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Pheidippides
by [?]


[Greek: Chairete, nikomen]

 
First I salute this soil of the blessed, river and rock!
Gods of my birthplace, daemons and heroes, honour to all!
Then I name thee, claim thee for our patron, co-equal in praise
--Ay, with Zeus the Defender, with Her of the aegis and
spear! 4
Also, ye of the bow and the buskin, praised be your peer, 5

Now, henceforth, and forever,–O latest to whom I upraise
Hand and heart and voice! For Athens, leave pasture and flock!
Present to help, potent to save, Pan –patron I call! 8
Archons of Athens, topped by the tettix, see, I return 9
See, ’tis myself here standing alive, no spectre that speaks! 10
Crowned with the myrtle, did you command me, Athens and you,
“Run, Pheidippides, run and race, reach Sparta for aid!
Persia has come, we are here, where is She?” Your command
I obeyed, 13
Ran and raced: like stubble, some field which a fire runs through,
Was the space between city and city: two days, two nights did I burn
Over the hills, under the dales, down pits and up peaks.

Into their midst I broke: breath served but for “Persia has come!
Persia bids Athens proffer slaves’-tribute, water and earth 18
Razed to the ground is Eretria. –but Athens, shall Athens
sink, 19
Drop into dust and die–the flower of Hellas utterly die, 20
Die with the wide world spitting at Sparta, the stupid,
the stander-by? 21
Answer me quick,–what help, what hand do you stretch o’er
destruction’s brink?
How,–when? No care for my limbs!–there’s lightning in all and some–
Fresh and fit your message to bear, once lips give it birth!”

O my Athens–Sparta love thee? did Sparta respond?
Every face of her leered in a furrow of envy, mistrust,
Malice,–each eye of her gave me its glitter of gratified hate!
Gravely they turned to take counsel, to cast for excuses. I stood
Quivering,–the limbs of me fretting as fire frets, an inch from dry
wood:
“Persia has come, Athens asks aid, and still they debate? 30
Thunder, thou Zeus! Athene, are Spartans a quarry beyond
Swing of thy spear? Phoibos and Artemis, clang them
‘Ye must’!” 32