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PINDARUS


Third Olympian Ode


That I please the hospitable Tydaridai and Helen of the lovely hair, while honouring famous Acragas, that is my boast when I had set up for Theron an Olympic hymn, for untiring-footed horses the flower.

I say, therefore, that the Muse stood by me, as I found out a bright new way to set the voice of shining celebration to Doric modes: since crowns binding locks moved me to pay this task from God the manyvoiced lyre, the voice of pipes and words in place.

As befits the son of Ainesidamous and Pisa told me to lift my voice, Pisa from where divinely destined songs visit men to whatever man, in obedience to good-old laws of Heracles, the Aitolian, the strict Hellenic umpire, throws from above around his locks the grey-blue ornament of the olive, which once the Amphitriades brought from the Ister's shady springs the finest souvenir man may have from contests at Olympia.

When he had persuaded, with speech, the servant of Apollo, the tribe of Hyperboreans.

With honest heart, he begs for God's all-welcoming grove that plant which is for mankind common shade and crown for excellence for already the altars had been consecrated to the Father, and in her golden chariot

The midmonth Moon with golden chariot at dusk opened to her whole round eye

And he had fixed for mighty trials a holy judgement along with its four years festival beside the sacred banks of the River Alph but the grove, sacred to Pelops, did not yet bloom with beautiful trees in the glens below the hill of Chronos.

The grove naked of such trees seemed helpless to the sun's full glare.

Yes, to the land then his heart drove him to Istria , where Leto's horse-driving daughter had welcomed him as he arrived from the hills and much-winding valleys of Acadia when as Erytheus directed and his father compelled drove him to chase the golden hind which Tayegeta had once dedicated to Orthosia.

Pursuing her, he saw, yes, that land beyond the blasts of the cold north wind and there he stood and wondered at those trees.

For which a sweet desired seized him to plant those trees along the twelve-lap turn

Of the racetrack.

And now too he graciously visits this festival along with the godlike twin sons of Leda for he entrusted to them, when he rose to Olympus the governance of the wonderful contest about virtues of men and the driving of swift chariots

And my spirit moves me to say that to Emmenidai and to Theron, glory comes as the gift of these good horsemen because more than other men they host them with hospitable feast and they guard the rites of the blessed ones with pious insight.

If water is a noble thing, but gold is the most lordly of possessions and now Theron, reaching the farthest point in virtue from where he began grasps the pillars of Heracles and what's beyond neither wise men nor fools may walk,

I will not further chase the point.

I would be a fool.


De gastvrije Tyndariden behagen en Helena met de mooie vlechten terwijl ik het beroemde Akragas eer, dat is mijn wens. Bij Therons zege in Olympia heb ik de bloem van hymnen aangeheven ter ere van zijn paarden, onvermoeibare lopers.

Daarom stond de Muze mij ter zijde toen ik een fonkelnieuwe toonsoort bedacht die mijn zang, de luister van dit feest, afstemt op een Dorisch ritme. Want een vlecht van kransen in zijn losse haren wijst me op mijn goddelijke plicht, wisselende citertonen, schelle schalmeien en verzen vol ritme mooi in harmonie te brengen

ter ere van Ainesidamos' zoon. Ook Pisa vraagt dat ik mijn stem verhef. Uit dat oord komt als gave van de goden mijn gezang onder de mensen. Het klinkt ter ere van de man die boven de brauwen en rond zijn haardos een juweel kreeg opgezet van zacht olijfgroen door een Aitolisch rechter. Eerlijk keek hij op de Spelen toe volgens de oude voorschriften van Herakles. De zoon van Amfitron bracht die olijf ooit mee van de lommerrijke bronnen van de Donau, het mooiste aandenken aan de spelen in Olympia.

Het volk van de Hyperboreeërs, dienaars van Apollo, had hij met overtuiging toegesproken.

Hij ademde vertrouwen en voor Zeus' heiligdom, waar allen welkom zijn, vroeg hij een plant. Zij moest massa's mensen schaduw geven en kransen voor atletische prestaties. Hij had altaren aan zijn Vader toegewijd en nu, halfweg de maand, liet de Maan op haar gouden wagen bij avond heel haar oog voor hem ontvlammen.

Hij voerde een vierjaarlijks feest in en tegelijk een onpartijdig oordeel in de grote spelen bij de hoge oevers van de heilige Alfeos. Maar in het land van Pelops, in de dalen van Kronion groeiden geen mooie bomen.

Hij zag het loverloos domein aan stekende zonnestralen blootgesteld.

Toen voelde hij de drang om weg te gaan, op reis naar het Donauland. Leto's dochter, de paardenmenster, heeft hem daar verwelkomd. Hij kwam uit de valleien en kronkelende kloven van Arkadië. In opdracht van Eurystheus en onder druk van zijn vader Zeus moest hij de hinde met de gouden horens halen die Taygeta ooit als offer had gewijd aan Orthosia.

Hij achtervolgde haar en zag toen ook die streek achter de koude winden van Boreas. Verbaasd over de bomen stond hij stil.

Een zacht verlangen overviel hem: hij wou ze planten rond het eindpunt van de renbaan

waar de paarden twaalfmaal draaien.

Nu komt hij genadig naar dit feest in het gezelschap van de godgelijke tweeling, de kinderen van Leda met de lage gordel.

Bij zijn vertrek naar de Olympos gaf hij hun de leiding van de wonderbare wedkamp waar mannen waarde en kunde meten in het Mennen van snelle wagens.

Daarom doet mijn hart me zeggen dat de glorie die de Emmeniden en Theron hier te beurt valt, een geschenk is van de Tyndariden, knappe ruiters. Geen starveling die hen vergast op zulk een groot banket als zij en vroom van hart bewaren zij de riten van de Zaligen.

Is water het beste wat er is, is goud het meest aanbeden goed, dan heeft Theron nu een grens bereikt en reikt zijn naam door zijn prestaties van zijn huis tot de Zuilen van Herakles. Wat verder ligt, is ontoegankelijk voor wijzen en voor onverstand.

Die weg volg ik niet.

Ik ben niet dwaas.

vertaling: P. Lateur




Nooit kreeg één aardbewoner van godswege

een betrouwbaar teken van wat komen zal.

Blind is onze kennis van de toekomst.

Veel valt anders uit dan mensen voorzien,

vreugde krijgt een domper, anderen die zware

stormen trotseerden,

ruilen in weinig tijd hun ongeluk voor diep geluk. (Ol. 12)

Wezens van één dag. Iemand zijn, niemand zijn: wat betekent dat? Droom

van een schaduw is een mens. Maar komt een glans door god gegeven,

dan ligt een stralend licht over de mensen, hun bestaan is zoet als honing. (Pyth. 8)

Ik kwam in opdracht van de Theandriden en sta hier

als heraut van spelen

die lijf en leden harden in Olympia in Nemea en op de Isthmos. (Nem. 4)

Want dat krijgt weerklank en blijft onsterfelijk

door goede poëzie. Voor eeuwig

trok over de vruchtenrijke aarde en over de zee

de onvergankelijke luister van heerlijke daden.

Mogen de Muzen mij genegen zijn

om de fakkel van hymnen aan te steken

ook voor Melissos, Telesiades’ jonge loot. (Isthm. 4)

Vertaling: Patrick LATEUR




Creatures of a day

Creatures of a day, what is any one? What is he not?

Man is but a dream of a shadow.

Yet when there comes as a gift of heaven a gleam of sunshine, there rest upon men a radiant light

and, aye, a gentle life.”


Schepsels van één dag

Wezens van één dag. Iemand zijn

niemand zijn: wat betekent dat?

Droom van een schaduw is een mens.

Maar komt een glans door god gegeven,

dan ligt een stralend licht over de mensen

hun bestaan is zoet als honing. (Pyth. 8)

Schepsels van één dag! Wat is men

wat is men niet?

Een droom van een schaduw is de mens.

Maar als een straal van de goden

over hem neerdaalt, zo komt een glans

van licht over hem

en is zijn leven zoet als honing.

Vertaling: M. HUYGHE




Pythian Ode 1


For Hieron of Aetna Chariot Race 470 B. C.


Golden lyre, rightful joint possession of Apollo and the violet-haired Muses, to which the dance-step listens, the beginning of splendid festivity; and singers obey your notes, whenever, with your quivering strings, you prepare to strike up chorus-leading preludes.

You quench even the warlike thunderbolt of everlasting fire. And the eagle sleeps on the scepter of Zeus, relaxing his swift wings on either side, the king of birds; and you pour down a dark mist over his curved head, a sweet seal on his eyelids.

Slumbering, he ripples his liquid back, under the spell of your pulsing notes.

Even powerful Ares, setting aside the rough spear-point, warms his heart in repose; your shafts charm the minds even of the gods, by virtue of the skill of Leto's son and the deep-bosomed Muses.

But those whom Zeus does not love are stunned with terror when they hear the cry of the Pierian Muses, on earth or on the irresistible sea; among them is he who lies in dread Tartarus, that enemy of the gods, Typhon with his hundred heads.

Once the famous Cilician cave nurtured him, but now the sea-girt cliffs above Cumae, and Sicily too, lie heavy on his shaggy chest.

And the pillar of the sky holds him down, snow-covered Aetna, year-round nurse of bitter frost, from whose inmost caves belch forth the purest streams of unapproachable fire.

In the daytime her rivers roll out a fiery flood of smoke, while in the darkness of night the crimson flame hurls rocks down to the deep plain of the sea with a crashing roar.

That monster shoots up the most terrible jets of fire; it is a marvellous wonder to see, and a marvel even to hear about when men are present.

Such a creature is bound beneath the dark and leafy heights of Aetna and beneath the plain, and his bed scratches and goads the whole length of his back stretched out against it.

Grant that we may be pleasing to you, Zeus, you who frequent this mountain, this brow of the fruitful earth, whose namesake city near at hand was glorified by its renowned founder, when the herald at the Pythian racecourse proclaimed the name of Aetna, announcing Hieron's triumph with the chariot.

For seafaring men, the first blessing at the outset of their voyage is a favorable wind; for then it is likely that at the end as well they will win a more prosperous homecoming.

And that saying, in these fortunate circumstances, brings the belief that from now on this city will be renowned for garlands and horses, and its name will be spoken amid harmonious festivities.

Phoebus, lord of Lycia and Delos, you who love the Castalian spring of Parnassus, may you willingly put these wishes in your thoughts, and make this a land of fine men.

All the resources for the achievements of mortal excellence come from the gods; for being skilful, or having powerful arms, or an eloquent tongue. As for me, in my eagerness to praise that man, I hope that I may not be like one who hurls the bronze-cheeked javelin, which I brandish in my hand, outside the course, but that I may make a long cast, and surpass my rivals.

Would that all of time may, in this way, keep his prosperity and the gift of wealth on a straight course, and bring forgetfulness of troubles.

Indeed he might remember in what kind of battles of war he stood his ground with an enduring soul, when, by the gods' devising, they found honour such as no other Greek can pluck, a proud garland of wealth

But now he has gone to battle in the manner of Philoctetes; and under compulsion even a haughty man fawned on him for his friendship.

They say that the god-like heroes went to bring from Lemnos that man afflicted with a wound, the archer son of Poeas, who sacked the city of Priam and brought an end to the toils of the Danaans; he went with a weak body, but it was fated.

In such a way may a god be the preserver of Hieron for the time that is still to come, giving him the opportunity for all he desires.

Muse, hear me, and beside Deinomenes sing loud praises for the reward of the four-horse chariot.

The joy of his father's victory is not alien to him.

Come, let us devise a friendly song for the king of Aetna, for whom Hieron founded that city with god-built freedom, in accordance with the laws of the rule of Hyllus. The descendants of Pamphylus, and, truly, of the Heracleidae also, dwelling beneath the cliffs of Taÿgetus, are willing to abide forever as Dorians under the ordinances of Aegimius.

Setting out from Pindus they took Amyclae and prospered, highly renowned neighbors of the Tyndaridae with their white horses, and the fame of their spear burst into bloom.

Zeus the Accomplisher, grant that beside the waters of Amenas the true report of men may always assign such good fortune to citizens and kings alike; with your blessing the man who is himself the leader, and who instructs his son, may bring honor to the people and turn them towards harmonious peace.

I entreat you, son of Cronus, grant that the battle-shouts of the Carthaginians and Etruscans stay quietly at home, now that they have seen their arrogance bring lamentation to their ships off Cumae.

Such were their sufferings, when they were conquered by the leader of the Syracusans—a fate which flung their young men from their swift ships into the sea, delivering Hellas from grievous bondage.

From Salamis I will win as my reward the gratitude of the Athenians, and in Sparta from the battles before Cithaeron—those battles in which the Medes with their curved bows suffered sorely; but beside the well-watered bank of the river Himeras I shall win my reward by paying my tribute of song to the sons of Deinomenes, the song which they earned by their excellence, when their enemies were suffering.

If you speak in due proportion, twisting the strands of many themes into a brief compass, less blame follows from men.

For wearying satiety blunts the edge of short-lived expectations, and what the citizens hear secretly weighs heavy on their spirits, especially concerning the merits of others.

Nevertheless, since envy is better than pity, do not abandon fine deeds!

Steer your men with the rudder of justice; forge your tongue on the anvil of truth: if even a small spark flies, it is carried along as a great thing when it comes from you. You are the guardian of an ample store.

You have many faithful witnesses of both good and bad.

But abide in a blossoming temper, and if you are fond of always hearing sweet things spoken of you, do not be too distressed by expenses, but, like a steersman, let your sail out to the wind.

Do not be deceived, my friend, by glib profit-seeking.

The loud acclaim of renown that survives a man is all that reveals the way of life of departed men to storytellers and singers alike.

The kindly excellence of Croesus does not perish, but Phalaris, with his pitiless mind, who burned his victims in a bronze bull, is surrounded on all sides by a hateful reputation; lyres that resound beneath the roof do not welcome him as a theme in gentle partnership with the voices of boys.

The first of prizes is good fortune; the second is to be well spoken of; but a man who encounters and wins both has received the highest garland.