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28. Ἑρμοῦ



Introduction to the Orphic hymn to Ærmís

Ærmís (Hermes, Ἑρμῆς) is the great friend of mankind who has an interest in our difficulties, particularly if we find ourselves in any state of bondage, whether literally or figuratively. He is adept in the use of speech and bestows his cleverness upon us. And his use of speech extends to his divine function as messenger of Zefs (Ζεύς) for which he is depicted in the mythology as having winged cap and sandals. All these qualities of Ærmís are evident in the Orphic hymn dedicated to him, and many more, where he is depicted as a vibrant and joyful deity, energetic in his actions.

The original ancient Greek text

28. Ἑρμοῦ, θυμίαμα λίβανον.

Κλῦθί μευ, Ἑρμεία, Διὸς ἄγγελε, Μαιάδος υἱέ, 1

παγκρατὲς ἦτορ ἔχων, ἐναγώνιε, κοίρανε θνητῶν,

εὔφρων, ποικιλόβουλε, διάκτορος, Ἀργειφόντα,

πτηνοπέδιλε, φίλανδρε, λόγου θνητοῖσι προφῆτα·

γυμνάσιν ὃς χαίρεις, δολίαις τ’ ἀπάταις, (στρ)οφιοῦχε*· 5

ἑρμηνεῦ πάντων, κερδέμπορε, λυσιμέριμνε·

ὃς χείρεσσιν ἔχεις εἰρήνης ὅπλον ἀμεμφές·

Κωρυκιῶτα, μάκαρ, ἐριούνιε, ποικιλόμυθε,

ἐργασίαις ἐπαρωγέ, φίλε θνητοῖς ἐν ἀνάγκαις·

γλώσσης δεινὸν ὅπλον, τὸ σεβάσμιον ἀνθρώποισιν· 10

κλῦθί μευ εὐχομένου, βιότου τέλος ἐσθλὸν ὀπάζων,

ἐργασίῃσι, λόγου χάρισιν, καὶ μνημοσύνῃσιν.

Reuchlinian transliteration of the ancient Greek text:

(See this page: Transliteration of Ancient Greek)

28. Ærmou, thymíama lívanon.

Klýthi mef, Ærmeia, Diós ángælæ, Maiádos iǽ, 1

pangratǽs ítor ǽkhôn, ænagóniæ, kíranæ thnitóhn,

éfphrôn, pikilóvoulæ, diáktoros, Aryeiphónda,

ptinopǽdilæ, phílandræ, lógou thnitísi prophíta,

yimnásin os haireis, dolíais t'apátais, (str)ophioukhæ 5

ærminéf pándôn, kærdǽmboræ, lysimǽrimnæ;

os heiræssin ǽheis eirínis óplon amæmphǽs;

Kôrykióhta, mákar, æriouniæ, pikilómythæ,

ærgasíais æparôyǽ, phílæ thnitís æn anángais,

glóhssis deinón óplon, to sævázmion anthróhpisin; 10

klýthí mef efkhomǽnou, viótou tǽlos æsthlón opázôn

ærgasíisi, lógou khárisin, kai mnimosýnisin.


Ἑρμοῦ, - Ἑρμοῦ is the genitive of Ἑρμῆς; titles of Orphic Hymns are usually placed in the genitive case.

θυμίαμα (incense) λίβανον. (frankincense) - The author of this hymn is suggestion an incense-offering of frankincense be made to the God.

Κλῦθί (hear) μευ, (me) - Hear me

Ἑρμεία, - Ærmís (Hermes)

Διὸς (Διὸς is gen. of Ζεύς) ἄγγελε, (ἄγγελος is fem./masc. nom., messenger, angel) - messenger of Zefs (Zeus)

Μαιάδος (Μαῖα, mother of Ἑρμῆς) υἱέ, (son) - son of Maia

παγκρατὲς (παγκρατής is nom., all-powerful) ἦτορ (heart) ἔχων, (having) - having an invincible heart

ἐναγώνιε, - you who preside over contests (ἐναγώνιος, nom.). One of the fields of interest of Ærmís is the gymnasium and athletic contests.

κοίρανε (κοίρανος is nom., ruler) θνητῶν, (mortals) - ruler of mortals

εὔφρων, - joyful, gracious

ποικιλόβουλε, - wily one (ποικιλόβουλος, nom.)

διάκτορος (διάκτορος is nom./gen., guide or messenger) guide,

Ἀργειφόντα, (Ἀργειφόντἡς is nom., slayer of Ἄργος Πανόπτης) - slayer of Árgos. Ióh (Ἰώ) was a lover of Zefs and this liaison was discovered by Íra (Ἥρᾱ). In order to disguise his paramour, Zefs transformed her into a heifer, but Íra discovered the ruse and placed the cow under the care of the giant Árgos who had so many eyes that only some of them would sleep at any particular time. But Ærmís, disguised as a shepherd, charmed the eyes to sleep and slew him with a stone. Ióh was now free to wander, now tormented by the gadfly of Íra, but it was revealed to her by Promithéfs (Προμηθεύς) that in time she would be free and that her trial would yield fruit in that she would become the ancestor of the greatest of the heroes, Iraklís (Ἡρακλῆς).

πτηνοπέδιλε, - with winged sandals (πτηνοπέδιλος, nom.). Ærmís is depicted with winged sandals because he is the messenger of the Gods, most particularly the messenger of Zefs. He is said to fly through the three realms (Earth, Sea, and Sky) and deliver the intention and commands of his father.

φίλανδρε, - friend of mankind (φίλανδρος, fem./masc. nom.)

λόγου (word, language) θνητοῖσι (mortal) προφῆτα; (prophet) - divine revealer of language to mortals

γυμνάσιν (gymnastic training) ὃς (you) χαίρεις, (rejoice) - You rejoice in gymnastic training

δολίαις (tricky, deceitful) τ' ἀπάταις, (deceit) - and in skillful deceit. It may seem strange that deceit is a quality of Ærmís and it must be understood that this is not deception with bad intent, but, rather, the ability to discern when it is necessary to deceive in order to protect, to mislead those whose intention is to do harm, and similar uses of speech.

(στρ)οφιοῦχε; - (στροφιοῦχος is masc. nom.) - priestly one (στροφιοῦχος is the wearer of the στρόφιον, a headband worn by priests). This word presents a problem. The Book of the Orphic Hymns extracted from Hermann's Orphica renders this οφιοῦχε, from ὀφιοῦχος (a constellation), the "serpent handler." This could, perhaps, refer to the two snakes of the Kirýkeion (Κηρύκειον), a symbol associated with the God. The ancient text used by Athanassakis (first edition) renders this τροφιοῦχε, a word for which this author cannot find any information. Liddell and Scott suggests that the word may actually be στροφιοῦχε (στροφιοῦχος masc. nom.), “he who wears the the στρόφιον (i.e., a priest).” If this is actually the correct word, οφιοῦχε remains "inside" στροφιοῦχε allowing for a mystical double-meaning.

ἑρμηνεῦ (ἑρμηνεύς is nom., interpreter) πάντων, (all) - interpreter of everything

κερδέμπορε, - conductor of trade (κερδέμπορος, fem./masc. nom.). Commerce and the necessary acquisition of wealth are special interests of Ærmís.

Λυσιμέριμνε; - you who drives away our troubles (λυσιμέριμνος, fem./masc. nom.). By means of the acquisition of the skills Ærmís bestows on us...competent use of language, competence in livelihood, etc....our difficulties in life are greatly lessened.

ὃς (you) χείρεσσιν (hands) ἔχεις (bear, possess) εἰρήνης (peace) ὅπλον (tool) ἀμεμφές; (blameless, perfect) - You hold in your hands the perfect instrument of peace

Κωρυκιῶτα, - Kôrykian (Κωρυκιώτης, masc. nom.). This epithet refers to Kóhrykos (Κώρυκος), an ancient city in Anatolí (Ἀνατολή), the Southern promontory of the Erythraean peninsula opposite Khíos (Χίος), with a rich history; it is now the town known as Kizkalesi in Turkey. There is a cave near this place, the Kohrykian (Corycian or Cilician) Cave which was the dwelling-place of Typhóhn (Τυφῶν) and Ǽkhidna (Ἔχιδνα). Pan (Πᾶν) and Ærmís were worshiped in this cave, and there was also a temple in this area dedicated to Zefs (Ζεύς).

μάκαρ, - happy one

ἐριούνιε, - luck-bringer (ἐριούνιος, masc. nom.). Ærmís is a joyful and light-hearted God who sometimes bestows a windfall, unexpected good fortune.

ποικιλόμυθε, - skilled rhetorician (ποικιλόμυθος, fem./masc. nom.)

ἐργασίαις (business, work) ἐπαρωγέ, (ἐπαρωγός is nom., helper) - you are an aide in our labor

φίλε (friend) θνητοῖς (mortals) ἐν (in) ἀνάγκαις; (necessity) - friend to mortals in necessities

γλώσσης (tongue, speech) δεινὸν (dreaded, powerful) ὅπλον, (tool) - powerful tool of speech,

τὸ σεβάσμιον (awesome) ἀνθρώποισιν; (men) - awesome to mankind

κλῦθί (hear) μευ (our) εὐχομένου, (praying) - hear my prayer

βιότου (life) τέλος (fulfillment) ἐσθλὸν (good, noble, fortunate) ὀπάζων (send with) - bestowing a fortunate end to life

ἐργασίῃσι, - livelihood

λόγου (words) χάρισιν, (favor) - of language for beauty

καὶ (and) μνημοσύνῃσιν. (memory) - and memory.

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

28. Ærmís, Incense frankincense.

Hear me, Ærmís, messenger of Zefs, son of Maia! 1

Having an invincible heart ...you who preside over contests, ruler of mortals,

Oh joyful, wily one, guide, slayer of Árgos.

You with the winged sandals, friend of mankind, divine revealer of language to mortals;

You rejoice in gymnastic training, and in skillful deceit, oh priestly one. 5

Interpreter of everything, conductor of trade, who drives our troubles away;

You hold in your hands the perfect instrument of peace;

Kôrýkian, happy one, luck-bringing, skilled rhetorician,

An aide in our labors, a friend of mortals in necessities;

(Brandishing) the powerful weapon of speech, awesome to mankind; 10

Hear my prayer, bestowing a fortunate end to life,

With adequate means of livelihood, of language for beauty, and long memory.

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.

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 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 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 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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