Praise for the Runner

Pindar. Olympian Ode 13.24-34.

Olympia’s most-high, wide-ruling one,
May you, father Zeus, for all time
Hold nothing against my words,
And while you keep this people safe from harm,
Pilot the winds of Xenephon’s fortunes.

Accept from him this ritual praise
For the garlands he brings from Pisa’s plains:
He won the pentathlon and stadion race.
No mortal man has done that before.

Two parsley wreaths also crowned him
When he appeared at the Isthmian festival.
And in Nemea it was no different.

ὕπατʼ εὐρὺ ἀνάσσων
Ὀλυμπίας, ἀφθόνητος ἔπεσσιν
γένοιο χρόνον ἅπαντα, Ζεῦ πάτερ,
καὶ τόνδε λαὸν ἀβλαβῆ νέμων
Ξενοφῶντος εὔθυνε δαίμονος οὖρον·

δέξαι τέ οἱ στεφάνων ἐγκώμιον τεθμόν, τὸν ἄγει πεδίων ἐκ Πίσας,
πεντάθλῳ ἅμα σταδίου νικῶν δρόμον· ἀντεβόλησεν
τῶν ἀνὴρ θνατὸς οὔπω τις πρότερον.

δύο δʼ αὐτὸν ἔρεψαν
πλόκοι σελίνων ἐν Ἰσθμιάδεσσιν
φανέντα· Νέμεά τʼ οὐκ ἀντιξοεῖ.

screenshot of a map of a marathon run in Brooklyn
The translator ran the Brooklyn ½ Marathonon Saturday in 1:35. He received no garlands.

Larry Benn has a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard College, an M.Phil in English Literature from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Making amends for a working life misspent in finance, he’s now a hobbyist in ancient languages and blogs at

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