A Measure for Each Thing

Pindar, Olympian 13.43-54

“I am fighting with many others over
The sheer number of noble things,
How your family has excelled at Delphi and
In the fields of the lion. I just couldn’t imagine how
To speak a true number of all the sand in the sea.

Still, a measure exists for each thing-
And it is best to recognize what is timely.
Because I as a private person went ahead on a common mission,
Praising aloud the wit of their forebears
And their war in heroic endeavors,
I will not lie about Corinth, mentioning Sisyphus
As clever as a god, or Medea
Who set up her own marriage,
Against her father’s wishes,
To be the savior of the Argo and its men.”

ὅσσα τ᾿ ἐν Δελφοῖσιν ἀριστεύσατε
ἠδὲ χόρτοις ἐν λέοντος, δηρίομαι πολέσιν
περὶ πλήθει καλῶν· ὡς μὰν σαφές
οὐκ ἂν εἰδείην λέγειν
ποντιᾶν ψάφων ἀριθμόν.
ἕπεται δ᾿ ἐν ἑκάστῳ
μέτρον· νοῆσαι δὲ καιρὸς ἄριστος.
ἐγὼ δὲ ἴδιος ἐν κοινῷ σταλείς
μῆτίν τε γαρύων παλαιγόνων
πόλεμόν τ᾿ ἐν ἡρωίαις ἀρεταῖσιν
οὐ ψεύσομ᾿ ἀμφὶ Κορίνθῳ, Σίσυφον
μὲν πυκνότατον παλάμαις ὡς θεόν,
καὶ τὰν πατρὸς ἀντία Μή-
δειαν θεμέναν γάμον αὐτᾷ,
ναῒ σώτειραν Ἀργοῖ καὶ προπόλοις

An ancient wall painting of Medea. She stands on the right, one arm folded over body. To the elft two young childen play. A man lurks behind them in a doorway
Museo archeologico nazionale di Napoli, (inv. nr. 8977). Da Pompei, Casa dei Dioscuri. Medea medita di uccidere i suoi figli intenti a giocare con gli astragali, guardati con mestizia dal pedagogo.

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