The Poe-Meric Hymn to Apollo
By Tim Hampshire
Hymn to Apollo 331-342
ὣς εἰποῦσ ̓ ἀπὸ νόσφι θεῶν κίε χωομένη κῆρ.
αὐτίκ ̓ ἔπειτ ̓ ἠρᾶτο βοῶπις πότνια Ἥρη,
χειρὶ καταπρηνεῖ δ ̓ ἔλασε χθόνα καὶ φάτο μῦθον:
κέκλυτε νῦν μευ, Γαῖα καὶ Οὐρανὸς εὐρὺς ὕπερθεν
Τιτῆνές τε θεοί, τοὶ ὑπὸ χθονὶ ναιετάοντες
Τάρταρον ἀμφὶ μέγαν, τῶν ἒξ ἄνδρες τε θεοί τε:
αὐτοὶ νῦν μευ πάντες ἀκούσατε καὶ δότε παῖδα
νόσφι Διός, μηδέν τι βίην ἐπιδευέα κείνου:
ἀλλ ̓ ὅ γε φέρτερος ἔστω, ὅσον Κρόνου εὐρύοπα Ζεύς.
ὣς ἄρα φωνήσασ ̓ ἵμασε χθόνα χειρὶ παχείῃ
κινήθη δ ̓ ἄρα Γαῖα φερέσβιος: ἣ δὲ ἰδοῦσα
τέρπετο ὃν κατὰ θυμόν: ὀίετο γὰρ τελέεσθαι.
Speaking like this off she went aggrieved and grudging the immortals.
Hera prayed, the queen whose eyes gleam darkly as a lovely cow’s do
turned her palm to face the Deep and drove it downward, spoke her wishes:
“Listen to me now both Gaia and Ouranos high above us
And those Titan gods who make their dwelling deep beneath the bedrock,
in Tartarus the vast, from you spring men and gods.
Hear my plea now all you beings! Grant me just one spawned without him,
Far from Zeus and out of sight, in no way weaker than that god is,
Make him stronger, I entreat you, stronger still than Zeus can thunder
over Kronos, whom he bested.” Speaking thus she took a strong hand,
struck the ground and Gaia buckled. Watching as she did the gaping
of the grain-rich ground asunder, she was glad her prayer was answered.
In this passage, Lines 331-342 of the Hymn to Apollo, Hera makes an appeal to the Gaia and Ouranos, along with the Titans, to be granted the ability to bear a child on her own. The child ends up being Typhon.
In the Bryn Mawr commentary, there is a note for χειρὶ καταπρηνεῖ indicating that such a gesture often describes appeals to chthonic beings. When I read it that way, her prayer to the primordial gods of the earth feels dark and ghoulish in a way that I am not used to thinking of her. So, in honor of this edgy, dangerous Hera, I decided to render a translation in the meter that I thought would read “creepiest” to Anglophone ears—trochaic octameter, the meter of Poe’s The Raven. Since my choice involved significant meddling with the Greek syntax, I decided to keep the lines more or less as they were—the same number of them, and each communicating the information they did in the original.