Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Progeny of Night

Night bore stygian Moros and black Ker, the spirit of death,
Thanatos (Death) and Hypnos (sleep) and the race of Dreams.
Then, after these, dark Night, a goddess not lying with anyone,
brought forth Momos, the spirit of blame, and burdensome Misery,
[215]and the Hesperides, who over glorious Okeanos guard
the beautiful apples of gold and the trees producing this fruit.
And she bore the Morai and Keres, avengers of evil,
[220]who pursue the transgressions both of men and of gods,
never relenting until as demons of terrible wrath
they have wreaked a dire retribution on whoever sins.
Baneful Night also bore Nemesis, and avenging plague for
mortal men; and then Deceit and Sexual Love and
[225]baneful Old Age and Eris (Strife), a hard-hearted demon.
And the stygian Eris produced burdensome Labor
and the curse of Forgetfulness, Hunger, and lachrymose Pains,
Conflicts of Battle and Fights and Murders and Killings of Men,
[230]Disorderly Government and her accomplice, the power of Ruin,
and the oath-god Horkos, who is the greatest plague for
every man on the earth who wilfully swears a false oath.

Night had hellish Moros and Ker, who is the spirit of death,
Thanatos (who IS Death) and Hypnos (who is Sleep)* and Dreams.
Then, alone, Night gave birth to the spirit of blame, and Misery, and the Hesperides, who guard the golden apples and the trees they come from, over Water personified.
She also gave birth to the Moirai and Keres, avengers of evil, they pursue the crimes of both men and gods, never relenting, until, acting as demons of wrath, they've gotten retribution for the sin(s) committed.
Night also had Nemesis, who is an avenging plague for man; Then Deceit and Sexual Love, Old Age and Strife, who is a hard-hearted demon.
Then the hellish Strife gave birth to Labor, who is a burden, and the curse of Forgetfulness, Hunger, and Melancholy Pains,
Conflicts of Battle and Fights and Murders and Killings of Men,
Disorderly Government and her accomplice, the power of Ruin,
and the oath-god, Horkos, who haunts and terrorizes any man who swears a false oath knowingly.

*Hypnos is where we get the word Hypnotize. Hypnos is not the god of natural slumber. a Hypnos sleep is an unnatural sleep, usually brought on by a spell or a drug.

Frazer's Comment::

The children of Night are powers connected with darkness, whether physical or spiritual. The Hesperides, for instance, live in the darkness on the other side of Okeanos near the house of Night, while Momos (Blame) and Misery darken man's spiritual life.
The Morai (Fates) and the Keres are similar to the Erinyes in that they are avengers of trespasses. I have omitted the description of the Morai in lines 218f.: "Klotho, Lachesis, Atropos, powers that determine the fates of / mortals at birth and grant them to have both good things and bad." These lines are almost identical to likes 905f., where the Moirai are again being described, but as children of Zeus and Themis; and it seems likely that they have been interpolated into the text here from that source. But the question remains why Hesiod gives the Moirai two different parentages in Theog. Perhaps, as suggested in the introduction (soon to be a link?), he is trying to solve the problem posed by the belief that the Moirai and Zeus are equally responsible for men's fates. But perhaps he is also distinguishing between two different functions of the Moirai. Those who are daughters of Night are avengers of evil, while those who are daughters of Zeus and Themis allot good and bad to men in the nature of things and not as punishments.
The powers of Deceit and Sexual Love are listed together. We can compare the coupling of deceit and love in the story of the creation of woman (pandora) and in the enumeration of Aphrodite's powers (205).
Night's last child is the bad Eris (strife), who in turn has a number of children, among whom are spirits of killing and, last but not least, the oath-god Horkos, who punishes perjury (for more on oaths and perjury see Theog. 399f. and 780ff., which deal with Styx; and W.D[the works and days] 194, 219, and 282ff.). At the beginning of W.D. (11f.) Hesiod introduces another Eris, the good spirit of peaceful competition, with whom he contrasts the bad Eris of the present passage.

right now, i don't have any plans to do The Works and Days, but i may later.
also, he mentions the introduction in this comment. i haven't copied that out, and i'm not sure i will, to be honest. if you really want it up here, i will though.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Theogony - The Children of Gaia

Ouranos, Pontos, and the Titans
[126]Gaia first gave birth to him who is equal to her,
star-studded Ouranos, to cover her everywhere over and be an ever-immovable base for the gods who are blessed.
And she bore the high mountains, the charming retreats of the goddess
[130]nymphs who have their abodes in the wooded glens of the mountains.
And without joy of desirable love she brought forth
Pontos, the exhaustless sea that rages with waves. And then she,
when she had bedded with Ouranos, bore him deep-swirling Okeanos,
Koios and Krios, Hyperion who passes on high, Iapetos,
Theia and Rhea, Themis the righteous, mindful Mnemosyne,
gleaming, golden-crowned Phoibe and lovely, motherly Tethys.
Then, after these, her last offspring was Kronos, the clever deviser,
most to be feared of these children, who hated his vigorous father.

First, Gaia gave birth to her equal, Ouranos, to cover her over and be an immovable base for the gods. She also bore the mountains, the retreats of the goddess nymphs who live in the woods on those mountains. She then gave birth to Pontos, on her own. Then, after sleeping with Ouranos, she gave birth to Okeanos, Koios and Krios, Hyperion, Iapetos, Theia and Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoibe, and motherly Tethys. Then, last of her children, Kronos, called the clever deviser. He's the scariest, he hates his vigorous father.

* Pontos is the sea, Okeanos is water, Koios and Krios are intelligence and the constellations/the ordered measure of the year (i know.), Hyperion is the order of the days and months, Iapetos is mortality, Theia is sight and shining light, Rhea is female fertility and motherhood, Themis is divine law and order, Mnemosyne is memory (where we get the word Mnemonic, as in Mnemonic Device), Phoibe (phoebe) is bright intellect, and Tethys is grandmother/nurse. Kronos is the god of time and the ages (we get Chromatic from his name. Chromatic having to do with measured time.)

Frazer's Comment::

After Gaia has produced of herself Ouranos and Pontos, she bears the twelve Titans (as they are later named) to Ouranos. We shall see that Kronos and Iapetos are the only bad Titans. The others side with the gods in the war with Kronos and his forces and so are rewarded with positions of honor in Zeus' Government. Thus the Succession Myth, which we know to be of foreign origin, seems here to be in conflict with a native Greek belief in the goodness of these earlier powers.

The Kyklopes and the Hundred-Handers

Then she gave birth to the Kyklopes, creatures of marvelous power:
[140]thundering Brontes, lightening Steropes, strong-hearted Arges,
who are the makers and givers to Zeus of thunder and lightening.
These resemble the gods in every aspect but one,
that they have only one eye set in their foreheads at midpoint;
Kyklopes, "Circle-eyed", this is their name because of their having
[145]only one circular eye set in their foreheads at midpoint.
What strength they have, what power and skill is shown in their works.
Then there are others whom Gaia produced in union with Ouranos,
three other children, gigantic and mighty, not to be named:
Kottos, Briareos, and Gyges, creatures excelling in power.
[150]Misshapen beings, each of them has one hundred arms that
shoot from his shoulders; each of them has fifty heads
growing out of his shoulders over his powerful limbs.
What mighty, invincible strength they have is shown in their huge forms.

Then she gave birth to the Cyclops, creatures of wonderful power: thundering Brontes, lightening Steropes, strong-hearted Arges, who make and give Zeus his thunder and lightning bolts. They look like gods in every sense except 1: they have only 1 large, round eye in the middle of their foreheads. How strong they are, how powerful and skilled they are! Then there are 3 others that Gaia had with Ouranos; giants, all, and mighty. They will not be named (except here we will) : Kottos, Briareos, and Gyges. Misshapen, they have 100 arms and 50 heads. What mighty, invincible strength they have is obvious in their huge forms.

Frazer's Comment::

The story of the rise of the Titans is delayed in order to describe the birth of the Kyklopes and the hundred-handers, who are also children of Gaia and Ouranos. They, unlike the Titans, will not be released from the womb of Gaia when Kronos castrates Ouranos. They must wait until Zeus rises to power. It is evident that the description of the Hundred-Handers closely parallels that of the Kyklopes. This parallelism is continued in Theog. by the similar roles they play as helpers of Zeus.
The names of Hesiod's Kyklopes are Brontes (from bronte, "Thunder"), Steropes (from sterope, "lightening"), and Arges (from arges, "bright", and epithet of the thunderbolt). They are divine craftsmen, thunderbolt-fashioning smiths, who are not to be confused with Homor's impious shepherds.
Of the names of the Hundred-Handers only Briareos, "the strong one" seems Greek; but perhaps Hesiod connected Gyges with Guia, "limbs", and Kottos with kotos, "rancor".

Kronos Castrates Ouranos: The Rise of the Titans and the Birth of Aphrodite

All the offspring whom Gaia produced in union with Ouranos
[155]being the most fearsome of sons, their father was driven to hate them
from the beginning. So he hid them away, each one,
as they came into being, and let them not rise to the light from
down in the hollow of earth; and this was an evil activity
pleasing to Ouranos. But huge Gaia was groaning within and
[160]feeling constrained, and so she contrived an evil device.
Swiftly producing a new kind of metal, gray adamant, she
created of it a great sickle, and this she displayed to her children
while with pain in her hearth she spoke to encourage their boldness:
"Children, my children, whose father is evil, if you will follow
[165]as i advise you, we shall avenge this wicked dishonor
done by your father, who was the first to devise unseemly."
Thus she spoke and all were afraid and none of them answered;
but great Kronos, the clever deviser, feeling emboldened,
quickly responded and spoke to his dear mother Gaia as follows:
[170]"Mother, i promise to accomplish this deed and i shall bring my
word to fulfillment, having no care for this father of bad name,
though he is ours, for he was the first to devise the unseemly."
Thus he spoke and greatly delighted the heart of huge Gaia.
She had him hide himself in an ambush and, putting the jagged-toothed
[175]sickle into his hands, told him all her deceit.
So when, bringing on night, great Ouranos came and lay on Gaia, desiring her love, closely embracing her, stretching everywhere over, then his son from where he was hiding stretched out his left hand, and with his right hand wielding the sickle,
[180]jagged and long, quickly cutting off his dear father's
genital parts. Backwards he threw them so that they went flying behind him - nor did they go in vain from his hand.
All the numerous drops of blood that were scattered
fell upon Gaia, who when the seasons had circled produced
[185]the mighty Erinyes (the Furies), and the great-bodied giants
dressed in resplendent armor and holding long spears in their hands,
and the nymphs they call Melian all over the boundless earth.
As for the genital parts which he had cut off with the adamant
sickle and thrown out into the boisterous sea, they were
[190]carried for a long time over the water, Then shining white aphros, "foam", arose from the flesh of the god, and in this a girl came into being. First she approached holy Kythera; 
then, as she moved farther on, she came to sea-girt Kypros,
where she emerged a revered and beautiful goddess, around whose
[195]delicate feet the grass grew spontaneously. Gods and men
call her by various names: Aphrodite because she
came from the aphros; Kythereia because she touched on Kythera;
Kyprogenes because she was born on sea-girt Kypros;
[200]and Philommedes because she arose from the medea, "genitals".
She was attended by Eros and by Himeros (Desire)
from the time of her birth when she went to live with the gods.
From the beginning she was allotted both among mortals
and the immortals the following portion, and these were her honors:
[205]flirtatious conversations of maidens, smiles and deceits,
sweet delight and passion of love and gentle enticements.
As for the Titans, this was the name that their father, great Ouranos,
gave as a taunt to them, the children whom he had sired.
"Straining", titainontes, he said, they had committed a terrible,
[210]criminal act, and tisis, "vengeance", was destined to follow.

Ouranos, the most fearsome of sons, was driven from the beginning to hate his children by Gaia. He hid them away, every one, as they came to being, and wouldn't let them rise to the light from down far in the hollow of the earth. This evilness was pleasing to Ouranos, but Gaia was groaning and feeling constrained, so she came up with her own evil plan. She made a new kind of metal, Adamant, and made it into a sickle, which she showed to her kids. While she was heartsick, she encouraged them with the following words: "Children, my children, your father is evil, and if you will do as i tell you, we can avenge the wickedness done by him. He was the first to devise something so unseemly." All of her children were afraid, and none of them answered, except for 1, her last son, great Kronos, a clever deviser himself, was encouraged and said, "Mother, i promise, i will do this. I don't care for our father, though he is ours, since he was the first to devise something so unseemly." His words delighted Gaia. She had him hide in ambush, and putting the sickle in his hands, told him her plans. So when, bringing the night, Ouranos came to lay on Gaia, wanting her love, holding her closely, stretching over her everywhere, then Kronos reached out from his hiding place with his left hand. With his right hand holding the sickle, he cut off his father's privates. He threw them carelessly over his shoulder, but they didn't go in vain. The drops of blood from Ouranos' parts fell on Gaia, who them produced the Furies, the Giants, and the Melian nymphs. As for the parts themselves, they landed in the sea, and were carried for a long time on the water. Then, white sea foam rose from the flesh of the god, and from this, a girl formed. First she approached Kythera (Cythera); then went on to the island of KyprosAphros is Greek for sea foam, Kythereia because she touched the shores of Kythera, Kyprogenes because she was born on the island of Kypros (Cyprus), and Philommedes because she was born of the medea (the genitals)*. Eros (lust) and Himeros (desire) are her attendants, and have been from the time of her birth, when she went to live with the gods. From the beginning, she was given powers over men and immortals. Her honors include: flirting, courting, and all the happiness that goes along with gentle, but physical, love. The Titans were named by their father, Ouranos, as a taunt. "straining", he said, they had committed a terrible criminal act and "Vengeance" was destined to follow.

*that's right, the name Medea means Genitals. i giggled too.

Frazer's Comment::

The Succession Myth begins in this section. Kronos castrates Ouranos. His throwing the genitals behind him reminds us of the story of Deukalion and Pyrrha, who create men and women by throwing stones over their shoulders.
Gaia produces three groups of offspring from the blood of Ouranos: the Erinyes, the giants, and the Melian nymphs. the Erinyes are spirits of vengeance who especially uphold the rights of parents against their children. They are thus very appropriately brought forth here; the blood of Ouranos, as it were, cries from the earth for vengeance. The giants pop up fully armed, like the men whom Kadmos and Iason (Jason) bring into being by sowing the earth with dragon's teeth. The Melian nymphs were later identified as female spirits of ash trees (melie, "ash tree"), the wood of which was used in the making of spear shafts.
Aphrodite arises from the genitals of Ouranos that fall in the sea. She probably originated as a Near Eastern goddess, the Greek equivalent of the Phoenician Astarte. Perhaps she owes her connection with the sea to the seafaring Phoenicians. In other authors she is the daughter of Zeus and Dione or of Zeus and Hera. But Hesiod puts her among the pre-Olympians, love being for him one of the earliest powers. The description of her birth has a hymnic structure similar to that of the birth of the Muses. We are told her names, how she goes with her attendants to join the other gods, and what her special powers are. Hesiod explains her name Philommedes as "genital-loving", but it seems likely that he also knows the more usual meaning of this word, "smile-loving", for he lists meidemata, "smiles" among the expressions of love under Aphrodite's control. We thus have a double etymology similar to that which he gives for the word Titans.
Ouranos calls his children Titans, which is connected by a double etymology with titainontes, "straining", and tisis, "retribution". Perhaps the straining refers to Kronos's stretching out his hand to castrate Ouranos. The connections with the retribution prepares us for the next stage in the Succession Myth, when Ouranos's avenging grandson Zeus will rise to power.

Theogony - The Earliest Powers

Chaos, Gaia, Eros, and Night

[116]The first power to come into being was Chaos. Then arose Gaia,
broad-bosomed earth, which serves as the ever-immovable base for
all the immortals who dwell on the peaks of snowy Olympos;
and then shadowy Tartaros deep in the wide-wayed earth;
[120]and then Eros surpassing every immortal in beauty,
who, a loosener of limbs, brings all immortals and mortals
under his power and makes them unable to think as they should.
And out of Chaos black Night and Erebos came into being,
and out of Night then came the brightness of Aither and Day,
[125]whom she conceived by lying in love and mingling with Erebos.

The first power was Chaos. Then came Gaia, the wide earth, which is the base for all immortals who live on Olympus. Then dark Tartaros deep inside the earth. Then Eros, the most beautiful, who rules all immortals and mortals at some point, stopping them from thinking with their brains*. From Chaos, Night personified and Erebos became. From Night, Aither and Day, after making love with Erebos.

*Eros is where we get the word "Erotic", and he is lust personified, hence he rules both the gods and men at some point. (you know it's hard to think when you have a crush on someone. blame Eros.)

Frazer's Comment::

The great chasm of Chaos is the starting point from which Theog. moves to the cosmos of Zeus's orderly government of the world. Night and Erebos arise out of Chaos, and so apparantly do Gaia (with Tartaros) and Eros. Eros has a place among the earliest powers because of his role as the generating force in creation.
Hesiod usually describes all the divinities of one generation before moving on to the next. Thus he gives us Gaia and Night here, then the Children of Gaia (126-210) and the Children of Night (211-32), and finally the Grandchildren of Gaia (233-500). This scheme, however, is broken in the case of certain divinities who are better listed with the first mention of their parents. Thus Aither (the brightness of the upper air) and Day are listed here along with their parents and necessary complements Erebos (the darkness below) and Night. We might note that Sun is not born until later (371) and that therefore, as in Genesis 1, day is not connected with the light of the sun.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Theogony - Hymn to the Muses

we're starting off our 'make it so normal people can read it!'-ness with the hymn to the muses, since most epics start off this way, and really, you wanna pay tribute to those lovely ladies who gave you the story to tell, right? (hint: the answer is 'yes, of course' [the gods get pissed off too, ya know.]...)

and so, without further ado :: Theogony - Hymn to the Muses

[1]Let us now begin our singing with the Helikonian Muses, who are frequenters of Helikon, a mountain high and holy, as they dance around some spring's dark water on soft feet and around the sacred altar of the mighty son of Kronos. Having washed their tender bodies in the streams of the Permessos or the spring called Hippokrene or the holy brook Olmeios, on the topmost part of Helikon they hold their dances, beautiful and charming, tripping lightly on their feet.

Lets begin our singing with the god-like Muses, they who live on the holy mountain of Helikon, and dance around the dark blue spring and the altar of the mighty Zeus, and, having washed in the Permessus River, or the Horse's Spring, or the Olmeius River, they perform their beautiful and vigorous dances high on mount Helikon.

[9] Descending from this height, their boddies hidden in dense air, through the darkness of the night they pass in lovely song, hymning Zeus who bears the aigis and Queen Hera, Argive godess, who walks on sandals made of gold, and Athena, gray-eyed daughter of the aigis-bearing Zeus, and Apollo, brilliant Phoibos, and arrow-showering Artemis, and the god who holds and shakes the earth, Poseidon, Themis the revered and the bright-eyed Aphrodite, Hebe of the golden crown and glorious Dione, Leto and Iapetos and clever-minded Kronos, Eos and great Helios and the shining moon Selene, Gaia and Okeanos, great river, and black Night, and the awesome body of the other gods immortal.

From there, they rise and fly at night, hidden by a thick fog, and sing their song with lovely voice, praising Zeus the aegis-holder(a mythical sheild) and Hera of Argos who wears gold sandals, and Zeus' daughter Athena who has grey eyes, and also the sun-god Apollo and Artemis the archer, and Poseidon the Earth-holder and shaker, honored Themis and bright-eyed Aphrodite, Hebe of the golden hair and glorious Dione, Leto, and Iapetos, and clever Kronos, Eos, and great Helios and the shining moon Selene, Gaia and Okeanos the great river, and black Night, and all the other immortal gods.

[22]These are the Muses who once taught Hesiod beautiful song as he was pasturing his flock in the foothills of holy mount Helikon. This is the speech with which I was first addressed by these goddesses, the Muses who sing on Olympos, the daughters of Zeus of the Aigis: "Shepherds who dwell in the fields, base creatures, disgraces, mere bellies, we know how to tell numerous lies which seem to be truthful, but whenever we wish we know how to utter the full truth."

These Muses are the very same who once taught me (the author, Hesiod) a beautiful song while i was pasturing my sheep in the foothills of their holy mount Helikon. This is what I heard when they first began to talk to me, "Shepherds who live in the fields are the lowest of the low, a disgrace really. We can tell many lies that seem like the truth, but if we want to, we can tell the whole truth."

[29] Thus did they speak, these eloquent daughters of almighty Zeus, and they gave me a rod, the shoot of a flowering laurel, which they had plucked, a marvelous thing, and breathed a divine voice into me to sing of what will be and what was before; and they bade me to hymn the race of the blessed immortals, and at the start and the end of my song to honor the Muses. But why linger, why stay in this world of oak tree and rock?

After they said this, these well-spoken daughters of Zeus gave me a newly-plucked flowering laurel shoot, so pretty, and they inspired me to tell of the future and of the past; and they told me to hymn (write in verse) of the immortal gods, and to start and finish my song by honoring the Muses. So why waste time telling you all of this?

[36] Let us rather begin with the Muses who as they sing their song to Zeus Father give joy to his wonderful mind on Olympos, as they reveal what is and what will be and what was before, voices harmonious. A single sweet tone melodiously, easily flows from their lips, and the house of their father Zeus the Loud Thubderer shimmers with joy at the piercing-sweet sound of their voices everywhere scattered; echoes roll over the peaks of snowy Olympos and through the homes of the gods. They with voices immortal first in their song offer praise to the holy race of the gods from the beginning, those Gaia bore to broad Ouranos and those who were born from these, the gods who are givers of blessings.

Why don't we start with the Muses, as they sing to Zeus the father, and give joy to him on Olympus, as they tell of the future and the past with harmonious voices. A beautiful melody flows from their lips, and brings joy to their father Zeus' house at the beautiful sound; the echoes carry over the peaks of Olympus and through the homes of the gods. The muses first offer praise to all the race of gods from the beginning, those Gaia (earth) had with Ouranos (the sky), and their grandchildren, the gods who give blessings.

[47] Secondly, sing they of Zeus, the Father of Gods and Men, and on beginning and ending their song these goddesses praise him, telling how he is the best of the gods and the greatest in strength. Then the race of men and that of strong-bodied giants are praised in song giving joy to the mind of Zeus on Olympos by the Olympian Muses, the daughters of Zeus of the Aigis. In Pieria, when she had mingled with Zeus, son of Kronos, their father, Mnemosyne, queen of the slopes of Eleuther, bore these powers that make evils forgotten and bring a cessation to sorrows.

Secondly, they sing of Zeus, the father of both gods and men, and they begin and end their song by praising him, saying he's the best of the gods, and the strongest. Then, they praise the races of man and giants, which gives Zeus joy. In Pieria (NE Thessaly), Mnemosyne (memory), the queen of Eleuther (NE of Attica), made love to Zeus, and gave birth to the Muses, who cause evils to be forgotten and make sorrows cease.

[56]Nine nights Zeus of the Counsels came and mingles with her, mounting the sacred bed apart from the other immortals; and when her time had arrived and the changing seasons had passed, month upon month having waned, the many days come to fulfillment, then she bore him nine daughters who are harmonious spirits thinking only of song and troubling their hearts with this only. These she bore close to the uppermost peak of snowy Olympos, where they have their bright dancing circles and glorious dwellings.

Zeus spent 9 nights with her in her bed, away from the other gods; when it was time for her to give birth and the seasons had changed, many months having passed, the many days of waiting finally over, she had 9 daughters, beautiful spirits who think only of song, and nothing else. She gave birth close to the tip of snowy Olympus, where they now have their wonderful dancing circles and also their homes.

[64]Near them the Graces and Himeros dwell in bountiful feasting, while they, the Muses, dancing and singing with lovely voices, glorify the special empowerments and characteristics of all the immortals, hymning their praises in lovely song. Then they went to Olympos, rejoicing in their beautiful voices, singing and dancing divinely; and everywhere black earth resounded, echoing their singing. From under their feet a lovely sound rose as they went to their father, to him who is king over heaven, for he controls the thunder and smoldering bolt of the lightening, and he has conquered Kronos, his father, and fairly apportioned to the immortals each of their rights and granted them honors.

Nearby, the Graces and Himeros (desire) live, while the Muses, dancing and singing beautifully, glorify the powers and characteristics of the gods, singing their praises in lovely song. Then they went to Olympus, and rejoiced in their beautiful voices, singing and dancing divinely; and everywhere the earth echoed their singing. From the ground a lovely sound arose as they went to Zeus, who is king of heaven, for he controls the thunder and lightening, and he beat Kronos, his father, and he gave the gods their rights and granted them honors and powers.

[75] So they were singing, the Muses, who have their homes on Olympos, all the divine nine daughters begotten by Zeus: Klio, joyful Euterpe, Thalia, songful Melpomene, dancing Terpsichore, Erato, Polyhymnia, heavenly Ourania, and Kalliope, who is the most important of all, for she grants her ready attendance to honorable kings. He to whom these daughters of almighty Zeus are gracious, every Zeus-nurtured king they look on with favor at birth, receives from them on his tongue a sweet pouring of heavenly dew, and from his mouth the words flow with gentleness.

And so they sang, the Muses, who live on Olypmus, all 9 divine daughters of Zeus: Cleo, happy Euterpe, Thalia, singing Melpomene, dancing Terpsichore, Erato, Polyhymnia, heavenly Ourania, and Calliope, who's the most important of all. She grants her powers to honorable kings. He who they are gracious to, the Zeus-nurtured king is favoured at birth, for he receives from the Muses on his tongue a heavenly dew, which makes him well-spoken.

[84] Then the people all look in honor to him interpreting the laws with verdicts showing straight justice; and he by his smooth and unerring speech swiftly bring even to great disagreements a skillful solution. Kings are considered wise because whenever their people need some redress they in assembly see that they gain it easily, using their skill in the art of gentle persuasion. When they go through the gathering, their people greet them like gods with blandishing reverence, and they are outstanding among the assembled.

Then his people honor him and his interpretations of the laws with just verdicts; and he with true and beautiful speech swiftly brings even the largest disagreements to amicable solutions. Kings are considered wise because when the people need some correction the king sees that they get it easily and fairly during assembly, using his powers of gentle persuasion. When he goes through a gathering, his people greet him as though he were a god, giving reverence, and the king is outstanding among the assembled.

[93] Such are the holy gifts of the Muses to mortal men, for by the power of the Muses and far-shooting Apollo men who sing and play on the lyre exist on the earth and kings are empowered by the Muses and Zeus. Blessed the man who is loved by the Muses; sweet is the voice that flows from his mouth. So if someone is stricken with grief of a recent bereavement and is torturing his heart with mourning, then if some singer serving the Muses sings of past glory and heroes of old and tells of the blessed immortals who have their homes on Olympos, swiftly the greif-stricken one is forgetful and remembers none of his sorrow; quickly the gifts of the Muses divert him.

Such are the gifts of the Muses to man, for by their power and the archer Apollo, mistrels and musicians exist on the earth, and kings are empowered by the Muses and Zeus. Those whom the Muses love are truely blessed; their voices flow sweetly from their mouths. If someone is grieving some recent loss and is torturing himself mourning, then, if some divinely-inspired singer tells of past glory and ancient heroes and the gods, very quickly the grief-stricken one forgets his sorrow; quickly the gifts of the Muses distract him.

[104] Hail daughters of Zeus, grant me, I pray, beautiful song. Gloriously hymn the gods, the holy race of immortals, those whom Gaia bore in union with star-studded Ouranos, those arising from black Night, those briny Pontos produced. Tell first of all how the gods and Gaia came into being, and the rivers and Pontos boundless and raging with waves, and the bright-beaming stars and Ouranos stretching above, and those born to these, the gods who are givers of blessings; and tell how they divided their wealth and apportioned their honors, and how they first got control of many-valed Olympos. These things, O Muses, who have your homes on Olympos, tell me from the beginning, and what divine power first came into being.

Hail, daughters of Zeus! Sing to me, I pray, a beautiful song. Sing gloriously of the gods, the holy race of immortals. Those whom Gaia (earth) had with Ouranos (sky), the children of black Night, and the children of Pontos (the sea). First of all, tell me how the gods and the earth came into being, and the rivers, and the sea, boundless and raging with waves, and the stars and the sky stretching overhead, and their children, the gods who give blessings; and tell me how they divided their wealth and powers, and how they first came to control Mount Olympus. All of these things, Oh Muses who live on Olympus, tell me from the beginning, and tell me what divine power came into being first.

ok. that's a lot, i know. but breaking it up like that makes it easier to read, doesn't it?

i'll be putting Frazer's notes in later, as my hands are currently ded from typing all that out, i hope you don't mind. ^^;

if you have any questions, or maybe suggestions on phrasing, please feel free to leave a comment!

Frazer's Comment::

 Hesiod, in keeping with the early Greek custom of introducing an epic with a hymn to some god, begins Theog. with a hymn to the Muses. He addresses them first as Helikonian Muses because Mount Helikon is where they first inspired him. They are pictured as dancing around the altar of Zeus on the top of this mountain after washing themselves in one of it's springs, in much the same way no doubt as human girls were accustomed to do. Helikon abounds in springs, the most famous of which is Hippokrene, "Horse Spring," reputedly brought into being by the blow of the hoof of the divine horse Pegasos. When the Muses have finished their dancing, they pass down the mountain singing a theogony in reverse, beginning with Zeus and ending with Night. This is the first of many catalogues in Theog.
 Did the Muses really reveal themselves to Hesiod and inspire him to sing Theog.? We must remember that we live in a very different world from Hesiod's, and that others in antiquity (such as Moses, Amos, and the Greek poet Archilochos) are said to have had similar experiences. Sensitive souls brought up to believe in the possibility of such experiences may have been able to have them, and their poetry was later proof of their inspiration. Hesiod shows himself to be a true believer in the Muses when he tells us that he dedicated the tripod-cauldron to them (in the Works and Days, line 655).
 Since the Muses inspire Hesiod to speak the truth, Theog. must give a truthful account of the gods. The assertion that the Muses sometimes speak falsely shows that there are other accounts with which Hesiod disagrees, such as, it seems likely, a version of the Prometheus story in which Zeus was actually tricked by Prometheus.
 Beginning with line 36, we move from the Helikonian to the Olympian Muses, and are told of their birth and how they first went to Olympos. Mnemosyne (Memory) bore them to Zeus in Pieria, a district just north of Mount Olympos. This was probably their original home, for the place where the cult of a god arises is often identified as his birthplace. Zeus came to Mnemosyne's love nine times and so she produced nine daughters. The Graces and Desire, powers of enchantment with whom the Muses are closely associated, live near them in Pieria. This Hesiod expresses relationship in geographical instead of genealogical terms, as he also does later in the description of the Underworld.
 The names of the Muses, some or even all of which Hesiod my have invented, are expressions of their powers. For instance, Klio means "Glorifier"; Thalia, "The Beautiful One"; Melpomene, "Songstress"; Terpsichore, "Lover of Dancing"; and Kalliope, "She of the Beautiful Voice". We should note that the Muses do not become patrons of separate departments of literature and science until much later. Even Kalliope, whom Hesiod praises as the inspirer of kings, that is, the nobles of his time, shares her power with her sisters.
 The Muses are said to inspire two groups of men, poets and kings. Apollo, the god of the lyre, which he plays for the entertainment of the gods on Olympos, helps them with the poets. Zeus, the king of the gods, helps them with the kings, Kings are thus enabled to speak true judgements in a soothing voice, and are similar to Zeus in that they see to the maintenance of justice and order in the world. As for the poets, the Muses enable them to cause mourners to forget their sorrow. The daughters of Memory are bringers of forgetfulness - a play on words typical of Hesiod.
 We end with a transition to the main poem. The Muses are asked to sing Theog.

Monday, July 5, 2010

hail, and welcome!

to Epic in Plain English!

this is the place i plan on devoting to my hate love of Epic Poems. also where i will hopefully be helping to make some sense of them!

herein, i will be taking any epic poems i read or have read, and, putting the generally always sometimes confusing language into language that regular, not-too-scholarly people can understand without too much trouble.

the poem i'll be starting with is Theogony, by Hesiod, as translated by R.M. Frazer. in this copy of it, Frazer's put comments in, to help people understand, and i promise, i'll include those as well (generally as a post-script). oddly enough, i'll also explain some of the comments he makes, since a few of them aren't non-ancient-lit-scholar friendly, really. ^.^-b

there's a couple of static pages planned so far, 1 for casts of characters, but i fear that may end up HUGE, so that plan might change. another will probably be links to the copies of the books i'm using.

do you have any suggestions? would you like to help (oh please oh please oh please)? leave a comment with an email, and i'll contact you! (my email is also on the static pages, so if you just want to contact me directly, go ahead, just please, don't spam me, and make the subject something similar to the blog's title.)

~ciao, benne~