Prematurely Gray, “A Trial Proves the Worth of A Man”

Michaelos Apostolius, Collection of Proverbs, 7.95 (15th Century CE)

“Erginos’ gray hair: A proverb applied to the prematurely gray. This man was a child of Klumenos, one of the Argonauts. When Hypsipyle, the daughter of Thoas, the king of the Lemnians, held funeral games for her father, even though Erginos was young, he was prematurely gray, and he went there to compete in the games only to be mocked by the Lemnian women because of his gray hair. Therefore, he competed in the context most nobly and overcame his competitors the sons of Boreas, Zêthus and Kalaïs—he was wondered at for how far ahead he was! Pindar speaks about him when he says “a trial is a test of a man”.

᾿Εργίνου πολιαί: ἐπὶ τῶν προπολίων· οὗτος ἦν παῖς Κλυμένου, εἷς τῶν ᾿Αργοναυτῶν· ῾Υψιπύλης δὲ τῆς θυγατρὸς Θόαντος βασιλέως Λημνίων ἐπιτάφιον ἀγῶνα τοῦ πατρὸς προτεθεικυίας, ᾿Εργῖνος νέος μὲν ὢν τῇ ἡλικίᾳ, προπόλιος δέ, παρῆλθεν ἀγωνισόμενος, καὶ ἐγελᾶτο ὑπὸ τῶν Λημνιάδων γυναικῶν διὰ τὰς πολιάς· κάλλιστα οὖν τὸν ἀγῶνα διενεγκὼν καὶ τοὺς συνάθλους νικήσας Βορεάδας Ζῆθον καὶ Κάλαϊν, εἰς ὑπερβολὴν ἐθαυμάσθη. περὶ οὗ καὶ ὁ Πίνδαρος εἶπε, διάπειρά τοι βροτῶν ἔλεγχος.


Schol.Pind. O4 32b-c

“This contest took the dishonor of the Lemnian women away from the son of Klymenos. The story goes like this: when Hypsipyle held funeral games for her father Thoas, the king of the Lemnians, it happened that the Argonauts appeared as they were sailing for the golden fleece and they offered to compete in the games. One of them, Erginos, was younger than old, but his hair was prematurely grey and he was taunted by the women for it.  But he showed them in the deeds by defeating his competitors. They were the sons of Boreas, Zetes and Kalaïs.

ἥτις διάπειρα τὸν Κλυμένου παῖδα ἀπέλυσε τῆς ἀτιμίας τῶν ἐν Λήμνῳ γυναικῶν.ἡ δὲ ἱστορία τοιαύτη· ῾Υψιπύλης ἀγῶνα ἐπιτελούσης ἐπιτάφιον Θόαντι τῷ πατρὶ Λημνίων βασιλεῖ, συμβέβηκεν  ἀπιόντας ἐπὶ τὸ χρυσοῦν δέρας τοὺς ᾿Αργοναύτας ἐκεῖσε γενέσθαι, καὶ προτραπέντας εἰς τὸν ἀγῶνα ἀγωνίσασθαι. εἷς ὢν οὖν αὐτῶν ὁ ᾿Εργῖνος νεώτερος μὲν τῷ χρόνῳ, προπόλιος δὲ τὴν κόμην, ὡς μὴ ἱκανὸς ἀγωνίσασθαι διὰ τὴν ὄψιν τῶν πολιῶν ἐγελᾶτο ὑπὸ τῶν γυναικῶν καὶ ἐπεκερτομεῖτο. ὡς δὲ διὰ τῶν ἔργων ἐδείχθη ὑπερβαλλόμενος τοὺς ἀγωνιστάς· ἦσαν δὲ οἱ τοῦ Βορέου παῖδες Ζήτης καὶ Κάλαϊς·


Pind. Olympian 4.17-27

“I will not stain my story
With a lie. A test proves the worth of a man.
This rescued the child of Klumenos
from the dishonor of the Lemnian women.
He won the race in bronze armor
And said to Hypsipyle as he left with the crown:
“This is my speed:
My hands and heart are its equal. Sometimes gray hair
grows even on young men
thick, before the appointed time.


οὐ ψεύδεϊ τέγξω
λόγον· διάπειρά τοι βροτῶν ἔλεγχος
ἅπερ Κλυμένοιο παῖδα
Λαμνιάδων γυναικῶν ἔλυσεν ἐξ ἀτιμίας.
χαλκέοισι δ’ ἐν ἔντεσι νικῶν δρόμον
ἔειπεν ῾Υψιπυλείᾳ μετὰ στέφανον ἰών·
‘οὗτος ἐγὼ ταχυτᾶτι·
χεῖρες δὲ καὶ ἦτορ ἴσον. φύονται δὲ καὶ νέοις
ἐν ἀνδράσιν πολιαί
θαμάκι παρὰ τὸν ἁλικίας ἐοικότα χρόνον.’

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