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i. Hieron of Syracuse (not heroized)

Pindar, Olympian 1 – Pelops Foundation Myth

For Hieron of Syracuse Single Horse Race 476 B. C.

(Translation has been taken from the Perseus Digital Library)

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, [5] 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, so that they loudly sing [10] the son of Cronus, when they arrive at the rich and blessed hearth of Hieron, who wields the scepter of law in Sicily of many flocks, reaping every excellence at its peak, and is glorified [15] 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, [20] when that horse ran swiftly beside the Alpheus, not needing to be spurred on in the race, and brought victory to his master, the king of Syracuse who delights in horses. His glory shines in the settlement of fine men founded by Lydian Pelops, [25] 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; [30] 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. [35] 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, [40] then it was that the god of the splendid trident seized you, 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, [45] 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, [50] and among the tables at the last course they divided and ate your flesh. 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, [55] 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. He has this helpless life of never-ending labor, [60] 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. [65] 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, [70] 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. [75] Pelops said to the god, “If the loving gifts of Cyprian Aphrodite result in any gratitude, Poseidon, then restrain the bronze spear of Oenomaus, and speed me in the swiftest chariot to Elis, and bring me to victory. For he has killed thirteen [80] suitors, and postpones the marriage of his daughter. Great danger does not take hold of a coward. Since all men are compelled to die, why should anyone sit stewing an inglorious old age in the darkness, with no share of any fine deeds? As for me, on this contest [85] I will take my stand. May you grant a welcome achievement.” So he spoke, and he did not touch on words that were unaccomplished. Honoring him, the god gave him a golden chariot, and horses with untiring wings. He overcame the might of Oenomaus, and took the girl as his bride. She bore six sons, leaders of the people eager for excellence. [90] Now he has a share in splendid blood-sacrifices, resting beside the ford of the Alpheus, where he has his attendant tomb beside the altar that is thronged with many visitors. The fame of Pelops shines from afar in the races of the Olympic festivals, [95] where there are contests for swiftness of foot, and the bold heights of toiling strength. A victor throughout the rest of his life enjoys honeyed calm, so far as contests can bestow it. But at any given time the glory of the present day [100] is the highest one that comes to every mortal man. I must crown that man with the horse-song in the Aeolian strain. I am convinced that there is no host in the world today who is both knowledgeable about fine things and more sovereign in power, [105] whom we shall adorn with the glorious folds of song. A god is set over your ambitions as a guardian, Hieron, and he devises with this as his concern. If he does not desert you soon, I hope that I will celebrate an even greater sweetness, [110] sped by a swift chariot, finding a helpful path of song when I come to the sunny hill of Cronus. For me the Muse tends her mightiest shaft of courage. Some men are great in one thing, others in another; but the peak of the farthest limit is for kings. Do not look beyond that! [115] May it be yours to walk on high throughout your life, and mine to associate with victors as long as I live, distinguished for my skill among Greeks everywhere.


Pausanias 6.12.1

Hard by is a bronze chariot with a man mounted upon it; race-horses, one on each side, stand beside the chariot, and on the horses are seated boys. They are memorials of Olympic victories won by Hiero the son of Deinomenes, who was tyrant of Syracuse after his brother Gelo. But the offerings were not sent by Hiero; it was Hiero’s son Deinomenes who gave them to the god, Onatas the Aeginetan who made the chariot, and Calamis who made the horses on either side and the boys on them.

Bacchylides 5

Ode 5

For Hieron of Syracuse Single-horse victory at Olympia 476 B. C.

(Translation has been taken from the Perseus Digital Library)

Fortunate in your fate, commander of the Syracusans, riders of whirling horses: you, [5] if any man on earth today, will rightly understand this honor, sweet gift of the violet-garlanded Muses. Now, calm your righteous mind; rest it from cares, and consider: a hymn, woven with the help of the deep-waisted Graces, [10] is sent from the holy island to your glorious city by your guest-friend, the brilliant servant of Ourania with her golden headband. He wants [15] to pour forth his voice from his heart to praise Hieron. High above, slicing the deep air with his swift golden wings, the eagle, messenger of loud-thundering, wide-ruling [20] Zeus, trusts boldly in his powerful strength, and thin-voiced birds crouch in fear. The peaks of the great earth do not restrain him, [25] nor the rough, choppy waves of the untiring sea. In the everlasting void he shifts his delicate wings, riding the gusts of the west wind, [30] a conspicuous sight for men. So now for me there are countless paths of song leading in every direction, thanks to dark-haired Nike and Ares with his bronze breastplate, to sing of your excellence, [35] noble sons of Deinomenes. May the god not tire of doing good. Beside the wide-whirling Alpheus, golden-armed Dawn saw the victory of the chestnut horse Pherenicus, a runner swift as a wind-storm, [40] and she saw him win in very holy Pytho. Laying my hand on the earth, I make this declaration: never in any contest has he been fouled by the dust of faster horses [45] as he strained toward the finish-line. In force he is like Boreas; obeying his rider, he speeds a new victory and new applause to hospitable Hieron. [50] Prosperous is he to whom a god has given a share of fine things, and a rich life to live out with enviable luck. For no man on earth [55] was born to be fortunate in everything. So it was, they say, that the gate-destroying unconquerable son of Zeus of the flashing thunderbolt went down to the halls of slender-ankled Persephone [60] to bring up into the light from Hades the razor-toothed dog, son of the fearsome Echidna. There he saw the souls of miserable mortals by the streams of Cocytus, [65] like leaves swirled by the wind along the sheep-pasturing headlands of shining Ida. Among them, the shade of Porthaon’s bold, [70] spear-wielding descendant stood out. When the marvellous hero, son of Alcmene, saw him shining in his armor, he stretched the clear-sounding bowstring onto his bow, and opened the lid of his quiver and drew out a bronze-tipped [75] arrow. But the soul of Meleager appeared in front of him and spoke to him, knowing him well: “Son of great Zeus, [80] stand where you are, and calm your spirit— Do not shoot a harsh arrow from your hands in vain against the souls of those who have perished. You have no need to fear.” So he spoke. And the son of Amphitryon was astonished, [85] and said, “What god or mortal raised such a fine young plant as you? In what land? Who killed you? No doubt Hera with her beautiful belt will soon [90] send that killer after me. But that must be the concern of golden-haired Pallas.” And Meleager answered him, in tears, “It is hard [95] for men on earth to sway the minds of the gods; for otherwise my father, horse-driving Oineus, would have appeased the anger of holy, white-armed Artemis with her garland of buds, [100] when he entreated her with sacrifices of many goats and red-backed cattle. But the maiden goddess’ anger was unconquerable; she sent an immensely violent [105] boar, a ruthless fighter, to Calydon, the place of lovely choruses; there, his strength raging like a flood, he cut down vine-rows with his tusk, and slaughtered flocks, and whatever mortals [110] came across his path. We, the best of the Hellenes, fought hard to sustain the hateful battle against him, for six days continuously. But when some god gave the upper hand to the Aetolians, [115] we buried those whom the loud-roaring boar had killed in his violent attacks: Ancaeus, and Agelaus, the best of my dear brothers, whom [120] Althaea bore in the far-famed halls of Oineus. Ruinous fate destroyed …  For not yet did the hostile goddess, the savage daughter of Leto, [stop] her anger. We fought hard for the beast’s fiery hide [125] with the Couretes, steadfast in battle. Then I killed, among many others, Iphiclus and noble Aphares, my mother’s swift brothers; for [130] strong-spirited Ares does not discern a friend in battle—shafts fly blindly from the hands against the souls of the enemy, and bring death [135] to whomever the god wishes. My mother, the hostile daughter of Thestius, did not take this into account; she brought about my evil fate, the fearless woman, and planned my destruction. [140] She took the log of my swift doom out of the ornate chest, and burned it. Fate had marked off that this should be the boundary of my life. I happened to be slaying [145] Clymenus, Daïpylus’ valiant son, whose body was flawless; I had overtaken him in front of the towers. The others [150] were fleeing to the well-built ancient city of Pleuron. And my sweet soul diminished; I knew that my strength was gone, aiai! I breathed my last breath in tears, as I left behind splendid youth.” [155] They say that was the only time that the son of Amphitryon, fearless in battle, ever wetted his eyes with tears, pitying the fate of the man who endured grief. And he answered him in this way: [160] “For mortals it is best never to be born, never to look on the light of the sun. But there is no profit in lamenting this; one must speak of what can be accomplished. [165] Is there, in the halls of battle-loving Oineus, any daughter, unsubdued by love, whose appearance is like yours? I would gladly make her my splendid bride.” [170] And to him the soul of Meleager, steadfast in battle, answered: “I left behind at home Deianeira, with her neck like a fresh olive; golden [175] Cypris, charmer of mortals, is still unknown to her.” White-armed Calliope, stop your well-made chariot right there. Sing of the Olympian ruler of the gods, Zeus son of Cronus, [180] and the untiring stream of the Alpheus, and the strength of Pelops, and Pisa, where glorious Pherenicus won victory in the race with his feet, and returned to Syracuse with its fine towers, [185] bringing to Hieron the leaf of good fortune. For the sake of truth we must give praise, pushing away envy with both hands, [190] if any mortal man does well. A Boeotian man, Hesiod, attendant of the sweet Muses, said this: “He whom the gods honor has a good name among men as well.” [195] I am easily persuaded to send to Hieron my illustrious voice, not … from the path … . For in this way the roots of fine fortune flourish; may the great father [200] Zeus guard them, undisturbed, in peace

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