You are here:

Greek/Follow Up Question: Bachyllides and Pindar Poetry fragment help please?


QUESTION: Hello Michael,

I am working on a series of artwork that I would like to use various translations of ancient poetry/hymns/victory odes etc.  as inscription one each of the different works.

I currently have two that I have tried to find online and by purchasing Loeb classical library editions, but am still uncertain of the correct line breaks. I am hoping you can help with the exact lines out of these texts I need for the following two quotes:

Here is the Bacchylides fragment Epinician Ode 10…somewhere around line 40 (again cropped mid line at a comma break, but with two somewhat different translations found via Perseus tufts & Loeb classical library)
Transl 1: Indeed, a man is skillful if he has a share of honor from the Graces [40] and blooms with golden hope,
Transl 2 : "Truly the skilled man (poet or artisan) propsers in the golden hope, whether he has won honour from the Kharites
Original text is somewhere in this block:
ἢ γὰρ σοφὸς ἢ Χαρίτων τιμᾶν λελογχὼς
(40) ἐλπίδι χρυεῳ τέθαλεν:
ἤ τινα θευπροπίαν
εἰδώς: ἕτερος δ᾽ ἐπὶ πάσι
ποικίλον τόξον τιταίνει:
οἱ δ᾽ ἐπ᾽ ἔργοισίν τε καὶ ἀμφὶ βοῶν ἀγέλαις

Second piece is Pindar Nemean 4:somewhere around line 6 (part thereof) "If that man with the Kharites favour haply bring forth the heart's deep mood to live upon the tongue..." Second translation of same lines " Speech lives longer than deeds; whatever words the tongue, with the favor of the Graces, draws from the deep mind. May it be mine to set forth such speech. And The ORIGINAL TEXT IS: (somewhere in this block since I don't know the break points) :

γυῖα, τόσσον εὐλογία φόρμιγγι συνάορος.
ῥῆμα δ᾽ ἑργμάτων χρονιώτερον βιοτεύει,
ὅ τι κε σὺν Χαρίτων τύχᾳ
γλῶσσα φρενὸς ἐξέλοι βαθείας.
τό μοι θέμεν Κρονίδᾳ τε Δὶ καὶ Νεμέᾳ
Τιμασάρχου τε πάλᾳ

Oh and P.S. Just to clarify which part of the Nemean 4 I'm looking for it is the fragment that would say:: " ...whatever words the tongue, with the favor of the Graces, draws from the deep mind. May it be mine to set forth such speech.)

I know that is an incomplete phrase, but the rest won't work for my artwork.

Out of curiosity though would you translate the first part as “words” live longer than deeds? Or speech lives longer? The two translations also differ on that point!

Hope you can help!

Thanks in advance!

ANSWER: Hi Laura,

thank you for dropping by. Sure I can help with those passages. For the first one, the second translation is closer to the text, which is this one (I had to to correct some mistakes, though):

ἦ γὰρ σοφὸς ἢ Χαρίτων τιμὰν λελογχὼς
ἐλπίδι χρυσέᾳ τέθαλεν

For the second part I need to mention that the translations are from different points. I will again take into consideration the version of the second translation (I don't see anywhere the part "may it be mine to set forth such speech"):

ὅ τι κε σὺν Χαρίτων τύχᾳ
γλῶσσα φρενὸς ἐξέλοι βαθείας

Well, depending on whether you want to present the original text or a more free translation, you might want to say "speech" instead of "words". As I understand it, it could be well translated also as "word" in the meaning of a powerful word, which is "the oral power", or the oral transmission that lasts longer than the deeds. For this we have the example of Homer's epics as oral transmission that had survived for centuries before they were written down, whereas the Trojan war, for instance, destroyed the city and left nothing behind it.

If there is anything else let me know. Have a good day, Laura.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I think I may have figured out what part of the next section may be the correct bits for that "missing" phrase:

May it be mine to set forth such speech...

The whole next sentence is this (i accidentally cropped it too soon) when I sent you the block. :
τό μοι θέμεν Κρονίδᾳ τε Δὶ καὶ Νεμέᾳ
Τιμασάρχου τε πάλᾳ
ὕμνου προκώμιον εἴη

If I am figuring this correctly... for the english translation as this:
May it be mine to set forth such speech, in honor of Zeus the son of Cronus, and Nemea, [10] and Timasarchus' wrestling, as a prelude to my song.

Would just this part of that sentence be correct (or nearly)?
τό μοι θέμεν εἴη (May it be mine to set forth such speech)

For this to stand alone, is it complete? But Perseus tufts was listing εἴη as a 2nd person or 3rd person form of the verb. So not sure that's correct if I am trying to use it in first person form? What do you think?
τό μοι θέμεν εἴη

Again thanks for your help! These were the last two items I was having most trouble with.


Hello again Laura,

the verses have a meaning of their own context and it's not easy to separate individual words in order to form a logical meaning based on the English translation. "To set forth such speech" is deducted from the context and it actually replaces the part "to sing the prelude". Some ancient comments on Pindarus that I found suggest "μοι εἴη ποιῆσαι", i.e. let it be mine to do this, referring to the singing , whereas the "such speech" is freely added in the translation to complete the meaning rather than repeating the "singing" in the beginning and the end. The words θέμεν and εἴη have almost the same function and the second functions like an apposition to the first.

Now, for the first person you can't actually use the form εἴην, because μοι εἴη is a fixed phrase for "let it be mine". The verb stays always in the 3rd person as an impersonal construction; you only have to change the pronoun for different persons (e.g. let it be mine/yours/his ... etc.)

I would reconstruct the phrase for your purposes as: μοι εἴη ποιῆσαι προκώμιον ὕμνου (= let it be mine or even I would like to sing/to do the singing of the song's prelude)
Please, note that after this change, the poetic metre is lost!

I hope that this helps you. Have a nice day and do not hesitate to ask again.



All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Michael Barkas


I provide assistance in linguistic, literary topics of Greek and Latin covering, thus, the following fields: translation, grammar, syntax, vocabulary, etymology, morphology, semantics and interpretations etc.


Studies: University of the Aegean, Dept Rhodes Friedrich Wilhelm Universität Bonn

Magister Artium (Archeology/Linguistics) Bachelor (Latin/English/Greek)

©2017 All rights reserved.