Pindar. Arnson Svarlien, Diane, translator. Created for the Perseus Project, 1990.
had cast a spell on his spirit, I would have persuaded him to send even now a healer to cure noble men of their feverish diseases, someone called a son of Apollo or of his father Zeus. And I would have gone on a ship, cleaving the Ionian waters, to the fountain of Arethusa and the presence of my Aetnaean host,
the king who rules Syracuse, gentle to his citizens, bearing no envious grudge against good men, a marvellous father to his guests. If I had reached his shores bringing a double blessing, golden health and a victory-song to add brilliance to his garlands from the Pythian games, which once Pherenicus took when he was the best at Cirrha,
I say that I would have come across the deep sea to him as a light that shines farther than a star of the sky.
But I, for my part, want to offer a prayer to the Mother, the revered goddess whose praises, with those of Pan, girls often sing at night beside my doorway.
Hieron, if you are skilled in understanding the true essence of words, you have learned and know the saying of former times: “The immortals dispense to men two pains for every blessing.” Fools cannot bear their pain with grace, but noble men can, by turning the good side outwards.
It is your lot to be attended by good fortune.
For great destiny watches over the leader of the people, the tyrant, if over any man. But a secure life was not granted either to Peleus son of Aeacus or to godlike Cadmus; yet they are said to have attained the highest prosperity of all mortal men, since
they heard the Muses of the golden headbands singing on the mountain and in seven-gated Thebes, when Cadmus married ox-eyed Harmonia, and Peleus married the famous daughter of wise Nereus.
And the gods held feasts for both of them, and they saw the royal sons of Cronus on their golden seats, and they received
wedding gifts. By the grace of Zeus, they set their hearts right again from their former troubles. But in time Cadmus’ three daughters, by their bitter suffering, took from him his share of joy; even though father Zeus had visited the desirable bed of white-armed Thyone.
And Peleus’ son, the only child whom immortal Thetis bore in Phthia, had his life taken in battle by the bow, and roused the wailing of the Danaans while his body was burning on the pyre. But if any mortal has the path of truth in his mind, he must fare well at the hands of the gods as he has the opportunity. But the winds are changeable
that blow on high. The prosperity of men does not stay secure for long, when it follows weighing upon them in abundance.
I will be small when my fortunes are small, great when they are great. I will honor in my mind the fortune that attends me from day to day, tending it to the best of my ability.
But if a god were to give me luxurious wealth, I hope that I would find lofty fame in the future. We know of Nestor and Lycian Sarpedon, whom men speak of, from melodious words which skilled craftsmen join together. Through renowned songs excellence
gains a long life. But few find that easy to accomplish.