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THE style of this hymn is so similar to that of the preceding, that Gemoll confidently attributes both to the same composer. For coincidences of language he points to 3, 10 in this hymn (see notes). More striking is the fact that the influence of the hymn to Apollo is probably to be seen here, as in the hymn to Artemis. Gemoll compares 15 with h. Apoll. 7, and 16 with h. Apoll. 12.

According to the earliest detailed version of the myth ( Theog. 886-900), Zeus swallowed Metis, who was already pregnant with Athena. The goddess then sprang from the head of Zeus (ib. 924-926). Hesiod says nothing of the agency of Hephaestus (or other god who assisted Zeus1) nor of an armed Athena. The schol. on Apoll. Arg. 4.1310 remarks that Stesichorus (whose poem is lost) first mentioned the panoply of the goddess at her birth. The scholiast passes over the hymn, of whose existence he was probably unaware, as he could hardly have had enough critical acumen to place a “Homeric” hymn later than the time of Stesichorus. The myth next appears in Pindar ( Ol.vii. 38), who describes the agency of Hephaestus, and the terror of Heaven and Earth at the loud cry of Athena.

For later accounts of the birth see Pauly-Wissowa s.v. “Athena” 1895 f.; Farnell Cults i. p. 280 f., and (from the “anthropo-logical” standpoint) Lang Myth Ritual and Religion ii. p. 242 f. It seems clear that the mention of the panoply, which is elaborated in the hymn (5, 6, and 15), is not part of the primitive myth; but this early became prominent in literature and art (cf. dial. deor. 8: imag. ii. 27). On archaic vases, down to the time of Pheidias, the usual type represents Zeus as sitting in the midst of gods, while Athena, a small armed figure, issues from his head (see vases in Brit. Mus. Β 147, 218, 244, 421, Ε 15, 410). Pheidias probably represented Athena as already born, either standing by the side of Zeus, or moving away from him, as in the well-known relief at Madrid (reproduced by Baumeister Denkm. fig. 172, and Frazer on Paus.i. 24. 5, where references to the recent literature on the subject are given). See Gardner Handbook Gk. Sculpture ii. p. 279 f.

[2] ἀμείλιχον Ἦτορ ἔχουσαν = Il. 9.572 (of Erinnys).

[3] Παρθένον αἰδοίηΝ: of Artemis, xxvii. 2.

ἐρυσίπτολιν: see on xi. 1.

[4] ΤριτογενΗ῀: Barnes' “Τριτογενέα” is unnecessary in this hymn; so “τεύχη” 15 (but “τεύχἐ” 5); cf. xxvii. 4. The form “Τριτογενής” is not Homeric.

αὐτός: cf. Il. 5.880 ἐπεὶ αὐτὸς ἐγείναο παῖδ᾽ ἀΐδηλον” (the only reference in Homer to the birth of Athena); Theog. 924 “αὐτὸς δ᾽ ἐκ κεφαλῆς γλαυκώπιδα γείνατ᾽ Ἀθήνην”. Cf. h. Apoll. 314, 323.

[7] Πρόσθεν: proleptic; “she sprang before Zeus, from his immortal head”; “Διός” is to be taken both with “πρόσθεν” and “καρήνου”. The poet may have had in mind representations of the scene after the type of the Madrid relief (see Introd.). The actual process of the birth is not described; and this, as Gemoll notes, may account for the omission of Hephaestus with his axe.

[9] For the terror of all Nature at the birth cf. Pind. Ol.vii. 38Οὐρανὸς δ᾽ ἔφριξέ νιν καὶ Γαῖα μάτηρ”. The upheaval of Nature is simply due to this stupendous scene. Later Greek rationalists gave a physical explanation of Athena's birth, and some modern mythologists (of the school of Preller, Max Müller, and Roscher) interpret Athena as a personification of thunder or lightning, or some other natural phenomenon; but it is certain that Hesiod, Pindar, and the hymn-writer have no idea of reading a physical interpretation into the myth (see Farnell l.c.). Compare the fear inspired by Artemis in the chase, xxvii. 6 f. Adami (p. 231) collects other examples.

[10] ὑΠὸ βρίμης: the manuscript reading “ὑπ᾽ ὀβρίμης” is scarcely defensible, as “ὄβριμος” has always “ι” short. It is true that certain adjectives have a medial lengthening on the analogy of “ὀπωρινός ἴφθιμος” (Schulze Q. E. p. 473), but there is no authority for extending the list, with Ilgen's obvious correction to hand. Agar believes that “ὀβρίμης” is the strict grammarian's correction of “ὀβρίμοο”; but it is improbable that the genitive in “-οο” was known to the author of this hymn. “βρίμη” does not occur in early epic, but cf.

ὑπόειξε δαμῆναι
Μηδείης βρίμῃ πολυφαρμάκου

(schol. “τῇ ἰσχύϊ”); so “Βριμώ, βριμώδης”, which seem to shew that “βρίμη” is not mere ‘strength,’ but connoted the idea of terror inspired by Athena; Hesych. also explains by “ἀπειλή”. For “δεινὸν ὑπὸ βρίμης” Gemoll compares xxvii. 8 “δεινὸν ὑπὸ κλαγγῆς”. On the derivation of “ὄβριμος” etc. see Johansson I. F. iii. 239 n.

[12] ἔσχετο: Baumeister's objection to this word, which he thinks a contradiction of “ἐκινήθη”, is unfounded; “ἔσχετο” is defended by “στῆσεν . . . ἵππους”. Nature was first upheaved by terror at the coming of Athena, and then her regular course was stopped; the sea was “stayed,” and no longer heat on the shore.

[13] At the birth of Athena represented on the eastern pediment of the Parthenon, Helios and his horses were sculptured at one end, and Selene in her chariot at the other. This scheme became common, e.g. on the base of the statue of Olympian Zeus depicting the birth of Aphrodite ( Paus.v. 11. 8). But the presence of the Sun and Moon gives only a local or temporal frame to these scenes; in the hymn the Sun stops miraculously, from terror. In Il. 18.241 f. Hera sends the Sun to Ocean before his time; so Athena prolongs the night, Od. 23.243 f. Cf. also the Sun's threat to disturb the course of nature, Od. 12.383.

In E. M. p. 474 s.v. “Ἱππία” the following explanation of the title is given: “ἐκλήθη οὕτως Ἀθηνᾶ, ἐπεὶ ἐκ τῆς κεφαλῆς τοῦ Διὸς μεθ᾽ ἵππων ἀνήλατο, ὡς ἐπ᾽ αὐτῆς ὕμνος δηλοῖ”. It is, however, plain that the lexicographer does not allude to the present hymn, as the horses belong to the Sun. Baum. notes that hymns to Athena were not uncommon; cf. Nub. 967 schol.

[14] The MS. reading “εἰσότε” is defended by Fuch die Temporalsätze mit den Konjunctionenbisundso lang als” Würzburg, 1902, p. 41. For the variant cf. Od. 24.134.

1 As Prometheus, Eur. Ion452.

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hide References (15 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (14):
    • Homer, Iliad, 18.241
    • Homer, Iliad, 5.880
    • Homer, Iliad, 9.572
    • Homer, Odyssey, 12.383
    • Homer, Odyssey, 23.243
    • Homer, Odyssey, 24.134
    • Homeric Hymns, Hymn 3 to Apollo, 12
    • Homeric Hymns, Hymn 3 to Apollo, 314
    • Homeric Hymns, Hymn 3 to Apollo, 7
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.24.5
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 5.11.8
    • Pindar, Olympian, 7
    • Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 4.1310
    • Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 4.1676
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
    • Euripides, Ion, 452
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