the choicest recompense for his great labors

From Pindar’s Nemean 1 (text and translation from the Loeb) – following baby Heracles’ dispatching of the Hera-sent snakes.  A personally revealing observation here but I much appreciate the simple touch that all his life’s labors lead only to peace (εἰρήνη) and quiet (ἡσυχία) – the latter called the choicest recompense (ποινὰν ἐξαίρετον) for his great efforts.  Too rarely is Heracles given a side past man of action and too rarely does Greek literature recognize the joy of relaxation.

[Amphitryon] summoned his neighbor,
the foremost prophet of highest Zeus,
the straight-speaking seer Teiresias, who declared to him
and to all the people what fortunes he would encounter:

all the lawless beasts he would slay on land
and all those in the sea;
and to many a man who traveled
in crooked excess he said that
he would give the most hateful doom.
And furthermore, when the gods would meet the Giants
in battle on the plain of Phlegra,
he said that beneath a volley of his arrows
their bright hair would be fouled

with earth, but that he himself
in continual peace for all time
would be allotted tranquillity as the choicest
recompense for his great labors…


γείτονα δ᾿ ἐκκάλεσεν
Διὸς ὑψίστου προφάταν ἔξοχον,
ὀρθόμαντιν Τειρεσίαν· ὁ δέ οἱ
φράζε καὶ παντὶ στρατῷ, ποίαις ὁμιλήσει τύχαις,

ὅσσους μὲν ἐν χέρσῳ κτανών,
ὅσσους δὲ πόντῳ θῆρας ἀιδροδίκας·
καί τινα σὺν πλαγίῳ
ἀνδρῶν κόρῳ στείχοντα τὸν ἐχθρότατον
φᾶσέ νιν δώσειν μόρον.
καὶ γὰρ ὅταν θεοὶ ἐν
πεδίῳ Φλέγρας Γιγάντεσσιν μάχαν
ἀντιάζωσιν, βελέων ὑπὸ ῥι-
παῖσι κείνου φαιδίμαν γαίᾳ πεφύρσεσθαι κόμαν

ἔνεπεν· αὐτὸν μὰν ἐν εἰρή-
νᾳ τὸν ἅπαντα χρόνον <ἐν> σχερῷ
ἡσυχίαν καμάτων μεγάλων
ποινὰν λαχόντ᾿ ἐξαίρετον

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s