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THE ORPHIC HYMN TO ARES
FOTO: Marie-Lan Nguyen who has kindly placed it in the Public Domain: File:Ares Ludovisi Altemps Inv8602 n2.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

65. Ἄρεος

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Introduction to the Orphic Hymn to Áris

Áris (Ares or Mars; Gr. Ἄρης) is the great Olympian God of Ællinismόs (Hellenismos; Gr. Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion and he has dominion over the Natural Law of Life (Ζωή). We are born into this world, we grow and achieve adulthood. Then our bodies lose their youthful beauty and slowly age, shrivel and die, often accompanied by great pain. And, of course, before all this happens we may die prematurely of disease or by violence. Our life experiences, while not always unpleasant, are mixed with much pain. We struggle. And then after death, we are reborn and we must struggle yet again and again. It can be likened to a battle. This is Life...and Áris is the Lord (ἄναξ) of Life; it is his dominion, his responsibility. And he loves and cherishes it. While we are often intimidated by the demands put upon us, Áris teaches us to battle through them while fighting beside us. Therefore, Áris should not be feared because he is actually a manifestation of the compassion of the Gods.

In the ancient literature, Áris is the God of war. This is what the people saw because war was an absolute reality. If your pólis (city-state; Gr. πόλις) was insufficiently prepared, the city would eventually be invaded by enemies who would kill all the men and enslave the women and children. You needed to be prepared to defend your country and to face the horrors of battle when a war broke out. And Áris fought beside you. Not just you and your country, but he fought next to all the warriors on both sides of the battle, inspiring courage and endurance and the ability to fulfill ones responsibilities. This was the reality for the ancient people when this hymn was created, and for many people in the world this is still the reality.

The hymn opens, enumerating all the fearsome qualities of mighty 
Áris, then the character of the writing suddenly changes and the poem exits with a fervent supplication to the God, beseeching him to initiate peace and a return to the gentleness of the pasture and field. 


T
ranslation by Thomas Taylor [1] :

65. Áris (Ares or Mars; Gr. Ἄρης) 

The Fumigation from Frankincense.

Magnanimous, unconquer'd, boistrous Mars,
In darts rejoicing, and in bloody wars;
Fierce and untam'd, whose mighty pow'r can make
The strongest walls from their foundations shake:
Mortal destroying king, defil'd with gore,
Pleas'd with war's dreadful and tumultuous roar:
Thee, human blood, and swords, and spears delight,
And the dire ruin of mad savage fight.
Stay, furious contests, and avenging strife,
Whose works with woe embitter human life;
To lovely Venus, and to Bacchus yield,
To Ceres give the weapons of the field;
Encourage peace, to gentle works inclin'd, 
And give abundance, with benignant mind.

Thomas Taylor's commentary:

"This deity, according to Proclus, in Repub. p. 388, perpetually discerns and nourishes, and constantly excites the contrarieties of the universe, that the world may exist perfect and entire from all its parts. But he requires the assistance of Venus, that he may insert order and harmony into things contrary and discordant"


The Original Ancient Greek Text:

65. Ἄρεος, θυμίαμα λίβανον.

Ἄρρηκτ’, ὀμβριμόθυμε, μεγασθενές, ἄλκιμε δαῖμον,
ὁπλοχαρής, ἀδάμαστε, βροτοκτόνε, τειχεσιπλῆτα,
Ἆρες ἄναξ, ὁπλόδουπε, φόνοις πεπαλαγμένος αἰεί,
αἵματι ἀνδροφόνωι χαίρων, πολεμόκλονε, φρικτέ,
ὃς ποθέεις ξίφεσίν τε καὶ ἔγχεσι δῆριν ἄμουσον·
στῆσον ἔριν λυσσῶσαν, ἄνες πόνον ἀλγεσίθυμον,
εἰς δὲ πόθον νεῦσον Κύπριδος κώμους τε Λυαίου
ἀλλάξας ἀλκὴν ὅπλων εἰς ἔργα τὰ Δηοῦς,
εἰρήνην ποθέων κουροτρόφον, ὀλβιοδῶτιν.


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

65. Áræos, thymíama lívanon.

Árrikt'omvrimóthymæ, mægasthænǽs, álkimæ daimon,
oplokharís, adámastæ, vrotoktónæ, teikhæsiplíta,
Áræs ánax, oplódoupæ, phónis pæpalagmænos aiei,
aimati androphónoï khairohn, polæmóklonæ, phriktǽ,
os pothǽeis xíphæsín tæ kai ǽngkhæsi dírin ámouson;
stíson ǽrin lyssóhsan, ánæs pónon alyæsíthymon,
eis dæ póthon néfson Kýpridos kóhmous tæ Lyaiou
alláxas alkín óplohn eis ǽrga ta Dious,
eirínin pothǽohn kourotróphon, olviodóhtin.


BREAKDOWN OF THE HYMN

Ἄρεος - Ἄρεος is the genitive of Ἄρης. Titles in ancient Greek are always placed in the genitive case. 

θυμίαμα (incense) λίβανον (frankincense) - The author of the hymn is suggesting an incense offering of frankincense.

Ἄρρηκτ’ἄρρηκτος, Indestructible

ὀμβριμόθυμε
ὀμβριμόθυμοςdoughty,

μεγασθενές - mighty,

ἄλκιμε (valiant) δαῖμον (divinity) - valiant (
ἄλκιμος) divinity,

ὁπλοχαρής - delighting in arms,

ἀδάμαστε
ἀδάμαστος, indestructible,

βροτοκτόνε
βροτοκτόνος, man-killing,

τειχεσιπλῆτα
τειχεσιπλήτης, stormer of cities:

Ἆρες (
Árisἄναξ (lord or king) - Lord Áris,

ὁπλόδουπε
ὁπλόδουπος, rattling in armor,

φόνοις (slaughter) πεπαλαγμένος (defiled) αἰεί (always) - always defiled with the slaughter of war,

αἵματι (blood) ἀνδροφόνωι (man-slaying) χαίρων (rejoice) - rejoicing in man-slaying blood,

πολεμόκλονε
πολεμόκλονος, raising the clamor of combat,

φρικτέ
φρικτός, horrifying one.

ὃς (who) ποθέεις (desire) ξίφεσίν (swords) τε (both...and) καὶ (and) ἔγχεσι (spears) δῆριν (battle) ἄμουσον· (rude) - You who lust for the obscene carnage of swords and spears:

στῆσον (stop) ἔριν (strife) λυσσῶσαν (raging) - Halt the raging strife!

ἄνες (draw to a close) πόνον (toil) ἀλγεσίθυμον (grieving the heart) - Cease the travail grieving our hearts.

εἰς (into) δὲ (rather, but) πόθον (wish, desire) νεῦσον (inclination) Κύπριδος (Aphrodíti) κώμους (revels) τε (both...and) Λυαίου (Diónysos the Liberator) - Rather, yield to the (peaceful) yearnings of 
Aphrodíti and the revels of Diónysos. 
- According to the mythology, Aphrodíti was born in the waters near the island of Kýpros (Cyprus; Gr. Κύπρος); therefore one of her most famous names is Κύπρις as in this line of the hymn (Κύπριδος being in the genitive case). Áris is mythologically and mystically connected with Aphrodíti, they being the parents of Armonía (Harmony; Gr. Ἁρμονία); thus the famous saying, "The struggles of Áris are harmonized by Aphrodíti." Armonía united with Kádmos (Cadmus; Gr. Κάδμος) and gave birth to Sæmǽli (Semele; Gr. Σεμέλη) the mother of Diónysos (Dionysus; Gr. Διόνυσος) and it is Diónysos who ultimately brings us peace.
- Diónysos is the great liberator who frees us from the vicious circle of rebirths (See Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony: The Sixth King), therefore, he is called Λυαῖος, liberator (λυαίου is in the genitive).

ἀλλάξας (exchange) ἀλκὴν (force, might) ὅπλων (weapons) εἰς ἔργα (works) τὰ Δηοῦς (Dim
ítir [Δηώ]) - Exchange your fury and weapons for the (gentle) works of Dimítir. 
- The Goddess Dimítir (Demeter; Gr. Δημήτηρ) is conjoined with agriculture and civilization and these things are associated with a society at peace, not at war.

εἰρήνην (bring to peace) ποθέων (yearn for) κουροτρόφον (youth cultivating) - Conceive a desire for peacefulness which will cultivate the young...

ὀλβιοδῶτιν (bestowing bliss) - and grant them blessedness.


A more literal translation of the hymn to Áris:

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.

65. Áris (Ares; Gr. Ἄρης) Incense: frankincense.

Indestructible, doughty, mighty, valiant divinity,
Delighting in arms, indestructible, man-killing, stormer of cities:
Lord Áris, rattling in armor, always defiled with the slaughter of war,
Rejoicing in man-slaying blood and raising the clamor of combat, horrifying one,
You who lust for the obscene carnage of swords and spears:
Halt the raging strife! Cease the travail grieving our hearts!
Rather, yield to the peaceful yearnings of Aphrodíti and the revels of Diónysos.
Exchange your fury and weapons for the gentle works of Dimítir.
Conceive a desire for peacefulness which will cultivate the young and grant them blessedness.



NOTES:

[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 and commentary may be found on pp. 196-197. The hymn to Áris (Ares; Gr. Ἄρης) should be counted as 65, not 64 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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