Pindar: Pythian Eleven

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And instead of short-finned dolphins they shall take to them fleet mares, and reins instead of oars shall they ply, and speed the whirlwind-footed car. By that augury shall it come to pass that Thera shall be mother-city of mighty commonwealths, even the augury that once at the outpourings of the Tritonian lake Euphemos leaping from the prow took at the hands of a god who in the likeness of man tendered this present to the stranger of a clod of earth; and the Father Kronian Zeus confirmed it with a peal of thunder. Then came to us the solitary god, having put on the splendid semblance of a noble man; and he began friendly speech, such as well-doers use when they bid new-comers to the feast.

But the plea of the sweet hope of home suffered us not to stay.

Then he said that he was Eurypylos son of the earth-embracer, immortal Ennosides; and for that he was aware that we hasted to be gone, he straightway caught up of the chance earth at his feet a gift that he would fain bestow. Nor was the hero unheeding, but leaping on the shore and striking hand in hand he took to him the fateful clod. But now I hear that it was washed down from the ship and departed into the sea with the salt spray of evening, following the watery deep.

Yet verily often did I charge the labour-lightening servants that they should keep it safe, but they forgat: and now upon this island [3] is the imperishable seed of spacious Libya strown before the time appointed; for if the royal son [4] of Poseidon, lord of horses, whom Europa Tityos' child bare him on Kephisos' banks, had in his own home thrown it down beside the mouth of Hades' [5] gulf, then in the fourth generation of his sons his seed would have taken that wide continent of Libya, for then they would have gone forth from mighty Lakedaimon, and from the Argive gulf, and from Mykenai.

But now he shall in wedlock with a stranger-wife raise up a chosen seed, who coming to this island with worship of their gods shall beget one to be lord of the misty plains [6]. Him sometime shall Phoibos in his golden house admonish by oracles, when in the latter days he shall go down into the inner shrine at Pytho, to bring a host in ships to the rich Nile-garden of the son of Kronos [7].

Thee, happy son [8] of Polymnestos, did the oracle of the Delphian bee [9] approve with call unasked to be the man whereof the word was spoken, for thrice she bid thee hail and declared thee by decree of fate Kyrene's king, what time thou enquiredst what help should be from heaven for thy labouring speech. And verily even now long afterward, as in the bloom of rosy-blossomed spring, in the eighth descent from Battos the leaf of Arkesilas is green.

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To him Apollo and Pytho have given glory in the chariot-race at the hands of the Amphiktyons: him will I commend to the Muses, and withal the tale of the all-golden fleece; for this it was the Minyai sailed to seek when the god-given glories of their race began.

What power first drave them in the beginning to the quest? What perilous enterprise clenched them with strong nails of adamant? There was an oracle of God which said that Pelias should die by force or by stern counsels of the proud sons of Aiolos, and there had come to him a prophecy that froze his cunning heart, spoken at the central stone of tree-clad mother Earth, that by every means he should keep safe guard against the man of one sandal, whensoever from a homestead on the hills he shall have come to the sunny land of glorious Iolkos, whether a stranger or a citizen he be.

So in the fulness of time he came, wielding two spears, a wondrous man; and the vesture that was upon him was twofold, the garb of the Magnetes' country close fitting to his splendid limbs, but above he wore a leopard-skin to turn the hissing showers; nor were the bright locks of his hair shorn from him but over all his back ran rippling down. Swiftly he went straight on, and took his stand, making trial of his dauntless soul, in the marketplace when the multitude was full.

Him they knew not; howbeit some one looking reverently on him would speak on this wise: 'Not Apollo surely is this, nor yet Aphrodite's lord of the brazen car; yea and in glistening Naxos died ere now, they say, the children of Iphimedeia, Otos and thou, bold king Ephialtes: moreover Tityos was the quarry of Artemis' swift arrow sped from her invincible quiver, warning men to touch only the loves within their power.

But he dissembled his fear within his heart and said unto him, 'What land, O stranger, dost thou claim to be thy country, and who of earth-born mortals bare thee of her womb out of due time [10]? Tell me thy race and shame it not by hateful lies. For I hear that Pelias yielding lawlessly to evil thoughts hath robbed it from my fathers whose right it was from the beginning; for they, when first I looked upon the light, fearing the violence of an injurious lord, made counterfeit of a dark funeral in the house as though I were dead, and amid the wailing of women sent me forth secretly in purple swathing-bands, when none but Night might know the way we went, and gave me to Cheiron the son of Kronos to be reared.

But of these things the chief ye know. Now therefore kind citizens show me plainly the house of my fathers who drave white horses; for it shall hardly be said that a son of Aison, born in the land, is come hither to a strange and alien soil. And Jason was the name whereby the divine Beast [11] spake to me. Then came to him both brothers, when they heard that Jason was come home, Pheres from hard by, leaving the fountain Hypereis, and out of Messena Amythaon, and quickly came Admetos and Melampos to welcome home their cousin.

And at a common feast with gracious words Jason received them and made them friendly cheer, culling for five long nights and days the sacred flower of joyous life.

But on the sixth day he began grave speech, and set the whole matter before his kinsmen from the beginning, and they were of one mind with him. Then quickly he rose up with them from their couches, and they came to Pelias' hall, and they made haste and entered and stood within.

And when he heard them the king himself came forth to them, even the son of Tyro of the lovely hair. Then Jason with gentle voice opened on him the stream of his soft speech, and laid foundation of wise words: 'Son of Poseidon of the Rock, too ready are the minds of mortal men to choose a guileful gain rather than righteousness, howbeit they travel ever to a stern reckoning.

But thee and me it behoveth to give law to our desires, and to devise weal for the time to come. Though thou knowest it yet will I tell thee, how that the same mother bare Kretheus and rash Salmoneus, and in the third generation we again were begotten and look upon the strength of the golden sun.

Now if there be enmity between kin, the Fates stand aloof and would fain hide the shame. Not with bronze-edged swords nor with javelins doth it beseem us twain to divide our forefathers' great honour, nor needeth it, for lo! That these things furnish forth thy house moveth me not greatly; but for the kingly sceptre and throne whereon the son of Kretheus sate of old and dealt justice to his chivalry, these without wrath between us yield to me, lest some new evil arise up therefrom.

Pindar Pythian Eleven

This message cometh to me in the voice of a strange dream: also I have sent to ask of the oracle at Kastalia whether it be worth the quest, and the oracle chargeth me straightway to send a ship on the sacred mission. This deed do thou offer me to do, and I swear to give thee up the sway and kingly rule. Let Zeus the ancestral god of thee and me be witness of my oath and stablish it surely in thine eyes. And quickly came three sons of Zeus, men unwearied in battle, whose mothers were Alkmene and Leto of the glancing eyes [12] , and two tall-crested men of valour, children of the Earth-shaker, whose honour was perfect as their might, from Pylos and from farthest Tainaros: hereby was the excellence of their fame established—even Euphemos' fame, and thine, wide-ruling Periklymenos.

And at Apollo's bidding came the minstrel father of song, Orpheus of fair renown. For Hera kindled within those sons of gods the all-persuading sweet desire for the ship Argo, that none should be left behind and stay by his mother's side in savourless and riskless life, but each, even were death the price, achieve in company with his peers a magic potency of his valour. Now when that goodly crew were come to Iolkos, Jason mustered them with thanks to each, and the seer Mopsos prophesied by omens and by sacred lots, and with good will sped the host on board.

And when they had hung the anchors over the prow, then their chief taking in his hands a golden goblet stood up upon the stern and called on Zeus whose spear is the lightning, and on the rush of waves and winds and the nights and paths of the deep, to speed them quickly over, and for days of cheer and friendly fortune of return.

And from the clouds a favourable voice of thunder pealed in answer; and there came bright lightning flashes bursting through. Then the heroes took heart in obedience to the heavenly signs; and the seer bade them strike into the water with their oars, while he spake to them of happy hopes; and in their rapid hands the rowing sped untiringly. And with breezes of the South they came wafted to the mouth of the Axine sea; there they founded a shrine and sacred close of Poseidon, god of seas, where was a red herd of Thracian bulls, and a new-built altar of stone with hollow top [13].

Then as they set forth toward an exceeding peril they prayed the lord of ships that they might shun the terrible shock of the clashing rocks: for they were twain that had life, and plunged along more swiftly than the legions of the bellowing winds; but that travel of the seed of gods made end of them at last [14]. After that they came to the Phasis; there they fought with dark-faced Kolchians even in the presence of Aietes.

And there the queen of keenest darts, the Cyprus-born, first brought to men from Olympus the frenzied bird, the speckled wry-neck [15] , binding it to a four-spoked wheel without deliverance, and taught the son of Aison to be wise in prayers and charms, that he might make Medea take no thought to honour her parents, and longing for Hellas might drive her by persuasion's lash, her heart afire with love.

Pindar : 'Pythian Eleven' -

Then speedily she showed him the accomplishment of the tasks her father set, and mixing drugs with oil gave him for his anointment antidotes of cruel pain, and they vowed to be joined together in sweet wedlock. But when Aietes had set in the midst a plough of adamant, and oxen that from tawny jaws breathed flame of blazing fire, and with bronze hoofs smote the earth in alternate steps, and had led them and yoked them single-handed, he marked out in a line straight furrows, and for a fathom's length clave the back of the loamy earth; then he spake thus: 'This work let your king, whosoever he be that hath command of the ship, accomplish me, and then let him bear away with him the imperishable coverlet, the fleece glittering with tufts of gold.

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Pickup not available. About This Item We aim to show you accurate product information. Manufacturers, suppliers and others provide what you see here, and we have not verified it. See our disclaimer. Pindar's Pythian Eleven is a miniature masterpiece: a poem praising a young athlete which presents a vivid and important account of the Agamemnon legend. Yet it contains so many difficulties of text, metre, dating and interpretation that even Wilamowitz.

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