Sunday, March 13, 2011


Homeric Hymn to the Dioskouroi

Bright-eyed Muses, fall into song
Concerning the strapping sons robust
Of Zeus. The Tyndaridai.

Born of fair-ankled Leda.
Beautiful shining children.
Kastor who overcomes horses
And Polydeuces,
Sea-green incorruptible.

Upon the summit of Taygetus
The cloud-clad son of Cronos
Mixed in love, mingled in friendship,
And she gave birth. Two children,
Saviours upon the mortal
Ones who haunt the earth,
And of the quick-going ships
That speed stormy winter winds
Of seas implacable.

And from their ships
They call upon, they invoke,
With white sheep, the sons of Zeus.
Poised upon the stern, upon the stormy sea.

With the strong gale and the waves of the sea,
The ship begins to slip under the water.

Suddenly! They come to light.
Nimble golden brown wings
Whirring, thrilling. At once the trials
Raised by the winds are brought to an end.
The squally waves calmed,
Glassy is the white-salt sea.

The signs are good, the toil is over.
For they saw, and they rejoiced,
Their sufferings are over.

Hail Tyndaridai!
Quick-riding horsemen.
Always will I remember,
Always will I sing.

Kastor - the beaver
Polydeuces - very sweet

Kastor and Polydeuces - the twins. The pair that we call Castor and Pollux. Sons of Zeus, hence the name Dios-Kouroi Sons of Zeus. Brothers to the City Destroying Helen and Clytemnestra. Sons also to Tyndareus. Their mother was Leda, who spawned an egg and from this egg came the sons, one of whom was immortal, and the other was mortal. This leads to some conflicting accounts of how they shared the immortality, some tales say that they alternated days between mortal and immortal.

The pair had a special cult in Sparta, and some say this is the origin of the Sparta system of having two kings. This may or may not be true, it may be that Sparta came up with the idea of two kings and then looked for a religious explanation. Either way the sons were protectors of humans, and in particular they protected sailors, in the quick-going ships. This is the basis for this hymn. The Disokouroi protect the ship, arriving at the last moment in response to the supplications of the navigators. The pair are identified with St Elmo's fire, and this is how they appear in the poem. They calm the seas and the sailors are happy.

Amometos - Blameless, but here I gave it maybe a bit more, and used the epitaph given to Robespierre, sea green incorruptible. It sounded nicer.

Okyporos - The swift-sailing, or fast going. Describing the ships that the sons of Zeus protect.

Ameilichon - Implacable, or more literally, not gentle.

Echapines - Suddenly, how the twins appear to the supplicating sailors.
Ephanesan - To bring to light, to show, but also to shine. This sudden bringing to light represents the twins appearing at the last minute to save the sinking ship. It has connotations of an epiphany, in this cause the sudden coming into being of the power of the gods.

Chouthos - The colors yellow-brown, this describes the wings of the Disokouroi. It is also the word that is used to describe the bumblebee. Later it is meant to describe the thrilling, humming sound (I assume of bees). The twins are like busy bees flying here and there around the top most part of the mast, remembering how they were identified with St Elmo's fire. Here I wanted to try to invoke the bussing humming sound of the static electricity glowing on the mast in the storm.

the pic is from

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