For Epharmostus of Opus
466 B. C.
The resounding strain of Archilochus, the swelling thrice-repeated song of triumph, sufficed to lead Epharmostus to the hill of Cronus, in victory-procession with his dear companions.
But now, from the bow of the Muses who, shooting from afar, send a shower of such arrows of song as these on Zeus of the red lightning-bolt and on the sacred height of Elis
, which once the Lydian hero Pelops
won as the very fine dowry of Hippodameia.
And shoot a winged sweet arrow to Pytho
; for your words will not fall to the ground, short of the mark, when you trill the lyre in honor of the wrestling of the man from renowned Opus. Praise Opus and her son;
praise her whom Themis and her glorious daughter, the savior Eunomia, have received under their protection; she flourishes with excellence beside your stream, Castalia, and beside the Alpheus. From there the choicest garlands
glorify the famous mother-city of the Locrians with her splendid trees.
I am lighting up that dear city with fiery songs, and more swiftly than a spirited horse or a winged ship
I will send that message everywhere, so surely as I, by some destined skill, am cultivating the exquisite garden of the Graces; for they are the givers of delight, but men become brave and skillful by divine will.
how could Heracles have wielded his club against the trident, when Poseidon took his stand to guard Pylos
, and pressed him hard, and Phoebus pressed him hard, attacking with his silver bow; nor did Hades keep his staff unmoved, with which he leads mortal bodies down to the hollow path
of the dead. My mouth, fling this story away from me! Since to speak evil of the gods is a hateful skill, and untimely boasting
is in harmony with madness.
Do not babble of such things now. Keep war and all battles apart from the immortals. But lend your tongue to the city of Protogeneia, where, by the ordinance of Zeus with the flashing thunderbolt, Pyrrha
and Deucalion came down from Parnassus
and made their first home, and without the marriage-bed
they founded a unified race of stone offspring, and the stones
gave the people their name1
. Arouse for them a clear-sounding path 2
of song; praise wine that is old, but praise the flowers of songs
that are new. They tell, indeed,
how the strength of the waters overwhelmed the dark earth; but by the skills of Zeus the ebbing tide suddenly drained off the flood. From these were descended your ancestors with their bronze shields,
young men sprung from the beginning from the stock of the daughters of Iapetus and from the powerful sons of Cronus, always a native line of kings,
until the ruler of Olympus
carried off the daughter of Opus from the land of the Epeians, and lay with her peacefully in the glens of Mount Maenalus, and brought her
to Locrus, so that age would not overtake him and lay the burden of childlessness on him. His bride was carrying in her womb the seed of the greatest god, and the hero rejoiced to see his adopted son, and gave him the same name as his mother's father, Opus,
a man beyond words in beauty and fine deeds. Locrus gave him a city and a people to govern,
and strangers came to him from Argos
, from Arcadia
. But among the settlers he chiefly honored the son of Actor
and Aegina, Menoetius, whose son went with the Atreidae to the plain of Teuthras, and stood alone beside Achilles, when Telephus turned to flight the mighty Danaans, and attacked their ships beside the sea, to reveal to a man of understanding
the powerful mind of Patroclus. From that time forward, the son of Thetis exhorted him in deadly war
never to post himself far from his own man-subduing spear.
May I be a suitable finder of words as I move onward in the Muses' chariot; may boldness and all-embracing power attend me. Because of his friendship with my people and his excellence, I went to honor the Isthmian crowning of Lampromachus, when both he and Epharmostus were victors
on a single day. And then there were two other joyous victories at the gates of Corinth
, and others won by Epharmostus in the vale of Nemea
; and at Argos
he won glory in a contest of men, and as a boy at Athens
. And at Marathon, when he was barred from competing with the beardless youths,
how he endured the contest for silver cups among the older men! Having subdued those men by the trick of quickly shifting balance without falling, with what a roar of applause did he pass through the ring, in his prime, and handsome, and having accomplished the finest deeds.
Again, among the Parrhasian people he was marvellous to look at, at the festival of Lycaean Zeus, and when at Pellana he carried off as his prize a warm remedy against chilly winds. The tomb of Iolaus bears witness for him, and also Eleusis
by the sea, for his splendid achievements.
That which is inborn is always the best; but many men strive to win glory with excellence that comes from training. Anything in which a god has no part is none the worse for being quelled in silence. For some roads
lead farther than others, and a single occupation will not nourish us all. The paths to skill are steep; but, while offering this prize of song, boldly shout aloud
that this man, by the blessing of the gods, was born with deftness of hand and litheness of limb, and with valor in his eyes; and at the banquet of Aias son of Oileus he laid his victorious garland on the altar.