The First Hexameter Song and the Fragments of Boio

Boiô [Boeo] is a woman poet from, well, Boeotia

Pausanias 5.7-9

“They claim that after some time Themis was given by Gaia whatever he share was and then that Apollo received that as a gift from Themis. They say that Apollo gave to Poseidon the portion of land called Kalauria which is near Troizen as an exchange-gift for the oracle. I have also heard that men who were shepherding their flocks chanced upon the oracle and were inspired by the mist and then acted as prophets of Apollo. The account with the most adherents is the story of Phêmonoê, that she was the first prophet of the god and the first person who sang hexameters.

Boiô, a local woman who created a Hymn for the Delphians, used to say that people who visited from the Hyperboreans along with others and Olên created the oracle for the god and that he, Olên, was the first to give prophecies and to sing a hexameter.

Boiô composed these verses: “Here in fact, they built the oracle of good memory / the children of the Hyperboreans, Pagasos and shining Aguieus.”

Once she has named other Hyperboreans, near the end of the hymn she mentioned Olên: “And Olên who was the first prophet of Phoibos / and the first to make the song of ancient epic verses.” There is in common memory no mention of him at all; all that is left is the prophecy of women only.”

χρόνῳ δὲ ὕστερον, ὅσον τῇ Γῇ μετῆν, δοθῆναι Θέμιδι ὑπ᾿ αὐτῆς λέγουσιν, Ἀπόλλωνα δὲ παρὰ Θέμιδος λαβεῖν δωρεάν· Ποσειδῶνι δὲ ἀντὶ τοῦ μαντείου Καλαύρειαν ἀντιδοῦναί φασιν αὐτὸν τὴν πρὸ Τροιζῆνος. ἤκουσα δὲ καὶ ὡς ἄνδρες ποιμαίνοντες ἐπιτύχοιεν τῷ μαντείῳ, καὶ ἔνθεοί τε ἐγένοντο ὑπὸ τοῦ ἀτμοῦ καὶ ἐμαντεύσαντο ἐξ Ἀπόλλωνος. μεγίστη δὲ καὶ παρὰ πλείστων ἐς Φημονόην δόξα ἐστίν, ὡς πρόμαντις γένοιτο ἡ Φημονόη τοῦ θεοῦ πρώτη καὶ πρώτη τὸ ἑξάμετρον ᾖσεν. Βοιὼ δὲ ἐπιχωρία γυνὴ ποιήσασα ὕμνον Δελφοῖς ἔφη κατασκευάσασθαι τὸ μαντεῖον τῷ θεῷ τοὺς ἀφικομένους ἐξ Ὑπερβορέων τούς τε ἄλλους καὶ Ὠλῆνα· τοῦτον δὲ καὶ μαντεύσασθαι πρῶτον καὶ ᾄσαι πρῶτον τὸ ἑξάμετρον. πεποίηκε δὲ ἡ Βοιὼ τοιάδε·

ἔνθα τοι εὔμνηστον χρηστήριον ἐκτελέσαντο

παῖδες Ὑπερβορέων Παγασὸς καὶ δῖος Ἀγυιεύς.

ἐπαριθμοῦσα δὲ καὶ ἄλλους τῶν Ὑπερβορέων, ἐπὶ τελευτῇ τοῦ ὕμνου τὸν Ὠλῆνα ὠνόμασεν·

Ὠλήν θ᾿ ὃς γένετο πρῶτος Φοίβοιο προφάτας

πρῶτος δ᾿ ἀρχαίων ἐπέων τεκτάνατ᾿ ἀοιδάν.

οὐ μέντοι τά γε ἥκοντα ἐς μνήμην ἐς ἄλλον τινά, ἐς δὲ γυναικῶν μαντείαν ἀνήκει μόνων.

Image result for delphic oracle

The Arrow Flight of Songs

Henry W. Longfellow “The Arrow and the Song”,

I breathed a song into the air
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong
That it can follow the flight of song?

Horace, Ars Poetica 347

“The string does not always return the sound that the hand and mind desire”.

neque chorda sonum reddit quem volt manus et mens.

Homer, Odyssey 21.407-409

“Just as a man who knows both lyre and song
easily stretches a string on a new peg
as he attaches the twisted sheep-gut to both sides
just so, without haste, Odysseus strung the great bow”

ὡς ὅτ’ ἀνὴρ φόρμιγγος ἐπιστάμενος καὶ ἀοιδῆς
ῥηϊδίως ἐτάνυσσε νέῳ περὶ κόλλοπι χορδήν,
ἅψας ἀμφοτέρωθεν ἐϋστρεφὲς ἔντερον οἰός,
ὣς ἄρ’ ἄτερ σπουδῆς τάνυσεν μέγα τόξον ᾿Οδυσσεύς.

Pindar, Olympian 2, 83-88

“Many are the swift arrows
Within the quiver
Under my arm—
They speak to those who understand,
But they lack interpreters
In every direction. Wise is the one who knows many things
by nature…”

…. πολλά μοι ὑπ’
ἀγκῶνος ὠκέα βέλη
ἔνδον ἐντὶ φαρέτρας
φωνάεντα συνετοῖσιν· ἐς δὲ τὸ πὰν ἑρμανέων
χατίζει. σοφὸς ὁ πολλὰ εἰδὼς φυᾷ·

Schol. Ad Pin. Ol. 2

“Swift arrows”: these are an allegory for poems from an archery metaphor. The quiver is his mind; the arrows are words.”

A ὠκέα βέλη: ἀλληγορεῖ ἀπὸ τῶν τόξων μεταφέρων ἐπὶ τὰ ποιήματα· φαρέτρα μὲν γὰρ ἡ διάνοια, βέλη δὲ οἱ λόγοι.

Image result for ancient greek archery vase


Eumaios, Master Singer?

In book 15, Eumaios tells the story of his abduction as a child. Two scholia take issue with how he knows such detail and retained it long enough to tell Odysseus.

Schol. BHQ ad Od. 15.417 ex

“Perhaps the Phoenicians told these things to Laertes because they wanted to argue that [Eumaios] was worth a lot. For it is not possible that an infant would know the truth of how he was abducted.”

ταῦτα δὲ οἱ Φοίνικες ἴσως Λαέρτῃ διηγήσαντο πολλοῦ ἄξιον αὐτὸν ὑποφαίνοντες, Λαέρτης δὲ Εὐμαίῳ διηγήσατο. οὐ γὰρ οἷόν τε εἰδέναιτὸ ἀληθὲς νήπιον ἡρπασμένον.

Schol. V ad Od. 15.484

“He probably heard this from Laertes who was informed by the Phaecians”

οὕτω τήνδε γαῖαν ἐγὼν ἴδον] εἰκὸς αὐτὸν ἀκηκοέναι παρὰτοῦ Λαέρτου, ᾧ διηγήσαντο οἱ Φοίνικες. V.

Although Odysseus has recently–and frequently–told similarly long and detailed stories, the scholia do not suspect them because they think Odysseus is lying. But Eumaios, who speaks mimetically, vividly and effectively, is doubted for his power of memory.

Homer, Odyssey 15.389–484

Then the swineherd, marshal of men, responded:

“Friend, since you have asked me and inquired truly of these things,
Listen now in silence and take some pleasure and drink your wine
While you sit there. These nights are endless. There is time for sleep
And there is time to take pleasure in listening. It is not at all necessary
For you to sleep before it is time. Even a lot of sleep can be a burden.
Let whoever of the rest the heart and spirit moves
Go out and sleep. For as soon as the down shows itself
Let him eat and follow the master’s swine.
As we two drink and dine in this shelter
Let us take pleasure as we recall one another’s terrible pains.
For a man finds pleasure even in pains later on
After he has suffered so very many and survived many too.
I will tell you this because you asked me and inquired.

There is an island called Suriê, if you have heard of it,
Above Ortygia, where the rays of the sun rise.
It is not too filled, but it is a good place
Well stocked with cows, sheep, with much wine and grain too.
Poverty never curses the people there, nor does any other
Hateful sickness fall upon the wretched mortals,
But when the race of humans grow old in the city
Apollo silverbow comes with Artemis
And kills them with his gentle arrows.
There are two cities there and everything is divided between them.
My father used to rule both of them as king
Ktêsios the son of Ormenos, a man equal to the immortal gods.
The ship-famous Phaeacians used to to frequent there
Pirates, bringing countless treasures in their black ships.
There was a Phoenician woman in my father’s house
Beautiful and broad and skilled in wondrous works.
The devious Phoenicians were corrupting her.
First, one of them joined her for sex while she was washing clothes
Near the swift ship—these things mix up the thoughts
For the female sex even when one of them is work-focused.
He then asked her who she was and where she was from
And she immediately told him about the high-roofed home of my father.
“I claim to be from Sidon of much-bronze,
And I am the daughter of Arubas, a wealthy man.
Taphian pirates kidnapped me one day
As I was returned from the country, and they forced me to come here
To the house of this man. And he paid a great price.”
The man who had sex with her in secret responded,

“Would you want to go back home again now with us
So that you might see the high-roofed home of you father and mother
And them too? For they are still there and are reputedly wealthy.”
And the woman then answered him in turn,

“I wish that this would happen, if you would be willing, sailors,
To swear an oath to take me home unharmed.”

So she said, and all of them swore an oath as she requested.
And once they swore and completed the oath,
The woman spoke among them again and answered with a plan.

“Be quiet now. Don’t let anyone address me with words
Should any one of your companions happen to meet me
In the street or near the stream so that no one might go to the house
And speak to the old man who might suspect something and bind me
In strong bonds. But plan for this destruction yourselves.
Keep this plan in your thoughts and earn the pay for your travels.
But whenever the ship is indeed full of its material,
Let a message come to me swiftly in the house.
And I will bring gold, as much as is ready-to-hand,
And I will add another passage-fee which I may wish to give.
For I care for the child of this nobleman in his home.
This child is clever indeed, and he is always following me outside.
I would bring him to the ship because he will earn for you
A great price when you take him to some foreign people.”

So she spoke and then left to the beautiful home.
They remained there among us for the rest of the year
As they sold the martial in their cavernous ship.
But when the hollow ship was packed up to leave,
They sent a messenger who informed the woman.
A very clever man came to the house of my father
Bringing a golden necklace worked out with amber bits.
The slave-women in the hall and my mistress mother went
To touch the necklace with their hands and see it with their eyes
As they discussed the price. He nodded to her in silence.
And once he nodded he returned to the hollow ship.
And she took my hand and led me from the house outside.
In the front part of the house she found cups and platters
From the men who dine there and attend my father.
They went to the council place and the opinion of the people,
So she quickly hind three tankards under her bosom
And left. And I followed without a care in my mind.
The sun set and all the roads were in shadows.
We went to the famous harbor in a hurry,
And there was the salt-swift ship of the Phoenician men.
They disembarked then and went sailing over the watery ways,
After they put the two of us on board. And Zeus sent a favorable wind.

We were sailing for six nights and days.
But when Kronos’ son Zeus brought the seventh day
Artemis the archer killed that woman
And she thudded into the cargo hold like a diving sea gull.
And they threw her out to be food for the seals and fish.
But I remained still, filled with pain in my heart.
The wind and the water carried them to Ithaca
Where Laertes purchased me among his possessions.
Thus I saw this land here with my own eyes.”

τὸν δ’ αὖτε προσέειπε συβώτης, ὄρχαμος ἀνδρῶν·
“ξεῖν’, ἐπεὶ ἂρ δὴ ταῦτά μ’ ἀνείρεαι ἠδὲ μεταλλᾷς,
σιγῇ νῦν ξυνίει καὶ τέρπεο πῖνέ τε οἶνον,
ἥμενος. αἵδε δὲ νύκτες ἀθέσφατοι· ἔστι μὲν εὕδειν,
ἔστι δὲ τερπομένοισιν ἀκουέμεν· οὐδέ τί σε χρή,
πρὶν ὥρη, καταλέχθαι· ἀνίη καὶ πολὺς ὕπνος.
τῶν δ’ ἄλλων ὅτινα κραδίη καὶ θυμὸς ἀνώγει,
εὑδέτω ἐξελθών· ἅμα δ’ ἠόϊ φαινομένηφι
δειπνήσας ἅμ’ ὕεσσιν ἀνακτορίῃσιν ἑπέσθω.
νῶϊ δ’ ἐνὶ κλισίῃ πίνοντέ τε δαινυμένω τε
κήδεσιν ἀλλήλων τερπώμεθα λευγαλέοισι
μνωομένω· μετὰ γάρ τε καὶ ἄλγεσι τέρπεται ἀνήρ,
ὅς τις δὴ μάλα πολλὰ πάθῃ καὶ πόλλ’ ἐπαληθῇ.
τοῦτο δέ τοι ἐρέω, ὅ μ’ ἀνείρεαι ἠδὲ μεταλλᾷς.
νῆσός τις Συρίη κικλήσκεται, εἴ που ἀκούεις,
᾿Ορτυγίης καθύπερθεν, ὅθι τροπαὶ ἠελίοιο,
οὔ τι περιπληθὴς λίην τόσον, ἀλλ’ ἀγαθὴ μέν,
εὔβοος εὔμηλος, οἰνοπληθὴς πολύπυρος.
πείνη δ’ οὔ ποτε δῆμον ἐσέρχεται, οὐδέ τις ἄλλη
νοῦσος ἐπὶ στυγερὴ πέλεται δειλοῖσι βροτοῖσιν·
ἀλλ’ ὅτε γηράσκωσι πόλιν κάτα φῦλ’ ἀνθρώπων,
ἐλθὼν ἀργυρότοξος ᾿Απόλλων ᾿Αρτέμιδι ξύν,
οἷσ’ ἀγανοῖσι βέλεσσιν ἐποιχόμενος κατέπεφνεν.
ἔνθα δύω πόλιες, δίχα δέ σφισι πάντα δέδασται·
τῇσιν δ’ ἀμφοτέρῃσι πατὴρ ἐμὸς ἐμβασίλευε,
Κτήσιος ᾿Ορμενίδης, ἐπιείκελος ἀθανάτοισιν.
ἔνθα δὲ Φοίνικες ναυσικλυτοὶ ἤλυθον ἄνδρες,
τρῶκται, μυρί’ ἄγοντες ἀθύρματα νηῒ μελαίνῃ.
ἔσκε δὲ πατρὸς ἐμοῖο γυνὴ Φοίνισσ’ ἐνὶ οἴκῳ,
καλή τε μεγάλη τε καὶ ἀγλαὰ ἔργα ἰδυῖα·
τὴν δ’ ἄρα Φοίνικες πολυπαίπαλοι ἠπερόπευον.
πλυνούσῃ τις πρῶτα μίγη κοίλῃ παρὰ νηῒ
εὐνῇ καὶ φιλότητι, τά τε φρένας ἠπεροπεύει
θηλυτέρῃσι γυναιξί, καὶ ἥ κ’ εὐεργὸς ἔῃσιν.
εἰρώτα δὴ ἔπειτα, τίς εἴη καὶ πόθεν ἔλθοι·
ἡ δὲ μάλ’ αὐτίκα πατρὸς ἐπέφραδεν ὑψερεφὲς δῶ·
‘ἐκ μὲν Σιδῶνος πολυχάλκου εὔχομαι εἶναι,
κούρη δ’ εἴμ’ ᾿Αρύβαντος ἐγὼ ῥυδὸν ἀφνειοῖο·
ἀλλά μ’ ἀνήρπαξαν Τάφιοι ληΐστορες ἄνδρες
ἀγρόθεν ἐρχομένην, πέρασαν δέ με δεῦρ’ ἀγαγόντες
τοῦδ’ ἀνδρὸς πρὸς δώμαθ’· ὁ δ’ ἄξιον ὦνον ἔδωκε.’
τὴν δ’ αὖτε προσέειπεν ἀνήρ, ὃς μίσγετο λάθρῃ·
‘ἦ ῥά κε νῦν πάλιν αὖτις ἅμ’ ἡμῖν οἴκαδ’ ἕποιο,
ὄφρα ἴδῃ πατρὸς καὶ μητέρος ὑψερεφὲς δῶ
αὐτούς τ’; ἦ γὰρ ἔτ’ εἰσὶ καὶ ἀφνειοὶ καλέονται.’
τὸν δ’ αὖτε προσέειπε γυνὴ καὶ ἀμείβετο μύθῳ·
‘εἴη κεν καὶ τοῦτ’, εἴ μοι ἐθέλοιτέ γε, ναῦται,
ὅρκῳ πιστωθῆναι ἀπήμονά μ’ οἴκαδ’ ἀπάξειν.’
ὣς ἔφαθ’, οἱ δ’ ἄρα πάντες ἐπώμνυον, ὡς ἐκέλευεν.
αὐτὰρ ἐπεί ῥ’ ὄμοσάν τε τελεύτησάν τε τὸν ὅρκον,
τοῖς δ’ αὖτις μετέειπε γυνὴ καὶ ἀμείβετο μύθῳ·
‘σιγῇ νῦν· μή τίς με προσαυδάτω ἐπέεσσιν
ὑμετέρων ἑτάρων ξυμβλήμενος ἢ ἐν ἀγυιῇ
ἤ που ἐπὶ κρήνῃ· μή τις ποτὶ δῶμα γέροντι
ἐλθὼν ἐξείπῃ, ὁ δ’ ὀϊσάμενος καταδήσῃ
δεσμῷ ἐν ἀργαλέῳ, ὑμῖν δ’ ἐπιφράσσετ’ ὄλεθρον.
ἀλλ’ ἔχετ’ ἐν φρεσὶ μῦθον, ἐπείγετε δ’ ὦνον ὁδαίων.
ἀλλ’ ὅτε κεν δὴ νηῦς πλείη βιότοιο γένηται,
ἀγγελίη μοι ἔπειτα θοῶς πρὸς δώμαθ’ ἱκέσθω·
οἴσω γὰρ καὶ χρυσόν, ὅτις χ’ ὑποχείριος ἔλθῃ.
καὶ δέ κεν ἄλλ’ ἐπίβαθρον ἐγὼν ἐθέλουσά γε δοίην·
παῖδα γὰρ ἀνδρὸς ἐῆος ἐνὶ μεγάροισ’ ἀτιτάλλω,
κερδαλέον δὴ τοῖον, ἅμα τροχόωντα θύραζε·
τόν κεν ἄγοιμ’ ἐπὶ νηός, ὁ δ’ ὕμιν μυρίον ὦνον
ἄλφοι, ὅπῃ περάσητε κατ’ ἀλλοθρόους ἀνθρώπους.’
ἡ μὲν ἄρ’ ὣς εἰποῦσ’ ἀπέβη πρὸς δώματα καλά·
οἱ δ’ ἐνιαυτὸν ἅπαντα παρ’ ἡμῖν αὖθι μένοντες
ἐν νηῒ γλαφυρῇ βίοτον πολὺν ἐμπολόωντο.
ἀλλ’ ὅτε δὴ κοίλη νηῦς ἤχθετο τοῖσι νέεσθαι,
καὶ τότ’ ἄρ’ ἄγγελον ἧκαν, ὃς ἀγγείλειε γυναικί.
ἤλυθ’ ἀνὴρ πολύϊδρις ἐμοῦ πρὸς δώματα πατρὸς
χρύσεον ὅρμον ἔχων, μετὰ δ’ ἠλέκτροισιν ἔερτο.
τὸν μὲν ἄρ’ ἐν μεγάρῳ δμῳαὶ καὶ πότνια μήτηρ
χερσίν τ’ ἀμφαφόωντο καὶ ὀφθαλμοῖσιν ὁρῶντο,
ὦνον ὑπισχόμεναι· ὁ δὲ τῇ κατένευσε σιωπῇ.
ἦ τοι ὁ καννεύσας κοίλην ἐπὶ νῆα βεβήκει,
ἡ δ’ ἐμὲ χειρὸς ἑλοῦσα δόμων ἐξῆγε θύραζε.
εὗρε δ’ ἐνὶ προδόμῳ ἠμὲν δέπα ἠδὲ τραπέζας
ἀνδρῶν δαιτυμόνων, οἵ μευ πατέρ’ ἀμφεπένοντο.
οἱ μὲν ἄρ’ ἐς θῶκον πρόμολον δήμοιό τε φῆμιν,
ἡ δ’ αἶψα τρί’ ἄλεισα κατακρύψασ’ ὑπὸ κόλπῳ
ἔκφερεν· αὐτὰρ ἐγὼν ἑπόμην ἀεσιφροσύνῃσι.
δύσετό τ’ ἠέλιος σκιόωντό τε πᾶσαι ἀγυιαί·
ἡμεῖς δ’ ἐς λιμένα κλυτὸν ἤλθομεν ὦκα κιόντες,
ἔνθ’ ἄρα Φοινίκων ἀνδρῶν ἦν ὠκύαλος νηῦς.
οἱ μὲν ἔπειτ’ ἀναβάντες ἐπέπλεον ὑγρὰ κέλευθα,
νὼ ἀναβησάμενοι· ἐπὶ δὲ Ζεὺς οὖρον ἴαλλεν.
ἑξῆμαρ μὲν ὁμῶς πλέομεν νύκτας τε καὶ ἦμαρ·
ἀλλ’ ὅτε δὴ ἕβδομον ἦμαρ ἐπὶ Ζεὺς θῆκε Κρονίων,
τὴν μὲν ἔπειτα γυναῖκα βάλ’ ῎Αρτεμις ἰοχέαιρα,
ἄντλῳ δ’ ἐνδούπησε πεσοῦσ’ ὡς εἰναλίη κήξ.
καὶ τὴν μὲν φώκῃσι καὶ ἰχθύσι κύρμα γενέσθαι
ἔκβαλον· αὐτὰρ ἐγὼ λιπόμην ἀκαχήμενος ἦτορ.
τοὺς δ’ ᾿Ιθάκῃ ἐπέλασσε φέρων ἄνεμός τε καὶ ὕδωρ,
ἔνθα με Λαέρτης πρίατο κτεάτεσσιν ἑοῖσιν.
οὕτω τήνδε τε γαῖαν ἐγὼν ἴδον ὀφθαλμοῖσι.”

Here is a scholion for the way Eumaios begins.

Schol. BQ ad Od. 15.399 ex

“Let us take pleasure in one another’s pains”—for a person among afflictions delights in terrible narratives and in hearing another person tell his own troubles.”

κήδεσιν ἀλλήλων τερπώμεθα] καὶ ἐν ταῖς δειναῖς διηγήσεσι τέρπεται ἀνὴρ ὢν ἐν θλίψεσι καὶ ἀκούων ἑτέρου λέγοντος τὰ ἑαυτοῦ ἄλγεα. B.Q.

Image result for medieval manuscript bard singing
From Cantigas de Santa Maria

Two Homeric Hymns to Dionysus and Some Notes

Homeric Hymn 1: To Dionysus

“Some say that it was at Drakonos, some say on windy Ikaros
others allege it was Naxos where the divine Eiraphiotes was born,
or even that it was beside the deep-eddying river Alpheios
where Semele, impregnated by Zeus who delights in thunder, gave birth.
Lord, others say that you were born at Thebes
But they all lie: The father of men and gods gave birth to you
hiding you from white-armed Hera far from all men.
There is a place called Nusê, the highest mountain flowering with forest,
In far-flung Phoenicia, near the flowing Nile.

They dedicate many images of you in the temples:
Since there are three, at the triannual festivals forever
Men will sacrifice to you perfect Hecatombs.
At this, Kronos’ son will nodded his dark eyebrows;
The ambrosial hair of the god danced about
On his immortal head, and Olympos shook greatly.
[After he spoke, councilor Zeus ordered with a nod.]
Be kind to us, Eirophiotes, woman-maddener: we singers
Begin and end with you as we sing: it is not possible
To begin a sacred song without thinking of you.
So, hail, Dionysus, Lord Eiraphiotes, and your mother too
Semele, the one they also call Thyône.”

οἱ μὲν γὰρ Δρακάνῳ σ’, οἱ δ’ ᾿Ικάρῳ ἠνεμοέσσῃ
φάσ’, οἱ δ’ ἐν Νάξῳ, δῖον γένος εἰραφιῶτα,
οἱ δέ σ’ ἐπ’ ᾿Αλφειῷ ποταμῷ βαθυδινήεντι
κυσαμένην Σεμέλην τεκέειν Διὶ τερπικεραύνῳ,
ἄλλοι δ’ ἐν Θήβῃσιν ἄναξ σε λέγουσι γενέσθαι
ψευδόμενοι• σὲ δ’ ἔτικτε πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε
πολλὸν ἀπ’ ἀνθρώπων κρύπτων λευκώλενον ῞Ηρην.
ἔστι δέ τις Νύση ὕπατον ὄρος ἀνθέον ὕλῃ
τηλοῦ Φοινίκης σχεδὸν Αἰγύπτοιο ῥοάων

καί οἱ ἀναστήσουσιν ἀγάλματα πόλλ’ ἐνὶ νηοῖς.
ὡς δὲ τάμεν τρία, σοὶ πάντως τριετηρίσιν αἰεὶ
ἄνθρωποι ῥέξουσι τεληέσσας ἑκατόμβας.
ἦ καὶ κυανέῃσιν ἐπ’ ὀφρύσι νεῦσε Κρονίων•
ἀμβρόσιαι δ’ ἄρα χαῖται ἐπερρώσαντο ἄνακτος
κρατὸς ἀπ’ ἀθανάτοιο, μέγαν δ’ ἐλέλιξεν ῎Ολυμπον.
ὣς εἰπὼν ἐκέλευσε καρήατι μητίετα Ζεύς.
ἵληθ’ εἰραφιῶτα γυναιμανές• οἱ δέ σ’ ἀοιδοὶ
ᾄδομεν ἀρχόμενοι λήγοντές τ’, οὐδέ πῃ ἔστι
σεῖ’ ἐπιληθομένῳ ἱερῆς μεμνῆσθαι ἀοιδῆς.
καὶ σὺ μὲν οὕτω χαῖρε Διώνυσ’ εἰραφιῶτα,
σὺν μητρὶ Σεμέλῃ ἥν περ καλέουσι Θυώνην.

A few brief notes

1 Drakonos; Ikaros; Naxos: In part, this selection of different place names echoes the mythical travels of Dionysus. Drakonos is considered to be a location on the island of
kos; Ikaros and Naxos are also islands in the Aegean. The Alpheios river is in the Peloponnese: it is one of the two rivers re-routed by Herakles and a common toponym in myth.

2 Eiraphiotes: This is a problematic and confusing epithet. Ancient commentators related it to the word rhaptô “to sew”, indicating that it had to do with the fact that Dionysus was sewn up in Zeus’ thigh. (This may also as well, even if only tangentially, associate him with the recitation of poetry through rhapsodes who “sew the song together. This is uncertain and speculative, but the end of the second fragment ties the deity together with singers). A modern interpretation of the epithet finds a Sanskrit root and identifies Dionysus thus as a “Bull-god”. He was known at times for shape-shifting and, in this particular hymn, he is granted hekatombs.

3 Dionysus’ birth: Zeus impregnated Semele, she was killed by a thunderbolt, and Dionysus gestated in Zeus’ thigh. Therefore, it is easy to say (1) that both Semele and Zeus “gave birth to him” and (2) that he was born in more than one place.

4 Thebes: The home of Semele, a daughter of Cadmos, and a city typically punished for rejecting Dionysus.

6 Nusê; near the flowing Nile: In early Greek mythology, the mountain is often combined with a form of Zeus’ name (Dios) as an etymology for the name Dionysus. The location of Dionysus in Egypt may merely be part of the traditional motif that has the autochthonous god born elsewhere (other times in Asia, India) only to return and reclaim his rightful place. But according to the Orphic Theogony, Dionysus is torn apart by the Titans. His body is sometimes said to have been put back together by Demeter or to be ground up and served in a drink to Semele who gave birth to him again. This ritual-murder/deification motif collocated with mention of Egypt, however, may echo the connection Herodotus makes between Dionysus and the Egyptian god Osiris who was also murdered and in some cases torn apart only to be resurrected as a god of the underworld and rebirth.

7 woman-maddener: gunaimanes, “the one who makes women go insane”, an epithet connected with the mythical traditions that have Dionysus upending social orders and his special association with Bacchantes (mad, feral women)

8 “we begin and end with you”: this is in part a formulaic ending in Hymnic language, but for Dionysus, who was associated with so many performance rituals, this may give him a bit broader of a sphere of influence (e.g. tragedy, choral performances) or may draw upon the language of poetic inspiration via Dionysian ecstasy.

9 Thyône: A name for his mother or nymph who nursed him.

Homeric Hymn, 26: To Bacchus

“I begin to sing of ivy-haired Dionysus, who roars powerfully,
the shining son of Zeus and glorious Semele,
the one the fair-tressed nymphs raised after they took him
to their chests From his lord father to raise him rightly
tn the folds of Nusê. He grew up according at his father’s will
tn a fragrant caves, one among the number of immortals.
But once the goddesses had raised up the much-sung god,
then he went to wondering through the forested valleys
covering himself with ivy and laurel. The nymphs followed him
and he led—the thunder of the procession gripped the endless woods.
Hail to you too. Dionysus rich with clusters of grapes.
Grant that we may come happy into another season
And return again at this time for many more years.”

Κισσοκόμην Διόνυσον ἐρίβρομον ἄρχομ’ ἀείδειν
Ζηνὸς καὶ Σεμέλης ἐρικυδέος ἀγλαὸν υἱόν,
ὃν τρέφον ἠΰκομοι νύμφαι παρὰ πατρὸς ἄνακτος
δεξάμεναι κόλποισι καὶ ἐνδυκέως ἀτίταλλον
Νύσης ἐν γυάλοις• ὁ δ’ ἀέξετο πατρὸς ἕκητι
ἄντρῳ ἐν εὐώδει μεταρίθμιος ἀθανάτοισιν.
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ δὴ τόνδε θεαὶ πολύυμνον ἔθρεψαν,
δὴ τότε φοιτίζεσκε καθ’ ὑλήεντας ἐναύλους
κισσῷ καὶ δάφνῃ πεπυκασμένος• αἱ δ’ ἅμ’ ἕποντο
νύμφαι, ὁ δ’ ἐξηγεῖτο• βρόμος δ’ ἔχεν ἄσπετον ὕλην.
Καὶ σὺ μὲν οὕτω χαῖρε πολυστάφυλ’ ὦ Διόνυσε•
δὸς δ’ ἡμᾶς χαίροντας ἐς ὥρας αὖτις ἱκέσθαι,
ἐκ δ’ αὖθ’ ὡράων εἰς τοὺς πολλοὺς ἐνιαυτούς.

Panyassis fr. 12 (19 W)

“Mortals have a fine gift equal to fire: wine, a defense against evil and companion of any song.”



οἶνος γὰρ πυρὶ ἶσον ἐπιχθονίοισιν ὄνειαρ

ἐσθλόν, ἀλεξίκακον, πάσης συνοπηδὸν ἀοιδῆς.


Panyassis. Say it out loud.


A Greek epic poet not named Homer.