For those of you who, like me, are not blessed with the ability to write poetry beyond the level of an eight-grader, or for those who simply wish to draw they eyes of the Theoi by reciting poetry--or actually singing the hymns if your mastery of the Greek language allows it--which is familiar to Them, hymns form a wonderful addition to your practice. The oldest, and most well know, of the hymns are undoubtedly the Homeric ones, with the Orphic ones a close second, but there are many more out there.

  • Homeric Hymns - a collection of thirty-three Hellenic hexameter poems in epic style well known from Hómēros' Iliad and Odysseia. They range in length from three to five-hundred lines, and were composed in various time periods, by a variety of--now largely anonymous--authors. Hómēros might have actually written some of them, Pamphos might have penned the 'Hymn to Demeter', and Cynaethus of Chios might have penned the 'Hymn to Apollon'. Most of the poems were written between 800 and 300 BC, a few of the shorter poems are clearly from the Hellenistic (third or second century BC) period, and the Hymn to Ares was probably added to the whole in Roman times. Who actually combined the thirty-three is unclear. The first and second hymns ('To Dionysos', and 'To Demeter') were lost for a long time, until a chance discovery in Moscow in 1777 unearthed a fifteenth century manuscript with the two poems largely intact. The 'Hymn to Apollon' was noted down on the walls of Artemis' temple at Delos, and was most likely a large part of the festivals held there for Apollon. For all Homeric Hymns, go here.
  • Orphic Hymns - a collection of eighty-seven short religious poems composed in either the late Hellenistic or early Roman (first or second century AD) era. They are based on the beliefs of Orphism, a mystery cult or religious philosophy which claimed descent from the teachings of the mythical hero Orpheus. The Mysteries were mostly connected to Demeter, Persephone, life after death and reincarnation. From the Orphic Hymns also comes a list of which incenses to offer to which deity. For all Orphic Hymns, go here.
  • Hymns of Kallimachos (Καλλίμαχος) - a lesser known collection of poems, written by Kallimachos of Kyrēnē (Κυρήνη, Cyrene), who was a Hellenic poet and scholar of the Library of Alexandria. He rose to greatness around the third century BC and was the author of a large number of works. Unfortunately, only six hymns and sixty-three epigrams have survived to this day. Kallimachos despised the 'outdated' poetry type of Hómēros and wrote many testimonials against it. His hymns are, therefor, different to the eye than the Homeric and Orphic ones. For the complete hymns, go here.
  • Delphic Hymns - two musical compositions from ancient Hellas, dating back to 128 BC. They were recovered from the walls of the treasury of Apollon at Delphi, and were most likely performed in His worship at the Pythian festival. The first of the hymns was written and composed by Athenios, son of Athenios, the second by Limenios, son of Thoinos. For the first hymn, go here, for the second, go here.
  • Hymns of Proklos - Proclus (Πρόκλος) was a Greek Neoplatonist philosopher, one of the last major Classical philosophers. He was alive from 8 February 412 AD to 17 April 485 AD), and while a very late addition to this list, he wrote five beatiful hymns about the Roman Gods, which can be interpreted for the Hellenic ones as well. The surviving works consist of two hymns to Venus (Aphrodite), one to the Sun (Helios), one to the Muses, and one to Minerva (Athena). The surviving hymns can be found here, in both Greek and English.
  • Hymns of Mesomedes - Mesomedes of Krete (Μεσομήδης ὁ Κρής) was a Roman-era Hellenic lyric poet and composer of the early second century AD.  He was a freedman and court musician to the emperor Hadrian (reigned 117-138 CE), and created  three hymns and fifteen poems which have survived to this day. The hymns to Nemesis, the muse Calliope, and the Sun can be read here and listened to here. I am partial to this translation of the 'Hymn to Nemesis'.
  • Hymn to Aphrodite - This most wonderful hymn was written by Sappho (Σαπφώ) as she was struggling with love. It's unique in that it shows both petitioner and Aphrodite Herself. I am partial to this translation.