Killed Him Some Lions, When He Was Only Six

Pindar, Nemean 3.40-49

“Someone born to glory grows super strong,
But one who has only learned is a shady figure,
Inspired about different things at different times and
Never putting down a sure foot– someone who tries to taste
Countless accomplishments without thinking things through.

So, fiery Achilles when he was staying in the home of Philyra,
Even though he was a child, would play out great deeds.
He shook the short, iron-edged javelins in his hands like the winds
And designed murder for wild lions and he slaughtered boars.
He used to carry their bodies still breathing to Kronos’ son, the Centaur,
From when he was six years old and forever after.

συγγενεῖ δέ τις εὐδοξίᾳ μέγα βρίθει.
ὃς δὲ διδάκτ᾿ ἔχει, ψεφεννὸς ἀνὴρ
ἄλλοτ᾿ ἄλλα πνέων οὔ ποτ᾿ ἀτρεκεῖ
κατέβα ποδί, μυριᾶν δ᾿ ἀρετᾶν ἀτελεῖ νόῳ γεύεται.

ξανθὸς δ᾿ Ἀχιλεὺς τὰ μὲν μένων Φιλύρας ἐν δόμοις,
παῖς ἐὼν ἄθυρε μεγάλα ἔργα· χερσὶ θαμινά
βραχυσίδαρον ἄκοντα πάλλων ἴσα τ᾿ ἀνέμοις,
μάχᾳ λεόντεσσιν ἀγροτέροις ἔπρασσεν φόνον,
κάπρους τ᾿ ἔναιρε· σώματα δὲ παρὰ Κρονίδαν
Κένταυρον ἀσθμαίνοντα κόμιζεν,
ἑξέτης τὸ πρῶτον, ὅλον δ᾿ ἔπειτ᾿ ἂν χρόνον·

Schol. Ad Pin. Nem3. 71b

“the meaning of this: who ever achieves noble things from practice and learning is shadowed and not similarly brilliant, because they are not always focusing on the same things, but they are changing their ways easily because of the weakness of their preparation from one set of goals to others.”

ὁ δὲ νοῦς· ὅστις δὲ ἐξ ἐπιτηδεύσεως καὶ μαθήσεως ἔχει τὰ καλὰ, σκοτεινός ἐστι καὶ οὐχ ὁμοίως ἐκλάμπων, οὐκ ἀεὶ τὰ αὐτὰ φρονῶν ἀλλ’ εὐμαρῶς μεταβαλλόμενος διὰ τὸ σαθρὸν τῆς ἐπιτηδεύσεως ἀφ’ ἑτέρων εἰς ἕτερα

Photograph of a Roman Wall painting showing a centaur pointing out something to a young nude hero holding a lyre
Roman Wall painting, Chrorn instructing Achilles, National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Italy

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