Footrace. Philadelphia MS 739


Pindar, Pythian 11

For Thrasydaeus of Thebes, Foot Race or Double Foot Race, 474 or 454 B. C.


[str. 1]

Daughters of Cadmus, Semele dwelling among the Olympians and Ino Leucothea, sharing the chamber of the Nereid sea-nymphs: come, with the mother of Heracles, greatest in birth, to the presence of Melia; come to the sanctuary of golden tripods, [5] the treasure-house which Loxias honored above all

[ant. 1]

and named the Ismenion, true seat of prophecy. Come, children of Harmonia, where even now he calls the native host of heroines to assemble, so that you may loudly sing of holy Themis and Pytho and the just [10] navel of the earth, at the edge of evening,

[epode 1]

in honor of seven-gated Thebes and the contest at Cirrha, in which Thrasydaeus caused his ancestral hearth to be remembered by flinging over it a third wreath [15] as a victor in the rich fields of Pylades, the friend of Laconian Orestes,

[str. 2]

who indeed, when his father was murdered, was taken by his nurse Arsinoe from the strong hands and bitter deceit of Clytaemnestra, when she sent the Dardanian daughter of Priam, [20] Cassandra, together with the soul of Agamemnon, to the shadowy bank of Acheron with her gray blade of bronze,

[ant. 2]

the pitiless woman. Was it Iphigeneia, slaughtered at the Euripus far from her fatherland, that provoked her to raise the heavy hand of her anger? Or was she vanquished by another bed [25] and led astray by their nightly sleeping together? This is the most hateful error for young brides, and is impossible to conceal

[epode 2]

because other people will talk. Citizens are apt to speak evil, for prosperity brings with it envy as great as itself. [30] But the man who breathes close to the ground roars unseen. He himself died, the heroic son of Atreus, when at last he returned to famous Amyclae,

[str. 3]

and he caused the destruction of the prophetic girl, when he had robbed of their opulent treasures the houses of the Trojans, set on fire for Helen´s sake. And his young son went to the friend of the family, the old man [35] Strophius, who dwelled at the foot of Parnassus. But at last, with the help of Ares, he killed his mother and laid Aegisthus low in blood.

[ant. 3]

My friends, I was whirled off the track at a shifting fork in the road, although I had been traveling on a straight path before. Or did some wind throw me off course, [40] like a skiff on the sea? Muse, it is your task, if you undertook to lend your voice for silver, to let it flit now this way, now that:

[epode 3]

now to the father, who was a Pythian victor, now to his son Thrasydaeus. [45] Their joyfulness and renown shine brightly. With their chariots they were victorious long ago; they captured the swift radiance of the famous games at Olympia with their horses.

[str. 4]

And at Pytho, when they entered the naked footrace, they put to shame [50] the Hellenic host with their speed. May I desire fine things from the gods, seeking what is possible at my time of life. For I have found that those of middle rank in a city flourish with longer prosperity, and I find fault with the lot of tyrannies.

[ant. 4]

I am intent upon common excellences. The evil workings of envy are warded off, [55] if a man who attains the summit and dwells in peace escapes dread arrogance. Such a man would go to the farthest shore of a dark death that is finer when he leaves to his sweetest offspring the grace of a good name, the best of possessions.

[epode 4]

Such is the grace that spreads abroad the fame of the son of Iphicles, [60]Iolaus, whose praises are sung; and of the strength of Castor, and of you, lord Polydeuces, sons of the gods: you who dwell for one day at home in Therapne, and for the other in Olympus.


Cirrha - the port of Delphi

Pylades - son of Strophius; see below

Acheron = Hades

Euripus - strait separating Euboaea from Boeotia; the city of Aulis, located on the mainland, was where Iphigenia was sacrificed

Amyclae - city in Sparta

Strophius - father of Pylades; married to Anaxibia, sister of Agamemnon; lived in Phocis, where Delphi was located

Parnassus - the mountain at the foot of which Delphi was located