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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Hymn to Jupiter

By Callimachus (c. 310–240 B.C.)

Translation of Fitzjames T. Price

AT Jove’s high festival, what song of praise

Shall we his suppliant adorers sing?

To whom may we our pæans rather raise

Than to himself, the great Eternal King,

Who by his nod subdues each earth-born thing;

Whose mighty laws the gods themselves obey?

But whether Crete first saw the Father spring,

Or on Lycæus’s mount he burst on day,

My soul is much in doubt, for both that praise essay.

Some say that thou, O Jove, first saw the morn

On Cretan Ida’s sacred mountain-side;

Others that thou in Arcady wert born:

Declare, Almighty Father—which have lied?

Cretans were liars ever: in their pride

Have they built up a sepulchre for thee;

As if the King of Gods and men had died,

And borne the lot of frail mortality.

No! thou hast ever been, and art, and aye shalt be.

Thy mother bore thee on Arcadian ground,

Old Goddess Rhea, on a mountain’s height;

With bristling bramble-thickets all around

The hallowed spot was curiously dight;

And now no creature under heaven’s light,

From lovely woman down to things that creep,

In need of Ilithyia’s holy rite,

May dare approach that consecrated steep,

Whose name of Rhea’s birth-bed still Arcadians keep.

Fair was the promise of thy childhood’s prime,

Almighty Jove! and fairly wert thou reared:

Swift was thy march to manhood: ere thy time

Thy chin was covered by the manly beard;

Though young in age, yet wert thou so revered

For deeds of prowess prematurely done,

That of thy peers or elders none appeared

To claim his birthright;—heaven was all thine own,

Nor dared fell Envy point her arrows at thy throne.

Poets of old do sometimes lack of truth;

For Saturn’s ancient kingdom, as they tell,

Into three parts was split, as if forsooth

There were a doubtful choice ’twixt Heaven and Hell

To one not fairly mad;—we know right well

That lots are cast for more equality;

But these against proportion so rebel

That naught can equal her discrepancy;

If one must lie at all—a lie like truth for me!

No chance gave thee the sovranty of heaven;

But to the deeds thy good right hand had done,

And thine own strength and courage, was it given;

These placed thee first, still keep thee on thy throne.

Thou took’st the goodly eagle for thine own,

Through whom to men thy wonders are declared;

To me and mine propitious be they shown!

Through thee by youth’s best flower is heaven shared—

Seamen and warriors heed’st thou not, nor e’en the bard:

These be the lesser gods’ divided care—

But kings, great Jove, are thine especial dow’r;

They rule the land and sea; they guide the war—

What is too mighty for a monarch’s pow’r?

By Vulcan’s aid the stalwart armorers show’r

Their sturdy blows—warriors to Mars belong—

And gentle Dian ever loves to pour

New blessings on her favored hunter throng—

While Phœbus aye directs the true-born poet’s song.

But monarchs spring from Jove—nor is there aught

So near approaching Jove’s celestial height,

As deeds by heav’n-elected monarchs wrought.

Therefore, O Father, kings are thine of right,

And thou hast set them on a noble height

Above their subject cities; and thine eye

Is ever on them, whether they delight

To rule their people in iniquity,

Or by sound government to raise their name on high.

Thou hast bestowed on all kings wealth and power,

But not in equal measure—this we know,

From knowledge of our own great Governor,

Who stands supreme of kings on earth below.

His morning thoughts his nights in actions show;

His less achievements when designed are done

While others squander years in counsels slow;

Not rarely when the mighty seeds are sown,

Are all their air-built hopes by thee, great Jove, o’erthrown.

All hail, Almighty Jove! who givest to men

All good, and wardest off each evil thing.

Oh, who can hymn thy praise? he hath not been,

Nor shall he be, that poet who may sing

In fitting strain thy praises—Father, King,

All hail! thrice hail! we pray to thee, dispense

Virtue and wealth to us, wealth varying—

For virtue’s naught, mere virtue’s no defense;

Then send us virtue hand in hand with competence.