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The Homeric Hymns

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  3,728 Ratings  ·  91 Reviews

A rich source for students of Greek mythology and literature, the Homeric hymns are also fine poetry. Attributed by the ancients to Homer, these prooimia, or preludes, were actually composed over centuries and used by poets to prepare for the singing or recitation of longer portions of the Homeric epics. In his acclaimed translations of the hymns, Apostolos Athanassakis pr

Paperback, 107 pages
Published September 1st 1976 by Johns Hopkins University Press (first published -600)
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3 Stars, Completed February 9, 2016

I'm not sure how it happened but after taking six semesters of Latin (high school and a few upper level college courses of the foreign language), I never had to translate and read any Roman or Greek text fully in Latin. We read excerpts or parts in translated idiomatic English. So I sort of felt cheated by this being someone that was very interested in mythology growing up. (It's a shame most of my Latin/Greek mythology knowledge is from Percy Jackson and the O
Daniel Chaikin
May 31, 2016 Daniel Chaikin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
translated by Jules Cashford, with an introduction and notes by Nicholas Richardson

I'm a little a loss to explain why I liked these so much or explain what I liked about them. Maybe I'm just fond of Greek mythology and any riff on them that made it through the vagaries of time will catch my interest. But there does seem to be something extra here. There is a reason Percy Bysshe Shelley translated so many of these, as did Chapman. Maybe it's just how the opening fragment to Dionysos says somethin
May 06, 2015 Kaila rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gods, 2015, for-class
1) It's called Homeric Hymns not because they are by Homer but because they are in the same meter that Homer used.

2) It is a very quick read. A couple hours at most.

3) The Hymn of Demeter/Persephone is the best, Hermes second, and the rest, while interesting and sometimes beautiful, didn't add much for me.

4) Aphrodite is kind of a jerk. They're all kind of jerks.
Apr 29, 2013 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Reading this book again for the Ancient Greek and Roman mythology course I am doing for the second time, I found I enjoyed it much more. This Penguin Classics translation is elegant, full of charm and so inspiring.

In the introduction by Nicholas Richardson, the author explores the composition, the history of the hymns and the beauty of the structure, themes and style.

"The hymns... Tell us something about the Greek view of the relationship between the divine and human worlds..."

"Ignorance of th
Mary Catelli
A series of hymns of ancient Greece.

Ranging from recounting myths, sometimes at length, to bursts of short lyric. Some of it will be familiar, and some not at all -- the Hymn to Ares in particular.

Translation matters. I read an idiomatic one this time, and it tried to bring it into modern English as much as possible. More unfortunately, it was a 1970s translation and bears quite definitely the mark of it, several phrases sheriek of the decades.

Even so, you get the effect of the original Greek in
Dec 25, 2012 Tiffany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
These Homeric Hymns might be better be described as prayers or invocations to the Gods, to be read before the start of stage plays. They can be a bit repetitive, but that's the nature of offering praise to the gods, especially when you asking them to bless your proceedings.

If you're a fan of ancient Greek drama, I would recommend this book as a supplement to your reading.

Mark Desrosiers
Oct 15, 2007 Mark Desrosiers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
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.
Jul 22, 2008 Norita rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classical-lit
Beautiful translation of what will become one of your favorite books of short-form Ancient verse. Cannot recommend this highly enough!
Τέλος δὲ τοὺς Ὁμηρικοὺς Ὕμνους ἀνέγνωκα, ὧν βιβλίου ἐν βιβλιοθήκῃ μοι κεκονιμένου μακρὸν χρόνον ἠμέλησα. οὐ μὲν ἔτι τὴν πᾶσαν γραμματικὴν τὴν ὁμηρικὴν διανέγνων, ἤθελον δ' ἐπῶν τινων πειρᾶσθαι.

Ἐτερπόμην βιβλίου μύθους, ἀλλὰ καίπερ αἱ ἑλίκωπες Μοῦσαι πολλάκις παρακαλούμεναι, ἡ ποίησις οὐ καλή. ἡ ἀναγνώσεως τελουμένης αὖθις στίχους τῆς Ἰλιάδος ἐμάνθανον, καὶ κάλλεϊ γ' ἐδάκρυσα. οἴμοι, τοσοῦτο τὸ διάφορον !
Jul 15, 2014 sabisteb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Homerische Hymnen, das klingt schrecklich langweilig. Man sollte sich aber nicht vom Titel abschrecken lassen, denn was die alten Griechen unter Hymnen verstanden ist zum Großteil deutlich spannender und unterhaltsamer als das, was das Christentum darunter versteht. Natürlich gibt es auch die langweilig, schwafeligen Lobhuddeleien an ein paar Götter, die den christlichen Hymnen in nichts nachstehen, die großen, langen Hymnen sind aber spannende Geschichten, die der Odyssee in nichts nachstehen.
Anna C
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
Katherine Hurley
Jun 05, 2016 Katherine Hurley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, mythology, greek
I've never read other translations of the Homeric Hymns, but these flowed beautifully and certainly had the feel Homer's verses, even though they are written by various, unknown poets. My initial interest was in the long hymn to Demeter, which was my favorite even after reading them all. Some, like the Demeter hymn, have cohesive story lines, but others are less focused.

I have been slogging my way through Apollodorus's Library of Greek Mythology (which I WILL finish!), and the bits and pieces of
Caroline Beatle
Dec 18, 2015 Caroline Beatle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: grecia, 2015
Las notas y las introducciones hacen de este libro una edición preciosa
Y los himnos largos son lo mejor (mi favorito por siempre el de Hermes).
Ojalá se hubieran conservado más ):
This easy-ro-read translation also has great notes and a pronunciation guide at the back. These poems/verses/hymns are to the point and make it much easier to remember more about the different gods and goddesses. It's all starting to fit together in my head!
Charlie Fenton
Oct 08, 2016 Charlie Fenton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Only read Hymn 2 To Demeter for my Classical Mythology module at university)
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
Joel Mitchell
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
Nov 11, 2015 Warren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
A collection of 33 hymns, each praising a specific Greek god or demigod. Each hymn is sung to a god or goddess to praise them and request good fortune in return for the singer. Not now believed to be penned by Homer, indeed there seems little evidence that any one poet composed them all. Most are quite short and all were easy to read.
My copy was a second edition translated by Apostolos Athanassakis (a nice genuine Greek name) and published by Johns Hopkins University Press (ISBN 0801879833).
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Apr 26, 2010 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, poetry
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
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
Brennan Wieland
Feb 07, 2011 Brennan Wieland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 16, 2014 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 02, 2016 Arry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVED the "Homeric Hymns". They are informative little stories about different deities. My personal favourite was the second hymn, "To Demeter". These short stories humanise the divine in a way that most mythological books cannot. We see Hermes' jealousy, Demeter's anger and grieving, Aphrodite getting a taste of her own medicine, etc. They are all very interesting pieces of text and each is enjoyable in its own way.
Jul 18, 2016 Yan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
theres one story I never heard before where apollo abducts a bunch of sailors on their way home (disguised as a dolphin cos u can always rely on apollo to be impractical & naff) & takes them to his new temple at pytho & theyre all like, um....'we had somewhere else in mind' & apollos all wow, jokes!!!! u live here now!!!! u look after my temple!!!! be fucken grateful!!!! 'you shall now return no more not one of you to the city he loves and his beautiful home and his dear wife' an ...more
Sep 21, 2014 Val rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 23, 2015 AGamarra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: clásicos
Los himnos, se trata de un género muy puntual en la literatura griega.
Digamos que Homero cumple este papel de manera buena, mencionando varios relatos a destacar como el de Atenea y Afrodita. El de Démeter es uno de los himnos más largos y ahí describe de manera magistral el rapto de su hija Proserpina por Hades y las protestas de Démeter. Otra pieza interesante es la de Afrodita pues ahí narra algo no muy conocido, los amoríos con Anquises, padre de Eneas.
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.
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  • Hesiod: The Works and Days/Theogony/The Shield of Herakles
  • The Odes
  • Greek Tragedies Vol. 3: Aeschylus: The Eumenides; Sophocles: Philoctetes, Oedipus at Colonus; Euripides: The Bacchae, Alcestis
  • Heroides
  • Poems and Fragments
  • The Hymns of Orpheus
  • Euripides V: Electra / The Phoenician Women / The Bacchae
  • Greek Lyric Poetry
  • Idylls
  • The Gods of the Greeks
  • Greek Religion
  • The Library of Greek Mythology
  • Sophocles II: Ajax/Women of Trachis/Electra/Philoctetes (Complete Greek Tragedies 4)
  • Pharsalia: The Civil War
  • War Music: An Account of Books 1-4 and 16-19 of Homer's Iliad
  • The Birds and Other Plays
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 about Homer...

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