Blessed Weddings and Cursed Children: Pindar on Peleus and Cadmus

Pindar, Pythian 3.86–115

“Neither Aiakos’s son Peleus
Nor godlike Kadmos had a secure life
For of all mortals they are said to have
Have received the highest blessing of mortals
Since they listened to the Muses with golden-headbands
Singing on the mountain and in seven-gated Thebes
When one married ox-eyed Harmonia
And the other married Thetis, the famous child of wise-counseled Nereus.
The gods feasted with both of them
And they say the kingly sons of Kronos
On golden seats, and accepted from theme
Bride-gifts. Thanks to Zeus,
They made their hearts straight again
From their previous suffering.

In time, however, [Kadmos’] three daughters
Stripped him of his share of joy
with piercing pains—
even though father Zeus went to the desirable bed
of white-armed Thuonê.

And Peleus’s child, the only one immortal Thetis
Bore in Phthia, raised the mourning cry
From the Danaans as he was burned
On the pyre, after he lost his life
To war’s arrows.

If any mortal keeps
The road of truth in mind
He must suffer and obtain well
From the gods. But from the high winds
Different breaths blow different ways.

Human happiness does not last long
safe, when it turns after bringing great abundance.
I will be small in small times and then great
In great ones. I will work out the fate
That comes to me always in my thoughts, ministering to it with my own devices.
But if god were to grant me great wealth,
I have hope that I would find the highest fame afterwards.
Nestor and Lycian Sarpedon, we know from the stories of men
From honeyed words which skilled artisans
Fit together. Virtue grows eternal through famous songs.
But few find this easy to do.”

…. αἰὼν δ’ ἀσφαλής
οὐκ ἔγεντ’ οὔτ’ Αἰακίδᾳ παρὰ Πηλεῖ
οὔτε παρ’ ἀντιθέῳ Κάδμῳ· λέγονται γε μὰν βροτῶν
ὄλβον ὑπέρτατον οἳ σχεῖν, οἵτε καὶ χρυσαμπύκων
μελπομενᾶν ἐν ὄρει Μοισᾶν καὶ ἐν ἑπταπύλοις
ἄϊον Θήβαις, ὁπόθ’ ῾Αρμονίαν γᾶμεν βοῶπιν,
ὁ δὲ Νηρέος εὐβούλου Θέτιν παῖδα κλυτάν,
Ε′ καὶ θεοὶ δαίσαντο παρ’ ἀμφοτέροις,
καὶ Κρόνου παῖδας βασιλῆας ἴδον χρυ-
σέαις ἐν ἕδραις, ἕδνα τε
δέξαντο· Διὸς δὲ χάριν
ἐκ προτέρων μεταμειψάμενοι καμάτων
ἔστασαν ὀρθὰν καρδίαν. ἐν δ’ αὖτε χρόνῳ
τὸν μὲν ὀξείαισι θύγατρες ἐρήμωσαν πάθαις
εὐφροσύνας μέρος αἱ
τρεῖς· ἀτὰρ λευκωλένῳ γε Ζεὺς πατήρ
ἤλυθεν ἐς λέχος ἱμερτὸν Θυώνᾳ.
τοῦ δὲ παῖς, ὅνπερ μόνον ἀθανάτα
τίκτεν ἐν Φθίᾳ Θέτις, ἐν πολέμῳ τό-
ξοις ἀπὸ ψυχὰν λιπών
ὦρσεν πυρὶ καιόμενος
ἐκ Δαναῶν γόον. εἰ δὲ νόῳ τις ἔχει
θνατῶν ἀλαθείας ὁδόν, χρὴ πρὸς μακάρων
τυγχάνοντ’ εὖ πασχέμεν. ἄλλοτε δ’ ἀλλοῖαι πνοαί
ὑψιπετᾶν ἀνέμων.
ὄλβος δ’ οὐκ ἐς μακρὸν ἀνδρῶν ἔρχεται
σάος, πολὺς εὖτ’ ἂν ἐπιβρίσαις ἕπηται.
σμικρὸς ἐν σμικροῖς, μέγας ἐν μεγάλοις
ἔσσομαι, τὸν δ’ ἀμφέποντ’ αἰεὶ φρασίν
δαίμον’ ἀσκήσω κατ’ ἐμὰν θεραπεύων μαχανάν.
εἰ δέ μοι πλοῦτον θεὸς ἁβρὸν ὀρέξαι,
ἐλπίδ’ ἔχω κλέος εὑρέσθαι κεν ὑψηλὸν πρόσω.
Νέστορα καὶ Λύκιον Σαρπηδόν’, ἀνθρώπων φάτις,
ἐξ ἐπέων κελαδεννῶν, τέκτονες οἷα σοφοί
ἅρμοσαν, γινώσκομεν· ἁ δ’ ἀρετὰ κλειναῖς ἀοιδαῖς
χρονία τελέθει· παύροις δὲ πράξασθ’ εὐμαρές.

 

The Nature of a Kind

Pindar, Olympian 11: For Hagêsidamos, Winner of Boy’s Boxing, 476BCE

“There is a season when people have the greatest need
For winds and there is a season for water from the sky,
The pouring offspring of clouds.
But if someone should ever find success through toil,
Then honey-sweet hymns form the foundation
For future tales and offer certain promise for great accomplishments.

The praise for Olympic victors is not limited
By envy. My tongue is ready to shepherd
These words. A man similarly prospers through wise thoughts
thanks to divine assistance.
Know this now, son of Arkhestratos,
Hagêsidamos: thanks to your boxing
I will sing a sweet-songed adornment
For your crown of golden olive,
Without neglecting the race of Western Lokrians.

Join us in the revel there—Muses, I pledge
That you will visit no country who rejects a guest
a people who are ignorant of noble things,
But you will find wise spearmen there.
For not even the fire-red fox nor the roaring lions
Could change the nature of their kind.”

Ἔστιν ἀνθρώποις ἀνέμων ὅτε πλείστα
χρῆσις· ἔστιν δ᾿ οὐρανίων ὑδάτων,
ὀμβρίων παίδων νεφέλας·
εἰ δὲ σὺν πόνῳ τις εὖ πράσσοι,
μελιγάρυες ὕμνοι
ὑστέρων ἀρχὰ λόγων
τέλλεται καὶ πιστὸν ὅρκιον μεγάλαις ἀρεταῖς.

ἀφθόνητος δ᾿ αἶνος Ὀλυμπιονίκαις
οὗτος ἄγκειται. τὰ μὲν ἁμετέρα
γλῶσσα ποιμαίνειν ἐθέλει,
ἐκ θεοῦ δ᾿ ἀνὴρ σοφαῖς ἀνθεῖ
πραπίδεσσιν ὁμοίως.
ἵσθι νῦν, Ἀρχεστράτου
παῖ, τεᾶς, Ἁγησίδαμε, πυγμαχίας ἕνεκεν
κόσμον ἐπὶ στεφάνῳ χρυσέας ἐλαίας
ἁδυμελῆ κελαδήσω,
Ζεφυρίων Λοκρῶν γενεὰν ἀλέγων.
ἔνθα συγκωμάξατ᾿· ἐγγυάσομαι
μή μιν, ὦ Μοῖσαι, φυγόξεινον στρατόν
μηδ᾿ ἀπείρατον καλῶν
ἀκρόσοφόν τε καὶ αἰχματὰν ἀφίξε-
σθαι. τὸ γὰρ ἐμφυὲς οὔτ᾿ αἴθων ἀλώπηξ
οὔτ᾿ ἐρίβρομοι λέοντες διαλλάξαιντο ἦθος.

Bodleian Library, MS. Ashmole 1462, Folio 50v

Shining Fame and Deceptive Tales: Pindar’s First Olympian

N. B. This is a guest post from Larry Benn, who has a fine site already and offers translations and other posts.

Pindar, Olympian  1 (go here for original post)

water is best,
although gold is like fire blazing in the night:
it stands out, the most eye-catching of great-man wealth.
but if you wish to sing of the athletic games,
my dear heart, look no further than the sun for a more warming star
shining in the day through the lonely aether,

and let us not proclaim a contest greater than Olympia.
it is from there comes the famous ode encircling
the thoughts of the skillful artists
who have come to praise the son of Kronos
at the rich blessed hearth of Hieron,
the man who wields the scepter of law in sheep-rich Sicily,
plucking the best of every excellent thing,
and as such he delights in the best of music,
such as we men often play
around his welcoming table.

take the Dorian lyre from the peg
if the beauty of Pisa and Pherenicus
placed your mind under the sweetest musings
when his horse rushed along the Alpheus
giving itself to the race without need of the spur,
and it wedded victory to its master,
the horse-loving king of Syracuse!

fame shines for him in the populous colony of Lydian Pelops,
he for whom mighty Earth-bearer Poseidon lusted
when Klotho lifted him from the immaculate cauldron,
his shoulder, fitted with ivory, gleaming.
true, there are many wonders;
yet it cannot be doubted
what men say is also,
to some degree,
beyond the factual account.

stories embroidered with intricately woven falsehoods deceive.
but grace, which presents all things to mortals as pleasant,
by bestowing honor oftentimes makes even the unreliable become the trusted thing.
but, the days to come are the wisest witnesses.

it is proper for a man to speak well of the gods
as it lessens their negative judgment.
but son of Tantalus, contrary to my predecessors, I will tell you:
when your father summoned to that well-ordered feast and to dear Sipylus,
offering the gods a meal in return for theirs,
it was then that Radiant-Trident grabbed you,
overwhelmed by his soul’s desire
to carry you off on golden horses
up to the loftiest home of widely honored Zeus.
there, at a later time,
Ganymede also went to Zeus
for the same purpose.
but when you disappeared,
and the men searching hard did not fetch you to your mother,
one of the envious neighbors at once whispered
that with a knife they cut you limb from limb
into water at boil on the fire,
and around the tables,
for the last course,
they divided and ate your flesh.
impossible—for me to call any of the blessed ones gluttonous!
I will stay away from that.
privation often makes off with slanderous men.

if indeed the keepers of Olympus
honored any mortal man, it was this Tantalus.
but as he was unable to stomach his great good fortune,
for his insolence a punishment seized on the overweening man
in the form of a huge stone which his father hung over him.
always needing to swat it away from his head,
he was banished from joy.
he bore this unmanageable, ever-distressing life with its three labors—
and a fourth: for stealing from the immortals nectar and ambrosia
with which they had made him deathless,
and which he gave to his drinking companions.
if any man supposes he conceals what he’s doing from the gods,
he’s mistaken.

this is why the immortals sent his son back
among the short-lived race of men again.
when nearing the age of youth’s blossoming,
the first showings of a beard covering his chin with black,
he, the son, pondered how to win marriage–
already planned by her Pisan father–
to famous Hippodameia.
drawing near the grey sea,
alone in the dark of night,
he called out to the loud-roaring Trident-Bearing One,
who then appeared, right by his foot.
he said to him: “if the beloved gifts of Cypris
end in any gratitude, Poseidon, come!
stay Oinomaos’s bronze spear;
carry me into Elis in the swiftest chariots;
and draw me close to victory.
seeing that he’s killed thirteen men (the suitors),
he’s putting off his daughter’s marriage.
the great undertaking does not possess a weak man.
but since to die is destiny for men,
why would one nurse an undistinguished old age,
idling in the shadow lacking purpose,
having no share in all that is noble?
no, this struggle will be my future.
bestow on me a pleasing success!”
thus he spoke and had not fixed on fruitless words.
indeed, honoring him,
the god bestowed a golden chariot
and untiring winged horses as well.

and so he defeated strong Oinomaos
and took the maiden as his consort.
he fathered sons striving for glory;
first in rank among men.
and now he is included in the splendid blood rites
as he reclines by the stream of the Alpheus.
his well-attended tomb is beside the altar most often visited by strangers.
the glory of Pelops shine from afar
in the racecourses of the Olympic festivals
where there are contests in swiftness of foot
and grueling efforts of strength.

for the remainder of his life the winner of the contests has sweet tranquility,
as far as games can provide.
in contrast, the highest blessing comes to all men,
all of the time in the daily course of things.
still, I’m obliged to crown that man
with the equine tune in Aeolian song.
I’m sure there isn’t some other host
experienced in noble things
and more distinguished in power (today at any rate)
to embroider in the splendid folds of hymns.
a god, being a guardian,
attends to your ambitions, Hieron.
this he has as a concern.
if, as I hope, he does not depart in a rush,
I expect to celebrate your even sweeter ambition with the swift chariot,
finding the road an ally of words as I come to the sunny hill of Kronos.
although the Muse jealously guards a most potent dart for me,
and different people are great at different things,
it is with kings the peak caps itself!
look no further.
may you walk your time on high
and may I consort with victors just as long,
far-famed for wisdom among the Hellenes everywhere.

File:Vatican G 23 Group - Black-figure Pseudo-Panathenaic Amphora - Walters 482105 - Detail B.jpg
Black-figure Pseudo-Panathenaic Amphora https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vatican_G_23_Group_-_Black-figure_Pseudo-Panathenaic_Amphora_-_Walters_482105_-_Detail_B.jpg

Olympian 1 ΙΕΡΩΝΙ ΣΥΡΑΚΟΥΣΙΩι ΚΕΛΗΤΙ

ἄριστον μὲν ὕδωρ, ὁ δὲ χρυσὸς αἰθόμενον πῦρ
ἅτε διαπρέπει νυκτὶ μεγάνορος ἔξοχα πλούτου:
εἰ δ᾽ ἄεθλα γαρύεν
ἔλδεαι, φίλον ἦτορ,
5μηκέθ᾽ ἁλίου σκόπει
[10] ἄλλο θαλπνότερον ἐν ἁμέρᾳ φαεννὸν ἄστρον ἐρήμας δι᾽ αἰθέρος,
μηδ᾽ Ὀλυμπίας ἀγῶνα φέρτερον αὐδάσομεν:
ὅθεν ὁ πολύφατος ὕμνος ἀμφιβάλλεται
σοφῶν μητίεσσι, κελαδεῖν
10Κρόνου παῖδ᾽ ἐς ἀφνεὰν ἱκομένους
μάκαιραν Ἱέρωνος ἑστίαν,
θεμιστεῖον ὃς ἀμφέπει σκᾶπτον ἐν πολυμάλῳ
[20] Σικελίᾳ, δρέπων μὲν κορυφὰς ἀρετᾶν ἄπο πασᾶν,
ἀγλαΐζεται δὲ καὶ
15μουσικᾶς ἐν ἀώτῳ,
οἷα παίζομεν φίλαν
ἄνδρες ἀμφὶ θαμὰ τράπεζαν. ἀλλὰ Δωρίαν ἀπὸ φόρμιγγα πασσάλου
λάμβαν᾽, εἴ τί τοι Πίσας τε καὶ Φερενίκου χάρις
[30] νόον ὑπὸ γλυκυτάταις ἔθηκε φροντίσιν,
20ὅτε παρ᾽ Ἀλφεῷ σύτο, δέμας
ἀκέντητον ἐν δρόμοισι παρέχων,
κράτει δὲ προσέμιξε δεσπόταν,
Συρακόσιον ἱπποχάρμαν βασιλῆα. λάμπει δέ οἱ κλέος

ἐν εὐάνορι Λυδοῦ Πέλοπος ἀποικίᾳ:
25τοῦ μεγασθενὴς ἐράσσατο γαιάοχος
[40] Ποσειδᾶν, ἐπεί νιν καθαροῦ λέβητος ἔξελε Κλωθὼ
ἐλέφαντι φαίδιμον ὦμον κεκαδμένον.
ἦ θαυματὰ πολλά, καί πού τι καὶ βροτῶν φάτις ὑπὲρ τὸν ἀλαθῆ λόγον
δεδαιδαλμένοι ψεύδεσι ποικίλοις ἐξαπατῶντι μῦθοι
30Χάρις δ᾽, ἅπερ ἅπαντα τεύχει τὰ μείλιχα θνατοῖς,
[50] ἐπιφέροισα τιμὰν καὶ ἄπιστον ἐμήσατο πιστὸν
ἔμμεναι τὸ πολλάκις:
ἁμέραι δ᾽ ἐπίλοιποι
μάρτυρες σοφώτατοι.
ἔστι δ᾽ ἀνδρὶ φάμεν ἐοικὸς ἀμφὶ δαιμόνων καλά: μείων γὰρ αἰτία.
υἱὲ Ταντάλου, σὲ δ᾽, ἀντία προτέρων, φθέγξομαι,
[60] ὁπότ᾽ ἐκάλεσε πατὴρ τὸν εὐνομώτατον
ἐς ἔρανον φίλαν τε Σίπυλον,
ἀμοιβαῖα θεοῖσι δεῖπνα παρέχων,
40τότ᾽ Ἀγλαοτρίαιναν ἁρπάσαι
δαμέντα φρένας ἱμέρῳ χρυσέαισί τ᾽ ἀν᾽ ἵπποις
ὕπατον εὐρυτίμου ποτὶ δῶμα Διὸς μεταβᾶσαι,
ἔνθα δευτέρῳ χρόνῳ
[70] ἦλθε καὶ Γανυμήδης
45Ζηνὶ τωὔτ᾽ ἐπὶ χρέος.
ὡς δ᾽ ἄφαντος ἔπελες, οὐδὲ ματρὶ πολλὰ μαιόμενοι φῶτες ἄγαγον,
ἔννεπε κρυφᾶ τις αὐτίκα φθονερῶν γειτόνων,
ὕδατος ὅτι σε πυρὶ ζέοισαν εἰς ἀκμὰν
μαχαίρᾳ τάμον κάτα μέλη,
50[80] τραπέζαισί τ᾽, ἀμφὶ δεύτατα, κρεῶν
σέθεν διεδάσαντο καὶ φάγον.

ἐμοὶ δ᾽ ἄπορα γαστρίμαργον μακάρων τιν᾽ εἰπεῖν. ἀφίσταμαι.
ἀκέρδεια λέλογχεν θαμινὰ κακαγόρους.
εἰ δὲ δή τιν᾽ ἄνδρα θνατὸν Ὀλύμπου σκοποὶ
55ἐτίμασαν, ἦν Τάνταλος οὗτος: ἀλλὰ γὰρ καταπέψαι
μέγαν ὄλβον οὐκ ἐδυνάσθη, κόρῳ δ᾽ ἕλεν
[90] ἄταν ὑπέροπλον, ἅν οἱ πατὴρ ὑπερκρέμασε καρτερὸν αὐτῷ λίθον,
τὸν αἰεὶ μενοινῶν κεφαλᾶς βαλεῖν εὐφροσύνας ἀλᾶται.

ἔχει δ᾽ ἀπάλαμον βίον τοῦτον ἐμπεδόμοχθον,
60μετὰ τριῶν τέταρτον πόνον, ἀθανάτων ὅτι κλέψαις
ἁλίκεσσι συμπόταις
[100] νέκταρ ἀμβροσίαν τε
δῶκεν, οἷσιν ἄφθιτον
θῆκαν. εἰ δὲ θεὸν ἀνήρ τις ἔλπεταί τι λαθέμεν ἔρδων, ἁμαρτάνει.

τοὔνεκα προῆκαν υἱὸν ἀθάνατοί οἱ πάλιν
μετὰ τὸ ταχύποτμον αὖτις ἀνέρων ἔθνος.
πρὸς εὐάνθεμον δ᾽ ὅτε φυὰν
[110] λάχναι νιν μέλαν γένειον ἔρεφον.
ἑτοῖμον ἀνεφρόντισεν γάμον
70Πισάτα παρὰ πατρὸς εὔδοξον Ἱπποδάμειαν
σχεθέμεν. ἐγγὺς ἐλθὼν πολιᾶς ἁλὸς οἶος ἐν ὄρφνᾳ
ἄπυεν βαρύκτυπον
Εὐτρίαιναν: ὁ δ᾽ αὐτῷ
πὰρ ποδὶ σχεδὸν φάνη.

[120] τῷ μὲν εἶπε: ‘φίλια δῶρα Κυπρίας ἄγ᾽ εἴ τι, Ποσείδαον, ἐς χάριν
τέλλεται, πέδασον ἔγχος Οἰνομάου χάλκεον,
ἐμὲ δ᾽ ἐπὶ ταχυτάτων πόρευσον ἁρμάτων
ἐς Ἆλιν, κράτει δὲ πέλασον.
ἐπεὶ τρεῖς τε καὶ δέκ᾽ ἄνδρας ὀλέσαις
80ἐρῶντας ἀναβάλλεται γάμον
[130] θυγατρός. ὁ μέγας δὲ κίνδυνος ἄναλκιν οὐ φῶτα λαμβάνει.
θανεῖν δ᾽ οἷσιν ἀνάγκα, τί κέ τις ἀνώνυμον
γῆρας ἐν σκότῳ καθήμενος ἕψοι μάταν,
ἁπάντων καλῶν ἄμμορος; ἀλλ᾽ ἐμοὶ μὲν οὗτος ἄεθλος
85ὑποκείσεται: τὺ δὲ πρᾶξιν φίλαν δίδοι.’

ὣς ἔννεπεν: οὐδ᾽ ἀκράντοις ἐφάψατ᾽ ὦν ἔπεσι. τὸν μὲν ἀγάλλων θεὸς
[140] ἔδωκεν δίφρον τε χρύσεον πτεροῖσίν τ᾽ ἀκάμαντας ἵππους.
ἕλεν δ᾽ Οἰνομάου βίαν παρθένον τε σύνευνον:
τέκε τε λαγέτας ἓξ ἀρεταῖσι μεμαότας υἱούς.
90νῦν δ᾽ ἐν αἱμακουρίαις
ἀγλααῖσι μέμικται,
Ἀλφεοῦ πόρῳ κλιθείς,
[150] τύμβον ἀμφίπολον ἔχων πολυξενωτάτῳ παρὰ βωμῷ. τὸ δὲ κλέος
τηλόθεν δέδορκε τᾶν Ὀλυμπιάδων ἐν δρόμοις
95Πέλοπος, ἵνα ταχυτὰς ποδῶν ἐρίζεται
ἀκμαί τ᾽ ἰσχύος θρασύπονοι:

ὁ νικῶν δὲ λοιπὸν ἀμφὶ βίοτον
ἔχει μελιτόεσσαν εὐδίαν
[160] ἀέθλων γ᾽ ἕνεκεν. τὸ δ᾽ αἰεὶ παράμερον ἐσλὸν
100ὕπατον ἔρχεται παντὶ βροτῶν. ἐμὲ δὲ στεφανῶσαι
κεῖνον ἱππίῳ νόμῳ
Αἰοληΐδι μολπᾷ
χρή: πέποιθα δὲ ξένον

μή τιν᾽, ἀμφότερα καλῶν τε ἴδριν ἁμᾷ καὶ δύναμιν κυριώτερον,
105τῶν γε νῦν κλυταῖσι δαιδαλωσέμεν ὕμνων πτυχαῖς.
[170] θεὸς ἐπίτροπος ἐὼν τεαῖσι μήδεται
ἔχων τοῦτο κᾶδος, Ἱέρων,
μερίμναισιν: εἰ δὲ μὴ ταχὺ λίποι,
ἔτι γλυκυτέραν κεν ἔλπομαι
110σὺν ἅρματι θοῷ κλεΐξειν, ἐπίκουρον εὑρὼν ὁδὸν λόγων
[180] παρ᾽ εὐδείελον ἐλθὼν Κρόνιον. ἐμοὶ μὲν ὦν
Μοῖσα καρτερώτατον βέλος ἀλκᾷ τρέφει:
ἐπ᾽ ἄλλοισι δ᾽ ἄλλοι μεγάλοι. τὸ δ᾽ ἔσχατον
κορυφοῦται βασιλεῦσι. μηκέτι πάπταινε πόρσιον.
115εἴη σέ τε τοῦτον ὑψοῦ χρόνον πατεῖν, ἐμέ τε τοσσάδε νικαφόροις
ὁμιλεῖν, πρόφαντον σοφίᾳ καθ᾽ Ἕλλανας ἐόντα παντᾷ.

Larry Benn as 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 featsofgreek.blogspot.com.

The Fruitless Toil of Worry: Two Passages on Happiness

Horace, Odes 2.16 25-32

“The spirit which is happy for a single day
Has learned not to worry about what remains
And tempers bitter tastes with a gentle smile—
Nothing is blessed through and through.

A swift death stole famed Achilles away;
Drawn-out old age wore Tithonos down.
Perhaps some hour will hand to me
Whatever it has refused to you.”

laetus in praesens animus quod ultra est
oderit curare et amara lento
temperet risu; nihil est ab omni
parte beatum.

abstulit clarum cita mors Achillem,
longa Tithonum minuit senectus,
et mihi forsan, tibi quod negarit,
porriget hora.

Bacchylides, Processionals fr. 11-12

“There is one border, a single path to happiness for mortals—
When a person is able to keep a heart free of grief
Until the end of life. Whoever keeps a ten thousand
Affairs in their thoughts
Whoever tortures their heart
Night and day over what may come,
Has toil which brings no profit.”

εἷς ὅρος, μία βροτοῖσίν ἐστιν εὐτυχίας ὁδός,
θυμὸν εἴ τις ἔχων ἀπενθῆ δύναται
διατελεῖν βίον· ὃς δὲ μυρία
μὲν ἀμφιπολεῖ φρενί,
τὸ δὲ παρ᾿ ἆμάρ τε <καὶ> νύκτα μελλόντων
χάριν αἰὲν ἰάπτεται
κέαρ, ἄκαρπον ἔχει πόνον.

Image result for medieval manuscript happiness
BLMedieval Sloane MS 278, 1280-1300

A Lyric Take on the Death of Agamemnon

Pind. Pyth. 11.17-37

“The nurse Arsinoe took [Orestes]
from his father murdered
by the strong hands of Klytemnestra
by the grievous trick
when she sent the Dardanian girl, Kassandra,
with Agamemnon’s soul by means of grey bronze
to the dusty banks of Acheron,
the pitiless woman.

Was it Iphigenia, slaughtered
far away from her home near the Euripos
that moved her to heavy-handed rage?
Or was she overwhelmed by another bed,
made crazy by their nightly ‘sharing’?
This is the most hateful mistake
of young brides
and it is impossible to keep from other people’s tongues.
Citizens are vile-gossips.

Prosperity brings with it an equal-sized envy;
while the man who breathes close to the ground moves by unseen.
The hero son of Atreus himself died
when he came after a long time to famous Amyklai.
And he destroyed the prophetic girl too
after he despoiled the homes of the Trojans, burned for Helen.”

agdeath

Β′ τὸν δὴ φονευομένου πατρὸς ᾿Αρσινόα Κλυταιμήστρας
χειρῶν ὕπο κρατερᾶν
ἐκ δόλου τροφὸς ἄνελε δυσπενθέος,
ὁπότε Δαρδανίδα κόραν Πριάμου
Κασσάνδραν πολιῷ χαλκῷ σὺν ᾿Αγαμεμνονίᾳ
ψυχᾷ πόρευ’ ᾿Αχέροντος ἀκτὰν παρ’ εὔσκιον
νηλὴς γυνά. πότερόν νιν ἄρ’ ᾿Ιφιγένει’ ἐπ’ Εὐρίπῳ
σφαχθεῖσα τῆλε πάτρας
ἔκνισεν βαρυπάλαμον ὄρσαι χόλον;
ἢ ἑτέρῳ λέχεϊ δαμαζομέναν
ἔννυχοι πάραγον κοῖται; τὸ δὲ νέαις ἀλόχοις
ἔχθιστον ἀμπλάκιον καλύψαι τ’ ἀμάχανον
ἀλλοτρίαισι γλώσσαις·
κακολόγοι δὲ πολῖται.
ἴσχει τε γὰρ ὄλβος οὐ μείονα φθόνον·
ὁ δὲ χαμηλὰ πνέων ἄφαντον βρέμει.
θάνεν μὲν αὐτὸς ἥρως ᾿Ατρεΐδας
ἵκων χρόνῳ κλυταῖς ἐν ᾿Αμύκλαις,
Γ′ μάντιν τ’ ὄλεσσε κόραν, ἐπεὶ ἀμφ’ ῾Ελένᾳ πυρωθέντας
Τρώων ἔλυσε δόμους.

The Nature of a Kind

Pindar, Olympian 11: For Hagêsidamos, Winner of Boy’s Boxing, 476BCE

“There is a season when people have the greatest need
For winds and there is a season for water from the sky,
The pouring offspring of clouds.
But if someone should ever find success through toil,
Then honey-sweet hymns form the foundation
For future tales and offer certain promise for great accomplishments.

The praise for Olympic victors is not limited
By envy. My tongue is ready to shepherd
These words. A man similarly prospers through wise thoughts
thanks to divine assistance.
Know this now, son of Arkhestratos,
Hagêsidamos: thanks to your boxing
I will sing a sweet-songed adornment
For your crown of golden olive,
Without neglecting the race of Western Lokrians.

Join us in the revel there—Muses, I pledge
That you will visit no country who rejects a guest
a people who are ignorant of noble things,
But you will find wise spearmen there.
For not even the fire-red fox nor the roaring lions
Could change the nature of their kind.”

Ἔστιν ἀνθρώποις ἀνέμων ὅτε πλείστα
χρῆσις· ἔστιν δ᾿ οὐρανίων ὑδάτων,
ὀμβρίων παίδων νεφέλας·
εἰ δὲ σὺν πόνῳ τις εὖ πράσσοι,
μελιγάρυες ὕμνοι
ὑστέρων ἀρχὰ λόγων
τέλλεται καὶ πιστὸν ὅρκιον μεγάλαις ἀρεταῖς.

ἀφθόνητος δ᾿ αἶνος Ὀλυμπιονίκαις
οὗτος ἄγκειται. τὰ μὲν ἁμετέρα
γλῶσσα ποιμαίνειν ἐθέλει,
ἐκ θεοῦ δ᾿ ἀνὴρ σοφαῖς ἀνθεῖ
πραπίδεσσιν ὁμοίως.
ἵσθι νῦν, Ἀρχεστράτου
παῖ, τεᾶς, Ἁγησίδαμε, πυγμαχίας ἕνεκεν
κόσμον ἐπὶ στεφάνῳ χρυσέας ἐλαίας
ἁδυμελῆ κελαδήσω,
Ζεφυρίων Λοκρῶν γενεὰν ἀλέγων.
ἔνθα συγκωμάξατ᾿· ἐγγυάσομαι
μή μιν, ὦ Μοῖσαι, φυγόξεινον στρατόν
μηδ᾿ ἀπείρατον καλῶν
ἀκρόσοφόν τε καὶ αἰχματὰν ἀφίξε-
σθαι. τὸ γὰρ ἐμφυὲς οὔτ᾿ αἴθων ἀλώπηξ
οὔτ᾿ ἐρίβρομοι λέοντες διαλλάξαιντο ἦθος.

Bodleian Library, MS. Ashmole 1462, Folio 50v

“Dying is the Sweetest Thing”: The Gods Love Those Who Give The Most

This poem moves from praising the victory of Hiero’s horses at Olympos to the tale of Croesus’ reaction to the sacking of Sardis. In this version of the tale, he prepares to sacrifice his family on a pyre. The story is, well, a bit horrifying.

Bacchylides, Victory Odes 3.1-60

“Kleio, sweetness-giver, sing of Demeter
Who rules rich-grained Sicily, and also
Her purple-crowned daughter, and the swift
Olympic-racing horses of Hiero.

For they rushed with overwhelming Victory
And Glory alongside the broad-eddying
Alpheos where they made the blessed son of Deinomenes
A master of the crowns.

And the people shouted out:
“Oh, thrice-blessed man
Who obtained from Zeus
The widest-ruling power of all the Greeks
And knows not to hide his towered health
With black-cloaked shadow.

The temples overflow with sacrificial feasts
And the streets overflow with hospitality.
And god shines too in glancing light
From the tall-wrought tripods which were set up

In front of the temple where the Delphians
Take care of the greatest grove of Apollo
Alongside the waters of Kastalia—let someone
Glory in god, in god—this is the best of the blessings.

For once there was a time when
Even though the Sardians were sacked by the Persian army
Because Zeus had brought to an end
The judgment which was fated,
The leader of the horse-taming
Lydians, Kroisos, golden-sworded

Apollo protected. For Kroisos,
When he had come to that lamentable, unhoped for day
Was not about to wait for slavery any more. But he
Had a pyre built up in front of his bronze-walled yard.

There he climbed up with his dear wife
And his well-tressed daughters who were
Mourning uncontrollably. Then he raised his hands
Up to the high sky above

And he shouted: “Powerful god
Where is divine gratitude now?
Where is Leto’s son the lord?
Alyattes’ halls are falling down.
[what of the] myriad [gifts I gave you?]
[What trust can mortals give to gods?]

[Look now, the enemy has sacked my] city,
And the gold-eddying Paktôlos runs red
With blood and women are shamefully dragged away
From the well-built halls.

What was hated before is now dear. Dying is the sweetest thing.”
So much he said, and he ordered his light-stepping attendant
To Set fire to the wooden home. Then the girls were crying out
And they were throwing their hands to their

Mother. For mortals most hateful death
Is the one we see coming.
But as the shining strength
Of the terrible fire was leaping forth
Zeus sent over a dark-covering cloud
To extinguish the yellow flame.

Nothing is unbelievable when divine care
Makes it. Then Delian-born Apollo
Carried the old man to the Hyperboreans
And settled him there with his thin-ankled daughters

Because of his piety, because he sent to sacred Pytho
Gifts greatest of all the mortals.

᾿Αριστο[κ]άρπου Σικελίας κρέουσαν
Δ[ά]ματρα ἰοστέφανόν τε Κούραν
ὕμνει, γλυκύδωρε Κλεοῖ, θοάς τ’ ᾿Ο-
[λυμ]πιοδρόμους ῾Ιέρωνος ἵππ[ο]υς.

[Σεύον]το γὰρ σὺν ὑπερόχῳ τε Νίκᾳ
[σὺν ᾿Αγ]λαΐᾳ τε παρ’ εὐρυδίναν
[᾿Αλφεόν, τόθι] Δεινομένεος ἔθηκαν
ὄλβιον τ[έκος στεφάνω]ν κυρῆσαι·

θρόησε δὲ λ[αὸς ]
[] ἆ τρισευδαίμ[ων ἀνὴρ]
ὃς παρὰ Ζηνὸς λαχὼν πλείστ-
αρχον ῾Ελλάνων γέρας
οἶδε πυργωθέντα πλοῦτον μὴ μελαμ-
φαρέϊ κρύπτειν σκότῳ.

Βρύει μὲν ἱερὰ βουθύτοις ἑορταῖς,
βρύουσι φιλοξενίας ἀγυιαί·
λάμπει δ’ ὑπὸ μαρμαρυγαῖς ὁ χρυσός,
ὑψιδαιδάλτων τριπόδων σταθέντων

πάροιθε ναοῦ, τόθι μέγι[στ]ον ἄλσος
Φοίβου παρὰ Κασταλίας [ῥ]εέθροις
Δελφοὶ διέπουσι. Θεόν, θ[εό]ν τις
ἀγλαϊζέθὠ γὰρ ἄριστος [ὄ]λβων·

ἐπεί ποτε καὶ δαμασίπ-
[π]ου Λυδίας ἀρχαγέταν,
εὖτε τὰν πεπ[ρωμέναν] Ζη-
νὸς τελέ[σσαντος κρί]σιν
Σάρδιες Περσᾶ[ν ἁλίσκοντο στρ]ατῷ,
Κροῖσον ὁ χρυσά[ορος]

φύλαξ’ ᾿Απόλλων. [῾Ο δ’ ἐς] ἄελπτον ἆμαρ
μ[ο]λὼν πολυδ[άκρυο]ν οὐκ ἔμελλε
μίμνειν ἔτι δ[ουλοσύ]ναν, πυρὰν δὲ
χαλκ[ο]τειχέος π[ροπάροι]θεν αὐ[λᾶς]
ναήσατ’, ἔνθα σὺ[ν ἀλόχῳ] τε κεδ[νᾷ]
σὺν εὐπλοκάμοι[ς τ’] ἐπέβαιν’ ἄλα[στον]
[θ]υ[γ]ατράσι δυρομέναις· χέρας δ’ [ἐς]
[αἰ]πὺν αἰθέρα σ[φ]ετέρας ἀείρας

[γέ]γ[ω]νεν· «῾Υπέρ[βι]ε δαῖ-
μον, [πο]ῦ θεῶν ἐστι[ν] χάρις;
[πο]ῦ δὲ Λατοίδ[ας] ἄναξ; [ἔρ-]
[ρουσ]ιν ᾿Αλυά[τ]τα δόμοι

[] μυρίων
[]ν.
[]ν ἄστυ,
[ἐρεύθεται αἵματι χρυσο]δίνας
Πακτωλός, ἀ[ε]ικελίως γυνα[ῖ]κες
ἐξ ἐϋκτίτων μεγάρων ἄγονται·

τὰ πρόσθεν [ἐχ]θρὰ φίλα· θανεῖν γλύκιστον.»
Τόσ’ εἶπε, καὶ ἁβ[ρο]βάταν κ[έλε]υσεν
ἅπτειν ξύλινον δόμον. ῎Εκ[λα]γον δὲ
παρθένοι, φίλας τ’ ἀνὰ ματρὶ χεῖρας

ἔβαλλον· ὁ γὰρ προφανὴς
θνατοῖσιν ἔχθιστος φόνων·
ἀλλ’ ἐπεὶ δεινο[ῦ π]υρὸς λαμ-
πρὸν διάϊ[σσεν μέ]νος,
Ζεὺς ἐπιστάσας [μελαγκευ]θὲς νέφος
σβέννυεν ξανθὰ[ν φλόγα.]

῎Απιστον οὐδὲν ὅ τι θ[εῶν μέ]ριμνα
τεύχει· τότε Δαλογενὴ[ς ᾿Από]λλων
φέρων ἐς ῾Υπερβορέο[υς γ]έροντα
σὺν τανισφύροις κατ[έν]ασσε κούραις

δι’ εὐσέβειαν, ὅτι μέ[γιστα] θνατῶν
ἐς ἀγαθέαν <ἀν>έπεμψε Π[υθ]ώ.

Image result for Croesus king of lydia

 

The Fruitless Toil of Worry: Two Passages on Happiness

Horace, Odes 2.16 25-32

“The spirit which is happy for a single day
Has learned not to worry about what remains
And tempers bitter tastes with a gentle smile—
Nothing is blessed through and through.

A swift death stole famed Achilles away;
Drawn-out old age wore Tithonos down.
Perhaps some hour will hand to me
Whatever it has refused to you.”

laetus in praesens animus quod ultra est
oderit curare et amara lento
temperet risu; nihil est ab omni
parte beatum.

abstulit clarum cita mors Achillem,
longa Tithonum minuit senectus,
et mihi forsan, tibi quod negarit,
porriget hora.

Bacchylides, Processionals fr. 11-12

“There is one border, a single path to happiness for mortals—
When a person is able to keep a heart free of grief
Until the end of life. Whoever keeps a ten thousand
Affairs in their thoughts
Whoever tortures their heart
Night and day over what may come,
Has toil which brings no profit.”

εἷς ὅρος, μία βροτοῖσίν ἐστιν εὐτυχίας ὁδός,
θυμὸν εἴ τις ἔχων ἀπενθῆ δύναται
διατελεῖν βίον· ὃς δὲ μυρία
μὲν ἀμφιπολεῖ φρενί,
τὸ δὲ παρ᾿ ἆμάρ τε <καὶ> νύκτα μελλόντων
χάριν αἰὲν ἰάπτεται
κέαρ, ἄκαρπον ἔχει πόνον.

Image result for medieval manuscript happiness
BLMedieval Sloane MS 278, 1280-1300

The Fruitless Toil of Worry: Two Passages on Happiness

Horace, Odes 2.16 25-32

“The spirit which is happy for a single day
Has learned not to worry about what remains
And tempers bitter tastes with a gentle smile—
Nothing is blessed through and through.

A swift death stole famed Achilles away;
Drawn-out old age wore Tithonos down.
Perhaps some hour will hand to me
Whatever it has refused to you.”

laetus in praesens animus quod ultra est
oderit curare et amara lento
temperet risu; nihil est ab omni
parte beatum.

abstulit clarum cita mors Achillem,
longa Tithonum minuit senectus,
et mihi forsan, tibi quod negarit,
porriget hora.

Bacchylides, Processionals fr. 11-12

“There is one border, a single path to happiness for mortals—
When a person is able to keep a heart free of grief
Until the end of life. Whoever keeps a ten thousand
Affairs in their thoughts
Whoever tortures their heart
Night and day over what may come,
Has toil which brings no profit.”

εἷς ὅρος, μία βροτοῖσίν ἐστιν εὐτυχίας ὁδός,
θυμὸν εἴ τις ἔχων ἀπενθῆ δύναται
διατελεῖν βίον· ὃς δὲ μυρία
μὲν ἀμφιπολεῖ φρενί,
τὸ δὲ παρ᾿ ἆμάρ τε <καὶ> νύκτα μελλόντων
χάριν αἰὲν ἰάπτεται
κέαρ, ἄκαρπον ἔχει πόνον.

Image result for medieval manuscript happiness
BLMedieval Sloane MS 278, 1280-1300

“Dying is the Sweetest Thing”: The Gods Love Those Who Give The Most

This poem moves from praising the victory of Hiero’s horses at Olympos to the tale of Croesus’ reaction to the sacking of Sardis. In this version of the tale, he prepares to sacrifice his family on a pyre. The story is, well, a bit horrifying.

Bacchylides, Victory Odes 3.1-60

Kleio, sweetness-giver, sing of Demeter
Who rules rich-grained Sicily, and also
Her purple-crowned daughter, and the swift
Olympic-racing horses of Hiero.

For they rushed with overwhelming Victory
And Glory alongside the broad-eddying
Alpheos where they made the blessed son of Deinomenes
A master of the crowns.

And the people shouted out:
“Oh, thrice-blessed man
Who obtained from Zeus
The widest-ruling power of all the Greeks
And knows not to hide his towered health
With black-cloaked shadow.

The temples overflow with sacrificial feasts
And the streets overflow with hospitality.
And god shines too in glancing light
From the tall-wrought tripods which were set up

In front of the temple where the Delphians
Take care of the greatest grove of Apollo
Alongside the waters of Kastalia—let someone
Glory in god, in god—this is the best of the blessings.

For once there was a time when
Even though the Sardians were sacked by the Persian army
Because Zeus had brought to an end
The judgment which was fated,
The leader of the horse-taming
Lydians, Kroisos, golden-sworded

Apollo protected. For Kroisos,
When he had come to that lamentable, unhoped for day
Was not about to wait for slavery any more. But he
Had a pyre built up in front of his bronze-walled yard.

There he climbed up with his dear wife
And his well-tressed daughters who were
Mourning uncontrollably. Then he raised his hands
Up to the high sky above

And he shouted: “Powerful god
Where is divine gratitude now?
Where is Leto’s son the lord?
Alyattes’ halls are falling down.
[what of the] myriad [gifts I gave you?]
[What trust can mortals give to gods?]

[Look now, the enemy has sacked my] city,
And the gold-eddying Paktôlos runs red
With blood and women are shamefully dragged away
From the well-built halls.

What was hated before is now dear. Dying is the sweetest thing.”
So much he said, and he ordered his light-stepping attendant
To Set fire to the wooden home. Then the girls were crying out
And they were throwing their hands to their

Mother. For mortals most hateful death
Is the one we see coming.
But as the shining strength
Of the terrible fire was leaping forth
Zeus sent over a dark-covering cloud
To extinguish the yellow flame.

Nothing is unbelievable when divine care
Makes it. Then Delian-born Apollo
Carried the old man to the Hyperboreans
And settled him there with his thin-ankled daughters

Because of his piety, because he sent to sacred Pytho
Gifts greatest of all the mortals.

᾿Αριστο[κ]άρπου Σικελίας κρέουσαν
Δ[ά]ματρα ἰοστέφανόν τε Κούραν
ὕμνει, γλυκύδωρε Κλεοῖ, θοάς τ’ ᾿Ο-
[λυμ]πιοδρόμους ῾Ιέρωνος ἵππ[ο]υς.

[Σεύον]το γὰρ σὺν ὑπερόχῳ τε Νίκᾳ
[σὺν ᾿Αγ]λαΐᾳ τε παρ’ εὐρυδίναν
[᾿Αλφεόν, τόθι] Δεινομένεος ἔθηκαν
ὄλβιον τ[έκος στεφάνω]ν κυρῆσαι·

θρόησε δὲ λ[αὸς ]
[] ἆ τρισευδαίμ[ων ἀνὴρ]
ὃς παρὰ Ζηνὸς λαχὼν πλείστ-
αρχον ῾Ελλάνων γέρας
οἶδε πυργωθέντα πλοῦτον μὴ μελαμ-
φαρέϊ κρύπτειν σκότῳ.

Βρύει μὲν ἱερὰ βουθύτοις ἑορταῖς,
βρύουσι φιλοξενίας ἀγυιαί·
λάμπει δ’ ὑπὸ μαρμαρυγαῖς ὁ χρυσός,
ὑψιδαιδάλτων τριπόδων σταθέντων

πάροιθε ναοῦ, τόθι μέγι[στ]ον ἄλσος
Φοίβου παρὰ Κασταλίας [ῥ]εέθροις
Δελφοὶ διέπουσι. Θεόν, θ[εό]ν τις
ἀγλαϊζέθὠ γὰρ ἄριστος [ὄ]λβων·

ἐπεί ποτε καὶ δαμασίπ-
[π]ου Λυδίας ἀρχαγέταν,
εὖτε τὰν πεπ[ρωμέναν] Ζη-
νὸς τελέ[σσαντος κρί]σιν
Σάρδιες Περσᾶ[ν ἁλίσκοντο στρ]ατῷ,
Κροῖσον ὁ χρυσά[ορος]

φύλαξ’ ᾿Απόλλων. [῾Ο δ’ ἐς] ἄελπτον ἆμαρ
μ[ο]λὼν πολυδ[άκρυο]ν οὐκ ἔμελλε
μίμνειν ἔτι δ[ουλοσύ]ναν, πυρὰν δὲ
χαλκ[ο]τειχέος π[ροπάροι]θεν αὐ[λᾶς]
ναήσατ’, ἔνθα σὺ[ν ἀλόχῳ] τε κεδ[νᾷ]
σὺν εὐπλοκάμοι[ς τ’] ἐπέβαιν’ ἄλα[στον]
[θ]υ[γ]ατράσι δυρομέναις· χέρας δ’ [ἐς]
[αἰ]πὺν αἰθέρα σ[φ]ετέρας ἀείρας

[γέ]γ[ω]νεν· «῾Υπέρ[βι]ε δαῖ-
μον, [πο]ῦ θεῶν ἐστι[ν] χάρις;
[πο]ῦ δὲ Λατοίδ[ας] ἄναξ; [ἔρ-]
[ρουσ]ιν ᾿Αλυά[τ]τα δόμοι

[] μυρίων
[]ν.
[]ν ἄστυ,
[ἐρεύθεται αἵματι χρυσο]δίνας
Πακτωλός, ἀ[ε]ικελίως γυνα[ῖ]κες
ἐξ ἐϋκτίτων μεγάρων ἄγονται·

τὰ πρόσθεν [ἐχ]θρὰ φίλα· θανεῖν γλύκιστον.»
Τόσ’ εἶπε, καὶ ἁβ[ρο]βάταν κ[έλε]υσεν
ἅπτειν ξύλινον δόμον. ῎Εκ[λα]γον δὲ
παρθένοι, φίλας τ’ ἀνὰ ματρὶ χεῖρας

ἔβαλλον· ὁ γὰρ προφανὴς
θνατοῖσιν ἔχθιστος φόνων·
ἀλλ’ ἐπεὶ δεινο[ῦ π]υρὸς λαμ-
πρὸν διάϊ[σσεν μέ]νος,
Ζεὺς ἐπιστάσας [μελαγκευ]θὲς νέφος
σβέννυεν ξανθὰ[ν φλόγα.]

῎Απιστον οὐδὲν ὅ τι θ[εῶν μέ]ριμνα
τεύχει· τότε Δαλογενὴ[ς ᾿Από]λλων
φέρων ἐς ῾Υπερβορέο[υς γ]έροντα
σὺν τανισφύροις κατ[έν]ασσε κούραις

δι’ εὐσέβειαν, ὅτι μέ[γιστα] θνατῶν
ἐς ἀγαθέαν <ἀν>έπεμψε Π[υθ]ώ.

Image result for Croesus king of lydia