Pindar, Olympian Odes

LCL 56: 76-77

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Olympian 3

This ode celebrates the same victory as Ol. 2. The scholia report that it was performed for the Theoxenia (feast of welcome for gods) honoring the children of Tyndareus, but the evidence for this theory is derived from the poem itself and has no compelling authority. The centerpiece of the poem is the etiological narrative, structured in ring composition, that tells how Heracles brought the olive tree from the land of the Hyperboreans to grace the Olympic festival that he had just founded.

The poet hopes to please the Tyndaridae and their sister Helen as he honors Acragas in celebration of Theron’s Olympic victory (1–4). The Muse has assisted him in his endeavor to compose this new ode in Doric meter for a victor crowned by the Olympic judges with a wreath of olive, which Heracles brought from the region of the Danube (4–15). The narrative relates how, after arranging the games, Heracles realized that the precinct lacked trees to provide either shade or victory crowns. During a previous trip to the Hyperboreans in search of Artemis’ goldenhorned doe, he had admired their olive trees, and upon returning there, he obtained their permission to take some to plant at Olympia (16–34). After his apotheosis on Olympus, Heracles entrusted supervision of the games to the Tyndaridae, and it is because of Theron’s and his



family’s devoted entertainment of these heroes that they have won such honor in the games (34–41). He concludes the poem with a priamel that echoes the opening of Ol. 1, declaring that Theron has reached the limits of human achievement, the Pillars of Heracles, beyond which only fools would attempt to travel (42–45).

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pindar-olympian_odes.1997