Nuntia multivago Danaas perlabitur urbes Fama gradu, sancire novo sollemnia busto Inachidas ludumque super, quo Martia bellis praesudare paret seseque accendere virtus. 5Graium ex more decus: primus Pisaea per arva hunc pius Alcides Pelopi †certavit† honorem pulvereumque fera crinem detersit oliva; proxima vipereo celebratur libera nexu Phocis, Apollineae bellum puerile pharetrae; 10mox circum tristes servata Palaemonis aras nigra superstitio, quotiens animosa resumit Leucothea gemitus et amica ad litora festa tempestate venit: planctu conclamat uterque Isthmos, Echioniae responsant flebile Thebae. 15et nunc eximii regum, quibus Argos alumnis
- 6 anne coeptavit?
- 8celebratur P: -avit ω
Rumour travels at large gliding through the Danaan cities with report that the sons of Inachus are founding rites for a new tomb and games to boot, in which martial valour will sweat in preparation for war and set itself alight, a festival according to Greek custom. Pious Alcides first began this honour for Pelops in Pisa’s fields 1 and brushed his dusty hair with wild olive. 2 Next was Phocis celebrated free of the serpent’s bond, the boyhood battle of Apollo’s quiver. 3 After that came a black cult observed at Palaemon’s gloomy altars as often as brave Leucothea renews her lamentations and returns to the friendly shore at festival time; Isthmos on either side is loud with mourning and Echionian Thebes makes tearful response. 4 And now the flower of kings, Argos’ children linking her with heaven,
- 1The Olympian games, founded in legend by Hercules, were the first of the four great Greek athletic festivals. Pelops’ tomb was at Olympia and honour was paid to it (Pindar, Olympians 1.93 and 10.24), but that the games were founded in his honour seems to be Statius’ extrapolation. Certavit, for which the translation substitutes coeptavit, has been implausibly explained as referring to an otherwise unattested tradition ascribing the foundation to Pelops. Honorem has also been taken as an internal accusative: ‘vied for glory in the games’ (Melville). It would be a very harsh one.
- 2Victors at Olympia were given crowns of wild olive. Statius makes Hercules take part in the games he founded.
- 3The Pythian games at Delphi commemorated Apollo’s slaying of the serpent Python.
- 4The Isthmian games at Corinth commemorated the death of the child Melicertes / Palaemon, whom his Theban mother Ino plunged into the sea along with herself.