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ORPHIC HYMN TO HEPHAESTUS
66. Ἡφαίστου

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Introduction to the Orphic Hymn to Íphaistos

Íphaistos (Hephaestus; Gr. Ἥφαιστος) is the mighty God of Form in Ællinismόs (Hellenismos; Gr. Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion. Like Æstía (Hestia; Gr. Ἑστία), he has a fire; she has the Fire of Life while Íphaistos has the Aithirial (Ethereal) Fire. It could be said that the underlying theme of the Orphic hymn to Íphaistos is centered around this fire, a fire which works with the forms. These are the forms which are revealed first by Phánis (Phanes; Gr. Φάνης) as he, mythologically, enters the Ántron (Cave, Gr. Ἄντρον) of Nyx (Gr. Νύξ). Íphaistos, the great Craftsman, the Mystic Coppersmith, works with these forms and they are later beautified by Aphrodíti (AphroditeGr. Ἀφροδίτη). In the Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony this is described thus:

Íphaistos mingled with Aphrodíti and thereby created the form of the universe, and then he united with Aglaia (Ἀγλαΐα) and produced Good Glory (Εὔκλεια), Abundance (Ευθηνία), Good Omen (Εὐφήμη, good fame), and Friendliness (Φιλοφροσύνη), by which his works are made beautiful. [1]

Having this basic background, let us attempt to more deeply understand the great Orphic hymn to Íphaistos.



Translation by Thomas Taylor
[2] :

66. Íphaistos (Hephaestus; Gr. Ἥφαιστος)

The Fumigation from Frankincense and Manna.

Strong, mighty Vulcan , bearing splendid light,
Unweary'd fire, with flaming torrents bright:
Strong-handed, deathless, and of art divine,
Pure element, a portion of the world is thine:
All-taming artist, all-diffusive pow'r,
'Tis thine supreme, all substance to devour:
Æther, Sun, Moon, and Stars, light pure and clear,
For these thy lucid parts to men appear.
To thee, all dwellings, cities, tribes belong,
Diffus'd thro' mortal bodies bright and strong.
Hear, blessed power, to holy rites incline,
And all propitious on the incense shine:
Suppress the rage of fires unweary'd frame,
And still preserve our nature's vital flame.

Thomas Taylor's commentary on this hymn is as follows:

"Vulcan (ed. Íphaistos) is that divine power which presides over the spermatic (ed. generative) and physical productive powers which the universe contains: for whatever Nature accomplishes by verging to bodies, that Vulcan effects in a divine and exempt manner, by moving Nature, and using her as an instrument in his own proper fabrication. For natural heat has a Vulcanian characteristic, and was produced by Vulcan for the purpose of fashioning a corporeal nature. Vulcan, therefore, is that power which perpetually presides over the fluctuating nature of bodies; and hence, says Olympiodorus (ed. Olympiódohros; Gr. Ὀλυμπιόδωρος), he operates with bellows, (εν ϕυσαις; ed. æn physais) which occultly signifies his operating in natures (αντι του εν ταις ϕυσεσι; ed. anti tou æn tais physæsi). This deity, also, as well as Mars (ed. Áris [Ares]; Gr. Άρης), as Proclus (ed. Próklos; Gr. Πρόκλος) observes, in Plat. Repub. p. 388, requires the assitance of Venus (ed. Aphrodíti; Gr. Ἀφροδίτη), in order that he may invest sensible effects with beauty, and thus cause the pulchritude (ed. physical beauty) of the world." [3] 


The Original Ancient Greek Text:

66. Ἡφαίστου, θυμίαμα λιβανομάνναν.

Ἥφαιστ’ ὀμβριμόθυμε, μεγασθενές, ἀκάματον πῦρ,
λαμπόμενε φλογέαις αὐγαῖς, φαεσίμβροτε δαῖμον,
φωσφόρε, καρτερόχειρ, αἰώνιε, τεχνοδίαιτε,
ἐργαστήρ, κόσμοιο μέρος, στοιχεῖον ἀμεμφές,
παμφάγε, πανδαμάτωρ, πανυπέρτατε, παντοδίαιτε,
αἰθήρ, ἥλιος, ἄστρα, σελήνη, φῶς ἀμίαντον·
ταῦτα γὰρ Ἡφαίστοιο μέλη θνητοῖσι προφαίνει.
πάντα δὲ οἶκον ἔχεις, πᾶσαν πόλιν, ἔθνεα πάντα,
σώματά τε θνητῶν οἰκεῖς, πολύολβε, κραταιέ.
κλῦθι, μάκαρ, κλήιζω σε πρὸς εὐιέρους ἐπιλοιβάς,
αἰεὶ ὅπως χαίρουσιν ἐπ’ ἔργοις ἥμερος ἔλθοις.
παῦσον λυσσῶσαν μανίαν πυρὸς ἀκαμάτοιο
καῦσιν ἔχων φύσεως ἐν σώμασιν ἡμετέροισιν.

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

66. Iphaistou, thymíama livanománnan.

Íphaist'omvrimóthymæ, mægasthænǽs, akámaton pyr,
lampómænæ phloyǽais avyais, phaæsímvrotæ daimon,
phohsphóræ, kartærókheir, aióhniæ, tækhnodíaitæ,
ærgastír, kózmio mǽros, stikheion amæmphǽs,
pampháyæ, pandamátohr, panypǽrtatæ, pantodíaite,
aithír, ílios, ástra, sælíni, phohs amíanton;
táfta gar Iphaistio mǽli thnitísi prophainei.
pánta dæ íkon ǽkheis, pásan pólin, ǽthnæa pánta,
sóhmatá tæ thnitóhn ikheis, polýolvæ, krataiǽ.
klýthi, mákar, klíïzoh sæ pros eviǽrous æpilivás,
aiei ópohs khairousin æp'ǽryis ímæros ǽlthis.
páfson lyssóhsan manían pyrós akamátio
káfsin ǽkhohn phýsæohs æn sóhmasin imætǽrisin.



BREAKDOWN OF THE HYMN

Ἡφαίστου - Ἡφαίστου is the genitive of Ἥφαιστος. In ancient Greek, titles are in the genitive case.

θυμίαμα (incense) λιβανομάνναν. (frankincense and mánna) - The author of the hymn is suggesting an incense-offering of frankincensemánna.

Ἥφαιστ’ (Íphaistos) ὀμβριμόθυμε, (strong of spirit) - Strong-spirited (ὀμβριμόθυμος) Íphaistos,

μεγασθενές, - mighty
 
ἀκάματον (untiring) πῦρ, (fire) - inexhaustible fire

λαμπόμενε (shine) φλογέαις (flaming) αὐγαῖς, (light) - gleaming flaming light
 
φαεσίμβροτε (light-bringing) δαῖμον, (divinity) - light-bringing divinity

φωσφόρε, - torch-bearer (φωσφόρος)
 
καρτερόχειρ, - strong-handed
 
αἰώνιε, - eternal (αἰώνιος)
 
τεχνοδίαιτε, - living in art (τεχνοδίαιτος)

ἐργαστήρ, - workman
 
κόσμοιο (form, order) μέρος, (share, portion) - portion of the Kózmos.
 
στοιχεῖον (element) ἀμεμφές, (blameless, perfect) - perfect element

παμφάγε, - all-devouring (παμφάγος)
 
πανδαμάτωρ, - all-subduing
 
πανυπέρτατε, - highest of all (πανυπέρτατος)
 
παντοδίαιτε, - all-consuming (παντοδίαιτος)

αἰθήρ, - Aithír
 
ἥλιος, - sun
 
ἄστρα, - stars
 
σελήνη, - moon
 
φῶς (light) ἀμίαντον· (pure) - pure light

ταῦτα (this) γὰρ (for) Ἡφαίστοιο (Íphaistos) μέλη (limbs, form) θνητοῖσι (mortal, adj.) προφαίνει. (manifest, verb) - for these are the limbs of Íphaistos which manifest to mortals.

πάντα (all) δὲ οἶκον (home) ἔχεις, (possess) - the dwellings of all belong to you

πᾶσαν (all) πόλιν, (city) - all cities
 
ἔθνεα (peoples, nations) πάντα, (all) - all peoples

σώματά (bodies) τε (you) θνητῶν (mortal) οἰκεῖς, (dwell) - you dwell in mortal bodies

πολύολβε, - rich in blessings (πολύολβος)
 
κραταιέ. - strong, mighty (κραταιός)

κλῦθι, - hear

μάκαρ, - blessed one
 
κλήιζω (call) σε (you) πρὸς (to) εὐιέρους (holy) ἐπιλοιβάς, (libation) - I invite you to this holy libation

αἰεὶ (always) ὅπως (as) χαίρουσιν (rejoice) ἐπ’ ἔργοις (work) ἥμερος (tame, gentle) ἔλθοις. (come) - Come always, gentle one, and make work joyful.

παῦσον (cease) λυσσῶσαν (raging) μανίαν (madness) πυρὸς (fire) ἀκαμάτοιο (tireless) - Cease the raging madness of tireless fire

καῦσιν (a burning, flame) ἔχων (the one who has, who is responsible for) φύσεως (nature) ἐν (in) σώμασιν (bodies) ἡμετέροισιν. (our) - for it is your fire which burns in nature within our bodies.


A more literal translation of the hymn to Íphaistos:

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.

66. Íphaistos, Incense: frankincense and mánna.

Strong-spirited Íphaistos, mighty, inexhaustible fire,
Gleaming flaming sunlight, light-bringing divinity,
Torch-bearing, strong-handed, eternal, mighty craftsman,
Workman, portion of the Kózmos, perfect foundation,
All-devouring, all-subduing, highest of all, all-consuming,
Aithír, sun, stars, moon, unblemished light,
For these are the limbs of Íphaistos which manifest to mortals.
The dwellings of all belong to you, all cities, all peoples,
You dwell in our mortal bodies, blessing us, mighty one.
Hear, blessed one, we invite you to this holy libation,
Come to us always, gentle one, and make work joyful.
Cease the raging madness of your tireless flame
For it is your fire which burns in Nature within our bodies.


NOTES:

[1] Orphic fragment 182.

[2] 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. 197-198. The hymn to 
Íphaistos (Hephaestus; Gr. Ἥφαιστος, ΗΦΑΙΣΤΟΣ) should be counted as 66, not 65 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.

[3] Thomas Taylor The Mystical Hymns of Orpheus, 1824; found here in the 2003 Prometheus Trust edition (England: Antony Rowe, Chippenham, Wiltshire) of Hymns and Initiations, p. 131.


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


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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). 



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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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