For Chromius of Aetna
?474 B. C.
Muses, we will go in victory procession from Apollo's shrine in Sicyon
to newly-founded Aetna, where the doors flung open wide are overwhelmed by guests, at the prosperous home of Chromius. Make a sweet song of verses! For, mounting his chariot of victorious horses, he gives the word to sing for the mother and her twin children
who jointly watch over steep Pytho
There is a saying among men: a noble deed when it is accomplished should not be buried silently in the ground; and divine song is suited to boasting. But we will wake the shouting lyre and the flute in honor of the very pinnacle of horse-contests, which Adrastus established for Phoebus by the streams of the Asopus.
Having mentioned them, I will adorn that hero with glorious honors,
who, at the time when he was ruler there, made his city famous and glorious with new festivals, and contests of men's strength, and hollow chariots. For once Adrastus fled from bold-thinking Amphiaraus and terrible civil strife, from his ancestral home, Argos
; and the sons of Talaus were no longer rulers, overpowered by sedition.
A stronger man puts an end to the previous justice.
The sons of Talaus gave man-conquering Eriphyle, as a faithful pledge, in marriage to Amphiaraus son of Oicles, and became the most powerful of the golden-haired Danaans; and once they led a noble army of men to seven-gated Thebes—an expedition not attended by birds of good omen. In their mad desire to leave home, the son of Cronus, by whirling his lightning-bolt, urged them not to go,
but to abstain from the journey.
And so that company, in bronze armor, and with their horses in war-harnesses, was hastening to arrive at manifest doom. And planting1
their sweet return on the banks of the Ismenus, they fattened the white-flowering smoke with their corpses2
. For seven funeral pyres feasted on their bodies' young limbs. But, for the sake of Amphiaraus, Zeus with his all-powerful thunderbolt
split the deep-breasted earth, and concealed him together with his horses,
before he could be struck in the back by the spear of Periclymenus, and his warlike spirit disgraced. For amid divinely-sent panic even the children of gods flee. If it is possible, son of Cronus, I would like to put off for as long as I can this fierce trial of empurpled spears, this contest for life and death;
and I pray to you, grant to the children of the Aetnaeans the long-lived blessing of good laws,
father Zeus, and join the people with splendid celebrations in their city. There they have men who love horses and whose souls are superior to wealth. My words are hard to believe; for reverence, which brings renown, is secretly beguiled by the love of gain. If you had been Chromius' shield-bearer among foot-soldiers and horses, and in ship-battles,
you would have been able to judge the danger of the sharp battle-cry,
because in battle it was that goddess, Reverence, who armed his warrior-spirit to repel the destruction of the war-god. But few are able to conspire with hand and heart to turn back against the ranks of the enemy the cloud of slaughter that presses close upon them. Indeed men say that glory blossomed for Hector beside the flowing Scamander;
and around the steep cliffs of the Helorus' banks
at the place which men call “the passage of Rhea,” this light has shone on the son of Hagesidamus, in his earliest manhood. I will tell of the honors he won at other times, many on the dust of dry land and on the neighboring sea. And out of toils, which are undertaken with the aid of youth and justice, there comes a gentle life at the approach of old age.
Let him know that he has received marvellous prosperity from the gods.
For if, together with many possessions, a man wins renown and glory, there is no higher peak on which a mortal can set his feet. Peace loves the symposium, and new-flourishing victory is fostered by soft song, and the voice becomes bold beside the mixing-bowl.
Let someone mix the wine now, the sweet forerunner of victory-song,
and dispense the powerful son of the vine in those silver goblets which once Chromius' horses won for him and sent from holy Sicyon
together with the duly twined garlands of Leto's son. Father Zeus, I pray that I may celebrate this excellence by the favor of the Graces, and excel many poets in honoring victory with my verses,
throwing my shaft nearest of all to the mark of the Muses.