World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Homeric hymn

Article Id: WHEBN0001628886
Reproduction Date:

Title: Homeric hymn  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Ambrosia, Demeter, Hermes, Poseidon, Persephone, Hestia, Dionysus, Caduceus, Pseudepigrapha, Tyrrhenians
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Homeric hymn

The Homeric Hymns are a collection of thirty-three anonymous Ancient Greek hymns celebrating individual gods. The hymns are "Homeric" in the sense that they employ the same epic meter—dactylic hexameter—as the Iliad and Odyssey, use many similar formulas and are couched in the same dialect. They were uncritically attributed to Homer himself in Antiquity—from the earliest written reference to them, Thucydides (iii.104)—and the label has stuck. "The whole collection, as a collection, is Homeric in the only useful sense that can be put upon the word;" A. W. Verrall noted in 1894,[1] "that is to say, it has come down labeled as 'Homer' from the earliest times of Greek book-literature."


The oldest of the hymns were probably written in the seventh century BC, somewhat later than Hesiod and the usually accepted date for the writing down of the Homeric epics. This still places the older Homeric Hymns among the oldest monuments of Greek literature; but although most of them were composed in the seventh and sixth centuries, a few may be Hellenistic, and the Hymn to Ares might be a late pagan work, inserted when it was observed that a hymn to Ares was lacking. Walter Burkert has suggested that the Hymn to Apollo, attributed by an ancient source to Cynaethus of Chios (a member of the Homeridae), was composed in 522 BC for performance at the unusual double festival held by Polycrates of Samos to honor Apollo of Delos and of Delphi.[2]

The hymns, which must be the remains of a once more strongly represented genre, vary widely in length, some being as brief as three or four lines, while others are in excess of five hundred lines. The long ones comprise an invocation, praise, and narrative, sometimes quite extended. In the briefest ones, the narrative element is lacking. The longer ones show signs of having been assembled from pre-existing disparate materials.

Most surviving Byzantine manuscripts begin with the third Hymn. A chance discovery in Moscow in 1777, recovered the two hymns that open the collection, the fragmentary To Dionysus and To Demeter (complete save some lacunose lines), in a single fifteenth century manuscript. Some at least of the shorter ones may be excerpts that have omitted the narrative central section, preserving only the useful invocation and introduction,[3] which a rhapsode could employ in the manner of a prelude.

The thirty-three hymns praise most of the major gods of Greek mythology; at least the shorter ones may have served as preludes to the recitation of epic verse at festivals by professional rhapsodes: often the singer concludes by saying that now he will pass to another song. A thirty-fourth, To Hosts is not a hymn, but a reminder that hospitality is a sacred duty enjoined by the gods, a pointed reminder when coming from a professional rhapsode.

List of the Homeric Hymns

  1. To Dionysus, 21 lines
  2. To Demeter, 495 lines
  3. To Apollo, 546 lines
  4. To Hermes, 580 lines
  5. To Aphrodite, 293 lines
  6. To Aphrodite, 21 lines
  7. To Dionysus, 59 lines
  8. To Ares, 17 lines
  9. To Artemis, 9 lines
  10. To Aphrodite, 6 lines
  11. To Athena, 5 lines
  12. To Hera, 5 lines
  13. To Demeter, 3 lines
  14. To the mother of the gods, 6 lines
  15. To Heracles with the heart of a lion, 9 lines
  16. To Asclepius, 5 lines
  17. To the Dioscuri, 5 lines
  18. To Hermes, 12 lines
  19. To Pan, 49 lines
  20. To Hephaestus, 8 lines
  21. To Apollo, 5 lines
  22. To Poseidon, 7 lines
  23. To Zeus, 4 lines
  24. To Hestia, 5 lines
  25. To the Muses and Apollo, 7 lines
  26. To Dionysus, 13 lines
  27. To Artemis, 22 lines
  28. To Athena, 18 lines
  29. To Hestia, 13 lines
  30. To Gaia, mother of all, 19 lines
  31. To Helios, 20 lines
  32. To Selene, 20 lines
  33. To the Dioscuri, 19 lines


Select translations

  • ISBN 0-8018-1792-7
  • , Diane Rayor (2004). This translation sets the hymns in their context of Greek folklore, culture and geography, and offers parallels with Near Eastern texts.

External links

  • English etext of the Homeric Hymns Translation by H.G. Evelyn-White at Perseus. Annotated with links to proper names, Greek text, etc.
  • English etext of the Homeric Hymns at the Berkeley Sunsite
  • Scholarly bibliography on the Homeric Hymns
  • Introduction to the Homeric Hymns A condensed version of the introduction by Diane J. Rayor, The Homeric Hymns : A Translation, with Introduction and Notes (2004)

Further reading

  • Thomas W. Allen, William R. Halliday, and Edward E. Sikes, . Oxford: 1936.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.