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ORPHIC HYMN TO ATHENA
FOTO: Athiná Queen of Athens, silk embroidery with semi-precious gems, early 1800's, in the possession of our community.

32. Ἀθηνᾶς

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Introduction to the Orphic Hymn to Athiná

Athiná (Athena; Gr. 
Ἀθηνᾶ) is very special to us. The discovery and acquisition of the embroidery at the top of this page is viewed as auspicious and the author has come to believe that the Goddess is a protector of our community, but only so long as the participants are committed to the path of virtue. Athiná is so pure and magnificent that in the Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony she is called virtue itself (Orphic Frag. 175 Kern).

The Goddess is intimately involved with the Mysteries, for when the Titánæs (the Titans; Gr. Τιτᾶνες) sacrifice Zagréfs (Zagreus; Gr. Ζαγρεὐς), Athiná retrieves the still-beating heart of the little God and delivers it to her father in a silver box, destined to be transformed into Diónysos (Dionysus or Bacchus; Gr. Διόνυσος), and she becomes the leader of the Kourítæs (Curetes; Gr. Κουρῆτες), the protectors of the holy rites and the saviors of the world. Therefore she is a great participant in the legacy of the providence of Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς), promoting his mighty plan of compassion for all of creation.

The Orphic hymn to Athiná is a beautiful and concise portrait of our great protectress giving us the means to easily supplicate the Goddess in our rituals. We shall explore the hymn, going through it word-by-word, so that we can construe all of its meaning.


Translation by Thomas Taylor
[1] :

32. Athiná (Athena, Pallas, or Minerva; Gr. Ἀθηνᾶ)
Incense: aromatic herbs.

A Hymn.

Only-Begotten, noble race of Jove,
Blessed and fierce, who joy'st in caves to rove:
O, warlike Pallas, whose illustrious kind,
Ineffable and effable we find:
Magnanimous and fam'd, the rocky height,
And groves, and shady mountains thee delight:
In arms rejoicing, who with Furies dire
And wild, the souls of mortals dost inspire.
Gymnastic virgin of terrific mind,
Dire Gorgons bane, unmarried, blessed, kind:
Mother of arts, imperious; understood,
Rage to the wicked, wisdom to the good:
Female and male, the arts of war are thine,
Fanatic, much-form'd dragoness, divine:
O'er the Phlegrean giants rous'd to ire,
Thy coursers driving, with destruction dire.
Sprung from the head of Jove, of splendid mien,
Purger of evils, all-victorious queen.
Hear me, O Goddess, when to thee I pray,
With supplicating voice both night and day,
And in my latest hour, peace and health,
Propitious times, and necessary wealth,
And, ever present, be thy vot'ries aid, 
O, much implor'd, art's parent, blue eyed maid.


The original ancient Greek text:

32. Ἀθηνᾶς, θυμίαμα ἀρώματα.

Παλλὰς μουνογενής, μεγάλου Διὸς ἔκγονε σεμνή,
δῖα μάκαιρα θεά, πολεμόκλονε, ὀμβριμόθυμε,
ἄρρητε, ῥητή, μεγαλώνυμε, ἀντροδίαιτε,
ἣ διέπεις ὄχθους ὑψαύχενας ἀκρωρείους
ἠδ' ὄρεα σκιόεντα, νάπαισί τε σὴν φρένα τέρπεις,
ὁπλοχαρής, οἰστροῦσα βροτῶν ψυχὰς μανίαισι,
γυμνάζουσα κόρη, φρικώδη θυμὸν ἔχουσα,
Γοργοφόνη, φυγόλεκτρε, τεχνῶν μῆτερ πολύολβε,
ὁρμάστειρα, φίλοιστρε κακοῖς, ἀγαθοῖς δὲ φρόνησις·
ἄρσην μὲν καὶ θῆλυς ἔφυς, πολεμήτοκε μῆτι,
αἰολόμορφε, δράκαινα, φιλένθεε, ἀγλαότιμε,
Φλεγραίων ὀλέτειρα Γιγάντων, ἱππελάτειρα,
Τριτογένεια, λύτειρα κακῶν, νικηφόρε δαῖμον,
ἤματα καὶ νύκτας αἰεὶ νεάταισιν ἐν ὥραις,
κλῦθί μευ εὐχομένου, δὸς δ' εἰρήνην πολύολβον
καὶ κόρον ἠδ' ὑγίειαν ἐπ' εὐόλβοισιν ἐν ὥραις, 
γλαυκῶφ', εὑρεσίτεχνε, πολυλλίστη βασίλεια.


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

32. Athinás, thymíama aróhmata

Pallás mounoyænís, mægálou Diós ǽkgonæ sæmní,
día mákaira Thæá, polæmóklonæ, omvrimóthymæ,
árritæ, rití, mægalóhnymæ, antrodíaitæ,
i diǽpeis ókhthous ypsáfkhænas akrohreious
id'óræa skióænta, nápaisí tæ sin phrǽna tǽrpeis,
oplokharís, istrousa vrotóhn psykhás maníaisi,
yimnázousa kóri, phikóhdi thymón ǽkhousa,
Gorgophóni, phygólæktræ, tækhnóhn mítær polýolvæ,
ormásteira, phílistræ kakís, agathís dæ phrónisis:
ársin mæn kai thílys ǽphys, polæmítokæ míti,
aiolómorphæ, drákaina, philǽnthææ, aglaótimæ,
Phlægraiohn olǽteira Yigántohn, ippælátira,
Tritoyǽneia, lýteira kakóhn, nikiphóræ daimon,
ímata kai nýktas aiei næátaisin æn óhrais,
klýthi mef efkhomǽnou, dos d'eirínin polýolvon
kai kóron id'iyíeian æp'evólvisin æn óhrais,
glafkóhph', evræsítækhnæ, polyllísti Vasíleia.



BREAKDOWN OF THE HYMN

ἈθηνᾶςἈθηνᾶς is the genitive of Ἀθηνᾶ. Titles in ancient Greek are always placed in the genitive.

θυμίαμα (incense) ἀρώματα (aromatic herbs or spices) - The author of the hymn is suggesting an incense offering of aromatic herbs or spices.

Παλλὰς (famous epithet of Athiná) μουνογενής (only begotten) - Only-begotten Pallás
- The epithet Παλλὰς is interpreted in many ways, but the explanation given by the Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony (See The Sixth King) is compelling and in line with our inclination towards the Mysteries. Orphic fragment 35 states that she was called Pallás from the word πάλλεσθαι, which means "palpitating," from the still-beating heart of Zagréfs (Zagreus; Gr. Ζαγρεὐς) set aside by the Titánæs (the Titans; Gr. Τιτᾶνες) when they sacrificed the little God. Another etymology makes the root πάλλω (to brandish or swing a missile before thrown), rendering the meaning of the epithet as "she who brandishes the spear."

μεγάλου (big or vast) Διὸς (Zefs) ἔκγονε (born of) 
σεμνή (revered) born of the revered lineage of mighty Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς)

δῖα (heavenly) μάκαιρα (blessed) θεά (Goddess) - heavenly, blessed Goddess

πολεμόκλονε - she who raises the clamor of war
πολεμόκλονος.

ὀμβριμόθυμε
ὀμβριμόθυμος, strong of spirit

ἄρρητε
ἄρρητος, unspoken, ineffable

ῥητή
ῥητός, spoken of

μεγαλώνυμε
μεγαλώνυμοςwith a great name, giving glory

ἀντροδίαιτε
ἀντροδίαιτος, living in caves

διέπεις (conduct, traverse) ὄχθους (hill) ὑψαύχενας (stately, towering) ἀκρωρείους (mountain ridge) - you traverse the hills and towering ridges

ἠδ' (and) ὄρεα (mountain) σκιόεντα (shadowy) - and the shadowy mountains

νάπαισί (dells or valleys) τε (and) σὴν (your) φρένα (heart) τέρπεις (charm) - and the dells charm your heart

ὁπλοχαρής - delighting in arms

οἰστροῦσα (drive to madness) βροτῶν (men) ψυχὰς (soul) μανίαισι (madness) - you drive men's soul to madness

γυμνάζουσα (athletic) κόρη (girl or daughter) - athletic maiden

φρικώδη (horrible) θυμὸν (soul) ἔχουσα (having) - having a character which causes one to shudder

Γοργοφόνη
Γοργοφόνος, the slayer of the Gorgóhn (Gorgon; Gr. Γοργών)

φυγόλεκτρε
φυγόλεκτρος = φυγοδέμνιος, she who despises the wedding bed, i.e. she is virgin.

τεχνῶν (skill) μῆτερ (mother) πολύολβε (wealthy) - abundant mother of the arts

ὁρμάστειρα - she who urges or cheers one on

φίλοιστρε (loving to inspire frenzy) κακοῖς (wicked) - you love to inspire frenzy in the wicked,

ἀγαθοῖς (good) δὲ (but) φρόνησις (prudence) - but good to the prudent

ἄρσην (male) μὲν (as well as) καὶ (and) θῆλυς (female) ἔφυς (put forth) - you are male as well as female

πολεμήτοκε (bringing forth war) μῆτι (shrewd) - wise-one who brings (necessary) war (
πολεμητόκος)

αἰολόμορφε
αἰολόμορφος, of changeful form

δράκαινα
dragoness

φιλένθεε
φιλένθεος, filled with divine influence

ἀγλαότιμε
ἀγλαότιμος, splendidly honored

Φλεγραίων (
Phlægraiohnὀλέτειρα (destroyer) Γιγάντων (Giants)destroyer (ὀλέτειρα being the feminine of ὀλετήρ) of the Phlægraiohn (Phlegraean) Giants

ἱππελάτειρα - rider of horses
ἱππελάτειρα being the feminine of ἱππελάτης

Τριτογένεια -
 The meaning of Τριτογένεια is not known with certainty. Some of the explanations of the epithet are as follows:  born near Lake Triton (Tritonis) in Livíï (Libya; Gr. Λιβύη), or the stream named Trítohn (Triton; Gr. Τρίτων) in Viohtía (Boeotia; Gr. Βοιωτία), hence "Triton-born." Other suggestions are "Third-born," or from the Athamanian dialect tritô meaning "head," thus, born from the head of Zefs. 

λύτειρα (deliverer) κακῶν (sorrows) - she who delivers us from sorrow

νικηφόρε (victorious) δαῖμον (divinity) - victorious (
νικήφορος) divinity

ἤματα (day) καὶ (and) νύκτας (night) αἰεὶ (ever) νεάταισιν (last, uttermost) ἐν (into) ὥραις (part of the day, i.e. hours) - day and night, ever into the final hours

κλῦθί (hear) μευ (me) εὐχομένου (prayer) - hear my prayer,

δὸς (give) δ' εἰρήνην (peace) πολύολβον (wealth) - give me peace and wealth

καὶ (and) κόρον (one's fill) ἠδ' ὑγίειαν (health) ἐπ' εὐόλβοισιν (prosperous) ἐν (in) ὥραις (seasons) - and abundant health in prosperous seasons

γλαυκῶφ' - gleaming or blue eyed...

εὑρεσίτεχνε - inventive (
εὑρεσίτεχνος, "inventor of the arts") ...

πολυλλίστη (sought by many prayers) βασίλεια (queen) - 
queen, besought by many prayers (πολύλλιστος)!


A more literal translation of the hymn to Athiná:

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.

32. AthináIncense: aromatic herbs.

Only-begotten Pallás, born of the revered lineage of mighty Zefs,
Heavenly blessed Goddess, warlike, indomitable,
Ineffable and effable, glorious, cave-dwelling,
You traverse the hills and towering ridges
And the shadowy mountains and wooded valleys charm your heart,
Delighting in arms, you drive man's soul to madness,
Athletic Maiden, of dreadful nature,
Slayer of the Gorgóhn, virginal, abundant mother of the arts,
Advocate, you love to inspire frenzy in the wicked but good in the prudent,
You are male and female, oh shrewd one who generates war,
Form-changing, dragonness, divine inspiration, revered,
Destroyer of the Phlægraiohn Giants, equestrian,
Tritoyǽneia, deliverer from sorrows, victorious divinity,
Day and night, even into the final hours,
Hear my prayer, give me peace and wealth,
And abundant health in prosperous seasons,
Gleaming, inventor of crafts, queen besought by many prayers!

  

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 Glossary, you will find fascinating stories.  These narratives are known as mythology, 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 often 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.
 

SPELLING: HellenicGods.org uses the Reuchlinian method of pronouncing ancient Greek, the system preferred by scholars from Greece itself. An approach was developed to enable the student to easily approximate the Greek words. Consequently, the way we spell words is unique, as this method of transliteration is exclusive to this website. For more information, visit these three pages: 

Pronunciation of Ancient Greek        

 

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