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66. Ἡφαίστου



Introduction to the Orphic Hymn to Íphaistos

Íphaistos (Hephaestus, Ἥφαιστος) is the mighty God of Form in Ællînismόs (Hellenismos, Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion. Like Æstía (Ἑστία), he has a fire; she has the Fire of Life while Íphaistos has the Aithirial (Ethereal) Fire. It could be said that the underlying theme of the Orphic hymn to Íphaistos is centered around this fire, a fire which works with the forms. These are the forms which are revealed first by Phánîs (Phanes, Φάνης) as he, mythologically, enters the Ántron (Cave, Ἄντρον) of Nyx (Νύξ). Íphaistos, the great Craftsman, the Mystic Coppersmith, works with these forms and they are later beautified by Aphrodítî (Ἀφροδίτη). In the Orphic Theogony this is described thus:

Íphaistos mingled with Aphrodíti and thereby created the form of the universe, and then he united with Aglaia (Ἀγλαΐα) and produced Good Glory (Εὔκλεια), Abundance (Ευθηνία), Good Omen (Εὐφήμη, good fame), and Friendliness (Φιλοφροσύνη), by which his works are made beautiful. [1]

Having this basic background, let us attempt to more deeply understand the great Orphic hymn to Íphaistos.

Thomas Taylor's commentary on this hymn is as follows:

"Vulcan (ed. Íphaistos) is that divine power which presides over the spermatic (ed. generative) and physical productive powers which the universe contains: for whatever Nature accomplishes by verging to bodies, that Vulcan effects in a divine and exempt manner, by moving Nature, and using her as an instrument in his own proper fabrication. For natural heat has a Vulcanian characteristic, and was produced by Vulcan for the purpose of fashioning a corporeal nature. Vulcan, therefore, is that power which perpetually presides over the fluctuating nature of bodies; and hence, says Olympiodorus (ed. Ὀλυμπιόδωρος), he operates with bellows, (εν ϕύσαις) which occultly signifies his operating in natures (ἁντί του εν ταῖς ϕύσεσι). This deity, also, as well as Mars (ed. Άρης), as Proclus (ed. Πρόκλος) observes, in Plat. Repub. p. 388, requires the assistance of Venus (ed. Ἀφροδίτη), in order that he may invest sensible effects with beauty, and thus cause the pulchritude (ed. physical beauty) of the world." [2]

The Original Ancient Greek Text:

66. Ἡφαίστου, θυμίαμα, λιβανομάνναν.

Ἥφαιστ’ ὀμβριμόθυμε, μεγασθενές, ἀκάματον πῦρ, 1

λαμπόμενε φλογέαις αὐγαῖς, φαεσίμβροτε δαῖμον,

φωσφόρε, καρτερόχειρ, αἰώνιε, τεχνοδίαιτε,

ἐργαστήρ, κόσμοιο μέρος, στοιχεῖον ἀμεμφές,

παμφάγε, πανδαμάτωρ, πανυπέρτατε, παντοδίαιτε, 5

αἰθήρ, ἥλιος, ἄστρα, σελήνη, φῶς ἀμίαντον·

ταῦτα γὰρ Ἡφαίστοιο μέλη θνητοῖσι προφαίνει.

πάντα δὲ οἶκον ἔχεις, πᾶσαν πόλιν, ἔθνεα πάντα·

σώματά τε θνητῶν οἰκεῖς, πολύολβε, κραταιέ·

κλῦθι, μάκαρ, κλῄζω σε πρὸς εὐϊέρους ἐπιλοιβάς, 10

αἰεὶ ὅπως χαίρουσιν ἐπ’ ἔργοις ἥμερος ἔλθῃς.

παῦσον λυσσῶσαν μανίην πυρὸς ἀκαμάτοιο,

καῦσιν ἔχων φύσεως ἐν σώμασιν ἡμετέροισιν.

Reuchlinian transliteration of the ancient Greek text:

(See this page: Transliteration of Ancient Greek)

66. Iphaistou, thymíama livanománnan.

Íphaist' omvrimóthymæ, mægasthænǽs, akámaton pyr, 1

lambómænæ phloyǽais avyais, phaæsímvrotæ daimon,

phôsphóræ, kartæróheir, aióhniæ, tækhnodíaitæ,

ærgastír, kózmio mǽros, stiheion amæmphǽs,

pampháyæ, pandamátôr, panypǽrtatæ, pandodíaite, 5

aithír, ílios, ástra, sælíni, phôs amíandon;

táfta gar Iphaistio mǽli thnitísi prophainei.

pánda dæ íkon ǽheis, pásan pólin, ǽthnæa pánda;

sóhmatá tæ thnitóhn iheis, polýolvæ, krataiǽ;

klýthi, mákar, klízô sæ pros eviǽrous æpilivás, 10

aiei ópôs hairousin æp' ǽryis ímæros ǽlthis.

páfson lyssóhsan maníin pyrós akamátio

káfsin ǽkhôn phýsæôs æn sóhmasin imætǽrisin.


Ἡφαίστου - Ἡφαίστου is the genitive of Ἥφαιστος. In the Orphic hymns, titles are usually in the genitive case.

θυμίαμα, - incense

λιβανομάνναν. - frankincense and mánna. The author of the hymn is suggesting an incense-offering of frankincense + mánna.

Ἥφαιστ’ (Íphaistos) ὀμβριμόθυμε, (strong of spirit) - Strong-spirited (ὀμβριμόθυμος is nom.) Íphaistos,

μεγασθενές, - mighty

ἀκάματον (untiring) πῦρ, (fire) - inexhaustible fire

λαμπόμενε (shine) φλογέαις (flaming) αὐγαῖς, (light) - gleaming flaming light

φαεσίμβροτε (light-bringing) δαῖμον, (divinity) - light-bringing divinity

φωσφόρε, - torch-bearer (φωσφόρος is nom.)

καρτερόχειρ, - strong-handed

αἰώνιε, - eternal (αἰώνιος is nom.)

τεχνοδίαιτε, - living in art (τεχνοδίαιτος is nom.)

ἐργαστήρ, - workman

κόσμοιο (form, order) μέρος, (share, portion) - portion of the Kózmos.

στοιχεῖον (element) ἀμεμφές, (blameless, perfect) - perfect element

παμφάγε, - all-devouring (παμφάγος)

πανδαμάτωρ, - all-subduing

πανυπέρτατε, - highest of all (πανυπέρτατος is nom.)

παντοδίαιτε, - all-consuming (παντοδίαιτος is nom.)

αἰθήρ, - Aithír

ἥλιος, - sun

ἄστρα, - stars

σελήνη, - moon

φῶς (light) ἀμίαντον· (pure) - pure light

ταῦτα (this) γὰρ (for) Ἡφαίστοιο (Íphaistos) μέλη (limbs, form) θνητοῖσι (mortal, adj.) προφαίνει. (manifest, verb) - for these are the limbs of Íphaistos which manifest to mortals.

πάντα (all) δὲ οἶκον (home) ἔχεις, (possess) - the dwellings of all belong to you

πᾶσαν (all) πόλιν, (city) - all cities

ἔθνεα (peoples, nations) πάντα· (all) - all peoples

σώματά (bodies) τε (you) θνητῶν (mortal) οἰκεῖς, (dwell) - you dwell in mortal bodies

πολύολβε, - rich in blessings (πολύολβος is nom.)

κραταιέ· - strong, mighty (κραταιός is nom.)

κλῦθι, - hear

μάκαρ, - happy one

κλῄζω (call) σε (you) πρὸς (to) εὐιέρους (holy) ἐπιλοιβάς, (libation) - I invite you to this holy libation

αἰεὶ (always) ὅπως (as) χαίρουσιν (rejoice) ἐπ’ ἔργοις (work) ἥμερος (tame, gentle) ἔλθοις. (come) - Come always gentle one and make work joyful.

παῦσον (cease) λυσσῶσαν (raging) μανίην (madness) πυρὸς (fire) ἀκαμάτοιο, (tireless) - Cease the raging madness of tireless fire

καῦσιν (a burning, flame) ἔχων (the one who has, who is responsible for) φύσεως (nature) ἐν (in) σώμασιν (bodies) ἡμετέροισιν. (our) - for it is your fire which burns in nature within our bodies.

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

66. Íphaistos, Incense, frankincense and mánna.

Strong-spirited Íphaistos, mighty, inexhaustible fire, 1

Gleaming flaming sunlight, light-bringing divinity,

Torch-bearing, strong-handed, eternal, mighty craftsman,

Workman, portion of the Kózmos, perfect foundation,

All-devouring, all-subduing, highest of all, all-consuming, 5

Aithír, sun, stars, moon, unblemished light,

For these are the limbs of Íphaistos which manifest to mortals.

The dwellings of all belong to you, all cities, all peoples,

You dwell in our mortal bodies, blessing us, mighty one.

Hear, happy one, we invite you to this holy libation, 10

Come to us always, gentle one, and make work joyful.

Cease the raging madness of your tireless flame

For it is your fire which burns in Nature within our bodies.


[1] Orphic fragment 182.

[2] Thomas Taylor The Mystical Hymns of Orpheus, 1824.

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.

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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.

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