Wybrane aspekty mitu w Hymnie homeryckim do Hermesa

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Wydawnictwo Poznańskiego Towarzystwa Przyjaciół Nauk

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Homeric hymn to Hermes: selected aspects


The paper discusses how the major plot elements of the Homeric Hymn to Hermes (inventing the lyre, stealing Apollo's cattle and especially slaughtering it) tie in together to instruct the (male) youth on their prospective roles as responsible, cultured family supporting adults, warriors and members in their community's cults. It thus highlights the educational and paedagogical aspects of the myths featured in the poem's narrative part.


The paper takes off by investigating the mythical narrative of the invention of the lyre, as handed down in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes. The instrument is analyzed against other ancient strings for both form and function, especially in its capacity of a symbol of learning and culture, as well as that of an attribute of Hermes and Apollo, thus helping ellucidate the relationship between the two brothers in the Hymn. Hermes’ lyre serves as a starting point for a search for the paedagogical and educational in the Hymn. The god’s most shameless exploit, the theft of Apollo’s cattle, is shown as a thinly disguised model for a warrior’s courage and resourcefulness, pointing to young men and boys as the most likely intended audience for the Hymn. That is corroborated both by Hermes athletic connotations and the Hymn’s often ribald tone. Finally, on a more serious note, the Hymn delves into some of the very foundations of Greek religion, introducing a slaughter-and-feast scene which combines the familiar trappings of animal sacrifice with certain faintly disconcerting elements which could almost be perversions of it. By juxtaposing that scene with that excerpt in Theogony which probably provides the literary mythical model for the sacrificial feast, the paper’s author argues that the Hymn actually touches on another, parallell current in cult, one more closely related to food offerings and oriented less towards emphasising the gap, and more towards expressing the kinship, between humanity and the gods.



the Homeric hymn to Hermes, sacrifice, the myth and the ritual, invention of the lyre, music and paideia,


Symbolae Philologorum Posnaniensium, 2013, nr XXIII/2, s. 17-68.



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Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego