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ORPHIC HYMN TO EROS
FOTO: User:Jastrow who has kindly placed the image in the public domain. Corruption of the pottery cleaned up with Corel Paintshop. File:Eros bobbin Louvre CA1798.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

58. Ἔρωτος

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Introduction to the Orphic hymn to Ǽrohs

Ǽrohs (Eros; Gr. Ἔρως) is central to our religion for without this divine power, the full flowering of interaction between Gods and men is impossible. When the progression of the soul is sufficient that it is capable of appreciating beauty, the dawn of perceiving the divine is imminent and when this occurs, 
Ǽrohs flutters in the space between the blessed ones and the heart of man. And it is this moment that the Gods have anticipated over a vast expanse of time: we have invited them and they, smiling and rosy-cheeked, reciprocate with great generosity. The Orphic hymn to Ǽrohs speaks of this and outlines his vast power over all things.


Translation by Thomas Taylor 
[1]

58. Ǽrohs (Eros, Cupid, or Love; Gr. Ἔρως)

The Fumigation from Aromatics.


I Call great Cupid, source of sweet delight,
Holy and pure, and lovely to the sight;
Darting, and wing'd, impetuous fierce desire,
With Gods and mortals playing, wand'ring fire:
Cautious, and two-fold, keeper of the keys
Of heav'n and earth, the air, and spreading seas;
Of all that Ceres' fertile realms contains,
By which th' all-parent Goddess life sustains,
Or dismal Tartarus is doom'd to keep,
Widely extended, or the sounding, deep;
For thee, all Nature's various realms obey,
Who rul'st alone, with universal sway.
Come, blessed pow'r, regard these Mystic fires,
And far avert, unlawful mad desires.


The original ancient Greek text

58. Ἔρωτος, θυμίαμα ἀρώματα.

Κικλήσκω μέγαν, ἁγνόν, ἐράσμιον, ἡδὺν Ἔρωτα,
τοξαλκῆ, πτερόεντα, πυρίδρομον, εὔδρομον ὁρμῆι,
συμπαίζοντα θεοῖς ἠδὲ θνητοῖς ἀνθρώποις,
εὐπάλαμον, διφυῆ, πάντων κληῖδας ἔχοντα,
αἰθέρος οὐρανίου, πόντου, χθονός, ἠδ' ὅσα θνητοῖς
πνεύματα παντογένεθλα θεὰ βόσκει χλοόκαρπος,
ἠδ' ὅσα Τάρταρος εὐρὺς ἔχει πόντος θ' ἁλίδουπος·
μοῦνος γὰρ τούτων πάντων οἴηκα κρατύνεις.
ἀλλά, μάκαρ, καθαραῖς γνώμαις μύσταισι συνέρχου,
φαύλους δ' ἐκτοπίους θ' ὁρμὰς ἀπὸ τῶνδ' ἀπόπεμπε.



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

58. Ǽrohtos, thymíama aróhmata.

Kiklískoh mǽgan, agnón, ærázmion, idýn Ǽrohta,
toxalkí, ptæróænta, pyrídromon, évdromon ormíi,
symbaizonda thæís idǽ thnitís anthróhpis,
efpálamon, diphyí, pándohn kliídas ǽkhonta,
aithǽros ouraníou, póndou, khthonós, id'ósa thnitís
pnévmata pandoyǽnæthla thæá vóskei khloókarpos,
id'ósa Tártaros evrýs ǽkhei póndos th'alídoupos;
mounos gar toutohn pándohn íika kratýneis; 
allá, mákar, katharais gnóhmais mýstaisi synǽrkhou,
phávlous d'æktopíous th'ormás apó tóhnd'apópæmpæ.



BREAKDOWN OF THE HYMN

Ἔρωτος - Ἔρωτος is the genitive of Ἔρως; titles are usually placed in the genitive case in ancient Greek.

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

Κικλήσκω (call) μέγαν, (great) - I call great

ἁγνόν, - holy or pure (ἁγνόν can be nom. but more commonly ἁγνός)

ἐράσμιον, - lovely (ἐράσμιος, fem./masc. nom.)

ἡδὺν (ἡδύς is nom., sweet) Ἔρωτα, (Ǽrohs) - sweet Ǽrohs

τοξαλκῆ, - mighty archer (τοξαλκής, fem./masc. nom.)

πτερόεντα, - winged (πτερόεις, masc. nom.)

πυρίδρομον, - fiery in its course (πυρίδρομος, fem./masc. nom.)

εὔδρομον (εὔδρομος, swift of foot) ὁρμῆι, (ὁρμῇ, attack) - who strikes quickly

συμπαίζοντα (play with) θεοῖς (Gods) ἠδὲ (and) θνητοῖς (mortal) ἀνθρώποις, (men) - who plays with Gods and mortal men

εὐπάλαμον, - skillful one (εὐπάλαμος, fem./masc. nom.)

διφυῆ, - two-formed (διφυῆ can be nom. but more commonly διφυής, fem./masc. nom.)

πάντων (all) κληῖδας (key) ἔχοντα, (holding) - holding the keys to all

αἰθέρος (= gen.; αἰθήρ is nom., aithír) οὐρανίου, (= gen. heavenly) - heavenly aithír

πόντου, - sea (= gen.; πόντος, masc. nom.)

χθονός, - earth (= gen.; χθών, fem. nom.)

ἠδ' (and) ὅσα (as great as, as much as) θνητοῖς (mortal, dat.) - and as much as mortals

πνεύματα (winds) παντογένεθλα (παντογένεθλος is fem./masc. nom., all-generating) θεὰ (Goddess) βόσκει (feed, nurture) χλοόκαρπος, (producing green fruits) - are nurtured by all-generating winds of the Goddess who produces green fruits (Dimítir)

ἠδ' (and) ὅσα (as great as, as much as) Τάρταρος (Tártaros) εὐρὺς (wide, broad) ἔχει (bear, have, support) πόντος (sea) θ' ἁλίδουπος· (sea-resounding) - and as great as wide Tártaros and in the thunderous sea

μοῦνος (alone) γὰρ (for) τούτων (this) πάντων (all) οἴηκα (acc. of οἴαξ, rudder, thus, to steer) κρατύνεις. (strengthen, govern) - for you alone command the rudder of all these things

ἀλλά, - but

μάκαρ, - blessed one

καθαραῖς (pure) γνώμαις (mind, intelligence, purpose) μύσταισι (the initiates) συνέρχου, (συνέρχομαι, come together) - bring a pure motivation to the initiates

φαύλους (mean or common) δ' ἐκτοπίους (put away from) θ' ὁρμὰς (impulses) ἀπὸ (from, away from) τῶνδ' (this) ἀπόπεμπε. (send off) - and send away our vulgar desires



A more literal translation of the Orphic hymn to Ǽrohs

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.

58Ǽrohs, Incense: aromatic herbs and spices.

I call Ǽrohs: mighty, holy, lovely and sweet,
the valiant archer bearing wings. On your flaming footpath you strike quickly
as you play with Gods and mortal men.
Skillful, two-formed, you hold the keys to everything:
of the upper aithír, of the sea, and of the earth, and as much as mortals
are nurtured by the all-generating winds of 
Dimítir,
and as far as wide Tártaros and throughout the thunderous sea;
for you alone have command of all these things.
But, blessed one, bring pure motivation to the initiates
And cast out our vulgar desires.



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. 189-190. The hymn to Ǽrohs should be counted as 58, not 57 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.



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The story of the birth of the GodsOrphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
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Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

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