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Wallows in wealth, and runs a turning maze,
Leave, wanton Muse ! thy roving flight;
But in this thankless world the givers Are envied ev'n by the receivers: 'T is now the cheap and frugal fashion, Rather to hide, than pay, the obligation: Nay, 'tis much worse than so; It now an artifice does grow, Wrongs and outrages to do, Lest men should think we owe. Such monsters, Theron 1 has thy virtue found: But all the malice they profess, Thy secure honour cannot wound; For thy vast bounties are so numberless, That them or to conceal, or else to tell, Is equally impossible !
Chromius, the son of Agesidamus, a young gentleman of Sicily, is celebrated for having won the prize of the chariot-race in the Nemean games (a solemnity instituted first to celebrate the funeral of Opheltes, as is at large described by Statius; and afterwards continued every third year, with an extraordinary conflux of all Greece, and with incredible honour to the conquerors in all the exercises there practised), woon which occasion the poet begins with the commendation of his country, which I take to have been Ortygia (an island belonging to Sicily, and a part of Syracuse, being joined to it by a bridge), though the title of the Ode call him AEtnaan Chromius, perhaps because he was made governor of that town by Hieron. From thence he falls into the praise of Chromius's person, which he draws from his great endowments of mind and body, and most especially from his hospitality, and the worthy use of his riches. He likens his beginning to that of Hercules; and, according to his usual manner of being transported with any good hint that meets him in his way, passing into a digression of Hercules, and his slaying the two serpents in his cradle, concludes the Ode with that history.
BEAUTEOUS Ortygia! the first breathing-place
Who, like a gentle scion newly started out,
With Jove my song; this happy man, Young Chromius, too, with Jove began; From hence came his success, Nor ought he therefore like it less, Since the best fame is that of happiness; For whom should we esteem above The men whom Gods do love 'T is them alone the Muse too does approve. Lo!, how it makes this victory shine O'er all the fruitful isle of Proserpine ! The torches which the mother brought When the ravish'd maid she sought, Appear'd not half so bright, But cast a weaker light, Through earth, and air, and seas, and up to th' heavenly vault.
“To thee, O Proserpine ! this isle I give,”
“And thou, O isle !” said he, “for ever thrive,
Go to great Syracuse, my Muse, and wait