Sphinx Icon

The Hermetic Fellowship Website
is optimized for viewing with the Netscape browser.
If you aren’t using Netscape, you are missing
much of the ambiance of this site (and many others on the Web)...

This page is copyright © 1999 Hermetic Fellowship.
Illustration copyright © 1999 Adam P. Forrest.

Last updated on 13 November, 1999 CE.

MacMade UCS Blue Ribbon

Orpheus pros Mousaion· Orpheus to Musaios

Image: Orpheus

The first of the 88 surviving Orphic Hymns is entitled Orpheus pros Mousaion (“Orpheus to Mousaios”), and is a general invocation of the Orphic Pantheon, in the literary form of a ritual instruction by Orpheus to his bardic son and heir Mousaios.
—Adam Forrest

Sphinx Icon

The Thomas Taylor Translation (1792):
To Musaeus

Attend Musaeus to my sacred song,
And learn what rites to sacrifice belong.
Jove I invoke, the earth, and solar light,
The moon’s pure splendor, and the stars of night;
Thee Neptune, ruler of the sea profound, 5
Dark-hair’d, whose waves begirt the solid ground;
Ceres abundant, and of lovely mien,
And Proserpine infernal Pluto’s queen;
The huntress Dian, and bright Phoebus rays,
Far-darting God, the theme of Delphic praise; 10
And Bacchus, honour’d by the heav’nly choir,
And raging Mars, and Vulcan god of fire;
The mighty pow’r who rose from foam to light,
And Pluto potent in the realms of night;
With Hebe young, and Hercules the strong, 15
And you to whom the cares of births belong:
Justice and Piety august I call,
And much-fam’d nymphs, and Pan the god of all.
To Juno sacred, and to Mem’ry fair,
And the chaste Muses I address my pray’r; 20
The various year, the Graces, and the Hours,
Fair-hair’d Latona, and Dione’s pow’rs;
Armed Curetes, household Gods I call,
With those who spring from Jove the king of all:
Th’ Idaean Gods, the angel of the skies, 25
And righteous Themis, with sagacious eyes;
With ancient night, and day-light I implore,
And Faith, and justice dealing right adore;
Saturn and Rhea, and great Thetis too,
Hid in a veil of bright celestial blue: 30
I call great Ocean, and the beauteous train
Of nymphs, who dwell in chambers of the main;
Atlas the strong, and ever in its prime,
Vig’rous Eternity, and endless Time;
The Stygian pool, and placid Gods beside, 35
And various Genii, that o’er men preside;
Illustrious Providence, the noble train
Of daemon forms, who fill th’ aetherial plain;
Or live in air, in water, earth, or fire,
Or deep beneath the solid ground retire. 40
Bacchus and Semele the friends of all,
And white Leucothea of the sea I call;
Palaemon bounteous, and Adrastria great,
And sweet-tongu’d Victory, with success elate;
Great Esculapius, skill’d to cure disease, 45
And dread Minerva, whom fierce battles please;
Thunders and winds in mighty columns pent,
With dreadful roaring struggling hard for vent;
Attis, the mother of the pow’rs on high,
And fair Adonis, never doomd to die, 50
End and beginning he is all to all,
These with propitious aid I gently call;
And to my holy sacrifice invite,
The pow’r who reigns in deepest hell and night;
I call Einodian Hecate, lovely dame, 55
Of earthly, wat’ry, and celestial frame,
Sepulchral, in a saffron veil array’d,
Pleas’d with dark ghosts that wander thro’ the shade;
Persian, unconquerable huntress hail!
The world’s key-bearer never doom’d to fall; 60
On the rough rock to wander thee delights,
Leader and nurse be present to our rites;
Propitious grant our just desires success,
Accept our homage, and the incense bless.

Sphinx Icon

of Thomas Taylor

Note 1.
As these Hymns, though full of the most recondite antiquity, have never yet been commented on by any one, the design of the following notes is to elucidate, as much as possible, their concealed meaning, and evince their agreement with the Platonic philosophy. Hence they will be wholly of the philosophic kind: for they who desire critical and philological information will meet with ample satisfaction in the notes of the learned Gesner, to his excellent edition of the Orphic Remains.
The present Introduction to Musaeus, the son of Orpheus, is, as Gesner observes, a summary of the work, without being servilely confined to the exact number of divinities: and the reader will please to observe through the whole of these Hymns, that the Orphic method of instruction consists in signifying divine concerns by symbols alone. And here it will be necessary to speak of philosophical mythology; as an accurate conception of its nature will throw a general light on the Hymns, and, I hope, contribute to the dispersion of that gloom in which this sublime subject has been hitherto involved, through the barbarous systems of modern mythologists. Proclus then, on Plato’s Republic, p. 170, observes, that there are two kinds of fables: one, accommodated to puerile institution, but the other full of divine fury, which regards universal nature more than the ingenuity of the auditors. He then observes that the hearers of fables are likewise to be distinguished: for some are of a puerile and simple ingenuity; but others are capable of rising higher, and of estimating intellectually the genera of the Gods, their progressions through all nature, and their various orders, which are extended to the utmost bounds of the universe. Hence, says he, having distributed both fables and the hearers of fables into two parts, we cannot allow that the fables of Homer and Hesiod are accommodated to puerile institution; since they follow the nature and order of the universe, and unite with true beings such minds as are capable of being elevated to divine considerations.
Indeed nature herself, fabricating the images of intelligible essences, and of ideas totally destitute of matter, pursues this design by many and various ways. For by parts she imitates things destitute of all parts, eternal natures by such as are temporal, intelligibles by sensibles, simple essences by such as are mixt, things void of quantity by dimensions, and things stable by unceasing mutations: all which she endeavours to express as much as she is able, and as much as the aptitude of appearances will permit. Now the authors of fables, having perceived this proceeding of nature, by inventing resemblances and images of divine concerns in their verses, imitated the exalted power of exemplars by contrary and most remote adumbrations: that is, by shadowing forth the excellency of the nature of the Gods by preternatural concerns: a power more divine than all reason, by such as are irrational: a beauty superior to all that is corporeal by things apparently base, and by this means placed before our eyes the excellence of divinity, which far exceeds all that can possibly be invented or said. After this, in another place of the same excellent work, he gives us some instances of the occult significations of fables: previously observing that those names which among us denote a worse condition of being, and have a worse signification, when applied to divine concerns, denote in the figments of the poets, a more excellent nature and power. Thus a bond among men is the impediment and retention of action: but in divine concerns it insinuates a conjunction and ineffable union with causes; and hence the Saturnian bonds signify the union of the demiurgus of the universe with the intelligible and paternal excellence of Saturn. A falling and precipitation signifies with us a violent motion; but in divine concerns, it indicates a prolific progression, and a presence every where loosened and free, which does not desert its proper principle, but depending from it pervades through every order. After this manner, the precipitation of Vulcan intimates the progression of divinity from the highest principle to the extreme artificers of sensible things; which process is moved, perfected, and deduced from the first demiurgus and parent. Thus too castration in bodies which are composed from parts and matter brings on a diminution of power: but in primary causes it shadows forth the progression of such as arc secondary into a subject order: since primary causes revolve and produce the powers placed in their essences, yet are neither moved through the egression of secondaries, nor diminished by their separation, nor divided by the laceration of inferiors.
Note 2. Jo. Diac. Allegor. ad Hesiodi Theog. p. 268. cites this line, upon which, and Hymn LXXI. 3. he observes, Heuriskô, ton Orphea kai tên TYCHÊN ARTEMIN prosagoreuonta, alla kai tên SELÊNÊN HEKATÊN, i.e., "I find that Orpheus calls Fortune Artemis, or Diana, and also the Moon, Hecate."
Note 3. Diodorus informs us that Diana, who is to be understood by this epithet, was very much worshipped by the Persians, and that this goddess was called Persæa in his Time. See more concerning this epithet in Gyrald. Syntag. ii. p. 361.

If you have enjoyed this site, don't forget to bookmark it
in your browser or add it to the Links at your website.

Sphinx Icon

Back Return to the Hermetic Fellowship Home Page