Homeric Hymn

O universal Mother, who dost keep

From everlasting thy foundations deep,

Eldest of things, Great Earth, I sing of thee!

All shapes that have their dwelling in the sea,

All things that fly, or on the ground divine

Live, move, and there are nourished — these are thine;

These are thy wealth that dost sustain; from thee

Fair babes are born, and fruits on every tree

Hang ripe and large, revered Deity!

The life of mortal men beneath thy sway

Is held; thy power both gives and takes away!

Happy are they whom thy mild favors nourish;

All things unstinted round them grow and flourish.

For them, endures the life-sustaining field

It’s load of harvest, and their cattle yield

Large increase, and their house with wealth is filled…. — trans. Percy Blythe Shelly)

The Homeric Hymns are 33 anonymous songs celebrating individual gods in the Greek pantheon. They are named for Homer, not as their author, but because they employ the same epic meter as found in the Iliad and Odyssey — dactylic hexameter. While early authors — Greek historian Thucydides being the first — credited Homer as their author, critics have determined that they were written in 7 BC, a later period than that during which Homer — or for that matter his semi-contemporary Hesiod — flourished.

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