Pindar. Arnson Svarlien, Diane, translator. Created for the Perseus Project, 1990.
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 skillful, 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 honor 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.