Cloud Decoys and Spinning Wheels: The Tale of Ungrateful Ixion

Pindar, Pythian 2. 13-34

“A different person pays out the prize of excellence
To different kinds, a song that carries well.
Kyprian tales sing of Kinyras, the one
Golden-haired Apollo made his friend,

That sacred follower of Aphrodite, since
Gratitude for the deeds of friends goes back and forth in exchange.

Yet the maiden of western Lokris calls you,
Son of Deinomenes, from her front door.
She is safe now thanks to your power
After the inescapable labors of war.

People claim that that at gods’ command,
As he turns in every way on his flying wheel,
Ixion has this to say to mortals:
Go and pay back fairly
Someone who has done you good.

And he learned this well, for even though he lived
a sweet life among the children of Kronos.
He couldn’t abide happiness for long
Because he went crazy when he
Started to lust for Hera, whose happy bedtimes
Are reserved for Zeus alone.
But arrogance drove him to conceited delusion
And so the man soon suffered what was right,
And received exceptional pain.

His two crimes earned this suffering.
To start, he was the first mortal
To get mixed up in familial blood,
And there was deception;
And then, he tried to attack Zeus’ wife
In the depths of her bed chambers..
You need to always take the measure of everything from your own perspective.”

ἄλλοις δέ τις ἐτέλεσσεν ἄλλος ἀνήρ
εὐαχέα βασιλεῦσιν ὕμνον ἄποιν᾿ ἀρετᾶς.
κελαδέοντι μὲν ἀμφὶ Κινύραν πολλάκις
φᾶμαι Κυπρίων, τὸν ὁ χρυσοχαῖτα προ-
φρόνως ἐφίλησ᾿ Ἀπόλλων,
ἱερέα κτίλον Ἀφροδίτας· ἄγει δὲ χάρις
φίλων ποί τινος ἀντὶ ἔργων ὀπιζομένα·
σὲ δ᾿, ὦ Δεινομένειε παῖ, Ζεφυρία πρὸ δόμων
Λοκρὶς παρθένος ἀπύει,
πολεμίων καμάτων ἐξ ἀμαχάνων
διὰ τεὰν δύναμιν δρακεῖσ᾿ ἀσφαλές.
θεῶν δ᾿ ἐφετμαῖς Ἰξίονα φαντὶ ταῦτα βροτοῖς
λέγειν ἐν πτερόεντι τροχῷ
παντᾷ κυλινδόμενον·
τὸν εὐεργέταν ἀγαναῖς
ἀμοιβαῖς ἐποιχομένους τίνεσθαι.
ἔμαθε δὲ σαφές. εὐμενέσσι γὰρ παρὰ Κρονίδαις
γλυκὺν ἑλὼν βίοτον, μακρὸν οὐχ ὑπέμεινεν ὄλ-
βον, μαινομέναις φρασίν
Ἥρας ὅτ᾿ ἐράσσατο, τὰν Διὸς εὐναὶ λάχον
πολυγαθέες· ἀλλά νιν ὕβρις εἰς ἀυάταν ὑπεράφανον
ὦρσεν· τάχα δὲ παθὼν ἐοικότ᾿ ἀνήρ
ἐξαίρετον ἕλε μόχθον. αἱ δύο δ᾿ ἀμπλακίαι
φερέπονοι τελέθοντι· τὸ μὲν ἥρως ὅτι
ἐμφύλιον αἷμα πρώτιστος οὐκ ἄτερ
τέχνας ἐπέμειξε θνατοῖς,
ὅτι τε μεγαλοκευθέεσσιν ἔν ποτε θαλάμοις
Διὸς ἄκοιτιν ἐπειρᾶτο. χρὴ δὲ κατ᾿ αὐτὸν αἰ-
εὶ παντὸς ὁρᾶν μέτρον.

Schol ad Pindar, Pythian 2 40b 16-28

“When no one would cleanse Ixion for murder, and the rest of the gods had rejected him, Zeus cleanse him for it because he pitied him and took him home to the sky. But people report that he was tempted by another mistake because of lust for Hera. When Zeus learned this, he fashioned a cloud version of Hera that looked just like her, and when he saw Ixion rushing at her and laying next to her, he fathered a wild and monstrous creature from this whom people called Centaur. Later on, he bound Ixion’s hands and feet to a wheel and Zeus ordered that it be spun around in this fashion.”

τοῦ δὲ μύσους μηδενὸς καθαρίζοντος τὸν ᾿Ιξίονα, ἀποστραφέντων δὲ αὐτὸν καὶ τῶν ἄλλων θεῶν, οἰκτείρας ὁ Ζεὺς ἐκάθηρε μὲν αὐτὸν τοῦ φόνου, ἀνήγαγε δὲ καὶ εἰς οὐρανὸν καὶ συνέστιον εἶχεν αὐτόν. τὸν δὲ δευτέρῳ ἁμαρτήματι ἐπιχειροῦντα εἰς ἔρωτα τῆς ῞Ηρας κινηθῆναί φασι· μαθόντα δὲ τὸν Δία νεφέλην τῇ ῞Ηρᾳ ἀναπλάσαι καὶ ἐκτυπῶσαι ὁμοίαν, τὸν δὲ ᾿Ιξίονα θεασάμενον ἐφορμῆσαι καὶ παρακλιθῆναι. γενέσθαι δὲ ἐξ αὐτῶν ἄγριόν τινα καὶ τερατώδη ἄνδρα, ὃν Κένταυρον ὠνόμασαν. ὕστερον δὲ τροχῷ τοὺς πόδας καὶ τὰς χεῖρας τοῦ ᾿Ιξίονος προσδεσμευθῆναι, καὶ κελεῦσαι τὸν Δία πρὸς τὴν δίνησιν τοῦ τροχοῦ τὸ τοιοῦτον…

Dark Oil painting of two figures looking at each other, one beginning to chain the other.
José Ribera, Ixion (1632). Oil on canvas, 220 x 301 cm. Museo del Prado, Madrid.

Leave a Reply