this four-horse chariot of the Pierian Muses, a friend for a friend, going gladly arm in arm.
Gold shows its nature when it is tried by the touchstone, and so does a right-thinking mind. We shall further praise his noble brothers, because
they exalt and strengthen the traditional laws of the Thessaliaaans; the good piloting of states, handed from father to son, rests in the hands of noble men.