Today you must stand beside a man dear to me,
by the king of horsefamed Cyrene,
and joining with Archesilaus in his victory revels, [5]
Muse, swell the breeze of songs
owed to Leto's Twins and to Pytho,
where once the priestess sitting in honor
beside the golden eagles of Zeus,
Apollo now in his land, proclaimed [5]
by oracle that Battos would be founder [10]
of fruitbearing Libya,
so that he'd finally leave the holy
island and plant
a city of fine chariots
on a chalky breast of earth,
[15] and redeem in the seventeenth generation [10]
the word of Medea
which at Thera once Aeëtes' fierce daughter
breathed from immortal lips,
the Colchean queen. [20]
Thus she spoke to the demigods
who sailed with spearman Jason:
"Hear me, you sons
of bold-hearted men and gods:
I say that from this wave-beaten land [25]
the daughter of Epaphus will one day
be planted with the root of other cities, [15]
cities renowned among men,
amid the foundations of Zeus Ammon.
"And, changing short-finned dolphins [30]
for swift horses,
they shall ply reins rather than oars
and drive chariots with stormfoot teams.
That Omen shall make Thera [20]
metropolis of mighty cities, the Omen [35]
which once amid the stream from lake Triton,
Euphemus, descending the prow,
received from a god in human form
who offered him
a guest-gift of earth [40]
—for him father Zeus, son of Kronos,
rang out a peal of auspicious thunder—:
"at the time he met us hoisting against ship [25]
the bronze-fluked anchor,
swift Argo's bridle; [45]
for twelve days before we'd been carrying
the seagoing timber from Ocean
over desolate stretches of land,
having drawn her up at my advice.
Then in that instant all alone [50]
the god approached us,
assuming the glad countenance
of a solicitous man;
and he began with friendly words, [30]
those the charitable host first uses [55]
to offer newly-arrived strangers a meal.
But the plea of our sweet homecoming
checked us staying. He said he was
Eurypylus, son of the immortal
Holder and Shaker of earth; [60]
he knew our haste; swiftly
scooping up a handful of soil [35]
with his right hand, he sought to give us
a chance gift of hospitality;
nor did he refuse it, the hero, but leapt to shore [65]
and, pressing hand with hand,
accepted the divine clod.
But I hear it was washed
overboard one evening
to wander seaward with the salt
[70] [40] waves, following the sinuous waters
of the deep. Often indeed I urged
the attendants, who ease our labor,
to guard it; but they forgot,
and now the imperishable seed [75]
of spacious Libya
is shed on this island before its time.
For had he cast the seed down at home
by Hade's earthfast mouth,
after returning to sacred Tanaeus, Euphemus, [45] [80]
horse-ruling Poseidon's lordly son,
whom Europa, daughter of Tityos,
once bore by the banks of Cephesus,
his blood in the fourth generation after him
would have seized that vast continent [85]
together with the Danaans;
for then will they depart from great Sparta,
from the gulf of Argos and from Mycenae. [50]
Now, however, in the beds of alien women
he shall discover a chosen race [90]
who, by favor of the gods,
will come to this island
and beget a man to be
lord over plains
cloaked in cloudshadow; [95]
and one day Apollo, in his gold-filled house,
will admonish him by oracle,
[55] when at length he enters the Pythian shrine,
to lead a host of men in ships
to the rich precinct of Zeus Ammon by the Nile." [100]
So spoke the ranks of Media's speech,
and they crouched stockstill, in silence,
the godlike heroes
listening to her shrewd counsel.
O fortunate son of Polymnestus, [105]
you it was whom, as this speech foretold, [60]
the oracle of the Delphic Bee
exalted with her spontaneous shout,
she who thrice crying "Hail"
revealed you the predestined [110]
king of Cyrene,
when you were asking what release might come
from the gods for a stammering voice.
After long time, even now, as at the peak
of crimson-flowered spring, [65] [115]
eighth in line from these children blossoms
Archesilaus: to whom Apollo and Pytho
granted glory in the chariot race
from the hands of the Amphictyons.
I shall offer to the Muses [120]
him and the golden fleece of the ram:
for when the Minyans sailed after it,
heaven-sent honors
were planted for them.
[70] What then was the beginning of their voyage, [125]
what danger shackled them with strong spikes of adamant?
It was destined that Pelias die
by the hands of Aeolus' noble sons
or by their relentless designs.
And a prophecy came to him [130]
chilling his crafty heart,
spoken beside the navel-stone
in the middle of treeteeming mother earth: [75]
to mount close guard all round
against the man with one sandal [135]
when he descends from mountain lairs
into the clear-seen land
of famous Iolkos,
whether stranger or citizen. And so in time
he came, a man with two spears, stupendous; [140]
a double garment covered him, [80]
the Magnesians' native dress
closely fitting his marvelous limbs,
and round about it a leopard skin
kept off the shivering rain; [145]
the lustrous locks of his hair
had not been cut and lost,
but cascaded down his entire back.
Swiftly he went straight on,
trying the mettle of his unshaken will, [150]
and in the middle of the square [85]
stood among the thronging crowd.
No one knew him; but awestruck
as they were, someone spoke thus:
"Surely this isn't Apollo, [155]
nor is it bronze-charioted Ares,
lord of Aphrodite; and they say
that on gleaming Naxos died
Iphimedeia's sons,
Otos and you, daring lord Ephialtes. [90] [160]
Then too Tityus fell
hunted down by Artemis' swift arrow
springing from her invincible quiver,
so that a man might crave
to caress possible loves."
[165] Such things they spoke in turn
to one another; and on his polished [95]
mule-cart came Pelias rushing in
pell-mell: he was at once astonished
as he glanced uneasily at the single sandal [170]
conspicuous on its right foot.
But hiding the fear in his heart
he accosted him:
"What country, stranger,
do you declare your fatherland? [175]
And who among earth-born men
sent you forth from her venerable womb?
Without defiling it through hateful lies, [100]
tell me your race."
With gentle words, all unperturbed, [180]
he answered him thus: "I say
that I am he who bears the teaching of Chiron.
For I come from his cave, from Chariclo and Philyra,
where the Centaur's spotless daughters
raised me. After completing 20 years [185]
without a single crooked act
or uttering one such word to them, [105]
I have returned home to reclaim
my father's ancient right of rule
—now exercised improperly— [190]
which Zeus once granted
to Aeolus, leader of the people,
and to his sons.
For I hear that lawless Pelias,
following his cold, manipulative wits, [110] [195]
stripped it by force from my parents,
the legitimate sovereigns;
when first I saw the light,
they, fearing the violence
of that insolent leader, darkened the house [200]
in mourning mixed with women's wailing,
as if I'd died, and then secretly
sent me away in purple swaddling-clothes, [115]
entrusting night with my journey,
and gave me to Chiron, [205]
Cronos' son, to raise.
Now you know the highlights of my story;
point out plainly, my fellow citizens, the house
of my parents, masters of white horses;
for I am one of you, the son of Aeson, [210]
and come no stranger to an alien land.
The godlike beast, whenever he addressed me,
called me Jason." [120]
Thus he spoke, and as he entered
his father's eyes recognized him; [215]
and from his aged eyelids
burst the welling tears,
for he rejoiced in his soul
when he saw his child, the matchless,
the fairest of men.
[220] And both his brothers came to them [125]
at news of his arrival:
from nearby Pheres, who left the fountain Hypereia,
and from Messene Amythaon;
and quickly came Admetus and Melampus, [225]
well-wishers, to their cousin.
Amid the feasting
Jason welcomed them
with honey-sweet words,
providing them fit hospitality, [230]
and stretched their reveling out to plenty, [130]
as he reaped through five full nights
and five days
the holy flower of intense life.
But, on the sixth day, telling the whole [235]
story soberly from the start,
he confided it to his kinsmen,
and they assented. Instantly he leaped
from the couches along with them;
and then they went to the hall of Pelias; [135] [240]
bursting inside they took their stand;
when the king heard them, he himself,
the son of fair-haired Tyro, came to greet them;
and Jason, distilling
gentle discourse with a genial voice, [245]
laid the basis of wise words:
"Son of Poseidon of the Rock,
the minds of men are all too quick to praise [140]
deceitful gain above the right,
though they are moving to a bitter morning after; [250]
but you and I ought rule
our passions with justice
and weave the web of future wealth.
I speak to one who knows.
One dam was mother to Cretheus [255]
and to daring-minded Salmoneus;
and we, sprung in the third generation from them,
look on the golden strength of the sun. [145]
The Fates withdraw
if any malice comes on kinsmen [260]
to shroud their shame.
It is unfitting for us two to sever
with bronze-biting swords or spears
the great birthright of our forefathers.
For I give to you the flocks and tawny herds [265]
of cattle and all the fields,
which you extorted from my parents [150]
and manage now to fatten up your wealth;
it does not trouble me that these
glut your house; [270]
but that monarchial scepter and throne
on which, presiding once, the son of Creutheus
guided his judgments straight
to a race of horsemen;
all these without our mutual strife
[275] [155] surrender to me, lest from them arise
some newer evil."
So he spoke, and Pelias too
responded softly: "I shall be such as you wish,
but already the sere span of life envelops me, [280]
whereas your flower of youth
is just now swelling to its crest:
you can appease the wrath of the dead.
For Phrixus orders us,
proceeding to Aeëtes' palace halls, [160] [285]
to bring his soul back home
and carry off the deep-fleeced hide of the ram,
on which he once escaped from the sea
and from the godless weapons of his stepmother.
A wondrous dream came speaking this to me. [290]
I've asked the oracle at Castalia
if such a quest should be pursued: and it urges me
to instantly dispatch an expedition by ship. [165]
Accomplish, voluntarily, this task
and I swear that I will yield you back [295]
to wield sole power and to rule.
And as a mighty pledge,
let Zeus be witness,
the father of both our families."
Approving this arrangement, [300]
they parted company. But Jason was already
in hot haste inciting the heralds
[170] to announce everywhere
that a voyage was under way.
Quickly came the three sons, indomitable in war, [305]
of Cronian Zeus
born to round-eyed Alcmene and Leda,
and from Pylos and Taenarus' promontory
the two top-knotted warriors
sprung from the Earthshaker, [310]
respecting their own might with awe; [175]
whose noble glory found fulfillment,
that of Euphemus and yours, mighty Periclymenus.
And from Apollo came
the master lyrist, father of songs, [315]
renowned Orpheus.
Hermes goldenwand
sent his twin sons
to unceasing labor on the quest,
Echion and Erytus, flushed with youth. [320]
And quickly came those [180]
who dwelt at the base of Mount Pangaeus:
for willingly with joyful heart
the King of Winds, their father Boreas,
more swiftly urged on Zetes and Cala=EFs, [325]
mortal men whose backs were beating
with purple wings.
Hera kindled in these demigods
allsuasive sweet desire
for the ship Argo, that none be left behind [185] [330]
lingering by his mother's side
to coddle long a life devoid of danger,
but to discover with his agemates,
even at the price of death,
the fairest way to win his own exploits. [335]
And when the flower of sailors
came down to Iolkos, Jason
counted and praised d them all. [190]
And then the prophet Mopsus,
divining by birds and sacred sortilege, [340]
embarked the army readily.
When they had slung
the anchors high above the beak,
taking a golden bowl in his hands
the captain, from the stern, called on [345]
the father of the Uranidae, Zeus the lightning-speared, [195]
for the wavesurge and the winds
to be swift running, for the nights and sea
paths and days to be serene,
and for their homecoming to be fortunate; [350]
and from the clouds Zeus answered him
with an auspicious clap of thunder;
and bright bolts of lighting
broke from the sky.
The heroes caught their breath [355]
trusting the signs of the god; [200]
the portent-seer summoned them
to fall to oars, announcing
his sweet hopes;
and the rowing ran out [360]
from under their swift hands insatiably.
Conducted by the breezes of the South Wind
they came to the mouth
of the Inhospitable Sea,
where they established a sacred precinct [365]
for Poseidon of the sea: [205]
there was at hand a ruddy herd of Thracian cattle
and, newly built of stones, a hollow altar.
Rushing now into deep danger
they implored the Lord of Ships
[370] to escape the irresistible movement
of the Clashing Rocks. For both were alive,
and rolled more rapidly [210]
than battle ranks of deep-roaring winds;
but that voyage of demigods [375]
finally brought their end.
To Phasis then they came,
where they set their might
against the crushing Chochians
in presence of Aeëtes himself. [380]
But the sovereign of swiftest darts,
Cyprogeneia, binding
the dappled wryneck [215]
four-spoked upon an indissoluble wheel
first brought the maddening bird [385]
to human kind and thus taught Aeson's son
skill in invocations and incantations,
that he might strip Medea of all reverence
for her parents and that Hellas, fiercely desired,
might set her whirling, as she blazed in spirit, [390]
with the scourge of Persuasion. [220]
And she at once revealed
the outcome of her father's trials:
preparing then the sap of roots with oil
for remedy against remorseless pain, [395]
she gave it him to anoint his limbs.
They thus agreed by mutual consent
to join with one another in sweet union.
But when Aeëtes had planted in their midst
the adamantine plow and the oxen, [225] [400]
who were panting from tawny jaws
a flame of searing fire
and with their brazen hooves
kept gouging up the earth in turn,
alone he led and brought them to the yoke. [405]
Straight were the furrows he traced
as he drove them up and down the ploughland,
and cut the span of earth a fathom deep. [230]
Then spoke thus: "Let the king, whoever rules the ship,
complete this task for me [410]
and carry off the imperishable bedding,
the fleece gleaming with golden fringe."
At these words, Jason threw off his saffron robe,
and trusting to god, he set to work:
the fire never daunted him, thanks to the orders [415]
of the gracious woman, all-powerful in remedies,
but drawing out the plough,
he bound the necks of the oxen [235]
in a harness of necessity,
and thrusting into their sturdy sides [420]
an unwearied goad,
the burly man completed
his allotted span of labor. Aeëtes
howled with inarticulate anguish
marveling at his strength.
[425] Toward the mighty man his comrades [240]
were stretching out their hands and showering
crowns of leaves over him
as they greeted him with kindly words.
And straight away the wondrous son of Helios [430]
told them where Phrixos' sacrificial knife
had spread the resplendent pelt,
but hoped that he would fail at least
to do that task. For it lay
within a thicket near [435]
the ravenous jaws of a dragon [245]
which, in length and breadth, exceeded
a fifty-oared ship
wrought by iron-nailing blows.
Returning home by highway is too long; [440]
for time is pressing me
and I know a short path:
for many others I lead the way in skill.
The glaring-eyed snake with speckled back, [250]
O Archesilaus, he slew by cunning, [445]
and stole with her own help Medea,
the Peliasassassin.
They came amid the immensity of Ocean,
and the Red Sea,
and the race of manslaughtering Lemnian women: [450]
there also in contests of their limbs
they showed their strength for a prize cloak,
and slept with them. In foreign [255]
furrows then the destined days or nights
prosperously received the seed [455]
of your family's splendor:
for there Euphemus' race was planted
to tower up forever;
and after sharing Spartan homes and ways
they settled in time on the island [460]
once called "Fairest;"
from there the son of Leto granted [260]
you the plain of Libya to enrich
by favor of the gods
and the holy city of golden-throned [465]
Cyrene to govern,
you who contrived a craft of right counsel.
Know now the wisdom of Oedipus:
if someone with a sharp-bladed axe
lopped off the branches of a mighty oak [470]
and marred its marvelous form, [265]
though desolate of fruit,
it still gives testimony of itself,
if ever it comes at last
to feed the winter fire, [475]
or if, laid as lintel
for a master's upright columns,
it carries on despairing toil
within an alien city wall,
having left its own place empty.
[480] [270] But you're the most appropriate physician
and Paean honors you with healing light.
One must apply a soothing hand
to tend an ulcerous wound.
It's easy for the almost impotent [485]
to shake a city;
to set it back in place again
is grinding conflict,
unless a god will suddenly
become a steersman for its leaders. [275] [490]
For you is woven out this web of favors.
Take heart to lavish full devotion
on divinely blessed Cyrene.
Among the sayings of Homer this one
lay to mind and heed: [495]
a noble messenger, he said,
bestows the greatest honor to each office;
even the Muse grows strong by true report. [280]
Cyrene and the most illustrious house of Battus
have come to know the upright mind [500]
of Damophilus. For that man—
a youth among boys,
but in counsels an elder
who's gained a hundred years of life—
bereaves an evil tongue [505]
of lucid voice,
but has learned to hate the violent,
[285] not clashing with the noble
or drawing out the end of any action.
Brief is the span, for men, [510]
of opportunity. He knows it well;
like an attendant, not a drudge, he follows it.
They say this is the sharpest pain:
to recognize the good
but stand outside it by compulsion. [290] [515]
Truly, that man is even now,
like Atlas, wresting with the sky
apart from fatherland apart from property.
But Zeus eternal freed the Titans;
in passing time, [520]
as winds subside, comes change
of sails. But he prays,
when he's exhausted this accursed affliction,
to see his home one day,
and by the fountain of Apollo, [525]
joining the symposia, [295]
to throw his heart into the joys of youth,
and clasping the richly ornate lyre
among his songwise citizens, to grasp peace,
working harm to none nor suffering it [530]
from his countrymen;
and he could tell, Archesilaus,
what fountain of ambrosial verse he found
when recently a guest at Thebes.
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    • 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 (5):
    • Harper's, Zetes
    • William Watson Goodwin, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb, Chapter IV
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, His style
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, Dialect
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, Syntax
  • Cross-references in notes to this page (8):
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (1):
  • Cross-references in text-specific dictionaries to this page (1):
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