Pindar Nemean 8 for Deinias of Aigina, Winner Diaulos
Translated by Steven J. Willett
A red-figure vase that shows Tecmessa covering Ajax’ corpse.
Note: Pindar recounts the tragedy of Ajax far closer to the Sophocles tragedy Ajax and starkly revokes Homer’s presentation.
Word explanations: Kypris, Aphrodite; a son was born, Aiakos (Ajax); Oinona, ancient name of Aigina; the trustworthy, celebratory poetry that serves as a faithful pledge of noble deeds; the famous feet/of two men, the two running victories of Deinias and Megas; Kadmeians, encomia existed before the Nemean games were founded by Adrastos and his army on the march to Thebes.
Queen Hora, herald of Aphrodite’s 1 Str. 1
ambrosian divine embraces,
on the eyes of unwed girls
and boys settling,
you carry one person with gentle hands of necessity,
but another differently.
Desirable it is not to wander from due measure
in each endeavor
but have the ability to win more noble loves.
Such loves on the bed of Zeus and Aigina 6 Ant. 1
attended the shepherds
of Kypris’ gifts; a son was born
as king of Oinona,
finest in hand strength and mind. Many men
prayed to see him;
for unsummoned the foremost
of heroes dwelling around him
wanted to submit willingly to his commands,
those who marshaled the host in rocky Athens, 11 Ep. 1
and dependents of Pelops in Sparta.
As a suppliant of Aiakos I clasp
his sacred knees and on behalf of his beloved city
and of these citizens I am bringing
a Lydian garland embroidered with resounding song
for the double foot races of Deinias
and his father Megas as a Nemenean glory.
For planted by God’s blessing
happiness abides longer for men;
Such happiness once weighed down Kinyras with wealth 18 Str. 2
on sea-washed Cyprus.
But here I stand on very light feet
catching breath before I say anything.
For much has been said in many ways, but discovering
new ways to place them on the touchstone
for a test is sheer danger; dainty fare
are words to the envious,
and envy always clings to noblemen, never wrangles with lesser men.
That devoured the son of Telamon 23 Ant. 2
rolling him on his own sword.
Truly, a speechless man whose heart
is brave, oblivion seizes
in deadly strife; with a shifty lie
the greatest prize of honor has been offered.
For with secret votes
the Danaans indulged Odysseus;
but Aias, stripped of his golden armor, wrestled with gore.
Surely in the warm flesh of their enemies they tore 28 Ep. 2
unequal wounds as they were falling back
spears, both over newly-slain Achilles
and during other toils in murderous
days. Hateful deceit existed even in the distant past,
a fellow traveler
of flattering tales, wily minded, a malignant disgrace,
which overpowers the illustrious
but holds up the rotten glory of obscure men.
May I never have such a character, 35 Str. 3
father Zeus, but on straightforward
paths of life let me travel, and when I die, fame to my children
may I leave without slander. Some pray for gold,
others for land
boundless, but I for pleasing my townsmen
until I cover my limbs with earth,
praising the praiseworthy, but sowing blame on wrongdoers.
Virtue grows, like a tree 40 Ant. 3
that springs up with glistening dew,
when lifted among men wise
and just to the moist
heavens. There are diverse needs
for friends; and while among toils
they are greatest, joy also seeks
to set before our eyes
the trustworthy. O Megas, to bring back your soul again
is impossible for me; that is the vain goal of empty hopes; 45 Ep. 3
for your homeland and the Chariadai, a loud-sounding
stone I erect
of the Muses in honoring the famous feet
of two men. I rejoice in casting
a worthy vaunt for your achievement, and a man with incantations
even under hard toil has made himself
painless; truly the song of victory
existed long ago and before arose
the strife of Adrastos and the Kadmeians.