Pindar, Olympian Odes

LCL 56: 100-101

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Olympian 6

Hagesias, son of Sostratus, was apparently a close associate of Hieron and a prominent Syracusan, but his family lived in Stymphalus in Arcadia, and it was evidently there that this ode was first performed. From his father’s side Hagesias inherited the prophetic gifts of the family of the Iamidae and the position of custodial priest of the prophetic altar of Zeus at Olympia. In one of his most celebrated narratives, Pindar tells of the birth of the family’s founder, Iamus, whose father was Apollo. From his mother’s side, Hagesias inherited Arcadian martial and athletic prowess. Pindar hopes that Hagesias will enjoy a warm welcome from Hieron (who is highly praised) when he arrives in Syracuse. The most probable dates for the victory are 472 or 468, during the latter years of Hieron’s reign. Unfortunately, P. Oxy. 222 provides no confirmation since it does not list victors in the mule race.

Pindar opens by comparing his poem to a splendid palace and his introduction to a porch with golden columns (1–4). He sketches Hagesias’ achievements: Olympic victor, steward of Zeus’ altar at Olympia, and a founder of Syracuse (4–9). The gnomic observation that only deeds achieved through risk and toil are memorable leads to Adrastus’ praise of the dead Amphiaraus as a good seer and fighter (9–21).

Pindar orders Phintis (presumably Hagesias’ driver) to yoke the victorious mules to his chariot of song so that they



can drive to Laconian Pitana to celebrate Hagesias’ ancestry (22–28). The nymph Pitana secretly bore Poseidon’s child Euadne and sent her to Aepytus of Elis to raise. When she was grown, Euadne had intercourse with Apollo, and while the angry Aepytus was in Delphi inquiring about her pregnancy, she bore a boy in a thicket, where he was fed by snakes (29–47). After Aepytus’ return, the boy remained hidden in the wilds among violets (ἴα), for which his mother named him Iamus (48–57).

When Iamus became a young man, he went at night into the Alpheus River and prayed to his grandfather Poseidon and father Apollo that he might gain honor as a leader (57–61). Apollo’s voice led him to Olympia, where he granted him the gift of prophecy and made his family (the Iamidae) custodians of Zeus’ altar there. Since that time they have been celebrated throughout Hellas (61– 74). After stating that victory in equestrian competitions is especially subject to envy (74–76), the poet observes that Hagesias’ athletic success stems from the men in Arcadia on his mother’s side, who have gained the favor of Hermes and Zeus through their piety (77–81).

Pindar claims personal ties with the city of Stymphalus, since Metope, the mother of Thebe (the eponymous nymph of Thebes), came from there (82–87). He orders Aeneas, probably the chorus trainer, to celebrate Hera and to show how sophisticated they are (in spite of being Boeotians) by praising Syracuse and its king Hieron. Pindar prays that Hieron’s happiness may continue and that he may welcome this celebratory revel when it arrives from Arcadia (87–100). A concluding prayer expresses the hope that both Stymphalians and Syracusans may enjoy a glorious destiny and that Poseidon will provide a safe voyage for the poem (101–105).

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pindar-olympian_odes.1997