Friday, October 7, 2011

Homeric Ode to Hermes

By dawn he was born,
By midday he played the lyre,
By evening, he stole the cattle
of far-reaching Apollo.
It was on that fourth day of the month
wherein lady Maia bore him.

When he leaped from the immortal knees of his mother,
Not long in the sacred cradle,
but sped forth to seek the cattle of Apollo,
crossing the threshold of the high-roofed cave.
There found he a tortoise, and won endless delight,
it was Hermes that first made of the tortoise a minstrel.

The creature met him at the outer door,
as she fed on the rich grass in front of the dwelling, waddling along, at sight whereof
the luck- bringing son of Zeus laughed,
and straightway spoke, saying:

"A lucky omen for me, not by me to be mocked!
Hail, darling and dancer, friend of the feast,
welcome are you!
Where did you get that garment,
a speckled shell, you, a mountain-dwelling tortoise?
I will carry thee within, and a boon shalt thou be to me,
not by me to be scorned, but you shall first serve my turn.
Best it is to bide at home, since danger is abroad.
While alive, you will be a protection from spells and witchery.
When you die, you will be a sweet music-maker."

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