Olympian

Pindar

Pindar, creator; Arnson Svarlien, Diane, 1960-, translator

  1. Water is best, and gold, like a blazing fire in the night, stands out supreme of all lordly wealth. But if, my heart, you wish to sing of contests,
  2. look no further for any star warmer than the sun, shining by day through the lonely sky, and let us not proclaim any contest greater than Olympia . From there glorious song enfolds the wisdom of poets, [*]( On this line see F. J. Nisetich, "Olympian 1.8-11: An Epinician Metaphor," HSCP 79, 1975 , 55-68. ) so that they loudly sing
  3. the son of Cronus, when they arrive at the rich and blessed hearth of Hieron,
  4. who wields the scepter of law in Sicily of many flocks, reaping every excellence at its peak, and is glorified
  5. by the choicest music, which we men often play around his hospitable table. Come, take the Dorian lyre down from its peg, if the splendor of Pisa and of Pherenicus placed your mind under the influence of sweetest thoughts,
  6. when that horse ran swiftly beside the Alpheus, not needing to be spurred on in the race, and brought victory to his master,
  7. the king of Syracuse who delights in horses. His glory shines in the settlement of fine men founded by Lydian Pelops,
  8. with whom the mighty holder of the earth Poseidon fell in love, when Clotho took him out of the pure cauldron, furnished with a gleaming ivory shoulder. Yes, there are many marvels, and yet I suppose the speech of mortals beyond the true account can be deceptive, stories adorned with embroidered lies;
  9. and Grace, who fashions all gentle things for men, confers esteem and often contrives to make believable the unbelievable. But the days to come are the wisest witnesses.
  10. It is seemly for a man to speak well of the gods; for the blame is less that way. Son of Tantalus, I will speak of you, contrary to earlier stories. When your father invited the gods to a very well-ordered banquet at his own dear Sipylus, in return for the meals he had enjoyed,
  11. then it was that the god of the splendid trident seized you,
  12. his mind overcome with desire, and carried you away on his team of golden horses to the highest home of widely-honored Zeus, to which at a later time Ganymede came also,
  13. to perform the same service for Zeus. But when you disappeared, and people did not bring you back to your mother, for all their searching, right away some envious neighbor whispered that they cut you limb from limb with a knife into the water's rolling boil over the fire,
  14. and among the tables at the last course they divided and ate your flesh.
  15. For me it is impossible to call one of the blessed gods a glutton. I stand back from it. Often the lot of evil-speakers is profitlessness. If indeed the watchers of Olympus ever honored a mortal man,
  16. that man was Tantalus. But he was not able to digest his great prosperity, and for his greed he gained overpowering ruin, which the Father hung over him: a mighty stone. Always longing to cast it away from his head, he wanders far from the joy of festivity.
  17. He has this helpless life of never-ending labor,
  18. a fourth toil after three others, because he stole from the gods nectar and ambrosia, with which they had made him immortal, and gave them to his drinking companions. If any man expects that what he does escapes the notice of a god, he is wrong.
  19. Because of that the immortals sent the son of Tantalus back again to the swift-doomed race of men. And when he blossomed with the stature of fair youth, and down darkened his cheek, he turned his thoughts to an available marriage,
  20. to win glorious Hippodameia from her father, the lord of Pisa . He drew near to the gray sea, alone in the darkness, and called aloud on the deep-roaring god, skilled with the trident; and the god appeared to him, close at hand.