71. Μηλινόης, θυμίαμα ἀρώματα.
To Melinoe, Goddess of Lunar Eclipse(?)
Divine medium: aromatics
Μηλινόην καλέω, νύμφην χθονίαν, κροκόπεπλον,
I call Melinoe, saffron-robed earthly Nymph,
ἣν παρὰ Κωκυτοῦ προχοαῖς ἐλοχεύσατο σεμνὴ
In Kokytos’ grievous outpouring, honorably brought to birth.
Φερσεφόνη λέκτροις ἱεροῖς Ζηνὸς Κρονίοιο,
Phersephone lay with holy Zenos, son of Kronos,
ἧι ψευσθεῖς Πλούτων’ ἐμίγη δολίαις ἀπάταισι,
Disguised as Plouton, his identity enmixed to lure her with deceit.
θυμῶι Φερσεφόνης δὲ δισώματον ἔσπασε χροιήν,
Enraged Phersephone, of two bodies, drew back the skin
ἣ θνητοὺς μαίνει φαντάσμασιν ἠερίοισιν,
A deathly manic phantasm in midair,
ἀλλοκότοις ἰδέαις μορφῆς τύπον ἐκπροφαίνουσα,
Then, vengeful ideas formed into the type shown forth,
ἄλλοτε μὲν προφανής, ποτὲ δὲ σκοτόεσσα, νυχαυγής,
Then, powers show forth clearly when darkness eclipses night’s light.
ἀνταίαις ἐφόδοισι κατὰ ζοφοειδέα νύκτα.
Offset the approach of the night’s nether darkness,
ἀλλά, θεά, λίτομαί σε, καταχθονίων βασίλεια,
Goddess, please, thou pure earthly Basileia,
ψυχῆς ἐκπέμπειν οἶστρον ἐπὶ τέρματα γαίης,
Send the soul’s madness to the ends of the Earth.
εὐμενὲς εὐίερον μύσταις φαίνουσα πρόσωπον.
Gracious holy mystae enlighten before silencing.
It is possible that Melinoe may be the immortal Goddess of lunar eclipses, literally “intermediary of (Μ) + the Sun, Helios (ἥλιος).” The moon appears to be yellow. Melis (μηλίς) means a yellow pigment. The prefix mel- (μηλ-) means apple or quince. In this hymn, Melinoe is described as saffron-robed. Saffron is a yellow dye made from the stigma of the spring-blooming crocus.
This hymn seems to describe a lunar eclipse (ἕκλειψις), which is believed to have been when Zeus, disguised as Pluto, tricked Persephone into having sex with him.
In Nonnos Dionysiaca VI.65, Astraios (Ἀστραῖος), God of the stars and planets, uses a celestial globe to predict that Demeter’s daughter will be attacked during a lunar eclipse. He takes “a round revolving sphere, the shape of the sky, the image of the universe…he turned it upon its pivot, and directed his gaze round the circle of the Zodiac” to predict Persephone’s fate. He says that she will be attacked during a lunar eclipse, VI.90 “when the rays of the Moon are stolen under a shady cone and her light is gone, guard against a robber-bridegroom for Persephoneia…” When Demeter hears this, she yokes her dragon chariot and, taking Persephone, rides far away through howling winds and finally hides Persephone in a secret cave in Sicily to keep her safe. But eventually Zeus, in the form of a serpent, finds Persephone and has sexual relations with her, which leads to the birth of Zagreus.
Chthonian means having to do with the earth.
A Nymph is a beautiful young Goddess who prevails over a particular location.
Kokytos is one of the five rivers of the afterlife, the “River of Wailing.”
Phersephone is another name for Persephone, the immortal Goddess of the afterlife and spring rebirth.
Zenos is another name for Zeus, the immortal God of lightning storms and the spark of fire/spark of life. Zeus’ father is Kronos, the immortal God of time.
If “of two bodies” describes an eclipse and Phersephone is the Goddess of earth, then she affects two bodies: the earth and the moon.
The word ἔσπασε was translated by Athanassakis as “mangled” and by others as “rended.” Spao (σπάω) is defined by Liddell & Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon as “draw, of a sword…having their swords drawn…pull, hoist away…pluck off or out…snatch, tear or drag away…carry away, draw aside…draw in…draw tight, pull…”
Skotosis (σκοτωσις) means darkening, eclipse. Episkoteesis (ἐπισκοτησις) means the darkening of the sun or moon in eclipse.
Basileia means Queen, the “basis” of rule.
Psyche is the immortal Goddess of the soul.
Gaia is the immortal Goddess of generative earth.
Mystae are initiates in the Mysteries.