Here ended the dissent of Nyanthes
Against his elder brother, Cliarchus;
And here began the cleft of the Scepter
That spun its every House into murmurs.
O, what courage! What heart in Nyanthes,
To hazard from Athens his banishment
For the balance a love in Timarchus.
Thus was Epimenides moved to cry:
Well wrought, Nyanthes! And deftly wielded!
And Xanthias with new vigor bellowed:
So is the ancient Scepter divided,
And many of the Ox would reassess.
Cliarchus! Pythodorus! Wilt suffer
Softer clans, and brave their plurality?
The patriarchs, challenged, turned to their men,
And took from every visage varied sign.
I do confess to be yet unconvinced
In this queer and conceiveless idea,
Yet through us there runs a mixed emotion,
And factions find good faith to support it.
This cleft of the clan hath no precedent,
Thus Pythodorus must pause to wonder…
Xanthias, be sure I doubt thy method,
Tho’ shan’t deny the inspiration that
Moves it: thy care for Athens is evident.
Therefore, in common cause of our state,
I do commit my Houses to thy means.
And lo, the Assembly greatly trembled,
For the willful Pythodorus was swayed.
So turned the Archon to one still aloof:
Cliarchus? Thy softened voice is wanted:
Wilt thou join and thus endorse thy dauntless
Brother Nyanthes in this bold venture?
As like Pythodorus, I’m divided.
And tho’ I sense the tide doth turn against
My better judgment, I shall nonetheless
Put to sea with this wayward assembly.
With bleak foreboding, by leashed reluctance
I commit mine unmarried men to this
Peculiar school and its tossing purpose.
Yet by this admonition persuaded:
A modest and cautious expedition
Shall limit their service under sails,
That should their ill-advised vessel roll to
But one salty wave of doubt’s perversion,
Myself I’ll smash to the gnashing jags of
Greediest Aegean its foaming prow.
If would scuttle its daring invention,
Cliarchus, one must shipwreck Athens too.
For but by this passage may thine oarsmen
Achieve more prosper’d and plentiful shores,
Yet failing first to brave the wine-dark waves,
The trireme shall rot, beached and abandoned.
Nobles, we have found a frangible peace;
In aspiration we are unified.
For sake of our sons, their home – this city –
We fasten to common purpose the clans,
And bring to bear by the gaze of our gods
This mighty and more matchless enactment:
Behold the soul of our late alliance!
A vital school across the coming age,
To drive the herd of freeborn boys and set
Their minds to the aim, their hearts for the fame,
And their graves in the name of great, great men!
Here does the story of heroes begin!
Soon may Athena be proudly portrayed!
From this day on to all shall Athens rise,
When they from yore would a paragon prize!