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.

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