All-searching, bearing light — The Orphic Hymn to Helios

Hear golden Titan, whose eternal eye
 with broad survey, illumines all the sky.

Self-born, unwearied in diffusing light,
 and to all eyes the mirrour of delight:

Lord of the seasons, with thy fiery car
 and leaping coursers, beaming light from far:

With thy right hand the source of morning light,
 and with thy left the father of the night.

Agile and vig’rous, venerable Sun,
 fiery and bright around the heav’ns you run. 

Foe to the wicked, but the good man’s guide,
 o’er all his steps propitious you preside:

With various founding, golden lyre, ’tis mine
 to fill the world with harmony divine.

Father of ages, guide of prosp’rous deeds,
 the world’s commander, borne by lucid steeds,

Immortal Jove [Zeus], all-searching, bearing light,
 source of existence, pure and fiery bright

Bearer of fruit, almighty lord of years,
 agil and warm, whom ev’ry pow’r reveres.

Great eye of Nature and the starry skies,
 doom’d with immortal flames to set and rise

Dispensing justice, lover of the stream,
 the world’s great despot, and o’er all supreme.

Faithful defender, and the eye of right,
 of steeds the ruler, and of life the light:

With founding whip four fiery steeds you guide,
 when in the car of day you glorious ride.

Propitious on these mystic labours shine,
 and bless thy suppliants with a life divine.

It is only fitting to recognize the Titans when they are such a distinct part of the mythos surrounding our faith. If you look at Hesiod’s Theogony you will find that Helios and his sisters Selene and Eos are first cousins with the elder Olympians and as part of that glorious family deserve to be honored.

Helios is described as lord of the seasons and father of ages. He is also depicted as holding a golden lyre and dispensing justice in this him, which may be an indication of his slowly becoming identified with Apollo. This hymn, however, is an indication that in the period when the Orphic hymns were first written that this identification was not complete as in this hymn he is apparently identified with Zeus. He is the guide of prosperous deeds for the good man and foe to the wicked. He is depicted as having morning on one side and night on the other which is interesting in that is indicates that the Orphics knew of the fact that Earth is round (whether or not they had a heliocentric view of the cosmos or not). He is the eye of what is right and is asked to bless the authors of the hymn with a virtuous life.

The ending of the hymn seems to be consistent with the other Titans in that it IS mostly concerned with that type of blessing instead of the enumerated blessing of the hymns to the Olympians. This seems to me to indicate that the Titans were considered to be more distant from humanity than the Olympians and as such were only asked to “bless thy suppliants with a life divine”


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