Homeric Hymns (Penguin Classics)
Homer, Nicholas Richardson
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Composed for recitation at festivals, these 33 songs were written in honour of the gods and goddesses of the ancient Greek pantheon. They recount the key episodes in the lives of the gods, and dramatise the moments when they first appear before mortals. Together they offer the most vivid picture we have of the Greek view of the relationship between the divine and human worlds.
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onwards the hymns have been an inspiration to writers, artists and musicians.28 In the past two centuries there have also been a good many other translations into English and other languages, although none by poets as famous as Congreve or Shelley. Recent scholars have studied the hymns from a variety of different viewpoints: as part of the tradition of early Greek hexameter poetry, as examples of mythical modes of narrative, as documents illustrating Greek views of their gods, or simply because
as he knows himself – and I’m not at all like a cattle driver, a strong man. Believe me – for you do claim to be my dear father – I didn’t drive his cows home, I didn’t even – may I be blessed – 380 cross over the threshold. This I declare is the truth. Helios I honour greatly, and the other gods, and I love you and I dread him. Even you know yourself that I am not guilty. But I will swear a great oath: By these graceful porticoes of the immortals! No! I didn’t! One day I
soothed the son of glorious Leto, just as he had wanted to, stern though the Archer was. He took the lyre upon his left arm and with the plectrum he struck each string in tune. 420 At the touch of his hand it resounded awesomely! Phoebus Apollo laughed in delight, for the lovely throbbing of the ineffable music went directly to his heart and sweet longing seized his soul as he listened. Then the son of Maia, playing sweetly on his lyre, took courage and stood on the left of Phoebus
Zeus rewarded her with the guardianship of the hearth. She was known to the Romans as Vesta. the house of the archer Lord Apollo: The sacred hearth at Delphi was regarded as the central point of the world. 3.soft oil: It was the custom to pour sacrificial oil on the heads of statues of the gods and goddesses. XXV HYMN TO THE MUSES AND APOLLO Lines 1–6 of this hymn are imitations of parts of Hesiod’s hymn to the Muses, at the opening of his Theogony (1.94–l7, 104). In the Theogony the
uncertainty of life and above all the inevitable nature of old age and death, are recurrent themes of early Greek literature. These are the things which separate men from the gods, who are ageless and deathless and can live a life of ease. The ‘Hymn to Aphrodite’ (V), which praises Aphrodite’s power in mixing gods with mortals (34–41), also reflects upon the limits of mortality. Aphrodite says that Anchises’ family was always close to the gods, and she gives the examples of Ganymede and Tithonos.