For Chromius of Aetna
?476 B. C.
Sacred place where Alpheus breathed again; Ortygia, scion of renowned Syracuse, bed of Artemis, sister of Delos
! From you sweet-voiced
song rushes out to give great praise for storm-footed horses, by the grace of Aetnaean Zeus. The chariot of Chromius and Nemea
urge me to harness a song of praise for deeds of victory.
The foundations of the song have been laid with the gods, and with this man's god-given excellence.
The summit of perfect glory is found in good fortune. The Muse loves to remember great contests. Sow some splendor on the island, which Zeus the lord of Olympus
gave to Persephone; he nodded assent with his flowing hair, that as the best land on the fruitful earth<
he would make Sicily
fertile and prosperous in her cities blossoming with wealth. And the son of Cronus sent her a people enamored of bronze-armored battle, horsemen often wedded to the golden leaves of Olympia
's olive. I have embarked on the occasion for many themes, without flinging a false word.
I have arrived singing of fine deeds at the courtyard gates
of a man who loves guests, where a beautifully arranged meal has been prepared for me, and the halls are often familiar with strangers from other lands. It is his lot to have noble friends to bring against his slanderers, like water against smoke.
Various men have various skills. It is right for a man to follow straight paths, and strive according to his nature.
For strength manifests itself in action, and intelligence in counsels, for those who have the inborn skill of foreseeing the future. Son of Hagesidamus, your way of life
grants you the enjoyment of many things. I take no pleasure in keeping great wealth hidden away in my hall, but in using what I have to be successful and to win a good name by helping my friends. For the hopes of men who toil much come to all alike.
But as for me, I cling to the theme of Heracles gladly, rousing an ancient story from among the great heights of his excellence,
how, when the son of Zeus suddenly came out of his mother's womb into the brilliant light, escaping her birth-pangs, with his twin brother,
he did not escape the notice of gold-throned Hera when he was placed in his saffron swaddling-clothes. But the queen of the gods,
stung in her heart, immediately sent serpents. The doors opened, and they crept into the spacious inner-chamber, eager to coil their swift jaws around the babies. But Heracles lifted his head straight up, and had his first experience of battle,
the two necks of the serpents in his two irresistible hands. When they were strangled, time squeezed the breath of life out of their unspeakable limbs. Unbearable fear1
struck the women who were then helping Alcmena at her bedside;
for she herself leapt to her feet from her bed, unrobed as she was, and tried to ward off the violent attack of the monsters.
And swiftly the chiefs of the Cadmeans rushed in together in their bronze armor, and Amphitryon came brandishing a sword bared from its scabbard, stricken with sharp distress. For each man alike is oppressed by his own trouble, but the heart recovers quickly from someone else's grief.
He stood, possessed by overwhelming astonishment and delight. For he saw the supernatural courage and power of his son; the immortals had turned the story of the messengers to falsehood for him.
And he called his neighbor, the outstanding prophet of Zeus the highest, the truthful seer Teiresias. And the prophet told him and all the men what fortunes the boy would encounter:
how many he would slay on land, and how many lawless monsters at sea. And he told of a certain one,
most hateful, who walked with crooked insolence towards men, whom the boy would send to his doom. For he said that when the gods meet the giants in battle on the plain of Phlegra, the shining hair of the giants will be stained with dirt beneath the rushing arrows of that hero.
But he himself
will have allotted to him in peace, as an extraordinary reward for his great hardship, continuous peace for all time among the homes of the blessed. He will receive flourishing Hebe as his bride and celebrate the wedding-feast, and in the presence of Zeus the son of Cronus he will praise the sacred law.2