Epinician Simian Shade

Pindar, Pythian 2 71-75

“Become the kind of person you are, once you figure it out.

A monkey certainly seems cute, always cute, to children.

But Rhadamanthys did well because
He was granted the faultless fruit of his thoughts
And he doesn’t let his heart take pleasure in the deceptions
That always stalk mortals in the hands of those who whisper.
Slander’s peddlers are an evil trap for both sides.”

γένοι᾿, οἷος ἐσσὶ μαθών.
καλός τοι πίθων παρὰ παισίν, αἰεί
καλός. ὁ δὲ Ῥαδάμανθυς εὖ πέπραγεν, ὅτι φρενῶν
ἔλαχε καρπὸν ἀμώμητον, οὐδ᾿ ἀπάταισι θυ-
μὸν τέρπεται ἔνδοθεν,
οἷα ψιθύρων παλάμαις ἕπετ᾿ αἰεὶ βροτῷ.
ἄμαχον κακὸν ἀμφοτέροις διαβολιᾶν ὑποφάτιες,

Schol. Ad Pindar Pyth. 71

Some People claim that these words [“the monkey is cute”] are aimed at Bacchylides because Hiero thought highly of him.

Or, just as the monkey is taken seriously by children even though he is a fool, so too Bacchylides may be praised by children as long as he is but a monkey to you, who are wise.”

ταῦτα δὲ ἔνιοι τείνειν αὐτὸν εἰς Βακχυλίδην· εὐδοκιμῆσαι γὰρ αὐτὸν παρὰ τῷ Ἱέρωνι.

ἢ οὕτως· ὥσπερ ὁ πίθηκος σπουδάζεται παρὰ τοῖς παισὶν φαῦλος ὤν, οὕτω καὶ Βακχυλίδης παρὰ παισὶ μὲν ἄφροσιν εὐδοκιμείτω, παρὰ σοὶ δὲ σοφῷ ὄντι πίθηκος ἔστω.

Detail of the Maastricht Book of Hours (BL Stowe MS17)

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