Bacchylides, Dithyrambs

Dithyrambs, Odes of Bacchylides, translated by Diane Arnson Svarlien (1991), who retains the copyright. Used by ToposText with her gracious permission. (For more on Dr. Arnson Svarlien). This text has 39 tagged references to 29 ancient places.
CTS URN: urn:cts:greekLit:tlg0199.tlg002; Wikidata ID: Q87763179;     [Open Greek text in new tab]

§ 15.1  Dithyramb 1: The Sons of Antenor, or The Demand for Helen's Return
The [wife] of godlike [Antenor], priestess of Athena ... of battle-rousing Pallas ... golden ... [5] of the Argives, to Odysseus [son of Laertes] and Menelaus, the royal son of Atreus, [deep]-waisted Theano ... ... spoke ...

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§ 15.10  well-built ... with the gods ... ... heart [at midnight] ... ... led ... and their father, the wise hero, made the whole speech of the Achaeans known to king Priam and his sons.

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§ 15.40  Then heralds rushed through the broad town and brought together the ranks of the Trojans into the assembly-place of the army. Loud rumor ran everywhere; [45] and raising their hands to the immortal gods, they prayed for an end to their griefs. Muse, who was the first to begin the words of justice? Menelaus son of Pleisthenes spoke with enchanting words and voice, having conferred with the Graces with beautiful robes:

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§ 15.50  Battle-loving Trojans: Zeus, the ruler on high who sees all, is not to blame for the great woes of mortals; all men have a chance to reach unswerving Justice, the attendant of holy [55] Eunomia and prudent Themis. Prosperous are they whose children take Justice to live with them. But shameless Hybris, flourishing with shifty greed and lawless empty-headedness, who will swiftly bestow on a man someone else's wealth and power,

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§ 15.60  and then send him into deep ruin — Hybris destroyed the arrogant sons of the Earth, the Giants.

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§ 16.1  Dithyramb 2: Heracles (or Deianeira?), for the Delphians
.... since Ourania on her lovely throne has sent me from Pieria a golden freighter loaded with glorious songs [5] ... by the flowery Hebrus he takes delight in ..., or in a long-necked swan ... delighting his mind ... you come to seek the flowers of paeans,

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§ 16.10  Pythian Apollo, all those which choruses of Delphians loudly sing at your glorious temple. Meanwhile we sing of how the son of Amphitryon, a bold-minded man, left Oichalia devoured by fire, [15] and arrived at the headland with waves all around it; there he was going to sacrifice from his booty nine loud-bellowing bulls for Cenaean Zeus, lord of the wide-spread clouds, and two for the god who rouses the sea and subdues the earth,

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§ 16.20  and a high-horned unyoked ox for the virgin Athena, whose eyes flash with might. Then a god, useless to fight against, wove for Deianeira, to her great sorrow, [25] a clever scheme, when she heard the bitter news that the son of Zeus, fearless in battle, was sending white-armed Iole to his splendid house to be his bride.

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§ 16.30  Poor woman, ill-fated, what a plan she devised! Widely powerful envy destroyed her, and the dark veil which covered what was to come, when on the rosy banks of the Lycormas [35] she received from Nessus the fateful, monstrous gift.

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§ 17.1  Dithyramb 3:
Youths, or Theseus A dark-prowed ship, carrying Theseus, steadfast in the din of battle, and twice seven splendid Ionian youths, was cleaving the Cretan sea; [5] for northern breezes fell on the far-shining sail, by the will of glorious Athena, shaker of the aegis. And the holy gifts of Cypris with her lovely headband scratched the heart of Minos.

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§ 17.10  He no longer kept his hand away from the maiden; he touched her white cheeks. And Eriboea cried out [15] to the descendant of Pandion with his bronze breastplate. Theseus saw, and he rolled his dark eyes under his brows; cruel pain tore his heart,

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§ 17.20  and he spoke: Son of greatest Zeus, the spirit you guide in your heart is no longer pious. Hero, restrain your overbearing force. Whatever the all-powerful fate of the gods [25] has granted for us, and however the scale of Justice inclines, we shall fulfill our appointed destiny when it comes. As for you, hold back from your oppressive scheme. It may be that the dear lovely-named daughter of Phoenix went to the bed of Zeus beneath the brow of Ida and bore you, greatest of mortals, but I too was borne by the daughter of rich Pittheus, [35] who coupled with the sea-god Poseidon, and the violet-haired Nereids gave her a golden veil. And so, war-lord of Knossos,

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§ 17.40  I bid you to restrain your grievous violence; for I would not want to see the lovely immortal light of Dawn if you were to subdue one of these young people against her will. [45] Before that we will show the force of our arms, and what comes after that a god will decide. So spoke the hero, excellent with the spear; and the sailors were astonished at the man's extraordinary boldness.

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§ 17.50  The son-in-law of Helios was angered in his heart, and he wove a new scheme, and spoke: Father Zeus, great in strength, hear me! If indeed the white-armed Phoenician girl bore me to you, [55] now send forth from the sky a fire-haired lightning bolt, a conspicuous sign. And you, if Troezenian Aethra bore you to Poseidon the earth-shaker, bring this splendid gold ornament on my hand back from the depths of the sea, casting your body boldly down to your father's home. And you shall see whether my prayers are heard [65] by the son of Cronus, lord of the thunder and ruler of all. And Zeus, great in strength, heard his blameless prayer, and brought about a majestic honor for Minos, wanting it to be seen by all for the sake of his dear son; he sent the lightning. And the hero, steadfast in battle, seeing the marvel which pleased his spirit, stretched his hands to the glorious sky and said, Theseus, [75] you see Zeus' clear gifts to me. It is your turn to leap into the loud-roaring sea. And your father lord Poseidon, son of Cronus, will grant you supreme

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§ 17.80  glory throughout the well-wooded earth. So he spoke. And Theseus' spirit did not recoil; he stood on the well-built deck, and leapt, [85] and the precinct of the sea received him willingly. And the son of Zeus was astonished in his heart, and gave an order to hold the ornate ship before the wind; but fate was preparing another path.

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§ 17.90  The swift-moving ship hurtled forwards; and the north wind, blowing astern, drove it along. But the ... race of Athenian youths was afraid, when the hero jumped into the sea, [95] and they shed tears from their lily eyes, awaiting grievous compulsion. But sea-dwelling dolphins swiftly carried great Theseus to the home of his father, lord of horses; and he came to the hall of the gods. There he saw the glorious daughters of prosperous Nereus, and was afraid; for brightness shone like fire from their splendid limbs, [105] and ribbons woven with gold whirled around their hair. They were delighting their hearts in a dance, with flowing feet. And he saw in that lovely dwelling the dear wife of his father, holy, ox-eyed Amphitrite. She threw a purple cloak around him and placed on his curly hair a perfect wreath, [115] dark with roses, which once deceptive Aphrodite had given her at her marriage. Nothing that the gods will is unbelievable to sensible men. Theseus appeared beside the ship with its slender stern.

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§ 17.120  Oh, from what thoughts did he stop the war-lord of Knossos, when he emerged unwetted from the sea, a marvel to all, and the gifts of the gods shone on his body. [125] The splendid-throned maidens cried out with new-founded joy, and the sea resounded. Nearby the young people sang a paean with lovely voices. God of Delos, may the choruses of the Ceans warm your heart, and may you grant god-sent noble fortune.

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§ 18.1  Dithyramb 4: Theseus [for the Athenians]
King of sacred Athens, lord of the luxuriously-living Ionians, why has the bronze-belled trumpet just now sounded a war song? [5] Does some enemy of our land beset our borders, leading an army? Or are evil-plotting robbers, against the will of the shepherds, rustling our flocks of sheep by force? What is it that tears your heart? Speak; for I think that you of all mortals have the aid of valiant young men at your disposal, [15] son of Pandion and Creusa. Just now a herald arrived, having come by foot on the long road from the Isthmus. He tells of the indescribable deeds of a mighty man.

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§ 18.20  That man killed overweening Sinis, who was the greatest of mortals in strength; he is the son of Lytaeus the Earthshaker, son of Cronus. And he has slain the man-killing boar in the valleys of Cremmyon, and reckless [25] Sciron. He has closed the wrestling school of Cercyon; Procoptes has met a better man and dropped the powerful hammer of Polypemon.

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§ 18.30  I fear how this will end. [Chorus: ] Who is the man said to be, and from where? How is he equipped? Is he leading a great army with weapons of war? [35] Or does he come alone with only his attendants, like a traveller wandering among foreign people, this man who is so strong, valiant, and bold, who has overcome the powerful strength of such great men? Indeed a god impels him, so that he can bring justice down on the unjust; for it is not easy to accomplish deed after deed and not meet with evil. [45] In the long course of time all things come to an end. The herald says that only two men accompany him, and that he has a sword slung over his bright shoulders .. and two polished javelins in his hands,

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§ 18.50  and a well-made Laconian hat on his head with its fire-red hair. A purple tunic covers his chest, and a woolen Thessalian cloak. [55] Bright red Lemnian fire flashes from his eyes. He is a boy in the prime of youth, intent on the playthings of Ares: war and battles of clashing bronze. He is on his way to splendor-loving Athens.

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§ 19.01  Dithyramb 5: Io: for the Athenians
There are countless paths of divine song for one who has received gifts from the Pierian Muses, [5] and upon whose songs the violet-eyed maidens, the garland-bearing Graces, cast honor. Now, much-praised Cean ingenuity, weave something new, in lovely, prosperous Athens. It is fitting for you to travel the greatest road, since you have received an outstanding honor from Calliope. [15] ... when the golden heifer, the rose-fingered daughter of Inachus, left Argos, land of horses, by the counsels of widely powerful, greatest Zeus?

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§ 19.20  When Argus, who could see all around with untiring eyes, was bidden by golden-robed Hera, the greatest queen, to guard the lovely-horned heifer, unresting and unsleeping; [25] and the son of Maia could not evade him, neither by shining day nor by sacred night. Did it then happen that ...

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§ 19.30  the swift-footed messenger [of Zeus] then killed [the son of Earth] with mighty offspring ... Argus? Or was it that ... unutterable cares? [35] Or did the Pierian Muses bring about ... rest from troubles ...? For me, the most secure [path? ] is the one which ... when she arrived at the flowery banks of the Nile, [gadfly-driven] Io, bearing the child ... Epaphus. There [she bore him? ] ... ruler over linen-robed ... teeming with majestic ... [45] and greatest ... mortal ... from this race Cadmus, son of Agenor, begat Semele in seven-gated Thebes, and she bore the rouser of Bacchants, Dionysus, the ... and [lord of] garland-[bearing] choruses.

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§ 20.1  Ode 20: Idas: for the Lacedemonians
Once in [spacious] Sparta the golden-haired Lacedemonian ... such a song ... when [5] bold-hearted [Idas] led ... Marpessa, the maiden with lovely [cheeks], fleeing ... of death ... Poseidon, the lord of the sea ... and to him horses [swift as the wind] to well-built Pleuron, the son of [Ares] with golden shield ...

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END
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