Callimachus

(310/305 BC / Cyrene, Ancient Libya)

Hymn to Jupiter - Poem by Callimachus

Whilst we to Jove immortal and divine,
Perform the rites, and pour the ruddy wine;
What shall the Muse, with sacred rapture sing,
But Jove th' almighty and eternal king,
Who from high heav'n, with bursting thunder, hurl'd
The sons of earth, and awes th' ætherial world!
But say, thou first and greatest pow'r above!
Shall I Dictæan or Lycæan Jove
Attempt to sing?... Who knows thy mighty line?
And who can tell, except by pow'r divine,
If Ida's hills thy sacred birth may claim,
Or far Arcadia boast an equal fame?
The Cretans, prone to fasehood, vaunt in vain,
And impious! built thy tomb on Dicte's plain;
For Jove, th' immortal king, shall never die,
But reign o'er men and Gods above the sky.
In high Parrhafia Rhea bore the God,
Where gloomy forests on the mountains nod;
And hence such awful horror guards the grove,
Made holy by the glorious birth of Jove,
That now no teeming female dares presume
To bear her young amid the hallowed gloom:
Nor beast nor insect shall approach the shade,
Nor matron chaste invoke Lucina's aid
Within the dark recess, still known to fame,
And Rheas ancient bed th' Arcadians name.

Soon as her womb discharged the mighty load,
She fought a spring to bath the new-born God,
But in Parrhasia yet no stream appears,
Tho' fam'd for num'rous rills in after-years;
And when the Pow'r ungirt her spacious breast,
The dusty fields displayed a barren waste.
Nor yet broad Ladon flow'd, the plains to lave,
Nor Erymanthus pour'd his limpid wave;
Wide branching oaks Ïasus' channel shade,
And chariots roll on Mela's sandy bed:
Unnumbered savage beasts securely throng,
Where now deep Carion swiftly glides along;
A thirsty swain amid the wilds might go
Where chrystal Cratis and Metopè flow,
Nor find a spring; but still, with wonder, hear
Th' imprison'd water murm'ring on his ear.

The venerable Goddess, thus distress'd,
With awful voice the pregnant earth address'd;
Slight are the pangs, O friendly Pow'r, she said,
Bring forth like me to give thy suppliant aid:
She rais'd her mighty arm as thus she spoke,
And with her sceptre, struck the solid rock;
Wide at the blow, the yawning mountain rent,
The floods impetuous issued from the vent,
And pour'd along the ground in swelling streams,
Where soon she bath'd Jove's beauteous infant-limbs.
Thy body cleans'd, and wrapt in purple bands,
She gave the precious pledge to Neda's hands,
And much enjoin'd her, with a mother's care,
To seek the Cretan cave and hide thee there.
For she was first-born of the beauteous maids
That nurs'd the Thund'rer in the gloomy shades,
Save Styx and Philyrè; from whence she gain'd
More high rewards than virgin e'er obtain'd:
For Neda's name the grateful Goddess gave
To this most ancient stream, whose rolling wave
With force impetuous pours along the plain,
And near the walls of Leprium meets the main;
The sons of Arcas hear the waters roar,
And drink the sacred flood, and crowd the shore.

Thee, mighty Jove, the nymph to Thenæ bore,
And thence to Gnossus on the Cretan shore,
But first at Thenæ, cur'd thy recent wound;
Cydonians hence Omphalè nam'd the ground.
The nymphs of Dicte with encircling arms,
Embrac'd thee blooming in immortal charms;
The fair Adraste next thy care began,
And laid thy Godhead in a golden van.
On Ida's hills the goat Amalthea bred,
There gave thee suck; and mountain-honey fed,
From bees that o'er the cliffs, appear in swarms,
Prepare their waxen domes with hoarse alarms,
Collect the sweets of every fragrant flow'r,
And on thy lips distil th' ambrosial show'r.

The fierce Curetes circle o'er the ground
In warlike dance, and beat their shields around,
That Saturn, for thy cries, might hear alone
The clang of armour on his distant throne,

Away thy infant years thus quickly flew,
Thy pow'r appearing as thy stature grew,
And soon thou glow'st with ev'ry youthful grace,
And soon soft down o'erspreads thy beauteous face;
Jove, yet a child, the prize of wisdom bears
From both his brothers in maturer years:
And both agreed that th' empire of high heav'n,
Tho' theirs by birthright, should to Jove be giv'n.
Yet ancient poets idle fictions tell
That lots were cast for heav'n, for earth, and hell,
Our ears thus flatt'ring with amusive tales;
Wit pleases oft'ner than fair truth prevails.
None trust blind chance their fortunes to decide,
Unless for equal prizes lots are try'd;
And who prefers the dark infernal bow'rs
To heav'ns gay courts and bright ætherial tow'rs?
Chance plac'd not Jove in these divine abodes;
Thy pow'r, thy wisdom, made thee King of Gods!
Then first thy bird excell'd th' aërial kind,
Thy mandates waited and reveal'd thy mind;
Now through the skies, at thy command he springs,
And bears celestial aug'ry on his wings.
All-gracious-pow'r! protect the friends I love,
And fend them fav'ring omens from above.

Lo! rob'd in purple, yonder shining bands
Of chosen youths whom Jove himself commands;
Not those who tempt the seas in search of grain,
Or join fierce combat on the dusty plain,
Invent the dance or raise the tuneful song;
These meaner cares t' inferior Gods belong;
But those to whom imperial pow'r is giv'n,
Jove's favour'd sons, the delegates of heav'n,
Whom seamen, soldiers, merchants, bards obey,
And wide extended empires own their sway.

The rough artificer owns Vulcan's pow'r,
And hardy soldiers warlike Mars adore;
The man who swift pursues the savage brood,
Invokes Diana, huntress of the wood,
And he, who strikes the Lyre's resounding strings
With skilful hand, from bright Apollo springs,
But kings from Jove; except the royal line
No rank on earth approaches to divine:
Their sacred pow'r descends from mighty Jove,
And he protects them from high heav'n above.
Besides from him the pow'r of judges springs,
And governors the substitutes of kings;
He guards the city, o'er the state presides,
Rewards the governor and ruin keeps in store,
For partial judges that abuse their pow'r.

Tho' mighty Jove! thy scepter'd sons obtain
Abundant wealth, and means of glory gain,
Yet all receive not, by thy great decree,
An equal share of splendid pomp from thee;
For warlike Philadelphus reigns alone,
And pow'r supreme supports his sacred throne:
Glad evening still beholds the vast designs
Compleat, to which his morning thought inclines,
Beholds compleat in one revolving sun,
What others, in long ages, but begun.
For Jove, in wrath, makes other kings to mourn
Their counsels blasted, and their hopes forlorn.

Hail! Mighty King; hail! great Saturnian Jove,
Who fends life, health, and safety from above;
Thy glorious acts transcending human tongue,
Nor were, nor shall by mortal bard be sung!
O, from thy bright abodes, let blessings flow;
Grant wealth, grant virtue to mankind below:
For we with wealth, are not completely blest,
And virtue fails when wealth is unpossess'd;
Then grant us both; for these united prove
The choicest blessing man receives from Jove.

Topic(s) of this poem: mythology


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, December 10, 2015



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