Homeric Hymn to Hestia and Hermes

Homeric Hymn to Hestia and Hermes
by Melissa Gold

Below are the links to two versions of the Homeric Hymn to Hestia, one recited and one sung. The pronunciation of both is Modern Greek, not ancient, because using Modern Greek allows it to be understood by our co-religionists in Modern Greece. If you know the Ancient (Erasmian) system of pronunciation, feel free to use it! The cadence of the poetry and the song would be the same; only some of the sounds would be different.

Homeric Hymn 29 to Hestia (sung in Greek):

Homeric Hymn 29 to Hestia (recited in Greek):

To help you follow (and perhaps memorize) the hymn, here is a transliteration of what is being said and sung. You can hear where to place the emphasis in the recitation and the song. Note that in epic meter (dactylic hexameter), the emphasis does not fall where the diacritical marks are placed in written Greek. Instead, emphasis is a product of the length of the vowels and combination of consonants after vowels.

Es-tee-a, ee pan-ton en do-ma-seen eep-see-lee-seen
a-tha-na-ton te the-on ha-me er-kho-me-non tan-thro-pon
e-dreen a-ee-dee-on e-la-khes, pres-vee-ee-da tee-meen,
ka-lon e-hou-sa ye-ras ke tee-mee-on; ou gar a-ter sou
ee-la-pee-ne thnee-tee-seen, een ou pro-tee pee-ma-tee te
Es-tee-a ar-ho-me-nos spen-dee me-lee-ee-de-a ee-non:
ke see mee, ar-yee-fon-da, Dee-os ke Me-a-dos ee-ye,
an-ge-le ton ma-ka-ron, hree-sor-ra-pee, do-tor e-a-on,
ee-la-os on e-pa-ree-ye seen e-dee-ee te fee-lee-te.
ne-e-te do-ma-ta ka-la, fee-la fre-seen al-lee-lee-seen
ee-do-tes; am-fo-te-ree gar e-peeh-tho-nee-on an-thro-pon
ee-do-tes erg-ma-ta ka-la no-o thes-pes-the ke ee-vee.
hye-re, Kro-nou thee-ga-ter, see te ke hree-sor-ra-pees Er-mees.

Notes: h = the guttural ch as in Scottish loch or German ich; e = e in bet and ee = ee in beet; the letter d in Modern Greek is pronounced like th in them. Usually, vt is pronounced like d in dog, but you will notice that I wasn’t consistent in that. The capitalized words are proper names.

You may wonder what is actually being said in this hymn. The Evelyn White translation is clear and in comfortable English:

“Hestia, in the high dwellings of all, both deathless gods and men who walk on earth, you have gained an everlasting abode and highest honour: glorious is your portion and your right. For without you mortals hold no banquet, –where one does not duly pour sweet wine in offering to Hestia both first and last.

“And you, Slayer of Argus, Son of Zeus and Maia, messenger of the blessed gods, bearer of the golden rod, giver of good, be favourable and help us, you and Hestia, the worshipful and dear. Come and dwell in this glorious house in friendship together; for you two, well knowing the noble actions of men, aid on their wisdom and their strength.

“Hail, Daughter of Cronos, and you also, Hermes, bearer of the golden rod!”

[translation from Hesiod, Homeric Hymns, Epic Cycle, Homerica; in Loeb # LCL 57, ed. Jeffrey Henderson, with an English translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White; Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England, 1914, 2002]

Note: line 14 of the Hymn (the final line) has been omitted for sense in ritual use. But it says: “Now I will remember you and another song also.”