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The ORPHIC HYMN TO APOLLO 
Gilded spelter statue of Apóllohn, probably Victorian era, in the possession of the author. 

34. Ἀπόλλωνος

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Introduction to the Orphic Hymn to Apóllohn

The Orphic hymn to Apóllohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων) is one of the longest of the Eighty-four Orphic Hymns and it is one of the most beautiful and important. Apóllohn and Diónysos (Διόνυσος) stand out as being particularly important deities in Ællinismόs (Hellenismos; Gr. Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion. Why should they be thought of as linked together in some way? There are many reasons. The mighty sanctuary of Dælphí (Δελφοί) is the Omphalós (Ὀμφαλός), the navel or center of the world; it is also the center of the ancient religion. Both Apóllohn and Diónysos hold the throne at this most sacred place. Why, if this is the center of the world and the center of the religion, would not this sanctuary be the seat of Zefs (Ζεύς), the father and king of both Gods and man? It is because of the will of Zefs, for Apóllohn sits at his right side and is his voice while Diónysos is the embodiment of the compassion of his father for he fulfills his providence and is his action on Earth.

Apóllohn enunciates the intentions and foreknowledge of his father and by doing so delivers the justice of mighty Zefs. Further, Apóllohn is the great protector of the Mysteries, and with his music, he propels our souls forward, if we are willing to accept his influence. He is the great God of enlightenment for which he is called Phívos (Φοίβος), the shining one and he is a mighty God of healing. Indeed, we could continue endlessly enumerating the splendid qualities of this God which make him a most worthy son of his father. So let us now examine the Orphic hymn to Apóllohn and gain greater insight into the nature of this magnificent deity.

The original ancient Greek text:

34. Ἀπόλλωνος, θυμίαμα, μάνναν.

Ἐλθέ, μάκαρ Παιὰν τιτυοκτόνε, Φοῖβε Λυκωρεῦ,
Μεμφῖτ’, ἀγλαότιμος, ἰῃϊος, ὀλβιοδῶτα.
χρυσολύρη, σπερμεῖος, ἀρότριε, Πύθιε, Τιτάν,
Γρύνειε, Σμινθεῦ, Πυθοκτόνε, Δελφικέ, μάντι,
ἄγριε, φωσφόρε δαῖμον, ἐράσμιε, κύδιμε κοῦρε·   5
Μουσαγέτη, χαροποιός, ἑκηβόλε, τοξοβέλεμνε,
Βράγχιε καὶ Διδυμεῦ, ἑκάεργος, Λοξία, ἁγνέ·
Δήλι’ ἄναξ πανδερκὲς ἔχων φαεσίμβροτον ὄμμα,
χρυσοκόμη, καθαρὰς φήμας χρησμούς τ’ ἀναφαίνων·
κλῦθί μευ εὐχομένου λαῶν ὕπερ εὔφρονι θυμῷ.   10
τόνδε σὺ γὰρ λεύσσεις τὸν ἀπείριτον αἰθέρα πάντα,
γαῖάν τ’ ὀλβιόμοιρον ὕπερθέν καὶ δι’ ἀμολγοῦ
νυκτὸς ἐν ἡσυχίῃσιν ὑπ’ ἀστεροομμάτου ὄρφνης
ῥίζας νέρθε δέδορκας, ἔχεις δέ τε πείρατα κόσμου
παντός· σοὶ δ’ ἀρχή τε τελευτή τ’ ἐστὶ μέλουσα,   15
παντοθαλής, σὺ δὲ πάντα πόλον κιθάρῃ πολυκρέκτῳ
ἁρμόζεις, ὁτὲ μὲν νεάτης ἐπὶ τέρματα βαίνων,
ἄλλοτε δ’ αὖθ’ ὑπάτην, ποτὲ Δώριον εἰς διάκοσμον
πάντα πόλον κιρνὰς, κρίνεις βιοθρέμμονα φῦλα,
ἁρμονίῃ κεράσας παγκόσμιον ἀνδράσι μοῖραν·   20
μίξας χειμῶνος θέρεός τ’ ἴσον ἀμφοτέροισιν,
εἰς ὑπάτας χειμῶνα, θέρος νεάταις διακρίνας,
Δώριον εἰς ἔαρος πολυηράτου ὥριον ἄνθος.
ἔνθεν ἐπωνυμίην σε βροτοὶ κλῄζουσιν ἄνακτα
Πᾶνα, θεὸν δικέρωτ’, ἀνέμων συρίγμαθ’ ἱέντα·   25
οὕνεκα παντὸς ἔχεις κόσμου σφρηγῖδα τυπῶτιν.
κλῦθι μάκαρ, σώζων μύστας ἱκετηρίδι φωνῇ.


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

34. Apóllohnos, thymíama mánnan 

Ælthǽ, mákar Paián, Tityoktónæ, Phivæ Lykohréf,
Mæmphít' aglaótimos, iiiios, olviodóhta.
khrysolýri, spærmeios, arótriæ, Pýthiæ, Titán,
Grýneiæ, Sminthéf, Pythoktónæ, Dælphikǽ, mándi,   
ágriæ, phohsphóræ daimon, ærázmiæ, kýdimæ kouræ;   
5
Mousayǽti, kharopiós, ækivólæ, toxovǽlæmnæ,
Vángkhiæ kai Didyméf, ækáæryos, Loxía, agnǽ;
Díli' ánax pandærkǽs ǽkhohn phaæsímvroton ómma,
khrysokómi, katharás phímas khrizmous t' anaphainohn;
klýthi mef efkhomǽnou laóhn ýpær éfphroni thymóï.   10
tóndæ si gar léfsseis ton apeiriton aithǽra pánda,
yaian t' olviómiron ýpærthǽn kai di' amolgou
nyktós æn isykhíiisin yp'astæröómmatou órphnis
rízas nǽrthæ dǽdorkas, ǽkheis dæ tæ peirata kózmou
pandós; si d' arkhí tæ tæleftí t' æstí mǽlousa,  15
pandothalís, si dæ pánda pólon kithárii polykrǽktoï
armózeis, otǽ mæn næátis æpí tǽrmata vainohn,
állotæ d' afth' ypátin, potǽ Dóhrion eis diákozmon
pánda pólon kirnás, kríneis viothrǽmmona phýla,
armoníii kærásas tin pangózmion andrási míran;   20
míxas kheimóhnos thæreós t' íson amphotǽrisin,
eis ypátas kheimóhna, thǽros næátais diakrínas,
Dóhrion eis ǽaros polyirátou óhrion ánthos.
ǽnthæn æpohnymíin sæ vrotí klíizousin ánakta
Pána, thæón dikǽroht' anǽmohn syrígmath' iǽnda;   25
ounæka pandós ǽkheis kózmou sphrayída typóhtin.
klýthi mákar, sóhzohn mýstas ikætirídi phohníi.


BREAKDOWN OF THE HYMN 

Ἀπόλλωνος - This is the title of the hymn. Ἀπόλλωνος is the genitive of Ἀπόλλων (nominative for Apollo). Titles are in the genitive in the ancient Greek tongue.

θυμίαμα (incense) μάνναν. (mánna) - The author suggests that an incense (θυμιαμα) offering of mánna (μάννᾰ) be made to the God.

Ἐλθέ, - Come! Ἐλθέ is the aorist imperative of ἔρχομαι.

μάκαρ (blessed) Παιάν (healer) -  blessed Healer!  Παιάν is the great title of the God meaning healerἸή Παιῆον or Ἰὲ Παιῆον is "Hail Healer!" an oft heard exclamation.

Τιτυοκτόνε, - Τιτυοκτόνοςslaying Τιτυός, a giant of uncertain parentage, a son of Zefs and Ælára (Elara; Gr. Ελάρα) or a son of Yaia (Γαῖα). He attempted to rape Litóh (Λητώ), the mother of Apóllohn, for which Apóllohn and Ártæmis (Ἄρτεμις) slew him, after which he was condemned to Tártaros (Τάρταρος), where, like the mythology concerning Promithéfs (Προμηθεύς), his liver was eaten by vultures every night, only to grow back to have the punishment repeated endlessly.

Φοῖβε (shining) Λυκωρεῦ, - The Shining One of Parnassós (Παρνασσός). Λυκωρεύς refers to the highest summit of Parnassós above Dælphí (Δελφοί), called Λυκώρεια.

 Μεμφῖτ' - Μεμφῖταdweller of Mǽmphis (Μέμφις), as in the Egyptian city. The meaning of this epithet is obscure. There is an epithet of Apóllohn, Aiyíptios (Αἰγύπτιος), which simply means "Egyptian," but it is thought to refer to the Egyptian God Horus who united Upper and Lower Egypt at Memphis.

ἀγλαότιμος -  splendidly honored.

ἰήϊος, - invoked with the cry ἰή or ἰὴ παιών (v. ἰή), ἰήϊε παιάν, the exclamation of joy or enthusiasm; esp. used in the cult of Apóllohn.

ὀλβιοδῶτα. - ὀλβιοδώτηςbestower of bliss.

χρυσολύρη, - χρυσολύρηςwith a lyre of gold.

σπερμεῖος, -  presiding over seedsspermaticgenerative.

ἀρότριε, - ἀρότριοςagrarian, i.e. he who presides over husbandry, the cultivator of crops and animals.

Πύθιε, - ΠύθιοςPythian or Delphianhe who presides over the temple at Dælphí (Δελφοί).

Τιτάν, - Apóllohn (Orphic Hymn 34.3) and his sister Ártæmis (Orphic Hymn 36.2) are called Titánæs (Τιτᾶνες, plural.) because they are progeny of the Titan Goddess Litóh (Λητώ).

Γρύνειε, - Γρύνειος is an epithet that refers to the city of Grýneion (Γρύνιον), the seat of an oracle to Apóllohn and where stood a beautiful white marble temple to the God.

Σμινθεῦ, - Σμινθεύς. The meaning of this epithet is uncertain. It derives most likely from smínthos (σμίνθος), "mouse," the mouse being somehow associated with prophetic power, inspired by vapors arising from the earth; this association with the mouse is likely because there are representations of Apóllohn with a mouse. It is also possible that the God had been believed to have the ability to save from infestation by mice. Another possibility is that the epithet is derived from the name Smínthi (Σμίνθη) a town in the Troás (the Troad; Τρωάς, i.e. the Turkish peninsula), or a temple dedicated to the God near Amaxitós (Ἁμαξιτός) where the God saved them from such an infestation.

Πυθοκτόνε, - Πυθοκτόνοςhe who slew the Pýthohn (Πύθων).

Δελφικέ, - Dælphic, he who presides over the temple at Dælphí (Δελφοί). Δελφικός is the epithet, Δελφύνη being a name for the Pýthohn (Πύθων) which he slew at Dælphí.

μάντι, - μάντις, the prophet.

ἄγριε, - ἄγριοςwildliving in the fields.

φωσφόρε (light producing) δαῖμον, (divine soul) - light-producing divinity.

ἐράσμιε, - ἐράσμιος, the lovely onebeloved.

κύδιμε (glorious) κοῦρε· (son, boy) - κύδιμος (= κυδάλιμοςκοῦροςgloriousrenowned son or boy.

Μουσαγέτη, - Μουσαγέτης is the leader of the Mousai (Μοῦσαι), and Apóllohn is, therefore, the fountain of culture.

χαροποιός, - χαροποιόςhe who brings joy.

ἑκηβόλε, - ἑκηβόλοςhe who attains his aim (with his arrows).

τοξοβέλεμνε, - τοξοβέλεμνοςhe of the arrows and bow.

Βράγχιε (Βράγχιος is nom.) καὶ (and) Διδυμεῦ, (Διδυμεύς is nom.) - Vrángkheian and Didymæan. The Vrangkhídai (Βραγχίδαι) were a hereditary family of priests attached to the worship of Apóllohn. They are named after Vrángkhos (Βράγχος), a son of the God who introduced Apóllohn’s worship at Dídyma (Δίδυμα), hence his title Διδυμεύς.

ἑκάεργος, - ἑκάεργοςhe who works from afar.

Λοξία, - Λοξίας refers Apóllohn as the prophet and interpreter of Zefs (Ζεύς). 

ἁγνέ· - ἁγνόςpureholy.

Δήλι' (Delian) ἄναξ (king) πανδερκὲς (all-seeing) ἔχων (bring) φαεσίμβροτον (light shining on mortals) ὄμμα, (eye) - King of Dílos (Δήλος) the all-seeing eye bringing the light which shines on mortals.

χρυσοκόμη, - χρυσόκομος or χρυσοκόμηςgolden-haired.

καθαρὰς (clear, spotless) φήμας (utterance) χρησμούς (oracle) τ' ἀναφαίνων· (bring to light) - You make clear oracular utterances.

κλῦθί (hear) μευ (me) εὐχομένου (pray) λαῶν (men, mankind) ὕπερ (on behalf of) εὔφρονι (gracious) θυμῷ. (soul or heart) - Hear me with gracious soul as I pray on behalf of mankind!

τόνδε σὺ (you) γὰρ (for) λεύσσεις (gaze upon) τὸν (the) ἀπείριτον (boundless) αἰθέρα (Aithír) πάντα, (all) - You gaze upon all the boundless Aithír.

γαῖαν (earth) τ' ὀλβιόμοιρον (God-blessed) ὕπερθέν (from above) καὶ (and) δι' ἀμολγοῦ (in the darkness) - And upon the blessed earth you look from above through the dark of night.

νυκτὸς (night) ἐν (in, into) ἡσυχίῃσιν (restful) ὑπ' ἀστεροομμάτου (starry-eyed night) ὄρφνης (darkness) - In the restful shadow of a night filled with stars...

ῥίζας (root) νέρθε (below) δέδορκας, (see clearly) - ...you clearly see the root below...

ἔχεις (bear) δέ (and) τε (you) πείρατα (boundary) κόσμου (arrange) - ...and you arrange and bear the boundary...

παντός· (all) - ...of all.

σοὶ (you) δ' ἀρχή (origin) τε τελευτή (completion) τ' ἐστὶ (are) μέλουσα, (object of care) - For the origin and completion are both in your care.

παντοθαλής - the cause of the blooming of all things

σὺ (you) δὲ (bind) πάντα (all) πόλον (axis) κιθάρῃ (kithára or lyre) πολυκρέκτῳ (richly resonant) - With your resonant lyre you command the axis of the heavens,

ἁρμόζεις, - placing all in harmony.

ὁτὲ (when, at which time) μὲν (indeed) νεάτης (uttermost) ἐπὶ (upon) τέρματα (end) βαίνων, (advance to) - By which, indeed, you advance to the lowest pitch,

ἄλλοτε (at another time) δ' αὖθ' (again) ὑπάτην (highest) - and at another time the highest,

ποτὲ (at some time) Δώριον (Dorian) εἰς (into) διάκοσμον (setting in order) - at times playing in the Dorian mode

πάντα (all) πόλον (pole or axis) κιρνὰς, (mix) - Tempering all the poles, 

κρίνεις (distinguish or separate) βιοθρέμμονα (life-supporting) φῦλα, (race or tribe) - you keep the tribes of living creatures distinct.

ἁρμονίῃ (harmony or joining) κεράσας (mingle) παγκόσμιον (common to all) ἀνδράσι (mortal man) μοῖραν· (share) - You have mingled harmony into the share of all mortal men.

μίξας (half) χειμῶνος (winter) θέρεός (summer) τ' ἴσον (equal) ἀμφοτέροισιν, (either or each) - Giving each an equal measure of winter and summer.

εἰς (into) ὑπάτας (the highest three strings) χειμῶνα, (winter) - The highest three strings in the winter;

θέρος (summer) νεάταις (the lowest three strings) διακρίνας, (arrange) - the lowest three strings for the summer.

Δώριον (Dorian) εἰς (into) ἔαρος (spring) πολυηράτου (lovely) ὥριον (produced in season) ἄνθος. (blooming) - The Dorian mode produces the lovely and blooming spring.

ἔνθεν (thereupon) ἐπωνυμίην (call by the name of) σε (you) βροτοὶ (mortals) κλῄζουσιν (celebrate in song) ἄνακτα (lord) - Thereupon the mortals celebrate and call you lord and...

Πᾶνα, - ...Pan...

θεὸν (God) δικέρωτ', (two-horned) - ...the two-horned (Δικέρως) God...

ἀνέμων (winds) συρίγμαθ' (whistling like a pan-pipe) ἱέντα· (send) - ...who sends the whistling winds.

οὕνεκα (wherefore) παντὸς (all) ἔχεις (carry) κόσμου (Kózmos) σφραγῖδα (seal) τυπῶτιν. (he who forms) - Wherefore you form and bear the seal of the entire Kózmos.

κλῦθι (hear) μάκαρ, (blessed one) - Hear, Blessed One,

σώζων (save) μύστας (the initiates) ἱκετηρίδι (suppliant) φωνῇ. (sound) - the supplicating voices of the initiates and save them!



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

34. Apóllohn, Incense: mánna.


Come blessed healer, slayer of Tityós, the Shining One of Parnassós,   1
Memphian, renowned, exclaimed with cries of joy, bestower of bliss,
Bearing a golden lyre, generative, agrarian, Pythian, Titan,
Gryneian, Sminthéfs, slayer of the Pýthohn, Dælphic, Oracular one,
Wild, radiant divinity, lovely one, glorious son,   5
Leader of the Mousai, cultivator of joy, whose arrows achieve their aim, mighty archer,
Vrángkheian and Didymæan, you who achieve from afar, prophet, holy one,
King of Dílos, all-seeing eye bringing the light which shines on mortals,
Golden-haired, making clear oracular utterances,
Hear me with gracious soul as I pray on behalf of mankind,   10
You gaze upon all the boundless Aithír,
And upon the blessed earth you look from above through the dark of night
In the restful shadow of a night filled with stars
You clearly see the root below and you arrange and support the boundary of all:
For the origin and completion are both in your care,   15
The cause of the blooming of all things, with your resonant lyre you command the axis of the heavens,
Placing all in harmony, by which, indeed, you advance to the lowest pitch,
Elsewhere to the highest, at times playing in the Dorian mode,
Tempering all the poles you keep the tribes of living creatures distinct,
You have mingled harmony into the share of all mortal men,   20
Giving each an equal measure of winter and summer,
The highest three strings in the winter, the lowest in the summer,
The Dorian mode produces the lovely and blooming spring,
Thereupon the mortals celebrate and call you lord and
Pan, the two-horned God who sends the whistling winds,   25
Wherefore you form and bear the seal of the entire Kózmos.
Hear, Blessed One, the supplicating voices of the initiates and save them.

 

Miscellaneous Comments Concerning the Hymn to Apóllohn 

Line 19: There has been an unfortunate and recurring interpretation of this line of the hymn which must be discussed and corrected. Taylor translates this:

"All Nature's tribes to thee their diff'rence owe"

This phrase has been interpreted by some modern Hellenic practitioners as condoning racism, which is entirely impossible, for as the insightful poet Píndaros (Πίνδαρος) says:

 

"One is the race of men, one is the race of Gods, and from one Mother do we both derive our breath." [2] 

 The line is not talking about the races of man, but about the races of sentient beings; it is pointing out the ability of the God to actualize natural balance in the Kózmos by means of his music. 

The Greek is...

 

κρίνεις βιοθρέμμονα φῦλα


...which could be translated: "you judge the races of mortals" or "you separate the races of mortals by your judgment." Krínoh (κρίνω) means "to separate" or "to judge." If the line were to be interpreted in reference to human beings, it would be making reference to Apóllohn as the administrator of the justice of Zefs (Ζεύς), and in this context, krínoh would refer to a judgment concerning ethics. Therefore, the interpretation is that Apóllohn makes a distinction or separation by justice, not by race; and this would be correct; Apóllohn distinguishes between the mortals who choose to live in justice and those who choose to live in injustice, and he keeps them separate. While this is true of the God, the context of the line in the hymn, being placed in the middle of the section concerning music, makes this translation unnecessary, and the racial interpretation even more implausible; it is out-of-place in context and, in any case, the character of deity is entirely benevolent and just, making a racial interpretation impossible.



Line 21: There is a reference in the hymn of summer and winter being equal in length. It is thought by some that this is a reference to when the poem was written: a 500 year period which occurs every 10,000 years. The last occurrence of this phenomenon was 1841‑1362 BCE, and then another 10,000 years previous to this. If this reference is correct, there are reasons to believe that Orphéfs, or the author of these poems, was writing during one of these ancient periods. See Konstantinos Chassapis (Κωνσταντίνος Χασάπης) The Greek Astronomy of the Second Millennium B.C.E. according to the Orphic Hymns «Η Ελληνική Αστρονομία της Β' Χιλιετηρίδας π.Χ., κατά τους Ορφικούς Ύμνους» (Athens 1967) where this theory is proposed.



The text calls for an offering of manna, but it is unclear what exactly this is. Please visit this page for more information: ΜΑΝΝΑ.


This hymn, like all the Orphic hymns, consists primarily of epithets. These names give many clues as to the character of Gods. For many more titles of Apóllohn, please visit this page: Epithets of Apóllohn.



Hymns and Prayers to Apóllohn: 


NOTES:

[1] A Classical Manual, Being a Mythological, Historical, and Geographical Commentary on Pope's Homer, and Dryden's Æneid of Virgil, 1833, p. 21 under Didymeus

[2] 
Πίνδαρος Νεμεόνικαι 6.1, trans. Sir John Sandys, 1915.



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; 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.

SPELLING: HellenicGods.org uses the Reuchlinian method of pronouncing ancient Greek, the system preferred by scholars from Greece itself. An approach was developed to enable the student to easily approximate the Greek words. Consequently, the way we spell words is unique, as this method of transliteration is exclusive to this website. For more information, visit these three pages: 

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For answers to many questions: Hellenismos FAQ

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