Proclus’ Hymn VIII: ‘To Ares’
‘God Mars declares peace’, 2015 artwork by Jivan Camoirano.
Today’s sharing from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA, is taken from Martin Litchfield West’s edition of the ‘Homeric Hymns’, Loeb Classical Library, 2003. In his introduction, professor West writes: ‘Hymn VIII is a late intruder among the ‘Homeric Hymns’, as it has long been recognized. It is probably the work of the Neoplatonist Proclus (fifth century, C.E.) and has through some accident migrated here from the collection of his ‘Hymns’, which in the middle age were transmitted in company with the ‘Homeric Hymns’, the ‘Orphic Hymns’, and the ‘Hymns’ of Callimachus.’ To discover further, an article explores this in deep: ”The Eighth Homeric Hymn and Proclus by M. L. West published in ‘The Classical Quarterly’, New Series, Vol. 20, No. 2 (Nov., 1970), pp. 300-304’Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Classical Association. For discovering Proclus’ ‘Hymns, we recommend Robbert Maarten van den Berg’s edition, ‘Proclus’ Hymns, essays, translations, commentary.’ Brill, 2001.
‘Homeric Hymn VIII’ in Martin Litchfield West’s English translation
‘Ares haughty in spirit, heavy on chariot, golden-helmed; grim-hearted, shield-bearer, city-savior, bronze armored; tough of arm, untiring, spear-strong, bulwark of Olympus; father of Victory in the good fight, ally of Law; oppressor of the rebellious, leader of righteous; sceptred king of manliness, as you wheel your fiery circle around the seven coursing lights of the ether, where your flaming steeds ever keep you up on the third orbit*; hearken, helper of mankind, giver of brave young manhood, and gleam down your kindly flare from high into my life, and martial strength, so that I might chase bitter wickedness away from my head, deflect the soul-deceiving impulse in my thoughts, and restraint the sharp force of appetite that provokes me to embark on chill conflict. Blessed one, grant me courage to abide by the innocuous principles of peace, escaping battle with my enemies and the perils of violence!’
Note: *Ares is identified as the red planet Mars. In the ancient view Mars was the third of the seven ‘planets’, counting inwards from the outer firmament. The orbit of Jupiter and Saturn lay beyond his, while those of Mercury, Venus, the Sun, and the Moon were closer to the earth.
‘Ἆρες ὑπερμενέτα, βρισάρματε, χρυσεοπήληξ,
ὀβριμόθυμε, φέρασπι, πολισσόε, χαλκοκορυστά,
καρτερόχειρ, ἀμόγητε, δορισθενές, ἕρκος Ὀλύμπου,
Νίκης εὐπολέμοιο πάτερ, συναρωγὲ Θέμιστος,
5ἀντιβίοισι τύραννε, δικαιοτάτων ἀγὲ φωτῶν,
ἠνορέης σκηπτοῦχε, πυραυγέα κύκλον ἑλίσσων
αἰθέρος ἑπταπόροις ἐνὶ τείρεσιν, ἔνθα σε πῶλοι
ζαφλεγέες τριτάτης ὑπὲρ ἄντυγος αἰὲν ἔχουσι:
κλῦθι, βροτῶν ἐπίκουρε, δοτὴρ εὐθαρσέος ἥβης,
10πρηὺ καταστίλβων σέλας ὑψόθεν ἐς βιότητα
ἡμετέρην καὶ κάρτος ἀρήιον, ὥς κε δυναίμην
σεύασθαι κακότητα πικρὴν ἀπ᾽ ἐμοῖο καρήνου,
καὶ ψυχῆς ἀπατηλὸν ὑπογνάμψαι φρεσὶν ὁρμήν,
θυμοῦ αὖ μένος ὀξὺ κατισχέμεν, ὅς μ᾽ ἐρέθῃσι
15φυλόπιδος κρυερῆς ἐπιβαινέμεν: ἀλλὰ σὺ θάρσος
δός, μάκαρ, εἰρήνης τε μένειν ἐν ἀπήμοσι θεσμοῖς
δυσμενέων προφυγόντα μόθον Κῆράς τε βιαίους.’