Homeric Hymns (Penguin Classics)
Homer, Nicholas Richardson
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Composed for recitation at festivals, these 33 songs were written in honour of the gods and goddesses of the ancient Greek pantheon. They recount the key episodes in the lives of the gods, and dramatise the moments when they first appear before mortals. Together they offer the most vivid picture we have of the Greek view of the relationship between the divine and human worlds.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Hymns (Cambridge, 1982). 2. Rudolf Pfeiffer, History of Classical Scholarship 1300–1850 (Oxford, 1976), 48. 3. Edgar Wind, Pagan Mysteries in the Renaissance (London, 1958), 110, 113–7; Ronald Lightbown, Sandro Botticelli: Life and Work (London, 1989), 159–60. 4. Jean Dorat, Mythologicum ou interpretation allégorique de l’Odyssée X–XII et de l’Hymne à Aphrodite, ed. Philip Ford (Geneva, 2000), especially 88–101. 5. George Chapman, The Crowne of all Homers Workes (London), reprinted in
the beginning you went all over the earth, 215 searching for a place to have your oracle for human beings, Apollo, you who shoot so far? First you went to Pieria, coming down from Olympos and passing by sandy Lektos and the Aenianes and going through the land of the Perrhaebi. Soon you came to Iolkos and set your feet on Kenaion in Euboea, famous for its ships. You stood 220 on the Lelantine plain but in your heart you did not want to build your temple and your shaded groves there.
Europe or in all the wave-washed islands, coming to seek the oracle. And I shall deliver to all of them infallible counsel, prophesying in my rich temple.’ When he had said this, Phoebus Apollo laid out the foundations 295 which were broad and very long from end to end. And upon them the sons of Erginos, Trophonios and Agamedes, whom the immortal gods love, built the threshold of well-based stones to be a theme of song forever. And the numberless tribes of human beings lived around
you were not destined, after all, to pour forth your sweet-flowing water, 380 deceiving my mind and keeping this lovely place all to yourself. The fame of this place shall be mine also, not yours alone.’ The lord Apollo who works from afar said this and pushed a cliff down upon her with showers of rocks and covered over her streams, and he made himself an altar in a wooded grove 385 very close to the sweet-flowing spring. In that place everyone prays to the lord, calling him
the ancient tradition that they were composed by Homer. Among the Romantic poets it was Shelley and his circle of friends who were most attracted by the hymns.9 Leigh Hunt, Peacock and Jefferson Hogg all helped to interest Shelley in them. Leigh Hunt himself composed a rather jaunty version of the one about Dionysos and the pirates (1814), although Shelley criticized his style as ‘barbarous jargon’.10 Peacock included a free adaptation of the same poem in his Rhododaphne (1818).11 In 1817 Hogg