1. Education

Your suggestion is on its way!

An email with a link to:

http://ancienthistory.about.com/library/bl/bl_text_homerhymn_pyth.htm

was emailed to:

Thanks for sharing About.com with others!

Most Emailed Articles

Now We Can Begin

Homeric Hymn to Pythian Apollo

This translation, by Evelyn-White, is in the public domain.

Related Resources
Homer
Profile of Apollo

Homeric Hymn to Pythian Apollo

(ll. 179-181) O Lord, Lycia is yours and lovely Maeonia and
Miletus, charming city by the sea, but over wave-girt Delos you
greatly reign your own self.


(ll. 182-206) Leto's all-glorious son goes to rocky Pytho,
playing upon his hollow lyre, clad in divine, perfumed garments;
and at the touch of the golden key his lyre sings sweet. Thence,
swift as thought, he speeds from earth to Olympus, to the house
of Zeus, to join the gathering of the other gods: then
straightway the undying gods think only of the lyre and song, and
all the Muses together, voice sweetly answering voice, hymn the
unending gifts the gods enjoy and the sufferings of men, all that
they endure at the hands of the deathless gods, and how they live
witless and helpless and cannot find healing for death or defence
against old age. Meanwhile the rich-tressed Graces and cheerful
Seasons dance with Harmonia and Hebe and Aphrodite, daughter of
Zeus, holding each other by the wrist. And among them sings one,
not mean nor puny, but tall to look upon and enviable in mien,
Artemis who delights in arrows, sister of Apollo. Among them
sport Ares and the keen-eyed Slayer of Argus, while Apollo plays
his lyre stepping high and featly and a radiance shines around
him, the gleaming of his feet and close-woven vest. And they,
even gold-tressed Leto and wise Zeus, rejoice in their great
hearts as they watch their dear son playing among the undying
gods.


(ll. 207-228) How then shall I sing of you -- though in all ways
you are a worthy theme for song? Shall I sing of you as wooer
and in the fields of love, how you went wooing the daughter of
Azan along with god-like Ischys the son of well-horsed Elatius,
or with Phorbas sprung from Triops, or with Ereutheus, or with
Leucippus and the wife of Leucippus....
((LACUNA))
....you on foot, he with his chariot, yet he fell not short of
Triops. Or shall I sing how at the first you went about the
earth seeking a place of oracle for men, O far-shooting Apollo?
To Pieria first you went down from Olympus and passed by sandy
Lectus and Enienae and through the land of the Perrhaebi. Soon
you came to Iolcus and set foot on Cenaeum in Euboea, famed for
ships: you stood in the Lelantine plain, but it pleased not your
heart to make a temple there and wooded groves. From there you
crossed the Euripus, far-shooting Apollo, and went up the green,
holy hills, going on to Mycalessus and grassy-bedded Teumessus,
and so came to the wood-clad abode of Thebe; for as yet no man
lived in holy Thebe, nor were there tracks or ways about Thebe's
wheat-bearing plain as yet.


(ll. 229-238) And further still you went, O far-shooting Apollo,
and came to Onchestus, Poseidon's bright grove: there the new-
broken cold distressed with drawing the trim chariot gets spirit
again, and the skilled driver springs from his car and goes on
his way. Then the horses for a while rattle the empty car, being
rid of guidance; and if they break the chariot in the woody
grove, men look after the horses, but tilt the chariot and leave
it there; for this was the rite from the very first. And the
drivers pray to the lord of the shrine; but the chariot falls to
the lot of the god.


(ll. 239-243) Further yet you went, O far-shooting Apollo, and
reached next Cephissus' sweet stream which pours forth its sweet-
flowing water from Lilaea, and crossing over it, O worker from
afar, you passed many-towered Ocalea and reached grassy
Haliartus.


(ll. 244-253) Then you went towards Telphusa: and there the
pleasant place seemed fit for making a temple and wooded grove.
You came very near and spoke to her: `Telphusa, here I am minded
to make a glorious temple, an oracle for men, and hither they
will always bring perfect hecatombs, both those who live in rich
Peloponnesus and those of Europe and all the wave-washed isles,
coming to seek oracles. And I will deliver to them all counsel
that cannot fail, giving answer in my rich temple.'


(ll. 254-276) So said Phoebus Apollo, and laid out all the
foundations throughout, wide and very long. But when Telphusa
saw this, she was angry in heart and spoke, saying: `Lord
Phoebus, worker from afar, I will speak a word of counsel to your
heart, since you are minded to make here a glorious temple to be
an oracle for men who will always bring hither perfect hecatombs
for you; yet I will speak out, and do you lay up my words in your
heart. The trampling of swift horses and the sound of mules
watering at my sacred springs will always irk you, and men will
like better to gaze at the well-made chariots and stamping,
swift-footed horses than at your great temple and the many
treasures that are within. But if you will be moved by me -- for
you, lord, are stronger and mightier than I, and your strength is
very great -- build at Crisa below the glades of Parnassus: there
no bright chariot will clash, and there will be no noise of
swift-footed horses near your well-built altar. But so the
glorious tribes of men will bring gifts to you as Iepaeon (`Hail-
Healer'), and you will receive with delight rich sacrifices from
the people dwelling round about.' So said Telphusa, that she
alone, and not the Far-Shooter, should have renown there; and she
persuaded the Far-Shooter.


(ll. 277-286) Further yet you went, far-shooting Apollo, until
you came to the town of the presumptuous Phlegyae who dwell on
this earth in a lovely glade near the Cephisian lake, caring not
for Zeus. And thence you went speeding swiftly to the mountain
ridge, and came to Crisa beneath snowy Parnassus, a foothill
turned towards the west: a cliff hangs over if from above, and a
hollow, rugged glade runs under. There the lord Phoebus Apollo
resolved to make his lovely temple, and thus he said:


(ll. 287-293) `In this place I am minded to build a glorious
temple to be an oracle for men, and here they will always bring
perfect hecatombs, both they who dwell in rich Peloponnesus and
the men of Europe and from all the wave-washed isles, coming to
question me. And I will deliver to them all counsel that cannot
fail, answering them in my rich temple.'


(ll. 294-299) When he had said this, Phoebus Apollo laid out all
the foundations throughout, wide and very long; and upon these
the sons of Erginus, Trophonius and Agamedes, dear to the
deathless gods, laid a footing of stone. And the countless
tribes of men built the whole temple of wrought stones, to be
sung of for ever.


(ll. 300-310) But near by was a sweet flowing spring, and there
with his strong bow the lord, the son of Zeus, killed the
bloated, great she-dragon, a fierce monster wont to do great
mischief to men upon earth, to men themselves and to their thin-
shanked sheep; for she was a very bloody plague. She it was who
once received from gold-throned Hera and brought up fell, cruel
Typhaon to be a plague to men. Once on a time Hera bare him
because she was angry with father Zeus, when the Son of Cronos
bare all-glorious Athena in his head. Thereupon queenly Hera was
angry and spoke thus among the assembled gods:


(ll. 311-330) `Hear from me, all gods and goddesses, how cloud-
gathering Zeus begins to dishonour me wantonly, when he has made
me his true-hearted wife. See now, apart from me he has given
birth to bright-eyed Athena who is foremost among all the blessed
gods. But my son Hephaestus whom I bare was weakly among all the
blessed gods and shrivelled of foot, a shame and disgrace to me
in heaven, whom I myself took in my hands and cast out so that he
fell in the great sea. But silver-shod Thetis the daughter of
Nereus took and cared for him with her sisters: would that she
had done other service to the blessed gods! O wicked one and
crafty! What else will you now devise? How dared you by
yourself give birth to bright-eyed Athena? Would not I have
borne you a child -- I, who was at least called your wife among
the undying gods who hold wide heaven. Beware now lest I devise
some evil thing for you hereafter: yes, now I will contrive that
a son be born me to be foremost among the undying gods -- and
that without casting shame on the holy bond of wedlock between
you and me. And I will not come to your bed, but will consort
with the blessed gods far off from you.'


(ll. 331-333) When she had so spoken, she went apart from the
gods, being very angry. Then straightway large-eyed queenly Hera
prayed, striking the ground flatwise with her hand, and speaking
thus:


(ll. 334-362) `Hear now, I pray, Earth and wide Heaven above, and
you Titan gods who dwell beneath the earth about great Tartarus,
and from whom are sprung both gods and men! Harken you now to
me, one and all, and grant that I may bear a child apart from
Zeus, no wit lesser than him in strength -- nay, let him be as
much stronger than Zeus as all-seeing Zeus than Cronos.' Thus
she cried and lashed the earth with her strong hand. Then the
life-giving earth was moved: and when Hera saw it she was glad in
heart, for she thought her prayer would be fulfilled. And
thereafter she never came to the bed of wise Zeus for a full
year, not to sit in her carved chair as aforetime to plan wise
counsel for him, but stayed in her temples where many pray, and
delighted in her offerings, large-eyed queenly Hera. But when
the months and days were fulfilled and the seasons duly came on
as the earth moved round, she bare one neither like the gods nor
mortal men, fell, cruel Typhaon, to be a plague to men.
Straightway large-eyed queenly Hera took him and bringing one
evil thing to another such, gave him to the dragoness; and she
received him. And this Typhaon used to work great mischief among
the famous tribes of men. Whosoever met the dragoness, the day
of doom would sweep him away, until the lord Apollo, who deals
death from afar, shot a strong arrow at her. Then she, rent with
bitter pangs, lay drawing great gasps for breath and rolling
about that place. An awful noise swelled up unspeakable as she
writhed continually this way and that amid the wood: and so she
left her life, breathing it forth in blood. Then Phoebus Apollo
boasted over her:


(ll. 363-369) `Now rot here upon the soil that feeds man! You at
least shall live no more to be a fell bane to men who eat the
fruit of the all-nourishing earth, and who will bring hither
perfect hecatombs. Against cruel death neither Typhoeus shall
avail you nor ill-famed Chimera, but here shall the Earth and
shining Hyperion make you rot.'


(ll. 370-374) Thus said Phoebus, exulting over her: and darkness
covered her eyes. And the holy strength of Helios made her rot
away there; wherefore the place is now called Pytho, and men call
the lord Apollo by another name, Pythian; because on that spot
the power of piercing Helios made the monster rot away.


(ll. 375-378) Then Phoebus Apollo saw that the sweet-flowing
spring had beguiled him, and he started out in anger against
Telphusa; and soon coming to her, he stood close by and spoke to
her:


(ll. 379-381) `Telphusa, you were not, after all, to keep to
yourself this lovely place by deceiving my mind, and pour forth
your clear flowing water: here my renown shall also be and not
yours alone?'


(ll. 382-387) Thus spoke the lord, far-working Apollo, and pushed
over upon her a crag with a shower of rocks, hiding her streams:
and he made himself an altar in a wooded grove very near the
clear-flowing stream. In that place all men pray to the great
one by the name Telphusian, because he humbled the stream of holy
Telphusa.


(ll. 388-439) Then Phoebus Apollo pondered in his heart what men
he should bring in to be his ministers in sacrifice and to serve
him in rocky Pytho. And while he considered this, he became
aware of a swift ship upon the wine-like sea in which were many
men and goodly, Cretans from Cnossos (10), the city of Minos,
they who do sacrifice to the prince and announce his decrees,
whatsoever Phoebus Apollo, bearer of the golden blade, speaks in
answer from his laurel tree below the dells of Parnassus. These
men were sailing in their black ship for traffic and for profit
to sandy Pylos and to the men of Pylos. But Phoebus Apollo met
them: in the open sea he sprang upon their swift ship, like a
dolphin in shape, and lay there, a great and awesome monster, and
none of them gave heed so as to understand (11); but they sought
to cast the dolphin overboard. But he kept shaking the black
ship every way and make the timbers quiver. So they sat silent
in their craft for fear, and did not loose the sheets throughout
the black, hollow ship, nor lowered the sail of their dark-prowed
vessel, but as they had set it first of all with oxhide ropes, so
they kept sailing on; for a rushing south wind hurried on the
swift ship from behind. First they passed by Malea, and then
along the Laconian coast they came to Taenarum, sea-garlanded
town and country of Helios who gladdens men, where the thick-
fleeced sheep of the lord Helios feed continually and occupy a
glad-some country. There they wished to put their ship to shore,
and land and comprehend the great marvel and see with their eyes
whether the monster would remain upon the deck of the hollow
ship, or spring back into the briny deep where fishes shoal. But
the well-built ship would not obey the helm, but went on its way
all along Peloponnesus: and the lord, far-working Apollo, guided
it easily with the breath of the breeze. So the ship ran on its
course and came to Arena and lovely Argyphea and Thryon, the ford
of Alpheus, and well-placed Aepy and sandy Pylos and the men of
Pylos; past Cruni it went and Chalcis and past Dyme and fair
Elis, where the Epei rule. And at the time when she was making
for Pherae, exulting in the breeze from Zeus, there appeared to
them below the clouds the steep mountain of Ithaca, and Dulichium
and Same and wooded Zacynthus. But when they were passed by all
the coast of Peloponnesus, then, towards Crisa, that vast gulf
began to heave in sight which through all its length cuts off the
rich isle of Pelops. There came on them a strong, clear west-
wind by ordinance of Zeus and blew from heaven vehemently, that
with all speed the ship might finish coursing over the briny
water of the sea. So they began again to voyage back towards the
dawn and the sun: and the lord Apollo, son of Zeus, led them on
until they reached far-seen Crisa, land of vines, and into haven:
there the sea-coursing ship grounded on the sands.


(ll. 440-451) Then, like a star at noonday, the lord, far-working
Apollo, leaped from the ship: flashes of fire flew from him thick
and their brightness reached to heaven. He entered into his
shrine between priceless tripods, and there made a flame to flare
up bright, showing forth the splendour of his shafts, so that
their radiance filled all Crisa, and the wives and well-girded
daughters of the Crisaeans raised a cry at that outburst of
Phoebus; for he cast great fear upon them all. From his shrine
he sprang forth again, swift as a thought, to speed again to the
ship, bearing the form of a man, brisk and sturdy, in the prime
of his youth, while his broad shoulders were covered with his
hair: and he spoke to the Cretans, uttering winged words:


(ll. 452-461) `Strangers, who are you? Whence come you sailing
along the paths of the sea? Are you for traffic, or do you
wander at random over the sea as pirates do who put their own
lives to hazard and bring mischief to men of foreign parts as
they roam? Why rest you so and are afraid, and do not go ashore
nor stow the gear of your black ship? For that is the custom of
men who live by bread, whenever they come to land in their dark
ships from the main, spent with toil; at once desire for sweet
food catches them about the heart.'


(ll. 462-473) So speaking, he put courage in their hearts, and
the master of the Cretans answered him and said: `Stranger --
though you are nothing like mortal men in shape or stature, but
are as the deathless gods -- hail and all happiness to you, and
may the gods give you good. Now tell me truly that I may surely
know it: what country is this, and what land, and what men live
herein? As for us, with thoughts set otherwards, we were sailing
over the great sea to Pylos from Crete (for from there we declare
that we are sprung), but now are come on shipboard to this place
by no means willingly -- another way and other paths -- and
gladly would we return. But one of the deathless gods brought us
here against our will.'


(ll. 474-501) Then far-working Apollo answered then and said:
`Strangers who once dwelt about wooded Cnossos but now shall
return no more each to his loved city and fair house and dear
wife; here shall you keep my rich temple that is honoured by many
men. I am the son of Zeus; Apollo is my name: but you I brought
here over the wide gulf of the sea, meaning you no hurt; nay,
here you shall keep my rich temple that is greatly honoured among
men, and you shall know the plans of the deathless gods, and by
their will you shall be honoured continually for all time. And
now come, make haste and do as I say. First loose the sheets and
lower the sail, and then draw the swift ship up upon the land.
Take out your goods and the gear of the straight ship, and make
an altar upon the beach of the sea: light fire upon it and make
an offering of white meal. Next, stand side by side around the
altar and pray: and in as much as at the first on the hazy sea I
sprang upon the swift ship in the form of a dolphin, pray to me
as Apollo Delphinius; also the altar itself shall be called
Delphinius and overlooking (12) for ever. Afterwards, sup beside
your dark ship and pour an offering to the blessed gods who dwell
on Olympus. But when you have put away craving for sweet food,
come with me singing the hymn Ie Paean (Hail, Healer!), until you
come to the place where you shall keep my rich temple.'


(ll. 502-523) So said Apollo. And they readily harkened to him
and obeyed him. First they unfastened the sheets and let down
the sail and lowered the mast by the forestays upon the mast-
rest. Then, landing upon the beach of the sea, they hauled up
the ship from the water to dry land and fixed long stays under
it. Also they made an altar upon the beach of the sea, and when
they had lit a fire, made an offering of white meal, and prayed
standing around the altar as Apollo had bidden them. Then they
took their meal by the swift, black ship, and poured an offering
to the blessed gods who dwell on Olympus. And when they had put
away craving for drink and food, they started out with the lord
Apollo, the son of Zeus, to lead them, holding a lyre in his
hands, and playing sweetly as he stepped high and featly. So the
Cretans followed him to Pytho, marching in time as they chanted
the Ie Paean after the manner of the Cretan paean-singers and of
those in whose hearts the heavenly Muse has put sweet-voiced
song. With tireless feet they approached the ridge and
straightway came to Parnassus and the lovely place where they
were to dwell honoured by many men. There Apollo brought them
and showed them his most holy sanctuary and rich temple.


(ll. 524-525) But their spirit was stirred in their dear breasts,
and the master of the Cretans asked him, saying:


(ll. 526-530) `Lord, since you have brought us here far from our
dear ones and our fatherland, -- for so it seemed good to your
heart, -- tell us now how we shall live. That we would know of
you. This land is not to be desired either for vineyards or for
pastures so that we can live well thereon and also minister to
men.'


(ll. 531-544) Then Apollo, the son of Zeus, smiled upon them and
said: `Foolish mortals and poor drudges are you, that you seek
cares and hard toils and straits! Easily will I tell you a word
and set it in your hearts. Though each one of you with knife in
hand should slaughter sheep continually, yet would you always
have abundant store, even all that the glorious tribes of men
bring here for me. But guard you my temple and receive the
tribes of men that gather to this place, and especially show
mortal men my will, and do you keep righteousness in your heart.
But if any shall be disobedient and pay no heed to my warning, of
if there shall be any idle word or deed and outrage as is common
among mortal men, then other men shall be your masters and with a
strong hand shall make you subject for ever. All has been told
you: do you keep it in your heart.'


(ll. 545-546) And so, farewell, son of Zeus and Leto; but I will
remember you and another hymn also.



From: Hesiod, the Homeric Hymns and Homerica

You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.
See More About

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.