What I love most about Hellenismos is the treasure trove of ancient texts at our disposal. This wisdom, information, and simple insights into daily life or ritual worship help us form our practice, and shape our world views. As I try to devote as much time to research for this blog and my personal practice as I can responsibly spare, I come across many of these gems in scholarly notes, or straight there by way of Google. Today's beautiful text, however, comes courtesy of my good friend and fellow core member of Elaion, Robert Clark. In many of our PAT rituals that honour Zeus, he includes this text to recite. It was written by Aratos, and comes from his excellent Phaenomena.

Aratos of Soli (Ἄρᾱτος ὁ Σολεύς) was a Hellenic poet who flourished in Macedonia in the early third century BC. His major extant work is his hexameter poem Phaenomena (Φαινόμενα, 'Appearances'), the first half of which is a verse setting of a lost work of the same name by Eudoxus of Cnidus. It describes the constellations and other celestial phenomena. The second half is called the Diosemeia (Διοσημεῖα, 'Forecasts'), and is chiefly about weather lore. Although Aratos was somewhat ignorant of Hellenic astronomy, his poem was very popular in the Hellenic and Roman world, as is proved by the large number of commentaries and Latin translations, some of which survive.

Aratos kicks off his Phaenomena off with something of a hymn to Zeus, a bit of text to praise the King of the Gods which has become a favourite of Robert and I. Enjoy!

Aratos - Hymn to Zeus
From the Phaenomena, translated by G. R. Mair

From Zeus let us begin;
him do we mortals never leave unnamed;
full of Zeus are all the streets and all the market-places of men;
full is the sea and the havens thereof;
always we all have need of Zeus.

For we are also his offspring;
and he in his kindness unto men giveth favorable signs
and wakeneth the people to work, reminding them of livelihood.
He tells what time the soil is best for the labor of the ox and for the mattock,
and what time the seasons are favorable both for the planting of trees
and for casting all manner of seeds.

For himself it was who set the signs in heaven,
and marked out the constellations,
and for the year devised what stars chiefly should give to men right signs of the seasons,
to the end that all things might grow unfailingly.

Wherefore Him do men ever worship first and last.
Hail, O Father, mighty marvel, mighty blessing unto men.
Hail to thee and to the Elder Raced!
Hail, ye Muses, right kindly, every one!
But for me, too, in answer to my prayer direct all my lay,
even, as is meet, to tell the stars.