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THE ORPHIC HYMN TO ZEUS


15. Διός

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Introduction to the Orphic hymn to Zefs

Zefs (Zeus; Gr. 
Ζεύςis the highest of all Gods for which he is called Ýpatos (Gr. Ὕπατος), even Fate is subservient to him. Zefs is responsible for the entire Kózmos and because of his compassion for his creatures he has brought the fulfillment of his providence to fruition in his son Diónysos (Dionysus; Gr. Διόνυσος). He is the great Olympian, whom even the Gods obey, the king and father of Gods and men (Gr. Πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε Θεῶν τε), indeed, he is the father of everything. The Orphic hymn to Zefs emphasizes his generative ability and also his awesome power. In some ways it is a miniature version of the long hymn to Zefs found in the Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony (See the Fifth King). This God is so immensely important that we conclude every ritual with the recitation of this, the fifteenth Orphic hymn (there are two other hymns to Zefs, 19. Ζεύς Κεραυνός and 20. Ζεύς Ἀστραπαίος, but the 15th is the most important of the three); let us now closely examine it and become more familiar with our great Father.



Translation by Thomas Taylor [1]

15. Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς)
The Fumigation from Storax.

O Jove much-honor'd, Jove supremely great,
To thee our holy rites we consecrate,
Our pray'rs and expiations, king divine,
For all things round thy head exalted shine.
The earth is thine, and mountains swelling high,
The sea profound, and all within the sky.
Saturnian king, descending from above,
Magnanimous, commanding, sceptred Jove;
All-parent, principle and end of all,
Whose pow'r almighty, shakes this earthly ball;
Ev'n Nature trembles at thy mighty nod,
Loud-sounding, arm'd with light'ning, thund'ring God.
Source of abundance, purifying king,
O various-form'd from whom all natures spring;
Propitious hear my pray'r, give blameless health,
With peace divine, and necessary wealth.


The original ancient Greek text

15. Διός, θυμίαμα στύρακα.

Ζεῦ πολυτίμητε, Ζεῦ ἄφθιτε, τήνδε τοι ἡμεῖς
μαρτυρίαν τιθέμεσθα λυτήριον ἠδὲ πρόσευξιν.
ὦ βασιλεῦ, διὰ σὴν κεφαλὴν ἐφάνη τάδε θεῖα,
γαῖα θεὰ μήτηρ ὀρέων θ' ὑψηχέες ὄχθοι,
καὶ πόντος καὶ πάνθ', ὁπόσ' οὐρανὸς ἐντὸς ἔταξε
Ζεῦ Κρόνιε, σκηπτοῦχε, καταιβάτα, ὀμβριμόθυμε,
παντογένεθλ', ἀρχὴ πάντων, πάντων τε τελευτή,
σεισίχθων, αὐξητά, καθάρσιε, παντοτινάκτα,
ἀστραπαῖε, βρονταῖε, κεραύνιε, φυτάλιε Ζεῦ·
κλῦθί μευ, αἰολόμορφε, δίδου δ' ὑγίειαν ἀμεμφῆ
εἰρήνην τε θεὰν καὶ πλούτου δόξαν ἄμεμπτον.


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

15. Diós, thymíama stýraka.

Zef polytímitæ, Zef áphthitæ, tíndæ ti imeis
martyrían tithǽmæstha lytírion idǽ prósefxin.
o vasiléf, diá sin kæphalín æpháni tádæ theia,
yaia thæá mítir orǽohn th'ypsikhǽæs ókhthi,
kai póndos kai pánth'opós'ouranós ændós ǽtaxæ
Zef Króniæ, skiptoukhæ, kataiváta, omvrimóthymæ,
pandoyǽnæthl'arkhí pándohn, pándohn tæ tæleftí,
seisíkhthohn, afxitá, kathársiæ, pandotinákta,
astrapaiæ, vrondaiæ, kærávniæ, phytáliæ Zef.
klýthí mef, aiolómorphæ, dídou d'iyíeian amæmphí
eirínin tæ thæán kai ploutou dóxan ámæmpton.


BREAKDOWN OF THE HYMN

Διός, - Διός is the genitive of Ζεύς. Titles are usually placed in the genitive case in ancient Greek.

θυμίαμα (incense) στύρακα. (storax) - The author of this hymn is suggesting that an incense-offering of storax (benzoin) be made to the God.

Ζεῦ (Zefs, voc. case) πολυτίμητε, (πολυτίμητος, highly honored) - Zefs most honored

Ζεῦ (Zefs, voc. case) ἄφθιτε, (ἄφθιτος, immortal, imperishable) - Zefs immortal

τήνδε (this) τοι (verily) ἡμεῖς (we) - We verily offer you (these three words only make sense as part of the following line.)

μαρτυρίαν (testimony, witness) τιθέμεσθα (put, place) λυτήριον (redemptive, delivering) ἠδὲ (and) πρόσευξιν. (πρόσευξιςπροσευχή, prayer) - this redemptive testimony and prayer.

βασιλεῦ, - Oh king

διὰ (through, by means of) σὴν (your) κεφαλήν (head, crown or completion) ἐφάνη (bring to light, make clear) τάδε (this before you) θεῖα, (divine) - by means of your accomplishment divine things are made clear

γαῖα (earth) θεὰ (Goddess) μήτηρ (mother) ὀρέων (mountains) θ' ὑψηχέες (loud) ὄχθοι, (hills) - Earth Goddess Mother, mountains and the thundering hills,

καὶ (and) πόντος (sea) καὶ (and) πάνθ', (all) - and the Sea and all...

ὁπόσ' (ὁπόσος?, as many as) οὐρανὸς (sky) ἐντὸς (within) ἔταξε (arrange) - arranged within the vast sky

Ζεῦ (Zefs) Κρόνιε, (Κρόνιος, of Κρόνος) - Kronian Zefs

σκηπτοῦχε, - sceptered (σκηπτοῦχος)

καταιβάτα, - descending in thunder and lightning (καταιβάτης)

ὀμβριμόθυμε, - strong of spirit (ὀμβριμόθυμος = ὀβριμόθυμος)

παντογένεθλ', - all-generating, father of all (παντογένεθλος)

ἀρχὴ (origin) πάντων, (all) - origin of all

πάντων (all) τε (and, both and) τελευτή, (end, completion) - and end of all

σεισίχθων, - earth-shaker

αὐξητά, - increaser (αὐξητής)

καθάρσιε, - purifier (καθάρσιος)

παντοτινάκτα, - all-shaker (παντοτινάκτης)

ἀστραπαῖε, - maker of lightning (ἀστραπαῖος)

βρονταῖε, - thundering (βρονταῖος)

κεραύνιε, - wielding thunder (κεραύνιος = κεραύνειος)

φυτάλιε (φυτάλιος, planter) Ζεῦ· (Zefs) - Zefs the planter

κλῦθί (hear) μευ, (me) - Hear me

αἰολόμορφε, - of changeful form (αἰολόμορφος)

δίδου (give, grant) δ' ὑγίειαν (health) ἀμεμφῆ (blameless) - grant me blameless health

εἰρήνην (peace) τε (and, both and) θεὰν (of Gods) καὶ (and) πλούτου (wealth) δόξαν (reputation) ἄμεμπτον. (blameless) - peace as well as blessings, wealth, and good reputation.


A more literal translation of the Orphic hymn to Zefs

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.

15. Zefs, Incense storax.

Highly honored Zefs, imperishable Zefs, we verily offer you
This redemptive testimony and prayer.
Oh King, by means of your accomplishment divine things are made clear.
Earth Goddess mother, the mountains and thundering hills,
The sea, and all arranged within the vast sky are yours.
Kronian Zefs, bearing the scepter, descending in thunder and lightning, strong-hearted one,
All-generating Father, origin and end of everything,
Earth-shaker, increaser, purifier, shaker of everything,
Bearing lightning, thundering and wielding it, yet you are the great nurturer of life.
Hear me, God of changeful form. Grant me blameless health,
Peace, as well as blessings, riches, and good reputation.


Please also visit this page: The Orphic Rhapsodic Hymn to Zefs (from the Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony)

 
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. 139-140. The hymn to Zefs should be counted as 15, not 14 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. 


T
he 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.


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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