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32. Ὕμνος Ἀθηνᾶς



Introduction to the Orphic Hymn to Athiná

Athiná (Athena, Ἀθηνᾶ) is very special to us. The discovery and acquisition of the embroidery of the Goddess (Athiná Queen of Athens) is auspicious and the author has come to believe that the Goddess is a protector of our community, but only so long as the participants are committed to the path of virtue. Athiná is so pure and magnificent that in the Orphic Theogony she is called virtue itself (Orphic Fragment 175).

The Goddess is intimately involved with the Mysteries, for when the Titánæs (Τιτᾶνες) sacrifice Zagréfs (Zagreus, Ζαγρεὐς), Athiná retrieves the still-beating heart of the little God and delivers it to her father in a silver box, destined to be transformed into Diónysos (Διόνυσος), and she becomes the leader of the Kourítæs (Κουρῆτες), the protectors of the holy rites and the saviors of the world. Therefore she is a great participant in the legacy of the providence of Zefs (Ζεύς), promoting his mighty plan of compassion for all of creation.

The Orphic hymn to Athiná is a beautiful and concise portrait of our great protectress giving us the means to easily supplicate the Goddess in our rituals. We shall explore the hymn, going through it word-by-word, so that we can construe all of its meaning.

The original ancient Greek text:

32. Ὕμνος Ἀθηνᾶς, θυμίαμα, ἀρώματα.

Παλλὰς μουνογενής, μεγάλου Διὸς ἔκγονε σεμνή, 1

δῖα μάκαιρα θεά, πολεμοκλόνος, ὀμβριμόθυμε,

[Ἄῤῥητ’, εὐρήτη, μεγαλώνυμος, ἀντροδίαιτε·

ἥ τε διαΐσσεις ὑψαυχένας ἀκρωρείας,

ἠδ’ ὄρεα σκιόεντα, νάπῃσί τε σὴν φρένα τέρπεις.] 5

ὁπλοχαρής, οἰστροῦσα βροτῶν ψυχὰς μανίῃσιν·

γυμνάζουσα κόρη. φρικώδεα θυμὸν ἔχουσα.

Γοργοφόνος, φυγόλεκτρε, τεχνῶν μῆτερ πολύολβε.

ὁρμάστειρα, φίλοιστρε κακοῖς, ἀγαθοῖς δὲ φρόνησις.

ἄρσην μὲν καὶ θῆλυς ἔφυς, πολεμήτοκε μῆτι. 10

αἰολόμορφε, δράκαινα, φιλένθεος, ἀγλαότιμε·

Φλεγραίων ὀλέτειρα γιγάντων, ἱππελάτειρα.

Τριτογένεια, λύτειρα κακῶν, νικηφόρε δαῖμον,

γλαυκῶφ’, εὑρεσίτεχνε, πολυλλίστη βασίλεια

ἤματα καὶ νύκτας αἰεὶ νεάταισιν ἐν ὥραις, 15

κλῦθί μευ εὐχομένου, δὸς δ’ εἰρήνην πολύολβον,

καὶ κόρην ἠδ’ ὑγίειαν ἐπ’ εὐόλβοισιν ἐν ὥραις.

Reuchlinian transliteration of the ancient Greek text:

(See this page: Transliteration of Ancient Greek)

32. Ýmnos Athinás, thymíama aróhmata

Pallás mounoyænís, mægálou Diós ǽkgonæ sæmní, 1

día mákaira Thæá, polæmoklónos, omvrimóthymæ,

[Árrit’, evrití, mægalóhnymos, androdíaitæ;

i tæ diäísseis ypsáfkhænas akrohreias,

id' óræa skióænda, nápisí tæ sin phrǽna tǽrpeis.] 5

oplokharís, istrousa vrotóhn psykhás maníisin;

yimnázousa kóri. phikóhdæa thymón ǽkhousa.

Gorgophónos, phygólæktræ, tækhnóhn mítær polýolvæ.

ormásteira, phílistræ kakís, agathís dæ phrónisis.

ársin mæn kai thílys ǽphys, polæmítokæ míti. 10

aiolómorphæ, drákaina, philǽnthæos, aglaótimæ;

Phlægraiohn olǽteira yigándohn, ippælátira.

Tritoyǽneia, lýteira kakóhn, nikiphóræ daimon,

glafkóhph', evræsítækhnæ, polyllísti vasíleia

ímata kai nýktas aiei næátaisin æn óhrais, 15

klýthi mef efkhomǽnou, dos d' eirínin polýolvon,

kai kóron id' iyíeian æp' evólvisin æn óhrais.


Ὕμνος (hymn, nom.) Ἀθηνᾶς (genitive of Ἀθηνᾶ) – Hymn to Athiná. Titles in the Orphic Hymns are usually placed in the genitive case.

θυμίαμα (incense) ἀρώματα (aromatic herbs or spices) - The author of the hymn is suggesting an incense offering of aromatic herbs or spices.

Παλλὰς (famous epithet of Athiná) μουνογενής, (only begotten) - Only-begotten Pallás. - The epithet Παλλὰς is interpreted in many ways, but Orphic fragment 35 states that she was called Pallás from the word πάλλεσθαι, which means "palpitating," from the still-beating heart of Zagréfs (Ζαγρεὐς) set aside by the Titánæs (Τιτᾶνες) when they sacrificed the little God. See also Κρατύλος Πλάτωνος 407a.

μεγάλου (big or vast) Διὸς (Zefs) ἔκγονε (born of) σεμνή, (revered) - born of the revered lineage of mighty Zefs (Ζεύς)

δῖα (heavenly) μάκαιρα (happy) θεά, (Goddess) - heavenly happy Goddess

πολεμοκλόνος, - she who raises the clamor of war

ὀμβριμόθυμε, - ὀμβριμόθυμος, strong of spirit

Ἄῤῥητ’, - ἄρρητος, unspoken, ineffable

εὐρήτη, - εὔρητος, easy to tell

μεγαλώνυμος, - with a great name, giving glory

ἀντροδίαιτε; - ἀντροδίαιτος, living in caves

ἥ τε διαΐσσεις (διαΐσσω, dart across) ὑψαύχενας (stately, towering) ἀκρωρείας, (mountain ridge) - you dart across the towering mountain ridges

ἠδ' (and) ὄρεα (mountain) σκιόεντα, (shadowy) - and the shadowy mountains

νάπαισί (νάπη, dells or valleys) τε (and) σὴν (your) φρένα (heart) τέρπεις. (charm) - and you delight your heart with the valleys.

ὁπλοχαρής, - delighting in arms

οἰστροῦσα (drive to madness) βροτῶν (men) ψυχὰς (soul) μανίῃσιν· (μανία, madness) - you who drive the souls of men to madness

γυμνάζουσα (athletic) κόρη. (girl or daughter) - athletic maiden

φρικώδεα (horrible) θυμὸν (spirit) ἔχουσα. (having) - having a character which causes one to shudder

Γοργοφόνος, - the slayer of the Gorgóhn (Γοργών)

φυγόλεκτρε, - φυγόλεκτρος = φυγοδέμνιος, she who despises the wedding bed, i.e. she is virgin.

τεχνῶν (skill) μῆτερ (mother) πολύολβε. (wealthy) - abundant mother of the arts

ὁρμάστειρα, - she who urges or cheers one on

φίλοιστρε (loving to inspire frenzy) κακοῖς, (wicked) - frenzy-loving to the wicked,

ἀγαθοῖς (good) δὲ (but) φρόνησις. (prudence) - but prudence to the good

ἄρσην (male) μὲν καὶ (and) θῆλυς (female) ἔφυς, (put forth) - you are male as well as female

πολεμήτοκε (bringing forth war) μῆτι. (shrewd) - wise-one who brings (necessary) war (πολεμητόκος)

αἰολόμορφε, - αἰολόμορφος, of changeful form

δράκαινα, - dragoness

φιλένθεος, - filled with divine influence

ἀγλαότιμε· - ἀγλαότιμος, splendidly honored

Φλεγραίων (Phlægraiôn) ὀλέτειρα (destroyer) γιγάντων, (Giants) - destroyer (ὀλέτειρα being the feminine of ὀλετήρ) of the Phlægraiôn (Phlegraean) Giants

ἱππελάτειρα. - rider of horses, ἱππελάτειρα being the feminine of ἱππελάτης

Τριτογένεια, - The meaning of Τριτογένεια is not known with certainty. Some of the explanations of the epithet are as follows: born near Lake Triton (Tritonis) in Livíï (Λιβύη), or the stream named Trítohn (Τρίτων) in Viohtía (Βοιωτία), hence "Triton-born." Other suggestions are "Third-born," or from the Athamanian dialect tritô meaning "head," thus, born from the head of Zefs.

λύτειρα (deliverer) κακῶν, (sorrows) - she who delivers us from sorrow

νικηφόρε (victorious) δαῖμον, (divinity) - victorious (νικήφορος) divinity

γλαυκῶφ', - gleaming or blue eyed...

εὑρεσίτεχνε - inventive (εὑρεσίτεχνος, "inventor of the arts") ...

πολυλλίστη (sought by many prayers) βασίλεια (queen) - queen, besought by many prayers (πολύλλιστος)!

ἤματα (day) καὶ (and) νύκτας (night) αἰεὶ (ever) νεάταισιν (last, uttermost) ἐν (into) ὥραις, (part of the day, i.e. hours) - day and night, ever into the final hours

κλῦθί (hear) μευ (me) εὐχομένου, (prayer) - hear my prayer,

δὸς (give) δ' εἰρήνην (peace) πολύολβον, (wealth) - give me peace and wealth

καὶ (and) κόρον (one's fill) ἠδ' ὑγίειαν (health) ἐπ' εὐόλβοισιν (prosperous) ἐν (in) ὥραις. (seasons) - and satisfaction and health with prosperous seasons

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

32. Hymn to Athiná, Incense: aromatic herbs.

Only-begotten Pallás, born of the revered lineage of mighty Zefs, 1

Heavenly happy Goddess, warlike, indomitable,

[Ineffable, yet easy to know, glorious, cave-dwelling,

You dart across the hills and towering ridges,

And the shadowy mountains, and you delight your heart with the valleys.] 5

Delighting in arms, you who drive the souls of men to madness;

Athletic Maiden. Having a spirit of dreadful nature,

Slayer of the Gorgóhn, virginal, abundant mother of the arts.

Advocate, frenzy-loving to the wicked, but prudence in the good.

You are male and female, oh shrewd one who generates war, 10

Form-changing, dragoness, divine inspiration, revered,

Destroyer of the Phlægraiôn Giants, equestrian.

Tritoyǽneia, deliverer from sorrows, victorious divinity,

Gleaming, inventor of crafts, queen besought by many prayers

Day and night even into the final hours: 15

Hear my prayer, give me peace and wealth,

And satisfaction and health with prosperous seasons.

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 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.

This logo 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 Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara, κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllôn (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 Glossary, you will find fascinating stories. 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 often 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 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:

Pronunciation of Ancient Greek

Transliteration of Ancient Greek

Pronouncing the Names of the Gods in Hellenismos

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