Ancient Hymns to Apollo

“Hear me, you who posses deep-wooded Helicon,
fair-armed daughters of Zeus the magnificent!
Fly to beguile with your accents your brother,
golden-tressed Phoebus who, on the twin peak of this rock of Parnassus,
escorted by illustrious maidens of Delphi,
sets out for the limpid streams of Castalia, traversing,
on the Delphic promontory, the prophetic pinnacle.
Behold glorious Attica, nation of the great city which,
thanks to the prayers of the Tritonid warrior,
occupies a hillside sheltered from all harm.
On the holy altars Hephaestos consumes the thighs of young bullocks,
mingled with the flames, the Arabian vapor rises towards Olympos.
The shrill rustling lotus murmurs its swelling song, and the golden kithara,
the sweet-sounding kithara, answers the voice of men.
And all the host of poets, dwellers in Attica, sing your glory, God,
famed for playing the kithara, son of great Zeus,
beside this snow-crowned peak, oh you who reveal to all mortals
the eternal and infallible oracles.
They sing how you conquered the prophetic tripod
guarded by a fierce dragon when, with your darts
you pierced the gaudy, tortuously coiling monster,
so that, uttering many fearful hisses, the beast expired.
They sing too, . . . .”

Oh, come now, Muses,
and go to the craggy sacred place
upon the far-seen, twin-peaked Parnassus,
celebrated and dear to us, Pierian maidens.
Repose on the snow-clad mountain top;
celebrate the Pythian Lord
with the goldensword, Phoebus,
whom Leto bore unassisted
on the Delian rock surrounded by silvery olives,
the luxuriant plant
which the Goddess Pallas
long ago brought forth.

“O Lord, Lykia  is yours and lovely Maionian and Miletos, charming city by the sea, but over wave-girt Delos you greatly reign your own self. Leto’s all-glorious son goes to rocky Pytho, playing upon his hollow lyre, clad in divine, perfumed garments; and at the touch of the golden key his lyre sings sweet. Thence, swift as thought, he speeds from earth to Olympos, to the house of Zeus, to join the gathering of the other Gods: then straightway the undying Gods think only of the lyre and song, and all the Mousai together, voice sweetly answering voice, hymn the unending gifts the Gods enjoy and the sufferings of men . . . Meanwhile the rich-tressed Kharites and cheerful Horai  dance with Harmonia and Hebe and Aphrodite, daughter of Zeus, holding each other by the wrist. And among them sings one . . . Artemis who delights in arrows, sister of Apollon. Among them sport Ares and the keen-eyed Argeiphontes, while Apollon plays his lyre stepping high and featly and radiance shines around him, the gleaming of his feet and close-woven vest. And they, even gold-tressed Leto and wise Zeus, rejoice in their great hearts as they watch their dear son playing among the undying Gods.”

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