Theseus’ Journey around the Isthmos (249 lower with art)

Chapter 7: The Royal House of Athens

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Bak 18 – Bakchylides, Ode

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, [10] 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. That man killed overweening

[20] 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. [30] I fear how this will end.

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 [40] 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, [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. [60] He is on his way to splendor-loving Athens.  Greek Text

Metope 1, Theseus and Sinis; Metope 3, Theseus and Kerkyon; Metopes 2 and 4 indefinite.


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Classical Art Research Centre


Metopes 3 (Theseus and Kerkyon), 4 (indefinite), and 2 (indefinite); photo from flickr

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Edited by R. Ross Holloway, Elisha Benjamin Andrews Professor Emeritus, Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, Brown Univ., July 2016; and by Frances Van Keuren, Prof. Emerita, Lamar Dodd School of Art, Univ. of Georgia, Nov. 2016.

Literary sources edited by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, March 2023.

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