The Homeric Hymns
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...more
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.
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 ...more
Although the works of Homer, Hesiod and others were ...more
If you're a fan of ancient Greek drama, I would recommend this book as a supplement to your reading.
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 ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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!"
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.
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.
In the end the real pleasure is to read Homeric works of literature.
The second hymn, the one to Demeter, and the fifth hymn, the one to Aphrodite, are my favorites. The others are annoying or boring. I prefer Edith Hamilton's Mythology over this book because her compilation of myths is more interesting.
When he lived is unknown. Herodotus estimates that Homer lived 400 years before his own time, ...more