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Cleanthes' Hymn to Zeus






This is Long and Sedley's (pp. 326-27) translation of Cleanthes' Hymn to Zeus:

Most majestic of immortals, many-titled, ever omnipotent Zeus, prime mover of nature, who with your law steer all things, hail to you. For it is proper for any mortal to address you: we are your offspring, and alone of all mortal creatures which are alive and tread the earth we bear a likeness to god. Therefore I shall hymn you and sing for ever of your might. All this cosmos, as it spins around the earth, obeys you, whichever way you lead, and willingly submits to your sway. Such is the double-edged fiery ever-living thunderbolt which you hold at the ready in your unvanquished hands. For under its strokes all the works of nature are accomplished. With it you direct the universal reason which runs through all things and intermingles with the lights of heaven both great and small . . . No deed is done on earth, god, without your offices, nor in the divine ethereal vault of heaven, nor at sea, save what bad men do in their folly. But you know how to make things crooked straight and to order things disorderly. You love things unloved For you have so welded into one all things good and bad that they all share in a single everlasting reason. It is shunned and neglected by the bad among mortal men, the wretched, who ever yearn for the possession of goods yet neither see nor hear god's universal law, by obeying which they could lead a good life in partnership with intelligence. Instead, devoid of intelligence, they rush into this evil or that, some in their belligerent quest for fame, others with an unbridled bent for acquisition, others for leisure and the pleasurable acts of the body . . . despite travelling hither and thither in burning quest of the opposite. Bountiful Zeus of the dark clouds and gleaming thunderbolt, protect mankind from its pitiful incompetence. Scatter this from our soul, Father. Let us achieve the power of judgement by trusting in which you steer all things with justice, so that by winning honour we may repay you with honour, for ever singing of your works, as it befits mortals to do. For neither men nor gods have any greater privilege than this: to sing for ever in righteousness of the universal law."



Myth and Philosophy in Cleanthes' Hymn to Zeus - Elizabeth Asmis



Long, A. A., Sedley, D. N. (1987). The Hellenistic Philosophers: vol. 1. translations of the principle sources with philosophical commentary. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

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