Hymn to Zeus
by Cleanthes of Assos, translated by E. H. Blakeney

translation published 1921

Most glorious of Immortals, mighty God,
Invoked by many a name, O sovran King
Of universal Nature, piloting
This world in harmony with Law,—all hail!

Thee it is meet that mortals should invoke,
For we Thine offspring are, and sole of all
Created things that live and move on earth
Receive from Thee the image of the One.

Therefore I praise Thee, and shall hymn Thy power
Unceasingly. Thee the wide world obeys,
As onward ever in its course it rolls
Where'er Thou guidest, and rejoices still
Beneath Thy sway: so strong a minister
Is held by Thine unconquerable hands,—
That two-edged thunderbolt of living fire
That never fails.

Under its dreadful blow
All Nature reels; therewith Thou dost direct
The Universal Reason which, commixt
With all the greater and the lesser lights,
Moves thro' the Universe.

How great Thou art,
The Lord supreme for ever and for aye!
No work is wrought apart from Thee, O God,
Or in the world, or in the heaven above,
Or on the deep, save only what is done
By sinners in their folly.

Nay, Thou canst
Make the rough smooth, bring wondrous order forth
From chaos; in Thy sight unloveliness
Seems beautiful; for so Thou hast fitted things
Together, good and evil, that there reigns
One everlasting Reason in them all.

The wicked heed not this, but suffer it
To slip, to their undoing; these are they
Who, yearning ever to secure the good,
Mark not nor hear the law of God, by wise
Obedience unto which they might attain
A nobler life, with Reason harmonized.

But now, unbid, they pass on divers paths
Each his own way, yet knowing not the truth,—
Some in unlovely striving for renown,
Some bent on lawless gains, on pleasure some,
Working their own undoing, self-deceived.

O Thou most bounteous God that sittest throned
In clouds, the Lord of lightning, save mankind
From grievous ignorance!

Oh, scatter it
Far from their souls, and grant them to achieve
True knowledge, on whose might Thou dost rely
To govern all the world in righteousness;

That so, being honoured, we may Thee requite
With honour, chanting without pause Thy deeds,
As all men should: since greater guerdon ne'er
Befalls or man or god than evermore
Duly to praise the Universal Law.

 This work is a translation and has a separate copyright status to the applicable copyright protections of the original content.


This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1928.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1955, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 67 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.