Myths of the Greek and Roman Gods
The Mnesiepes Inscription: Archilochus and the Muses
translated by R. Nickel
Concerning the matters we wish to inscribe [on this stone], the following account has been handed down to us from men of old, and we ourselves worked on them:
For they say that when Archilochus was still young, he was sent by his father, Telesicles, into the field, in the neighbourhood called “The Meadows,” in order to fetch a cow for sale. Archilochus got up very early, when it was still night and the moon was shining, and brought the cow to the city.
When he was in the place called “The Cliffs,” he thought he saw a group of women. Presuming that they were returning from the fields to the city, he taunted and teased them. They welcomed him with child-like glee and laughter, and asked him if he was bringing the cow in order to sell it. When he replied “yes,” they said that they would give him a fair price. Once they’d said this, both they and the cow disappeared, and before his feet he saw a lyre. He was dumbstruck. After some time, he came to his senses and understood that the women who had appeared and given him the lyre were the Muses. Picking up the lyre, he proceeded into the city and revealed to his father what had happened.
When Telesicles heard the story and saw the lyre, he was amazed. First he conducted a search for the cow all over the island, but was unable to find her. Next he was chosen by the citizens to go as a delegate, along with Lycambes, to Delphi in order to consult the oracle [of Apollo] on behalf of the city. He left on this voyage very eagerly, because he wanted to learn what had happened to them [i.e., to him and his son Archilochus].
When they arrived and entered the oracular shrine, the god [Apollo] gave the following oracle to Telesicles:
Your son will be immortal and famous in song, Telesicles,
that son who first addresses you when you leap from your
ship onto your beloved fatherland.
They arrived back at Paros during a festival in honour of Artemis, and the first of all his children to approach and greet their father was Archilochus. When they went home, Telesicles asked if the items required [for the festival] were at hand, since it was late in the day …
[At this point, the stone on which these words are inscribed is too badly damaged to be restored. Another stone on which the inscription continues, while damaged, contains some details about how the hero cult of Archilochus came to be established.]