Pindar, Pythian Odes

LCL 56: 306-307

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Pythian 5

This ode celebrates the same Pythian chariot victory as the preceding poem, but is a much more straightforward encomium of Arcesilas. The winter storm briefly mentioned in line 10 probably refers to the political turmoil associated with Damophilus’ exile treated in Pyth. 4. The praise of the driver Carrhotus is the most extensive tribute to a charioteer in the odes. The scholia report that he was Arcesilas’ brother-in-law, but there is no independent evidence to confirm this. The poem appears to have been performed during the Carneian festival for Apollo, who figures very prominently in the ode (as he does in the other two odes to Cyrenaeans, Pyth. 4 and 9). At the end of the poem Pindar prays for an Olympic victory. According to a scholion on Pyth. 4 (inscr. b, 2.92.11 Dr.) Arcesilas won an Olympic victory in 460, but sometime afterward he was killed in a democratic revolution and his dynasty came to an end.

Wealth is powerful when divinely granted and used virtuously to make friends (1–4). Such is true in the case of Arcesilas, who has been favored by Castor, the patron of chariot racing (5–11). A wise and just king, he is blessed with the present celebration of his victory at Pytho (12– 23), earned by his charioteer Carrhotus, who kept his chariot



unscathed (while forty other drivers fell) and dedicated it in a shrine at Delphi (23–53).

Although no individual is free from adversity, the prosperity of Battus continues to bless Cyrene (54–57). A catalog of Apollo’s powers indirectly lists his benefactions to the city: as colony founder who aided Battus; as healing god who provides medicinal remedies; as god of poetry who fosters peaceful order; and as oracular god who helped settle the Dorians in the Peloponnesus (57–72).

The poet states that his forefathers, the Spartan Aegeidae, colonized Thera, whence derives the present Carneian festival (72–81). The colonists from Thera still honor an earlier group of settlers, the sons of Antenor, who came from Troy after its destruction (82–88). The poet relates that Battus enlarged the city’s sanctuaries and built a paved road for processions in honor of Apollo (89–93); he surmises that Battus and the successive kings in their tombs along the way share in this celebration of their offspring, Arcesilas (93–107).

Pindar praises Arcesilas by briefly recounting what everyone says: he is wise, courageous, appreciative of poetry, and an expert in chariot racing; he has sought all the distinctions his homeland offers (107–117). Pindar prays that Arcesilas’ success may continue and that Zeus may grant him a chariot victory in the Olympic games (117–124).

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pindar-pythian_odes.1997