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THE ORPHIC HYMN TO APHRODITE
55. Εἰς Ἀφροδίτην.

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Introduction to the Orphic Hymn to Aphrodíti

In the Mystíria (Mysteries; Gr. Gr. Μυστήρια) we speak of Ouranía (Gr. Οὐρανία) Aphrodíti (Aphrodite; Gr. Ἀφροδίτη) whose dominion is the Natural Law of Harmony, for it is she who harmonizes the soul, mythologically represented by her union with Áris (Ares; Gr. Ἄρης) producing the child Armonía (Harmonia; Gr. Ἁρμονία). The Orphic hymn to this most important Goddess opens with the epithet (Οὐρανία) immediately calling all this to mind. But the bulk of the hymn glorifies her other, more familiar aspect, that of Pándimos (the common or popular; Gr. Πάνδημος) Aphrodíti, she who blesses the physical union of mortals. The hymn heaps praise upon her ability to cause the reproduction of all the creatures of the Kózmos (Cosmos; Gr. Κόσμος). It can be easy to forget in a world which seems to condemn sex, that our religion has a different point of view: procreation is so essential that it is sacred. And it is blessed and governed by this most beautiful of Goddesses of Ællinismόs (Hellenismos; Gr. Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion. And then near the end, the hymn invokes sacred Ádohnis (Adonis; Gr. Ἄδωνις), representative of the deification of the soul, tying the poem together with its beginning, reminding us again that she is also Ouranía, the great transcendent Goddess of the Sky. Let us now examine the hymn and get closer to lovely Aphrodíti.



Translation by Thomas Taylor [1] :

55. Aphrodíti (Aphrodite or Venus; Gr. Ἀφροδίτη)

Heav'nly, illustrious, laughter-loving queen,
Sea-born, night-loving, of an awful mien;
Crafty, from whom necessity first came,
Producing, nightly, all-connecting dame:
'Tis thine the world with harmony to join,
For all things spring from thee, O pow'r divine.
The triple Fates are rul'd by thy decree,
And all productions yield alike to thee:
Whate'er the heav'ns, encircling all contain,
Earth fruit-producing, and the stormy main,
Thy sway confesses, and obeys thy nod,
Awful attendant of the brumal God:
Goddess of marriage, charming to the sight,
Mother of Loves, whom banquetings delight;
Source of persuasion, secret, fav'ring queen,
Illustrious born, apparent and unseen:
Spousal, lupercal, and to men inclin'd,
Prolific, most-desir'd, life-giving, kind:
Great sceptre-bearer of the Gods, 'tis thine,
Mortals in necessary bands to join;
And ev'ry tribe of savage monsters dire
In magic chains to bind, thro' mad desire.
Come, Cyprus-born, and to my pray'r incline,
Whether exalted in the heav'ns you shine,
Or pleas'd in Syria's temple to preside,
Or o'er th' Egyptian plains thy car to guide,
Fashion'd of gold; and near its sacred flood,
Fertile and fam'd to fix thy blest abode;
Or if rejoicing in the azure shores,
Near where the sea with foaming billows roars,
The circling choirs of mortals, thy delight,
Or beauteous nymphs, with eyes cerulean bright,
Pleas'd by the dusty banks renown'd of old,
To drive thy rapid, two-yok'd car of gold;
Or if in Cyprus with thy mother fair,
Where married females praise thee ev'ry year,
And beauteous virgins in the chorus join,
Adonis pure to sing and thee divine;
Come, all-attractive to my pray'r inclin'd, 
For thee, I call, with holy, reverent mind.


The original ancient Greek text

55. Εἰς Ἀφροδίτην.

Οὐρανία, πολύυμνε, φιλομμειδὴς Ἀφροδίτη,
ποντογενής, γενέτειρα θεά, φιλοπάννυχε, σεμνή,
νυκτερία ζεύκτειρα, δολοπλόκε μῆτερ Ἀνάγκης
πάντα γὰρ ἐκ σέθεν ἐστίν, ὑπεζεύξω δέ κόσμον
καὶ κρατέεις τρισσῶν μοιρῶν, γεννᾶις δὲ τὰ πάντα,
ὅσσα τ' ἐν οὐρανῶι ἐστί καὶ ἐν γαίηι πολυκάρπωι
ἐν πόντου τε βυθῶι τε, σεμνὴ Βάκχοιο πάρεδρε,
τερπομένη θαλίαισι, γαμοστόλε μῆτερ Ἐρώτων,
Πειθοῖ λεκτροχαρής, κρυφία, χαριδῶτι,
φαινομένη, τ' ἀφανής, ἐρατοπλόκαμ', εὐπατέρεια,
νυμφιδία σύνδαιτι θεῶν, σκηπτοῦχε, λύκαινα,
γεννοδότειρα, φίλανδρε, ποθεινοτάτη, βιοδῶτι,
ἡ ζεύξασα βροτοὺς ἀχαλινώτοισιν ἀνάγκαις
καὶ θηρῶν πολὺ φῦλον ἐρωτομανῶν ὑπὸ φίλτρων·
ἔρχεο, Κυπρογενὲς θεῖον γένος, εἴτ' ἐν' Ὀλύμπωι
ἐσσί, θεὰ βασίλεια, καλῶι γήθουσα προσώπωι,
εἴτε καὶ εὐλιβάνου Συρίης ἕδος ἀμφιπολεύεις,
εἴτε σύ γ' ἐν πεδίοισι σὺν ἅρμασι χρυσεοτεύκτοις
Αἰγύπτου κατέχεις ἱερῆς γονιμώδεα λουτρά,
ἢ καὶ κυκνείοισιν ὄχοις ἐπὶ πόντιον οἶδμα
ἐρχομένη χαίρεις κητῶν κυκλίαισι χορείαις,
ἢ νύμφαις τέρπηι κυανώπισιν ἐν χθονὶ δίηι
θῖνας ἐπ' αἰγιαλοῖς ψαμμώδεσιν ἅλματι κούφωι·
εἴτ’ ἐν Κύπρωι, ἄνασσα, τροφῶι σέο, ἔνθα καλαί σε
παρθένοι ἄδμηται νύμφαι τ' ἀνὰ πάντ’ ἐνιαυτὸν
ὑμνοῦσιν, σέ, μάκαιρα, καὶ ἄμβροτον ἁγνὸν Ἄδωνιν.
ἐλθέ, μάκαιρα θεά μάλ' ἐπήρατον εἶδος ἔχουσα·
ψυχῆι γάρ σε καλῶ σεμνῆι ἁγίοισι λόγοισιν.


Transliteration of the ancient Greek text: 
(See this page: Transliteration of Ancient Greek)

55. Eis Aphrodítin.

Ouranía, polýimnæ, philommeidís Aphrodíti,
pondoyænís, yænǽteira thæa, philopánnyxæ, sæmní,
nyktæría zéfkteira doloplókæ mítær Anángkis
pánda gar æk sǽthæn æstín, ypæzéfxoh dæ kózmon
kai kratǽeis trissóhn miróhn, yænnáïs dæ ta pánda,
óssa t'æn ouranóï æstí kai æn yaiïi polykárpoï
æn póndou tæ vythóï tæ, sæmní Vákhio párædræ,
tærpomǽni thalíaisi, gamostólæ mítær Æróhtohn,
Peithöí læktrokharís, kryphía, kharidóhti,
phainomǽni, t'aphanís, æratoplókam'evpatǽreia,
nymphidía sýndaiti thæóhn, skiptoukhæ, lýkaina,
yænnodóteira, phílandræ, potheinotáti, viodóhti,
i zéfxasa vrotous akhalinóhtisin anángkais
kai thiróhn polý phýlon ærohtomanóhn ypó phíltrohn;
ǽrkhæo, Kyproyænǽs theion yǽnos, eit'æn'Olýmpoï
æssí, thæá vasíleia, kalóï yíthousa prosóhpoï,
eitæ kai evlivánou Syríis ǽdos amphipoléveis,
eitæ si y'æn pædíisi syn ármasi khrysæotéfktis
Aiyíptou katǽkheis iærís gonimóhdæa loutrá,
i kai kikneiisin ókhis æpí póndion ídma
ærkhomǽni khaireis kitóhn kyklíaisi khoreiais,
i nýmphais tǽrpii kyanóhpisin æn khthoní díii
thínas æp'aiyialís psammóhdæsin álmati kouphoï;
eit'æn Kýproï, ánassa, trophóï sǽo, ǽntha kalai sæ
parthǽni ádmitai nýmphai t'aná pánd'æniaftón
ymnousin, sæ, mákaira, kai ámvroton agnón Ádohnin.
ælthǽ, mákaira thæá mál'æpíraton eidos ǽkhousa;
psykhíi gar sæ kalóh sæmníi ayíisi lóyisin.



BREAKDOWN OF THE HYMN

Εἰς (in regard to) Ἀφροδίτην. (Aphrodíti) - Ἀφροδίτην is the epic accusative of Ἀφροδίτη which follows the preposition εἰς, a convention in some titles of hymns. Unlike most of the hymns, there is no suggestion for an incense offering; this author likes to offer her powdered rose petals as this flower is traditionally sacred to her.

Οὐρανία, - Ouranianof the heavens, of the SkyAphrodíti was born of the foam which formed when the genitals of Οὐρανός fell into the sea.

πολύυμνε, - much sung of, famous. (πολύυμνος is fem./masc. nom.)

φιλομμειδὴς (laughter loving, famous epithet of the Goddess, adj. fem./masc. nom.) Ἀφροδίτη, (Aphrodíti) - laughter-loving Aphrodíti

ποντογενής, (adj. fem./masc. nom.) - born of the Sea

γενέτειρα (birth-giver, mother, fem. nom.) θεά, (Goddess) - birth-giving Goddess

φιλοπάννυχε, - friend of all-night festivity (φιλοπάννυχος, fem./masc. nom.)

σεμνή (fem. nom. of σεμνόςholy) , - revered or holy

νυκτερία (of the night) ζεύκτειρα, (one who causes to mate) - causing beings to mate (fem. of ζευκτήρ, one who yokesin the night

δολοπλόκε (wily) μῆτερ (mother) Ἀνάγκης (Necessity) - wily mother of Necessity

πάντα (all) γὰρ (for) ἐκ (from) σέθεν (you) ἐστίν, (be, comes) - for all comes from you

ὑπεζεύξω (yoked) δέ (but, then, yet) κόσμον (Kózmos) - and you have caused the Kózmos to couple

καὶ (and) κρατέεις (are sovereign) τρισσῶν (triple) μοιρῶν, (parts) - and are sovereign over the triple realms. Taylor translates μοιρῶν as the Fates, but this is likely incorrect. The Fates or the Mírai (Moirai or Moerae; Gr. Μοῖραι) are minions of Zefs alone. Actually μοιρῶν (gen. plural of μοῖρα) has many definitions depending on context. It generally means "lots" or "portions," but portions of what? The hymn is likely referring to the three realms of existence (the sky, the earth, and the sea) which includes everything, that her ability to effect the yoking of mortals gives her, in a way, sovereignty over all. 

γεννᾶις (origin ) δὲ τὰ πάντα, (all) - you are the origin of all

ὅσσα (as much as) τ' ἐν (in) οὐρανῶι (sky) ἐστι (to be) καὶ (and) ἐν (in) γαίηι (Earth) πολυκάρπωι (πολυκάρπῳ, fruitful) - as much as in the Sky as to the fruitful Earth

ἐν (in) πόντου (Sea) τε (and, and also) βυθῶι (βυθῷ, depthτε, (and, and also) - and also in the deep Sea,

σεμνὴ (holy) Βάκχοιο (Vakkhic) πάρεδρε, (sitting beside) - holy attendant of Vákkhos (Diónysos)

τερπομένη (delight) θαλίαισι, (festivities) - delighting in festivity

γαμοστόλε (bridal) μῆτερ (mother) Ἐρώτων, (Ǽrohtæs) - nuptial mother of the Ǽrohtæs (Ἔρωτες, the winged attendants of the Goddess representing the various qualities of desire and love)

Πειθοῖ (Persuasion) λεκτροχαρής, (enjoying the marriage-bed) - Oh Persuasion, enjoying the marital bed

κρυφία, - secretive

χαριδῶτι, - joy-giving

φαινομένη, - making appear

τ' ἀφανής, - invisible

ἐρατοπλόκαμ', - bearing lovely locks

εὐπατέρεια, - daughter of a noble father

νυμφιδία (bridal) σύνδαιτι (companion at table) θεῶν, (Gods) - bridal companion at the table of the Gods

σκηπτοῦχε, - sceptered

λύκαινα, - she-wolf

γεννοδότειρα, - giver of heirs

φίλανδρε, - man-loving (φίλανδρος)

ποθεινοτάτη, - much-desired

βιοδῶτι, - life-giving

 ζεύξασα (yoke) βροτοὺς (mortals) ἀχαλινώτοισιν (unbridled) ἀνάγκαις (necessity) - you couple mortals in unbridled necessity

καὶ (and) θηρῶν (wild beasts) πολὺ (many) φῦλον (tribe, race) ἐρωτομανῶν (mad for love) ὑπὸ (under) φίλτρων· (love-charms) - and the many tribes of wild beasts frenzied from your charms of love.

ἔρχεο, - Come

Κυπρογενὲς (Kýpros-born) θεῖον (Goddess) γένος, (offspring) - child of Kýpros

εἴτ' (seated) ἐν' (in) Ὀλύμπωι (Sky) - seated in the Sky

ἐσσί, - be

θεὰ (Goddess) βασίλεια, (royal or queen) - royal Goddess

καλῶι (beauty) γήθουσα (delighting) προσώπωι, (face) - delighting in your beautiful countenance

εἴτε (be) καὶ (and) εὐλιβάνου (rich in frankincense) Συρίης (Syrian) ἕδος (sitting-place) ἀμφιπολεύεις, (waiting on) - and while being attended at your seat in Syria rich in frankincense

εἴτε (be) σύ (you) γ' ἐν (in) πεδίοισι (plain) σὺν (together with) ἅρμασι (chariot) χρυσεοτεύκτοις (golden) - or riding through the plain in your golden chariot

Αἰγύπτου (Egypt) κατέχεις (possess) ἱερῆς (priests) γονιμώδεα (fruitful) λουτρά, (bathing place) - or taking seat with the priests of the fruitful river of Egypt

 καὶ (and) κυκνείοισιν (swan) ὄχοις (carriage) ἐπὶ (upon) πόντιον (of the sea) οἶδμα (a swelling or surge) - and riding your swan-drawn carriage upon the swelling of the sea

ἐρχομένη (going, coming) χαίρεις (rejoice) κητῶν (sea-monster or creature) κυκλίαισι (wheels) χορείαις, (dance) - rejoicing in the sea-creatures as they dance about in circles

 νύμφαις (Nymphs) τέρπηι (τέρπῃ, gladden, cheer) κυανώπισιν (dark-eyed) ἐν (in) χθονὶ (earthy) δίηι (δίῃ, divine) - you are delighted with the dark-eyed divine Nymphs of the Earth

θῖνας (beaches) ἐπ' (upon) αἰγιαλοῖς (sea-shore) ψαμμώδεσιν (sandy) ἅλματι (leaping) κούφωι· (κούφῳ, lightly) - as they lightly leap upon the sandy beaches of the sea-shore

εἴτ’ (seated) ἐν (in) Κύπρωι, (Kýpros) - seated in Kýpros

ἄνασσα, - oh queen

τροφῶι (τροφῷ, nurse) σέο, (you) - oh nurturer

ἔνθα (where) καλαί (beautiful, invoke) σε (your) - where you are invoked

παρθένοι (maidens) ἄδμηται (unwedded) νύμφαι (girls, maidens, Nymphs) τ' ἀνὰ (throughout) πάντ’ (all) ἐνιαυτὸν (year) - by maidens and unwedded Nymphs throughout the year

ὑμνοῦσιν, - singing

σέ, - for you

μάκαιρα, - blessed one

καὶ (and) ἄμβροτον (immortal) ἁγνὸν (holy) Ἄδωνιν. (Ἄδωνις) - and immortal holy Ádohnis

ἐλθέ, - come

μάκαιρα (blessed) θεά (Goddess) μάλ' (exceedingly) ἐπήρατον (lovely) εἶδος (form) ἔχουσα· (possess) - blessed Goddess possessing a very lovely form

ψυχῆι (soul) γάρ (for) σε (you) καλῶ (summon) σεμνῆι (σεμνῇholy) ἁγίοισι (pure) λόγοισιν. (words) - for I summon you with pure words and devout soul.


A more literal translation of the Orphic hymn to Aphrodíti

The translations presented in this series are not intended to replace the beautiful work of Thomas Taylor in our rituals. If anything, they make obvious his brilliance in capturing the spirit of the hymns while framing them in lovely poetry. Rather, we are simply trying to deepen our understanding of each hymn producing a more scholarly translation, word-for-word accurate.

55. Aphrodíti.

Ouranía, of whom many sing, laughter-loving Aphrodíti,
Sea-born, birth-giving Goddess, friend of romantic encounters which extend to dawn, holy one,
Causing mortals to mate in the night, wily mother of Necessity,
For everything comes from you, and you have caused the Kózmos to procreate.
You are sovereign over the triple realms and are the origin of everything:
That which is in the Sky, in the fruitful Earth,
And in the deep Sea, holy attendant of Vákkhos.
You delight in festivity, nuptial mother of the Ǽrohtæs,
Oh Seductive-one who enjoys making love, secretive, joy-giver,
Obvious yet hidden, aristocratic daughter with the beautiful hair,
Romantic companion at the table of Gods, love's siren bearing a royal staff,
You give us our progeny, lover of man, desirable one, life-giver.
You couple mortals in unbridled necessity
And the many kinds of wild beasts are in a frenzy from your charms of love;
Come, daughter of Kýpros, seated in the Heavens,
We behold you, royal Goddess, splendid with your beautiful countenance.
Whether you be on your throne in Syria, rich in frankincense,
Or riding through the plain in your golden chariot,
Or flanked by your priests at the fruitful River of Egypt,
Or riding your swan-drawn carriage upon the waves of the Sea,
Delighting in the sea-creatures as they dance about in circles.
You rejoice in the dark-eyed divine Nymphs of the Earth
As they lightly leap upon the sandy beaches of the sea-shore.
Or when seated in Kýpros, oh queen and nurturer, where your blessings are invoked    
By maidens and unwedded Nymphs throughout the year;
They sing for you, blessed one, and immortal holy Ádohnis,
Come, happy Goddess who is so ineffably beautiful,
For I summon you with pure words and devout soul.


NOTES:

(Abbreviations can be found at the bottom of this page: GLOSSARY HOME.)

[1] The Hymns of Orpheus, trans. by Thomas Taylor, 1792; we are using a facsimile of the original edition, London, England (printed for the author), where this translation may be found on pp. 186-187. The hymn to Aphrodíti should be counted as 55, not 54 as we find in this first edition of the hymns. Taylor did not number the hymn to Ækáti (Hecate; Gr. Ἑκάτη), which caused all of his numbering to be off by one increment; he included it in the opening section entitled To Musæus; the hymn to Ækáti should have been counted as the first hymn. This numbering problem has been corrected in the current edition of the Taylor translations published by Prometheus Trust and entitled Hymns and Initiations, 1994 and revised again in 2003. 


The story of the birth of the GodsOrphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.


The logo to the left is the principal symbol of this website. It is called the CESS logo, i.e. the Children of the Earth and the Starry Sky. The 
Pætilía (Petelia; Gr. Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kozmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara; Gr. κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus; Gr. Ὀρφεύς). 



PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this website, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. These narratives are known as 

, the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes. While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally. A literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result. The meaning of the myths is concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level. Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation.


The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

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