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Pythian 2
For Hieron of Syracuse Chariot Race ?470 or 468

1Great city of Syracuse! Sacred precinct of Ares, plunged deep in war! Divine nurse of men and horses who rejoice in steel! For you I come from splendid Thebes bringing this song, a message of the earth-shaking four-horse race [5] in which Hieron with his fine chariot won the victory, and so crowned Ortygia with far-shining garlands—Ortygia, home of Artemis the river-goddess: not without her help did Hieron master with his gentle hands the horses with embroidered reins. For the virgin goddess who showers arrows [10] and Hermes the god of contests present the gleaming reins to him with both hands when he yokes the strength of his horses to the polished car, to the chariot that obeys the bit, and calls on the wide-ruling god who wields the trident. Other kings have other men to pay them the tribute of melodious song, the recompense for excellence. [15] The voices of the men of Cyprus often shout the name of Cinyras, whom golden-haired Apollo gladly loved, Cinyras, the obedient priest of Aphrodite. Reverent gratitude is a recompense for friendly deeds. And you, son of Deinomenes, the West Locrian girl invokes you, standing outside her door: out of the helpless troubles of war, [20] through your power she looks at the world in security. They say that by the commands of the gods Ixion spins round and round on his feathered wheel, saying this to mortals: “Repay your benefactor frequently with gentle favors in return.” [25] He learned a clear lesson. For although he received a sweet life among the gracious children of Cronus, he did not abide his prosperity for long, when in his madness of spirit he desired Hera, who was allotted to the joyful bed of Zeus. But his arrogance drove him to extreme delusion; and soon the man suffered a suitable [30] exquisite punishment. Both of his crimes brought him toil in the end. First, he was the hero who, not without guile, was the first to stain mortal men with kindred blood; second, in the vast recesses of that bridal chamber he once made an attempt on the wife of Zeus. A man must always measure all things according to his own place. [35] Unnatural lust throws men into dense trouble; it befell even him, since the man in his ignorance chased a sweet fake and lay with a cloud, for its form was like the supreme celestial goddess, the daughter of Cronus. The hands of Zeus set it as a trap for him, [40] a beautiful misery. Ixion brought upon himself the four-spoked fetter, his own ruin. He fell into inescapable bonds, and received the message that warns the whole world. She bore to him, without the blessing of the Graces, a monstrous offspring—there was never a mother or a son like this—honored neither by men nor by the laws of the gods. She raised him and named him Centaurus, [45] and he mated with the Magnesian mares in the foothills of Pelion, and from them was born a marvelous horde, which resembled both its parents: like the mother below, the father above. The gods accomplish everything according to their wishes; [50] the gods, who overtake even the flying eagle and outstrip the dolphin in the sea, and bend down many a man who is overly ambitious, while to others they give unaging glory. For my part, I must avoid the aggressive bite of slander. For I have seen, long before me, [55] abusive Archilochus often in a helpless state, fattening himself with strong words and hatred. But to be rich by the grace of fortune is the best part of skillful wisdom. And you clearly have this blessing, and can display it with a generous mind, ruler and leader of many garland-crowned streets and a great army. When wealth and influence are in question, [60] anyone who says that any man in Greece of earlier times surpassed you has a soft mind that flails around in vain. But I shall ascend a ship covered with flowers, and sing the praises of excellence. Boldness helps youth in terrible wars; and so I say that you too have found boundless fame [65] by fighting among both horsemen and foot soldiers. And your wisdom beyond your years provides me with praise of you that cannot be challenged in any detail. Greetings! This song, like Phoenician merchandise, is sent to you over the gray sea: look kindly on the Castor-song, composed in Aeolian strains; [70] come and greet the gracious offering of the seven-toned lyre. Learn and become who you are. To children, you know, an ape is pretty, always pretty. But Rhadamanthys has prospered, because his allotted portion was the blameless fruit of intelligence, and he does not delight his inner spirit with deceptions, [75] the kind that always follow a man because of the schemes of whisperers. Those who mutter slander are an evil that makes both sides helpless; they are utterly like foxes in their temper. But what does the fox really gain by outfoxing? For while the rest of the tackle labors in the depths, [80] I am unsinkable, like a cork above the surface of the salt sea.2 A crafty citizen is unable to speak a compelling word among noble men; and yet he fawns on everyone, weaving complete destruction.3 I do not share his boldness. Let me be a friend to my friend; but I will be an enemy to my enemy, and pounce on him like a wolf, [85] treading every crooked path. Under every type of law the man who speaks straightforwardly prospers: in a tyranny, and where the raucous masses oversee the state, and where men of skill do. One must not fight against a god, who raises up some men's fortunes at one time, and at another gives great glory to others. But even this [90] does not comfort the minds of the envious; they pull the line too tight and plant a painful wound in their own heart before they get what they are scheming for. It is best to take the yoke on one's neck and bear it lightly; kicking against the goad [95] makes the path treacherous. I hope that I may associate with noble men and please them.

1 The date and occasion are uncertain and controversial. For a discussion of the possibilities see e.g. H. Lloyd-Jones, “Modern Interpretation of Pindar: the Second Pythian and Seventh Nemean Odes,” JHS 93 (1973) 109-37, and C. Carey, A Commentary on Five Odes of Pindar (New York 1981), p. 21.

2 With Snell the comma is omitted between ἕρκος and ἅλμας.

3 Reading with Snell ἄταν for ἀγὰν.

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  • Commentary references to this page (48):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus Tyrannus, 1-150
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus Tyrannus, 151-215
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus Tyrannus, 513-862
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus Tyrannus, 863-910
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus at Colonus, 230
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus at Colonus, 407
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Antigone, 1272
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Antigone, 643
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Antigone, 8
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Ajax, 148
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Ajax, 298
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Ajax, 699
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Electra, 569
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Philoctetes, 343
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Philoctetes, 677
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Trachiniae, 1094
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Trachiniae, 936
    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 3.113
    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 7.153
    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 7.164
    • Thomas W. Allen, E. E. Sikes, Commentary on the Homeric Hymns, HYMN TO APOLLO
    • T. G. Tucker, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 8, 8.83
    • Walter Leaf, Commentary on the Iliad (1900), 19.99
    • Walter Leaf, Commentary on the Iliad (1900), 1.530
    • Walter Leaf, Commentary on the Iliad (1900), 3.196
    • Walter Leaf, Commentary on the Iliad (1900), 9.414
    • George W. Mooney, Commentary on Apollonius: Argonautica, 3.62
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, 1
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, 10
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, 13
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, 14
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, 2
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, 3
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, 4
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, 6
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, 7
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, 8
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, 9
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, 1
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, 10
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, 11
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, 3
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, 4
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, 5
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, 6
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, 7
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, 8
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, 9
  • Cross-references to this page (6):
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, Pindar's thought
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, His style
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, Meter and form
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, Dialect
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, Syntax
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, Pindar's works
  • Cross-references in notes to this page (3):
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