Friday, May 18, 2007

(6) Cleanthes "Hymn to Zeus"

Most glorious of the immortals, invoked by many names,
ever all-powerful, Zeus, the First Cause of Nature, who
rules all things with Law, Hail! It is right for mortals to call
upon you, since from you we have our being, we whose
lot it is to be God's image, we alone of all mortal creatures
that live and move upon the earth. Accordingly, I will praise
you with my hymn and ever sing of your might. The whole
universe, spinning around the earth, goes wherever you
lead it and is willingly guided by you. So great is the servant
which you hold in your invincible hands, your eternal,
two-edged, lightning-forked thunderbolt. By its strokes
all the works of nature came to be established, and with it
you guide the universal Word of Reason which moves
through all creation, mingling with the great sun and the
small stars. O God, without you nothing comes to be on
earth, neither in the region of the heavenly poles, nor in
the sea, except what evil men do in their folly. But you know
how to make extraordinary things suitable, and how to bring
order forth from chaos; and even that which is unlovely is
lovely to you. For thus you have joined all things, the good
with the bad, into one, so that the eternal Word of all came
to be one. This Word, however, evil mortals flee, poor
wretches; though they are desirous of good things for their
possession, they neither see nor listen to God's universal
Law; and yet, if they obey it intelligently, they would have
the good life. But they are senselessly driven to one evil
after another: some are eager for fame, no matter how
godlessly it is acquired; others are set on making money
without any orderly principles in their lives; and others are
bent on ease and on the pleasures and delights of the body.
They do these foolish things, time and again, and are swept
along, eagerly defeating all they really wish for. O Zeus,
giver of all, shrouded in dark clouds and holding the vivid
bright lightning, rescue men from painful ignorance. Scatter
that ignorance far from their hearts and deign to rule all
things in justice so that, honored in this way, we may render
honor to you in return, and sing your deeds unceasingly,
as befits mortals; for there is no greater glory for men or for
gods than to justly praise the universal Word of Reason.