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THE ORPHIC HYMN TO HECATE 


1. Ὕμνος εις Ἑκάτην


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Introduction to the Orphic Hymn to Ækáti

It is significant that the Orphic hymns open with the hymn to Ækáti (Hecate; Gr. Ἑκάτη). She is found in the Orphǽohs Argonaftiká (Ὀρφέως Ἀργοναυτικά); Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς) invokes her in order to gain entry into the grove which harbors the Krysómallon Dǽras (Χρυσόμαλλον Δέρας), the Golden Fleece. She is also found in the mythology of Dimítir (Δημήτηρ) as she seeks out her Daughter in the great story connected with the most famous of all the Mystery cults, the Ælefsínia Mystíria (Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια), for Ækáti has heard the cries of Pærsæphóni (Περσεφόνη) as she was abducted by Ploutohn (Πλούτων). And Isíodos (Hesiod; Gr. Ἡσίοδος) in his Theogonía (Θεογονία) 410-452 says that Zefs (Ζεύς) reveres (τίμησε) her above all and that she is greatly honored by all the Deathless Gods in Starry Heaven (ἀστερόεντος ἀπ᾽ οὐρανοῦ); the poem goes on to enumerate many benefits the Goddess bestows on people. It is said that Ækáti holds the hands of those who pray and that she takes particular notice of those people who wish to develop Virtue (Ἀρετή). So who is this mighty Goddess? Perhaps her hymn will provide us with some clues to understanding her and getting closer to her.


Original Greek Text:

1.
Ὕμνος εις Ἑκάτην.

Εἰνοδίην Ἑκάτην κλῄιζω, τριοδῖτιν, ἐραννήν,
οὐρανίην, χθονίαν τε, καὶ εἰναλίην κροκόπεπλον,
τυμβιδίην, ψυχαῖς νεκύων μέτα βακχεύουσαν,
Πέρσειαν, φιλέρημον, ἀγαλλομένην ἐλάφοισιν,
νυκτερίην, σκυλακῖτιν, ἀμαιμάκετον βασίλειαν,
ταυροπόλον, παντὸς κόσμου κληιδοῦχον ἄνασσαν,
ἡγεμόνην, νύμφην, κουροτρόφον, οὐρεσιφοῖτιν,
λισσόμενοις κούρην τελεταῖς ὁσίαισι παρεῖναι
βουκόλῳ εὐμενέουσαν ἀεὶ κεχαρηότι θυμῷ.


Transliteration:
(See this page: Transliteration of Ancient Greek)

Einodíïn Ækátin klíiizoh, triodítin, ærannín,
ouraníin, khthonían tæ, kai einalíin, krokópæplon,
tymvidíin, psykhais nækýohn mǽta vakkhévousan,
Pǽrseian, philǽrimon, agallomǽnin æláphisin,
nyktæríin, skylakítin, amaimákæton vasíleian,
tavropólon, pandós kózmou kliidoukhon ánassan,
iyæmónin, nýmphin, kourotróphon, ouræsiphítin,
lissómænis kourin tælætais osíaisi pareinai
voukóloï evmænǽousan aei kækharióti thymóï.


BREAKDOWN OF THE HYMN

Ὕμνος (hymn) εις (to) Ἑκάτην (Ækáti)

Εἰνοδίην (crossroads) Ἑκάτην (Ækáti) κλῄιζω (call) - I call Ækáti of the crossroadsΕἰνοδίην (fem. acc.) is a form of εἰνοδία (fem. nom.) or ἐνόδιος (masc. nom), a common epithet of the Goddess meaning "of the crossroads." And κλῄιζω is a form of κλύω, "hear" "listen."

τριοδῖτιν - Ækáti is τριοδῖτις (fem. nom.; τριοδίτης is masc. nom.), worshipped at the meeting of three roads.

ἐραννήν – Fem. acc. of ἐραννός, an adjective meaning "lovely."

οὐρανίην (sky) χθονίαν (earth) τε (both) καὶ (and) εἰναλίην (of the sea) - in the sky, earth, as well as the sea.

κροκόπεπλον - Ækáti is κροκόπεπλος (fem./masc. nom.), adored with saffron-colored robes.

τυμβιδίην - funereal

ψυχαῖς (life or soul) νεκύων (corpse) μέτα (among) βακχεύουσαν (revel) - Daimohn, celebrating among the corpses!

Ækáti is associated with the Middle Sky, the area which extends from just above the sea and the land up to just below the moon. This is the place where the souls dwell, the souls of those whose mortal bodies have died and are awaiting rebirth. Ækáti likes to dwell in this region and assist the mortals and deities who reside there. The idea that the souls of the dead inhabit the lower sky can be found in various texts such as:

 

"All soul, whether without mind or with it, when it has issued from the body is destined to wander <in> the region between earth and moon..."

(Πλούταρχος  Ἠθικά Concerning the Face Which Appears in the Orb of the Moon, Chap. 28, 943C; trans. Harold Cherniss and William C. Helmbold, 1957, Public Domain as the copyright was not renewed.)

 This idea can also be found in Pythagorean writings:

 

"When cast out upon the earth, it (ed. the soul) wanders in the air like the body. Hermes is the steward of souls, and for that reason is called Hermes the Escorter, Hermes the Keeper of the Gate, and Hermes of the Underworld, since it is he who brings in the souls from their bodies both by land and sea; and the pure are taken into the uppermost region, but the impure are not permitted to approach the pure or each other, but are bound by the Furies in bonds unbreakable. The whole air is full of souls which are called Genii or Heroes; these are they who send men dreams and signs of future disease and health, and not to men alone, but to sheep also and cattle as well; and it is to them that purifications and lustrations, all divination, omens and the like, have reference. The most momentous thing in human life is the art of winning the soul to good or to evil. Blest are the men who acquire a good soul; [if it be bad] they can never be at rest, nor ever keep the same course two days together."

 

(Διογένης Λαέρτιος The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, 8.31, trans. by C. D. Yonge, 1828.)

Περσείαν - Persian, because she is the daughter of Pǽrsis (Perses; Gr. Πέρσης).

φιλέρημον - fond of solitude (φιλέρημος, fem./masc. nom.)

ἀγαλλομένην (exult) ἐλάφοισι (deer) - delighting in deer

νυκτερίην - Ækáti is called Νυκτέρια (fem. nom./voc. sing.), nocturnal, because her knowledge and activities are difficult to comprehend, as though hidden in the night. Her rituals were usually performed at night by torchlight. She is associated with the night sky, for her parents are stars, great sources of light which are only visible in the dark.

σκυλακῖτιν - Ækáti is σκυλακῖτις (nom., etym. from σκύλαξ, dog or whelp), protectress of dogsÁrtæmis (Artemis; Gr. Ἄρτεμις) uses “dogs” to hunt down the beautiful souls; Ækáti uses the “dogs” to deliver prayers to Gods. All people have an Agathós Daimohn (Gr. Ἀγαθὸς Δαίμων), a soul who accompanies you always and who loves and protects you; the Agathós Daimohn is thought of as like the faithful dog who follows its master everywhere and tries to protect him from danger.

ἀμαιμάκετον (irresistible) βασίλειαν (queen) - Ækáti is the irresistible or indomitable queen (ἀμαιμάκετος [masc./fem. nom.] βασίλεια [fem. nom.]).

ταυροπόλον - This epithet, ταυροπόλος (fem. nom.), has various meanings. It may mean drawn in a carriage yoked by bulls or it may mean bull-herder.

παντὸς (all) κόσμου (Kózmos) κληιδοῦχον (holding the keys) ἄνασσαν (queen) - You are the queen who holds the keys to all the Kózmos.

ἡγεμόνην - from ἡγεμονέωshe who holds authority.

νύμφην - divine Nýmphi (girl or brideνύμφη is nom.).

κουροτρόφον - Ækáti is the κουροτρόφος (fem./masc. nom.), the nurturer of children and youths.

οὐρεσιφοῖτιν - Ækáti is οὐρεσιφοῖτιςshe who haunts the mountains.

λισσόμενοις (pray) κούρην (maiden) τελεταῖς (rituals) ὁσίαισι (hallowed) παρεῖναι (let fall) - Pray, Maiden, attend our hallowed rituals.


βουκόλῳ (βουκόλῳ, herdsman) εὐμενέουσαν (graciousness) ἀεὶ (always) κεχαρηότι (rejoice, hail) θυμῷ (incense) - Be always gracious to your herdsman (βούκολος [no fem. form], a devotee of the Mysteries) and rejoice in our gifts of incense.

 

All this work yields a new translation of the hymn:

 

1. Ækáti (Ἑκάτη)

I call Ækáti of the Crossroads, worshipped at the meeting of three paths, oh lovely one.
In the sky, earth, and sea, you are venerated in your saffron-colored robes.
Funereal Daimohn, celebrating among the souls of those who have passed.
Persian, fond of deserted places, you delight in deer.
Goddess of night, protectress of dogs, invincible Queen.
Drawn by a yoke of bulls, you are the queen who holds the keys to all the Kózmos.
Commander, Nýmphi, nurturer of children, you who haunt the mountains.
Pray, Maiden, attend our hallowed rituals; 
Be forever gracious to your mystic herdsman and rejoice in our gifts of incense.


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 GodsIn 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.

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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