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Homeric Hymns

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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  2,555 ratings  ·  65 reviews
The 33 anonymous Homeric Hymns celebrating individual gods are a collection of ancient Greek hymns which employ the epic dactylic hexameter of the Iliad & Odyssey, use similar formulae & are couched in the same dialect. They were uncritically attributed to Homer himself in antiquity—from the earliest written reference to them, Thucydides (3.104). "The whole collect ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published September 13th 2005 by Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. (first published -600)
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Anna Cain
Required reading for a class on Homer.

The Homeric Hymns have had a fascinating and rather sad life history. This collection consists of 33 poetic invocations to various Greek gods, with Hermes, Apollo, and Aphrodite getting the most page time. Originally oral poetry, they were widely read by armchair classicists in later centuries. After someone decided they were written by Homer, the hymns got even more popular. Unfortunately, then some scholars apparently decided that the Hymns weren't that H
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David
This collection of hymns follows the style of Homer's writings and due to that and to tradition are said to have been written by him. The first two hymns were missing until the late 1700's, but even then only a small fragment of hymn one was recovered (although nearly all of hymn two was found). Aside from difficulties resulting from a few missing lines these hymns are easy to follow and it is a marvel this much remains now for readers to enjoy.

Although the works of Homer, Hesiod and others were
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Erik Graff
Sep 11, 2014 Erik Graff rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: students of classical Greek religion
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: religion
While most of these hymns are boring as presented (a scholarly Greek/English version with lots of critical apparatus would have been more interesting), there is one which works to the modern sense, at least in part. The Hymn to Dionyos has, as I recall, a theme of Apollo being pissed at the trickster godling. Once, when still very young, Dionysos had stolen some of the god's sacred cattle. Apollo pursues, finally catching him in, get this, his crib. In the face of the god's accusatory rage, Dion ...more
Joel
This review is for the Penguin Classics edition translated by Jules Cashford.

Content of the hymns: The first hymns to Demeter, Apollo, and Hermes contain some interesting narrative, but most of the poems are relatively brief flattery of the gods mentioning their origin and/or a few basic characteristics. They seem to be composed as prologues to longer poems, and their interest lies more in terms of artistry than content. (If you are more interested in detailed information about the Greek pantheo
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Tiffany
Required reading for Greek and Roman Mythology, but I'm happy about it. It seems to be an excellent and enjoyable translation, with good notes to clarify meanings and identities. If you're into Greek Mythology, the hymns here definitely add a bit of depth to the experience. The stories aren't new, but they're told with a different flow to them, and so are just as fun to read again as they were the first time.
Mark Desrosiers
A taut, hypnotic translation: sorta the poetic equivalent of Velvet Underground's "The Murder Mystery". Choppy and insistent, no dactyls, no hexameters. So it's probably pretty close to the way these central hymns sounded in Mediterranean caves and hillsides. The hymns to Hermes guide my every move (wink), and I ended up disliking Demeter very much (ducking). Essential reading.
Norita
Beautiful translation of what will become one of your favorite books of short-form Ancient verse. Cannot recommend this highly enough!
Barnaby Thieme
Sargent presents a serviceable if prosaic translation of the surviving hymns to various Greek deities spuriously attributed to Homer.

Along with the Homeric epics and the Library of Apollodorus, the Hymns are one of our most valuable primary sources on ancient Greek religion. While only a handful of the hymns are longer than two dozen lines, the hymns provide a marvelous and unique glimpse of the liturgical life of Classical Greece. Structured as preludes, they are believed to be invocations of
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Lisa (Harmonybites)
These are 33 hymns to the various Greek Gods: the twelve Olympians, Rhea, Heracles, Asclepios, the Dioscuri, Pan, the Muses, Mother Earth, Helios and Selene. About half of them are very short--just a few lines. Others are far more substantial, one to Hermes and another to Demeter running over ten pages and consisting of extended mythological stories, such as Demeter's wandering in search of her abducted daughter--my favorite among the Hymns. In fact the Foreword tells us the Hymns are frequently ...more
Syahira Sharif


There are two well-known Hymns in Homeric Hymns collection which are Hymns for Demeter and Apollo which are two very different story from one another. There are also incoherent pieces of poems which are included in my copy of Homeric Hymns but I would rather prefer reading it accompanied with notes.

As for Hymn to Demeter, I do admit, it took me a long while to realize it was the story of Persephone's mother and how Hades's abduction (dirty uncle) made Demeter angry and moody and bitchy the whole
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Brennan Wieland
The story begins with a mouse running away from a weasel. Having escaped from the weasel the mouse arrives at a river, and being unable to swim, is unable to cross. He happens upon a frog (The king of the frogs of that pond), the frog offers him a ride over the river. The mouse accepts, but hesitantly. Halfway across they see a snake rise to the surface. The frog, forgetting about the mouse, dives to the bottom and leaves the mouse for dead. Another mouse sees this cowardly act that the frog com ...more
Jelly Fish
Jun 16, 2012 Jelly Fish rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone; especially fans of mythology
Recommended to Jelly by: Myself
Shelves: favourite, mythology
This is such a fantastic book. One of my favourite ancient Greek works, because of its easy-to-readness, the lyrical prose, and the fact that it's basically a factbook about the gods.
Also, it includes a heap of great info about Hermes, who is my favourite god. The section of the book that's about him is actually the longest part, I think.

Muse, sing of Hermes, the son of Zeus and Maia, lord of Cyllene and Arcadia rich in flocks, the luck-bringing messenger of the immortals whom Maia bare, the ric
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Vickii
A beautiful collection of songs believed to be written by Homer, in honour of the Greek gods of Olympus, which have been performed at festivals throughout Greece over the centuries. While some of them are only a few sentences long, these majestic hymns highlight the epic traits of such legends as Zeus, Demeter and Aphrodite, but my favourite would be ‘Hymn to Hermes’ which explores the newborn’s theft of the mighty Apollo’s sheep.
Pat
Good intro to Greek Dactylic Hexameter in the foreword. I'd say it's a good translation, but I can't read Greek (yet...), so I'll say it's good poetry, and that it's fun to see where some of the myths from Bullfinch, Hamilton's, and/or your 5th grade teacher's versions came from.

In my used copy, someone highlighted seemingly random parts of 30. To Earth, Mother of All, e.g.:

Yours is the power to give mortals life and to take it away.

Friends, do not highlight poetry unless the poem is really bad.
...more
Greg
The Homeric Hymns:
Attributed to Homer, but probably not written by him, this collection of classical myths and hymns is certainly a classic and must be read by anyone interested in Greek mythology or classical history. For those with an incomplete understanding of the Greek pantheon, this collection is difficult to read, however.

My favorite him is the hymn to Aphrodite, as it provides background to the Aeneid. Aphrodite ,speaking of the lineage of Aeneas, pronounces:
“Yet of all human beings thos
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Amy Masonis
I was obsessed with greek mythology when I was in elementary school. I think I would have taken a turn in my life - I love you, teachers, pay attention to the ones who want to learn.
Jay Resnick
Read the hymns to Demeter and Apollo for Peter Struck's wonderful Greek and Roman mythology class ( on coursera).
Garrett Cash
The Homeric Hymns were probably not written by Homer himself, but in the same style as his works. Whoever wrote them did a fantastic job, the poems are not only easy to read but quite fun as well. I would even recommend reading this to someone before their Iliad or Odyssey reading; because it really fleshes out the roles and stories of the gods and goddesses that the two Homeric epics assume you are already aware of. This is a great work for those looking for stories of Greek mythology from the ...more
Val
Shelmerdine's translation of the homeric hymns is superb. The explanatory notes are extensive and thorough. Possibly the best translated and edited ancient Greek book I have read to date.

With regards to the hymns themselves, they are an interesting compendium of short stories regarding the lives of the gods, such as the kidnapping of Persephone by Hades, the theft of Apollo's cattle by Hermes, or Aphrodite's love affair with mortal Anchises.

Overall, a fantastic book for those interested in anti
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Andrada
Although they don't add much to the mythological canon(or well, I've read enough ancient Greek writings at this point to be fairly familiar with most of it and nothing came as a surprise), some of the hymns are quite witty(the infant Hermes is the highlight) and evoke some powerful/beautiful imagery(Dionysus' capture by the pirates, Aphrodite's descent to earth) while others, like the two longer hymns to Apollo that lose themselves in geographical details, did not particularly appeal to me.
Barbara
Hermes! I like Hermes.

Like Don, I am reading these for Peter Struck's (U of Penn) Greek and Roman Mythology Coursera course. W-a-y better than The Illiad! (which we did not have to read for the course, but I thought I should before reading The Odyssey.) Just finished it and I liked Hermes there too. :-)

Another favorite is To Pan. Delightfully mischievous. And a wonderful line from To Poseidon: "Joy, earth-surrounder with your blue hair streaming!"
Kent
Right around the time of reading this, I ended up hearing reference made to Hermes inventing the lyre and introducing Apollo to it. Even at a talk by Dan Beachy-Quick! In terms of the hymns, I like them. I like how one way that they worship these gods is they make up these elaborate stories. I guess that's the joy of religion, finding resonance in a powerful story, and elaborating and elaborating on those stories.
Faith Bradham
Gorgeous. I like Aphrodite best, despite the fact that as a goddess I can't stand her. However, I love the Anchises/Aeneas story, which features heavily in the hymn. I have several friends who like Demeter best, but the whole Persephone/Hades myth has never been a favorite of mine. My myth teacher likes Hermes best. No matter which your favorite is, the language is simply beautiful in each and every hymn.
Joel
My copy is an old, yellow-paged thing bought from a library book sale, but still it is one of my most prized books. The stories are just magical. I never understood why this volume gets overlooked when mentioning the original sources of Greek myths. It belongs with Hesiod, Ovid, Vergil, & the epic works of 'Homer' (this collection is even less likely to have been written by Homer than they).
Nikki
I'm hooked on Greek myth!
I'm so glad I got this specific edition of The Homeric Hymns. Every page has detailed footnotes (sometimes longer than the original text on the page) that gives history, comparisons to other myths, definitions, and more. It is a very comprehensive text that gives the reader more knowledge and understanding than a reading of the hymns on their own could ever do.
Rosie
easy and readable book for those interested in ancients and Greek mythology but I didn't get why the spelling of familiar Greek names, for example, Achilles had been changed to Akhilleus.

Also, the footnotes weren't indicated in the actual text so if the reader was interested in these you would have to re-read and to put them in context.
Lauren
I read this for a Classical Mythology course. These hymns are not written by Homer himself, but rather written in a similar style to him. The hymns are absolutely beautiful and each one is just begging to be analyzed. Some are a little peculiar (the hymn to Ares springs to mind), but they are absolutely worth the read.
Jerrod
I've had my eye on this for a while now. I'm glad to be so pleased. The work has an introduction and great foot notes through out. Granted I'm looking for all the extra info I imagine it would be just as useful for every beginner or expert...

In the end the real pleasure is to read Homeric works of literature.
Aisha
We just read the hymns to Apollo and Demeter. A good contribution to my understanding of the stories of the gods.
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  • Hesiod: The Works and Days/Theogony/The Shield of Herakles
  • The Odes
  • Poems and Fragments
  • Greek Tragedies Vol. 3: Aeschylus: The Eumenides; Sophocles: Philoctetes, Oedipus at Colonus; Euripides: The Bacchae, Alcestis
  • Euripides V: Electra / The Phoenician Women / The Bacchae
  • Heroides
  • Odes and Epodes (Loeb Classical Library)
  • Jason and the Golden Fleece (The Argonautica)
  • Idylls
  • The Library of Greek Mythology (World's Classics)
  • A History of My Times
  • On Sparta
  • Prometheus Bound and Other Plays
  • Greek Religion
  • Gods of the Greeks
  • Sophocles II: Ajax/Women of Trachis/Electra/Philoctetes (Complete Greek Tragedies 4)
  • The Sixteen Satires
  • The Georgics
903
In the Western classical tradition, Homer (Greek: Όμηρος) is considered the author of The Iliad and The Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest of ancient Greek epic poets. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.
When he lived is unknown. Herodotus estimates that Homer lived 400 years before his own time,
...more
More about Homer...
The Odyssey The Iliad The Iliad/The Odyssey The Odyssey, Book 1-12 The Iliad/The Odyssey/The Aeneid

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