ΚΑΛΛΙΠΑΤΕΙΡΑ by Λόρεντσος Μαβίλης (1860-1912) (Contributed by Armand D’Angour)

This modern Greek poem takes up the ancient Greek story of Kallipateira, a noblewoman who infiltrated herself into the Olympic Games dressed as a man to watch her son compete (women were not allowed into the Games on pain of death). When her son won his event, she leapt up in delight and inadvertently revealed herself. Brought before the Olympic Judges (Hellanodikes) she proudly recalled the Olympic success of her family members, including that of her father Diagoras of Rhodes, whose boxing triumph had been celebrated in a magnificent Ode (the 7th Olympian) by the poet Pindar. The Judges could not but honour her act of devotion to her family’s glory.

Armand D’Angour

 

“Αρχόντισσα Ροδίτισσα, πώς μπήκες;
Γυναίκες διώχνει μια συνήθεια αρχαία
εδώθε.” “ Έχω έν’ ανίψι, τον Ευκλέα,
πατέρα, γιο, τρί’ αδέρφι’ Ολυμπιονίκες.

Να μ’αφήσετε πρέπει, Ελλανοδίκες,
κ’ εγώ να καμαρώσω μές στα ωραία
κορμιά, που για τ’ αγρίλι του Ηρακλέα
παλεύουν, θιαμαστές ψυχές αντρίκες!

Με τες άλλες γυναίκες δεν είμ’ όμοια·
στον αιώνα το σόι μου θα φαντάζει
με της αντρειάς τ’ αμάραντα προνόμια.

με μάλαμα γραμμένος το δοξάζει,
σ’ αστραφτερό κατεβατό μαρμάρου
ύμνος χρυσός τ’ αθάνατου Πινδάρου!”

 

 

 “O noble Rhodian lady,
how come you here, explain;
by ancient custom, women
are barred from this domain.”

“I have a nephew, Eukles,
who won Olympic fame;
my father, son, three brothers,
are honoured for the same.

So you are bound, good Judges,
to let me honour now
those glorious men, who wrestled
to win the hero’s bough.

I praise their manly natures,
no common woman I –
my kinsmen shine for ever
with light that does not die!

Inscribed on sparkling marble
their names will never dim:
they gleam in golden verses –
immortal Pindar’s hymn!”

 

The Stadium at Olympia

 

Translated by Armand D’Angour of Jesus College, Oxford.

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