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ALTHOUGH primarily addressed to Hestia, the hymn is equally in honour of Hermes. If the order of lines 9 f. is correct, Groddeck's inference is probably right, that “ναίετε δώματα καλά” alludes to the cult of the two deities in a common temple. Gemoll further supposes that here, as in xxiv, the hymn was sung at the dedication of a new temple. Baumeister's view, that the occasion was a feast in a private house, depends on the adoption of Martin's order of the lines, by which “δώματα καλά” is joined to “ἐπιχθονίων ἀνθρώπων”; but see on 9 f.

For the close connexion of Hestia and Hermes see PrellerRobert i. p. 423, Roscher Lex. i. 2649 f. Pheidias represented them as a pair on the basis of Olympian Zeus ( Paus.v. 11. 8). There was a hearth (“ἑστία”) in front of a statue of Hermes at Pharae, on which incense was offered before Hermes was consulted for omens ( Paus.viii. 22. 2 f.).

The origin of this connexion is not very clear; Preller sees a link in their relation to human life, Hestia representing quiet family life at home, while Hermes is the patron of the streets and ways, a god of active pursuits. According to others (e.g. Campbell Religion in Greek Lit. p. 119), the connexion is mainly local: Hermes, as the god of boundaries, is akin to the goddess of the house.

It is difficult to see why Gemoll should call the style of the hymn more lyric than epic; his theory of strophic arrangement (in stanzas of four lines) is also very dubious, and indeed breaks down, if we assume a lacuna after 9.

1-3. Cf. h. Aphr. 31, 32. For the form “Ἑστίη” see on h. Aphr. 22, xxiv. 1.

2 = Il. 5.442. “χαμαὶ ἐρχομένων” = “ἐπιχθονίων”, hence “τε” stands as third. The MSS. in Homer do not support Barnes' “ἑρπομένων”.

[3] ἀΐδιον: for the word see on xxxii. 1. There is of course no objection to the lengthening of the final syllable by the ictus.

ἔλαχες is clearly right, between the vocative in 1 and “σοῦ” in 4. “φέρβει” in xxx. 2 is no parallel, being preceded by the accusative “Γαῖαν. ἔλαχε” is due to the relative and its effect; cf. Il. 3.277, where for “ἠέλιος ὃς πάντ᾽ ἐφορᾷς καὶ πάντ᾽ ἐπακούειςpap. Brit. Mus. 126 has “εφοραεπακουει”.

Πρεσβηΐδα τιμ́ην: Hestia was the eldest daughter of Cronos, but Gemoll is no doubt right in understanding this as simply “high honour”; cf. h. Aphr. 32παρὰ πᾶσι βροτοῖσι θεῶν πρέσβειρα τέτυκται”.

[4] τιμ́ην: the repetition of the word in 3, 4 is in itself insufficient to warrant change at either place; but there is a further objection to the spondee at the pause in 4, where a bucolic diaeresis would be regular. The second “τιμήν” may therefore have ousted an adjective, as Baumeister and Gemoll suppose.

There is no difficulty in σοῦ, though followed in the same sentence by “Ἑστίῃ”; the proper name gives dignity, and also suggests the actual word used in the libation (6).

[5] Πρώτῃ Πυμάτῃ τε: the first libation was regularly offered to Hestia; hence the proverb “ἀφ᾽ Ἑστίας ἄρχεσθαι”, schol. on Vesp. 846, who quotes Chrys. (fr. 653) “ πρῷρα λοιβῆς Ἑστία” (so schol. on Pind. Nem.x. 6), and Euthyphro 3 A; cf. also Plat. Crat. 401B and D. Cf. Zenob. i. 40. The word “πυμάτῃ” is more difficult, as Hestia was not honoured in the last libation, at least in secular feasts. But “εἰλαπίναι” no doubt includes sacrificial feasts, at which the last, as well as the first, libation was poured to Hestai; cf. Cornut. de nat. deor. 28 “ἐν ταῖς θυσίαις οἱ Ἕλληνες ἀπὸ πρώτης τε αὐτῆς ἤρχοντο καὶ εἰς ἐσχάτην αὐτὴν κατέπαυσαν”. See Preuner Hestia-Vesta p. 3 f and his art. in Roscher Lex. i. 2605 f. In Rome, of course, Vesta had the last libation; Preuner thinks that the variation points to an indefiniteness in early “Aryan” custom: the Italian branch of the race chose the last place for their goddess, while the Greeks continued the Aryan practice, sometimes assigning both places to Hestia, but more often the first exclusively.

[6] ἀρχόμενος σπένδει: Gemoll's objection to this is unfounded; for the omission of “τις”, which is eased by the presence of the participle, cf. n. on h. Herm. 202.

[9] Martin's arrangement, by which 9 is transferred to follow 11, is accepted by several editors, but it involves several difficulties: (1) the translation is unmotived palaeographically; (2) the apodosis, which should include both Hestia and Hermes, is thus in the singular (“ἐπάρηγε”); (3) the sense becomes “you both dwell in the fair houses of men”; this hardly suits Hermes, who, though “προπύλαιος” etc. is not essentially a god of (in) the house. (4) The clause “ἔργματα καλά κτλ.” is left with an asyndeton, for “θ̓”, after the third word, can hardly be a copula to the clause. In the Oxford text a lacuna was assumed after 9, beginning with “εἰδότες”.

There is no great difficulty in “ναίετε” following “σύ”; the construction is ad sensum, Hestia being logically, though not grammatically, included in the subject of the verb.

[12] εἰδότες ἔργματα καλά: the deities give grace to all noble deeds; “εἰδότες”, like “συνειδότες”, implies “share in” or “give a “τέλος” to” the work. Baumeister compares (for Hermes) Orph. h. xxviii. 9 “ἐργασίαις ἐπαρωγέ”.

The following words are obscure, and possibly corrupt. ἕσπεσθε is presumably a gnomic aorist, although in form it might be imperative (“ἑσπέσθαι” for “σε-σπέσθαι”, a redupl. aor., cf. Leaf on Il. 5.423). The translation might be “you follow (men) with wisdom and strength (dat. of accompaniment); or perhaps “you follow their wisdom” etc., i.e. “watch and give increase to,” an amplification of “εἰδότες”. No reasonable correction has been proposed; Gemoll's “νόον θ̓, ἕσπεσθε καὶ ἡμῖν” is supported in sense by xxvii. 20, but is too violent.

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hide References (11 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (11):
    • Homer, Iliad, 3.277
    • Homer, Iliad, 5.423
    • Homer, Iliad, 5.442
    • Homeric Hymns, Hymn 4 to Hermes, 202
    • Homeric Hymns, Hymn 5 to Aphrodite, 22
    • Homeric Hymns, Hymn 5 to Aphrodite, 31
    • Homeric Hymns, Hymn 5 to Aphrodite, 32
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 5.11.8
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 8.22.2
    • Pindar, Nemean, 10
    • Plato, Cratylus, 401b
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