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17. Ποσειδῶνος


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Introduction to the Orphic hymn to Poseidóhn

Poseidóhn (Poseidon; Gr. Ποσειδῶν) is unique amongst the Olympian Gods, for not only is he an Olympian, making him one of the most important deities of all Ællinismόs (Hellenismos; Gr. Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion, but he is also brother of Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς) and shares his characteristics, to such an extent that he is called Zefs of the Sea. The Orphic hymn to the God concentrates on his connection to the Sea. This is his dominion, for the Sea as well as the Middle Sky going up to the moon belong to him, and within the soul there is a corresponding area and when this area has become erotic by means of the influence of Íra (Hera; Gr. Ἥρα), Poseidóhn helps us develop a bond with an Olympian with whom we have resonance and he helps us progress and move forward.

Translation by Thomas Taylor [1] :

17. Poseidóhn (Poseidon or Neptune; Gr. Ποσειδῶν)

The Fumigation from Myrrh

Hear, Neptune, ruler of the sea profound,
Whose liquid grasp begirts the solid ground;
Who, at the bottom of the stormy main,
Dark and deep-bosom'd, hold'st thy wat'ry reign;
Thy awful hand the brazen trident bears,
And ocean's utmost bound, thy will reveres:
Thee I invoke, whose steeds the foam divide,
From whose dark locks the briny waters glide;
Whose voice loud founding thro' the roaring deep,
Drives all its billows, in a raging heap;
When fiercely riding thro' the boiling sea,
Thy hoarse command the trembling waves obey.
Earth shaking, dark-hair'd God, the liquid plains
(The third division) Fate to thee ordains,
'Tis thine, cærulian dæmon, to survey
Well pleas'd the monsters of the ocean play,
Confirm earth's basis, and with prosp'rous gales
Waft ships along, and swell the spacious sails;
Add gentle Peace, and fair-hair'd Health beside,
And pour abundance in a blameless tide.

The original ancient Greek text

17. Ποσειδῶνος, θυμίαμα σμύρναν.

Κλῦθι, Ποσειδάον γαιήοχε, κυανοχαῖτα,
ἵππιε, χαλκοτόρευτον ἔχων χείρεσσι τρίαιναν,
ὃς ναίεις πόντοιο βαθυστέρνοιο θέμεθλα,
ποντομέδων, ἁλίδουπε, βαρύκτυπε, ἐννοσίγαιε,
κυμοθαλής, χαριτῶπα, τετράορον ἅρμα διώκων,
εἰναλίοις ῥοίζοισι τινάσσων ἁλμυρὸν ὕδωρ,
ὃς τριτάτης ἔλαχες μοίρης βαθὺ χεῦμα θαλάσσης,
κύμασι τερπόμενος θηρσίν θ' ἅμα, πότνιε δαῖμον·
ἕδρανα γῆς σῴζοις καὶ νηῶν εὔδρομον ὁρμήν,
εἰρήνην, ὑγίειαν ἄγων, ἠδ' ὄλβον ἀμεμφῆ.

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

17. Poseidóhnos, thymíama smýrnan.

Klýthi, Poseidáon yaiíokhæ, kyanokhaita,
íppiæ, khalkotórefton ǽkhohn kheiræssi tríainan,
os naieis póndoio vathystǽrnoio thǽmæthla,
pontomǽdohn, alídoupæ, varýktypæ, ænnosíyaiæ,
kymothalís, kharitóhpa, tætráoron árma dióhkohn,
einalíïs pízisi tinássohn almyrón ýdohr,
os tritátis ǽlakhæs míris vathý khévma thalássis,
kýmasi tærpómænos thirsín th'áma. pótniæ daimon;
ǽdrana yis sóhzis kai nióhn évdromon 
eirínin, iyíeian ágohn, id'ólvon amæmphí.


Ποσειδῶνος, - Ποσειδῶνος is the genitive of Ποσειδῶν. Titles in ancient Greek are placed in the genitive case.

θυμίαμα (incense) σμύρναν. (myrrh) - The author of this hymn is suggesting an incense-offering of myrrh (σμύρνα) be made to the God.

Κλῦθι, - Hear,

Ποσειδάον (Poseidóhn) γαιήοχε, (earth-holding) - Poseidóhn who supports the Earth (γαιήοχος, earth-holding). Poseidóhn has dominion over the sea and the waters; since the river Okæanós (Ocean; Gr. Ὠκεανός) was believed to be a gigantic river encircling the earth, he is thought to have his arms holding our planet.

κυανοχαῖτα, - dark-haired one. The hair of Poseidóhn is said to be dark blue (κυανοχαίτης), like the sea.

ἵππιε, - horseman (ἵππιος). Poseidóhn, according to the mythology, is associated with and thought of as the creator of the horse. (Homer; Gr. Ὅμηρος. Iliás xxiii. 277)

χαλκοτόρευτον (brazen) ἔχων (carry) χείρεσσι (hand) τρίαιναν, (trident) - wielding the brazen trident (τρίαιναin your hand. The trident is the symbol of the power and authority of Poseidóhn and was created by the Kýklohpæs (Cyclopes; Gr. Κύκλωπες).

ὃς ναίεις (dwell) πόντοιο (sea) βαθυστέρνοιο (deep-bosomed) θέμεθλα, (foundations) - you abide at the bottom of the deep-bosomed sea,

ποντομέδων, - lord of the sea

ἁλίδουπε, - sea-resounding (ἁλίδουπος). Poseidóhn can cause a disturbance in the sea which produces a massive, reverberant sound.

βαρύκτυπε, - loud-thundering (βαρύκτυπος). Like his brother Zefs, Poseidóhn can produce storms.

ἐννοσίγαιε, - Earth-Shaker (ἘννοσίγαιοςBecause Poseidóhn is γαιήοχος, earth-holding, he can shake the earth and produce earthquakes.

κυμοθαλής, - abounding with waves

χαριτῶπα, - graceful of aspect (χαριτώπης). Despite his awesome power, Poseidóhn is graceful and also gracious.

τετράορον (with four horses) ἅρμα (chariot) διώκων, (pursue, gallop) - you charge forward in your four-horsed chariot. This is a common picture of Poseidóhn, riding his four-horsed chariot through the briny waters.

εἰναλίοις (sea-faring) ῥοίζοισι (ῥοῖζος, rushing) τινάσσων (shake, brandish) ἁλμυρὸν (salty, briny) ὕδωρ, (water) - rushing through the sea and upsetting the salty water

ὃς τριτάτης (third place) ἔλαχες (obtain by lot) μοίρης (portion) βαθὺ (deep) χεῦμα (stream) θαλάσσης, (sea) - the third portion you won by lot: the deep stream of the Sea. The mythology relates the story of the three brothers, Zefs, Ploutohn (Pluto; Gr. Πλούτων), and Poseidóhn drew lots for, respectively, the Sky, the Earth, and the Sea.

κύμασι (swollen wave) τερπόμενος (gladden) θηρσίν (beasts) θ' ἅμα, (at the same time) - while the sea's waves and wild beasts gladden your heart

πότνιε (revered) δαῖμον· (divinity) - revered divinity. It seems the adjective here is derived from πότνια, a word more commonly applied to Goddesses.

ἕδρανα (supports, foundations) γῆς (earth) σῴζοις (save) καὶ (and) νηῶν (ships) εὔδρομον (running) ὁρμήν, (onrush) - preserve the foundations of the earth and the swift onrush of ships. As Poseidóhn has the ability to shake the earth and cause disturbance to the sea, he also assures the foundations of our world and assists seafarers.

εἰρήνην, (peace) ὑγίειαν (health) ἄγων, (part. of ἄγω, bringing) - bringing peace, health

ἠδ' ὄλβον (happiness) ἀμεμφῆ. (blameless) - and blameless happiness.

A more literal translation of the Orphic hymn to Poseidóhn

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.

17. Poseidóhn, incense: myrrh.

Hear, Poseidóhn who supports the Earth, dark-haired one,
Oh horseman, wielding the brazen trident in your hand,
You abide at the bottom of the briny deep,
Lord of the Sea, roaring through its waters, loud-thundering Earth-Shaker,
You ride through the waves, graceful, charging forward in your four-horsed chariot,
Rushing through the sea and upsetting the salty water,
The third portion you won by lot: the deep stream of the oceans,
While the sea's waves and its wild creatures gladden your heart, revered divinity;
Preserve the foundations of the earth and protect the swift onrush of sea-craft,
Bringing peace, health, and blameless happiness.


(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. 141-142. The hymn to Poseidóhn should be counted as 17, not 16 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.

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.

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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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