Classical Texts Library >> Callimachus, Hymns >> Hymns 4-6



HYMNS 1 - 3

1. To Zeus
2. To Apollo
3. To Artemis

HYMNS 4 - 6

4. To Delos
5. The Bath of Pallas
6. To Demeter



[1] What time or when, O my soul, wilt thou sing of holy Delos, nurse of Apollo? Surely all the Cyclades most holy of the isles that lie in the sea, are goodly theme of song. But Delos would win the foremost guerdon from the Muses, since she it was that bathed Apollo, the lord of minstrels, and swaddled him, and was the first to accept him for a god. Even as the Muses abhor him who sings not of Pimpleia1 so Phoebus abhors him who forgets Delos. To Delos no will I give her share of song, so that Cynthian2 Apollo may praise me for taking thought of his dear nurse.

[11] Wind-swept and stern is she set in the sea, and, wave-beaten as she is, is fitter haunt for gulls than course for horses. The sea, rolling greatly round her, casts off on her much spindrift of the Icarian3 water. Wherefore also sea-roaming fishermen have made her their home. But none need grudge that she be named among the first, whensoever unto Oceanus and unto Titan Tethys the islands gather and she ever leads the way. Behind her footsteps follow Phoenician Cyrnus,4 no mean isle, and Abantian Macris5 of the Ellopians, and delectable Sardo,6 and the isle7 whereto Cypris first swam from the water and for fee8 of her landing she keeps safe. They are strong by reason of sheltering towers, but Delos is strong by aid of Apollo. What defence is there more steadfast? Walls and stones may fall before the blast of Strymonian9 Boreas; but a god is unshaken for ever. Delos beloved, such is the champion that encompasses thee about!

[28] Now if songs full many circle about thee, with what song shall I entwine thee? What is that which is pleasing unto thee to hear? Is it the tale how at the very first the mighty god10 smote the mountains with the three-forked sword which the Telchines11 fashioned for him, and wrought the islands in the sea, and from their lowest foundations lifted them all as with a lever and rolled them into the sea? And them in the depths he rooted from their foundations that they might forget the mainland. But no constraint afflicted thee, but free upon the open sea thou didst float; and thy name of old was Asteria,12 since like a star thou didst leap from heaven into the deep moat, fleeing wedlock with Zeus. Until then golden Leto consorted not with thee: then thou wert still Asteria and wert not yet called Delos. Oft-times did sailors coming from the town of fair-haired Troezen13 unto Ephyra14 within the Saronic gulf descry thee, and on their way back from Ephyra saw thee no more there, but thou hadst run to the swift straits of the narrow Euripus with its sounding stream. And the same day, turning thy back on the waters of the sea of Chalcis, thou didst swim to the Sunian headland of the Athenians or to Chios or to the wave-washed breast o the Maiden’s Isle,15 not yet called Samos – where the nymphs of Mycalessos,16 neighbours of Ancaeus, entertained thee.

[51] But when thou gavest thy soil to be birthplace of Apollo, seafaring men gave thee this name in exchange, since no more didst thou float17 obscure (adêlos) upon the water, but amid the waves of the Aegean sea dist plant the roots of they feet.

[55] And thou didst not tremble before the anger of Hera, who murmured terribly against all child-bearing women that bare children to Zeus, but especially against Leto, for that she only was to bear to Zeus a son18 dearer even than Ares. Wherefore also she herself kept watch within the sky, angered in her heart greatly and beyond telling, and she prevented Leto who was holden in the pangs of childbirth. And she had two look-outs set to keep watch upon the earth. The space of the continent did bold Ares watch, sitting armed on the high top of Thracian Haemus, and his horses were stalled by the seven-chambered cave19 of Boreas. And the other kept watch over the far-flung islands, even the daughter20 of Thaumas seated on Mimas,21 whither she had sped. There they sat and threatened all the cities which Leto approached and prevented them from receiving her. Fled Arcadia, fled Auge’s22 holy hill Parthenium, fled after her aged Pheneius,23 fled all the land of Pelops that lies beside the Isthmus, save only Aegialos24 and Argos. For on those ways she set not her feet, since Inachus25 belonged unto Hera. Fled, too, Aonia26 on the same course, and Dirce27 and Strophia,28 holding the hands of their sire, dark-pebbled Ismenus29; far behind followed Asopus,30 heavy-kneed, for he was marred by a thunderbolt. And the earth-born nymph Melia31 wheeled about thereat and ceased from the dance and her cheek paled as she panted for her coeval oak, when she saw the locks of Helicon tremble. Goddesses mine, ye Muses, say did the oaks come into being at the same time as the Nymphs? The nymphs rejoice when the rain makes the oaks grow; and again the Nymphs weep when there are no longer leaves upon the oaks. And Apollo, yet in his mother’s womb, was sore angered against them and he uttered against Thebe no ineffectual threat: “Thebe, wherefore, wretched one, dost thou ask the doom that shall be thine anon? Force me not yet to prophesy against my will. Not yet is the tripod seat at Pytho my care; not yet is the great serpent32 dead, but still that beast of awful jaws, creeping down from Pleistus,33 wreathes snowy Parnassus with his nine coils. Nevertheless I will speak unto thee a word more clear than shall be spoken from laurel34 branch.. Flee on! Swiftly shall I overtake thee and wash my bow in blood. Thou hast in thy keeping the children of a slanderous woman.35 Not thou shalt be my dear nurse, nor Cithaeron.36 Pure am I and may I be the care of them that are pure.” So he spake. And Leto turned and went back. But when the Achaean cities refused her as she came – Helice,37 the companion of Poseidon, and Bura,38 the steading of Dexamenus, the son of Oeceus – she turned her feet back to Thessaly. And Anaurus fled and great Larisa and the cliffs of Cheiron39; fled, too, Peneius, coiling through Tempe.

[106] But thy heart, Hera, was even then still pitiless and thou wert not broken down nor didst have compassion, when she stretched forth both her arms and spake in vain: “Ye nymphs of Thessaly, offspring of a river,40 tell your sire to hush his great stream. Entwine your hands about his beard and entreat him that the children of Zeus be born in his waters. Phthiotian Peneius, why dost thou now vie with the winds? O sire, thou dost not bestride a racing horse. Are they feet always thus swift, or are they swift only for me, and hast thou today been suddenly made to fly?” But he heard her not. “O burden mine, whither shall I carry thee? The hapless sinews of my feet are outworn. O Pelion, bridal chamber of Philyra,41 do thou stay, O stay, since on thy hills even the wild lionesses oftentimes lay down their travail of untimely birth.”42 Then shedding tears, Peneius answered her: “Leto, Necessity is a great goddess. It is not I who refuse, O Lady, they travail; for I know of others who have washed the soilure of birth in me – but Hera hath largely threatened me. Behold what manner of watcher keeps vigil on the mountain top, who would lightly drag me forth from the depths. What shall I devise? Or is it a pleasant thing to thee that Peneius should perish? Let my destined day take its course. I will endure for thy sake, even if I must wander evermore with ebbing flood and thirsty, and alone be called of least honour among rivers. Here am I! What needeth more? Do thou but call upon Eileithyia.” He spake and stayed his great stream. But Ares was about to lift the peaks of Pangaeum43 from their base and hurl them in his eddying waters and hide his streams. And from on high he made a din as of thunder and smote his shield with the point of his spear, and it rang with a warlike noise. And the hills of Ossa trembled and the plain of Crannon, and the windswept skirts of Pindus, and all Thessaly danced for fear: such echoing din rang from his shield. And even as when the mount Aetna smoulders with fire and all its secret depths are shaken as the giant under earth, even Briares, shifts to his other shoulder,44 and with the tongs of Hephaestus roar furnaces and handiwork withal; and firewrought basins and tripods ring terribly as the fall one upon the other: such in that hour was the rattle of the fair-rounded shield. But Peneius retired not back, but abode his ground, steadfast even as before, and stayed his swift-eddying streams, until the daughter45 of Coeüs called to him: “Save thyself, farewell! Save thyself; do not for my sake suffer evil for this thy compassion; thy favour shall be rewarded.”

[153] So she spake and after much toil came unto the isles of the sea. But they received her not when she came – not the Echinades46 with their smooth anchorage for ships, not Cercyra which is of all other islands most hospitable, since Iris on lofty Mimas47 was wroth with them all and utterly prevented them. And at her rebuke they fled all together, every one that she came to, along the waters. Then she came unto primeval Cos, the isle of Merops,48 the holy retreat of the heroine Chalciope,49 but the word of her son restrained her: “Bear me not, mother, here. I blame not the island nor have any grudge, since a bright isle it is and rich in pasture as any other. But there is due to her from the Fates another god,50 the most high lineage of the Saviours51; beneath whose crown shall come – not loth to be ruled by a Macedonian – both continents and the lands which are set in the sea, far as where the end of the earth is and again whence his swift horses carry the sun. And he shall know the ways of his sire.

[171] “Yea and one day hereafter thee shall come upon us a common struggle, when the Titans of a later day shall rouse up against he Hellenes barbarian sword and Celtic war,52 and from the furthest West rush on like snowflakes and in number as the stars when they flock most thickly in the sky; forts too (and the villages of the Locrians and Delphian heights)53 and Crisaean plains and (glens of the mainland) be thronged about and around, and shall behold the rich smoke of their burning neighbour, and no longer by hearsay only; but already beside the temple behold the ranks of the foemen, and already beside my tripods the swords and cruel belts and hateful shields, which shall cause an evil journey to the foolish tribe of the Galatians. Of these shields some shall be my guerdon; others, when they have seen the wearers perish amid fire, shall be set by the banks of Nile54 to be the prizes of a king who laboured much. O Ptolemy who art to be, these prophecies I declare for thee. Greatly shalt thou praise in all the days to be him that prophesied while yet in his mother’s womb.

[191] “But mark thou, mother: there is to be seen in the water a tiny island, wandering over the seas. Her feet abide not in one place, but on the tide she swims even as stalks of asphodel, where the South wind or the East wind blows, withersoever the sea carried her. Thither do thou carry me. For she shall welcome thy coming.”

[196] When he had spoken thus much, the other islands in the sea ran away. But thou, Asteria, lover of song, didst come down from Euboea to visit the round Cyclades – not long ago, but still behind thee trailed the sea-weed of Geraestus . . . ((lacuna)) since they heart55 was kindled, seeing the unhappy lady in the grievous pangs of birth: “Hera, do to me what thou wilt. For I heed not they threats. Cross, cross over, Leto, unto me.”

[205] So didst thou speak, and she gladly ceased from her grievous wandering and sat by the stream of Inopus,56 which the earth sends forth in deepest flood at the season when the Nile comes down in full torrent from the Aethiopian steep. And she loosed her girdle and leaned back her shoulders against the trunk of a palm-tree,57 oppressed by the grievous distress, and the sweat poured over her flesh like rain. And she spake in her weakness: “Why, child, dost thou weigh down thy mother? There, dear child, is thine island floating on the sea. Be born, be born, my child, and gently issue from the womb.” O Spouse of Zeus, Lady of heavy anger, thou wert not to be for long without tidings thereof: so swift a messenger hastened to thee. And, still breathing heavily, she spake – and her speech was mingled with fear: “Honoured Hera, of goddesses most excellent far, thine am I, all things are thine, and thou sittest authentic queen of Olympus, and we fear no other female hand; and thou, O Queen wilt know who is the cause of thine anger. Leto is undoing her girdle within an island. All the others spurned her and received her not; but Asteria called her by name as she was passing by – Asteria that evil scum of the sea: thou knowest it thyself. But dear lady, - for thou canst – defend thy servants who tread the earth at thy behest.”

[228] So she spake and seated her beside the golden throne, even as a hunting hound of Artemis, which, when it hath ceased from the swift chase, sitteth by her feet, and its ears are erect, ever ready to receive the call of the goddess. Like thereto the daughter of Thaumas sat beside her throne. And she never forgetteth her seat, not even when sleep lays upon her his forgetful wing, but here by the edge of the great throne with head a little bent aslant she sleeps. Never does she unloose her girdle or her swift hunting-boots lest her mistress give her some sudden command. And Hera was grievously angered and spake to her: “So now, O shameful creatures of Zeus, may ye all wed in secret and bring forth in darkness, not even where the poor mill-women bring forth in difficult labour, but where the seals of the sea bring forth, amid the desolate rocks. But against Asteria am I no wise angered for this sin, nor can I do to her so unkindly as I should – for very wrongly has she done a favour to Leto. Howbeit I honour her exceedingly for that she did not desecrate my bed, but instead of Zeus preferred the sea.”

[249] She spake: and with music the swans,58 the gods’ own minstrels, left Maeonian Pactolus and circled seven times round Delos, and sang over the bed of child-birth, the Muses’ birds, most musical of all birds that fly. Hence that child in after days strung the lyre with just so many strings – seven strings, since seven times the swans sang over the pangs of birth. No eight time sang they: ere that the child leapt forth and the nymphs of Delos, offspring of an ancient river, sang with far-sounding voice the holy chant of Eileithyia. And straightway the brazen sky echoed back the far-reaching chant and Hera grudged it not, because Zeus had taken away her anger. In that hour, O Delos, all thy foundations became of gold: with gold thy round lake59 flowed all day, and golden foliage thy natal olive-tree put forth and with gold flowed coiled Inopus in deep flood.

[264] And thou thyself didst take up the child from the golden earth and lay him in thy lap and thou spakest saying: “O mighty and of many altars and many cities, bounteous earth! Rich continents and ye islands set around lo! I am as thou see’st – hard of tillage; yet from me shall Apollo be called ‘Of Delos’, and none other among all lands shall be so beloved by any other god: not Cerchnis60 so loved by Poseidon, lord of Lechaeum, not Cyllene’s hill61 by Hermes, not Crete by Zeus, as I by Apollo; and I shall no more be a wandering isle.” Thus didst thou speak and the child drew the sweet breast.

[275] Wherefore from that day thou art famed as the most holy of islands, nurse of Apollo’s youth. On thee treads not Enyo nor Hades nor the horses of Ares; but every year tithes of first-fruits are sent to thee: to thee all cities lead up choirs, both those cities which have cast their lots toward the East and those toward the West and those in the South, and the peoples which have their homes above the northern shore, a very long-lived race.62 These63 first bring thee cornstalks and holy sheaves of corn-ears, which the Pelasgians of Dodona, who couch upon the ground , servants of the caldron64 which is never silent – far first receive, as these offerings enter their country from afar. Next they come to the Holy town and mountains of the Malian land; and thence they sail across to the goodly Lelantian plain65 of the Abantes; and then not long is the voyage from Euboea, since thy havens are nigh thereto. The first to bring thee these offerings fro the fair-haired Arimaspi66 were Upis and Loxo and happy Hecaerge, daughters of Boreas, and those who then were the best of the young men. And they returned no home again, but a happy fate was theirs, and they shall never be without their glory. Verily the girls of Delos, when the sweet-sounded marriage hymn affrights the maidens’ quarters, bring offerings of their maiden hair to the maidens, while the boys offer to the young men the first harvest of the down upon their cheeks.

[300] Asteria, island of incense, around and about thee the isles have made a circle and set themselves about thee as a choir. Not silent art thou nor noiseless when Hesperus of the curling locks looks down on thee, but ringing evermore with sound. The men sing the song of the old man of Lycia – the very song which the seer Olen67 brought thee from Xanthos: the maidens of the choir beat with their feet the steadfast ground. Then, too, is the holy image laden with garlands, the famous image of ancient Cypris whom of old Theseus with the youths established when he was sailing back from Crete. Having escaped the cruel bellowing and the wild son68 of Pasiphaë69 and the coiled habitation of the crooked labyrinth, about thine altar, O lady, they raised the music of the lute and danced the round dance, and Theseus led the choir. Hence the ever-living offerings of the Pilgrim Ship70 do the sons71 of Cecrops send to Phoebus, the gear of that vessel.

[316] Asteria of many altars and many prayers, what merchant mariner of the Aegean passes by thee with speeding ship? Never do such mighty winds as that blow upon him, but though need urges the swiftest voyage that may be, yet they speedily furl their sails and go not on board again, ere they have circled they great altar buffeted with blows and bitten the sacred trunk of the olive, their hands tied behind their backs.72 These things did the nymph of Delos devise for sport and laughter to young Apollo.

[325] O happy hearth of islands, hail to thyself! Hail also to Apollo and to her73 whom Leto bare!

1. Fountain in Pieria near Mt. Olympus, sacred to the Muses.
2. Cynthos, mountain in Delos.
3. The Icarian sea, so called from Icarus, son of Daedalus, who fell into it when his father and he attempted to fly from Crete with artificial wings to escape the wrath of Minos. (Strabo 639, Diodor. iv. 77.)
4. Corsica, colonized by the Phoenicians.
5. Euboea, which was also called Ellopia from Ellops, son of Ion (Strabo 445, Steph. B. s.v. Ellopia.)
6. Sardinia.
7. Cyprus (schol.).
8. epibathron (Hom. Od. xiv. 449, Callim. Hec. 31, Apoll. Rh. i. 421) is properly the fee for entering a ship; cf. Eustath. on Hom. l.c., Hesych. s.v. = naulon. Here = fee for setting foot in Cyprus. Cf. Nonnus xiii. 457 Paphon . . . ex hudatôn epibathron anerchomenês Aphroditês.
9. Strymon, river in Thrace. (aph’ ou ho boras. Strumoniou boreao, Steph. B. s.v.)
10. Poseidon.

11. Mythical artificers, “notique operum Telchines,” Statius. T. ii. 274; S. iv. 6. 47.
12. As if from aster = star. Stat. A. i. 388 “instabili Delo."
13. Troezen, son of Pelops, founder of Troezen in Argolis (Strabo 374, Paus. ii. 30. 8, Steph. B. s.v.)
14. Ephyra, old name of Corinth (Paus. ii. 1. 1, Strabo 338, Steph. Byz. s.v.)
15. Parthenia, old name for Samos (Steph. Byz. s.v.).
16. Mycale lies on the mainland, opposite Samos, of which Ancaeus, son of Zeus or Poseidon and Astypalaia, was the mythical king. Steph. Byz., s.v. Mukalêssos, says esti kai oros Mukalêssos enantion Samou. kai Mukalêssis to Thêlukon.
17. Stat. T. viii. 197 “partuque ligatam Delon."
18. Apollo.
19. Cf. Stat. Th. vi. 100 “Dat gemitum tellus: non sic eversa feruntur Ismara, cum fracto Boreas caput extulit N.H. vii. 10; Soph. Ant. 983, schol.; Apoll. Rh. i. 826; Sil. It. Prin. Viii. 513; Serv. Verg. A. x. 350, xii. 366; [Plutarch], De fluv. 14. 5).
20. Iris (Stat. Th. x. 123).

21. Mimas, mountain in Ionia opposite to Chios.
22. Auge, daughter of Aleos, king of Tegea. Hera father, warned by an oracle that his sons would perish by a descendant of his daughter, made her a priestess to Athena. She became, however, the mother of Telephus by Heracles and gave birth to her son on the hill Parthenium in Arcadia (Diodor. iv. 33. 7 ff.). Cf. Paus. viii. 48. 7, who says at Tegea Eileithyia was worshipped as Augê en gonasi because Auge bare her son there. But he mentions another story which said Telephus was exposed on Parthenium.
23. The authochtonous founder of Pheneos, town in Arcadia (Paus. viii. 14. 4).
24. Aegialos sometimes denoted the whole district from Sicyon to Buprasium (Steph. Byz. s.v.), i.e. Achaia (Paus. v. 1. 1, vii. 1. 1, Strabo 333), here more strictly the district of Sicyon (which was also called Aegiale, Paus. ii. 6. 5).
25. Inachus, river in Argolis.
26. Aonia = Boeotia.
27. Dirce, river at Thebes.
28. Strophia, unknown river of Boeotia.
29. Ismenos, river of Boeotia.
30. River in Boeotia.

31. The Meliae or Ash-nymphs were of the same class as the Dryads or Hamadryads. The Melia referred to here was the sister of Ismenus. For the general idea cf. Stat. Silv. i. 3. 59 ff.
32. The dragon which occupied or watched Delphi and which Apollo slew; cf. Hymn Apoll. 100 ff., Hom. Hymn Apoll. 282 ff.
33. River at Delphi.
34. The laurel of the Pythian priestess at Delphi.
35. Niobe, daughter of Tantalus and wife of Amphion of Thebes, had twelve children – six sons and six daughters – who were slain by Apollo and Artemis because Niobe boasted of the number of her children compared with Leto, who had but two.
36. Cithaeron, mountain in Boeotia.
37. Helice, town in Achaia with temple of Poseidon Heliconios (Paus. vii. 24. 5, Strabo 384, cf. Hom. Il. xx. 404). Helice was daughter of Selinus and by Ion mother of Bura (Paus. vii. 1. 2, vii. 25. 5).
38. Bura, town in Achaia, where Dexamenus a Centaur had great cattle-stalls (schol.). In E.M. s.v. Bousa he is called Exadios.
39. Pelion in Thessaly, home of the Centaur Cheiron.
40. Among the daughters of Peneios are Iphis, Atrax, Tricca, Menippe, Daphne, and, according to some, Cyrene.

41. Cheiron was the son of the union of Cronus and Philyra on Mt. Pelion (Pind. P. iii. 1 f., ix. 30, etc.).
42. The reference is to the helplessness and shapelessness of the lion cub at birth. Cf. Aristotle, De gen. animal. iv. 6 ta men adirthrôta schedon genna, kathaper alôpêx arktos leôn. The sense of ômos is precisely that of crudus in Stat. Th. iv. 280 “quercus laurique ferbant Cruda puerperia.”
43. Mountain in Thrace.
44. Cf. Frazer, G.B., Adonis, Attis, Osiris, i. p. 197 : "The People of Timor, in the East Indies, think that he earth rests on the shoulder of a mighty giant, and that when he is weary of bearing it on one shoulder he shifts it to the other and so causes the ground to quake.” Ibid. p. 200: “The Tongans think that the earth is supported on the prostrate form of the god Móooi. When he is tired of lying in one posture, he tries to turn himself about, and that causes an earthquake.”
45. Leto, daughter of Coeüs and Phoebe.
46. At the mouth of the Achelous.
47. “Windy Mimas,” Od. iii. 172. Mountain in Erythraea opposite Chios.
48. King of Cos (Steph. Byz. s.v v. Kôs and Merops).
49. Daughter of Eurypylos, king of Cos, mother of Thessalos by Heracles (Apollod. ii. 7. 8).
50. Ptolemy II. Philadelphus, son of Ptolemy I. Soter and Berenice, was born in Cos in 310/9 B.C. The date of the birth of Philadelphus is now settled by the discovery of a new fragment of the Marmor Parium (Athen. Mitth. xxii. [1897]) which has: archontos Athênêsi Hieromnêmonos (310/9 B.C.) Ptolemaiou ho huios en Kôi egeneto. Cf. Theocrit. xvii. 58 ff.

51. Soter, or Saviour, a title of the Ptolemies.
52. From 300 B.C. there was a great southward movement of the Celts from the Balkan peninsular. In 280/279 they invaded Greece, where they attacked Delphi, but were miraculously routed by Apollo. It was shortly after this that a body of them settled in the district of Asia afterwards known as Galatia (circ. 240 B.C.).
53. The readings here are an attempt in the inferior MSS. to supply the lanunae. They have no intrinsic value.
54. In the course of the revolt of Magas of Cyrene Ptolemy Philadelphus had enrolled a body of Gallic mercenaries. They became rebellious and attempted to make themselves master of Egypt. Ptolemy enticed them into a desert island formed by the branches of the Nile, where he left them to die by famine and mutual slaughter (Paus. i. 7. 2). See Bouché - Leclercq, Histoire des Lagides, i. p. 167; Mahaffy, The Empire of the Ptolemies, p. 124 ff. The date of the revolt of Magas is round about 278 B.C., and thus about the same date as the Gallic attack on Delphi.
55. Translating kêri.
56. See note on Hymn iii. 171.
57. See note on Hymn ii. 4.
58. Apoll. Rhod. iv. 1300 f. hote kala naontos ep’ ophrusi Paktôloio kuknoi kinêsôsin heon melos.
59. See note on Hymn ii. 59.
60. i.e. Cenchreae, one of the harbours of Corinth (“bimaris Corinthi”), the other being Lechaeum.

61. In Arcadia.
62. The Hyperboreans, who suffered neither disease nor age (Pind. P. x. 41, O. iii. 16; Hesiod fr. 209; Herod. iv. 32; Diodor. ii. 47; Strabo 341; Plin. N.H. iv. 89, vi. 34 and 55; Mela i. 12 f., iii. 36). There is a useful recent discussion by Otto Schroeder in Archiv f. Religionswissenshaft, viii. (1904-5) p. 68 ff. The meaning o the name is much disputed. Pindar, O. iii. 55, takes it to mean “the people behind Boreas,” the north wind. Modern suggestions are huper + bora, hill, “the people over the hills,” or i.q. Perpherees, Herod. iv. 33, cf. Hesych. perpheres. theôroi.
63. The version of Callimachus is that he offerings come from the Hyperboreans to Dodona, then to Malis, then to Euboea, then to Delos. Hereodotus says the offerings came from the Hyperboreans to Scythia, then from tribe to tribe till they reached the head of the Adriatic, thence to Dodona, then to Malis, to Carystus in Euboea, then to Andros, then to Tenos, and thence to Delos. Pausanias, i. 31. 2, says the Hyperboreans gave them to the Arimaspi, they to the Issedones, then the Scythians carried them to Sinope, then they passed through Greece to Prasiae in Attica, and were then carried by the Athenians to Delos.
64. The famous Dôdônaion chalkeion (Suid. s.v., Steph. Byz. s.v. Dôdônê, cf. Strabo, vii. fr. 3) is discussed by A. B. Cook, “The Gong at Dodona”in J.H.S. xxii. (1902) p. 5 ff., who thinks the various allusions may be harmonized if we assume that the original “gong” was the row of resonant tripods round the sacred enclosure, and that later (say 4th century B.C.) these were replaced by a more elaborate gong consisting of two pillars, on one of which was mounted the figure of a boy holding a whip formed of three chains tipped with buttons which, when moved by the wind, beat upon a bronze lebês mounted upon the other pillar. Cf. Callim. fr. 111.
65. In Boeotia.
66. For the Arimaspi see Herod. iv. 13 ff.
67. Prehistoric poet from Lycia (Xanthos is a river in Lycia); Herod. iv. 35 says he wrote the hymn sung at Delphi in honour of the Hyperborean maidens. Cf. Paus. ix. 27. 2, Suid. s.v. Ôlên.
68. The Minotaur.
69. Pasiphaë, daughter of Helios, wife of Minos, king of Crete.
70. The ship in which Theseus carried to Crete the seven maidens and seven boys as an offering to the Minotaur. With the help of Ariadne, Theseus slew the monster (Plato, Phaedo, 58 b).

71. The Athenians, who vowed that if Theseus came safely home they would send a theôria every year to Delos (Plato, l.c.).
72. “In Delos it was the custom to run round the altar of Apollo and to beat the altar and, their hands tied behind their backs, to take a bite from the olive-tree.” (schol.).
73. Artemis.


[1] All ye that are companions of the Bath of Pallas, come forth, come forth! I heard but now the snorting of the sacred steeds, and the goddess is ready to go. Haste ye now, O fair-haired daughters of Pelasgus, haste! Never did Athena wash her mighty arms before she drave the dust from the flanks of her horses – not even when, her armour all defiled with filth, she returned from the battle of the lawless Giants; but far first she loosed from the care her horses’ necks, and in the springs of Oceanus washed the flecks of sweat and from their mouths that champed the bit cleansed the clotted foam.

[13] O come, daughters of Achaea, and bring not perfume nor alabasters1 (I hear the voice of the axle-naves!); bring not, ye companions of the Bath, for Pallas perfume nor alabasters (for Athena loves not mixed unguents), neither bring ye a mirror. Always her face is fair, and, even when the Phrygian2 judged the strife on Ida, the great goddess looked not into orichalc3 nor into the transparent eddy of Simois, nor did Hera. But Cypris took the shining bronze and often altered and again altered the same lock.4 But Pallas, after running twice sixty double courses, even as beside the Eurotas the Lacedaemonian Stars,5 took and skillfully anointed her with simple unguents, the birth of her own tree. And, O maidens, the red blush arose on her, as the colour of the morning rose or seed of pomegranate. Wherefore now also bring ye only the manly olive oil, wherewith Castor and wherewith Heracles anoint themselves. And bring her a comb all of gold, that she may comb her hair, when she hath anointed her glossy tresses.

[33] Come forth, Athena! A company pleasing to thy heart awaits thee, the maiden daughters of Acestor’s mighty sons.6 And therewithal, O Athena, is borne the shield of Diomedes, since this is the Argive custom which in olden days Eumedes7 taught them: a priest who found favour with thee: who on a time, when he knew that the people were plotting and planning death for him, fled with thy holy image and dwelt in the Creion hill – dwelt on the hill of Creion and established thee, O goddess, on the rugged rocks, whose name is now the Pallantid rocks.

[42] Come forth, Athena, Sacker of Cities, golden-helmeted, who rejoicest in the din of horse and shield. Today, ye water-carriers, dip not your pitchers – today, O Argos, drink ye from the fountains and not from the river; today, ye handmaidens carry your pitches to Physadeia,8 or Amymone,9 daughter of Danaus. For, mingling his waters with gold and with flowers, Inakhos will come from his pastoral hills, bringing fair water for the Bath of Athena. But beware, O Pelasgian, lest even unwittingly thou behold the Queen. Whoso shall behold Pallas, Keeper of Cities, naked, shall look on Argos for this the last time. Lady Athena, do thou come forth, and meanwhile I shall say somewhat unto these. The story is not mine but told by others.

[57] Maidens, one nymph of old in Thebes did Athena love much, yea beyond all her companions, even the mother of Teiresias, and was never apart from her. But when she drave her steeds towards ancient Thespiae or towards Coroneia or to Haliartus, passing through the tilled fields of the Boeotians – or toward Coroneia where he fragrant grove and altars are set by the river Coralius – often did the goddess set the nymph upon her car and there was no dalliance of nymphs nor sweet ordering of dance, where Chariclo10 did not lead.

[68] Yet even her did many tears await in the after days, albeit she was a comrade pleasing to the heart of Athena. One day those twain undid the buckles of their robes beside the fair-flowing Fountain of the Horse on Helicon and bathed; and noontide quiet held all the hill. Those two ere bathing and it was the noontide hour and a great quiet held that hill. Only Teiresias, on whose cheek the down was just darkening, still ranged with his hounds the holy place. And, athirst beyond telling, he came unto the flowing fountain, wretched man! And unwillingly saw that which is not lawful to be seen. And Athena was angered, yet said to him: “What god, O son of Everes, led thee on this grievous way? Hence shalt thou never more take back thine eyes!”

[83] She spake and night seized the eyes of the youth. And he stood there speechless; for pain glued his knees and helplessness stayed his voice. But the nymph cried: “What has thou done to my boy, lady? Is such the friendship of you goddesses? Thou hast taken away the eyes of my son. Foolish child! Thou hast seen the breast and body of Athena, but the sun thou shalt not see again. O me unhappy! O hill, O Helicon, where I may no more come, surely a great price for little has been exacted. Losing a few gazelles and deer, thou hast taken the eyes of my child.”

[93] Therewith the mother clasped her beloved child in both her arms and, wailing the heavy plain of the mournful nightingale, led him away. And the goddess Athena pitied her comrade and spake to her and said: “Noble lady, take back all the words that thou hast spoken in anger. It is not I that made thy child blind. For no sweet thin is it for Athena to snatch away the eyes of children. But the laws of Cronius [Zeus] order thus: Whosoever shall behold any of the immortals, when the god himself chooses not, at a heavy price shall he behold. Noble lady, the thin that is done can no more be taken back; since thus the thread of the Fates span when thou didst bear him from the first; but now, O son of Everes, take thou the issue which is due to thee. How many burnt offerings shall the daughter of Cadmus11 burn in the days to come? How many Aristaeus? – praying that they might see their only son, the young Actaeon,12 blind. And yet he shall be companion of the chase to great Artemis. But him neither the chase nor comradeship in archery on the hills shall save in that hour, when, albeit unwillingly, he shall behold the beauteous bath of the goddess. Nay, his own dogs shall then devour their former lord. And his mother shall gather the bones of her son, ranging over all the thickets. Happiest of women shall she call thee and of happy fate, for that thou didst receive thy son home from the hills – blind. Therefore, O comrade, lament not; for to this thy son – for thy sake – shall remain many other honours from me. For I will make him a seer to be sung of men hereafter, yea, more excellent than any other. He shall know the birds – which is of good omen among all the countless birds that fly and what birds are of ill-omened flight. Many oracles shall he utter to the Boeotians and many unto Cadmus, and to the mighty sons of Labdacus in later days. Also will I give him a great staff which shall guide his feet as he hath need, and I will give him a long term of life. And he only,13 when he dies, shall walk among the dead having understanding, honoured of the great Leader of Peoples.14

[130] So she spake and bowed her head; and that word is fulfilled over which Pallas bows; since to Athena only among his daughters hath Zeus granted that she should win all things that belong to her sire, O companions of the Bath, and no mother bare that goddess, but the head of Zeus. The head of Zeus bows not in falsehood, and in falsehood his daughter hath no part.

[137] Now comes Athena in very deed. O maidens, whose task it is, receive ye the goddess with pious greeting and with prayer, and with the voice of thanksgiving. Hail, goddess, and have thou Inachian Argos in thy keeping! Hail when thou drivest forth thy steeds, and home again mayst thou drive them with joy, and do thou preserve all the estate of the Danaans.

1. i.e. vessels made of alabaster, used especially to hold perfumes, cf. N.T. Matt. xxvi. 7, Mark xiv. 3, Luke vii. 37; Theophrast. De odor. 41.
2. Paris.
3. First mentioned Hesiod, Shield 122, Hom. H. Aphr. 9. Already to Plato it is only a name (to nun onomazomenon monon Critias 114 E, cf. schol. Apoll. Rh, iv. 973). Later it was identified with the mixture of copper and zinc which the Romans called aurichalcum, i.e. brass.
4. Tibull. i. 8. 22 “saepeque mutates disposuisse comas."
5. Castor and Pollux, known as stars to Eurip. Hel. 138 ff., etc.; their identification with the constellation Gemini was comparatively late.
6. Akestoridan has been unjustly suspected. It is quite correct and is a mere etymological variant for Arestoridan, since akesasthai = aresasthai. See Hesych. s.v v.
7. “Once when the Heracleidae came against the Orestiadae, Eumedes, priest of Athena, was suspected by the Argives of wishing to betray the Palladium to the Heracleidae. Eumedes, being afraid, took the Palladium and came to the hill called Creion.” (schol.).
8. Spring at Argos. Cf. Steph. Byz. s.v. Asbôtis.
9. Spring at Argos. Cf. Apollod. ii. 1. 5, Strabo 368, Paus. ii. 37, etc.
10. Chariclo, wife of Eueres and mother of Teiresias.

11. Autonoë.
12. Actaeon, son of Aristaeus and Autonoë, was torn to pieces by his own dogs because he had seen Artemis bathing in Parthenius in the Gargaphian valley. Apollod. iii. 4. 4., Nonn. v. 287 ff., Ovid, Met. iii. 131 ff.
13. Hom. Od. x. 494 f.
14. Hades. The title Agesilaos, which was used of Hades by Aeschylus also (Athen, iii, 99 B), refers to his character as host of the dead (hoi polloi, hoi pleiones) and is to be compared with his titles Poludegmôn (Hom. H. Dem. 17, 31, 430), Poludektês (ib. 9), Polusênantôr (ib. 31), Pandokeus (Lycophr. 655).


[1] As the Basket comes,1 greet it, ye women, saying “Demeter, greatly hail! Lady of much bounty, of many measures of corn.” As the Basket comes, from the ground shall ye behold it, ye uninitiated, and gaze not from the roof or from aloft – child nor wife nor maid hath shed her hair2 – neither then nor when we spit from parched mouths fasting.3 Hesperus from the clouds marks the time of its coming: Hesperus, who alone persuaded Demeter to drink, what time she pursued the unknown tracks of her stolen daughter.4

[9] Lady, how were thy feet able to carry thee unto the West, unto the black5 men and where the golden apples6 are? Thou didst not drink nor dist thou eat during that time nor didst thou wash. Thrice didst thou cross Achelous with his silver eddies, and as often didst thou pass over each of the ever-flowing rivers, and thrice didst thou seat thee on the ground beside the fountain Callichorus,7 parched and without drinking, and didst not eat nor wash.

[17] Nay, nay, let us not speak of that which brought the tear to Deo8! Better to tell how she gave cities pleasing ordinances; better to tell how she was the first to cut straw and holy sheaves of corn-ears and put in oxen to tread them, what time Triptolemus9 was taught the good craft; better to tell – a warning to men that they avoid transgression – how (she made the son of Triopas hateful and pitiful)10 to see.

[24] Not yet in the land of Cnidus,11 but sill in holy Dotium12 dwelt the Pelasgians and unto thyself they made a fair grove abounding in trees; hardly would an arrow have passed through them. Therein was pine, and therein were mighty elms, and therein were pear-trees, and therein were fair sweet-apples; and from the ditches gushes up water as it were of amber. And the goddess loved the place to madness, even as Eleusis, as Triopum,13 as Enna.14

[31] But when their favouring fortune became wroth with the Triopidae, then the worse counsel took hold of Erysichthon.15 He hastened with twenty attendants, all in their prime, all men-giants able to lift a whole city, arming them both with double axes and with hatchets, and they rushed shameless into the grove of Demeter. Now there was a poplar, a great tree reaching to the sky, and thereby the nymphs were wont to sport at noontide. This poplar was smitten first and cried a woeful cry to the others. Demeter marked that her holy tree was in pain, and she as angered and said: “Who cuts down my fair tree?” Straightway she likened her to Nicippe, whom the city had appointed to be her public priestess, and in her hand she grasped her fillets and her poppy, and from her shoulder hung her key.16 And she spake to soothe the wicked and shameless man and said: “My child, who cutest down the trees which are dedicated to the gods, stay, my child, child of thy parents’ many prayers, cease and turn back thine attendants, lest the lady Demeter be angered, whose holy place thou makest desolate.”

[50] But with a look more fierce than that wherewith a lioness looks on the hunter on the hills of Tmarus17 – a lioness with new-born cubs,18 whose eye they say is of all most terrible – he said: “Vie back, lest I fix my great axe in thy flesh! These trees shall make my tight dwelling wherein evermore I shall hold pleasing banquets enough for my companions.” So spake the youth and Nemesis19 recorded his evil speech. And Demeter was angered beyond telling and put on her goddess shape. Her steps touched the earth, but her head reached unto Olympus.20 And they, half-dead when they beheld the lady goddess, rushed suddenly away, leaving the bronze axes in the trees. And she left the others alone – for they followed by constraint beneath their master’s hand – but she answered their angry king: “Yea, yea, build thy house, dog, dog,21 that thou art, wherein thou shalt hold festival; for frequent banquets shall be thine hereafter.” So much she said and devised evil things for Erysichthon.

[66] Straightway she sent on him a cruel and evil hunger – a burning hunger and a strong – and he was tormented by a grievous disease. Wretched man, as much as he ate, so much did he desire again. Twenty prepared the banquet for him, and twelve drew wine. For whatsoever things vex Demeter, vex also Dionysus; for Dionysus shares the anger of Demeter. His parents for shame sent him not to common feast or banquet, and all manner of excuse was devised. The sons of Ormenus22 came to bid him to the games of Itonian Athene.23 Then his mother refused the bidding: “He is not at home: for yesterday he is gone unto Crannon to demand a dept of a hundred oxen.” Polyxo24 came, mother of Actorion – for she was preparing a marriage for her child – inviting both Triopas and his son. But the lady, heavy-hearted, answered with tears: “Triopas will come, but Erysichthon a boar wounded on Pindus of fair glens and he hath lain abed for nine days.” Poor child-loving mother, what falsehood didst thou not tell? One was giving a feast: “Erysichthon is abroad.” One was brining home a bride: “A quoit hath struck Erysichthon,” or “he hath had a fall from his car,” or “he is counting his flocks on Othrys.25” Then he within the house, an all-day banqueter, ate all things beyond reckoning. But his evil belly leaped all the more as he ate, and all the eatables poured, in vain and thanklessly, as it were into the depths of the sea. And even as the snow upon Mimas,26 as a wax doll in the sun, yea, even more that these he wasted to the very sinews: only sinews and bones had the poor man left. His mother wept, and greatly groaned his two sisters, and the breast that suckled him and the ten handmaidens over and over.

[96] And Triopas himself laid hands on his grey hairs, calling on Poseidon, who heeded not, with such words as these: “False father, behold this the third generation of thy sons – if I am son of thee and of Canace,27 daughter of Aeolus, and this hapless child is mine. Would that he had been smitten by Apollo and that my hands had buried him! But now he sits an accursed glutton before mine eyes.28 Either do thou remove from him his cruel disease or take and feed him thyself; for my tables area already exhausted. Desolate are my folds and empty my byres of four-footed beasts; for already the cooks29 have said me “no.”

[107] But even the mules they loosed from the great wains and he ate the heifer that his mother was feeding for Hestia30 and the racing horse and the war charger, and the cat at which the little vermin trembled.

[111] So long as there were stores in the house of Triopas, only the chambers of the house were aware of the evil thing; but when his teeth dried up the rich house, then the king’s son sat at the crossways,31 begging for crusts and the cast out refuse of the feast. O Demeter, never may that man be my friend who is hateful to thee, nor ever may he share party-wall with me; ill neighbours I abhor.

[118] Sing, ye maidens, and ye mothers, say with them: “Demeter, greatly hail! Lady of much bounty, of many measures of corn.” And as the four white-haired horses convey the Basket, so unto us will the great goddess of wide dominion come brining white spring and white harvest and winter and autumn, and keep us to another year. And as unsandalled and with hair unbound we walk the city, so shall we have foot and head unharmed for ever. And as the van-bearers bear vans32 full of gold, so may we get gold unstinted. Far as the City Chambers let the uninitiated follow, but the initiated even unto the very shrine of the goddess – as many as are under sixty years. But shoe that are heavy33 and she that stretches her hand to Eileithyia and she that is in pain – sufficient it is that they go so far as their knees are able. And to them Deo shall give all things to overflowing, even as if they came unto her temple.

[134] Hail, goddess, and save this people in harmony and in prosperity, and in the fields bring us all pleasant things! Feed our kine, bring us flocks, bring us the corn-ear, bring us harvest! And nurse peace, that he who sows may also reap. Be gracious, O thrice-prayed for, great Queen of goddesses!


1. kationtos might mean “comes home” but probably it is safer to take it as “comes in procession.” Cf. kathodos Herondas i. 56.
2. i.e. dedicated on arriving at puberty. Or “hath her hair unbound,” i.e. a maiden unwed. Cf. schol. Mêd’ êtis agamos esti. Scott, Heart of Midlothian chap. 22, says of Effie Deans on her trial: “Her . . . tresses . . . which, according to the custom of the country, unmarried women were not allowed to cover with any sort of cap, and which, alas! Effie dared no longer confine with the snood or riband which implied purity of maiden fame, now hung unbound.”
3. The second day of the Thesmophoria was a day of fasting, Nesteia.
4. Persephone.
5. The Aethiopians (schol.).
6. The garden of the Hesperides.
7. Callichorus, well (phrear) at Eleusis, Paus. i. 38. 6.
8. Demeter.
9. Son of Celeus, was taught agriculture by Demeter.
10. The lacuna is supplied in LM: <thêkato Triopidên echthon kai oiktron>.

11. In Caria.
12. In Thessaly.
13. i.e. Triopium in Caria.
14. In Sicily.
15. Son of Triopas.
16. “As prestiess” (schol.).
17. Tmarus, mountain near Dodona in Epirus.
18. For strict sense of ômotokos see note on Hymn iv. 120. Here it is no more than tokas “with cubs” as in Eur. Med. 187 tokadas dergma leontos.
19. Nemesis takes note of presumptuous acts and words, Plato, Laws 717 D. Nonn. Dion. i. 481 imitates Callimachus.
20. From Hom. Il. iv. 443 Eris ouranô estêrixe karê kai epi chthoni bainei. Cf. Verg. A. iv. 177, x. 767, Nonn. xxix. 320.

21. Cf. AItia iii. 1. 4.
22. Eponymous king of Ormenion in Thessaly.
23. So called from her cult at Itone in Thessaly.
24. Unknown.
25. Mountain in Thessaly.
26. Hymn iv. 67 n.
27. Canace, daughter of Aeolus and Enarete, mother by Poseidon of Triopas (Diod. V. 61, Apollod. i. 7, iii. 4).
28. This rendering, which takes boubrôstis as abstract for concrete, seems better than “gluttony sits in his eyes.”
29. The Greek mageiros is butcher as well as cook.
30. At libations and sacrifices the first and last offerings were made to Hestia, the goddess of the family hearth. Hence the proverb aph’ Hestias archesthai, which sometimes approaches the sense of têr aph’ leras kinein, indicating a last desparate move, or something thorough-going (cf. Germ. “von Hause aus.” Plato, Euthyphr. 3 A, etc.).

31. There seems to be a reference to the disposal of rubbish at the crossways, Aesch. Cho. 97 with schol., and offerings made to Hecate there, Aristoph. Plut. 594 with schol. Harpocr. s.v. oxuthumia. It seems possible that Hecate’s name Eucoline is a euphemism for Acoline (akolos).
32. likna, skull-shaped baskets, used for offering first-fruits to the gods (cf. Hesych. s.v. leikna), also for winnowing corn and for cradles. Equivalent in Latin vannus, whence our “van” and “fan.”
33. bareia has the ambiguous sense of heavy with age (Soph. O.T. 17) or heavy with child – Lat. gravida.