For Strepsiades of Thebes
?454 B. C.
In which of the local glories of the past, divinely blessed Thebe, did you most delight your spirit? Was it when you raised to eminence the one seated beside Demeter of the clashing bronze cymbals, flowing-haired
Dionysus? Or when you received, as a snow-shower of gold in the middle of the night, the greatest of the gods,
when he stood in the doorway of Amphitryon, and then went in to the wife to beget Heracles? Or did you delight most in the shrewd counsels of Teiresias? Or in the wise horseman Iolaus?
Or in the Sown Men, untiring with the spear? Or when you sent Adrastus back from the mighty war-shout, bereft
of countless companions, to Argos, home of horses? Or because you stood upright on its feet the Dorian colony of the men of Lacedaemon, and your descendants,
the Aegeids, captured Amyclae according to the Pythian oracles? But since ancient grace sleeps, and mortals are forgetful
of whatever does not reach the highest bloom of skillful song, joined to glorious streams of words,
then begin the victory procession with a sweet-singing hymn for Strepsiades; for he is the victor in the pancratium at the Isthmus, both awesome in his strength and handsome to look at; and he treats excellence as no worse a possession than beauty.
He is made radiant by the violet-haired Muses, and he has given a share in his flowering garland to his uncle and namesake,
for whom Ares of the bronze shield mixed the cup of destiny; but honor is laid up as recompense for good men. For let him know clearly, whoever, in this cloud of war, wards off the hailstorm of blood in defense of his dear fatherland
by bringing destruction to the enemy host, that he is causing the greatest glory to grow for the race of his fellow-citizens,
in both his life and his death. And you, son of Diodotus, emulating the warrior Meleager, emulating Hector and Amphiaraus, breathed out your blossoming youth
in the front ranks, where the best men sustained the strife of war at the limit of their hopes. They endured unspeakable sorrow; but now the holder of the earth has sent me calm after the storm. I shall sing entwining my hair with garlands. May the envy of the immortals not disturb
whatever delight I pursue from day to day as I peacefully make my way towards old age and the allotted span of my life. For we die all alike, but our fates are diverse. If a man looks to things far away, he is too short to reach the bronze-floored home of the gods; winged Pegasus threw
his master Bellerophon, who wanted to go to the dwelling-places of heaven and the company of Zeus. A thing that is sweet beyond measure is awaited by a most bitter end. But grant to us, Loxias, luxuriant with your golden hair,
a blossoming garland also from your contests at Pytho.