The Homeric Hymns

Translated by Christopher Kelk

Leda and the Swan

Leda and the Swan
Johann Heinrich (German, 1751-1829) - The National Gallery of Art

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Table of Contents


Some say that you were born to Semele

In Dracanum, some say in blustery

Icarus, god-born and sewn in Zeus’s thigh;

Some say in Naxos; some that it was by

Deep-eddying Alpheus, begot by Zeus

The thunder-lover; other men produce

The tale that it was Thebes. All fabrication!

The father of the gods and every nation

Arranged your birth far from each human eye

And white-armed Hera. There’s a mountain, high 10

And thronged by woods, called Nysa, far away

In Phoenice, where Egypt’s waters play.

“And many offerings to Semele

Men will put up inside her shrine. Since three

Is sacred, when each three-year span is done,

They’ll ever yield you hecatombs.” The son

Of Cronus bent his dark brows as he said

These words, while the divine locks on his head

Flowed down and great Olympus reeled. And thus

Wise Zeus confirmed this with a nod. To us 20

Be favourable, o Insewn One, who

Inspire your frenzied women. For of you

We sing from start to finish; one may find

Those who forget you cannot call to mind

One holy song. Farewell to you, Insewn,

O Dionysus, and not you alone –

Farewell, too, to your mother Semele,

Who’s known to all mankind as Thyone.


Fair-haired Demeter, holy deity,

I’ll praise – her trim-legged daughter, also, she

Who was by Aïdoneus seduced, for her

He had of Zeus, far-seeing, Thunderer.

Far from Demeter of the golden sword

And glorious fruits, upon the soft greensward

With Ocean’s well-endowed young girls she played,

And flowers, which the will of Zeus had made

The earth to grow to satisfy Hades

And snare the bloomlike girl, she plucked, and these 10

Were roses, croci, lovely violets and

The iris, hyacinth, narcissus (grand

And radiant flower), such a sight to see

For gods and men. Its deep extremity

Produced a hundred blooms. Its fragrant smell

Caused all the heavens to laugh – the earth as well

And the salt-sea’s swell. The maiden’s breathless joy

Made her reach out to grasp the lovely toy

When Earth with her broad pathways split asunder

Upon that Nysian plain and then from under 20

The ground, the lord who goes by many a name,

The Host of Legions, son of Cronos, came

With his immortal horses, leaping far.

Against her will he caught her in his car

Of gold as she yelled out. With a shrill cry

She called upon her father, the most high

And glorious son of Cronos. Not one tree

That bears rich olives, not one deity

Nor man could catch her voice; just two were there

To hear her – tender Hecate, whose hair 30

Shone bright, Persaeus’ daughter, as she lay

Within her cave, and Helios, Lord of Day,

Hyperion’s bright son, as loud she cried

To Zeus, her father. But he sat aside

From all the gods within his temple where

So many pray, receiving his sweet share

Of mortal offerings. And so that son

Of Cronos, host and lord of many a one,

Who goes by many a name, was carrying

Away the girl by leave of Zeus the king 40

On his immortal chariot, though she

Was most reluctant. While she still could see

The earth, the starry heavens and the shine

Of sunlight and the strongly-flowing brine

Where fishes shoal, the goddess hoped to view

Her darling mother and the great gods who

Live endlessly – this calmed her mighty soul.

The heights of all the mountains and the whole

Sea-depths with her immortal voice rang out,

And then her queenly mother heard her shout: 50

Acute pain seized her heart; her dear hands tore

Her headdress; and the dusky cloak she wore

She cast off, speeding bird-like over sea

And land to find her child. But nobody,

No god nor man, would tell her what was done,

And of all of the birds of omen none

Would say the truth. She wandered through the land,

The queenly Deo, torches in her hand,

For nine days, forsaking in her misery

Sweet nectar and ambrosia, while she 60

Denied to bathe. But when the tenth dawn broke,

Then Hecate, with a torch, met her and spoke

These words: “Queenly Demeter, who bring us

The seasons, you who are so generous

With rich gifts, say what man or deity

Has carried off your child Persephone

And caused you pain? I heard her cry but who

He was I did not see. I’ll tell to you

In short all that I know.” Thus Hecate

Addressed her. Rich-haired Rhea’s progeny 70

Made no reply but, with her torches, flew

With her until they came to Helios, who

Watched over gods and men and there she stood

Before his horses, telling him: “You should,

Helios, respect me as a deity

If ever I have given gaiety

To you in word or deed. My fair, sweet child

I heard as one in someone’s thrall – a wild

And thrilling sound! But nothing did I see.

But by your beams through the extremity 80

Of both the land and sea and radiant air

You look down. Have you seen her anywhere?

My dear child! Who has seized her violently -

What god or man? – and made escape?” Thus she

Spoke. Then Hyperion’s son gave his reply:

“Demeter, child of rich-haired Rhea, I

Will tell the truth to you. Exceedingly

I honour you and grieve your misery

Over your slim-legged daughter. None but Zeus

Cloud-Gatherer’s to blame. He dared to loose 90

The maid to Hades so that she might be

His buxom wife – yes, his own brother. He

Snatched her away down to the misty gloom

As in his chariot she wailed her doom.

But, goddess, cease your loud lament. For it

Is wrong to show vain anger. Not unfit

To be a son-in-law to you, her mother,

Being of the same stock and your own brother,

Is Aïdoneus , Lord of Many Men

Among the deathless deities; again, 100

When honours were first measured out, he gained

A third part of renown and has remained

Lord of his fellow-dwellers there.” That said,

She called her steeds. They heard her voice and sped

Along like long-winged birds. More suffering

Assailed her. Angered at the Dark-Cloud King

Of Gods she shunned their gatherings on high

Olympus and to towns and fields that lie

On earth she went, inflicting injury

A long time on herself. On scrutiny 110

No man, no, nor yet one deep-bosomed dame

Knew her for who she was until she came

To wise Celeus, who then was sovereign

Of sweet Eleusis. She sat, troubled in

Her heart, on the roadside by the Maids’ Spring

Whence folk drew water. Overshadowing

This dark lace was an olive shrubbery.

Just like an ancient crone she seemed to be,

Cut off from childbirth and the offerings

That garland-loving Aphrodite brings, 120

Like those who tend the kingly progeny –

Those kings who weal out justice lawfully –

Or like the stewards in the halls that sound

In echoes. There Celeus’s daughters found

Her as she carried water which they drew

So easily so they might take it to

Their father’s house in bronze urns. Like divine

Goddesses, there were four of them, in fine

And blooming youth – they were Callidice

And lovely Demo and Cleisidice 130

And then Callithoë, the eldest one.

They, too – for it is not so easily done

For any man to know a deity –

Failed to detect her and spoke wingedly:

“Who are you, ancient one? What is your race?

Why have you left your city and won’t face

These houses? Dames like you, and younger, too,

Live here in dark halls and would welcome you

In word and deed.” They spoke and in reply

The queen of all the goddesses said, “I 140

Greet you, dear children, whosoever you be

Of womankind. I’ll tell my history

To you, because the answer is no shame.

My queenly mother gave to me the name

Of Doso, and I came across the sea,

The broad, broad sea, from Crete unwillingly,

Snatched off by pirates. After that they came

Swiftly to Thoricus, where many a dame,

And many a man, amassed upon the strand

And by the ropes began upon the sand 150

A meal. Wanting no food, I slipped away

Sadly across that dark land – I’d not stay

With my imperious masters that they might

Not carry me, unpaid for, in their flight

And sell me off. Thus in my wandering

I landed here – I do not know a thing

About this place or who you folk may be.

I pray, though, each Olympian deity

Will grant you mates, and children, too, the prayer

Of every parent. Maidens, do not spare 160

Your pity for me. Please, then, make it clear,

Dear children, who the folk are who live here,

The men and women, that I cheerfully

May work for them with chores befitting me,

A crone – tending a babe or tidying

Or in his fine room’s recess readying

The master’s bed or giving my advice

To the women.” Thus she spoke and in a trice

The fairest maid, unwed Callidice,

Replied, “Mother, in our adversity 170

We bear the gifts that gods deal out to men –

They’re stronger than we are. I’ll tell you, then,

The names of all the men in power here,

Who’ve earned our honour. I will make it clear

Who by their wisdom and their true decrees

Rule us and guard our city walls. Now these

Are wise Triptolemus and Dioclus,

Polyxeinus and splendid Eumolpus

And our brave father. All have wives who run

Each house, and on first sight there’s not a one 180

Who would dishonour you and turn you out.

They’d welcome you because there is no doubt

That you are like a goddess. Stay here, though,

If you prefer, and all of us will go

Back to our house and tell our mother, who

Is buxom Metaneira, all that you

Have said. Thus she will bid you to repair

To us and not seek sanctuary elsewhere.

In our fine house, she has a late-born son,

Much prayed for and embraced – her only one. 190

Nurse him till he’s a youth and you will find

That you’re the envy of all womankind.

Such gifts shall you receive!” That’s what she said,

And at her words the goddess bowed her head.

They filled their shining buckets and withdrew,

Rejoicing. In a short time they came to

Their father’s house and told their mother all

That they had seen and heard. She bade them call

The stranger swiftly so that they might pay

Her boundless wages. Then they went away, 200

Like deer or calves with a sufficiency

Of pasture, who then bound across the lea.

Those maidens down the hollow pathway sped,

Holding their lovely garments’ folds ahead

Of them. Just like a crocus flower, their hair

Streamed round their shoulders as they went to where

They’d left the good goddess by the wayside,

And there they found her. Then with her they hied

To their dear father’s house. She walked behind,

A veil upon her head, grieved in her mind. 210

Around her slender feet her dark-blue dress

Fluttered about. Quite soon, with the goddess,

They came to heaven-bred Celeus’ residence.

They went along the portico and thence

They found their queenly mother sitting near

A pillar of the close-fit roof, her dear

Young son within her arms. To her they sped.

The goddess on the threshold stood, her head

Reaching the roof. Her heavenly radiance

Filled up the doorway. Awe and reverence 220

And pale fear took their mother at this sight.

She got up then so that Demeter might

Sit on her couch, and yet she, who supplies

The seasons and gives perfect gifts, her eyes,

Her lovely eyes, cast down, would not sit there

Upon that golden couch. With tender care

Iambe brought a jointed stool and cast

A silver fleece upon it. Then, at last,

The goddess sat and held a veil before

Her face. A long time there she sat, heart-sore, 230

Unsmiling, never speaking, not by sign

Or word addressing anyone. No wine,

No food she took but, pining wistfully

For her deep-bosomed daughter, there sat she.

Then careful Iambe moved the holy queen

With many a jest, smiling and laughing, keen

To lift her heart – as she would cheer her up

Thereafter. Metaneira filled a cup

Of sweet wine for her, but she put it off.

It was not right, she said, for her to quaff 240

Red wine. Water and meal was her request,

Mixed with soft mint. She fulfilled her behest.

The great queen drank, for she observed that rite.

Then spoke up, out of those within her sight,

Well-girdled Metaneira: “Hail to you,

Lady, for I believe it to be true

Your stock is not ignoble – dignity

And grace shine in your eyes, which you may see

In justice-dealing kings. What the gods send

We bear perforce – beneath the yoke we bend 250

Our necks. Bring up my child, a god-sent boy,

Late-born, past hope, but a much-prayed-for joy.

Nurse him till he’s a youth and you will find

You’ll be the envy of all womankind.

Such gifts shall you receive!” Came the reply

From wreathed Demeter: “Greetings, too, say I,

God bless you. I will take him willingly

Just as you bid me and you’ll never see

The Cutter or witchcraft bring him distress

By reason of his nurse’s heedlessness - 260

The Woodcutter’s not stronger than a spell

I have and there’s a safeguard I know well

Against foul witchcraft.” Then she took the boy

Unto her perfect bosom and with joy

His mother’s heart was filled. Thus the fine son

Of wise Celeus was nursed – Demophoőn,

Whom the well-girdled Metaneira bore –

Right there. He grew like an immortal, for

He neither ate nor suckled at the teat.

Each day rich-wreathed Demeter breathed so sweet 270

Upon him at her breast and smeared his skin

With ambrosia as though he were the kin

Of gods. She hid him in the fire, though,

Each night (his loving parents did not know)

Just like a brand. They were amazed that he

Grew past his age – godlike he seemed to be.

Deathless and ageless she’d have made the lad

If the well-girdled Metaneira had

Not in her fragrant chamber watched by night

In heedlessness. Lamenting in her fright, 280

She smote her hips, afraid for him, and these

Swift words she spoke, bewailing her unease:

“Demophoőn, the stranger buries you

Deep in the fire, affording me much rue.”

Bright-crowned goddess Demeter heard. In spleen

She took the darling child, the boy who’d been

Born in the palace to Metaneira who

Had lost all hope of one more child, and threw

Him from the fire to the ground. Then she

To well-girt Metaneira instantly 290

Said, “You dull mortals cannot see the lot

Awaiting you, both good and bad. For what

Is done’s past cure. Be witness the gods’ plight,

The endless river Styx, your dear son might

Through me have been immortal all his days

And ageless and been given endless praise.

But now death and a mortal’s destiny

He can’t avoid, yet he will always be

Much honoured for he lay upon my knees

And slept within my arms. And yet, when he’s 300

Full-grown, year after year the progeny

Of the Eleusinians continually

Will fight each other in dread strife. Know, then,

That I’m Demeter, prized by mortal men,

A cause of help and joy to them. And so,

Let there be built a temple and, below,

A shrine beneath the city and sheer wall

Above Callirrhous and on a tall

Hillside. I’ll teach my rites that I may be

Won over by your honest purity.” 310

The goddess changed her looks as this she said,

No longer old – around her, beauty spread

And from her robe wafted a fine bouquet.

Demeter’s body shone from far away

In a divine light, and now golden hair

Spread from her shoulders, and, like lightning, there

Was brightness in that well-built house. Then she

Went from the palace and immediately

Metaneira’s knees went weak; she made no sound

For a long time; her child upon the ground, 320

Her late-born child, she overlooked. Nearby

Her sisters heard the infant’s pitiful cry

And from their well-spread beds without delay

They sprang. While one took up the child and lay

Him at her breast, another set about

To light a fire and a third set out

On soft feet for their mother so she may

Come from her fragrant chamber. And now they

Gathered around the struggling little boy

And bathed him, hugging him with loving joy. 330

He was not solaced, though – the skilfulness

Of those handmaids and nurses was far less.

They prayed to the glorious goddess through the night,

Shaking with fear, and, at the dawn’s first light

They told the mighty Celeus all, as she,

Well-wreathed Demeter, told them to. Then he

Summoned his people to the meeting-place,

That countless throng, and bade them then to grace

Rich-tressed Demeter, with a temple there,

A splendid one, an altar, also, where 340

The hillock rose. They heard and started to

Do as he ordered, and the infant grew

Just like a god. When done and at their rest

They all went home. Demeter. golden-tressed,

Apart from all the gods sat as she pined

For her deep-bosomed child. Mortals would find

\Upon the fecund earth a cruel year

For the well-wreathed Demeter kept each ear

From sprouting. Many a curving plough in vain

Was drawn by oxen. White barley would rain 350

To no avail upon the ground. So she

Would have destroyed with cruel scarcity

All of mankind and would have robbed as well

Of gifts and sacrifices those who dwell

High on Olympus did Lord Zeus not see

What she had done. He sent immediately

Gold-winged Iris to the richly-tressed

Lovely Demeter. That was his behest,

And she obeyed dark-clouded Zeus, the son

Of Cronus – swiftly to her did she run. 360

She came then to Eleusis, rich in scent.

She found dark-cloaked Demeter and she went

Into the temple where she’d come to rest

And said with winged words:” It’s the behest

Of Father Zeus, who’s ever wise, that you

Should join the holy tribe of deities who

Are everlasting. Don’t let this decree

Go unobeyed. Still she refused to be

Persuaded. Zeus then gave one more command –

The blest, eternal gods should see her and, 370

Each one after the other, on they came

And offered fair gifts, calling out her name.

They promised any rights she might prefer

Among them, not prevailing, though, with her,

So angry was she. She spurned stubbornly

All that they’d said. She’d never go, said she,

To well-scented Olympus nor let rise

Fruit from the ground till she with her own eyes

Saw her fair child. Zeus the Loud-Thunderer,

Who sees all, sent the executioner 380

Of Argus with his wand of gold to Hell

That he with coaxing words might put a spell

On Hades to send back into the light

Holy Persephone from murky night

And let her mother see her and let go

Her anger. Hermes was persuaded so

To do and left Olympus speedily

Down to the places on the earth, then he

Found Hades on a couch at home beside

His apprehensive and reluctant bride, 390

Much yearning for her mother, who yet mused

On her dread project far away, abused

By the blest gods. Staunch Hermes, standing near,

Said: “Dark-haired Hades, sovereign down here

Among the dead, I’m given a command

By Father Zeus to take out of this land

The fair Persephone up to the place

Where the gods live so that she, face-to-face,

May meet her mother that she may let go

Her rage at the gods; a dread scenario 400

Demeter had in mind – she planned to bring

An end to weakly men by burying

Seed underground, the honours that they brought

To the immortals thus reduced to nought.

She kept her dreadful anger nor would she

Mix with the gods but solitarily

Kept to her fragrant temple, dwelling in

Rocky Eleusis.” With a joyless grin

The ruler of the dead then acquiesced

To Father Zeus’ command and thus addressed 410

The wise Persephone immediately:

“To your dark-robed mother, Persephone,

Go now. Think kindly of me. Do not brood

Or be in an exceedingly sad mood.

Among the gods I’ll be a fitting spouse,

For I am Zeus’s brother. In this house

Over all living things you’ll have command

And with the highest honours will you stand

Among the gods; always those who do ill

Shall be chastised, those who refuse to still 420

Your power with sacrifices, reverently

Performing rites and giving gifts.” Thus he

Addressed her. Filled with joy then was the shrewd

Persephone, and in that happy mood

Leapt up. But Hades gave her secretly

A pomegranate seed that she’d beside

Her dark-robed mother not always abide.

Aïdoneus, Ruler of Many Men,

Attached his steeds that never perish then 430

To his gold chariot. She got on, and strong

Hermes took reins and whip and drove headlong

Those horses, for they flew on readily.

They managed their long journey speedily.

No sea, no river, not one mountaintop,

No grassy glen was seen to put a stop

To their advance as they cleft the wide air

Above them. Thus he brought those steeds to where

Well-wreathed Demeter stayed, halting before

Her fragrant temple. Seeing them she tore 440

Outside, as on a wooded mountainside

A Maenad tears; Persephone then spied

Demeter’s sweet eyes, then leapt down and sped

To fall upon her neck. Yet in her head,

While holding her, Demeter suddenly

Fancied some trick and trembled violently,

Ceasing her kisses. “Child,“ she cried, “did you

Not eat when down below? Come, tell me true.

Hide nothing that we both may truly know.

If not, then from that loathsome place below 450

With Cronus’ son, dark-clouded Zeus, and me

You’ll come and dwell and will respected be

By all the gods. But if you ate, back there

Below the earth you’ll hold a one-third’s share

Of every year, the other two with me

And all the other gods. But when we see

Earth blooming with the fragrant flowers of spring,

Up from that gloom you’ll rise, a wondrous thing

To gods and men. What trick did Hades play

Upon you when he spirited you away?” 460

Then fair Persephone replied to her:

“Mother, I’ll tell you all. The messenger,

Aid-giving, swift Hermes was sent to me

By Zeus, my sire, and each divinity

To bring me back to earth from Erebus

That you might feast your eyes on me and thus

Cease your dread wrath against the gods. Why, I

At once leapt up in joy. But by and by

He placed inside my mouth clandestinely

A sweet pomegranate seed, thus forcing me 470

To taste it. I will tell you, blow by blow,

How Hades took me to the depths below

Through Zeus’s clever plan. In a fair lea

We were cavorting – there was Leucippe,

Phaino, Electra, Ianthe, Melite,

Rhodeia, Iache, Calirrhoë,

Melobosis, Tyche and Acaste,

Chryseis, Ianeira, Admete.

Also there were gathering blooms with me 480

Rhodope, Plouto, Calypso the Fair,

Styx, also, and Urania were there,

The beauty Galaxaura, Pallas, too,

Who rouses battles, and Admetus, who

Delights in arrows. We were gathering

Sweet blooms - soft crocuses, all mingling

With iris, hyacinth, rose, lily – o

Such sights! – narcissus, too (these flowers grow

On the wide earth like crocuses). With glee

I picked them all. The earth, though, suddenly 490

Parted beneath me. Up leapt the strong lord,

The Host of Many, bundled me aboard

His golden car and then against my will

Took me beneath the earth. My cry was shrill.

All this is true, although it hurts to say

These words.” Then with one heart all through the day

They cheered each other’s souls with many a kiss,

Which brought relief as back and forth some bliss

They gave and took. Then bright-eyed Hecate

Approached them both, embracing frequently 500

Demeter’s holy child and from then on

Queen Hecate was her companion

And minister. Then Zeus, Loud-Thunderer,

All-Seeing, sent to them a messenger,

The well-tressed Rhea, so that she might bring

Dark-robed Demeter to the gathering

Of gods, and honours of her choice he swore

That they would give , agreeing furthermore

That one-third of the circling year she’d live

In gloom and darkness while the rest he’d give 510

To her that with her mother she might stay

And the other gods. She did not disobey

The bidding of Lord Zeus but speedily

Flew down from high Olympus’ promontory

On to the plain of Rharus, whose terrain 

Was once corn-rich but now produced no grain,

Quite leafless, for the white fruit was concealed

By trim-ankled Demeter. Time revealed,

However, long and waving ears of grain

When spring burst out and on the ground they’d gain 520

Rich furrows full of corn. With others bound

In sheaves already, there, upon this ground

She landed first out of the desert air,

And they rejoiced to see each other there.

The rich-tressed Rhea said: “Zeus calls to you -

Loud -Thunderer, All-Seeing. Come, child, do,

And join the other gods. Zeus also swore

Whatever rites you wish and, furthermore,

That one-third of the circling year you’ll live

In gloom and darkness while the rest he’ll give 530

To you that with your mother you may stay

And all the gods. That’s what she heard her say

To her and after Zeus’s words were said,

In token of his oath he bowed his head.

Obey, child, don’t be wrathful endlessly

With Zeus of the Dark Clouds, but instantly

Increase the grain that offers life to men.”

That’s what she said. Well-wreathed Demeter then

Obeyed and on the rich lands caused their fruits

To spring and with all kinds of blooms and shoots 540

The wide earth groaned. She showed Triptolemus

And Diocles, horse-driver, Eumolpus

The mighty and Celeus, who rules his nation,

Those justice-dealing kings, the operation

Of all her rites and taught her mysteries

(None may transgress or learn or utter these,

For great awe for the gods restrains one’s voice).

Those who have seen these mysteries rejoice.

No such bliss comes to those who take no part

In them, however, once they must depart 550

Into the gloom below. When all was taught

To them by the divine goddess, they sought

Olympus and the other gods. There they,

Those holy and revered goddesses, stay

With Zeus the Thunderer. Happy is he

Whom they both freely love. Immediately

To Zeus’ great house they sent the god Plutus,

Who gives to mortals opulence. To us,

O queen of sweet Eleusis and the isle

Of Paros and the rock-strewn Antron, smile, 560

Gift-giver, season-bringer, Deo, fair

Persephone as well, and for my air

Grant me delightful substance. You I’ll tell

Of in my song – another song as well.


Apollo, the Far-Shooter, I’ll recall,

Whom all gods tremble at as through the hall

Of Zeus he goes, and from their seats they spring

As he draws near, his bright bow lengthening.

Leto alone by Thunderer Zeus will stay,

Unstring his bow and put his darts away.

From his broad frame she takes the archery

In hand and on a golden hanger she

Drapes it against a pillar in the halls

Where Zeus, her father, lives, and then she falls 10

To guiding him to sit. Then Father Zeus

Greets his dear son and gives him nectar-juice

In a gold cup. The other gods then place

Him on a seat there. Full of queenly grace,

Leto rejoices in her son’s great might

And skill in archery. Blest one, delight

In both your glorious children – Artemis

The huntress and the Lord Apollo, this

In rocky Delos, in Ortygia that.

You bore Apollo as you rested at 20

The lengthy Cynthian hill, hard by a tree

Of palm at Inopus’ streams. How shall I be

Your bard when you’re so fit in every way

To be extolled? For every form of lay

Is yours, on isles and on the rocky mainland where

Calves graze. All mountain-peaks high in the air

And lofty headlands, streams that to the sea

Flow out, shores, ports, all give you jollity.

Shall I sing of how Leto gave you birth,

A source of joy to every man on earth, 30

As she took rest upon that rocky isle

Of Delos on Mt. Cynthus. All this while

Dark waves on either side drive to the strand,

Pressed by shrill winds, whence you assumed command

Over all men. To Crete and Athens town,

Aegina and Euboea whose renown

Is in her ships, Aegae, Peiresiae

And Peparethos, with the sea nearby,

Athos and Pelion’s towering heights, Samos,

Ida’s dark hills, Phocaea and Scyros, 40

Autocane’s high slope, Imbros, so fair,

Scorched Lemnos, wealthy Lesbos (who lives there

But Macar, son of Aeolus?), and Chios,

The wealthiest of the islands, and Claros,

Which gleams, and craggy Mimas, Corycos

With her high hills and water-fed Samos,

Aesagea’s steep slope and Mycale

With her sheer heights, Miletos, Cos, where be

The Meropoi, steep Cnidos, Carpathos

That’s racked by winds, and Paros and Naxos 50

And rocky Rhenaea – thus to and fro,

Heavy with the Far-Shooter, did Leto

Wander to see if one would house her son.

They trembled, though, in fear and not a one –

No, not the richest - would take him. At last

Queen Leto to the isle of Delos passed

And asked in winged words: “If you will take

My son, Phoebus Apollo, and will make

A rich shrine for him, Delos, you’ll find out

None else will touch you; though I have no doubt 60

You won’t be rich in oxen or in sheep

Or harvest wine, nor will your earth be deep

In plants, yet if a temple should stand here

For the Far-Shooter, men from far and near

Shall bring you hecatombs and you shall smell

Their constant savour and those folk who dwell

On you shall be fed by an alien hand,

For truly you are not a fecund land.”

That’s what she said, and Delos in delight

Answered: “Famed daughter of that man of might, 70

Coeus, I’ll take your son, for it is true

Men don’t speak highly of me. But through you

I’ll be renowned. What’s said, though, I confess

I fear – that he’ll be full of haughtiness

And lord it over all the gods and men

Upon the fruitful earth. I’m fearful, then,

That he, as soon as you have given birth,

Because I have a hard and rocky earth,

Will scorn and stamp me down into the sea

And the great ocean everlastingly 80

Will surge above me, and then he will go

To somewhere else that pleases him, and so

Will make his shrine and thickets. As for me,

For many-footed creatures of the sea

And black seals I shall be their domicile,

Quite undisturbed, because I am an isle

That lacks folk. But, goddess, if you dare swear

A solemn oath, he’ll build on me a fair

Temple, an oracle for men, he then

May build his shrines and groves for other men 90

Elsewhere, for he’ll be much renowned.” That’s how

She answered. Then a solemn, godly vow

Made Leto: “Hear this, Earth and broad, broad Sky

And Styx’s dropping streams below (for I

Now swear the mightiest oath that there can be

Among the gods) – a fragrant sanctuary

Shall Phoebus have here, and you will have fame

Above all folk.” To the oath’s end she came.

At the Far-Shooter’s birth great ecstasy

Struck Delos. In unwonted misery 100

Did Leto groan nine days and nights to bear

Apollo. All the goddesses were there

Who were the chiefest – Rhea, Dione,

Ichnaea, Themis and Amphitrite,

Who groans aloud – yes, every goddess, all

Save white-armed Hera, who sat in the hall

Of Zeus, Cloud-Gatherer. Only one goddess,

She of sore childbirth, knew not the distress

Of Leto, for on high Olympus she

Sat under gold clouds, by the subtlety 110

Of white-armed Hera tricked. She kept her there

Through envy – well-tressed Leto was to bear

A great and faultless son. The goddess, though,

Sent Iris from this well-set island so

She might bring Eilithyia, promising

A massive necklace bound with many a string

Of golden threads, nine cubits long, and they

Bade Iris move Eilithyia away

From white-armed Hera lest she should persuade

Her back. Then Iris, swift as winds, who’d paid 120

Attention to her, ran and soon the space

Between was covered and she reached the place

On high Olympus where the gods reside.

Immediately she bade to come outside

The goddess of travail and, wingedly,

Her words told her what each divinity,

Each goddess, bade her, and in her great heart

She was persuaded and saw them depart

Like shy doves. She of Sore Delivery

Reached Delos, when Leto in agony 130

Began to give birth, hankering to bear

Her son. She leant against a palm-tree there

And knelt upon the soft grass, and the ground

Rejoiced beneath her. Phoebus, with a bound,

Now saw the light. The goddesses all cried

Aloud. Great Phoebus, you were purified

With pleasing water, and then you were wrapped

In a fine, new-made garment and then strapped

In a gold band. Gold-bladed Phoebus, though,

Was never to be suckled by Leto; 140

Ambrosia and nectar for the boy

Thetis poured out; Leto was filled with joy

That she had borne a mighty archer-lad.

But, Phoebus, once that heavenly food you’d had,

No golden bands or cords kept you in thrall –

No longer struggling, you loosed them all.

Then to the goddesses immediately

He spoke: ‘The lyre and the bow by me

Shall be esteemed. To men I shall declare

Zeus’s unfailing will.” Then here and there 150

The long-haired Phoebus, the Far-Shooter, went

Upon the wide earth, and astonishment

Struck all the goddesses. All Delos shone

With gold from that time, as we see upon

A mountain-top wild blooms. Far-Shooter, Lord,

You walked on craggy Cynthus or abroad

You wandered in the islands. Wooded brush

And shrines you have a-plenty. Streams that gush

To sea, high crags and lofty mountains, too –

All these are dear to you. But, Phoebus, you 160

Most joy in Delos, for across the seas

Long-robed Ionians come with obsequies

To you with their shy wives and children. They

With boxing, dancing, singing make you gay

Each time they gather. You might well believe

Them ageless and godlike should you perceive

Them then. You’d see their graces and you’d stare

At them and their well-girded wives and their

Swift ships and massive wealth. There is, beside,

A wondrous thing that never will subside - 170

The girls of Delos, maidens who attend

To the Far-Shooter; praise to him they send,

And then to Leto and to Artemis,

She who delights in arrows; after this

They sing of their forebears and fascinate

The tribes of men, and they can imitate

The tongues of all men and their clattering speech.

Their sweet songs are so close to truth that each

Would say that he was singing. Phoebus, you

With Artemis protect us, and adieu 180

You maidens, and remember me when some

Outsider who has suffered much should come

And ask, “O maidens, of those who come here,

Who sings most sweetly and gives the most cheer

To you?” With one voice, answer, “He is blind

And dwells in rocky Chios. You will find

His songs will ever be supreme, and I

Shall carry his renown wherever lie

Well-settled towns I visit, and they, too,

Will credit what I say, for it is true. 190

And all my praises never will be done

For the Far-Shooter, rich-tressed Leto’s son.


Lycia and lovely Maeonia, o lord,

And the delightful town on the seaboard,

Miletus – these are yours. But you hold sway

Yourself on sea-girt Delos. But his way

To rocky Pytho famous Phoebus made,

Queen Leto’s son, and on his lyre played,

In holy, scented garments clothed, and when

His lyre felt the golden plectrum, then 200

The sound was sweet indeed. Them, swift as thought,

He went up to Olympus, where he sought

Zeus and the other gods. Immediately

The deathless gods bore only melody

And song in mind. Their voices answering

Each other, all the Muses sweetly sing

Of the unending gifts divinities

Enjoy and of all mortals’ miseries

At the gods’ hands – they’re witless, hapless, they

Cannot cheat death nor can they find a way 210

To dodge old age. The Graces, with their hair

So richly-coiffed, the cheerful Seasons there

Danced with Harmonia and with Hebe

And Aphrodite, Zeus’s progeny,

Holding each other’s wrists. Among them, one

Not mean nor small but tall to look upon

And lovely, sang – Apollo’s sister, she

Who joys in arrows. In this company

Were also sporting Hermes, keen of eye,

And Ares, while Apollo, stepping high 220

And fine, played on his lyre. All around

His radiance shone, his gleaming feet would bound,

His close-weave vest aglow. Felicity

Filled gold-tressed Leto and wise Zeus to see

Among the gods their dear son as he played

The lyre. How, then, shall I, for one who’s made

So apt in theme for song, sing of you? Well,

Shall I sing of the lover? Shall I tell

Of when you wooed the daughter of Azan

When you had by your side that godlike man, 230

Ioschys, whose father was Elatius,

The horseman, or the wife of Leucippus,

Or Leucippus himself, or Phorbas who

Was Triops’ son – he on his chariot, you

On foot (although he did not lack the art

Of Triops). Shall I sing how at the start

Throughout the earth you wandered all around

That you might set some consecrated ground,

An oracle for men? First from on high

You sought Pieria, and you passed by 240

Sandy Lectus, Enienae, then went through

The land of the Perrhaebi, and then you

Came to Iolcus and then placed your feet

Upon Cenaeum, famous for its fleet

Of ships, set in Euboea. Then you stood

On the Lelantine plain – it was not good,

You thought, though, for a shrine and groves. Phoebus,

Far-Shooter, then you crossed the Euripus,

Climbed the green, holy hills to Mycalessus

And then on to the grasses of Teumessus 250

And wood-clad Thebe, for that holy spot

Had yet no mortals nor yet had it got

Pathways across its grain-filled plain. Then you

Came to Orchestus where a bright grove grew

In honour of Poseidon. It was there

That a new-broken colt, compelled to bear

The trim car at its back, can convalesce.

The charioteer is skilful – nonetheless

He leaps down to the ground; the empty car

The horses rattle, guideless as they are. 260

If in the woody grove the horses split

The car, the men tend to them but tilt it

And leave it there. The rite was ever so.

They pray to the shrine’s lord; the chariot, though,

Falls to the god’s lot. You went further still,

Far-Shooter, coming to the meadow’s rill

Of Cephissus, whose water, sweetly flowing,

Pours forth from Lilaea. You crossed it, going

Past many-towered Ocalea, you who

Works from a long way off, and then came to 270

The grassy Haliartus. Then your aim

Was going to Telphusa, and this same

Seemed sweetly fit for shrine and grove. He went

Close to her, saying: “It is my intent

To build a glorious temple here to be

An oracle for all mortality,

Telphusa. Perfect hecatombs they’ll bear

And bring to me, all those who have a care

To seek an oracle, those who reside

In rich Peloponnesus, those who bide 280

In Europe and upon the isles, and I

Will give to all honest advice in my

Rich temple.” Speaking thus, Apollo laid

All the foundations out and these he made

Both wide and very long. But when she’d seen

All this, Telphusa’s heart was full of spleen.

She said: “A word, Far-Worker, in your ear,

Since a fair temple you plan to build here,

An oracle for men who’ll bring to you

Their perfect hecatombs. Now listen, do, 290

And lay it to you heart – the trampling

Of rapid horses and mules watering

Here at my sacred spring will irk you. Men

Will rather wish to see fine chariots then

And stamping rapid horses than to see

Your massive shrine and the great quantity

Of treasures in it. Hear, then, what I say –

You are much mightier than I – I pray,

At Crisa build your temple, just below

The glades that lie in Parnassus; there no 300

Bright chariots will clash nor any steed

Near your fine altar at a rapid speed.

No, glorious tribes of mortal men will leave

Gifts to you as ‘Hail-Healer’; you’ll receive

Rich sacrifices which will please you well

From those who round about these regions dwell.

Thus she got the Far-Shooter to agree

That she should have renown there, and not he.

Further you went, Apollo, coming then

To where the Phlegyae dwell, presumptuous men, 310

By the Cephisian lake in a fair glade,

Taking no note of Zeus. You quickly made

Your way to Crisa then, which lies below

The mountain of Parnassus, white with snow,

A foothill facing west – above, a bluff

Hangs over it, beneath, a valley, rough

And hollow. Lord Phoebus Apollo planned

To build his lovely temple on this land.

He said: “I’ll build my lovely temple here,

An oracle for men, who will come near 320

With perfect hecatombs, those who reside

In rich Peloponnesus or abide

In Europe and upon the isles, and I

Will give to all honest advice in my

Rich temple.” Speaking thus, Apollo laid

All the foundations out and these he made

Both wide and very long. Trephonius

And Agamedes, sons of Erginus,

Dear to the gods, laid down a pediment

Of stone on them, and countless different 330

Tribes built the shrine with polished stones to be

Sung evermore. In this vicinity

Was a sweet spring, where with his mighty bow

The lord Apollo, son of Zeus, laid low

The bloated, great she-dragon who wrought deep

Distress upon the men and their lean sheep –

A bloody torment. She of the gold throne,

Hera, once gave her fierce, fell Typhaon,

Whom she brought up to be a plague to men.

Hera had borne him, being angry then 340

With Father Zeus when he bore in his head

Glorious Athena. Queenly Hera said

In anger to the gods who had amassed:

“Hear me! Cloud-Gathering Father Zeus has cast

Dishonour on me whom he made his wife,

His faithful wife. For he has given life

To the grey-eyed Athena, far from me

(She is the paramount divinity).

My son Hephaestus, though, is frail and lame

Among the gods, which causes me great shame. 350

I picked him up and into the wide sea

I cast the lad. But Nereus’ progeny,

Silver-shod Thetis, took him in her care

With all her sisters. Oh, if only there

Had been some other service she had done

For the blest gods. Oh, wretched, crafty one,

What will you think up now? How could you bear

Grey-eyed Athena all alone? How dare

You do it? Could not I? For after all

The gods who live on Mount Olympus call 360

Me Zeus’s wife. Watch out in case I hatch

Some trick against you that will be a match

To yours. In fact I will! Yes, I’ll devise

To bear a child who in Olympian eyes

Will top them all. Nor will I shame our bond

Of holy wedlock. I’ll consort, beyond

Our house, with all the gods. I will not lie

With you.” She spoke and from the gods on high

She went in anger. Then she smote the land,

Did cow-eyed Hera, with the flat of her hand 370

And prayed: “Earth, Heaven, Titan gods as well,

Who in great Tartarus beneath us dwell

Which spawns both men and gods, listen to me.

Grant me a child, apart from Zeus, and see

He’s no less great than Zeus. In fact. consent

That he’ll be greater still to the extent

All-seeing Zeus tops Cronus.” At that word

She smote the earth with her strong hand and stirred

Life-giving Earth, and this filled her with joy

For she believed that she would bear that boy. 380

For one year wise Zeus’ nightly company

She did not seek nor sit, as formerly,

On her carved chair where for her mate she made

Fine plans. No, cow-eyed queenly Hera stayed

Within her temples where so many pray,

Enjoying sacrifices. When each day

And month was over, as the year rolled round,

The seasons now approaching, then she found

She’d borne no mortal nor a god, oh no,

But dreadful, cruel Typhaon, a woe 390

To mortals. Then she gave immediately

This evil to another evil. She

Received it, and he plagued so many men.

Whoever met the dragoness, why, then

He met his doom until the mighty bow

Of the far-shooting Phoebus laid her low.

Gasping for breath, she lay in agony

Upon the earth and writhed about. And she

Let out an awful noise. It filled the air

As in that wood she twisted here and there. 400

Then, breathing out the blood of life, she died.

Phoebus Apollo swaggeringly cried:

“Rot there upon the fecund earth. No more

Will you harm man, who feeds upon the store

The earth provides for them, and hither they’ll

Bring perfect hecatombs. To no avail

Against fell death now will Typhoeus be

Nor the ill-famed Chimaera. We shall see

Black Earth and shimmering Hyperion

Cause you to rot.” Thus he boasted. She was gone 410

Into the dark. Then Helios’ burning eye

Caused her to rot right there, and that is why

They call the place Pytho, whose lord they name

Pythian Apollo, since the piercing flame

Of Helios caused the beast to rot right there.

And then it was that Phoebus was aware

That the sweet spring had duped him. Seeing red,

He then went to Telphusa and he said:

“You did not plan, Telphusa, through deceit

To keep this lovely place and pour forth sweet 420

Waters. To me, not you alone, will cling

Renown.” He spoke and pushed a showering

Of rocks on her and hid her streams, and then

He built an altar in a wooded glen

Hard by the clear stream. All the people there

Offer to ‘the Telphusian’ a prayer

(For thus they call their lord) since he abased

Holy Telphusa’s streams. And now he faced

The problem of electing priests to aid

His rites in rocky Pytho. While he made 430

These plans, he saw upon the wine-dark sea

A swift ship with a goodly company

Of Cretans out of Minyan Knossos (these

Perform rites to their master whose decrees

They promulgate – whatever Phoebus, Lord

Apollo, he who bears a golden sword,

Below Parnassus’ dells gives out when he

Replies to them out of the laurel-tree).

To sandy Pylos they were sailing then

In their black ship to trade with Pylian men. 440

Phoebus Apollo met them then, pouncing

On their swift ship and lay, a loathsome thing

Just like a dolphin. No-one knew this fish

Was Lord Apollo. No, it was their wish

To throw it back. He made the black ship shiver

On every side – the timbers were aquiver.

They sat there in the vessel silently

In fear, nor did they set the topsail free

In their black, hollow ship; their sails they let

Alone in that dark-prowed ship. Once they’d set 450

It firm with oxhide ropes, they sailed away,

Borne by a swift South Wind behind. First they

Passed Malea, then skimmed the Spartan strand

To Taenarum, sea-wreathed, in the land

Of Helios, a friend to men, where graze

Lord Helios’s thick-fleeced sheep always

In a sweet land. They wished to dock and check

And see if that great marvel stayed on deck

Or leapt into the fish-filled swelling wave.

The well-constructed ship would not behave, 460

However, under its helm but skimmed straight past

Rich Peloponnese, and, aided by the blast

Of winds, Apollo steered her easily.

She held her course and came to Arene

And lovely Argyphea and Thryon,

The ford of River Alpheus, then on

To well-built Aepy, sandy Pylos, too,

Past Crumi, Chalcis, Dyme, and straight through

To lovely Elis, where the Epei reign.

She made for Pheras, helped across the main 470

By Zeus’s blasts. They spied Mt. Ithaca’s height

Beneath the clouds, and then came into sight

Dulichium, Same, wooded Zacynthus.

When they had passed all Peloponnesus,

Crise’s great gulf, that cuts off all that land,

Appeared. Then Zeus ordained a mighty and

Clear West Wind, which from heaven boisterously

Gusted that with all speed across the sea

The ship might run. So they set sail once more

Back to the rising dawn, and at the fore 480

Was Lord Apollo. Crisa, then, they reached,

Seen from afar, the land of vines. They beached

Their ship upon the sands. And then their lord,

Phoebus Apollo, the Far-Worker, soared

From off the ship, just like a star that’s seen

At noon and many flames with glittering sheen

Flew from him up to heaven. To the shrine

He went through priceless tripods, and the shine

He caused among the flames was great, as he

Showed off his arrows, and a radiancy 490

Filled Crisa. This deed raised a hullabaloo

From all the wives – and well-bound daughters, too –

Of Crisa, for they all were much afraid.

Then, swift as thought, back to the ship he made

His winged way. A youth, robust and strong,

He seemed to be, his hair cascading long

On his broad shoulders. He said wingedly:

“Strangers, who are you? Whence across the sea

Have you sailed? Are you traders? Do you roam,

Perhaps, at random, pirates on the foam, 500

Risking your lives and bringing injury

To foreign folk? Why in timidity

Do you rest here, not venturing to go

Ashore nor on your black vessel to stow

Your gear? That is industrious people’s way

When after their black ship is anchored, they,

Fatigued with labour, yearn for food.” This said,

He gave them courage, and the man who led

The Cretans answered: “Since you seem to be,

In shape and kind, not of mortality, 510

But an immortal god, to you all hail!

May you be blest and may the gods not fail

To give you cheer. That I may understand

Completely, tell me truthfully: What land,

What country is this? Who lives here? For we,

With other things in mind, crossed the great sea

From Crete to Pylos (we’re a Cretan race).

In all unwillingness we reached this place

On quite another journey, and for home

We long. Some god brought us across the foam. 520

Apollo, the Far-Worker, then replied:

“Stranger, though in past time did you reside

In wooded Cnossos, you shall not go back

To your dear city; you will ever lack

Your fair house, wife and children. Instead, here

You’ll keep my rich shrine which is held most dear

By many men. I am the progeny

Of Zeus – Apollo. Over the wide sea

I’ve brought you, wishing you no harm. You’ll know

The plans of all the gods, who’ll make it so 530

That you’ll be honoured always every day.

Come now and with all speed do as I say.

First loose the sheets and lower the sail, then tow

Your speedy ship up onto land; unstow

Your goods and all your fair ship’s gear, then raise

An altar on the beach and offer praise

Around a fire and offer white meal to me

All round the altar. From the hazy sea

I leapt upon your swift ship, and therefore

Pray to me as Delphinius; furthermore 540

The altar shall be called ‘Delphinius’, too,

Forever and ‘Offering a splendid view’.

By your swift, dark ship cook a meal, and then

Make offering to the Olympian gods, and when

You no more crave sweet food, then come with me

And sing the hymn ‘Hail, Healer’ till we see

Where my rich temple stands to be your care.”

They harkened and obeyed him. Then and there

They loosed the sheets and lowered the sail; that done,

They let the mast down by the ropes upon 550

The mast-head. Then they landed on the strand

And drew their swift ship high upon the sand

And fixed stays under her. And then they made

An altar on the beach and, after, prayed

Around a fire and offered white meal, as he

Had ordered them, in all solemnity,

By their swift, dark ship cooked a meal, and then

Made offering to the Olympian gods, and when

They no more craved sweet food, they left the strand,

Led by the lord Apollo, in his hand 560

A lyre. Stepping high and proud, he played

A sweet air, while the Cretans also made

Their way to Pytho, dancing to the beat

Of their own paean as the men of Crete

Perform it, filled with a sweet melody

Sent by the Muse. The ridge unwearily

They reached, then saw Parnassus and the place,

That sweet place, where they’d dwell, receiving grace

From many men. The holy sanctum then

He showed them, and the rich shrine. In those men 570

Their hearts were stirred, and then their master said:

“Since from our friends and country we’ve been led

By you, lord - so it pleased you – how shall we

Now live? That would we know. Here do we see

No vineyards, pastures, nothing else that can

Help us to thrive and serve our fellow-man.”

Apollo smiled and said: ”You’d like to be

Oppressed by cares, hard toil and poverty,

You foolish wretches! Listen, I will say

One little thing – although you all will slay 580

These sheep with knives continually, yet still

You will have endless plenteousness that will

Be brought to me by glorious tribes. So mind

My shrine and entertain all of mankind

That gathers here and show my will to all.

Be righteous, and if anyone should fall

From compliance or shun me or, maybe,

Utter a word or act unthinkingly

Or show conceit, as men will, other men

Shall be your masters and forever then 590

Shall you be in their power. Now you know

It all – remember it.” So farewell, o

You son of Zeus and Leto. You I’ll tell

Of in my song – another song as well.


The son of Zeus and Maia, Hermes, sing,

O Muse, lord of Arcadia, burgeoning

With flocks, and of Cyllene, who brings glee,

The herald of the gods and progeny

Of Zeus and rich-tressed Maia, a shy

Goddess who passed her fellow-deities by

And dwelt in a dark cave, and it was there

One night she lay with Zeus – and unaware

Of what they did were all the gods and men –

While white-armed Hera sweetly slept, and when 10

Great Zeus’s deed was done and up on high

The tenth moon was established in the sky,

She was delivered and a deed was done

Of great import: she bore a cunning son,

Gifted, a thief, a cattle-driver too,

A watcher at the gates by night, one who

Brings dreams and will among the gods display

Great deeds. Though born at dawn, yet at midday

He played the lyre and when nightfall had come,

He stole Apollo’s cattle (the month’s sum 20

Of days was four); once from the womb he’d leapt,

Within his holy cradle nothing kept

Him long. He left his high cave in one bound

And in his search an endless joy he found

In a tortoise, which he first made fit for song.

He came upon it waddling along

Before the courtyard portals as it fed

On the rich grass. He laughed out loud and said:

“A wondrous sign of luck so soon for me!

I will not slight it. Hail, in ecstasy 30

I greet you, lovely beater of the ground,

Companion at the feast. Where have you found

This spangled shell, this plaything – you who dwell

Up in the mountains? Since you’ll serve me well,

I’ll take you home and bring you no disgrace.

First you must help me, though. A better place

Is home – outdoors is harmful. You shall be

A spell against malicious sorcery.

You’ll sing most sweetly, though, when you are dead.”

He gathered up the tortoise as he said 40

These words and took his fine toy home with him.

With a grey iron ladle every limb

Of this peak-living beast he lopped away.

As swift thought comes to those around whom play

Uneasy, thronging cares, as from the gaze

Of someone’s eyes resplendent glances blaze,

Famed Hermes made his plans for word and deed

Immediately. He measured stalks of reed

Which he had cut and then he fixed each one

Across its back and through its shell. This done. 50

He stretched an ox-hide very skilfully

Across it, put the horns on, too, then he

Fit bridges on the horns in, too, and then

Stretched seven strings made out of sheep-gut. When

He had done that, he tested every string

With the plectrum as he held the lovely thing.

It sounded wondrously beneath his hand

While he sang sweetly, as a youthful band

Swaps taunts at festivals. He sang an air

Of Zeus and well-shod Maia, how that pair 60

Chatted while they made love, and he related

The tale of his famed birth and celebrated

The nymph’s handmaids and her bright home and all

The tripods and the cauldrons at her hall.

Meanwhile, with other matters he was faced.

He took the hollow lyre which he placed

Inside his holy cradle. Now he yearned

For meat and with sheer trickery he burned

As he sprang from the fragrant hall and went

To a lookout – on such deeds are rascals bent 70

In dead of night. The sun beneath the land

Was setting in the west with horses and

Their chariot. Hermes now came at a run

To the Pierian peaks that lack the sun,

Where the gods’ deathless cattle have their stead

And on unmown and pleasant grass are fed.

And then the son of Maia, he who slew

Argos, took fifty beasts that loudly moo

From the herd and drove them all a-straggling

Across a sandy spot while swivelling 80

Their hoof-prints round. It was a clever scheme

To turn them in that way that they might seem

Not what they were, while he walked normally.

With wickerwork he fastened by the sea

Wonderful sandals, quite remarkable,

Before unheard-of, unimaginable,

With myrrh-twigs and with tamarisks mixed. Fresh wood

He fastened and attached them – well and good- ,

The leaves and all, beneath his feet. Behold,

A pair of lightweight sandals. As I told

You, this was in Pieria when he

Prepared to leave upon his odyssey 90

In his unique way. An old greybeard, though,

Tilling his flowering vineyard, saw him go

Speeding towards the plain as he went through

Grassy Onchestus. “Well, old fellow, who

Are digging with bowed shoulders, “ famed Hermes

Said, “you’ll have plenteous wine when all of these

Vines bear fruit. So remember not to see

What you in fact have seen, and similarly

Be deaf to what you’ve heard and do not say

A word – you’ll not be harmed in any way. 100

At this, he sped his sturdy cattle on.

Through many shadowy mountains had they gone,

Echoing gorges, flowering plains, with night,

His holy friend, near over, and daylight,

That urges folk to labour, almost nigh,

When Pallas’ child Selene up on high

Climbed to the look-out, shining radiantly,

Then to the Alpheius Zeus’ strong progeny

Drove Phoebus’ wide-faced cattle and, still spry,

They reached the byres where the roofs loomed very high 110

And troughs before the splendid field, and when

He’d fed the loudly-lowing cattle, then

He drove them close-packed to the byre while they

On moist sedge and on lotus chewed away.

He heaped a pile of wood and started out

To seek the art of fire. He took a stout

Bay-branch and trimmed it with a knife which he

Clutched tightly in his hand, and torridly

The smoke rose up. For fire he formulated

And fire-sticks. Next he accumulated 120

Many dried sticks and laid them thick and tight

In a sunken trench and with a fiery light

A flame began to glow and when the force

Of famed Hephaestus took its blazing course

He dragged two horned and lowing cows along

Close to the fire – for he too was strong –

And threw them panting on their backs and, when

He’d rolled them to their sides, their life force then

He pierced. Then, slice by slice, the meat he slit,

The rich and fatted meat, then on a spit 130

Of wood the flesh he roasted and the dark

Blood of the innards and the chine, the mark

Of honour; on a rugged rock each hide

He spread and even now through time and tide

They still are there and evermore shall be.

Then Hermes took the rich meat joyfully

And placed it on a stone both smooth and flat

And split it into twelve by lot. At that,

Each slice would bring much honour to each one

Who tasted it. Now Zeus’s famous son 140

Longed for the holy meat. Its sweet smell made

Him dreary, though a god, but he was stayed

By his proud heart, but he put it all by,

The fat and flesh, in the byre, whose roof was high

And quietly placed it high so all might see

His youthful theft. Dry sticks accordingly

He gathered and then threw into the flame

The heads and hooves. When to the end he came

Of all these deeds, his sandals then he cast

In the deep river Alpheius and passed 150

The night in quenching embers and with sand

He spread the black ash, while upon the land

Selene brightly shone. At break of day

To Cyllene’s bright crests he went straightaway.

And there was neither god nor man – not one –

Met him as on he trekked, and no dogs – none –

Let out a bark. Then luck-bringing Hermes,

The son of Zeus, just like a misty breeze

In fall, passed through the keyhole of the hall

Straight to the rich shrine and no noise at all 160

He made then went to his cradle hurriedly

And donned his baby-clothes so he might be

Just like a babe himself and then he played

With the sheet about his knees; yet he had laid

At his left hand his sweet lyre. And yet he

Was noticed by his goddess mother. She

Said: “Oh you rogue, whence have you come at night,

Wrapped in your shamelessness? With cords drawn tight

Round you shall Phoebus – such is my belief –

Eject you or you’ll live life as a thief 170

Out in the glens. Go! You were spawned to be

A bane to men and gods.” Then craftily

He answered: “Why attempt to make me start,

Mother? I’m not a helpless babe whose heart

Knows little wrong and fears his mother may

Rebuke him. I’ll continue to essay

What plan is best and feed continually

The two of us. I’m not prepared to be

A resident here, as you advise, and bear

The shame of not receiving gifts or prayer. 180

Better to live among the gods always,

Wealthy in everything, than spend my days

In gloomy caves, and as for honour, why,

If Zeus will not allow me them, I’ll be

The prince of thieves – I’ve the ability.

If I’m sought out by Leto’s glorious son,

I think that he’ll regret what he has done.

Into Pytho’s great house I plan to break

And from it I will splendid tripods take 190

And gold and cauldrons, in great number, too,

And much bright iron and apparel. All this you

May see.” That’s what they said, each to the other,

Hermes the son of Zeus and his royal mother,

Maia. When early Dawn brought light to men

From the deep-flowing Oceanus, then

Phoebus Apollo came to Onchestus,

The holy, sweet grove of Gaieochus,

The roaring Lord of Earth and there he found

An old man who along the trodden ground 200

From the courtyard fence his beast was pasturing.

The glorious Hermes said the following:

“Old man, who weed the grassy land, I came

Out of Pieria with just one aim -

Cattle, all cows, with curving horns – I own

Them all. The pitch-black bull grazed all alone.

Four fierce-eyed hounds, though, shadowed them like men,

All of one mind. The dogs and bull were then

All left behind – surprisingly. And yet

The cows left the sweet pasture at sunset. 210

Tell me, have you seen someone passing by

Behind these cows? The old man answered: “Why,

My friend, it’s hard to tell all one can see.

So many pass through this locality,

Some bent on bad, some good. It’s hard to know

Each one. While digging in my vineyard, though,

Till sunset, I believe, sir, that I spied

Some child or other walking side to side

Behind some long-haired beasts and carrying

A stick – though I’m not sure – and piloting 220

Them backwards, facing them.” That’s what he said,

And at his words Apollo faster sped

Upon his way. He noticed presently

A long-winged bird and knew the progeny

Of Zeus had stolen them. So then with speed

He went to splendid Pylos in his need

To find the shambling beasts, while all around

His massive shoulders a dark cloud was bound.

Apollo marked his footsteps, saying: “Oh,

This is a wondrous marvel; for, although 230

The straight-horned oxen made these tracks, they lead –

Or seem to do – back to the flowery mead.

No man nor woman, no grey wolf nor bear

Nor lion made the tracks that I see there,

Nor shaggy Centaur either, I suppose,

Whoever made such monstrous tracks as those

So swiftly. For on this side of the way

They are amazing – even more are they

Upon the other. When this he had said,

He to well-forested Cyllene sped 240

And the deep, rocky cave, beset with shade,

Where Zeus was born unto the holy maid.

The lovely hill smelled sweetly and a flock

Of sleek sheep grazed and he that dusky rock

Instantly entered. Hermes, when he knew

Apollo’s anger, snuggled down into

His fragrant swaddling-clothes. As ash will screen

Tree-stumps’ deep embers, Hermes, once he’d seen

Apollo, huddled, heads, hands, feet squeezed tight

(Just as a new-born seeking sweet sleep might), 250

Though wide awake. His lyre he kept below

His armpit. Phoebus recognized him, though,

And Maia, too, the lovely mountain-maid,

Although he was so craftily arrayed

And but a babe. Through that great cavity

He peered in every nook; with a bright key

He opened up three closets well-supplied

With nectar and ambrosia beside

Much gold and silver, Maia’s garments, too,

Some purple and some silver, such as you 260

Might see among the blessed gods. then he

Said: ‘Infant, lying in your cot, lest we

Fall out, tell me about my beasts. I’ll fling

You into dusky Hell, that harrowing

And hopeless dark. Your parents shall not flee

You as you roam and hold supremacy

But over little folk.” Then said Hermes

With cunning: ”Phoebus, what harsh words are these?

You want your cows? I’ve not seen them or heard

A single mention of them, not a word. 270

I cannot help you, cannot claim a prize.

Am I a cattle-lifter in your eyes?

A strong man? No, this isn’t my concern.

I care for other things; for sleep I yearn

And mother’s milk and blankets and to be

Bathed in warm baths. Let our controversy

Not be reported, for this would astound

The gods - that such an infant would be found

Bringing home beasts. Unseemly! I was born

But yesterday, my soft feet would be torn 280

By rugged ground. Upon my father’s head

I’ll swear a great oath, if you wish it said,

That I am innocent nor did I see

Who took those cows – whatever cows they be,

For I have only heard of them, “he said.

He quickly glanced about and turned his head

This way and that and raised his brows as well

And whistled long as he heard Phoebus tell

His tale as though he lied. Then quietly

Apollo laughed and said: “So virtuously 290

You speak, you cunning rogue, full of deceit.

This night, I think, you’ve plundered many a seat,

Filching in silence. In the glades up high

You’ll badger many a herdsman, coming by

His herds and thick-fleeced sheep in your great thirst

For flesh. Come in now, leave your cot, your cursed

Companion, if you’d not sleep your last sleep.

Among the gods this title shall you keep

Forever – prince of thieves.” He grabbed the lad,

But Hermes had a plan: while Phoebus had 300

Him in his hands, he sent up to the sky

A bird, a hard-worked serf that flew on high,

A wretched envoy, and immediately

He sneezed. Apollo threw him down when he

Heard this and, eager though he was to go,

Sat down and mockingly addressed him: “Oh,

Fear not, you swaddled one, I’ll find my herd,

My brawny cows, by reason of this bird.

And you shall lead the way.” Immediately

Hermes sprang up and off. The sheet that he 310

Had placed around his shoulders he now drew

Up to his ears and said: “Hey, where are you

Carrying me? The angriest of all

The gods are you. Is it these cows that gall

You so that you harass me thus? Death to

All cattle! Look, I did not filch from you

Your cows – whatever they may be – or see

The culprit. I but heard their history.

Be just and swear to Zeus.” They argued thus

In detail, nor was Phoebus tyrannous – 320

He’d lost his cattle! But duplicity

Was Hermes’ aim, but when he found that he

Was matched in this, across the sand he sped

With Phoebus in his wake, himself ahead.

They came to sweet Olympus quickly, where

The scales of justice waited for this pair.

After the hour of Dawn on her gold seat

The gods on snowy Olympus came to meet

In counsel. Then they stood at Zeus’s knees:

To Phoebus the High-Thunderer’s words were these: 330

“Whence have you brought this mighty spoil, this tot

So like a messenger? This is a lot

For us to think about?” In his reply

Apollo said: ”Father, the time is nigh

For you to hear this weighty tale, although

You chide me for my love of spoil. But lo!

Here is a child whom, after journeying long,

I found, a downright plunderer, among

Cyllene’s hills. Such pert audacity

Among both gods and men I’ve failed to see – 340

Though many men deceive. He pirated

My cattle from their meadow, then he led

Them west to the shore of the loud-roaring sea

And straight to Pylos. Like a prodigy

Of some smart sprite, these traces were twofold.

The cattle’s tracks, the black dust clearly told,

Led to the flowery lea. But that strange thing

That led them seemed to have been travelling,

Outside the path upon the sandy ground,

On neither hands nor feet. He must have found 350

Some other means – in slender oaks maybe.

The dust showed all these tracks perceptibly.

After the sandy trek, though, not a trace

Could be detected on the ground’s hard face.

But as he drove the wide-browed cattle straight

To Pylos, someone saw him. When the gate

He’d quietly closed behind them, craftily

By twists and turns he went back home, then he

Lay in his cradle, still as the dark night,

In his dim cave – no keen-eyed eagle might 360

Have spotted him. Then much he rubbed his eyes

And bluntly spoke out as he planned his lies:

“I have not seen or heard of them; no man

Has told me of them, so of them I can

Say nothing nor claim a reward.’” At that,

Phoebus sat down. Then Hermes pointed at

Lord Zeus and answered: “Here’s the truth for I

Am truthful, Zeus, and cannot tell a lie.

Seeking his shambling cows, he came today

Up to our house just at the break of day. 370

He brought no god as witness. Violently

He ordered me to make confession. He

Vowed he’d send me to the broad land of Hell,

Because he’s at the height of youth and, well,

I was born yesterday – he knows it, too.

I don’t steal cows, I’m weak. All this is true –

Believe, for you claim to have fathered me.

I did not take them – as I hope to be

Wealthy – nor cross the threshold. I revere

Helios and all the gods. You I hold dear 380

While dreading him. You know I’m blameless. I

Will swear a great oath that I am. Yes, by

The finely-decked Olympian drapery!

One day I’ll punish him, strong though he be,

For this harsh grilling. Now, though, give your aid

To younger ones. The Cyllenian spoke and made

Side glances, while his swaddling-clothes he had

Upon his arm. Zeus laughed at this young lad

Who plotted ill, denying cunningly

His guilt. He ordered both of them to be 390

Of one mind and search out the beasts. Hermes

He told to lead and deal no falsities

And show where he had left the sturdy herd.

Zeus nodded. Good Hermes obeyed his word,

For Zeus’s will prevailed. And then his two

Fine sons for sandy Pylos made and through

The ford of Alpheius and the fields they came

Up to the high-roofed byre where those same

Beasts were brought up. Then to the rocky cove

Went Hermes and the hardy herd he drove 400

Into the light. Now Phoebus glanced aside

And in the precipitous rock cowhides he spied

And said to glorious Hermes: “Crafty one,

How could you flay two cows? How was it done

By one new-born? I dread your future strength;

Your growing’s almost at its utmost length.”

With hardy osier cords he tried to bind

His hands. About each other, though, they twined

And grew beneath their feet immediately

And hid the wild beasts through the trickery 410

Of Hermes. Phoebus gaped in great surprise.

Then furtively the Argos-Slayer’s eyes

Bent to the ground and flashed like fire as he

Desired to hide himself. Yet easily

He soothed the son of glorious Leto, stern

Though he yet was. He tried each string in turn

When he took up the lyre and he produced

A sound wondrous to hear and it induced

Phoebus to laugh with joy, and that sweet sound

Of glorious music touched his heart; around 420

His soul a tender longing grew as he

Sat listening. Now, playing beautifully,

Hermes plucked up his nerve and stood nearby

Phoebus’ left side and, as he warbled high,

Began to sing, and lovely was the sound.

Of the deathless gods he sang and of the ground,

Their birth and how the portions came to be

Doled out to each one. First Mnemosyne,

The Muses’ mother, he acclaimed – her due

Was Maia’s son himself. According to 430

Their ages, all the rest he hymned – how they

Were born – as on his arm his lyre lay.

A boundless longing seized Phoebus, and so

With winged words he said to Hermes: “O

Beast-slayer, busy rogue, friend of the feast,

The song you sing’s worth fifty cows at least.

This problem can be settled, I believe,

Amicably. Therefore, please give me leave,

O clever one, to know if this great thing

Was yours from birth or did you learn to sing 440

With some god’s teaching? For it’s marvellous,

This new-sung sound, which I think none of us-

No god nor man – but you has ever known,

You thief. What is this talent that you own?

To take away one’s desperate cares? For here

Are three things one may choose from – love and cheer

And restful sleep. I am a satellite

Of the Olympian Muses who delight

In song and dance and in the thrilling cry

And full-toned chant of flutes. However, I 450

Have never liked those clever feats before

One hears at young men’s sprees. Now I adore

Your sound. I marvel at how well you play.

But sit down, since, though born but yesterday,

You have such skills. Lend a respectful ear

To counsel which from your elders you’ll hear.

Among the gods, you, and your mother too,

Shall have renown. This shall I tell to you

Directly. By this cornel-shaft, you’ll be,

Among the gods, a leader – dignity 460

And glorious gifts I’ll give you. Nor will I

Deceive you ever.” Hermes, in reply,

Said craftily: Your questions to me are

Most careful, o you who work from afar.

I am not jealous that you want a part

In my great skill: today I shall impart

This fact to you. I wish to be a friend

To you in thought and deed. Now there’s an end:

You know it all. Foremost you sit among

The deathless gods, and you are good and strong. 470

Zeus rightly loves you. Splendid presents he’s

Given to you. They say that dignities

And his decrees and oracles you know

Of him. I’ve heard you’re rich. Whateverso

You wish to know, you may. But since to play

The lyre is your wish, then chant away

And pluck its strings. Give way to gaiety.

This is my gift to you. Yet give to me

Renown, my friend. With this ally who’s so

Clear-voiced within your hands, sing well. You know 480

The art of balanced utterance. Now bring

It boldly to rich feasts, to revelling.

To lovely dances – such festivity

Both night and day. If someone knowingly

Should ask about it, by its very sound

It teaches wondrous things that play around

The mind. With its humanity and ease

And feeling, toilsome drudgery it flees.

But if some fool should query violently,

It chatters nothing but mere vanity. 490

You can discover what you please, though. So

Here is my lyre. For my part, I’ll go

And on both plain and hill my beasts I’ll feed.

Then, coupling with my bulls, the cows will breed

Heifers and bulls galore. Though you’ve a bent

For greed, you’ve no need to be violent

And angry. He held out the instrument.

Apollo took it and, unhesitant,

Proffered to him his whip that shone so bright

And made him keeper of the herds. Delight 500

Caught Hermes as he took it while Apollo

Took up the lyre and placed it in the hollow

Of his left arm and tested every string

With the plectrum one by one. And did it sing

As he so sweetly trilled! Subsequently

They took the herd back to the sacred lea,

Then sped to snowy Olympus once again,

Delighting in the lyre. Wise Zeus then

Was glad and joined those two in amity.

And since that time Hermes continually 510

Loved Phoebus, having given the instrument

To him as token. More than competent

Was he in playing it. But he now found

Another cunning art – the pipes, whose sound

Is heard afar. Phoebus said to him: “Guide

So full of cunning, I am terrified

That you will steal the lyre and the curved bow,

For Zeus has authorized that you shall go

And travel through the fruitful earth to trade

With men. But if a mighty oath you made 520

Among the gods by nodding of your head

Or by the potent waters which the dead

Traverse, you’ll please me well and comfort me.

Then Hermes bowed his head in surety

That he’d not steal whatever he possessed

Or near his mighty house. Phoebus professed

His friendship with the lad and vowed he’d love

Not one of those immortals high above

The earth nor any Zeus-born mortals more.

Zeus sent an eagle then, and Phoebus swore: 530

“To all the gods above I shall impart

You as a token that within my heart

You’re prized and trusted. I’ll give you to hold

A splendid staff of riches made of gold,

Three-branched, which will preserve you and fulfil

All words and actions, so they be not ill.

This do I know from Zeus. The prophecy,

However, noble, heaven-born progeny,

Of which you query, never must be known

By any other god but Zeus alone. 540

As pledge a great and solemn oath I swore

That to no god who lives for evermore

But me shall Zeus his clever plans unfold.

So, brother, you who bear the staff of gold,

Don’t bid me tell them. As for mortals, I’ll

Harm one and aid another, all the while

Sorely perplexing all humanity.

That man who hears the bird of prophecy

And sees its flight and comes to me shall get

My vocal aid and not be misled. Yet 550

Who trusts in birds that idly chatter and

Wishes, against my will, to understand

More than the gods, his journey’s been in vain.

And yet the gifts he brings I shall retain.

I’ll tell you something more, lad: there are three

Pure, holy winged sisters whom you’ll see

Sprayed with white meal about their heads. They dwell

In their home beneath Parnassus in a dell,

All teachers of the art of prophecy,

Apart from me, an art which occupied me 560

When, as a boy, I followed herds, although

My father paid no heed. They to and fro

Fly, feeding on honeycomb as they induce

The future. When inspired by the juice

Of honey, they’ll speak truth. But if denied

The gods’ sweet food, they’ll tell lies as they glide

About. I give you them. If you enquire

Strictly of them, you’ll gain your heart’s desire.

If you teach this to someone else, he’ll hear

Your answer often, if he wins good cheer. 570

Take these and tend your roving, horned herd,

All steeds and patient mules.” That was his word.

And over all the wild beasts that are fed

By the broad earth, he made famed Hermes head –

The grim-eyed lion, the gleaming-tusked boar,

All flocks, all dogs, all sheep and, furthermore,

Made him sole messenger to Hades: though

Hades receives no bounty, even so

He’ll give him no mean prize. The progeny

Of Maia thus received great amity 580

From Lord Apollo who augmented then

His gifts with grace – with all the gods and men

He traffics. Though he makes some gains, yet he

Cheats men throughout the night continually.

So farewell, son of Maia. You I’ll tell

Of in my song – another song as well.


Of golden Aphrodite, Muse, tell me –

That Cyprian goddess who stirs ecstasy

Among the gods, subduing men, as well,

And birds and animals, all those that dwell

On earth and in the sea. They all hold dear

The well-wreathed one’s exploits. There are a mere

Three hearts she cannot bend nor yet beguile:

Grey-eyed Athene’s one – she’ll never smile

At Aphrodite’s deeds. Her care is war,

The work of Ares, conflict, blood and gore. 10

She was the first to teach mortals to build

Bronze chariots of battle, and she filled

Soft maids with knowledge of the arts. Also,

The laughter-loving love goddess had no

Ability to tame the dark huntress,

Gold-shafted Artemis, in amorousness,

For she loves slaying beasts and archery,

The lyre, thrilling cries, terpsichory,

Dark groves and just men’s cities. Now the chaste

Istia is the third to have no taste 20

For Aphrodite’s works (first progeny

Of wily Cronus, and the last, was she

By aegis-bearing Zeus’s will) - a queen

Of whom Poseidon and Phoebus had been

Wooers, whom she rejected stubbornly.

She swore a great oath, which would come to be

Fulfilled, by touching Father Zeus’s head.

She’d be a virgin evermore, she said.

For this she was given a great reward

And lodged inside the house of Zeus, the lord 30

Of all and got the greatest share, and she

Is praised in all the shrines, the primary

Goddess among all mortals. These are they

That she can’t influence in any way.

But Aphrodite cannot be ignored

By other gods or men. Even the lord,

Thunderer Zeus, she leads astray, though he

Is mightiest of all. Easily she

Seduces his wise heart and, at a whim,

With mortal womenfolk enforces him 40

To couple, although Hera does not know

Of this (she is his sister and, also,

His wife) and Hera’s the most beauteous

Of all the goddesses – most glorious

Child whom with Rhea sly Cronus created.

With the chaste, modest goddess Zeus then mated,

The ever-wise one. Zeus, though, this goddess

For a mortal man imbued with amorousness.

And she lay with him so that even she

Might soon know mortal love nor laughingly 50

Say gods to mortal women she had paired,

Creating mortal men, while men had shared,

Through her, goddesses’ beds. So she straightway

Then made Anchises love her who, that day,

In godlike shape, was tending herds around

Many-springed Ida’s steep hills. When she found

The man, she loved him passionately. She went

To Paphos where her altar, sweet with scent,

And precinct were. She entered there, and tight

She shut the doors, those doors that shone so bright. 60

The Graces bathed her with the oil that’s seen

Upon the deathless gods with heavenly sheen,

Fragrant and sweet. Her rich clothes they arrayed

Her in, then, swathed in gold, for Troy she made

With speed high in the air. And thus she came

To Ida (of the beasts she cannot tame

She is the mother). To the high retreat

She came, where, fawning, grey wolves came to meet

Her – grim-eyed lions and speedy leopards, too,

Hungry for deer and bears. All, two by two, 70

Mated among the shadowy haunts. But she

Came to the well-built leas. And there was he -

The hero Anchises, some way away

From others, in the homesteads. One could say

That he was godlike in his beauty. Though

The others urged their cattle all to go

With them to grassy pasturelands, yet he

Was playing on his lyre thrillingly

While strolling to and fro. And there she stood

Before him like a girl in maidenhood, 80

In height and mien, that she might quell his fright.

He saw her and he wondered at the sight –

Her height and mien, her shining clothes. For she

Had on a robe whose shining brilliancy

Capped fire, gorgeous, golden and enhanced

With many hues and, like a moon, it glanced

Over her delicate breasts, a wondrous sight,

And twisted brooches, earrings shining bright,

And lovely necklaces were set around

Her tender throat. Now Eros quickly found 90

Anchises, who said: “Lady queen, may bliss

Be on you whether you are Artemis

Or golden Aphrodite or, maybe,

Noble Themis or bright-eyed Athene

Or Leto? Does a Grace, p’raps, come to me?

(They’re called immortal, seen in company

With gods). Or else a Nymph, who’s seen around

The pleasant woods, or one, perhaps, who’s found

Upon this lovely mountain way up high

Or in streams’ springs or grassy meadows? I 100

Will build a shrine to you, seen far away

Upon a peak, and on it I will lay

In every season some rich offering.

Be gracious, granting that all men may sing

Of my prestige in Troy, my progeny

All strong forever after. As for me,

May I live long in wealth.” Then in reply

The child of Zeus addressed him and said: “I

Am no goddess, Anchises, most sublime

Of earth-born ones. Why do you think that I’m 110

Immortal? No, a mortal gave me birth.

My father’s Otreus, very well known on earth,

If you have heard of him. He holds command

In well-walled Phrygia. I understand

Your language well. At home have I been bred

By a Trojan nurse who, in my mother’s stead,

Nurtured me from a child, and that is why

I know your tongue as well. However, I

Was seized by Hermes, who took me away

From Artemis’s dance. A great array 120

Of marriageable maids were we as we

Frolicked together. A great company

Surrounded us. Thence Hermes snatched me, then

Guided me over many fields of men,

Much land that was not harrowed nor possessed,

Where beasts of prey roamed the dark vales. I guessed

I’d never touch the earth again. He said

I’d be the wedded partner of your bed

And birth great brood. Back to the gods he flew,

And here I am! I have great need of you. 130

So by your noble parents (for no-one

Of wretched stock could create such a son)

And Zeus, I beg, take me to wife, who know

Nothing of love, a maiden pure, and show

Me to your parents and your brothers, who

Shall like me well. Then send a herald to

The swift-horsed Phrygians that immediately

My sorrowing folks shall know of this. You’ll see

From them much gold and woven stuff and more.

Take these as bride-price, then make ready for 140

A lovely wedding that for gods and men

Shall be immortalized. The goddess then

Put love into his heart. Then Anchises,

Thus stricken, said: ”If I can credit these

Words that you say, if you’re of mortals bred,

That Otreus fathered you – that’s what you said –

And Hermes brought you here that you might be

My wife forever, no-one shall stop me –

No god nor man – from having intercourse

With you right now, not even if perforce 150

Phoebus shot arrows from his silver bow

At me. I’d go into the land below

The earth most gladly once I’d broached your bed,

O godlike lady.” That is what he said.

He took her hand. She threw her glance aside,

Her lovely eyes cast down, and slowly hied

To the well-spread bed, which was already made

With delicate coverings. On it were laid

Bearskins and skins of roaring lions he

Had killed in that mountainous territory. 160

In bed, each twisted brooch and each earring

And necklace he removed – each shining thing –

And doffed her girdle and bright clothes and laid

Her on a golden-studded seat, then made

Love to her, man and goddess – destiny

And the gods’ will condoned it – although he

Did not know what he did. But at the hour

When oxen and tough sheep back from the flower-

Filled pasture were led home, the goddess blessed

Anchises with sweet sleep but then she dressed 170

Herself in her rich garments. With her head

Reaching the well-hewn roof-tree, by the bed

She stood, and from her cheeks there radiated

Unearthly beauty one associated

With well-wreathed Cytherea. And then she

Roused him and said: “Why sleep so heavily?

Get up, Anchises! Tell me, is my guise

The same to you as when you first laid eyes

Upon me?” He awoke immediately.

Seeing her neck and lovely eyes, was he 180

Afraid; he turned his eyes, his cloak concealing

His comely face. His winged words appealing,

He said: “When first I looked on you, I knew

You were a goddess – you did not speak true.

By aegis-bearing Zeus, I beg, let me

Not live my life among humanity,

A palsied thing. Have pity. For a man

Who lies with goddesses no longer can

Be sound.” She answered him: “O leading light

Of mortals, courage! You’ve no need of fright. 190

Nor I nor any god will cause you fear –

The gods love you. A son who shall be dear

To you shall over Troy hold sovereignty,

As shall his offspring in posterity.

His name shall be Aeneas, for the pain

Of grief I felt inside because I’d lain

With a mortal. Yet the people of your race

Are the most godlike, being fair of face

And tall. Zeus seized golden-haired Ganymede

Thanks to his beauty, that he might indeed 200

Pour wine for all the gods and always be

Among them all – remarkable to see.

Honoured by all, he from the golden bowl

Drew the red nectar. Grief, though, filled the soul

Of Tros, not knowing if a heaven-sent blow

Had snatched away his darling son, and so

He mourned day after day unceasingly.

In pity, Zeus gave him indemnity-

High-stepping horses such as carry men.

Hermes, the Argos-slaying leader, then, 210

At Zeus’s bidding, told him all – his son

Would live forever agelessly, atone

With all the gods. So, when he heard of this

No longer did he mourn but, filled with bliss,

On his storm-footed horses joyfully

He rode away. Tithonus similarly

Was seized by golden-throned Eos – he, too,

Was of your race and godlike, just like you.

She begged dark-clouded Zeus to give consent

That he’d be deathless, too. Zeus granted this. 220

But thoughtless queenly Eos was amiss,

Not craving youth so that senility

Would never burden him and so, though he

Lived happily with Eos far away

On Ocean’s streams, at the first signs of grey

Upon his lovely head and noble chin,

She spurned his bed but cherished him within

Her house and gave him lovely clothes to wear,

Food and ambrosia. But when everywhere

Old age oppressed him and his every limb

He could not move, her best resolve for him 230

Was this – to place him in a room and close

The shining doors. An endless babbling rose

Out of his mouth; he had no strength at all

As once he had. I’d not have this befall

Yourself. But if you looked as now you do

Forevermore and everyone called you

My husband, I’d not grieve. But pitiless

Old age will soon enshroud you – such distress

Will burden every mortal – wearying

And deadly, even by the gods a thing 240

Of fear. You’ve caused great endless infamy

For me among the gods who formerly

Feared all my jibes and wiles with which I mated

The gods with mortal maids and subjugated

Them all. However, no more shall my word

Have force among the gods, since I’ve incurred

Much madness on myself, dire, full of dread.

My mind has gone astray! I’ve shared a bed

With a mortal! Underneath my girdle lies

A child! As soon as he has cast his eyes 250

Upon the sun, the mountain Nymphs whose breasts

Are deep, who dwell on those great sacred crests,

Shall rear him. They’re not of mortality

Nor immortality; extendedly

They live, eat heavenly food and lightly tread

The dance among the deathless ones and bed

With Hermes and Sileni, hid away

In pleasant caves, and on the very day

That they are born, up from the fruitful earth

Pines and high oaks also display their birth, 260

Trees so luxuriant, so very fair,

Called the gods’ sancta, high up in the air.

No mortal chops them down. When the Fates mark

Them out for death, they wither there, their bark

Shrivelling too, their twigs fall down. As one,

Both Nymph and tree leave the light of the sun.

They’ll rear my son. And at his puberty

The goddesses will show you him. Let me

Tell you what I propose – when he is near

His fifth year on this earth, I’ll bring him here 270

That you may gaze upon him and enjoy

The sight, for he will be a godlike boy.

Bring him to windy Ilium. If you

Are queried by some mortal as to who

Gave birth to him, then say, as I propose,

It was a flower-like Nymph, one Nymph of those

Who dwell upon that forest-covered crag.

Should you tell all, though, and foolishly brag

That you have lain with rich-crowned Aphrodite,

Then with a smoky bolt will Zeus Almighty 280

Strike you. That’s all. Take heed. Do not name me.

Respect the anger of the gods.” Then she

Soared up to windy heaven. Queen, farewell.

Your tale is told. I have one more to tell.


Of stately Aphrodite, crowned with gold

And beautiful I'll sing, her whose stronghold

Is well-walled, sea-girt Cyprus, whither she

Was wafted on soft foam across the sea

By the moist West Wind, received with happiness

By the gold-circleted Hours, her heavenly dress

Provided by them, and a diadem

They placed upon her heavenly head – a gem

Of gold, fair and well-wrought. Her ears, which she

Had pierced, they hung with fine-gold jewelry 10

And copper-mountain gems. Her snowy-white

Breasts and her tender neck were decked with bright-

Gold necklaces, which they themselves would wear

When they went to their father’s house, for there

They joined the gods in fair terpsichory.

Decked out they took her to the company

Of the gods who warmly greeted her and prayed,

As each one welcomed with his hands the maid,

That she might be his wedded wife, their eyes

Gazing upon the goddess in surprise. 20

O sweetly-winning, coy-eyed goddess, hail!

O grant that in this contest I’ll not fail.

Give orders for my song. For you I’ll tell

Of in my song – another song as well.


I'll sing of Dionysus, who's the son

Of glorious Semele, just like someone

In the first flush of youth close by the strand

Of the fruitless sea on a jutting headland,

While all about him waved his rich dark hair,

A purple robe on his strong back. Soon there

Appeared, in a well-decked ship, a company

Of Tyrrhenian pirates on the wine-dark sea.

They saw him, nodded each to each and sprang

Out quickly and their hearts joyfully sang 10

As he was seized, for they believed that he

Was son of heavenly kings and wished to see

Him tightly bound but could not do it. No,

The bonds fell from his hands and feet and lo!

He sat there with his dark eyes smiling. Then

The helmsman, now enlightened, to his men

Said: “Madmen! Who’s this god you’ve taken here

And bound? Even this well-built ship, I fear,

Can’t hold him. He is strong! He’s Zeus, maybe,

Or else Apollo or Poseidon. He 20

Does not appear to be like mortal men.

No, he’s a god, I’m sure. Let’s set him, then,

On the dark shore at once, and do not lay

Your hands on him lest, in a rage, he may

Send dangerous winds and heavy squalls.” Thus he

Addressed them. But the master tauntingly

Said in reply: “Madman yourself! Go check

The wind. Help hoist the sail. All hands on deck

To catch the sheets! We’ll deal with him. I claim

That Egypt or else Cyprus is his aim 30

Or else the Northern Folk or farther yet.

But he will speak out in the end, I bet,

About his friends, wealth, brothers. Destiny

Has thrown him in our way.” And, with this, he

Got them to hoist the mast and sail. The blast

Of winds then filled the sail and on the mast

They tautly hauled the sheets on either side.

But strange things happened soon. Both far and wide

Throughout the black ship wine, fragrant and sweet,

Flowed free. A heavenly scent arose. The fleet 40

Of men was all amazed. A vine now spread

On the topsail, while clusters pivoted

Down from it. From the mast dark ivy wound

With flowers blossoming and all around

Rich berries grew. The tholes were garlanded.

They told the helmsman, hearing this, to head

For land. The god, however, now transformed

Into a lion in the bows and stormed

With roaring, then amidships wondrously

He was a shaggy bear, rapaciously 50

Arising. On the deck he made appear

The fiercely glaring lion. Then in fear

The sailors hurried to the stern and pressed

All round about the helmsman, who was blest

With wisdom. Then the master suddenly

Was seized on by the lion. Into the sea

They all leapt, seeing this, and in this way

Escaped the master’s wretched fate, but they

Changed into dolphins. In his mercy, though,

Dionysus held the helmsman back, and so 60

He made him truly happy and addressed

Him thus: “Take heed, my friend, for you have been

Blessed by me. I am Dionysus, he

Who loudly shouts, the son of Semele

And Zeus.” Farewell, fair Semele’s offspring.

Forgetting you, no-one can sweetly sing.


Mighty Ares, with helmet all of gold,

A charioteer, a shield-bearer, so bold,

Saviour of cities, harnessed in bronze and strong

Of arm, and mighty with the spear, who long

Toils, never tired, father of Victory,

Olympus’ champion, accessory

Of Themis, rebels’ tyrant, governing

The just, of manliness the sceptred king

Who wound your fiery sphere up in the air

Among the sevenfold starry courses, where 10

In the third firmament you were conveyed

By blazing steeds, hear me, you who give aid

To men, who give us youth, a kindly ray

Shed on my life so that in strength I may

Drive bitter cowardice away and quell

My soul’s deceitful impulses. As well,

Restrain my fury, which would make me tread

The ways of bloody strife. Blest one, instead

Grant me kind peace and let me shun the fate

Of strife, the violent fiends of death and hate. 20


Muse, sing of Artemis, the archer-maid,

Far-Shooter’s sister, she with whom she played

When young. Her steeds she waters in Meles,

Thick with deep reeds, where she, preparing these

Through Smyrna swiftly drives her golden car

To viny Claros where, awaiting Far-

Discharging Artemis, armed with his bow

Of silver sits the god Apollo. So,

Hail to all goddesses, but first to you –

Now I’ve begun I’ll sing another, too. 10


Of Cyprian Aphrodite I will sing,

Who gives men lovely bounty, shimmering

Delightfully with smiles. Goddess, farewell,

Who in fine Salamis, your kingdom, dwell

And Cyprus. Be my cheerful muse, for you

I will remember – and one more song, too.


The guardian of the city I will sing,

Pallas Athene, dread one, revelling

On war, destroying cities and the cries

Of conflict in the battle, and she flies

In aid of all the warriors. Goddess,

Give us good fortune and all happiness!


Golden-throned Hera, Rhea’s child, I sing,

The queen of all immortals, bettering

Them all in beauty, both sister and mate

Of Zeus, who thunders loud. We celebrate

You. The immortals make Olympus ring

With awe for you and Zeus, loud-thundering.


I sing the dread goddess with the rich hair,

Demeter, and Persephone the fair,

Her daughter. Guide my song and do not fail

To keep secure the city. Goddess, hail.


The mother of all gods and men, pray, sing,

Clear-voiced Muse – she’s the child of Zeus the king.

Rattles, timbrels and flutes are her delight,

The cry of wolves and lions with eyes so bright,

Echoing mountains, wooded dells. To you

O sing “Hail” and to other goddesses, too.


Of Heracles, the strongest man on earth,

I’ll sing. In Thebes Alcmene gave him birth –

The city of lovely dances – when she lay

With dusky-clouded Zeus. Once, many a day,

He roamed through countless lands and on the sea

At King Eurystheus’ bidding. Violently

He acted, suffering much. In joy and fame

He lives now on Olympus. To him came

Neat-ankled Hebe who would be his wife.

Lord, give me wealth and fortune all my life. 10


Asclepius the healer I begin

To sing, son of Apollo. It was in

The Dotian plain where Coronis the fair,

King Phlegyas’ daughter, bore him. He takes care

Of savage pangs, a joy to men. Hail, lord!

My prayer to you my song will now afford.


Clear-voiced Muse, sing of the Tyndaridae,

Castor and Polydeuces, born on high

Of Zeus. Upon Taygetus’ heights the queen

Leda gave birth to them when she had been

Subdued in secret by dark-clouded Zeus.

Swift horsemen, hail, the sons of Tyndareus.


I sing Cyllenian Hermes, him who slew

Argos. Cyllene’s lord – Arcadia’s, too,

So rich in flocks – luck-bringing messenger

To all the gods. When Zeus had lain with her,

Maia, the child of Atlas, bore him. She

Would ever shun the immortals’ company,

Remaining shyly in her dark cave where

At dead of night the nymph with the rich hair

Would lie with Zeus when white-armed Hera, bound

In sweet sleep, lay. No god or mortal found 10

Them out. Hail, Zeus’ and Maia’s son. To you

I’ve sung a song – I’ll sing another too.


O Muse. Of Hermes’ darling son tell me,

Goat-footed, horned, lover of revelry.

In wooded glades with dancing nymphs he’ll tread

While they climb high upon a sheer cliff’s head

To call on Pan, the shepherd-god, whose hair

Is long and shaggy. Each white crest’s his lair,

Each rocky peak. Through the close shrubbery

He’ll roam about, now struck with ecstasy

For soft streams, now on high crags wandering,

Where flocks are seen below. Through glistening 10

High mountains on he often goes, his sight

So keen, or else upon some shouldered height

He slays wild beasts. Only at dusk does he,

As he comes from the chase, play melody

Upon his reed-pipes, sweet and low. A bird

Could not surpass his music, though she’s heard

Amid the leaves in flower-laden spring

To pour out her lament while uttering

Her honeyed song. The clear-voiced Nymphs then rush

Beside him, where some dark fount’s waters gush, 20

And sing, while echo on the mountain-peak

Wails, and the choir-god sometimes will sneak

Into their midst, but nimbly hither and yon

He bounds. A spotted lynx-pelt he has on.

He joys in song in a soft meadow, where

Sweet hyacinths and croci here and there

At random bloom. They sing about the blessed

Gods and Olympus but, above the rest,

Luck-bringing Hermes, their swift go-between,

How he came to Arcadia, the scene 30

Of many springs and flocks – his sanctuary

As the god of Cyllene’s there, where he,

Although immortal, served a man and fed

A flock of sheep because he yearned to wed

Dryops’ well-tressed child, and the ceremony

He brought about was full of joy, and she

Bore Hermes there a dear son, such a sight

To see – goat-footed, horned, a sheer delight,

A noisy, laughing tot. The nurse, though, feared

The infant’s uncouth face and his full beard, 40

And fled. Then the Luck-Bringer instantly

Picked up the babe, so glad at heart. Then he

Took him, wrapped up in many a thick hide

Of mountain-hares, to where the gods abide.

He sat beside Lord Zeus and showed his son

To all the other gods, and every one

Was pleased, especially Bacchus, and they called

The infant Pan because he had enthralled

Them all. This is my song. Hail, Lord, to you!

You I’ll recall – and another song, too. 50


Sing, clear-voiced Muse, of him who captured fame

For great inventions – Hephaestus by name.

With bright-eyed Athene he showed to all men,

Who’d dwelt in mountain grottos until then

Like wild beasts, glorious crafts. But, having kenned

These things, within their houses they now spend

All year at ease in peace. Be kind to me,

Hepaestus, and give me prosperity.


Even the swan, Apollo, clearly sings

Of you as he alights with beating wings

Beside the eddying Peneus. First and last

The minstrel with his sweet tongue, holding fast

His high-pitched lyre, sings of you. Hail, lord.

I hope my song your favour will afford.


I’ll sing of great Poseidon. It is he

Who shakes the very earth and fruitless sea.

God of the deep, you’re lord of wide Aegae

And Helicon. A twofold office by

The gods was given you, Earth-Shaker: you

Recover ships and break in horses, too.

Hail, Holder of the Earth, hail, dark-haired lord.

Blest be, be kind! To sailors help afford!


Of Zeus, the chief of all the gods, I’ll sing,

The greatest lord of all, all-noticing,

Fulfiller, who whispers profundity

To Themis as she sits, obediently

Leaning towards him. Great, all-seeing son

Of Cronus, grant to us your benison.


You, Hestia, who at goodly Pytho

Tend the holy house of Apollo,

Far-Shooter, soft oil ever from your hair

Dripping, who with omniscient Lord Zeus share

All wisdom, come into this house; advance

And with your kindliness my song enhance.


The Muses, Zeus and Phoebus shall give birth

To my song: that there are minstrels on this earth

And lutanists is due to the Muses and

To Phoebus. Kings, though, are from Zeus. How grand

He sounds who’s dear to the Muses, for how sweet

He sings! Hail, Zeus’s children! Hail, and greet

My song with approbation, and now you

I will remember – and another song, too.


Of loud and ivied Bacchus hear my lay,

The splendid son of glorious Semele

And Zeus, received by all the Nymphs, whose hair

Is rich, from his father Zeus. With every care

They nursed and nurtured him in Nysa’s dells,

Where, in a cave exuding pleasant smells,

Zeus wished him reared, gods’ darling. But once raised

By the goddesses, in hymns often praised,

He’d roam the wooded valleys, garlanded

Thickly with bay and ivy, and he led 10

The Nymphs. The never-ending wood would sound

With their outcry. So, Bacchus, who abound

In clusters, hail. May we come gladly here

Next season and thenceforth for many a year.


Of Artemis, whose shafts are gold, I sing,

Hurrahing to her hounds and revelling

In archery, stag-shooter, virgin miss,

Gold-sworded Phoebus’ sister – Artemis

Across dark hills and windy peaks will pace,

Her gold bow drawn, rejoicing in the chase

And shooting grievous shafts, and at the sound

Of groaning beasts, the dusky wood all round

Echoed amazingly. The earth and sea

Both shook. But the bold goddess whirlingly 10

Dealt death to the animal world. Once satisfied,

This huntress puts her slackened bow aside.

To her dear brother’s mansion now she flies

To make arrangements there in rich Delphi

For the Muses’ and the Graces’ dance. When she

Has hung her weapons up, then, gracefully

Arrayed, she leads the dances, while they sing

Their songs with heavenly voices, recounting

How trim-legged Leto bore her progeny

Supreme among the heavenly company 20

In thought and deed. Children, all hail to you.

I shall recall you – and another song, too.


Of Pallas Athene I begin my lay,

Famed goddess, clever, staunch, with eyes of grey,

Pure, city-saviour, full of bravery,

Of Triton born, wise Zeus’s progeny –

From his dread head he bore her, all arrayed

In armour flashing gold. When the gods laid

Their eyes on her, awe seized them all. Bounding

From Zeus’s head, she stood there brandishing

A spear. Then great Olympus horribly

Reeled at the sight of her, while fearfully 10

The earth cried out, the sea shook and was smashed

With dark waves; of a sudden white foam splashed.

The bright sun his swift steeds some long time stayed

While from her frame Athene doffed and laid

Aside her armour. Wise Zeus then was glad.

And so, daughter of Zeus, who’s always had

The aegis in his hand, all hail to you.

I will recall you – and another song, too.


Hestia, where gods and men in great homes dwell

You’ve gained a constant place; splendidly well

You’re honoured. Mortal banquets without you

Do not exist; sweet wine – which is your due –

Both first and last is not poured anywhere

But to you. Phoebus Apollo, too, who bear

The gold rod, the gods’ messenger, both you

And holy, dear Hestia, come and dwell

In this grand house together. You know well 10

Men’s noble deeds, so make them wise and strong.

Daughter of Cronus, listen to my song,

And Hermes, too, for now I welcome you.

I shall recall you – and another song, too.


I’ll sing the mother of all, well-founded Earth,

The eldest being, who throughout the girth

Of all the world, feeds everyone, on sea

And land and in the air. All progeny,

Both fruits and children, come from her. You may

Give life to men or else take it away,

O queen. That man is rich whom you delight

To prize – he has it all. His fields are bright

With corn, his herd is large. His house is full

Of luxury. Such men as he will rule 10

Cities of lovely women formally:

Great riches follow them; their sons will be

Blithe always, while their daughters will cavort

In flowery bands and jubilantly sport

Over the fields of flowers. It is thus

With those you honour, holy, bounteous

Goddess. O mother of the gods, all hail,

The wife of starry heaven. Do not fail

To cheer me for this song I sing to you.

I will recall you – and another song, too.


Daughter of Zeus, Calliope, now sing

Of bright Helios, whom the far-glistening

And cow-eyed one engendered by the son

Of Earth and starry heaven. Hyperion

Married that glorious maid, his sister, who

Bore rosy-armed Eos, Selene, too,

Rich-tressed, and strong, godlike Helios – all three

Delightful. Helios, gazing piercingly

Beneath his golden helmet, as he goes

On his chariot, on gods and mortals glows, 10

His bright locks streaming down arrestingly,

Screening his far-seen features gracefully.

He wears a garment, finely-spun and fair,

That gleams about him, fluttering in the air,

And stallions carry him; then, at one spot,

He stays his steeds and gold-yoked chariot

And at the zenith takes his rest and then

In fine style drives them through the heaven again

To Ocean. Hail to you, lord. Liberally

Delight my heart. With you my poetry 20

Began, so I will praise the half-divine

Whose deeds the Muses have induced to shine.


And next, o sweet-voiced Muses, progeny

Of Zeus, well-skilled in singing, sing for me

Of the long-winged Moon whose sheen embraces Earth

Out of her heavenly head and thus gives birth

To beauty from her light. The air, unlit

Before, now by the golden crown of it

Shines, and her rays display a beaming path,

When fair and bright Selene takes a bath

In Ocean, putting on a robe agleam

From far away. She yokes her strong-necked team 10

Of shining, long-maned steeds. With all their might

She drives them, mid-month at approaching night.

Then is her orbit full and every beam,

As she increases, shines its brightest gleam,

A certain token and a sign to men.

The son of Cronus lay with her, and then

She bore Pandeia, in the company

Of gods the fairest. Bright divinity,

Mild, white-armed, bright-tressed queen, Selene, hail.

I’ll leave you now so I may sing the tale 20

Of glorious demi-gods, whom minstrels praise,

Serving the Muses in delightful lays.


O bright-eyed Muses, sing the history

Of the Tyndaridae, the progeny

Of trim-legged Leda – Castor, who can tame

All steeds, and Polydeuces, free from blame.

Beneath great Mt. Taÿgetus she lay

With Zeus of the Dark Clouds and bore them – they

Save men and swift ships when the ruthless sea

Rages with squalls: then sailors guarantee

White lambs for them when to the prow they go.

Strong winds, however, force the ship below 10

The surface. But all of a sudden they

With tawny wings dart forward and allay

The cruel blasts and still the foaming sea –

Fair tokens and release from misery.

The sight of them brings gladness to the men

Because they now have rest from toil. Hail, then,

Tyndaridae, swift horsemen, to you two.

I will recall you – and another song, too.

The end of The Homeric Hymns