previous next

Kamarina was founded by the Syracusans, 599 B.C., one hundred and thirty-five years after Syracuse itself. Destroyed by Syracuse in consequence of a revolt, it was some time afterwards restored by Hippokrates. Again stripped of its inhabitants by Gelon, it was rebuilt once more by men of Gela, Ol. 79, 4 (461 B.C.). The proverb μὴ κίνει Καμάριναν: ἀκίνητος γὰρ ἀμείνων is supposed to refer to the unhealthy situation of the city, but Lobeck reads καμάριναν, cloacam.

Of Psaumis we know absolutely nothing, except what Pindar is pleased to tell us in this ode and the next. Both odes are supposed to refer to the same victory, ἀπήνῃ, that is, with a mule chariot. The MSS. have in the superscription ἅρματι or ἵπποις: ἀπήνῃ is due to Böckh's combinations. This gives us a terminus. The mule-race was done away with, Ol. 84 (444 B.C.). Böckh puts Psaumis's victory Ol. 82 (452 B.C.), and maintains that the victor had failed in the four-horse chariot race, and in the race with the single horse (κέλητι). The ἀπήνῃ victory then was a consolation, and there seems to be a note of disappointment in the rhythm.

According to Böckh the ode was sung in Olympia; according to Leopold Schmidt in Kamarina. The latter view seems to be the more probable. The fourth ode was sung in the festal procession, the fifth, the genuineness of which has been disputed, at the banquet.

The key of this brief poem is given, v. 16: διάπειρά τοι βροτῶν ἔλεγχος. The final test is the true test. Success may be slow in coming, but when it comes it reveals the man. The thunderchariot of Zeus is an unwearied chariot. What though his Horai revolve and revolve ere they bring the witness of the lofty contest? Good fortune dawns, and then comes gratulation forthwith. The light comes late, but it is a light that shines from the chariot of a man who hastens to bring glory to Kamarina. Well may we pray, “God speed his other wishes.” Well may we praise the man — liberal, hospitable, pure-souled, lover of peace, lover of his state. No falsehood shall stain this record of a noble life. The final trial is the test of mortals.

So, by trial, Erginos, the Argonaut, was saved from the reproach of the Lemnian women. Unsuccessful before, he won the race in armor, and said to Hypsipyle as he went after the crown: “This is what I am in swiftness. My hands and heart fully match my feet. The race is for the young, but I am younger than my seeming. Gray hairs grow often on young men before the time. The final trial is the test of mortals.”

Psaumis had every virtue but success; now this is added. So Erginos was a man of might, of courage; now he has shown his speed.

The logaoedic rhythms are handled so as to produce a peculiar effect. Prolongation is frequent (3 for -u), and the result is a half-querulous, half-mocking tone. The lively Aiolian mood is tempered by the plaintive Lydian. Psaumis is only half satisfied, after all, and his enemies are not wholly confounded.

The triad distributes itself fairly into prayer, praise, and story.


ἐλατὴρ ὑπέρτατε βροντᾶς ἀκαμαντόποδος Ζεῦ: Plat. Phaidr. 246 E: μὲν δὴ μέγας ἡγεμὼν ἐν οὐρανῷ Ζεὺς πτηνὸν ἅρμα ἐλαύνων πρῶτος πορεύεται” , which πτηνὸν ἅρμα becomes a stock quotation in later Greek. Compare

per purum tonantes
egit equos volucremque currum.

ἀκαμαντόποδος: O. 3.3; 5, 3.

τεαὶ γὰρ ὧραι: γάρ gives the reason of the invocation. The Horai, originally but two, Καρπώ and Θαλλώ (Paus. 9, 35, 2), are the daughters of Zeus and Themis; they who in their steady course — Ὧραι being from √ja, “go” — bring things at their season. It has taken time for Psaumis's success to ripen.

ὑπὸ . . . ἀοιδᾶς: Compare O. 7.13: ὑπ᾽ ἀμφοτέρων (φόρμιγγος καὶ αὐλῶν) κατέβαν.

ποικιλοφόρμιγγος: Cf. O. 3.8: φόρμιγγα ποικιλόγαρυν, N. 4.14: ποικίλον κιθαρίζων.

ἑλισσόμεναι: “In their circling dance.”

ἔπεμψαν . . . μάρτυρα: It is deplorable literalism to suppose that P. actually went and bore witness to the contests. See N. 1.19: ἔσταν δ᾽ ἐπ᾽ αὐλείαις θύραις. The poet is said to go whithersoever his song goes. Compare N. 5.3: στεῖχ᾽ ἀπ᾽ Αἰγίνας, διαγγέλλοισ᾽ ὅτι, κτἑ.; also I. 2, 46.

μάρτυρα = ὑμνητήν (Schol.).

ξείνων . . . εὖ πρασσόντων, κτἑ.: The only possible meaning for ξείνων forces us to take ἔσαναν in a good sense, which is otherwise strange to P. See P. 1.52; 2, 82. The figure was not so coarse to the Greek as it is to us. So. O. C. 320:φαιδρὰ γοῦν ἀπ᾽ ὀμμάτων σαίνει με προσστείχουσα” . We can hardly make poetry of Horace's “leniter atterens caudam.ξείνων refers to Psaumis and ἐσλοί to Pindar. “When friends fare well, forthwith the heart of the noble leaps up to greet the sweet tidings.” Some make the passage ironical.

ἀλλ᾽ Κρόνου παῖ: Resumption of the address. Cf. O. 8, init.: Μᾶτερ . . . Οὐλυμπία . . . ἀλλ᾽ Πίσας.

Αἴτναν . . . ὀβρίμου gives the repressive, as ἐλατὴρ . . . Ζεῦ the aggressive, side of Zeus's power. Compare also O. 6.96: Ζηνὸς Αἰτναίου κράτος.

ἶπον: A trivial word (almost = “dead - fall”), ennobled like “canopy” (κωνωπεῖον).

ἀνεμόεσσαν: Od. 9. 400: ἄκριας ἠνεμοέσσας.

Τυφῶνος: P. 1.16.

Οὐλυμπιονίκαν . . . κῶμον: O. 3.3: Ὀλυμπιονίκαν ὕμνον.

Χαρίτων: N. 6.42: Χαρίτων | ἑσπέριος ὁμάδῳ φλέγεν, and 9, 54: εὔχομαι ταύταν ἀρετὰν κελαδῆσαι σὺν Χαρίτεσσιν. The fourth of the βωμοὶ ἕξ δίδυμοι, O. 5.5, was dedicated to Χάριτες καὶ Διόνυσος. Compare O. 2.55, and remember also the enmity between Typhon (θεῶν πολέμιος, P. 1.15) and the Graces.


χρονιώτατον: The Horai have not hastened. Hence χ., “late” with Mezger, not “lasting.”

Ψαύμιος . . . ὀχέων: It is not necessary to supply ὤν nor to make ὀχέων the ablatival genitive ἵκει is only an ἐστί in motion. “'Tis Psaumis's that has come, his chariot's” (revel song of victory). ὀχ. prevalently of an ἀπήνη (Schol., O. 6.24).

σπεύδει: Psaumis's own eagerness is brought into contrast with the deliberateness of the Horai.

λοιπαῖς εὐχαῖς: A mild personification after the Homeric Λιταί, Il. 9. 502.

μὲν . . . τε: μὲν . . . δέ balances, τε . . . τε parallels, μὲν . . . τε shifts from balance to parallel. Cf. O. 3.6; 6, 88; 7, 12. 69; P. 2.31; 4, 249; 6, 39 al. Notice the triple praise in two groups: I. τροφαῖς ἑτοῖμον ἵππων, and II. (1) ξενίαις πανδόκοις, (2) Ἡσυχίαν φιλόπολιν.

Ἡσυχίαν φιλόπολιν: High praise in the disturbed state of Sicily. Personify with Bergk.

οὐ ψεύδεϊ τέγξω: N. 1.18: οὐ ψεύδει βαλών. For other eccentric positions of the negative, see O. 1.81; 2, 34. 69. 106; 3, 23; 7, 48; 8, 79. Here it amounts to, “I will not lie-dye my word.” Cf. also P. 4.99: ἐχθίστοισι μὴ ψεύδεσιν | καταμιάναις εἰπὲ γένναν.

διάπειρά τοι βροτῶν ἔλεγχος: Cf. N. 3.71: ἐν δὲ πείρᾳ τέλος | διαφαίνεται. δια- is “final,” “decisive.”


Κλυμένοιο παῖδα: Erginos, the Argonaut, son of Klymenos (acc. to Apollodoros, 1, 9, 16, 8, son of Poseidon), was ridiculed by the Lemnian women (P. 4.252), on account of his white hair, when he undertook the weapon-race in the funeral games held by Hypsipyle in honor of her father, Thoas. His victory over Zetes and Kalaïs, the swift sons of Boreas, gave the mockers a lesson, not to judge by appearance, but to judge righteous judgment (after the Schol.). According to Pausanias, 9, 37, 4, Erginos, son of Klymenos, late in life consulted the oracle as to the propriety of marriage with a view to offspring, and received the answer: Ἐργῖνε Κλυμένοιο πάι Πρεσβωνιάδαο, | ὄψ᾽ ἦλθες γενεὴν διζήμενος ἀλλ᾽ ἔτι καὶ νῦν | ἱστοβοῆι γέροντι νέην ποτίβαλλε κορώνην. The sequel showed that his natural force was not abated, and this gives point to Erginos's reply to the taunt of the Lemnian women.

ἔλυσεν ἐξ ἀτιμίας: Concrete power of the preposition. So I. 7 (8), 6: ἐκ πενθέων λυθέντες. λ. without a preposition in P. 3.50: λύσαις . . . ἀχέων, where, however, ἔξαγεν is sufficiently plastic.

χαλκέοισι δ᾽ ἐν ἔντεσιν: Compare P. 9, init.: A game usu. at funerals.

νικῶν δρόμον: O. 13.30.

Ὑψιπυλείᾳ: See Ovid's Heroides VI. and Chaucer's Legend of Good Women.

στέφανον: The prize was raiment (ϝεσθᾶτος ἀμφίς, P. 4.253). The wreath was given besides, I. 1, 18 foll.

Οὗτος: Tauntingly: “You see.” Kayser, Rauchenstein, and others punctuate οὗτος ἐγώ: ταχυτᾶτι χεῖρες δὲ καὶ ἦτορ ἴσον, the position of δέ as O. 10 (11), 76. 109; P. 4.228. But we should lose dramatic power by this. Erginos is slightly out of breath.

χεῖρες: The hands and feet show the first symptoms of age, Hesiod, O. et D. 114. The feet give way before the hands. Notice the scene between Euryalos and Odysseus in Od. 8. 147 foll., and especially where Odysseus shows some concern about his running. For jubilant assertion of the power of old age in boxing (χεῖρες), see Aristoph. Vesp. 1383. If the feet are all right, then the rest follows a fortiori.

ἴσον: “Are a match” (to say the least).

φύονται: Erginos is still speaking.

πολιαί: An allusion to the gray hairs of Psaumis, who is supposed to have been an ὠμογέρων, if a γέρων at all, is an unnecessary hypothesis of the mechanical order.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide References (22 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (22):
    • Aristophanes, Wasps, 1383
    • Homer, Iliad, 9.502
    • Homer, Odyssey, 8.147
    • Homer, Odyssey, 9.400
    • Pindar, Nemean, 1
    • Pindar, Nemean, 3
    • Pindar, Nemean, 4
    • Pindar, Nemean, 5
    • Pindar, Nemean, 6
    • Pindar, Olympian, 1
    • Pindar, Olympian, 13
    • Pindar, Olympian, 2
    • Pindar, Olympian, 3
    • Pindar, Olympian, 5
    • Pindar, Olympian, 6
    • Pindar, Olympian, 7
    • Pindar, Pythian, 1
    • Pindar, Pythian, 2
    • Pindar, Pythian, 3
    • Plato, Phaedrus, 246e
    • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 320
    • Pindar, Pythian, 4
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: