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Theogony

By Hesiod

Translated by H.G. Eveyln-White

Part 1 (1-115)

(ll. 1-25) From the Heliconian Muses let us begin to sing, who
hold the great and holy mount of Helicon, and dance on soft feet
about the deep-blue spring and the altar of the almighty son of
Cronos, and, when they have washed their tender bodies in
Permessus or in the Horse's Spring or Olmeius, make their fair,
lovely dances upon highest Helicon and move with vigorous feet.
Thence they arise and go abroad by night, veiled in thick mist,
and utter their song with lovely voice, praising Zeus the aegis-
holder and queenly Hera of Argos who walks on golden sandals and
the daughter of Zeus the aegis-holder bright-eyed Athene, and
Phoebus Apollo, and Artemis who delights in arrows, and Poseidon
the earth-holder who shakes the earth, and reverend Themis and
quick-glancing (1) Aphrodite, and Hebe with the crown of gold,
and fair Dione, Leto, Iapetus, and Cronos the crafty counsellor,
Eos and great Helius and bright Selene, Earth too, and great
Oceanus, and dark Night, and the holy race of all the other
deathless ones that are for ever.  And one day they taught Hesiod
glorious song while he was shepherding his lambs under holy
Helicon, and this word first the goddesses said to me -- the
Muses of Olympus, daughters of Zeus who holds the aegis:

(ll. 26-28) `Shepherds of the wilderness, wretched things of
shame, mere bellies, we know how to speak many false things as
though they were true; but we know, when we will, to utter true
things.'

(ll. 29-35) So said the ready-voiced daughters of great Zeus, and
they plucked and gave me a rod, a shoot of sturdy laurel, a
marvellous thing, and breathed into me a divine voice to
celebrate things that shall be and things there were aforetime;
and they bade me sing of the race of the blessed gods that are
eternally, but ever to sing of themselves both first and last.
But why all this about oak or stone? (2)

(ll. 36-52) Come thou, let us begin with the Muses who gladden
the great spirit of their father Zeus in Olympus with their
songs, telling of things that are and that shall be and that were
aforetime with consenting voice. Unwearying flows the sweet
sound from their lips, and the house of their father Zeus the
loud-thunderer is glad at the lily-like voice of the goddesses as
it spread abroad, and the peaks of snowy Olympus resound, and the
homes of the immortals.  And they uttering their immortal voice,
celebrate in song first of all the reverend race of the gods from
the beginning, those whom Earth and wide Heaven begot, and the
gods sprung of these, givers of good things. Then, next, the
goddesses sing of Zeus, the father of gods and men, as they begin
and end their strain, how much he is the most excellent among the
gods and supreme in power. And again, they chant the race of men
and strong giants, and gladden the heart of Zeus within Olympus,
-- the Olympian Muses, daughters of Zeus the aegis-holder.

(ll. 53-74) Them in Pieria did Mnemosyne (Memory), who reigns
over the hills of Eleuther, bear of union with the father, the
son of Cronos, a forgetting of ills and a rest from sorrow.  For
nine nights did wise Zeus lie with her, entering her holy bed
remote from the immortals. And when a year was passed and the
seasons came round as the months waned, and many days were
accomplished, she bare nine daughters, all of one mind, whose
hearts are set upon song and their spirit free from care, a
little way from the topmost peak of snowy Olympus. There are
their bright dancing-places and beautiful homes, and beside them
the Graces and Himerus (Desire) live in delight. And they,
uttering through their lips a lovely voice, sing the laws of all
and the goodly ways of the immortals, uttering their lovely
voice. Then went they to Olympus, delighting in their sweet
voice, with heavenly song, and the dark earth resounded about
them as they chanted, and a lovely sound rose up beneath their
feet as they went to their father. And he was reigning in
heaven, himself holding the lightning and glowing thunderbolt,
when he had overcome by might his father Cronos; and he
distributed fairly to the immortals their portions and declared
their privileges.

(ll. 75-103) These things, then, the Muses sang who dwell on
Olympus, nine daughters begotten by great Zeus, Cleio and
Euterpe, Thaleia, Melpomene and Terpsichore, and Erato and
Polyhymnia and Urania and Calliope (3), who is the chiefest of
them all, for she attends on worshipful princes: whomsoever of
heaven-nourished princes the daughters of great Zeus honour, and
behold him at his birth, they pour sweet dew upon his tongue, and
from his lips flow gracious words. All the people look towards
him while he settles causes with true judgements: and he,
speaking surely, would soon make wise end even of a great
quarrel; for therefore are there princes wise in heart, because
when the people are being misguided in their assembly, they set
right the matter again with ease, persuading them with gentle
words. And when he passes through a gathering, they greet him as
a god with gentle reverence, and he is conspicuous amongst the
assembled: such is the holy gift of the Muses to men.  For it is
through the Muses and far-shooting Apollo that there are singers
and harpers upon the earth; but princes are of Zeus, and happy is
he whom the Muses love: sweet flows speech from his mouth. For
though a man have sorrow and grief in his newly-troubled soul and
live in dread because his heart is distressed, yet, when a
singer, the servant of the Muses, chants the glorious deeds of
men of old and the blessed gods who inhabit Olympus, at once he
forgets his heaviness and remembers not his sorrows at all; but
the gifts of the goddesses soon turn him away from these.

(ll. 104-115) Hail, children of Zeus!  Grant lovely song and
celebrate the holy race of the deathless gods who are for ever,
those that were born of Earth and starry Heaven and gloomy Night
and them that briny Sea did rear.  Tell how at the first gods and
earth came to be, and rivers, and the boundless sea with its
raging swell, and the gleaming stars, and the wide heaven above,
and the gods who were born of them, givers of good things, and
how they divided their wealth, and how they shared their honours
amongst them, and also how at the first they took many-folded
Olympus. These things declare to me from the beginning, ye Muses
who dwell in the house of Olympus, and tell me which of them
first came to be.

Hesiod - Theogony Table of Contents

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