For Telesicrates of Cyrene
474 B. C.
With the help of the deep-waisted Graces I want to shout aloud proclaiming the Pythian victory with the bronze shield of Telesicrates, a prosperous man, the crowning glory of chariot-driving Cyrene;
the long-haired son of Leto once snatched her from the wind-echoing glens of Mt. Pelion, and carried the girl of the wilds in his golden chariot to a place where he made her mistress of a land rich in flocks and most rich in fruits, to live and flourish on the root of the third continent.
Silver-footed Aphrodite welcomed
the Delian guest from his chariot, touching him with a light hand, and she cast lovely modesty on their sweet union, joining together in a common bond of marriage the god and the daughter of wide-ruling Hypseus. He was at that time king of the proud Lapiths, a hero of the second generation from Oceanus;
in the renowned glens of Mt. Pindus a Naiad bore him, Creusa the daughter of Gaia, delighting in the bed of the river-god Peneius.
And Hypseus raised his lovely-armed daughter Cyrene. She did not care for pacing back and forth at the loom, nor for the delights of luncheons with her stay-at-home companions;
instead, fighting with bronze javelins and with a sword, she killed wild beasts, providing great restful peace for her father's cattle; but as for her sweet bed-fellow, sleep,
she spent only a little of it on her eyelids as it fell on them towards dawn.
Once the god of the broad quiver, Apollo who works from afar, came upon her wrestling alone and without spears with a terrible lion. Immediately he called Cheiron from out of his halls and spoke to him:
“Leave your sacred cave, son of Philyra, and marvel at the spirit and great strength of this woman; look at what a struggle she is engaged in, with a fearless head, this young girl with a heart more than equal to any toil; her mind is not shaken with the cold wind of fear. From what mortal was she born? From what stock has this cutting been taken,
that she should be living in the hollows of the shady mountains
and putting to the test her boundless valor?1
Is it lawful to lay my renowned hand on her? And to cut the honey-sweet grass of her bed?” And the powerful Centaur, laughing softly with a gentle brow, right away gave his wise advice in reply: “Hidden are skilled Persuasion's keys to holy love,
Phoebus, and both gods and men blush to take the pleasure of a bed for the first time openly.
For even in your case, for whom it is unlawful to touch on falsehood, a gentle impulse has swayed you to dissemble your words. You ask me from what race the girl comes, lord Apollo? You who know the appointed end of all things,
and all the paths that lead to them? And how many leaves the earth puts forth in spring, and how many grains of sand in the sea and in rivers are dashed by the waves and the gusting winds; and that which will be, and from where it will come, all this you clearly see.
But if I must match myself even against one who is wise,
I will speak. You came to this glen to be her husband, and you will bear her over the sea to the choicest garden of Zeus, where you will make her the ruler of a city, when you have gathered the island-people
to the hill encircled by plains. And now queen Libya
of the broad meadows will gladly welcome your glorious bride in her golden halls. There she will right away give her a portion of land to flourish with her as her lawful possession, not without tribute of all kinds of fruit, nor unfamiliar with wild animals.
There she will bear a child, whom famous Hermes
will take from beneath his own dear mother and carry to the Seasons on their lovely thrones and to Gaia. They will admire2
the baby on their knees and drop nectar and ambrosia on his lips, and they will make him immortal, to be called Zeus and holy Apollo, a delight to men he loves, an ever-present guardian of flocks,
Agreus and Nomius, and others will call him Aristaeus.” Having spoken thus, Cheiron urged the god to fulfill the delightful consummation of his marriage.
Accomplishment is swift when the gods are already hurrying, and the roads are short. That very day decided the matter. They lay together in the bedchamber of Libya
, rich in gold, where she possesses a most beautiful city
which is renowned for victories in contests. And now in very holy Pytho
, where by his victory he had Cyrene proclaimed, the son of Carneiades brought lovely, flourishing good fortune to her; she will welcome him graciously, when he brings back home to the land of beautiful women
desirable fame from Delphi
Great excellence can always inspire many stories; but to embroider a short account from a lengthy theme is what wise men love to hear. Right proportion in the same way contains the gist of the whole; as seven-gated Thebes
once knew well,
Telesicrates was not dishonored by Iolaus; when he had cut off the head of Eurystheus with the edge of his sword, he was buried below the earth by the tomb of the charioteer Amphitryon, his father's father, where he lay as the guest of the Sown Men, having come to dwell in the streets of the Cadmeans, who ride on white horses.
Wise Alcmena lay with Amphitryon and with Zeus, and bore
in a single birth twin sons, strong and victorious in battle. Only a mute man does not have Heracles' name on his lips, and does not always remember the waters of Dirce, which reared him and Iphicles. To them I will sing a victory-song for the fulfillment of my prayer;
may the pure light of the clear-voiced Graces not desert me. For I say that I have praised this city three times, in Aegina
and on the hill of Nisus,
truly escaping silent helplessness. Therefore, whether a man is friendly or hostile among the citizens, let him not obscure a thing that is done well for the common good and so dishonor the precept of the old man of the sea,
who said to praise with all your spirit, and with justice, even an enemy when he accomplishes fine deeds. The women saw your many victories at the seasonal rites of Pallas, and each silently prayed that you could be her dear husband,
Telesicrates, or her son;
and in the Attic Olympia too, and in the contests of deep-bosomed Mother Earth
, and in all your local games. But while I am quenching my thirst for song, someone exacts an unpaid debt from me, to awake again
the ancient glory of his ancestors as well: for the sake of a Libyan woman they went to the city of Irasa, as suitors of the very famous daughter of Antaeus with the beautiful hair. Many excellent kinsmen sought her, and many strangers too, since her beauty was marvellous.
to pluck the flowering fruit of golden-crowned Youth. But her father, cultivating for his daughter a more renowned marriage, heard how Danaus once in Argos
had found for his forty-eight daughters, before noon overtook them, a very swift marriage. For right away he stood the whole band of suitors at the end of a course,
and told them to decide with a footrace which of the heroes, who came to be bridegrooms, would take which bride.
The Libyan too made such an offer in joining his daughter with a husband. He placed her at the goal, when he had arrayed her as the crowning prize, and in their midst he announced that that man should lead her to his home, whoever was the first to leap forward
and touch her robes. There Alexidamus, when he had sped to the front of the swift race, took the noble girl's hand in his hand and led her through the crowd of Nomad horsemen. They cast on that man many leaves and garlands,
and before he had received many wings for his victories.