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Homeric Hymns

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  4,926 ratings  ·  150 reviews
Composed for recitation at festivals, these 33 songs were written in honour of the gods and goddesses of the ancient Greek pantheon. They recount the key episodes in the lives of the gods, and dramatise the moments when they first appear before mortals. Together they offer the most vivid picture we have of the Greek view of the relationship between the divine and human wor ...more
Paperback, 174 pages
Published April 24th 2003 by Penguin Classics (first published -600)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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 ·  4,926 ratings  ·  150 reviews

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May 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: for-class, 2015, gods
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.
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Pallas Athena I begin to sing,
The glorious goddess with gleaming eyes,
Brilliantly inventive, her heart relentless,
The formidable maiden, guardian of cities,
The courageous Tritogeneia.

Wise Zeus gave birth to her himself
Out of his majestic head.
Golden armour clothed her,
It was glistening, war-like.
All the gods who saw her
Were overcome with awe.

Suddenly she was there
Before Zeus who holds the Aegis.
She sprang from his immortal head
Shaking her sharp spear.
Great Olympus trembled terribly
At the power o
Daniel Chaikin
May 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful translations.

Unfortunate that the majority of the hymns are so short as the longer ones are great.
And scent most sweetly spread (2.13)

Blooming with youth . . . (2.108)

Round the goddess’ slim feet her dark robe swirled. (2.183)

She touched her head, and filled the doorway with heavenly light. (2.189)

Casting old age away, and round about her then
Beauty began to be breathed: a delightful perfume spread
From the fragrant robes that she wore, a radiance shone out far
From the goddes
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
Apr 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Lucie Jane Miller
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
Dec 25, 2012 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. ...more
Mark Desrosiers
Oct 15, 2007 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. ...more
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.

Jul 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classical-lit
Beautiful translation of what will become one of your favorite books of short-form Ancient verse. Cannot recommend this highly enough!
Read through it for the first time, I don’t have much to say yet, most of these don’t tell stories and I’m not getting a lot out of this. I’m looking forward to read some commentaries though.
My favourites were the hymns to Demeter and Hermes, the rest are either too short, were left incomplete, or aren't particularly memorable. ...more
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mythology
I thought this is going to be hard but it was actually easy to read and enjoyable too.
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like that the Gods see humans as insignificant lowly beings whose only role is to make offerings.
Nov 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These were surprisingly enjoyable. Well, I guess it is silly to be surprised – anything that is still in print well over a thousand years after its composition has probably got some fine qualities. But many of these poems/songs tell really compelling stories in beautiful, intense language. (I realize that part of the credit for the loveliness of the poetry goes to the translator, and, while admitting that I have no basis whatsoever for comparison, I think Thelma Sargent did a first class job her ...more
Richard Seltzer
Jun 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Read as a research for my novel Breeze.
Harry Chapman
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A collection of ancient pagan stories that enriches our knowledge of the Hellenic pantheon and has personally led to a few pleasant daydreams.

Some of these hymns amount only to a bald invocation with a few lines of praise or a brief hagiography. The longer hymns are more like stories proper, and this is where the bulk of enjoyment is to be had.

There are so many deftly vivid scenes, and they are told with such a graceful efficiency of language. This is at least one reason why these should be con
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Homeric Hymns are so fragmentary, it seems much harder to wrangle sense or meaning out of them than the Epics.

I mentioned this because I finished reading the Penguin edition not very long ago, and I wasn’t particularly impressed: nothing is excessively complicated or impenetrable, I just didn’t find them engaging.

Diane J. Rayor’s translation comes with an introductory essay that got me excited about the Hymns. For people already familiar with Homer’s epics, comparing and contrasting the natu
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I can't tell why, but the hymn on Demeter has risen so many emotions and images in me... though of course I known the story itself before reading it.
Generally I really enjoyed the four "longer" hymns, just four solid pieces of good poetry and stories were also interesting ones. On the other hand shorter on were often were just boring, empty...but not all of them, some of them have risen that wield religios vibe in me...

Must-read for everyone with at least basic interest in greek mythology.
Michael Arnold
Mar 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
There is a great mystery around the Homeric Hymns that makes reading them not just an experience unlike any other, you cannot help but feel like a sort of Indiana Jones type (almost) discovering something new and interesting. I should write a more full review for this book, but I don't know anything about these poems. I'll be reading this book again! ...more
Koen Crolla
Aug 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: greece-and-greek
I always think books like this are better as parallel texts with reams of notes on all aspects of the material—this version has decent notes, but they're mostly concerned with synchronic mythology, which is the least interesting aspect of the hymns—but if you're looking for a quick and shallow introduction to the texts, you could certainly do worse than Rayor. ...more
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm 100% pissed that we never read this in school. For anyone interested in the topic, it's a must read. Thoroughly enjoyable, especially if you're feeling a bit bleaky after reading Hesiod. The next thing I'll pick up is other translations from Diane Rayor - her contribution is also what made this work so fun to read. ...more
Mar 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed these short hymns about the Greek gods. I highly recommend these when you try to read some ancient Greek texts. Some well known gods are featured like Persephone, Hermes, Dionysus and Apollo.
Jacob Hurley
Dec 27, 2020 rated it liked it
the penguin edition does not have particularly inspiring end notes, though the introduction is excellent
Mariana Cevallos
This book! How much I enjoyed and loved this Homeric Hymns! Is a not a to long book but I read it very slowly compared to my normal because it was such delicious to read and reread every part of it. It also made me research a lot of names and info because it is very complex in that sense, I mean is full of beauty and details. I want to find another translation of this book and of course a physical copy of it but is sometimes impossible in my country -sigh-
Anyway, the writing style of Homer is am
Anna C
Sep 01, 2014 rated it liked it
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 Buel
Jun 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mythology, poetry, 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
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
After the Odyssey and the Iliad (which I’ve read in that order), this book was a natural continuation to address before reading the Aeneid. I almost skipped it, but after a long time finally read it and I’m glad I do.

Its an important read in the study of Greek mythology.

Most are short hymns, but 3 or four of them are longer, and therefore more fit to interpretation and study.

In the myth of Persephone for example, I find it interesting that the peak of the drama in comes when she tells her ab
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In the Western classical tradition, Homer (Greek: Ὅμηρος) 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,

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