Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen": CLEANTHE'S HYMN TO ZEUS


(Stobaeus, 'Eclogae,'I, 1, 12)

Cleanthes of Assos (331-233 B.C.) was the disciple and successor of Zeno as head of the Stoic school. He was the real founder of Stoic theology.


Most glorious of immortals, Zeus
The many named, almighty evermore,
Nature's great Sovereign, ruling all by law
Hail to thee! On thee 'tis meet and right

That mortals everywhere should call.
From thee was our begetting; ours alone
Of all that live and move upon the earth
The lot to bear God's likeness.
Thee will I ever chant, thy power praise!

For thee this whole vast cosmos, wheeling round
The earth, obeys, and where thou leadest
It follows, ruled willingly by thee.
In thy unconquerable hands thou holdest fast,
Ready prepared, that two-timed flaming blast,
The ever-living thunderbolt:
Nature's own stroke brings all things to their end.
By it thou guidest aright the sense instinct
Which spreads through all things, mingled even
With stars in heaven, the great and small-
Thou who art King supreme for evermore!

Naught upon earth is wrought in thy despite, 0 God.
Nor in the ethereal sphere aloft which ever winds
About its pole, nor in the sea-save only what
The wicked work, in their strange madness,
Yet even so, thou knowest to make the crooked straight.
Prune all excess, give order to the orderless,
For unto thee the unloved still is lovely-
And thus in one all things are harmonized,
The evil with the good, that so one Word
Should be in all things everlastingly.

One Word-which evermore the wicked flee!
Ill-fated, hungering to possess the good
They have no vision of God's universal law,
Nor will they hear, though if obedient in mind
They might obtain a noble life, true wealth.
Instead they rush unthinking after ill:
Some with a shameless zeal for fame,
Others pursuing gain, disorderly;
Still others folly, or pleasures of the flesh.
[But evils are their lot] and other times
Bring other harvests, all unsought-
For all their great desire, its opposite!

But, Zeus, thou giver of every gift,
Who dwellest within the dark clouds, wielding still
The flashing stroke of lightning, save, we pray,
Thy children from this boundless misery.
Scatter, 0 Father, the darkness from their souls,
Grant them to find true understanding
On which relying thou justly rulest all-
While we, thus honoured, in turn will honour thee,
Hymning thy works forever, as is meet
For mortals while no greater right
Belongs even to the gods than evermore
Justly to praise the universal law!


Translation by Frederick C. Grant, in his Hellenistic Religions (New York, 1953), PP. 152-4

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