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ORPHIC HYMN ELEUSINIAN TO DEMETER
FOTO: Ophelia2 This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 100 years or less. File:Head of the Goddess Demeter.JPG - Wikimedia Commons

40. Δήμητρος Ἐλευσινίας 

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Introduction to the Orphic hymn to Ælefsinian Dimítir

Dimítir (Demeter; Gr. Δημήτηρ), the great Goddess of Ællinismόs (Hellenismos; Gr. Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion, is the Earth-Mother, which can be gleaned from the etymology of her name: Δη later to become Γῆ "earth" + μήτηρ "mother." And it is this aspect which occupies the greater part of her hymn, emphasizing her role in teaching mankind the ways to cultivate the earth. In doing so, the Goddess is advocating peace, for the art of agriculture is very difficult in times of war. She is the expression of the fruitfulness of the earth. The name of the hymn makes reference to her Mysteries, and these rites have deep connection to Ploutohn (Pluto; Gr. Πλούτων), sibling of Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς) and Poseidóhn (Poseidon; Gr. Ποσειδῶν), each of the brothers having dominion over parts of the Kózmos (Cosmos; Gr. Κόσμος); the mythology says that they drew lots and Zefs won the Sky, Poseidohn won the Sea, while Ploutohn has dominion over the earth and all its verdure. Ploutohn is entwined into the mythology of the Ælefsínia Mystíria (Eleusinian Mysteries; Gr. Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια), having abducted Pærsæphóni (Persephone; Gr. Περσεφόνη), the daughter of Dimítir, to his realm. Dimítir fasts, bears torches, and searches for her child. In this story, we suffer along with the Goddess, and when Pærsæphóni is found, Dimítir returns earth to its natural state of fruitfulness, nurturing mortals and loving our children. All these things and more are alluded to in her hymn. Let us now examine this great poem and try to understand the Goddess and welcome her into our lives.



Translation by Thomas Taylor 
[1]

40. Dimítir Ælefsinía (Demeter Eleusinian; Gr. Δημήτηρ Ἐλευσινία)
The Fumigation from Storax.

O Universal mother, Ceres fam'd
August, the source of wealth, and various nam'd:
Great nurse, all-bounteous, blessed and divine,
Who joy'st in peace, to nourish corn is thine:
Goddess of seed, of fruits abundant, fair,
Harvest and threshing, are thy constant care;
Who dwell'st in Eleusina's seats retir'd,
Lovely, delightful queen, by all desir'd.
Nurse of all mortals, whose benignant mind,
First ploughing oxen to the yoke confin'd;
And gave to men, what nature's wants require,
With plenteous means of bliss which all desire.
In verdure flourishing in honor bright,
Assessor of great Bacchus, bearing light:
Rejoicing in the reapers sickles, kind,
Whose nature lucid, earthly, pure, we find.
Prolific, venerable, Nurse divine,
Thy daughter loving, holy Proserpine:
A car with dragons yok'd, 'tis thine to guide,
And orgies singing round thy throne to ride:
Only-begotten, much-producing queen,
All flowers are thine and fruits of lovely green.
Bright Goddess, come, with Summer's rich increase
Swelling and pregnant, leading smiling Peace;
Come, with fair Concord and imperial Health,
And join with these a needful store of wealth.


The original ancient Greek text

40. Δήμητρος Ἐλευσινίας, θυμίαμα στύρακα.

Δηώ, παμμήτειρα θεά, πολυώνυμε δαῖμον,   
1
σεμνὴ Δήμητερ, κουροτρόφε, ὀλβιοδῶτι,
πλουτοδότειρα θεά, σταχυοτρόφε, παντοδότειρα,
εἰρήνηι χαίρουσα καὶ ἐργασίαις πολυμόχθοις,
σπερμεία, σωρῖτι, ἀλωαία, χλοόκαρπε,   5
ἣ ναίεις ἁγνοῖσιν Ἐλευσῖνος γυάλοισιν,
ἱμερόεσσ', ἐρατή, θνητῶν θρέπτειρα προπάντων,
ἡ πρώτη ζεύξασα βοῶν ἀροτῆρα τένοντα
καὶ βίον ἱμερόεντα βροτοῖς πολύολβον ἀνεῖσα,
αὐξιθαλής, Βρομίοιο συνέστιος, ἀγλαότιμος,   10
λαμπαδόεσσ', ἁγνή, δρεπάνοις χαίρουσα θερείοις·
σὺ χθονία, σὺ δὲ φαινομένη, σὺ δε πᾶσι προσηνής·
εὔτεκνε, παιδοφίλη, σεμνή, κουροτρόφε κούρα,
ἅρμα δρακοντείοισιν ὑποζεύξασα χαλινοῖς
ἐγκυκλίοις δίναις περὶ σὸν θρόνον εὐάζουσα,   15
μουνογενής, πολύτεκνε θεά, πολυπότνια θνητοῖς,
ἧς πολλαὶ μορφαί, πολυάνθεμοι, ἱεροθαλεῖς.
ἐλθέ, μάκαιρ', ἁγνή, καρποῖς βρίθουσα θερείοις,
εἰρήνην κατάγουσα καὶ εὐνομίην ἐρατεινὴν
καὶ πλοῦτον πολύολβον, ὁμοῦ δ' ὑγίειαν ἄνασσαν.   20


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

40. Dímitros Ælefsinías, thymíama stýraka.

Dióh, pammíteira thæá, polyóhnymæ daimon,   1
sæmní Dímitær, kourotróphæ, olviodóhti,
ploutodóteira thæá, stakhyotróphæ, pandodóteira,
eirínii khairousa kai ærgasíais polymókhthis,
spærmeia, sohríti, aloaia, khlöókarpæ,   5
i vaieis agnísin Ælefsínos yiálisin,
imæróæss'æratí, thnitóhn thrǽpteira propándohn,
i próhti zéfxasa vöóhn arotíra tǽnonda
kai víon imæróænda vrotís polýolvon aneisa,
afxithalís, Vromíio synǽstios, aglaótimos,   10
lambadóæss'agní, dræpánis khairousa thæreiis;
si khthonía, si dæ phainomǽni, si dæ pási prosinís;
éftæknæ, paidophíli, sæmní, kourotróphæ koura,
árma drakondeiïsin ypozéfxasa khalinís
ængkyklíis dínais pærí son thrónon evázousa,   15
mounoyænís, polýtæknæ thæá, polypótnia thnitís,
eis pollai morphai, polyánthæmi, iærothaleis.
ælthǽ, mákair'agní, karpís vríthousa thæreiis,
eirínin katágousa kai evnomíin ærateinín
kai plouton polýolvon, omou d'iyíeian ánassan.   20


BREAKDOWN OF THE HYMN

Δήμητρος (
Dimítir) Ἐλευσινίας, (Ælefsinía) - Δήμητρος is the genitive of Δημήτηρ; titles are put in the genitive case in Ancient Greek. Ἐλευσινίας (gen) referring to the Mysteries of the great Goddess.

θυμίαμα (incense) στύρακα. (storax) - The author of this hymn is suggesting an incense-offering of storax (benzoin) to the Goddess.

Δηώ, - 
DimítirΔηώ (nom.) is another name for Δημήτηρ.

παμμήτειρα (= 
παμμήτωρ, mother of all) θεά, (Goddess) - Goddess mother of everything

πολυώνυμε (πολυώνυμος, having many names) δαῖμον, (divinity)  - divinity with many names

σεμνὴ (fem. of σεμνός, revered, holy) Δήμητερ, (voc. of Δημήτηρ) - holy Dimítir

κουροτρόφε, - nurse of the young (κουροτρόφος, masc./fem. nom.)

ὀλβιοδῶτι, - bestower of bliss (ὀλβιοδῶτις is the fem. of ὀλβιοδώτης)

πλουτοδότειρα (fem. of πλουτοδοτήρ, giver of riches) θεά, (Goddess) - Goddess who bestows riches

σταχυοτρόφε, - she who nourishes the grain (σταχυοτρόφος, adj. fem./masc. nom.)

παντοδότειρα, - giver of all (= πανδώτειρα)

εἰρήνηι (peace) χαίρουσα (rejoicing) καὶ (and) ἐργασίαις (work, labor) πολυμόχθοις, (won by much toil) - rejoicing in peace and difficult labor

σπερμεία, - presiding over seeds (
σπερμείη is the feminine of σπερμεῖος

σωρῖτι, - giver of heaps of grain (σωρῖτις)

ἀλωαία, - one who works on the threshing-floor

χλοόκαρπε, - producing green fruits (χλοόκαρπος
)

 ναίεις (dwell) ἁγνοῖσιν (form of ἁγνός, pure, hallowed) Ἐλευσῖνος (gen. of Ἐλευσίς) γυάλοισιν, (valley) - you dwell in the hollowed valley of Ælefsís

ἱμερόεσσ', - charming (ἱμερόεσσα, fem. of ἱμερόεις)

ἐρατή, - lovely or beloved (fem. of ἐρατός) 

θνητῶν (mortal) θρέπτειρα (fem. of 
θρεπτήρ, rearer, feeder) προπάντων, (all) - you give nourishment to all the mortals

 πρώτη (before or first) ζεύξασα (yoke) βοῶν (of the oxen) ἀροτῆρα (ἀροτήρploughing) τένοντα (band) - you were the first to yoke the ploughing oxen

καὶ (and) βίον (life) ἱμερόεντα (lovely) βροτοῖς (mortals) πολύολβον (wealthy, abundant) ἀνεῖσα, (send forth, send up) - and produce a lovely and abundant life for mortals

αὐξιθαλής, - promoting growth

Βρομίοιο (epic gen. noun of Βρόμιος) συνέστιος, (hearth-sharer, nom. adj.) - familial companion of Vrómios (i.e. Diónysos)

ἀγλαότιμος, - splendidly honored

λαμπαδόεσσ', - torch-bearer (
λαμπαδόεσσα)

ἁγνή, - holy (fem. of ἁγνός)

δρεπάνοις (sickle) χαίρουσα (rejoice) θερείοις· (summer's) - you rejoice in the summer's fruit of the sickle

σὺ (you) χθονία, (earthy) - you are of the earth

σὺ δὲ φαινομένη, (bring to light) - and you appear

σὺ δε πᾶσι (all) προσηνής· (gentle) - gentle to all

εὔτεκνε, - blessing us with offspring

παιδοφίλη, - lover of children (
παιδοφίλης)

σεμνή, - holy (fem. of σεμνός)

κουροτρόφε (
κουροτρόφος) youth-nurturing

κούρα, (maiden) - maiden

ἅρμα (chariot) δρακοντείοισιν (dragons) ὑποζεύξασα (yoke) χαλινοῖς (bridle) - you yoke dragons to your chariot with a bridle

ἐγκυκλίοις (circle, revolve) δίναις (whirl) περὶ (around) σὸν (your) θρόνον (throne) εὐάζουσα, (cry out) - whirling and circling about your throne and crying out

μουνογενής, - only begotten

πολύτεκνε (bearing many children) θεά, (Goddess) - Goddess bearing many children

πολυπότνια (mighty queen) θνητοῖς, (mortals) - mighty queen of mortals

ἧς πολλαὶ (many) μορφαί, (fashion, mold) - you form the many things

πολυάνθεμοι, - rich in flowers (
πολυάνθεμος)

ἱεροθαλεῖς. - blooming with holiness (ἱεροθαλλής)

ἐλθέ, - Come

μάκαιρ', - blessed one (μάκαιρα)

ἁγνή, - holy one (fem nom. and voc. attic epic ionic of ἁγνός)

καρποῖς (fruits) βρίθουσα (heavy with) θερείοις, (summer) - heavy with the fruits of summer

εἰρήνην (peace) κατάγουσα (lead down) καὶ (and) εὐνομίην (good order or law) ἐρατεινὴν (lovely) - bring down peace and lovely order to our world

καὶ (and) πλοῦτον (wealth) πολύολβον, (blessings) - with wealth and blessings

ὁμοῦ (as well as) δ' ὑγίειαν (health) ἄνασσαν. (ruler) - as well as health to govern us.


A more literal translation of the Orphic hymn

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.


40. Dimítir Ælefsinía, Incense storax. 

Oh Dioh, divine mother of all, divinity with many names,
Holy Dimítir, who nurtures children and gives us bliss,
Oh divine one who bestows riches, who cultivates the grain, who apportions all good things,
You who rejoice in peace and our difficult labors,
Presiding over seeds, bequeathing abundant grain, thresher, producing the green fruit,
You dwell in the hollowed valley of Ælefsís.
Oh charming and lovely one, you give nourishment to all the mortals.
You were to yoke the ploughing oxen
And you produce a lovely and abundant life for mortals.

You promote growth, 
familial companion of Vrómios whom we splendidly honor.
Torch-bearing holy one, you rejoice in the summer's fruit of the sickle;

You are of the earth and appear gentle to all.

You bless us with progeny, oh lover of children, holy one, maiden who nurtures the young.
You yoke dragons to your chariot with a bridl
e,
Whirling and circling about your throne as you cry out in ecstasy
.
Only-begotten Goddess bearing many children, mighty queen of mortals,
Creator of many things, you bloom with flowers and holiness.

Come, blessed and pure one, heavy with the fruits of summer,
Bring down peace and lovely order to our world,
With riches and blessings and a life governed by good health.


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. 171-172. The hymn to Dimítir should be counted as 40, not 39 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. 



T
he 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.
D
ictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.
I
ntroduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.



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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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