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The Homeric Hymns A New Prose translation and Essays, Literary and Mythological

Page: 42

Then, with a nod of his head, did Maia’s p. 162son vow that never would he steal the possessions of the Far-darter, nor draw nigh his strong dwelling. And Leto’s son made vow and band of love and alliance, that none other among the Gods should be dearer of Gods or men the seed of Zeus. [And I shall make, with thee, a perfect token of a Covenant of all Gods and all men, loyal to my heart and honoured.] {162a} “Thereafter shall I give thee a fair wand of wealth and fortune, a golden wand, three-pointed, which shall guard thee harmless, accomplishing all things good of word and deed that it is mine to learn from the voice of Zeus. {162b} But as touching the art prophetic, oh best of fosterlings of Zeus, concerning which thou inquirest, for thee it is not fit to learn that p. 163art, nay, nor for any other Immortal. That lies in the mind of Zeus alone. Myself did make pledge, and promise, and strong oath, that, save me, none other of the eternal Gods should know the secret counsel of Zeus. And thou, my brother of the Golden Wand, bid me not tell thee what awful purposes is planning the far-seeing Zeus.

“One mortal shall I harm, and another shall I bless, with many a turn of fortune among hapless men. Of mine oracle shall he have profit whosoever comes in the wake of wings and voice of birds of omen: he shall have profit of mine oracle: him I will not deceive. But whoso, trusting birds not ominous, approaches mine oracle, to inquire beyond my will, and know more than the eternal Gods, shall come, I say, on a bootless journey, yet his gifts shall I receive. Yet another thing will I tell thee, thou Son of renowned Maia and of Zeus of the Ægis, thou bringer of boon; there be certain Thriæ, sisters born, three maidens rejoicing in swift wings. Their heads are sprinkled with white barley flour, p. 164and they dwell beneath a glade of Parnassus, apart they dwell, teachers of soothsaying. This art I learned while yet a boy I tended the kine, and my Father heeded not. Thence they flit continually hither and thither, feeding on honeycombs and bringing all things to fulfilment. They, when they are full of the spirit of soothsaying, having eaten of the wan honey, delight to speak forth the truth. But if they be bereft of the sweet food divine, then lie they all confusedly. These I bestow on thee, and do thou, inquiring clearly, delight thine own heart, and if thou instruct any man, he will often hearken to thine oracle, if he have the good fortune. {164} These be thine, O Son of Maia, and the cattle of the field with twisted horn do thou tend, and horses, and toilsome mules. . . . And be lord over the burning eyes of lions, and white-toothed swine, and dogs, and sheep p. 165that wide earth nourishes, and over all flocks be glorious Hermes lord. And let him alone be herald appointed to Hades, who, though he be giftless, will give him highest gift of honour.”


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