For Deinias of Aegina
Double Foot Race
?459 B. C.
Queenly Season of Youth, herald of the divine embraces of Aphrodite, you who rest in the eyes of young girls and boys, and carry one man in the gentle arms of compulsion, but handle another man differently. It is a desirable thing, for one who has not strayed from due measure in any deed,
to be able to win the better kinds of love;
such loves,the shepherds of Cyprian Aphrodite's gifts, attended the marriage-bed of Zeus and Aegina. And from that union a son was born, the king of Oenone, the best in hands and mind. Many men often prayed that they might see him; for, unbidden, the choicest heroes that dwelled around him
wanted to submit to his commands willingly,
those who marshalled their people in rocky Athens, and the descendants of Pelops in Sparta
. As a suppliant I cling to the sacred knees of Aeacus, on behalf of his dear city and these citizens, bringing
a Lydian crown embroidered with song, glory from Nemea in the double foot race for Deinias and his father Megas. For prosperity that is planted with a god's blessing is more abiding for men;
such prosperity as once loaded Cinyras with wealth in sea-washed Cyprus
. I stand with feet lightly poised, catching my breath before I speak.
For many stories have been told in many ways. But to find something new and submit it to the touchstone for testing is danger itself. Words are a dainty morsel for the envious; and envy always clings to the noble, and has no quarrel with worse men.
Envy devoured the son of Telamon, throwing him onto his own sword. A man who was not gifted in speech, but brave in his heart, is held down by oblivion
under deadly strife; and the greatest prize of honor has been offered to the shifty lie. For in a secret vote the Danaans favored Odysseus; and Aias, robbed of the golden armor, wrestled with death.
Truly, they did not tear equal wounds in the warm flesh of the enemy when they were driven back
under the man-protecting spear, at one time around the newly-slain corpse of Achilles, and on destructive days spent on other toils. It seems that hateful Misrepresentation existed even long ago: a fellow traveler of flattering tales, deceitful-minded, a malignant disgrace. She does violence to the illustrious, and upholds the rotten glory of the obscure.
May I never have such a nature, father Zeus; may I stick to the simple paths of life, so that when I die I will not fasten a bad name to my children. Some men pray for gold, others for boundless land; I pray to find favor with my fellow-citizens until my limbs are buried in the earth, by praising what is praiseworthy and casting blame on wrongdoers.
Excellence grows among skillful and just men up to the liquid air, as a tree shoots up fed by fresh dew. The uses of friends are of all kinds; those in times of toil are the highest, yet delight also seeks to set a trustworthy pledge before the eyes. Megas, to bring your soul back to life again
is not possible for me. Empty hopes end in vain; but it is easy to set up, for your fatherland and for the Chariads, a monument of the Muses in honor of the twice illustrious feet of two men. I rejoice in letting fly a boast suitable to such a deed; and with incantations a man
makes hardship painless. Truly, the song of victory existed long ago, even before the quarrel arose between Adrastus and the race of Cadmus.