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Second Delphic Hymn

The Second Hymn is headed Paean and Prosodion to the God and is described as having been composed by Limēnios son of Thoinos, an Athenian. It consists of ten sections in all, the first nine in cretic metre constituting the paean, while the tenth in aeolic rhythms (glyconics and choriambic dimeters) is the prosodion.

Slightly more lines of the music have survived than in the first hymn, but there are also numerous gaps where the stone has been broken. The style and subject matter of the secondnd hymn is similar to the first, but the musical notation is different. In this hymn the notes are written with the symbols used by instrumental players.


Pöhlmann and West divide the hymn up into ten short sections, with frequent changes of key. As in the First Delphic Hymn, the song opens by calling on the Muses to come to Delphi to join in the song in honour of Apollo.

The first verse has been translated by J.G. Landels as follows:


"Come ye to this twin-peaked slope of Parnassos with distant views, [where dancers are welcome], and [lead me in my songs], Pierian Goddesses who dwell on the snow-swept crags of Helikon. Sing in honour of Pythian Phoebus, golden-haired, skilled archer and musician, whom blessed Leto bore beside the celebrated marsh, grasping with her hands a sturdy branch of the grey-green olive tree in her time of travail."


The hymn goes on to describe how the sky and sea rejoiced at Apollo's birth on the island of Delos, and how Apollo, after his birth, visited Attica; ever since which time the people of Attica have addressed Apollo as "Paian" (healer).


Just as in the first hymn, the singers then address Apollo directly calling on him to come, and remind him how he killed the Python which formerly guarded the Delphic tripod and how he once defeated an army of marauding Gauls with a snowstorm.


The final part of the work is the prosodion, or processional hymn, with the metre changing from cretic to glyconic. In this part, the singers beg Apollo and his sister Artemis ("mistress of Cretan bows") to protect Athens as well as Delphi, and they close with a prayer for the continued dominion of the victorious Roman empire.



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