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

  1. Songs, rulers of the lyre, what god, what hero, what man shall we celebrate? Indeed, Pisa belongs to Zeus; and Heracles established the Olympic festival, as the finest trophy of battle;
  2. and Theron must be proclaimed because of his victorious four-horse chariot, Theron who is just in his regard for guests, and is the bulwark of Acragas, the strength of the city, the choicest bloom of illustrious ancestors,
  3. who labored much with their spirits, and won a sacred home by the river, and were
  4. the eye of Sicily ; their allotted lifetime attended them, bringing wealth and grace to their inborn excellence. But you, son of Cronus and Rhea, who rule over your home on Olympus, and over the foremost of festivals, and over the ford of Alpheus, be warmed by our songs and graciously preserve their ancestral land
  5. for their future generations. When deeds have been accomplished, whether justly or contrary to justice, not even Time the father of all things could undo the outcome. But forgetfulness may come, with favorable fortune. Under the power of noble joys, malignant pain
  6. is subdued and dies,
  7. whenever god-sent Fate lifts prosperity on high. This saying applies to the daughters of Cadmus on their lovely thrones: they suffered greatly, but their heavy sorrow collapsed in the presence of greater blessings.
  8. Long-haired Semele, who died in the roar of the thunderbolt, lives among the Olympians; Pallas is her constant friend, and indeed so is father Zeus, and she is loved by her ivy-crowned son.
  9. And they say that even in the sea, among the ocean-daughters of Nereus, immortal life
  10. is granted to Ino for all time. Truly, for mortal men at least, the time when we will reach the limit of death is by no means fixed, nor when we will bring a peaceful day, the sun’s child, to an end in unworried well-being. But at various times various currents, both of pleasure and of toil, come to men.
  11. In such a way does Fate, who keeps their pleasant fortune to be handed from father to son, bring at another time some painful reversal together with god-sent prosperity, since the destined son met and killed Laius, and fulfilled the oracle of Pytho,
  12. spoken long before.
  13. But the sharp-eyed Erinys saw it, and destroyed his warlike sons through mutual slaughter. Yet Polyneices, when laid low, left behind him a son, Thersander, honored in youthful contests and in the battles of war,
  14. a scion to defend the house of the descendants of Adrastus. And it is fitting that the son of Aenesidamus, whose roots grew from that seed, should meet with songs of praise and with the lyre.
  15. For in Olympia he himself received a prize of honor; at Pytho
  16. and at the Isthmus, the Graces who love them both brought garlands of flowers to his equally blessed brother for his four-horse team, victorious in the twelve courses of the race. To attempt a contest and be successful brings release from sadness. Wealth adorned with excellence brings many opportunities, rousing deep wild ambitions;
  17. it is a brilliant star, a man’s true light, at least if one has and knows the future, that the reckless souls of those who have died on earth immediately pay the penalty—and for the crimes committed in this realm of Zeus there is a judge below the earth; with hateful
  18. compulsion he passes his sentence.
  19. But having the sun always in equal nights and equal days, the good receive a life free from toil, not scraping with the strength of their arms the earth, nor the water of the sea,
  20. for the sake of a poor sustenance. But in the presence of the honored gods, those who gladly kept their oaths enjoy a life without tears, while the others undergo a toil that is unbearable to look at.