Hymn to Zeus

Author Callimachus
Subject Hymns to Zeus

Callimachus, Hymn to Zeus H.1 (Greek only) from The Perseus Digital Library.

At libations to Zeus what else should rather be sung than the god himself, mighty for ever, king for evermore, router of the Pelagonians, dealer of justice to the sons of Heaven? How shall we sing of him - as lord of Dicte or of Lycaeum? My soul is all in doubt, since debated is his birth. O Zeus, some say that thou wert born on the hills of Ida; others, O Zeus, say in Arcadia; did these or those, O Father lie? “Cretans are ever liars.” Yea, a tomb, O Lord, for thee the Cretans builded; but thou didst not die, for thou art for ever.

In Parrhasia it was that Rheia bare thee, where was a hill sheltered with thickest brush. Thence is the place holy, and no fourfooted thing that hath need of Eileithyia nor any woman approacheth thereto, but the Apidanians call it the primeval childbed of Rheia. There when thy mother had laid thee down from her mighty lap, straightaway she sought a stream of water, wherewith she might purge her of the soilure of birth and wash thy body therein.

But mighty Ladon flowed not yet, nor Erymanthus, clearest of all rivers; waterless was all Arcadia; yet it was anon to be called well-watered. For at that time when Rhea loosed her girdle, full many a hollow oak did watery Iaon bear aloft, and many a wain did Melas carry and many a serpent above Carnion, wet though it now be, cast its lair; and a man would fare on foot over Crathis and many-pebbled Metope, athirst: while that abundant water lay beneath his feet.

And holden in distress the lady Rheia said, “Dear Earth, give birth thou also! They birthpangs are light.” So spake the goddess, and lifting her great arm aloft she smote the mountain with her staff; and it was greatly rent in twain for her and poured forth a mighty flood. Therein, O Lord, she cleansed they body; and swaddled thee, and gave thee to Neda to carry within the Cretan covert, that thou mightst be reared secretly: Neda, eldest of the nymphs who then were about her bed, earliest birth after Styx and Philyra. And no idle favour did the goddess repay her, but named that stream Neda; which, I ween, in great flood by the very city of the Cauconians, which is called Lepreion, mingles its stream with Nereus, and its primeval water do the son’s son of the Bear, Lycaon’s daughter, drink.

When the nymph, carrying thee, O Father Zeus, towards Cnosus, was leaving Thenae - for Thenae as nigh to Cnosus - even then, O God, thy navel fell away: hence that plain the Cydonians call the Plain of the Navel. But thee, O Zeus, the companions of the Cyrbantes took to their arms, even the Dictaean Meliae, and Adrasteia laid thee to rest in a cradle of gold, and thou didst suck the rich teat of the she-goat Amaltheia, and thereto eat the sweet honey-comb. For suddenly on the hills of Ida, which men call Panacra, appeared the works of the Panacrian bee. And lustily round thee danced the Curetes a war-dance, beating their armour, that Cronus might hear with his ears the din of the shield, but not thine infant noise.

Fairly didst thou wax, O heavenly Zeus, and fairly wert thou nurtured, and swiftly thou didst grow to manhood, and speedily came the down upon thy cheek. But, while yet a child, thou didst devise all the deeds of perfect stature. Wherefore thy kindred, though an earlier generation, grudged not that thou shouldst have heaven for thine appointed habitation. For they said that the lot assigned to the sons of Cronus their three several abodes. But who would draw lots for Olympos and for Hades ? save a very fool? For equal chances should one cast lots; but these are the wide world apart. When I speak fiction, be it such fiction as persuades the listener’s ear! Thou wert made sovereign of the gods not by casting of lots by the deeds of thy hands, thy might and that strength which thou hast set beside thy throne. And the most excellent of birds didst thou make the messenger of thy sings; favourable to my friends be the sings thou showest! And thou didst choose that which is most excellent among men ? not thou the skilled in ships, nor the wielder of the shield, nor the minstrel: these didst thou straightway renounce to lesser gods, other cares to others. But thou didst choose the rulers of cities themselves, beneath whose hand is the lord of the soil, the skilled in spearmanship, the oarsman, yea, all things that are: what is there that is not under the ruler’s sway? Thus, smith, we say, belong to Hephaestus; to Ares, warriors; to Artemis of the Tunic, huntsmen; to Phoebus they that know well the strains of the lyre. But from Zeus come kings; for nothing is diviner than the kings of Zeus. Wherefore thou didst choose them for thine own lot, and gavest them cities to guard. And thou didst seat thyself in the high places of the cities, watching who rule their people with crooked judgements, and who rule otherwise. And thou hast bestowed upon them wealth and prosperity abundantly; unto all, but not in equal measure. One may well judge by our Ruler, for he hath clean outstripped all others. At evening he accomplisheth what whereon he thinketh in the morning; yea, at evening the greatest things, but the lesser soon as he thinketh on them. But the others accomplish some things in a year, and some things not in one; of others, again, thou thyself dost utterly frustrate the accomplishing and thwartest their desire.

Hail! greatly hail! most high Son of Cronus, giver of good things, giver of safety. Thy works who could sing? There hath not been, there shall not be, who shall sing the works of Zeus. Hail! Father, hail again! And grant us goodness and prosperity. Without goodness wealth cannot bless men, nor goodness without prosperity. Give us goodness and weal.

Greek Text

Ζηνὸς ἔοι τί κεν ἄλλο παρὰ σπονδῇσιν ἀείδειν
λώιον ἢ θεὸν αὐτόν, ἀεὶ μέγαν, αἰὲν ἄνακτα,
Πηλαγόνων ἐλατῆρα, δικασπόλον οὐρανίδῃσι;
πῶς καί μιν, Δικταῖον ἀείσομεν ἠὲ Λυκαῖον;
ἐν δοιῇ μάλα θυμός, ἐπεὶ γένος ἀμφήριστον.
Ζεῦ, σὲ μὲν Ἰδαίοισιν ἐν οὔρεσί φασι γενέσθαι,
Ζεῦ, σὲ δ᾽ ἐν Ἀρκαδίῃ: πότεροι, πάτερ, ἐψεύσαντο;
‘Κρῆτες ἀεὶ ψεῦσται:’ καὶ γὰρ τάφον, ὦ ἄνα, σεῖο
Κρῆτες ἐτεκτήναντο: σὺ δ᾽ οὐ θάνες, ἐσσὶ γὰρ αἰεί.
ἐν δέ σε Παρρασίῃ Ῥείη τέκεν, ἧχι μάλιστα
ἔσκεν ὄρος θάμνοισι περισκεπές: ἔνθεν ὁ χῶρος
ἱερός, οὐδέ τί μιν κεχρημένον Εἰλειθυίης
ἑρπετὸν οὐδὲ γυνὴ ἐπιμίσγεται, ἀλλά ἑ Ῥείης
ὠγύγιον καλέουσι λεχώιον Ἀπιδανῆες.
ἔνθα σ᾽ ἐπεὶ μήτηρ μεγάλων ἀπεθήκατο κόλπων
αὐτίκα δίζητο ῥόον ὕδατος, ᾧ κε τόκοιο
λύματα χυτλώσαιτο, τεὸν δ᾽ ἐνὶ χρῶτα λοέσσαι.

Λάδων ἀλλ᾽ οὔπω μέγας ἔρρεεν οὐδ᾽ Ἐρύμανθος,
λευκότατος ποταμῶν, ἔτι δ᾽ ἄβροχος ἦεν ἅπασα
Ἀρκαδίη: μέλλεν δὲ μάλ᾽ εὔυδρος καλέεσθαι
αὖτις: ἐπεὶ τημόσδε, Ῥέη ὅτ᾽ ἐλύσατο μίτρην,
ἦ πολλὰς ἐφύπερθε σαρωνίδας ὑγρὸς Ἰάων
ἤειρεν, πολλὰς δὲ Μέλας ὤκχησεν ἁμάξας,
πολλὰ δὲ Καρνίωνος ἄνω διεροῦ περ ἐόντος
ἰλυοὺς ἐβάλοντο κινώπετα, νίσσετο δ᾽ ἀνὴρ
πεζὸς ὑπὲρ Κρᾶθίν τε πολύστιόν τε Μετώπην
διψαλέος: τὸ δὲ πολλὸν ὕδωρ ὑπὸ ποσσὶν ἔκειτο.
καί ῥ᾽ ὑπ᾽ ἀμηχανίης σχομένη φάτο πότνια Ῥείη:
‘Γαῖα φίλη, τέκε καὶ σύ: τεαὶ δ᾽ ὠδῖνες ἐλαφραί.’
εἶπε καὶ ἀντανύσασα θεὴ μέγαν ὑψόθι πῆχυν
πλῆξεν ὄρος σκήπτρῳ: τὸ δέ οἱ δίχα πουλὺ διέστη,
ἐκ δ᾽ ἔχεεν μέγα χεῦμα: τόθι χρόα φαιδρύνασα,
ὦνα, τεὸν σπείρωσε, Νέδῃ δέ σε δῶκε κομίζειν
κευθμὸν ἔσω Κρηταῖον, ἵνα κρύφα παιδεύοιο,
πρεσβυτάτῃ Νυμφέων αἵ μιν τότε μαιώσαντο,
πρωτίστῃ γενεῇ μετά γε Στύγα τε Φιλύρην τε.
οὐδ᾽ ἁλίην ἀπέτεισε θεὴ χάριν, ἀλλὰ τὸ χεῦμα
κεῖνο Νέδην ὀνόμηνε: τὸ μέν ποθι πουλὺ κατ᾽ αὐτὸ
Καυκώνων πτολίεθρον, ὃ Λέπρειον πεφάτισται,
συμφέρεται Νηρῆι, παλαιότατον δέ μιν ὕδωρ
υἱωνοὶ πίνουσι Λυκαονίης ἄρκτοιο.
εὖτε Θενὰς ἀπέλειπεν ἐπὶ Κνωσοῖο φέρουσα,
Ζεῦ πάτερ, ἡ Νύμφη σε Θ̔εναὶ δ᾽ ἔσαν ἐγγύθι Κνωσοὖ,
τουτάκι τοι πέσε, δαῖμον, ἄπ᾽ ὀμφαλός: ἔνθεν ἐκεῖνο
ὀμφάλιον μετέπειτα πέδον καλέουσι Κύδωνες.
Ζεῦ, σὲ δὲ Κυρβάντων ἑτάραι προσεπηχύναντο
Δικταῖαι Μελίαι, σὲ δ᾽ ἐκοίμισεν Ἀδρήστεια
λίκνῳ ἐνὶ χρυσέῳ, δὺ δ᾽ ἐθήσαο πίονα μαζὸν
αἰγὸς Ἀμαλθείης, ἐπὶ σὲ γλυκὺ κηρίον ἔβρως.
γέντο γὰρ ἐξαπιναῖα Πανακρίδος ἔργα μελίσσης
Ἰδαίοις ἐν ὄρεσσι, τά τε κλείουσι Πάνακρα.
οὖλα δὲ Κούρητές σε περὶ πρύλιν ὠρχήσαντο
τεύχεα πεπηήγοντες, ἵνα Κρόνος οὔασιν ἠχὴν
ἀσπίδος εἰσαΐοι καὶ μή σεο κουρίζοντος.
καλὰ μὲν ἠέξευ, καλὰ δ᾽ ἔτραφες, οὐράνιε Ζεῦ,
ὀξὺ δ᾽ ἀνήβησας, ταχινοὶ δέ τοι ἦλθον ἴουλοι.
ἀλλ᾽ ἔτι παιδνὸς ἐὼν ἐφράσσαο πάντα τέλεια:
τῶ τοι καὶ γνωτοὶ προτερηγενέες περ ἐόντες
οὐρανὸν οὐκ ἐμέγηραν ἔχειν ἐπιδαίσιον οἶκον.
δηναιοὶ δ᾽ οὐ πάμπαν ἀληθέες ἦσαν ἀοιδοί.
φάντο πάλον Κρονίδῃσι διάτριχα δώματα νεῖμαι:
τίς δέ κ᾽ ἐπ᾽ Οὐλύμπῳ τε καὶ Ἄιδι κλῆρον ἐρύσσαι,
ὃς μάλα μὴ νενίηλος; ἐπ᾽ ἰσαίῃ γὰρ ἔοικε
πήλασθαι: τὰ δὲ τόσσον ὅσον διὰ πλεῖστον ἔχουσι.
ψευδοίμην ἀίοντος ἅ κεν πεπίθοιεν ἀκουήν.
οὔ σε θεῶν ἐσσῆνα πάλοι θέσαν, ἔργα δὲ χειρῶν,
σή τε βίη τό τε κάρτος, ὃ καὶ πέλας εἵσαο δίφρου.
θήκαο δ᾽ οἰωνῶν μέγ᾽ ὑπείροχον ἀγγελιώτην
σῶν τεράων: ἅ τ᾽ ἐμοῖσι φίλοις ἐνδέξια φαίνοις.
εἵλεο δ᾽ αἰζηῶν ὅ τι φέρτατον: οὐ σύ γε νηῶν
ἐμπεράμους, οὐκ ἄνδρα σακέσπαλον, οὐ μὲν ἀοιδόν:
ἀλλὰ τὰ μὲν μακάρεσσιν ὀλίζοσιν αὖθι παρῆκας
ἄλλα μέλειν ἑτέροισι, σὺ δ᾽ ἐξέλεο πτολιάρχους
αὐτούς, ὧν ὑπὸ χεῖρα γεωμόρος, ὧν ἴδρις αἰχμῆς,
ὧν ἐρέτης, ὧν πάντα: τί δ᾽ οὐ κρατέοντος ὑπ᾽ ἰοχύν;
αὐτίκα χαλκῆας μὲν ὑδείομεν Ἡφαίστοιο,
τευχηστὰς δ᾽ Ἄρηος, ἐπακτῆρας δὲ Χιτώνης
Ἀρτέμιδος, Φοίβου δὲ λύρης εὖ εἰδότας οἴμους:
ἐκ δὲ Διὸς βασιλῆες, ἐπεὶ Διὸς οὐδὲν ἀνάκτων
θειότερον: τῶ καί σφε τεὴν ἐκρίναο λάξιν.
δῶκας δὲ πτολίεθρα φυλασσέμεν, ἵζεο δ᾽ αὐτὸς
ἄκρῃσ᾽ ἐν πολίεσσιν, ἐπόψιος οἵ τε δίκῃσι
λαὸν ὑπὸ σκολιῇσ᾽ οἵ τ᾽ ἔμπαλιν ἰθύνουσιν:
ἐν δὲ ῥυηφενίην ἔβαλές σφισιν, ἐν δ᾽ ἅλις ὄλβον:
πᾶσι μέν, οὐ μάλα δ᾽ ἶσον. ἔοικε δὲ τεκμήρασθαι
ἡμετέρῳ μεδέοντι: περιπρὸ γὰρ εὐρὺ βέβηκεν.
ἑσπέριος κεῖνός γε τελεῖ τά κεν ἦρι νοήσῃ:
ἑσπέριος τὰ μέγιστα, τὰ μείονα δ᾽, εὖτε νοήσῃ.
οἱ δὲ τὰ μὲν πλειῶνι, τὰ δ᾽ οὐχ ἑνί, τῶν δ᾽ ἀπὸ πάμπαν
αὐτὸς ἄνην ἐκόλουσας, ἐνέκλασσας δὲ μενοινήν.
χαῖρε μέγα, Κρονίδη πανυπέρτατε, δῶτορ ἐάων,
δῶτορ ἀπημονίης. τεὰ δ᾽ ἔργματα τίς κεν ἀείδοι;
οὐ γένετ᾽, οὐκ ἔσται, τίς κεν Διὸς ἔργματ᾽ ἀείσαι.
χαῖρε πάτερ, χαῖρ᾽ αὖθι: δίδου δ᾽ ἀρετήν τ᾽ ἄφενός τε.
οὔτ᾽ ἀρετῆς ἄτερ ὄλβος ἐπίσταται ἄνδρας ἀέξειν
οὔτ᾽ ἀρετὴ ἀφένοιο: δίδου δ᾽ ἀρετήν τε καὶ ὄλβον.