Page images

their own genuine metres and harmony the Æolians stamped the character of their race. They were proud, rash, intemperate, inconstant; devoted to love, wine, and horsemanship: hence their governments were convulsed by the perpetual shocks of despotism and oligarchical faction,-their poets ran into the wildest extremes of license-their music was irregular and pas sionate their metrical feet and rhythm were loose and wavering. All these attributes were softened and sobered down in the Lydian style. It was airy and graceful, not extravagant. Its properties are well shown in the lines which follow:


'O Ye, ordain'd by lot to dwell
Where Cephisian waters well;
And hold your fair retreat,

'Mid herd of coursers beautiful and fleet:
Renowned Queens, that take your rest
In Orchomenus the blest,

Guarding with ever-wakeful eye,
The Minyans' high-born progeny ;
To you my votive strains belong :
List, Graces, to your suppliant's song.
For all delightful things below,
All sweet, to you their being owe;
And at your hand, their blessings share,
The wise, the splendid, and the fair.

Nor without the holy Graces,
The Gods, in those supernal places,
Their dances or their banquets rule:
Dispensers they of all above,

Throughout the glorious court of Jove;
Where each has placed her sacred stool
By the golden-bow'd Apollo,

Whom in his harpings clear they follow;
And the high majestic state

Of their eternal father venerate.

'Daughters of heav'n; Aglaia, thou,
Darting splendours from thy brow;
With musical Euphrosyne;
Be present. Nor less call I thee,
Tuneful Thalia, to look down
On this joyous rout, and own
Me their bard, who lead along,
For Asopichus, the throng
Tripping light to Lydian song;

And Minya for thy sake proclaim
Conqueress in th' Olympic game.

Waft, Echo, now, thy wing divine
To the black dome of Proserpine;
And marking Cleodamus there,
Tell the glad tidings; how his son,
For him, hath crown'd his youthful hair
With plumes in Pisa's valley won.'

We have a dim, dream-like recollection of having somewhere seen-inscribed, we think, upon the wall of a summer-house, or grotto a version of the most exquisite portion of this ode, from the pen of an almost superstitious worshipper of the GracesSamuel Rogers. But being unable, at this moment, to recover any distinct traces of that translation, we are glad to have so good a substitute from Mr Cary. His rendering of the whole poem is close, nervous, and polished. Where he has added an epithet, or expanded a phrase, the effect is not to give a weaker, but a more forcible and lively image of the original.

Six years later than the date of this elegant hymn the genius of Pindar reached its acmé, and the first Pythian was produced. Here he preferred the Dorian harmony. As the Dorians themselves were grave, chaste, manly, composed, severe, so their numbers were temperate and equable, their whole system of versification was marked by a strenuous simplicity. How far the spirit of the following ode agrees with these properties of rhythm and metre the reader must judge:


O thou, whom Phoebus and the quire
Of violet-tressed Muses own,

Their joint treasure, golden Lyre,

Ruling step with warbled tone,

Prelude sweet to festive pleasures;

Minstrels hail thy sprightly measures;

Soon as shook from quivering strings,

Leading the choral bands, thy loud preamble rings.

In thy mazes, steep'd, expire

Bolts of ever-flowing fire.

Jove's eagle on the sceptre slumbers,

Possess'd by thy enchanting numbers ;

On either side, his rapid wing,

Drops, entranc'd, the feather'd king;
Black vapour o'er his curved head,
Sealing his eyelids, sweetly shed;
Upheaving his moist back he lies,
Held down with thrilling harmonies.

Mars the rough lance has laid apart,
And yields to song his stormy heart.
No God but of his mood disarm'd,
Is with thy tuneful weapons charm'd;
Soon as Latona's sapient son

And deep-zon'd Muses have their lays begun.
But whomsoever Jove

Hath look'd on without love,

Are anguish'd when they hear the voiceful sound; Whether on land they be,

Or in the raging sea;

With him, outstretch'd on dread Tartarian bound, Hundred-headed Typhon; erst

In fam'd Cilicia's cavern nurst;

Foe of the Gods; whose shaggy breast,
By Cuma's sea-beat mound, is prest ;
Pent by plains of Sicily,

And that snow'd pillar heavenly high,
Ætna, nurse of ceaseless frost;
From whose cavern'd depths aspire,
In purest folds upwreathing, tost,
Fountains of approachless fire.

By day, a flood of smouldering smoke,
With sullen gleam, the torrents pour;
But in darkness, many a rock,
Crimson flame, along the shore,
Hurls to the deep with deaf'ning roar.
From that Worm, aloft are thrown,
The wells of Vulcan, full of fear;
A marvel strange to look upon;
And, for the passing mariner,
As marvellous to hear;

How Etna's tops with umbrage black,

And soil, do hold him bound;

And by that pallet, all his back

Is scored with many a wound.

Thy pleasure, Jove, oh, be thy pleasure done! Who dost this mount command,

Forehead of fruitful land,

Whence her illustrious founder hath surnam'd

The neighbour city, whom in Pytho's ring

The herald, late, proclaim'd

For Hiero, in his chariots triumphing.

By sailors, when they quit the coast,

At loosing, it is prized the most,

If speeding gale should come;

For so, with fortune to their friend,

Alike they augur, in the end,
A better voyage home:
And on such auspices we found
Opinion, that no less renown'd
She still shall be, as time succeeds


Her garlands bright, her conquering steeds,
Ordain'd, in frequent song, the prize
Mid feasts and high solemnities.

O Lycian! thou who art in Delos king;
Apollo; and dost love the spring
Of Castaly, outrilling

From the Parnassian steep;
Mayst thou be ever willing,
This, in thy thought to keep,

And the fair region, in her people, blest.
For of the Gods, whate'er is best

In mortal virtues; all the wise are sprung,

And all the stout in hand, and eloquent in tongue.

Intent this man to praise,

I trust to whirl my javelin, brazen-tipt,
Not out of limit, yet that all who raise
A rival arm, shall be by far outstript.

So may time, still heaping more,
His blissful measure fill;
Directing, with increase of store,
Forgetfulness of ill.

He surely may recall to thought

In what wars he hath defied

(His soul with patient courage fraught)
The fierce encounter, when they glory found,

Such as in Hellenian ground,

By help divine, none culls beside;
Riches, with proud honour, crown'd.

Now, Philoctetes' guise pursuing,
He hath the soldier play'd.

A mighty one in need came wooing,
And lured him to his aid;

And from the Lemnian isle, they say,
Where long with ulcer vex'd he lay,
Godlike heroes bore away

The bowyer son of Paan, who destroy'd

The town of Priam, and for Grecia's host

Their labour ended: weak in frame he went

But fate had will'd th' event.

E'en so may God for Hiero decree,

That what in after time he covets most,
Shall be by apt occasion still enjoy'd.

Muse, I would next a strain from thee,
Warbled to Dinomenes;

Reward for chariots won.
Not alien to a son,

His father's victories.

'Come, for the King of Ætna let us find
A song to take his charmed mind.
For him arose, at Hiero's command,
Those stately walls in freedom plann'd;
The model built by hands divine,
The rule outstretch'd by Hyllus' line.

And aye Ægimius' Dorian laws
Are duly kept by each, who draws
His lineage, or from Pamphilus,
Or th' Heraclidae; they who bide
Near banks of steep Taygetus,
And to Amyclæ, from the side

Of Pindus issuing, came; and neighbours were
Right glorious to those twins of Tyndarus,
Whose fame did flourish for their warlike spear.
Grant, Jove, a lot like theirs,

To dwellers by the wave of Amena,

Both citizens and kings;

Certain as true report from mortals brings.

With thee to guide his wakeful cares,

His realm in quiet may

the ruler sway;

And turning them to love,

Honour the people; bid his son obey.

Hear, O Saturnian; thou my prayer approve.

Undisturb'd at home let dwell

Phoenicia's band; nor more rebel

The tumult of Tyrrhenian crew,

Marking what shameful rout o'erthrew

Their groaning ships on Cuma's shore,

And all in that defeat they bore
As swift his victor navy flew)

From Syracusa's lord;

Who dash'd their youth into the sea,
Setting the land of Grecia free

From servitude abhorr'd.

At Salamis I claim of right

A grace for Athens; and will tell,
Before Citharon, Sparta's fight,

Where with bent bows the Medians fell.

« PreviousContinue »