The Pythian Ode number V appears here primarily because of the references to the Karneian festival in Kyrene and whatever use these references can supply to those who love Apollo Karneios. This translation by Sir J. E. Sandys, along with the accompanying introduction and notes, was originally published in 1915 by the Loeb Classical Library and is in the public domain.

Please note: The editor of this website has altered one thing in the text: at every occurrence of the words 'God' or 'Gods', these words were capitalized out of respect.



INTRODUCTION by Sir J. E. Sandys, 1915

The Fifth Pythian was written to celebrate the same victory as the Fourth, the victory of Arcesilaüs in the Pythian Chariot-race of 462. It was sung at Cyrene (84-87) on the return of the charioteer and the horses (40 f), probably during the festival of the Carneia (73-76). The Charioteer was the brother of the Queen of Cyrene.

Wealth wedded to Honour and blessed of Fortune has wide sway (1-4). By Castor's aid, such wealth has been won by Arcesilaüs, who keeps to the path of Justice, is king of mighty cities, and has won the chariot-race at Delphi (5-22). When he is hymned in song, he must not forget to give God the glory, and to praise the charioteer, who drove his chariot safely, and dedicated it at Delphi (22-42). Such a benefactor deserves an ungrudging welcome; he has kept his chariot scatheless in a race, where forty chariots were wrecked (43-54). He is attended by the fortune--the varied fortune--of the house of Battus, that founder of Cyrene, whose strange tongue caused Libyan lions to flee in terror, at the behest of Apollo, the God of healing and music, and of those Delphic oracles, which prompted the Heracleidae and the Dorians to settle in Sparta, Argos, and Pylos (55-71). The chorus claims to be descended from Aegeidae, who won fame at Sparta, and went to Thêra, whither they brought the Carneian festival, now celebrated at Cyrene (72-81). There the descendants of the Trojan Antênôr are worshipped as heroes by the followers of Battus, who made Cyrene beautiful, and, on his death, was worshipped as a hero (82-95), while, in their graves hard by, the other ancestors of Arcesilaüs hear the news of his victory, for which Apollo should be praised (96-107).

Lastly, Arcesilaüs is lauded for his sense, his eloquence, his courage, his skill in athletic contests, and in music (108-116). May his prosperity continue, and may he be victorious at Olympia (117-124).



Wide is the power of wealth, whene'ver it is wedded with stainless honour, wealth that a mortal man receiveth at the hands of Destiny, and taketh to his home as a ministrant that bringeth him many friends.

O blest of Heaven! Arcesilas! From the first steps of thy famous life thou dost indeed seek for that wealth, and fair fame withal, by the help of Castor of the golden chariot, who, after the wintry storm, sheddeth beams of calm upon thy happy hearth.

They that are noble bear with a fairer grace even the power that is given of God; and thou, while thou walkest in the straight path, hast prosperity in abundance around thee. First, as thou art a king over mighty cities, the eye of thy ancestry looketh on this as a meed most fit for reverence, when wedded to a soul like thine; and even to-day art thou happy in that thou has already, with thy coursers, won glory from the famous Pythian festival, and has given welcome to this triumph-band of men, in whom Apollo delighteth.

Therefore, when thou art hymned in song in Cyrene's sweet garden of Aphrodite, forget not to give God the glory; do not forget to love, above all thy comrades, Carrhôtus, who on returning to the palace of them that reign by right, did not bring in his train Excuse, that daughter of After-thought, who is wise too late; but, when welcomed beside the waters of Castalia, flung over thy locks the guerdon of glory in the chariot-race with his reins unsevered in the sacred space of the twelve courses of swift feet. For he brake no part of his strong equipage; nay, he hath dedicated all the dainty handiwork of skilled craftsmen, with which he passed the hill of Crisa on his way to the God's own hollow glen. Wherefore are they all placed in the shrine of cypress-wood, hard by the statue grown as a single block, that the Cretan bowmen dedicated beneath the roof Parnassian. [1]

Therefore is it fitting to requite with ready mind the doer of a good deed. Son of Alexibius! thy name is lit up by the fair-haired Graces. Thou are happy in that, after labour sore, thou has the noblest praise to keep thy memory green. For, amid forty drivers who were laid low, thou, with thy fearless spirit, didst bring thy chariot through unscathed, and, from the glorious games, hast now returned to the plain of Libya, and to the city of thy sires. But no man is now, or ever shall be, without his share of trouble; yet, in spite of chequered fortune, there is present still the olden prosperity of Battus, that tower of the city of Cyrene, and that light most radiant to strangers from afar.

Even the loudly-roaring lions fled before Battus in terror when he unloosed on them his strange tongue, [2] and Apollo, the founder of the State, doomed the wild beasts to dread fear, that so his oracles might not be unfulfilled for the ruler of Cyrene. 'Tis Apollo that allotteth to men and to women remedies for sore diseases. 'Twas he that gave the cithern, and bestoweth the Muse on whomsoever he will, bringing into the heart the love of law that hateth strife. 'Tis he that ruleth the secret shrine of the oracles; wherefore, even for sake of Lacedaemon, he planteth the valiant descendants of Heracles and Aegimius in Argos, and in hallowed Pylos.

But mine it is to sing of the dear glory that cometh from Sparta, whence sprang the Aegeidae, my own forefathers, [3] who, not without the Gods, but led by some providence divine, once went to Thêra, whence it was that we have received the festal sacrifice in which all have part, and, in thy banquet, O Carneian Apollo, [4] we honour the nobly built city of Cyrene, which is held by bronze-armed Trojans from a foreign shore, even by the descendants of Antênor. [5] For they came with Helen, after they had seen their native city burnt in war, and that chariot-driving race was heartily welcomed with sacrifices by men who greeted them with gifts, men who were brought by Aristoteles, [6] when, with his swift ships, he opened a deep path across the sea. And he made the groves of the Gods greater than aforetime, and ordained that, for the festivals of Apollo, which bring health unto mortals, there should be a straight and level road, paved with stone and trodden by the hoofs of horses, [7] where now, in death, he resteth apart, at the further end of the market-place. [8] Blessed was he, while he dwelt among men, and thereafter a hero worshipped by the people; and asunder, before the dwellings, are the other holy kings, whose portion is in Hades, and in their soul, in the world below, they haply hear of lofty prowess besprent with soft dew beneath the outpourings of revel-songs--a happy lot for themselves and a glory shared by their son, Arcesilas, and his rightful claim.

Meet it is that, amid the minstrelsy of youths, he should proclaim the praise of golden-lyred Apollo, now that he receiveth from Pytho the gracious song that is the victor's guerdon for all cost. That hero is praised by the prudent. I shall only say what is said by others. He cherisheth a mind and a tongue that are beyond his years; in courage he is like a broad-winged eagle among birds, while his might in athlete-contests is a very tower of strength; and, even from his mother's lap, he hath soared among the Muses; and he hath proved himself a skilful charioteer; and all the openings for noble exploits around him, hath he boldly essayed. Even now doth God readily bring his powers to perfect issue, and, in the time to come, do ye blessed sons of Cronus grant him a like boon, both in deeds and counsels, lest haply some stormy blast of autumn make havoc of his life. Lo! it is the mighty mind of Zeus that guideth the fate of men that he loveth. I beseech him to grant the race of Battus this new guerdon at Olympia.


[1] The Cretan offering was apparently a tree resembling a human figure, with some touches added by a rude form of art to complete the resemblance. The Cyrenian chariot was probably placed near the Cretan offering, because of the old connection between Crete and Cyrene (Müller's Orchomenos, p. 342). Pausanias tells us that, at Delphi, a chariot, with the image of Ammon in it, was dedicated by the Greeks of Cyrene; and that the Cyrenians also dedicated a statue of Battus in a chariot, this last being the work of a sculptor of Cnossos in Crete (x 13, 5 and 15, 6).

[2] Battus was as much afraid of the lions as the lions were of Battus. "It is said that he was cured of his stammer in the following way. As he was traversing the district of Cyrene, he beheld in the utmost parts of it, which were still uninhabited, a lion, and terror at the sight forced from his lips a loud articulate cry." (Frazer's Pausanias, x 15, 7.)

[3] The first person singular elsewhere refers to the poet himself (though examples are not wanting in which the Ode is written from the point of view of the chorus, as in O. xiv and P. viii). Hence it has been generally assumed that Pindar here claims descent from the Aegeidae. These must have been the Theban Aegeidae mentioned in I. vii 15. But we find below that it was the Spartan Aegeidae, who colonised Thêra. According to this view the subsequent context implies that it was from Thêra that Thebes received the Carneia, and in its local festivals paid honour to Cyrene as a colony of Thêra.

But it seems out of place for the poet to make the chorus say, at Cyrene, that "we Thebans do honour to Cyrene as a colony of Thêra." It is more satisfactory to suppose that it is the leader of the Cyrenaean chorus that here describes the Spartan Aegeidae as his ancestors (see Studniczka, Cyrene, pp. 73-85). It was from Sparta that the Spartan Aegeidae carried to Thêra the festival of the Carneia, which Thêra had since transferred to those who were now glorifying their native city, Cyrene. The two interpretations are summed up in the scholium (Sir Sandys here quotes a Greek phrase).

[4] The "Carneia" was an important national festival of the Spartans, which was carried across the Aegean sea to Thêra. The epitaph of a priest of the Carneian Apollo has been found at Thêra, in which the priest claims descent from the Spartan kings and also from Thessaly (Kaibel, Epigr. Graeca Nos. 191, 192). Callimachus (Ed. Kallimachus), the poet of Cyrene, traces the Carneia from Sparta to Thêra, and from Thêra to Cyrene (Hymn, ii 72f).

[5] The local heroes of Cyrene prior to its colonization by Thêra.

[6] The other name of the founder, Battus.

[7] The Scholiast states that Battus made <Greek phrase>, what was known as "the paved street." Della Cella, an Italian traveller who visited Cyrene in 1817, describes its principal street as "completely cut out of the living rock" (Viaggio, p. 139).

[8] At the west end, where tombs are marked in the maps of Cyrene. As at Mycenae and Megara and Sicyon, the tomb of the founder was in the market-place. The descendants of Battus were buried in a place apart from the founder's tomb.

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