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15. Διός



Introduction to the Orphic hymn to Zefs

Zefs (Zeus, Ζεύς) is the highest of all Gods for which he is called Ýpatos (Ὕπατος), even Fate is subservient to him. Zefs is responsible for the entire Kózmos and because of his compassion for his creatures he has brought providence to fruition in his son Diónysos (Διόνυσος). He is the great Olympian, whom even the Gods obey, the king and father of Gods and men (Πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε Θεῶν τε), indeed, he is the father of everything. The Orphic hymn to Zefs emphasizes his generative ability and also his awesome power. In some ways it is a miniature version of the long hymn to Zefs found in the Orphic Theogony (Kern frag. 168). This God is so immensely important that we conclude every ritual with the recitation of this, the fifteenth Orphic hymn (there are two other hymns to Zefs, 19. Ζεύς Κεραυνός and 20. Ζεύς Ἀστραπαίος, but the 15th is the most important of the three); let us now closely examine it and become more familiar with our great Father.

The original ancient Greek text

15. Διός, θυμίαμα, στύρακα.

Ζεῦ πολυτίμητε, Ζεῦ ἄφθιτε, τήνδε τοι ἡμεῖς 1

μαρτυρίην τιθέμεσθα λυτήριον, ἠδὲ πρόσευξιν.

ὦ βασιλεῦ, διὰ σὴν κεφαλὴν ἐφάνη τάδε πάντα,

γαῖα θεὰ μήτηρ, ὀρέων θ’ ὑψαυχένες ὄχθοι,

καὶ πόντος, καὶ πάνθ’, ὁπόσ’ οὐρανὸς ἐντὸς ἔταξε. 5

Ζεῦ Κρόνιε, σκηπτοῦχε, καταιβάτα, ὀμβριμόθυμε,

παντογένεθλ’, ἀρχὴ πάντων, πάντων τε τελευτή.

σεισίχθων, αὐξητά, καθάρσιε, παντοτινάκτα,

ἀστράπιε, βρονταῖε, κεραύνιε, φυτάλιε Ζεῦ·

κλῦθί μευ, αἰολόμορφε, δίδου δ’ ὑγίειαν ἀμεμφῆ 10

εἰρήνην τε θεὰν, καὶ πλούτου δόξαν ἄμεμπτον.

[Pro versu 7---11 habet istos Thryll. quorum duo

medii sunt H. 19, 20 et 21.

(In another manuscript, Thryll., the following verses replace lines 7 through 11 of the above hymn, the last four of which can be found at the end of Hymn 19 Κεραυνίου Διός, beginning at line 20.)

αὐτοπάτωρ· μακάρων τε θεῶν πάτερ ἠδὲ καὶ ἀνδρῶν. 7

ἀλλά χάριν λοιβῇσι δίδου, φρεσίν αἴσιμα πάντα.

ζωήν δ’ ὀλβιόθυμον. ὁμοῦ δ’ ὑγίειαν ἄνασσαν

εἰρήνη τε θεόν κουροτρόφον ἀγλαότιμον· 10

καί βίον εὐθύμοισιν ἀεί θάλλοντα λογισμοῖς.]

Reuchlinian transliteration of the ancient Greek text:

15. Diós, thymíama, stýraka.

Zef polytímitæ, Zef áphthitæ, tíndæ ti imeis 1

martyríin tithǽmæstha lytírion, idǽ prósefxin.

oh vasiléf, diá sin kæphalín æpháni tádæ pánda,

yaia thæá mítir, orǽohn th' ypsavkhǽnæs ókhthi,

kai póndos, kai pánth', opós' ouranós ændós ǽtaxæ. 5

Zef Króniæ, skiptoukhæ, kataiváta, omvrimóthymæ,

pandoyǽnæthl', arkhí pándohn, pándohn tæ tæleftí.

seisíkhthohn, afxitá, kathársiæ, pandotinákta,

astrápiæ, vrondaiæ, kærávniæ, phytáliæ Zef;

klýthí mef, aiolómorphæ, dídou d' iyíeian amæmphí 10

eirínin tæ thæán, kai ploutou dóxan ámæmpton.

Alternate ending (see above):

aftopátohr; makárohn tæ thæón pátær idǽ kai andrón. 7

allá khárin livísi dídou, phræsín aisima pánda.

zoín d’ olvióthymon. omou d’ yyíeian ánassan

eiríni tæ thæón kourotróphon aglaótimon; 10

kai víon efthýmisin aei thállonda loyizmís.


Διός, - Διός is the genitive of Ζεύς. Titles are usually placed in the genitive case in ancient Greek.

θυμίαμα (incense) στύρακα. (storax) - The author of this hymn is suggesting that an incense-offering of storax (benzoin) be made to the God.

Ζεῦ (Zefs, voc. case) πολυτίμητε, (πολυτίμητος, highly honored) - Zefs most honored

Ζεῦ (Zefs, voc. case) ἄφθιτε, (ἄφθιτος, immortal, imperishable) - Zefs immortal

τήνδε (this) τοι (verily) ἡμεῖς (we) - We verily offer you (these three words only make sense as part of the following line.)

μαρτυρίην (testimony, witness; acc.) τιθέμεσθα (put, place) λυτήριον, (redemptive, delivering) - this redemptive testimony

ἠδὲ (and) πρόσευξιν. (πρόσευξις = προσευχή, prayer) - and prayer.

βασιλεῦ, - Oh king

διὰ (through, by means of) σὴν (your) κεφαλήν (head, crown or completion) ἐφάνη (bring to light, make clear) τάδε (this before you) πάντα, (all) - by means of your accomplishment all things are made clear

γαῖα (earth) θεὰ (Goddess) μήτηρ, (mother) - Earth Goddess Mother,

ὀρέων (mountains, gen.) θ' ὑψαυχένες (towering) ὄχθοι, (hills, high places) – and the towering high places of the mountains,

καὶ (and) πόντος, (sea) – and the sea,

καὶ (and) πάνθ', (all) - and everything,

ὁπόσ' (ὁπόσος?, as many as) οὐρανὸς (sky) ἐντὸς (within) ἔταξε. (arrange) – as many as are arranged within the sky

Ζεῦ (Zefs) Κρόνιε, (Κρόνιος, of Κρόνος) - Kronian Zefs

σκηπτοῦχε, - sceptered (σκηπτοῦχος)

καταιβάτα, - descending in thunder and lightning (καταιβάτης)

ὀμβριμόθυμε, - strong of spirit (ὀμβριμόθυμος = ὀβριμόθυμος)

παντογένεθλ', - all-generating, father of all (παντογένεθλος)

ἀρχὴ (origin) πάντων, (all) - origin of all

πάντων (all) τε (and, both and) τελευτή, (end, completion) - and end of all

σεισίχθων, - earth-shaker

αὐξητά, - increaser (αὐξητής)

καθάρσιε, - purifier (καθάρσιος)

παντοτινάκτα, - all-shaker (παντοτινάκτης)

ἀστράπιε, - you who are accompanied by lightning (ἀστραπαῖος)

βρονταῖε, - thundering (βρονταῖος)

κεραύνιε, - wielding thunder (κεραύνιος = κεραύνειος)

φυτάλιε (φυτάλιος, planter) Ζεῦ· (Zefs) - Zefs the planter

κλῦθί (hear) μευ, (me) - Hear me

αἰολόμορφε, - of changeful form (αἰολόμορφος)

δίδου (give, grant) δ' ὑγίειαν (health) ἀμεμφῆ (blameless) - grant me blameless health

εἰρήνην (peace) τε (and, both and) θεὰν, (of Gods) – with godly peace

καὶ (and) πλούτου (wealth) δόξαν (reputation) ἄμεμπτον. (blameless) - as well as wealth and good reputation.

Alternate ending (see above):

αὐτοπάτωρ· (nom.) – self-generated one

μακάρων (happy, gen. pl.) τε θεῶν () πάτερ (father, voc.) ἠδὲ καὶ (and also) ἀνδρῶν. (men, gen.) – father of the happy Gods as well as men.

ἀλλά (but) χάριν (grace, acc.) λοιβῇσι (libations, dat.) δίδου, (offer) – But for the grace of our libations grant

φρεσίν (thoughts, aspirations; dat. pl.) αἴσιμα (righteous; nom. voc. acc. adj.) πάντα. (considered) – all fitting aspirations.

ζωήν (live, living, life) δ’ ὀλβιόθυμον. (heart-gladdening, adj.; ὀλβιόθυμος) – a happy life

ὁμοῦ (unite, joint) δ’ ὑγίειαν (health, acc.) ἄνασσαν (queen, acc.) – joined with queen health

εἰρήνη (peace, nom. voc. noun) τε (and) θεόν (God, acc.) κουροτρόφον (child-rearing; voc. acc. nom. adj.) ἀγλαότιμον· (brightly venerated; ἀγλαότιμος, adj.; ἀγλαός means “shining, bright”) – and the brightly venerated child-loving Goddess of peace;

καί (and) βίον (life, acc. noun) εὐθύμοισιν (εὔθυμος, happy, kind) ἀεί (ever, always; adverb) θάλλοντα (growing, thriving; part.) λογισμοῖς. (reasoning, conclusion; dat. noun.) – and a life always rich with cheerful thoughts.

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

15. Zefs, Incense storax.

Highly honored Zefs, imperishable Zefs, we verily offer you 1

This redemptive testimony and prayer.

Oh King, by means of your accomplishment all things are made clear,

Earth Goddess mother, and the towering high places of the mountains,

The sea, and everything, as many as are arranged within the sky; 5

Kronian Zefs, bearing the scepter, descending in thunder and lightning, strong-hearted one,

All-generating Father, origin and end of everything,

Earth-shaker, increaser, purifier, shaker of everything,

Bearing lightning, thundering and wielding it, yet you are the great nurturer of life.

Hear me, God of changeful form. Grant me blameless health, 10

With godly peace, as well as riches and good reputation.

Alternate ending (see above):

Self-generated one; father of the happy Gods and men. 7

In gratitude for our libations, fulfill all fitting aspirations.

A happy life, united with queen health,

And the brightly-venerated child-loving Goddess of peace; 10

And a life always rich with cheerful thoughts.

(translations by the author)

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 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.

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Pronunciation of Ancient Greek

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