For Aristagoras of Tenedos
on his installation as President of the Council
?446 B. C.
Daughter of Rhea, you who have received the town hall under your protection, Hestia, sister of Zeus the highest and of Hera who shares his throne, welcome Aristagoras to your dwelling, and welcome to a place near your splendid scepter his companions,
who, in honoring you, guard Tenedos and keep her on a straight course;
often they worship you, first of the gods, with libations, and often with the savor of burnt sacrifice. Lyres and songs peal among them, and Themis, who belongs to Zeus the god of hospitality, is honored with everlasting feasts. With glory to the end
may he fulfill his twelve-month office, with his heart unwounded.
I call that man blessed in his father Hagesilas, in his marvellous body, and in his inborn steadiness. But if any man who has prosperity surpasses others in beauty, and displays his strength by being best in the games,
let him remember that his robes are thrown around mortal limbs, and that he will clothe himself with earth, the end of all.
Yet it is right for him to be praised in the good words of his fellow-citizens, and for us to adorn him with the honeyed sound of songs. For in contests of those who live around him, sixteen
splendid victories crowned Aristagoras and his illustrious fatherland, in wrestling and in the proud pancratium.
But the too hesitant hopes of his parents restrained the boy's strength from attempting the contests at Pytho
. For I swear by the power of Oath: in my judgment, whether he went to Castalia
or to the well-wooded hill of Cronus, he would have returned home in finer fashion than the opponents who strove against him,
having celebrated the four years' festival ordained by Heracles, and having crowned his hair with purple wreaths. But, among mortals, empty-headed pride
casts one man out of his goods; and a timid spirit foils another man of the fine achievements that should be his, dragging him back by the hand as he disparages his own strength too much.
Truly, it was easy to recognize in him the ancient blood of Peisander of Sparta, who came from Amyclae with Orestes,
leading here a bronze-armored host of Aetolians, and also the blending of his blood with that of his mother's ancestor Melanippus, beside the stream of the Ismenus. But ancient excellence
yields strength in alternate generations of men; the dark fields do not give fruit continuously,
nor are trees accustomed to bear an equal wealth of fragrant flowers in every circling year, but in alternation. And thus the race of mortal men is led
by Fate. But no clear sign comes to mortals from Zeus. Nevertheless we embark on bold endeavors,
longing for many deeds, for our limbs are bound by shameless hope, while the streams of foresight lie far away. But we must hunt for due measure in our love of gain. The madness of unattainable desires is too sharp.