Hermes Wrote This Hymn to Harmonia 

I call to Harmonia, daughter of Ares and Aphrodite, patroness of King Cadmus, Goddess of Serpents, exiled dragon of Olympus, draw near, incline to my prayer, hear the words of your humble supplicant:

On a bed of shame and pride were you conceived, where Aphrodite defiantly lay with her love in the presence of her owner, whom Zeus promised her without asking.

All the gods gathered round, and heaped up scorn. Apollon cruelly laughed.
You set her free, and her bride price was returned, assuring freedom to the mighty goddess of love.

For nine months she carried you, pregnant belly unashamed, and when she delivered you — the king saw only a problem.

In your infancy, Zeus promised you, little understanding what you were, and sold you away. With you, the hope of the gods — for on that day, Peace Herself left, and darkness descended in the high mountain. A mortal you married, a mortal you became, and died a mortal’s death.

Heaven and Earth, Sea and Fire, Life and Death had no reconciler. Snakes slithered aimlessly, and the crops ripened out of their season.

Hated, bitter hatred, brewed in the hearts of men, and they fell away, harboring love for an alien god, a god of destruction, a god of annihilation, a god who called up rivers of blood. And it was the blood of the devout, Harmonia, the blood of those dear to all who dwelt on high Olympos.

Dear goddess, your exile was their exile. Your exile was our exile. Your exile was the exile of every righteous soul, every pious man or woman who still honored the gods in their hearts.

Thus did Hermes descend to Erebus, seeking you, but he found no one.

“She has not been through my door,” Persephone told him. “Not Cadmus, either. And I know not what became of them.”

And up to Helios went Hermes, asking if the sun’s all-seeing eyes had spied where Harmonia had gone.

“I saw her die,” Helios replied. “My eyes see only what is upon the Earth. The spirit realm I cannot perceive, though the Sibyls of their people spied dragons, a winged serpent of grey and one of various hues flying over the citadels.”

Hermes disguised himself as an old man, and going in that guise, approached the Sybils.

“Tell me, young ladies — a coin for your troubles! — Can you tell me what became of Harmonia, the wife of Cadmus, the mother of Semele, that Grandmother of the wine god, after she died?”

“What you ask is beyond our ken, clever messenger, son of Zeus.”

And Hermes unveiled, revealing his true self.

“If even those sharp eyes have not seen, there is no one left to ask!”

“Not so,” the Sibyl answered Hermes. “For there is an oracle greater than us who dwells in Cyprus, and she knows the coming and going of all souls, and even sees those who escape the halls of the dead and the eyes of the psychopomp.”

Thus Hermes set off for Cyprus, looking for this oracle.

In Cyprus, finding her, he posed his question again — the woman, stark and aged, with skin like leather and hair like a pile of down feathers answered:

“Blood has fallen, Argeiphontes, ” answered she, “And more blood will surely fall  until Zeus shall bow his head and rest his crown upon the altar of Harmonia.

If it is the goddess of peace whom you desire: you cannot command peace, nor force peace, nor own peace, nor even find peace in death. You must devote yourself, body and soul to the work of peace. Then, and only then, peace will come to you.”

Hermes tipped his hat to the oracle, and set off on a long journey, into the kingdom of the god of annihilation, and in his court made peace. And he devoted himself to peace.

For many long years, Harmonia, did the messenger of gods lay up offerings at your altar. For many long years did he seek you, in the recesses of his heart, and took up your sacraments.

And he calls still, Harmonia. Hear this, the call of the god of diplomacy. Hear this, the call of the god of peace. Hear this, the psychopomp’s earnest prayer:

Holy Harmonia, daughter of love and war, come. Drink this wine. Hear this supplicant’s call. Be present among men and gods once more. Release the bound, free the oppressed, return dead hope to the living gods, and be welcome once more upon the very heights of Olympos.

Answer, and to you I will sing another song.

8 comments

    • Thenea

      In many ways, Harmonia’s story is an allegory for how Peace Itself is utterly elusive. Zeus traded Harmonia away, as all Kings and Leaders trade away Peace at times.

      Hermes, the god of diplomacy, is always seeking peace. It’s what and who he is.

      Many times, I have heard Ares or Aphrodite call to her. And always I hear her say, “Mother, Father, I love and revere you greatly, but I will not be where I am not wanted.” As though… she’s incarnate, and she refuses to return to deity status until the gods ALL respect what she stands for.

      Considering her role as Concordia, creating peace between the oppressed and the oppressor, and only when the oppressor was willing to make concessions, you can see where she’d make herself scarce.

  1. Sigrid

    This is so gorgeous and sorrowing. Please thank Hermes for writing this for Her. And thank you, so very much, for transcribing it for Him.

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