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Isthmian 6
For Phylacidas of Aegina Pancratium ?484 or 480 B. C.

Just as we mix the second bowl of wine when the men's symposium is flourishing, here is the second song of the Muses for Lampon's children and their athletic victories: first in Nemea, Zeus, in your honor they received the choicest of garlands, [5] and now in honor of the lord of the Isthmus and the fifty Nereids, for the victory of the youngest son, Phylacidas. May there be a third libation of honey-voiced songs to pour over Aegina in honor of Zeus Soter of Olympia. [10] For if a man, rejoicing in expense and toil, achieves godly excellence, and a divinity sows the seed of lovely fame in him, then he already casts his anchor on the farthest shore of prosperity, since he is honored by the gods. The son of Cleonicus prays that with such feelings [15] he will meet death and welcome gray old age. And I entreat Clotho, throned on high, and her sister Fates, to hear my friend's prayers for fame. And as for you, sons of Aeacus with your golden chariots, [20] I say that it is my clearest law to sprinkle you with praises whenever I set foot on this island. Countless continuous roads have been cut a hundred feet wide for your fine deeds, both beyond the springs of the Nile and through the land of the Hyperboreans. There is no city so barbarous or so strange in its speech [25] that it does not know the fame of the hero Peleus, the fortunate in-law of gods, or of Aias and his father Telamon. The son of Alcmena led him in ships to Troy, the toil of heroes, for war that delights in bronze, as an eager ally along with the men of Tiryns because of Laomedon's wrongdoing. [30] He took Pergamos, and with Telamon's help he slew the tribes of Meropes, and the herdsman Alcyoneus, huge as a mountain, whom he found at Phlegrae, and he did not keep his hands off the deep-voiced bow-string, not [35] Heracles. But when he came to summon the son of Aeacus to that expedition, he found them feasting. Standing in a lion's skin, the strong warrior, son of Amphitryon, was asked to pour the first libation of nectar by incomparable Telamon, who lifted up to him [40] the wine-bearing goblet bristling with gold. And Heracles stretched his invincible hands up to heaven and said, “Father Zeus, if you have ever heard my prayers with a willing heart, now, now with divine prayers [45] I entreat you to grant this man a brave son from Eriboea, a son fated to be my guest-friend. May he have a body as invulnerable as this skin that is now wrapped around me, from the beast whom I killed that day in Nemea as the very first of my labors. And may he have spirit to match.” When he had spoken, the god sent to him [50] the king of birds, a great eagle. He felt thrilled inside with sweet joy, and he spoke like a prophet: “Telamon, you will have the son that you ask for. Name him after the bird that appeared: wide-ruling Aias, awesome in the war-toils of the people.”1 [55] He spoke, and immediately sat down. But for me it would take a long time to tell the story of all their excellence. For I came, Muse, a steward of victory-songs to Phylacidas and Pytheas and Euthymenes. The story will be told in the Argive manner, very briefly. [60] For those splendid boys and their uncle won three victories in the pancratium—at the Isthmus, and others at Nemea with its fine trees, and they brought to light a great share of praises. With the lovely dew of the Graces they refresh the family of the Psalychids; [65] they have kept upright the house of Themistius, and they live in a city which the gods love. Lampon, “taking care with his work,” honors these words of Hesiod, and he advises his sons with them too, thus bringing a shared adornment to his city. [70] He is loved for his kindness to his guest-friends; he pursues with moderation in his thoughts and restrains with moderation. He does not say one thing and think another. You might say that for athletes he is like the bronze-mastering Naxian whetstone among other stones. I shall give him to drink the pure water of Dirce, which the deep-waisted daughters of [75] golden-robed Mnemosyne 2 brought forth beside the fine-walled gates of Cadmus.

1 Compare Aias with Greek αἰετός, eagle

2 Memory

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480 BC (1)
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