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Hymns of Plethon

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Hymns of Plethon

Post  Erodius on Fri Aug 02, 2013 2:03 pm

These are the hymns compiled by the Renaissance-era Byzantine philosopher George Gemistus Plethon, who argued in the late 1400s for a restoration of the Classical religion in the Byzantine Empire, and considered the centuries of decline and increasing success of the invading Ottoman Turks to be the result of the people's turning their backs on true piety. He fled Constantinople in the late 1430s as the Ottomans has conquered the lands all the way up to within a matter of a few miles from the city (they eventually captured Constantinople in 1453, after a long and bloody siege), and he traveled throughout the near east, through Cyprus, Syria and Palestine, and went to the city of Mystra in the southern Peloponnesus, where it is likely he had contact with remaining adherents of Orphism who were noted as late as the 1000s to be openly practicing their religion and to have aggressively rejected and thrown out the bishops sent from Constantinople to christianize the area (as a side note, it is from this same area of the Peloponnesus that the living Orphic tradition comes, and we consider this, combined with the consistency of Plethon's ideas acquired in Mystra with our teachings, to be evidence in support of the continuous lineage that we believe we maintain. After Mystra, he spent a sojourn in Florence, Italy, where he worked with the famous Medici family to found the Platonic Academy of Florence. In Italy, he was known to have had a circle of followers whom he initiated into an evidently Orphic Mystery cult.

The theology of the hymns is very much in line with the Orphic tradition, but differs considerably from the mythology seen in Hesiod. Ἥρη, for instance, is the daughter of the Supreme Power, called Ζεύς, and the one called Ζεύς in Hesiod is here called Ποσειδών. It is even more disorienting for those unfamiliar with this theology than the Teletæ, but I wish to make them available nonetheless. When I have the time, I plan to add some in-text footnotes to explain some of the segments that would strike those familiar only with the Hesiodian system as very strange.
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Perennial Hymn to Jove [Ζεύς/Δίας]
Father Jove, Father of Thyself, First Creator,
King who generates everything, supreme, who dominates all,
Almighty, who are the Being, the Unity, the Good Itself
Thou who, across the infinity of times, generated’st all things,
The greatest from Thyself and the other from these,
As excellent as possible,
Be propitious, save us, leading us with all other things
By means of Thy unerring children always glorious, to whom Thou entrusted’st
What was destined to us too, that Thou settest up.

Perennial Hymn to the Gods
Glorious children of Jove, who is the being in itself and generated all,
You rulers, who lead us with justice,
May we consider Ye our guides
And follow the right laws You love
For what we can, the only ones to well regulate our lives.
But, Gods, You who address the mind that leads us
And that You put on us similar to Yourselves,
Let us lead our life well in everything
And hymn with Ye the supreme Jove.

First Monthly Hymn to Jove [Ζεύς/Δίας]
The great Jove, who is Janus, Father of Himself,
Ancestor of all things to which He gave origin,
He did nothing in a moment, but as He exists,
He made such things, never staying inactive,
Never under His own power, well operating,
As it is proper, His being the Good Itself.
Hail, Jove, Supreme King who ruleth o’er everything,
Hail, Thou infinitely blissful — hail, generous giver of good things!

Second Monthly Hymn to Neptune [Ποσειδών]
O Great Lord, first Son of Jove, Neptune,
Thou who art the most beautiful and strongest of all things
Which took origin by Jove, Thou who powerfully
Rulest everything, second only to Thy Father
Who is immensely greater than all beings
As He is alone the absolutely ingenerated.
So by Thee this wide sky, on Thy Father’s order,
Began to be, under which we too from Thee arise.
Father, be then always benevolent and propitious to us.

Third Monthly Hymn to Juno [Ἥρη]
Juno, Venerable Goddess, Daughter of the Great Jove,
Thou whose husband is Neptune,
Who is the Beauty Itself, Mother of the Gods living in the sky,
Origin of the matter, Thou who givest place to all the force of species,
And, among others, to the force that leads towards virtue and all beauty,
Thou who establishest laws according to which for all
There are both numbers and eternity:
So grant us a good life, and lead us, propitious, to Virtue.

Fourth Monthly Hymn to the Gods
King Neptune, the noblest of the great Jove's children,
Thou who received’st from Thy Father the government of the whole Creation;
And Thou, Juno, His pure wife, equally benevolent Queen;
Apollo, Diana, Vulcan, Bacchus and Minerva;
You are the seven most powerful Gods
After the One who rules, supreme, from above;
And You all inhabitants of Olympus,
Parents to all immortal things, including Those within us,
Be to us propitious and benevolent.

Fifth Monthly Hymn to Apollo
Apollon, Lord, Thou patron and guide,
of everything in nature,  Thou who trace back everything
to one, and submit the whole itself, so various
so rich in sounds, to a single harmony;
from concordance, Thou give wisdom
and justice to the souls, the most beautiful things,
and health and beauty to the bodies.
Inspire the desire of divine beauties,
lord, to our souls. Hail, Pæan.

Sixth Monthly Hymn to Diana [Ἄρτεμις]
Diana, Lady, Thou who leadest the diverse nature
And protectest her: in fact, Thou received’st a unique whole
And divided one thing from another as much as possible
In as many species as possible, and the species in individuals,
And then the entire in parts and limbs; Thou givest,
By separating the inferior parts, force unto souls
And prudence, and strength and integrity
Unto bodies. But, Lady, allow us to flee from every infamous thing
And lead well our life through various situations.

Seventh Monthly Hymn to the Planetary Gods
O Sun, Lord of this Sky, be propitious;
Thou too, be propitious to us, Moon, sacred Lady;
And Thou Phosphorus (Venus), and Thou Stilbon (Mercury), of the bright Sun
always mates, and Thou, Phenon (Saturn), Phaeton (Jupiter), Pyroen (Mars),
All subject to Sun, Sovereign who You help
For what concerns us, according to what is needed;
We celebrate Ye as our illustrious patrons,
Together with other stars, put in the sky for divine far-sightedness.

Eighth Monthly Hymn to Minerva [Ἀθηνή]
Minerva, Lady, Thou who protectest and guidest the form of matter undivided,
Thou art its own creator after Poseidon of wide majesty
Who draws from Thee the whole form;
Thou art the cause of all simultaneously-generated movements;
Thou repellest the unnecessary from everything
And therefore also from us,
And every time we make mistakes like fools, bring us back,
O Goddess, through intelligence, raising our heart to what is appropriate.

Ninth Monthly Hymn to Bacchus
Father Bacchus, Parent of all souls provided with reason,
Be it the souls of the Sky-Gods, or the Dæmones,
Or our own, after Neptune the Lord,
Thou who art the cause of the movement led by the love for what is good
And by the ambition to what is best,
Allow us, every time we depart from good and divine acting
With unreasonable mind, to be immediately brought back through reason
And not to long act like fools regarding the good things around us.

Tenth Monthly Hymn to the Titans
Come! Let us celebrate the creator of the whole mortal nature:
Saturn the Lord, son of Jove,
The most ancient of the illegitimate born from Him,
The Titans of Tartarus, whom we celebrate with him,
All excellent, immune from accidents,
Though they are parents of mortal and ephemeral beings:
Venus, Saturn’s sacred wife,
Pan chief of animals, Ceres of plants,
Maid of our mortal part, and all the others.

Eleventh Monthly Hymn to Vulcan [Ἥφαιστος]
Vulcan, Lord, Thou who art the guide of the Gods who live above the sky,
Both the Olympian and the Tartarean Gods,
After Neptune of wide majesty,
Thou assignest to everyone his dominion and place,
Thou who art the cause for the whole of being itself
And bringest to everyone what is most eternal,
And so Neptune Himself does, because of His Father’s decisions;
Thou keepest watch on us too and let us, being born,
Stay always on the way of good acting.

Twelfth Monthly Hymn to the Dæmones
We celebrate the Dæmones too, together with other Immortals,
Venerable, close to us,
Because They well serve to the other superior Gods for what concerns us,
And they give us all the great number of goods
That come from Jove Himself through the other Gods.
So some of Them purifying us, others raising us,
Others keeping watch on us, They save us easily,
Raising our minds: be propitious!

Thirteenth Monthly Hymn to All the Gods
Jove the Greatest, who art superior to all other Gods,
Because Thou art the most ancient Creator and Father of All;
You too, Gods all, be Gods of the Olympus
or Gods of the Tartarus, Gods of the Sky or Gods of the Earth
Allow us, if we make an unacceptable mistake, or perform a wicked action,
Being so lowered by this, to get closer to Ye, excellent,
So that our life can become a blissful one.
O Jove, Thou above all, Thou who art the most powerful of all,
Thou who art both the first and the last Good.

_________________
"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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