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THE ORPHIC HYMN TO HERA


FOTO: Bibi Saint-Pol who kindly places the image in the Public Domain. File:Hera Staatliche Antikensammlungen 2685.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

16. Ἥρας

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Introduction to the Orphic Hymn to Íra 

Íra (Hera, Ἥρα) is the greatest of all Goddesses. And there is no other deity worthy of comparison to her with the exception of her husband Zefs (Ζεύς) who is called Ýpatos (Ὕπατος): the highest, and Íra is the equal of Zefs as said in the Orphic fragments (132, 163). Together Íra and Zefs are the most important deities in all of Ællinismόs (Hellenismos; Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion. 

The twelve Olympian Gods are worshiped as pairs and work together as pairs; for this reason, each couple is called an Ærmaphróditos (Hermaphroditos; Ἑρμαφρόδιτος), a deity having both sexes; this is how closely they work together. The one pair which is superior to all the others is the marriage of Íra and Zefs, for which their union is called the Great Ærmaphróhditoh (Τω Μεγάλω Έρμαφρώδιτω). These two deities embody the uttermost progression of the two kozmogonic elements: Earth and Water, without which the existence of the universe is impossible. Íra is the furthermost progressive unfolding of Earth. Zefs is the furthermost progressive unfolding of Water. 

In the Orphic hymn to Íra we are trying to discover this most important of deities. Where is she? The hymn tells us that she is in the wedding bed of Zefs. And where is Zefs? He is swirling through the sky, and Íra is swirling with him, as Próklos says, generating everything in conjunction with the Father. Let us now explore the Orphic hymn to Íra and perhaps we will get to know the glorious Mother a little better.

  

Thomas Taylor's commentary on the hymn:

 

“Juno (ed. Ἥρα) is called by the Orphic theologers, according to Proclus, ζωογόνος θεά, the vivific (ed. giving life) Goddess; an epithet perfectly agreeing with the attributes ascribed to her in this Hymn. And in Plat. Theol. p. 483 (ed. The Theology of Plato, Book 6, Chapter 22), he says that Juno is the source of the soul's procreation (ed. [she] "... imparts the generation of the soul").” [1]

  

The Original Ancient Greek Text 

16. Ἥρας, θυμίαμα, ἀρώματα.

Κυανέοις κόλποισιν ἐνημένη, ἀερόμορφε,
Ἥρη παμβασίλεια, Διὸς σύλλεκτρε μάκαιρα,
ψυχοτρόφους αὔρας θνητοῖς παρέχουσα προσηνεῖς.
ὄμβρων μὲν μήτηρ, ἀνέμων τροφέ, παντογένεθλε.
χωρὶς γὰρ σέθεν οὐδὲν ὅλως ζωῆς φύσιν ἔγνω·
κοινωνεῖς γὰρ ἅπασι κεκραμένη ἠέρι σεμνῷ.
πάντων γὰρ κρατέεις μούνη, πάντεσσί τ’ ἀνάσσεις.
ἠερίοις ῥοίζοισι τινασσομένη κατὰ χεῦμα.
ἀλλά, μάκαιρα θεά, πολυώνυμε, παμβασίλεια,
ἔλθοις εὐμενέουσα καλῷ γήθοντι προσώπῳ.



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

16. Íras, thymíama, aróhmata.

Kyanǽis kólpisin ænimǽni, aærómorphæ,
Íri pamvasíleia, Diós sýllæktræ mákaira,
psykhotróphous ávras thnitís parǽkhousa prosineis.
ómvrohn mæn mítir, anǽmohn trophǽ, pandoyǽnæthlæ.
khohrís gar sǽthæn oudǽn ólohs zöís phýsin ǽgnoh;
kinohneis gar ápasi kækramǽni iǽri sæmnói.
pándohn gar kratǽeis mouni, pándæssí t' anásseis
iæríis rízisi tinassomǽni katá khévma.
allá, mákaira thæá, polyóhnymæ, pamvasíleia,
ǽlthis evmænǽousa kalóï yíthondi prosópoï.



BREAKDOWN OF THE HYMN

Ἥρας,Íra (Hera, Ἥρα). Ἥρας is the genitive of Ἥρα; titles in ancient Greek are usually placed in the genitive case. 

θυμίαμα - incense 

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

Κυανέοις (dark blue, cerulean) κόλποισιν (hollow, womb, or bosom) ἐνημένη, (seated in) - You are seated in a cerulean hollow,
 

ἀερόμορφε, - having the form of air

Ἥρη (Íra) παμβασίλεια, (all-queen) - Íra queen of all, 

Διὸς (Zefs, gen.) σύλλεκτρε (σύλλεκτρος, sharing the marriage bed) μάκαιρα, (happy) - happy one who shares the bed of Zefs,

ψυχοτρόφους (ψυχοτρόφος, sustain life or soul) αὔρας (breezes) θνητοῖς (mortal) παρέχουσα (provide) προσηνεῖς. (gentle) - You provide gentle breezes which sustain the soul,

ὄμβρων (storm) μὲν (indeed) μήτηρ, (mother) - Mother indeed of storms,

ἀνέμων (winds) τροφέ, (nurse) - nurse of winds,

παντογένεθλε. (voc. of παντογένεθλος) all-generating. This is an epithet of Zefs, emphasizing the equality of the two deities.

χωρὶς (apart from) γὰρ (for) σέθεν (you) οὐδὲν (not) ὅλως (whole, entire) ζωῆς (life) φύσιν (production, generate) ἔγνω· (perceive) - Apart from you life and generation cannot be found;

κοινωνεῖς (share, partake) γὰρ ἅπασι (all) κεκραμένη (mingle) ἠέρι (air) σεμνῷ. (revered) - Mingled in the majestic air you partake of everything;

πάντων (all) γὰρ κρατέεις (hold sovereignty) μούνη, (alone) – you alone hold sovereignty 

πάντεσσί (in all, entire) τἀνάσσεις. (rule over) - ruling over everything.

ἠερίοις (aerial) ῥοίζοισι (rushing, as in wind) τινασσομένη (shake) κατὰ (down upon, over) χεῦμα. (stream, flow) - You are the stream which flutters down through the rushing winds.

ἀλλά, - And now you,

μάκαιρα (happy) θεά, (Goddess) - happy Goddess 

πολυώνυμε, - of many names,

παμβασίλεια, - queen of all,

ἔλθοις (come) εὐμενέουσα (be gracious) καλῷ (beautiful) γήθοντι (joy) προσώπῳ. (countenance) - Come with a countenance of kindness and joy. 



All this work yields a more literal translation of the Orphic hymn to Íra:

16. Íra, incense aromatic herbs and spices.

You are seated in a cerulean cavern, having the form of air,
Íra queen of all, happy one who shares the bed of Zefs,
You provide gentle breezes which sustain the soul.
Mother indeed of storms, attendant of the winds, all-begetting.
Apart from you life and generation cannot be found;
Mingled with the majestic air you partake of everything.
You alone hold sovereignty, ruling over all.
You are the stream which flutters down through the rushing winds.
And now you, happy Goddess, many named, queen of all,
Come with a countenance of kindness and joy.


NOTES:

[1] The Mystical Hymns of Orpheus, trans. by Thomas Taylor, 1792.


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.
How do we know there are Gods? Experiencing 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, Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase (Γῆς παῖς εἰμί καὶ Οὐρανοῦ ἀστερόεντος) 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, κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllohn (Apollo, Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus, 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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