Nike

O Nike, daughter of the god of war,
From storied heights you, goddess, ever soar!
The fame the hero has after he’s fought
And won the battle can never be bought;
From you it comes, the wreath of laurel leaves;
Such fame can comfort even he who grieves
For valiant men, who’ve fallen on the field:
Their deeds survive in word, and glory yield.
Achilles still slays Hector in his rage,
Unable still his sorrow to assuage
For Patroclus; and Ajax, on his sword,
Falls, for that he received not the award;
Odysseus shows himself the winner,
Making a bloodbath at the suitors’ dinner.
These had victory from you for warlike deeds,
And all their fame yet further glory breeds.
The victory of battle is your trust,
Awarded to the best side, as is just.

Orpheus and Eurydice

The joy of a marriage turned to despair,
Which music, though sweet, could never repair.
Eurydice danced with nymphs in the field,
Where serpents their poisons as weapons wield;
A snake in the grass bit her, and she died;
No cure for the poison could be applied:
And Orpheus mourned, consumed by his grief,
No beautiful sound or sight gave relief:
He charmed the world when he played on his lyre;
His songs had power to please and inspire.
So, he determined to go to the dead,
Not fearing the deep, with courage he tread
To Tartarus where Hades holds his court,
With Persephone, his cherished consort;
There was Cerberus, great Hades’ own hound
Beguiled by the sweet and lyrical sound;
So passed he among the ghosts of the deep,
Whoe’er heard his songs ceased promptly to weep.
At last, he arrived and stood before he
Who ruled this realm as the chief diety;
And Orpheus played his lyre for the king,
With skill did he play, with grace did he sing.
And Hades was pleased, and told Orpheus
His wife could return, only if he did thus:
He must go ahead of her, his true love,
And never look back till they were above,
Only when both had returned to the light,
Could he look back, and behold with his sight
His wife. And Orpheus was delighted,
Agreeing at once, the two alighted.
And Orpheus looked ahead with his eyes,
He kept the command and didn’t despise
The lord of the dead. He emerged from the cave,
But then he did something fatal and grave;
Though Eurydice still had not emerged,
He desired to see her, and his heart urged
Him, so that he turned and saw with his eyes
The woman he loved, and instant she cries
“Goodbye”. She faded, returning below
To the land where Styx and Acheron flow,
And Phlegethon and the Cocytus too:
And there was nothing at all he could do.
Lost to the living, he saw her no more,
Down like a river did all his tears pour;
To the underworld, he could not return,
No matter if love did in his heart burn:
So he sat and he played a mourning song,
Until he was found by a Maenad throng;
The followers of the son of Zeus raged
In divine frenzy, they could not be assuaged:
They tore him to pieces, such was his end,
But still for his music do men commend
His name; and the Muses took up his head,
And still did it sing after he was dead,
So that through the Earth, his music still flew,
Soothing and beautiful, gentle and true.

Hephaistos

The god of the forge, Hephaistos, who makes
Such armour as never changes or breaks;
He fashioned the aegis Athena bears,
As well as the sandals that Hermes wears;
The first for the goddess of truth and right,
The second for he who flies faster than sight;
And also Achilles’ armour he made
(The hero reduced Hector to a shade).
The gift of the god is the craftman’s skill;
By him much blood can the warriors spill;
By him was Venus with girdle arrayed,
And also all women who have displayed
Their charms with help of finery rely
On he whose skill can such good things supply.
Though lame, by his good, he renders to Zeus
Such works as the gods can put to good use.
And so, wherever, the craftsman is found,
There also Hephaistos’ good does abound.

Cybele

This hymn is a submission from a guest writer. Enjoy.

Magna mater!
Greatest mother
Mirror-image of demure Demeter
Eunuchs cry your coming nearer
Cross the seas from Phrygia

Lions roaring,
Reeds are piping
Piping out the old refrain
Roars of laughter, joyous weeping
Announce the coming of your train

You who Attis loved so dear
You who to the mad appear
Bane of Carthage, pride of Troy
Sibyl-Sponsored to destroy,
Yet creating, uncreated
All the things which we enjoy
To Cybele we give our chant
To you our deepest thanks intone
For all the beauties that you grant
And all the mysteries, all your own.

Pan

O Pan, who shepherds shepherds with their flocks,
With fleece like snow, all thick with curling locks,
Who teaches them to pipe out in the fields,
Where Earth green grass for sheep so richly yields.
At noonday, when the flocks into the wood
Are led, respite the rustic god finds good;
Impromptu dance and song with nymphs he makes,
Until with panicked frenzy each limb shakes.
In mountain wilds, unpeopled is he found;
All men of reason does the god astound:
Such joy he finds in rustic ways of life,
Where song and dance and flocks and herds are rife;
Where comely speech is never heard nor known,
There dwells the god, and there he dwells alone:
In city streets one never meets him, but
In woods and pastures does he sprightly glut
Himself on all life’s simple pleasures, for
All wild amusements there he keeps in store.

Demeter and Persephone

What sadness seen, what mourning on the Earth,
Descent to darkness, time of death and dearth!
Persephone, who gave so many fruits
Goes down to dwell with the Titanic brutes;
For there her husband, god of all the deep,
The dead, in season, does as riches reap.
And only what he sends to Earth again
Makes rich the valley, mountain, and the plain.
Demeter, mourning, does withhold the grain,
And all men would by hunger soon be slain,
Unless her daughter from the depths returned:
Life’s cycle in an image is discerned.
To all their food, the dead comes back and gives;
Then flowers bloom and man yet joyful lives.
So autumn sadness turns to joy in spring,
And birds return and with sweet voices sing.

Theseus and the Minotaur

The tribute paid to Minos, king of Crete,
The fourteen souls upon the ship, replete
With sail all black, and Theseus aboard,
Who bore no weapon, club nor bow nor sword.
He cast himself among the lot to sail,
And fearing not that in his task he’d fail;
His courage kept him, and his mind was steeled
To know what horrors, foul, would be revealed.
His father charged him, that if he returned,
With honour much, and with great glory earned,
That he should hang aloft a sail of white,
To give him news of triumph at the sight.
So Theseus departed. When he came
To Crete, he met a woman by the name
Of Ariadne, who by love was seized,
And Theseus with her was also pleased;
So she besought that Daedalus make known
The labyrinth’s secret, but to her alone;
The which he did, but she helped Theseus,
And so betrayed the trust of Daedalus.
She gave a string to Theseus to take
Into the maze, and unwind as he did make
His way unto the center, where the seed
Of bull and human dwelled from former deed
So wretched that it makes the soul to groan;
And then he went into the maze alone:
Unarmed, in darkness, so he went to face
The bull-headed brute of a half-breed race;
Not wholly human, neither wholly beast,
The creature sought on man to make his feast.
In darkness deep did Theseus descend,
With help of thread, he inwardly did wend,
Until he came into the inmost part,
And faced at last a dread to chill the heart.
The Minotaur arose to meet his foe,
And raised his fist to strike the fatal blow,
But Theseus was quick and strong and steeled:
He did not buckle, neither did he yield.
His fists rained blows like hail upon the beast;
Though wearied sore, he never flagged nor ceased.
Though bruised and battered in that underworld,
Yet all his might against the beast he hurled.
Then bit by bit the Minotaur did flag,
Until he heaved and each breath was a gag;
His arms could not but try to block each blow;
His legs gave out and downward did he go.
But Theseus would not relent, but still
He beat him down, and did with fury kill
The Minotaur. He left the body there,
Then backwards made his way from out the lair.
When he emerged into the light of day,
He met Ariadne who’d kept the way;
She held the string that he might know the route
By which he could from the dark maze get out.
So no more did the Minotaur consume
Fair fruits of Athens, still in their full bloom;
The tribute Minos no more levied. Free
Sailed Theseus back home across the sea;
And Ariadne sailed also with him,
But when he fancied, he left her on a whim:
But others say the son of Zeus desired
That she should be his wife, and was so fired
With love that he took her from Theseus;
So she was taken by Dionysus.
But Theseus forgot to raise the white
Flag; still the black he flew, and at the sight
His father’s heart with grief was seized, and he
Threw himself at once down into the sea;
And ever after men that sea did call
Aegean, since the king in it did fall.
So Theseus, triumphant, reigned as king:
No more tribute to Minos did they bring.

The Transformations of Dionysus

Dionysus, free son of Zeus,
From every shackle was cut loose.
The unhinged fury of the god
Brought down on Pentheus the rod;
The mortal soul who tried to peep
Was found and Maenads, then, did leap
On him and tore him limb from limb,
With fury putting end to him:
Thus Pentheus fulfilled his course,
And was destroyed with violent force;
The god also of drunken fits,
He too was torn to little bits.
His body lost, Zeus took his heart,
And in a drink, he gave this part
To Semele, who pleased the king
Of heaven, but did Juno bring
Her wrath on her; she gained her trust,
Encouraging the mortal’s lust,
She caused Semele to beseech
The king of heaven with her speech,
To know his full divinity,
She asked in her simplicity.
But she could not withstand the king,
So she was slain by his lightning.
But Bacchus bore she in her womb;
The drink Zeus gave her made her bloom:
The former heart had formed the child,
A second time to birth the wild.
So Zeus sowed Bacchus in his thigh,
That his own son would not then die;
He carried him, till he was born,
That god whom Pentheus would scorn.
He rendered what he underwent,
But he, divine, could not be rent
Asunder wholly, for his soul
Was ever living, ever whole.

Orpheus and the Sirens

The Sirens sang and every Argonaut,
He heard their song, and languidness it brought;
Homecoming longed for would not be attained,
But all their strength, their will, would then be drained.
The ship itself they would have run aground,
If Orpheus had not within him found
So great a store of the divine, that he
Yet took his lyre, and plucking was set free;
And not himself alone he saved, but they
Who sailed with him, they also fled away.
A lively march he played to energize,
Thus drowning out the Sirens’ fatal cries.
Then Zephyr rose; soon they were out of reach,
Of the bewitching Sirens’ song and speech:
But Boutes, son of Teleon, he leapt
Into the sea, to swim for shore, but swept
Away was he, else he had swum to shore
And died, his bones to lay there evermore.
But Cypris, Erycian queen, did look
With pity on his soul, and so, she took
Him up into her seaside haven, while
The Argonauts sailed safely from the isle.

Agathodaimon

The Agathodaimon, every man’s friend,
On whom in all things we always depend;
The voice that restrains when danger is near,
Whose comfort in darkness banishes fear;
Good fortune to each in wisdom and health,
Which two are the source of true joy and wealth;
The storehouse he watches, and keeps the grain,
That blessings may fall upon us like rain.
Such comes from Zeus to each man when he’s born,
And all his life, to protect him he’s sworn;
The genius guides its soul towards the true,
Until its set time on the Earth is through.
The first thing divine that every soul hears,
The first one to him that ever appears;
Companion always, and ever the guide,
As Zeus with the good, he’s always allied.