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[The Notes for this Hymn are at the end of the volume in the written text, these have been incorporated at the end of this webpage. So click on the footnote number and you will jump to that note, click on that number again, and you will leap back to your place in the text. — Elf.Ed.]

From The Teaching of Epictetus: Being the ‘Encheiridion of Epictetus,’ with Selections from the ‘Dissertations’ and ‘Fragments,’ translated from the Greek, with Introduction and Notes, by T. W. Rolleston; Chicago; Donohue, Henneberry & Co; undated; pp. 35 to 38.


The Teaching of Epictetus
translated from the Greek, with Introduction and Notes,
by T. W. Rolleston.



Most glorious of the Immortals, many named, Almighty forever.

Zeus, ruler of nature, that governest all things with law,

Hail! for lawful it is that all mortals should address Thee.

For we are Thy offspring, taking the image only of Thy voice,2 as many mortal things as live and move upon the earth.

Therefore will I hymn Thee, and sing Thy might forever.

For Thee doth all this universe that circles round the earth obey, moving whithersoever Thou leadest, and is gladly swayed by Thee.

Such a minister hast Thou in Thine invincible hands; — the two-edged, blazing, imperishable thunderbolt.

For under its stroke all Nature shuddereth, and by it Thou guidest aright the Universal Reason, that roams through all things, mingling itself with the greater and the lesser lights, till it have grown so great, and become supreme king over all.


Nor is aught done on the earth without Thee, O God, nor in the divine sphere of the heavens, nor in the sea,

Save the works that evil men do in their folly —

Yea, but Thou knowest even to find a place for superfluous things, and to order that which is disorderly, and things not dear to men are dear to Thee.

Thus dost Thou harmonize into One all good and evil things, that there should be one everlasting Reason of them all.

And this the evil among mortal men avoid and heed not; wretched, ever desiring to possess the good, yet they nor see nor hear the universal Law of God, which obeying with all their heart, their life would be well.

But they rush graceless each to his own aim,

Some cherishing lust for fame, the nurse of evil strife,

Some bent on monstrous gain,

Some turned to folly and the sweet works of the flesh,

Hastening, indeed, to bring the very contrary of these things to pass.

But thou, O Zeus, the All-giver, Dweller in the darkness of cloud, Lord of thunder, save Thou men from their unhappy folly,


Which do Thou, O Father, scatter from their souls; and give them to discover the wisdom, in whose assurance Thou governest all things with justice;

So that being honored, they may pay Thee honor,

Hymning Thy works continually, as it beseems a mortal man.

Since there can be no greater glory for men or Gods than this.

Duly to praise forever the Universal Law.


1  Professor Mahaffy, in his Greek Life and Thought, quotes the full text of this noble Hymn, which, he thinks, “would alone redeem the Hellenistic age, as it stands before us, from the charge of mere artificiality and pedantry.”

2  ἰῆς  μίμημα  λαχόντες  μοῦνον. This is Zeller’s reading, but not Professor Mahaffy’s, who has ἑνὸς  μίμημα.

For another version, on this site, see The Hymn of Cleanthes, translated by Professor H. S. Palmer. Elf.Ed.


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