HYMN TO APHRODITE
THE ORPHIC HYMN TO APHRODITE
55. Εἰς Ἀφροδίτην.
Introduction to the Orphic Hymn to Aphrodíti
In the Mystíria (Mysteries; Gr. Gr. Μυστήρια) we speak of Ouranía (Gr. Οὐρανία) Aphrodíti (Aphrodite; Gr. Ἀφροδίτη) whose dominion is the Natural Law of Harmony, for it is she who harmonizes the soul, mythologically represented by her union with Áris (Ares; Gr. Ἄρης) producing the child Armonía (Harmonia; Gr. Ἁρμονία). The Orphic hymn to this most important Goddess opens with the epithet (Οὐρανία) immediately calling all this to mind. But the bulk of the hymn glorifies her other, more familiar aspect, that of Pándimos (the common or popular; Gr. Πάνδημος) Aphrodíti, she who blesses the physical union of mortals. The hymn heaps praise upon her ability to cause the reproduction of all the creatures of the Kózmos (Cosmos; Gr. Κόσμος). It can be easy to forget in a world which seems to condemn sex, that our religion has a different point of view: procreation is so essential that it is sacred. And it is blessed and governed by this most beautiful of Goddesses of Ællinismόs (Hellenismos; Gr. Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion. And then near the end, the hymn invokes sacred Ádohnis (Adonis; Gr. Ἄδωνις), representative of the deification of the soul, tying the poem together with its beginning, reminding us again that she is also Ouranía, the great transcendent Goddess of the Sky. Let us now examine the hymn and get closer to lovely Aphrodíti.
The original ancient Greek text
55. Εἰς Ἀφροδίτην, ὕμνος.
Οὐρανίη, πολύυμνε, φιλομμειδὴς Ἀφροδίτη, 1
ποντογενής, γενέτειρα θεά, φιλοπάννυχε, σεμνή,
νυκτερίη, ζεύκτειρα, δολοπλόκε μῆτερ ἀνάγκης·
πάντα γὰρ ἐκ σέθεν ἐστίν, ὑπεζεύξω δέ τε κόσμον·
καὶ κρατέεις τρισσῶν μοιρῶν, γεννᾷς δὲ τὰ πάντα, 5
ὅσσα τ’ ἐν οὐρανῳ ἐστι καὶ ἐν γαίῃ πολυκάρπῳ,
ἐν πόντου τε βυθῷ· σεμνὴ Βάκχοιο πάρεδρε,
τερπομένη θαλίῃσι, γαμοστόλε, μῆτερ ἐρώτων·
πειθοῖ λεκτροχαρής, κρυφίη, χαριδῶτι ἄνασσα,
φαινομένη τ’, ἀφανής τ’, ἐρατοπλόκαμ’, εὐπατέρεια, 10
νυμφιδίη, σύνδαιτε, θεῶν σκηπτοῦχε, λύκαινα·
γεννοδότειρα, φίλανδρε, ποθεινοτάτη, βιοδῶτι·
ἐνζεύξασα βροτοὺς ἀχαλινώτοισιν ἀνάγκαις,
καὶ θηρῶν πολὺ φῦλον, ἐρωμανέων ὑπὸ φίλτρων·
ἔρχεο, Κυπρογενὲς θεῖον γένος, εἴτ’ ἐν’ Ὀλύμπῳ 15
ἐσσί, θεὰ βασίλεια, καλῷ γήθουσα προσώπῳ,
εἴτε καὶ εὐλιβάνου Συρίης ἕδος ἀμφιπολεύεις,
εἴτε σύ γ’ ἐν πεδίοισι σὺν ἅρμασι χρυσεοτεύκτοις
Αἰγύπτου κατέχεις ἱερῆς γονιμώδεα λουτρά,
ἢ καὶ κυανέοισιν ὄχοις ἐπὶ πόντιον οἶδμα 20
ἐρχομένη χαίρεις νεπόδων κυκλίῃσι χορείαις·
ἢ νύμφαις τέρπῃ κυανώπισιν ἐν χθονὶ Δίᾳ,
θυιὰς ἐπ’ αἰγιαλοῖς ψαμμώδεσιν ἅλματι κούφῳ·
εἴτ’ ἐν Κύπρῳ, ἄνασσα, τροφῷ σέο· ἔνθα καλαί σε
παρθένοι ἀδμῆται νύμφαι τ’ ἀνὰ πάντ’ ἐνιαυτὸν 25
ὑμνοῦσιν, σέ, μάκαιρα, καὶ ἄμβροτον ἁγνὸν Ἄδωνιν.
ἐλθέ, μάκαιρα θεά, μάλ’ ἐπήρατον εἶδος ἔχουσα·
ψυχῇ γάρ σε καλῶ σεμνῇ ἁγίοισι λόγοισιν.
Reuchlinian transliteration of the ancient Greek text:
(See this page: Transliteration of Ancient Greek)
55. Eis Aphrodítin.
Ouraníi, polýimnæ, philommeidís Aphrodíti, 1
pondoyænís, yænǽteira thæá, philopánnykhæ, sæmní,
nyktæríi, Zéfkteira, doloplókæ mítær anángis;
pánda gar æk sǽthæn æstín, ypæzéfxoh dæ kózmon;
kai kratǽeis trissóhn miróhn, yænnás dæ ta pánda, 5
óssa t'æn ouranó æstí kai æn yaii polykárpo,
æn póndou tæ vythó, sæmní Vákkhio párædræ,
tærpomǽni thalíisi, gamostólæ mítær æróhtohn;
Peithí læktrokharís, kryphíi, kharidóhti ánassa,
phainomǽni, t'aphanís t’ æratoplókam' efpatǽreia, 10
nymphidíi, sýndaitæ, thæóhn skiptoukhæ, lýkaina;
yænnodóteira, phílandræ, potheinotáti, viodóhti;
ænzéfxasa vrotous akhalinóhtisin anángais,
kai thiróhn polý phýlon, ærohmanǽohn ypó phíltrohn;
ǽrkhæo, Kyproyænǽs theion yǽnos, eit' æn' Olýmpo 15
æssí, thæá vasíleia, kaló yíthousa prosóhpo,
eitæ kai evlivánou Syríis ǽdos amphipoléveis,
eitæ si y' æn pædíisi syn ármasi khrysæotéfktis
Aiyíptou katǽkheis iærís gonimóhdæa loutrá,
i kai kianǽisin ókhis æpí póndion ídma 20
ærkhomǽni khaireis næpódohn kyklíisi khoreiais;
i nýmphais tǽrpii kyanóhpisin æn khthoní Día,
thiás æp' aiyialís psammóhdæsin álmati koupho;
eit' æn Kýpro, ánassa, trophó sǽo; ǽntha kalai sæ
parthǽni admítai nýmphai t' aná pánd' æniaftón 25
ymnousin, sæ, mákaira, kai ámvroton agnón Ádohnin.
ælthǽ, mákaira thæá, mál' æpíraton eidos ǽkhousa;
psykhí gar sæ kalóh sæmní ayíisi lóyisin.
BREAKDOWN OF THE HYMN
Εἰς (in regard to) Ἀφροδίτην. (Aphrodíti) - Ἀφροδίτην is the epic accusative of Ἀφροδίτη which follows the preposition εἰς, a convention in some titles of hymns. Unlike most of the hymns, there is no suggestion for an incense offering; this author likes to offer her powdered rose petals as this flower is traditionally sacred to her.
Οὐρανίη, - Ouranian, of the heavens, of the Sky. Aphrodíti was born of the foam which formed when the genitals of Οὐρανός fell into the sea.
πολύυμνε, - much sung of, famous. (πολύυμνος is fem./masc. nom.)
φιλομμειδὴς (laughter loving, famous epithet of the Goddess, adj. fem./masc. nom.) Ἀφροδίτη, (Aphrodíti) - laughter-loving Aphrodíti
ποντογενής, (adj. fem./masc. nom.) - born of the Sea
γενέτειρα (birth-giver, mother, fem. nom.) θεά, (Goddess) - birth-giving Goddess
φιλοπάννυχε, - friend of all-night festivity (φιλοπάννυχος, fem./masc. nom.)
σεμνή (fem. nom. of σεμνός, holy) , - revered or holy
νυκτερίη, (of the night) at night
ζεύκτειρα, (one who causes to mate; fem. of ζευκτήρ, one who yokes) – she who causes beings to mate
δολοπλόκε (wily) μῆτερ (mother) ἀνάγκης· (Necessity) - wily mother of Necessity
πάντα (all) γὰρ (for) ἐκ (from) σέθεν (you) ἐστίν, (be, comes) - for all comes from you
ὑπεζεύξω (yoked) δέ (but, then, yet) τε (you) κόσμον· (Kózmos) - and you have caused the Kózmos to couple
καὶ (and) κρατέεις (are sovereign) τρισσῶν (triple) μοιρῶν, (parts) - and are sovereign over the Three Realms. Taylor translates μοιρῶν as the Fates, but this is likely incorrect. The Fates or the Mírai (Μοῖραι) are minions of Zefs alone. Actually μοιρῶν (gen. plural of μοῖρα) has many definitions depending on context. It generally means "lots" or "portions," but portions of what? The hymn is likely referring to the three realms of existence (the sky, the earth, and the sea) which includes everything, that her ability to effect the yoking of mortals gives her, in a way, sovereignty over all.
γεννᾷς (origin ) δὲ τὰ πάντα, (all) - you are the origin of all
ὅσσα (as much as) τ' ἐν (in) οὐρανῳ (sky) ἐστι (to be) καὶ (and) ἐν (in) γαίῃ (Earth) πολυκάρπῳ, (fruitful) - as much as in the Sky as to the fruitful Earth
ἐν (in) πόντου (Sea) τε (and, and also) βυθῷ· (depth) - and also in the deep Sea,
σεμνὴ (holy) Βάκχοιο (Vakkhic) πάρεδρε, (sitting beside) - holy attendant of Vákkhos (Diónysos)
τερπομένη (delight) θαλίῃσι, (festivities) - delighting in festivity
γαμοστόλε, (bridal) nuptial
μῆτερ (mother) ἐρώτων· (Ǽrohtæs) - mother of the Ǽrohtæs (Ἔρωτες, the winged attendants of the Goddess representing the various qualities of desire and love)
Πειθοῖ (Persuasion) λεκτροχαρής, (enjoying the marriage-bed) - Oh Persuasion, enjoying the marital bed
κρυφίη, - secretive
χαριδῶτι (joy-giving) ἄνασσα, (queen) – joy-giving queen
φαινομένη - making appear
τ', ἀφανής - invisible
τ', ἐρατοπλόκαμ', - bearing lovely locks
εὐπατέρεια, - daughter of a noble father
νυμφιδίη, - bridal
σύνδαιτε, - companion at table
θεῶν (Gods) σκηπτοῦχε, (sceptered) – sceptered by Gods
λύκαινα· - she-wolf
γεννοδότειρα, - giver of heirs
φίλανδρε, - man-loving (φίλανδρος)
ποθεινοτάτη, - much-desired
βιοδῶτι· - life-giving
ἐνζεύξασα (yoke) βροτοὺς (mortals) ἀχαλινώτοισιν (unbridled) ἀνάγκαις, (necessity) - you couple mortals in unbridled necessity
καὶ (and) θηρῶν (wild beasts) πολὺ (many) φῦλον, (tribe, race) - and the many tribes of wild beasts
ἐρωτομανῶν (mad for love) ὑπὸ (under) φίλτρων· (love-charms) - frenzied from your charms of love.
ἔρχεο, - Come
Κυπρογενὲς (Kýpros-born) θεῖον (Goddess) γένος, (offspring) - child of Kýpros
εἴτ' (seated) ἐν' (in) Ὀλύμπωι (Sky) - seated in the Sky
ἐσσί, - be
θεὰ (Goddess) βασίλεια, (royal or queen) - royal Goddess
καλῷ (beauty) γήθουσα (delighting) προσώπῳ, (face) - delighting in your beautiful countenance
εἴτε (be) καὶ (and) εὐλιβάνου (rich in frankincense) Συρίης (Syrian) ἕδος (sitting-place) ἀμφιπολεύεις, (waiting on) - and while being attended at your seat in Syria rich in frankincense
εἴτε (be) σύ (you) γ' ἐν (in) πεδίοισι (plain) σὺν (together with) ἅρμασι (chariot) χρυσεοτεύκτοις (golden) - or riding through the plain in your golden chariot
Αἰγύπτου (Egypt) κατέχεις (possess) ἱερῆς (priests) γονιμώδεα (fruitful) λουτρά, (bathing place) - or taking seat with the priests of the fruitful river of Egypt
ἢ καὶ (and) κυκνέοισιν (swan) ὄχοις (carriage) ἐπὶ (upon) πόντιον (of the sea) οἶδμα (a swelling or surge) - and riding your swan-drawn carriage upon the swelling of the sea
ἐρχομένη (going, coming) χαίρεις (rejoice) νεπόδων (young ones) κυκλίαισι (wheels) χορείαις· (dance) - rejoicing in the little ones as they dance about in circles
ἢ νύμφαις (Nymphs) τέρπῃ (gladden, cheer) κυανώπισιν (dark-eyed) ἐν (in) χθονὶ (earthy) Δίᾳ, (Goddess) – delightful to the Goddess are the dark-eyed Nymphs of the Earth
θῖνας (beaches) ἐπ' (upon) αἰγιαλοῖς (sea-shore) ψαμμώδεσιν (sandy) ἅλματι (leaping) κούφῳ· (lightly) - as they lightly leap upon the sandy beaches of the sea-shore
εἴτ’ (seated) ἐν (in) Κύπρῳ, (Kýpros) - seated in Kýpros
ἄνασσα, - oh queen
ττροφῶι (nurse) σέο· (you) - oh nurturer
ἔνθα (where) καλαί (beautiful, invoke) σε (your) - where you are invoked
παρθένοι (maidens) ἄδμηται (unwedded) νύμφαι (girls, maidens, Nymphs) τ' ἀνὰ (throughout) πάντ’ (all) ἐνιαυτὸν (year) - by maidens and unwedded Nymphs throughout the year
ὑμνοῦσιν, - singing
σέ, - for you
μάκαιρα, - happy one
καὶ (and) ἄμβροτον (immortal) ἁγνὸν (holy) Ἄδωνιν. (Ἄδωνις) - and immortal holy Ádohnis
ἐλθέ, - come
μάκαιρα (blessed) θεά (Goddess) μάλ' (exceedingly) ἐπήρατον (lovely) εἶδος (form) ἔχουσα· (possess) - blessed Goddess possessing a very lovely form
ψυχῇ (soul) γάρ (for) σε (you) καλῶ (summon) σεμνῇ (σεμνῇ, holy) ἁγίοισι (pure) λόγοισιν. (words) - for I summon you with pure words and devout soul.
All this work yields a more literal translation of the Orphic hymn to Aphrodíti
Ouranía, of whom many sing, laughter-loving Aphrodíti, 1
Sea-born, birth-giving Goddess, friend of those romantic encounters which extend to dawn, holy one,
At night, causing mortals to mate, wily mother of Necessity;
For everything comes from you, and you have caused the Kózmos to procreate;
You are sovereign over the Three Realms and are the origin of everything, 5
That which is in the Sky, in the fruitful Earth,
And in the deep Sea, holy attendant of Vákkhos.
You delight in festivity, nuptial, mother of the Ǽrohtæs,
Oh Seductive-one who enjoys making love, secretive, joy-giving queen,
Obvious yet hidden, aristocratic daughter with the beautiful hair, 10
Bridal, dining companion, sceptered by Gods, wolven;
You give us our progeny, lover of man, desirable one, life-giver;
You couple mortals in unbridled necessity
And the many kinds of wild beasts, frenzied from your charms of love;
Come, daughter of Kýpros, seated in the Heavens, 15
We behold you, royal Goddess, splendid with your beautiful countenance.
Whether you be on your throne in Syria, rich in frankincense,
Or riding through the plain in your golden chariot,
Or flanked by your priests at the fruitful River of Egypt,
Or riding your swan-drawn carriage upon the waves of the Sea, 20
Delighting in the little ones as they dance about in circles;
Delightful to the Goddess are the dark-eyed Nymphs of the Earth,
As they lightly leap upon the sandy beaches of the sea-shore.
Or when seated in Kýpros, oh queen and nurturer; where your blessings are invoked
By maidens and virgin Nymphs throughout the year; 25
They sing for you, happy one, and immortal holy Ádohnis,
Come, happy Goddess who is so ineffably beautiful,
For I summon you with pure words and devout soul.
Much of the theology of our religion has been preserved in fragments: The Orphic Fragments of Otto Kern.
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.
Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.
How do we know there are Gods? Experiencing Gods.
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PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this website, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. These narratives are known as mythology , 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.
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.
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