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THE ORPHIC HYMN TO HESTIA
FOTO: Daderot who has released it to the Public Domain File:Hestia - Wellesley College - DSC09634.JPG - Wikimedia Commons

84. Ἑστίας


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Introduction to the Orphic Hymn to Æstía

Æstía (Hestia; Gr. Ἑστία) is the mighty Olympian Goddess of Ællinismόs (Hellenismos; Gr. Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion. Many practitioners of the modern religion have been taught that she is like a humble little grandmother cooking in the kitchen, but this idea is preposterous. Yes, Æstía is at the center of the home, like a hearth-fire, and she has an interest in the success of the family and things domestic, but she is also the navel of the city and the country, indeed, her Fire is the axis of the universe, the very fire of Life. And as regards the practice of religion, Æstía is again at the center for it is she who officiates over our rituals; she teaches them to us and conducts the rites. It is for this reason that we have in our possession her beautiful Orphic hymn. We recite this hymn at the beginning of every Tælætí (Telete, Rite or Ritual; Gr. Τελετή), without exception, and by doing so, we humbly ask the mighty Goddess to preside over all our proceedings and to sanctify them.


Translation by Thomas Taylor [1] :


84. 
Æstía [Hestia or Vesta; Gr. Ἑστία]
The Fumigation from Aromatics.

Daughter of Saturn, venerable dame,
The seat containing of unweary'd flame;
In sacred rites these ministers are thine,
Mystics much-blessed, holy and divine
In thee, the Gods have fix'd place,
Strong, stable, basis of the mortal race:
Eternal, much-form'd ever-florid queen,
Laughing and blessed, and of lovely mien;
Accept these rites, accord each just desire,
And gentle health, and needful good inspire.

" Vesta (ed. Æstía) is celebrated in this hymn as the earth, and is the same with the Mother of the Gods [2] (ed. Mítir ThæóhnGr. Μήτηρ Θεῶν); as is evident from the Hymn to that divinity, in which she is expressly called Vesta. Now this perfectly agrees with the fragment of Philolaus (ed. Philόlaos; Gr. Φιλόλαος) the Pythagorean, preserved by Stobæus (ed. Stovaios; Gr. Στοβαος) in Eclog. Phys. p. 51. 'Philolaus (says he) places fire in the middle at the centre, which he calls Vesta of the universe, the house of Jupiter (ed. Zefsi.e. Zeus), the Mother of the Gods, and the basis, coherence, and measure of nature.' From whence it appears, that they are greatly mistaken who suppose the Pythagoreans meant the sun, by the fire at the centre: and this is still more evident, from the following words of Simplicius (ed. Simplíkios; Gr. Σιμπλίκιος) de Cælo, lib. ii.... 'But those who more clearly perceive these affairs, call the fire in the middle a demiurgic (ed. creative) power, nourishing the whole earth from the midst, and exciting and enlivening whatever it contains of a frigid nature: on which account some call it the tower of Jupiter (ed. Zefs), as he (i.e. Aristotǽlis = Aristotle; Gr. Ἀριστοτέλης) relates in his Pythagorics. But others, the keeper or guardian of Jove (ed. Zefs); as he relates in these (i.e. his book de Cælo). But according to others, it is the throne of Jupiter. But they called the earth a centre, as being itself an organ or instrument of time: for it is the cause of day and night.' "


The Original Ancient Greek Text:

84. Ἑστίας, θυμίαμα ἀρώματα.

Ἑστία εὐδυνάτοιο Κρόνου θύγατερ βασίλεια,
ἣ μέσον οἶκον ἔχεις πυρὸς ἀενάοιο, μεγίστου,
τούσδε σὺ ἐν τελεταῖς ὁσίους μύστας ἀναδείξαις,
θεῖσ’ αἰειθαλέας, πολυόλβους, εὔφρονας, ἁγνούς·
οἶκε θεῶν μακάρων, θνητῶν στήριγμα κραταιόν,
ἀιδίη, πολύμορφε, ποθεινοτάτη, χλοόμορφε·
μειδιόωσα, μάκαιρα, τάδ’ ἱερὰ δέξο προθύμως,
ὄλβον ἐπιπνείουσα καὶ ἠπιόχειρον ὑγείαν.


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


84. Æstías, thymíama aróhmata.

Æstía evdynátio Krónou thýgatær vasíleia,
i mǽson íkon ǽkheis pyrós aænáïo, mæyístou,
tousdæ si æn tælætais osious mýstas anadeixais,
theis'aieithalǽas, polyólvous, éfphronas, agnous;
íkæ thæóhn makárohn, thnitóhn stírigma krataión,
aidíi, polýmorphæ, potheinotáti, khlöómorphæ;
meidióöhsa, mákaira, tád'iærá dǽxo prothýmohs,
ólvon æpipneiousa kai ipiókheiron iyeian.



BREAKDOWN OF THE HYMN

Ἑστίας - Ἑστίας is the genitive of Ἑστία. Titles in ancient Greek are always placed in the genitive case. 

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

Ἑστία (
Æstíaεὐδυνάτοιο (mighty) Κρόνου (Krónosθύγατερ (daughter) βασίλεια (queen) - Queen Æstía, mighty Krónos' daughter,

 (you?) μέσον (middle) οἶκον (house) ἔχεις (hold or keep) πυρὸς (fire) ἀενάοιο (everlasting), 
μεγίστου (vast) - You dwell in the center of the home with your everlasting fire, so vast.

τούσδε (this) σὺ (you) ἐν (in) τελεταῖς (rite) ὁσίους (make holy or pure) μύστας (Mystics, initiates) ἀναδείξαις (show forth, reveal) - Make pure the initiates of these rites (and)...

θεῖσ’ (inspire) αἰειθαλέας (
ἀειθαλής is masc./fem. nom., evergreen) - inspire endless youth

πολυόλβους - 
wealth,

εὔφρονας - benevolences (and)...

ἁγνούς· - holiness.

οἶκε (home) θεῶν (Gods) μακάρων (blessed) - Your body is the dwelling-place of the blessed Gods...

θνητῶν (mortal) στήριγμα (support) κραταιόν (strong, mighty) - and the strong support of mankind.

ἀιδίη - (ἀΐδιος is fem./masc. nom.) Eternal

πολύμορφε - (πολύμορφος
, fem./masc. nom.many-formed,

ποθεινοτάτη (epic fem. nom., 
ποθεινός [fem./masc. nom.] more usual) - beloved,

χλοόμορφε· (
χλοόμορφος is fem./masc. nom., grass-green, like grass) - verdant.

μειδιόωσα - Smiling (μειδιόωσα is part. of the verb μειδιάω/
μειδάω, smile.)

μάκαιρα (fem. of 
μάκαρ, blessed or happy) - blessed one, 

τάδ’ (these) ἱερὰ (sacrifice or offerings) δέξο (accept) προθύμως (with kindness) - accept these offerings with kindness.

ὄλβον (happiness, wealth) ἐπιπνείουσα (blow freshly upon) καὶ (and) ἠπιόχειρον (with soothing hand) ὑγείαν. (health) - Breath upon us weal and soothing health.



A more literal translation of the hymn to Æstía:

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.

84. Æstía, Incense: aromatic herbs

Queen Æstía, mighty Krónos' daughter,
You dwell in the center of the home with your vast, everlasting fire,
Make pure the initiates of these rites,
Inspire endless youth, wealth, benevolences, and holiness.
You are the dwelling-place of the blessed Gods and the strong support of mankind.
Eternal, many-formed, beloved, and verdant.
Smiling, Blessed One, accept these offerings with kindness,
Breath upon us weal and soothing 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 quotation may be found beginning on p. 220. The hymn to Æstía (Hestia; Gr. Ἑστία) should be counted as 84, not 83 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.

[2] Line 9 in the Orphic hymn 27 Mítir Thæóhn (Mother of the Gods):

Ἑστία αὐδαχθεῖσα· σὲ δ' ὀλβοδότιν καλέουσι

Athanassakis translates this: 

"Hestia is one of your names, and they call you giver of prosperity" 

(The Orphic Hymns, trans. Apostolos N. Athanassakis, 1977; published by Scholars Press for The Society of Biblical Literature (Atlanta, GA USA); we are using the 1988 reprint, where this quotation may be found on p. 39.)


  

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 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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