1775
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Ninth Olympic Ode.

Six Olympic Odes of Pindar: being those omitted by Mr. West. Translated into English Verse. With Notes.

Henry James Pye


Henry James Pye's anonymous translation of Pindar's Ninth Olympic Ode, published in a supplement to Gilbert West's Pindar (1749), uses Prior stanzas in its "strophes" and "antistrophes." Gilbert West had earlier translated Pindar's First Pythian Ode into Prior stanzas. Doubtless this early work by the future Laureate proved useful preparation for many New Years' and Birthday Odes to come; Pye was always a serious Grecian. The ninth ode is addressed "To Epharmostus of Opus, on his Olympic and Pythian Victories."

John Langhorne: "As this work appears to have a similar merit, and may possibly be some time or other incorporated with Mr. West's translation, we shall, on that account, pay it all due attention.... Each of these odes is followed by notes critical and explanatory, which shew the Author to be a man of learning and good taste" Monthly Review 53 (August 1775) 155, 157.

Robert Shelton Mackenzie: "Henry James Pye was the Poet Laureate, who immediately preceded Southey, and was born in 1745, appointed Laureate in 1790, made London police magistrate in 1792, and died in 1813. He wrote a great many bad verses: — the best known being an epic, called Alfred" Noctes Ambrosianae, ed. Mackenzie (1854) 1:292n.



STROPHE I.
The lay Archilochus prepared, the Meed
Of every Victor on Olympia's Sand,
Might have sufficed thrice chanted, to proceed
Brave Epharmostus and his social band;
But from her Bow let each Aonian Maid
The glittering Shafts of Harmony prepare,
The Heights of sacred Elis to invade,
Her shady Forests, and her Pastures fair;
Seats sacred still to Thunder-bearing Jove,
Which Pelops gain'd, the Dower of Hippodamia's Love.

ANTISTROPHE I.
To Pythia too one dulcet Arrow send.—
Nor does that Poet humble Lays require
The Chiefs who sings, for Glory that contend.—
To princely Opus now the Silver Lyre
Awake, and chant her Sons athletic Worth.
Opus, where Themis, with her Daughter, reigns,
Divine Eunomia. — Mindful of his Birth,
He decks the Capital of Locris' Plains
With every Flower on Alpheus' Brink that grows,
And every blooming Wreath Castalia's Cirque bestows.

EPODE I.
My votive Voice, in soothing Lays,
Shall sing the much-loved City's Praise;
And, swifter than the Courser scours the Plain,
Or the winged Galley cleaves the yielding Main,
Will send the Messenger of Fame
Through all the admiring World, her Honors to proclaim.
If haply my assiduous Hand
Shall cull the Flowers that deck the Graces' Land.
For every Bliss that crowns Mankind,
Must from the Powers Superior rise;
And every Plan's by them design'd,
That forms the Valiant or the Wise.

STROPHE II.
Favoured by them, Alicides' nervous Arm
Repelled the Monarch of the briny Flood;
Nor did the Silver Bow his Heart alarm,
But, firmly, angry Phoebus' Rage he stood;
Nor could stern Pluto's Rod his Breast dismay,
Which drives the Dying to this drear Abodes:—
Rash Muse, desist! nor urge the impious Lay;
Hateful's the Wisdom that blasphemes the Gods.—
Tis Madness, Strength absurdly thus to boast,
And mortal Might compare with Heaven's triumphant Host.

ANTISTROPHE II.
Let War and Discord, with the Ills they bring,
Be banished distant from the Ethereal Train:
Fair Protogenia's new-rais'd City sing,
Where, from Parnassus to the level Plain,
Deucalion and his Mate descending first,
By Jove's Command the rising Dome design'd;
While from the Stones their living Offspring burst,
To fill the Nations, and renew Mankind.—
Let Strains like these their pleased Descendants hear,
Old Wine delights the Taste, new Numbers charm the Ear.

EPODE II.
Of old o'er Earth's involved Head,
The congregated Waters spread,
And o'er the wasted Country urged their Course;
Till Jove, relenting, check'd their ruthless Force,
And bade their native Beds again
The raging Waves absorb, and spare the ravaged Plain.
From Pyrrha and Deucalion then
Your Sires arose, a hardy Race of Men.
Thence your honor'd Lineage springs,
The Offspring of a God's Embrace;
And hence, for ever native Kings,
With Glory reigns the warlike Race.

STROPHE III.
Opus, thy Daughter erst Olympic Jove
To shady Maenalus from Elis bore;
And there compressing with impetuous Love,
Restor'd her to her plighted Lord once more,
Her Womb then teeming with the Heavenly Child;
Lest Fate his Days without a Son should claim.
The Hero on the fostered Infant smiled,
Pleased with his Form, and gave his Grandsire's Name,
And Subjects brave bestow'd, and fair Domains;
Whence Opus' lofty Walls, and Locris' hardy Swains.

ANTISTROPHE III.
Drawn by his Virtues, to whose friendly Towers,
From Argos, Thebes, and Pisa's fertile Plain,
And fair Arcadia, croud the social Powers,
Menoetius, chief among the Warrior Train,
He lov'd, from Actor and Aegina sprung:
Whose Son when wronged Atrides called to Arms,
Was nobly found the vengeful Train among;
Who, when the Greeks from Telephus' Alarms
Found shameful Safety on the friendly Flood
With Peleus' Godlike Son, the threatening Storm withstood.

EPODE III.
From hence the Skilful well might find
The Impatience of Patroclus' Mind:
Achilles, therefore, with parental Care,
Advised him ne'er alone to tempt the War.—
O could I soar on daring Wings,
Where, in her rapid Car, the Muse exulting sings;
(For ample Power, and eager Will,
Attend with duteous Care her Footsteps still;)
Thy social Worth, and Isthmian Prize,
Lampromachus, should grace my Lay.
When Fame beheld both Trophies rise
Congenial, in one rolling Day.

STROPHE IV.
Twice, Epharmostus, too, thy matchless Might
Fair Corinth saw, and Twice Nemea's Ground:
Argos thy manly Brows with Glory dight,
And Attica thy youthful Forehead crowned:
What Praise thou met'st in Marathon's famed Course!
Now, scorning with the beardless Youths to run,
Matched with the veteran Race, thy rapid Force,
Tempered with Skill, the Silver Goblet won;
Shout with exulting Voice the friendly Train,
To see the loveliest Youth the fairest Trophies gain.

ANTISTROPHE IV.
In Lycian Jove's high Feast with Wonder glowed
Parrhasia's Sons, thy Valor to behold;
And fair Pellana on thy Worth bestowed
Her Prize, a Guard secure from Winter's Cold.
Iolaus' Tomb, and fair Eleusis' Plain,
Washed by the briny Wave, thy Deeds attest.—
Though Men by Labor strive Applause to gain,
Yet native Merit ever shines the best;
Nor shall the Wreaths attained by Toil and Care,
With Heaven-descended Might, and inborn Worth compare.

EPODE IV.
Not every Path extends the same,
But various are the Roads to Fame;
With different Eye the same Pursuits we view,
Nor all one Wish with equal Zeal pursue;
But his great Fame shall highest soar,
Who climbs the arduous Heights of Science' sacred Lore.
By which inspir'd, I now proclaim
My Hero's Strength, his Courage, and his Fame;
Who, Conqueror on Oilia's Plain.
Bade the bright Meed of Victory twine,
Great Ajax, round thy votive Fane,
And graced with Wreaths the hallowed Shrine.

[pp. 35-41]