Title: The Homeric Hymns.
Author: Various Anonymous (translated by Thelma Sargent).
Genre: Fiction, literature, poetry, mythology.
Country: Ancient Greece.
Language: Ancient Greek.
Publication Date: ~7th BC.
Summary: A collection of 33 anonymous Ancient Greek hymns (written in the style of Homer, some of which being only surviving fragments of the longer poems) telling the stories, celebrating, and praising most of the major gods of Greek mythology. To Dionysos (A Fragment) is a fragment of a prayer to Dionysus. To Demeter is a poem that describes Demeter's anguish and self-exile after her daughter's abduction by Hades, of her rearing the new-born son Demophoön in the house of Metaneira until she is distrusted and bestowing upon the child unending years of war in the spring of his life, and ultimately Zeus demanding Hades to release Persephone, and, though Hades tricks her by allowing her to eat seeds of pomegranate and binding her soul to the Underworld for part of the year, Demeter and Persephone finally reuniting. To Delian Apollo tells of Leto finding refuge in Delos to give a difficult and lengthy birth to Apollo (in exchange for a sacred precinct of Apollo being built there and Delos becoming a place of great prosperity), and of the newborn miraculously becoming immediately a mighty god who declares that the curved bow and the lyre are his and that he will prophesy to mortals the unerring will of Zeus. To Pythian Apollo tells of how Apollo travelled in Greece until he found the proper place for the foundation of his oracle, Crisa, under Mt. Parnassus; of how he slew a dragon named Pytho, a child of Hera; and of how he spotted a ship sailing from Crete and sprang aboard in the form of a dolphin, and lead the crew on a course that led to Crisa, where he revealed himself as a god and initiated them to his service. To Hermes tells about the birth of Hermes, and how as a newborn he sets out and steals Apollo's holy cattle, how he invents the lyre, and how Apollo is so enchanted at his beautiful music and Zeus so amused at his mischievous ways, that Hermes gets appointed the holy herder, as well as a messenger to Hades. To Aphrodite tells of Zeus putting desire for a mortal, Trojan cowherd Anchises, in Aphrodite's heart, and how she seduces him under the pretense of being a mortal girl, and eventually entrusts him with their son Aeneas on the condition that he never reveal her "disgrace" of lying with a mortal. To Aphrodite is another hymn to Aphrodite that describes her birth out of the sea and adornments before being presented to other gods. To Dionysos is a hymn that tells of pirates who capture Dionysos believing him to be a rich prince they can rob, and, with the exception of a helmsman who recognizes their heresy, suffer a worthwhile fate for those who try to kidnap a god. To Ares is a prayer to Ares that implores him to grant his "war-like strength" to temper one's passions and anger to strive for peace and calm. To Artemis is a hymn praising arrow-loving goddess Artemis. To Aphrodite is a short hymn praising the beauty of Aphrodite. To Athene praises Athene as a war goddess who protects all soldiers. To Hera praises Hera as the goddess of Olympus and an equal to her brother and husband, Zeus. To Demeter is a fragment that hails Demeter and her daughter Persephone. To the Mother of the Gods praises Rhea (though not naming her), the Titaness daughter of the Gaia and Uranus and sister and wife to Cronus, as the goddess of all gods and all mankind. To Heracles the Lion-Hearted praises Hercules, now residing happily on Olympus with wife Hebe. To Asclepios hails Asclepios, son of Apollo, for being the "physician of illness." To the Dioscuri hails the twins Castor and Polydeuces, one of whom is a mortal, the other the son of Zeus and thus a demigod. To Hermes is a song for Hermes and how he was conceived by Zeus and Maia in secret. To Pan praises the shepherd-god Pan, and recounts how his father, Hermes married and made love to a beautiful nymph, and then introduced his bearded, goat-footed, horned and delighted babe to the gods of Olympus. To Hephaistos praises the god Hephaistos, who has taught humans how to build homes and other skills of that nature. To Apollo is a short fragment praising Apollo. To Poseidon is a fragment that praises Poseidon for being the keeper of sailors, as well as the tamer of horses. To the Most High, the Son of Cronos sings praises to the highest god on Olympus - Zeus. To Hestia praises Hestia, daughter of Cronos and goddess of hearth, architecture, and the right ordering of domesticity, the family, the home, and the state. To the Muses and Apollo praises the Muses and Apollo, who are responsible for arts and music, and Zeus, from whom descend all the lines of the kings. To Dionysos is a hymn to Dionysos and how he was born and raised among the nymphs in the forests and wooded dells. To Artemis celebrates Artemis, who hunts for wild game and, when wary of it, joins her brother, Phoebus Apollo in Delphi to dance and celebrate with the Muses and the Graces. To Athene sings praise to Pallas Athene and tells of her her glorious birth. To Hestia praises Hestia, the daughter of Cronus and keeper of the hearth on Olympus (and thus the goddess of domesticity and family to whom the first offering of every sacrifice goes), as well as Hermes. To Earth, Mother of Us All hails Gaia, wife of Uranos and mother to Cronos, goddess of the earth and mother of all creation. To Helios sings praises to the personification of the sun, Helios, and his ride across the sky in his fiery chariot. To Selene praises Selene, sister to Helios and goddess of the moon who drives the moon chariot across the sky during the night. To the Dioscuri praises the twins Castor and Polydeuces that make up the constellation Gemini, and how they keep sailors safe at sea during great storms.
My rating: 8/10.
♥ Sharp pain stabbed at the heart of Demeter,
And her hands tore at the veiling over her ambrosial hair;
Then, tossing around her shoulders her dusky blue shawl,
She sped like an eagle in flight over dry land and water,
Frenzied, in search of her child. But no one was willing,
Either of gods or of mortals, to tell her the truth,
Nor did any prophetic bird fly to her with a true message.
Nine days queen Deo wandered the earth,
Constantly searching, her hands holding blazing pine torches,
And in her grief touched neither ambrosia nor nectar,
Sweet to the taste, nor tumbled about in the pools.
♥ "Now, goddess, leave off lamenting. Nor is there need
To nurse this terrible anger. A worthy son-in-law
Among the immortals is Hades, ruler of many,
Own brother to you and of the same seed; as to honor,
It fell to his lot in the three-way division at the beginning
To be ruler over those settling in a new realm."
♥ Far-seeing Zeus of loud thunder then sent among them
As a messenger lovely-haired Rhea to summon blue-robed Demeter
And lead her to the tribes of the gods, and he promised to give
Of honors among the immortals whatever she chose.
But with a nod he affirmed that her daughter must live
For a third part of the circling year in the shadowy kingdom,
But with her mother the rest of the year, and the other immortals.
♥ Happy is he of men upon earth who has seen these wonders,
But those uninitiate, having no part in the mysteries,
Never share the same fate, but perish down in the shadows.
When she had thoroughly taught them, the queen among goddesses
Went with Persephone up to Olympus among the assembly of gods,
Where, holy and august, they dwell with Zeus who delights in loud thunder.
Greatly blessed of men upon earth is the mortal
These goddesses favor with love, for soon to the hearth of his house
They will send Plutos, who showers abundance on men who must die.
~~From To Demeter.
♥ All the Muses together, voice answering heavenly voice,
Hymn the undying gifts of the gods and the sufferings of men,
Who, enduring so much at the hands of the gods everlasting,
Live heedless and helpless, unable to find for themselves
Either a cure for death or a bulwark against old age.
♥ Thereafter still farther you traveled, far-shooting Apollo,
Till you came to Onchestos, the beautiful grove of Poseidon.
There colts newly broken, wearied by pulling fine chariots,
Find breath again when the good charioteer jumps to earth from the car
And goes on his way. For a while then the colts, free
Of the hand of the driver, rattle the now empty chariot,
And if they should shake it asunder, there in the wooded grove,
Men attend to the horses, but leave the wreck leaning aslant,
For so was it ordained in the very beginning:
The drivers pray to Poseidon, but the chariot remains as his portion.
♥ Their spirit was stirred in their breasts and, voicing their questions,
The chief of the Cretans, confronting Apollo, addressed him:
"O lord, if indeed you have led us hither, far away
From our loved ones and native land — for somehow this seems dear to your heart —
How are we not to live? We beg you to tell us.
Though pleasant, this place is not suited for vines, nor has it fair meadows
To let us live well that we may at the same time serve men."
And, smiling upon them, Appollo, the son of Zeus, answered:
"Foolish men, suffering ones, you who wish in your heart
For sorrows and troublesome toil and desperate straits!
Easily will I tell you and plant the word in your minds.
Each of you holding a knife in his right hand could kill sheep
Forever, and s much as the glorious tribes of mankind
Bring to me here, all this will freely be yours.
But keep watch over my temple and welcome the tribes of mankind
That here assemble, and make known above all my purpose to mortals.
And you in your own hearts be righteous. If any through folly
Or heedlessness fails to obey me — some idle word it may be,
Or an arrogant deed, for such is the way of men who are mortal —
Then other men will be placed over you as your masters,
And you perforce will be under their yoke for all of your days.
All has been told you, and you guard it well in your hearts."
~~From To Pythian Apollo.
♥ The son she bore then was a versatile child, wily and wheedling,
A thief and a drover of cattle, a marshal of dreams,
By night a spy on watch at the gates, destined forthwith
To make manifest glorious deeds among the immortals.
♥ As a swift thought courses through the heart of a man
Who writhes under close-crowding troubles, or as sparks flash from his eyes,
So at the same moment did glorious Hermes merge plan and deed.
♥ Then the god gathered wood in abundance, and sought after the technique of fire.
Grasping a branch of bright laurel, he peeled off the bark with his knife,
Held close in the palm of his hand, and the hot blast burst forth.
Hermes thus first of all have man fire and the kindling of fire.
♥ But the god eluded not the eye of the goddess his mother.
"Where do you come sneaking home from, you rascal," she said, "at this time of night,
You of consummate wiles, clad in shamelessness? Very soon now,
I foresee, you will quickly be helplessly bound with strong bands
Close round the ribs by the hand of Leto's Apollo,
And carried bodily out the front door - not playing your tricks
Down in the glens and the hollows robbing betweentimes.
Back with you again where you came from! Your father begot you
To be a great nuisance to mortal men and the undying gods!"
♥ But the son of Zeus and of Leto failed not to perceive
Both the beautiful nymph of the mountains and her dear son,
That little child, lying there wrapped in deceit.
♥ "So amazing is this new sound that I hear
That no man, I swear, can ever have heard it before,
Nor any of the immortals who have their homes in Olympus
Save you, you robber, son of Zeus and of Maia.
What art can this be? What music for hearts bent with sorrow?
What path of life? For here in truth are combined
Three pleasures to choose from - merriment, love, and sweet slumber.
I, though attendant upon the Olympian Muses,
Who take careful thought for the dance and the bright strains of song,
The swelling chant and the sweet shrilling of pipes,
Never before have I cared so much in my heart
For other displays of skill by festive young men.
Son of Zeus, I am astonished, so lovely your playing!"
♥ "As for mankind, one man will I harm and another man benefit,
Greatly perplexing the tribes of unenviable men.
He who comes to my shrine, guided there by the cries
And flight of birds of sure omen, will reap a rich harvest
From my oracular voice, and I will not deceive him.
But he who, foolishly trusting in idly twittering birds,
Desires to inquire through my oracle into things beyond knowing
And to understand more than the gods everlasting - that man
I say travels the road without profit, though his gifts I would take."
♥ Consorting with all gods and mortals,
Seldom he helps them, but everlastingly cozens
The tribes of mortal mankind throughout the dark night.
~~From To Hermes.
♥ Gray-eyed Athene, daughter of Zeus, aegis-bearer,
Takes no delight in the deeds of Aphrodite the golden;
Pleasure for her lies in war and the grim work of Ares,
In fighting and battles and fostering glorious handcrafts.
She first taught the builders among men who live on the earth
How to fashion war chariots and cars inlaid with bronze,
And taught smooth-skinned palace maidens at work in their quarters
To weave with bright strands, implanting the art in each mind.
♥ Gray wolves, fawning upon her, went with her; fierce lions, too,
And bears, and quick leopards, their hunger for roe deer ever unsated.
Aphrodite rejoiced in her soul at the sight,
And into the heart of each beast cast love and desire,
And all, two by two, lay down together among the dim shadows.
♥ Love laid hold on Anchises, and he spoke from his heart:
"If you are mortal in truth, and a woman the mother who bore you,
And Otreus of famous name is your father, as you declare,
And you come here by the grace of the immortal Hermes the Guide
And for all time to come you will be known as my wife,
Then no one of the gods or of mortal mankind
Shall stay me from lying with you this moment in love—
Not even if the Far-Shooter, Apollo himself,
Should let fly from his silver bow his arrows of anguish.
Then would I willingly, woman like to the goddesses,
Make my way from your bed down into the house of Hades."
♥ "But for me there will be great disgrace among the undying gods
For all days forever and ever on your dear account—
They who once feared my taunts and the cunning with which I united
All gods at some time with women of mortal descent,
Subduing them all to my purpose. Never again
Will my tongue wield such power among the immortals,
For I have gone sadly astray; shockingly, blamelessly
Have I gone out of my mind and planted a child
Under my girdle by going to bed with a mortal."
~~From To Aphrodite.
♥ Farewell, gentle goddess whose sidelong glance sweetly entices:
Grant that in this contest I be the victor and urge on my lay.
~~From To Aphrodite.
♥ Hear me, helper of mortals, dispenser of youthful courage!
Shower down into my life from on high your soft radiance
And warlike strength so I may drive bitter evil away from my head
And subdue in my breast my soul's fraudulent passions.
Blunt too the sharp fury of temper that stirs and provokes me
To tread the chill pathway of combat. Instead, blessed one,
Give me the courage to live in the safe ways of peace.
Shunning strife and ill will and the violent fiends of destruction.
~~From To Ares.
♥ I sing of Pallas Athene, the city's protectress,
Awesome, and jointly with Ares attendant on matters of warfare—
The plunder of cities, the loud battle shout, and the fighting—
Who keeps safe from all harm the host going forth and returning from combat.
Haild, goddess, and grant to us happiness and good fortune!
♥ Sing to me, Muse, clear-voiced daughter of powerful Zeus,
Of the mother of all the gods and of all mankind,
Who delights in drums and the rattle of castanets,
The wailing of pipes, the howling of wolves, and the fierce lion's roar,
And in all the echoing hills and tree-shadowed valleys.
Thus with my song I greet you, and all the other goddesses too.
~~To the Mother of the Gods.
♥ Home from the hunt returning at evening
He sounds his lonely note, playing sweet songs
On his pipes of reed. Not even that bird can surpass him in song
Who in blossoming springtime pours forth her lament
From her leafy bower, grieving in honey-sweet tones.
Then the clear-caroling nymphs of the mountain who wander
The woodland lightfooted with Pan sing by a spring of black water,
And about the high peak of the mountain Echo resounds.
The god glides in and out in the dance, on this side and that,
Now prancing on nimble feet in the very midst of the chorus,
Wearing the tawny pelf of a lynx on his shoulders,
His heart exulting in music's shrill sweetness there in the soft meadow
Where, tangled in grass, crocus and sweet-smelling hyacinth bloom intermingled.
Bore in the women's halls of the palace a dear son to Hermes,
From the beginning a marvelous sight to behold:
Goat-footed, two-horned, delighting in noise, gaily laughing.
The nurse, when she looked on his hideous face, fully bearded,
Sprang up and fled from the baby, sorely afraid.
But luck-bringing Hermes, receiving his son, at once
Took him into his arms, his heart filled with joy beyond measure..
~~From To Pan.
♥ Sing, clear-voiced Muse, of Hephaistos, renowned for his skill,
Who with gray-eyed Athene taught to men upon earth
Arts of great splendor, men who in former days lived
Like wild beasts in caves in the mountains. But having learned skills
From Hephaistos, famed for his craft, they now, free from care,
Tranquilly live out their lives year by year in their houses.
Be gracious, Hephaistos, and excellence grant with your bounty!
♥ The gods, Earth-Shaker, allotted to you a double distinction:
To be both the tamer of horses and the preserver of ships.
Hail, Poseidon, dark-haired Upholder of Earth!
Keep a compassionate heart, blessed one, and help those who sail.
~~From To the Muses and Apollo.
♥ Thus do I hail you, Dionysos, heavy with clusters.
Grant that we return to this season rejoicing,
And from this season on again through the many years.
~~From To Dionysos.
♥ Pallas Athene, glorious goddess, I sing to begin,
Gray-eyed divinity ever ready with counsel, steadfast of heart,
Virgin revered, guarding the city, mighty in valor,
Born on the shore of Tritonis, where Zeus wise in counsel
Himself gave birth to the goddess from out of his own august head.
She came forth accoutered for warfare in glistening gold,
An awesome sight to all the other immortals.
Springing vigorous from the immortal head,
She stood proudly arrayed before Zeus, aegis-bearer,
And brandished her spear. Great Olympus itself started to reel,
Dazed by the might of the gray-eyed newcomer, and earth all around
Cried out in fear, while the sea heaved, throwing up
Purple billows and spewing forth sudden foam.
The brilliant son of Hyperion halted his swift-footed horses,
Forgetful of time, until the maid Pallas Athene
Stripped from her immortal shoulders her armor divine,
And gladness brightened the face of Zeus wise in counsel.
Thus do I hail you, daughter of Zeus, aegis-bearer;
But I will remember you and another song too.
♥ Gaia, mother of all, I sing, oldest of gods,
Firm of foundation, who feeds all creatures living on earth,
As many as move on the radiant land and swim in the sea
And fly through the air—all these does she feed with her bounty.
Mistress, from you come our fine children and bountiful harvests;
Yours is the power to give mortals life and to take it away.
Happy is he upon whom your glance falls with favor,
Finding him worthy; to him come all things in abundance.
~~From To Earth, Mother of All.
♥ Whenever, after bathing her lovely body, shining Selene
Arises from Ocean and dons her garments that gleam from afar,
When she yokes together her glistening colts with high-arching necks
And drives her team, glossy-coated, impetuously forward
At eventide at the full of the moon. Her great pathway then is complete;
Her beams at that time of waxing shine brightest from heaven,
And she is revealed as a sign and a token to mortals.
♥ Hail, queen, snowy-armed goddess, shining Selene,
Benign, lovely-haired! With you I have begun,
And now I will sing the glory of men semi-divine
Whose exploits minstrels serving the Muses extol with mellifluous voices.