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A Group Offertory Rite in Greek and English

From the Nomos Archaios WWW site
Reposted with permission

This is an all-purpose group ritual with text in both Ancient Greek and English. It can (and should!) be adapted to the specific deities being honored, by selecting appropriate hymns, epithets, and offerings. Since the majority of offering rites honor more than one deity, most of the lines addressed to the gods are in the plural. Singular forms are given in the footnotes.

Unless you're worshipping with a group made up exclusively of classics majors, it is best to say the Greek phrase and immediately follow it with the English. This is less cumbersome in practice than it appears on paper. It is also possible, of course, to leave out the Greek entirely.

I considered providing phonetic pronunciations for the Greek, but finally decided against it. My reasons are two: (1) Ancient Greek pronunciation, while not impossible to learn by any means, is hard to show without using charts or the phonetic alphabet system; and (2) I was taught (and prefer) the old "British public school" (i.e., Erasmian) pronunciation, but acknowledge that this is not as accurate as the "tonal" pronunciation that is now favored. Also, some Greek speakers may wish to use modern pronunciation. So I will leave it up to those using the rite to decide which pronunciation they prefer and to learn it from one of the many sites, tapes, or books available.

To properly display the Greek, you must have the Symbol font installed and set your browser to recognize it. The rite is also available in Beta Code, which allows you to see where the accents fall.

Most of the Greek phrases are from ancient sources culled from Simon Pulleyn's excellent study of ritual language and customs, Prayer in Greek Religion (Oxford: Clarendon, 1997). The specifics are given in the footnotes.

A pitcher of khernips (lustral water), a bowl, and a hand cloth may be placed near the entrance to the temenos for worshippers to purify themselves.


Song in Procession: Khairomen, o philoi (Rejoice o friends), Prosodion, or another song


Hiereus/heireia. sprinkles the altar, the offerings, and the people with khernips (lustral water). As the hier. sprinkles the water, s/he says:

Hier.: Ω ΘΕΟΙ ΓΕΝΟΙΣΘΕ ΑΠΟΤΡΟΠΟΙ ΚΑΚΩΝ! [1] O gods, turn away evils!

The bowl is set away from the altar, as it now ritually impure. The used water should be poured directly onto the earth outside the temenos after the ritual.


The hier. calls for holy silence, invites the gods to listen, and invokes the blessings of the Muses.

Hier.: ΕΥΦΗΜΙΑ ΣΤΩ! ΕΥΦΗΜΙΑ ΣΤΩ! [2] Let no one speak an ill-omened word!

The People: ΚΑΙ ΤΟ ΜΕΝ ΕΥΧΕΣΘΑΙ ΑΓΑΘΟΝ. [3] For it is good to pray.

Hier.: ΥΠΑΚΟΥΣΑΤΕ ΔΕΧΑΜΕΝΑΙ ΘΥΣΙΑΝ ΚΑΙ ΤΟΙΣ ΙΕΡΟΙΣΙ ΧΑΡΕΙΣΑΙ. [4] Hear, receiving the sacrifice and rejoicing in the rite. ΧΑΙΡΕΤΕ, ΤΕΚΝΑ ΔΙΟΣ, ΔΟΤΕ Δ ΙΜΕΡΟΕΣΣΑΝ ΑΟΙΔΗΝ. ΚΛΕΙΕΤΕ Δ ΑΘΑΝΑΤΩΝ ΙΕΡΟΝ ΓΕΝΟΣ ΑΙΕΝ ΕΟΝΤΩΝ. [5] Hail children of Zeus! Grant lovely song and celebrate the holy race of the deathless gods who are for ever.

The hier. or another participant reads or recites hymns to the god/desses being honored. If the hymns are read in Greek, a translation should also be read. As the hymns are considered an offering, they should be presented as perfectly as possibleóread clearly and slowly, to avoid errors.


Hier.: ΑΛΛΑ ΘΕΟΣΙΝ ΕΥΧΕΣΘΑΙ ΧΡΕΩΝ. ΕΥΦΗΜΕΙΤΕ. [6] Now we must pray to the gods. Join in the prayer.

People: ΑΛΛΑ ΤΟΔΕ ΠΕΡ ΗΜΙΝ ΕΠΙΚΡΗΗΝΟΝ ΕΕΛΔΩΡ, Ω ΑΘΑΝΑΤΟΙ. [7] Come now and grant us this wish, o Immortal ones.

Hier.: ΤΟΙΣ ΘΕΟΙΣ ΕΥΧΟΜΑΙ ΠΑΣΙ ΚΑΙ ΠΑΣΑΙΣ. [8] I pray to all the gods and goddesses.

People: ΠΑΣΙ ΚΑΙ ΠΑΣΑΙΣ. To all the gods and goddesses.

Hier.: ΚΛΥΘΙ ΗΜΙΝ, [Ω ΖΕΥ] ΝΥΝ Δ ΕΥΧΩΗΙΣ ΑΓΑΝΗΣΙ ΧΑΙΡΕ. [9] Hear me now [O Zeus] and rejoice in my friendly prayers.

(This last formula is repeated before each prayer, substituting the name of the appropriate deity in the vocative case for "O Zeu.")

Thanksgivings for the gods' blessings and petitions for the needs of individuals and the community are offered.

After all the prayers are said, the hier. concludes:

Hier.: Ω ΘΕΟΙ, ΓΕΝΟΙΤΟ ΤΑΥΤΑ ΝΩΙΝ. [10] O gods, may it be thus for us.

People: Ω ΘΕΟΙ, ΓΕΝΟΙΤΟ ΤΑΥΤΑ ΝΩΙΝ. O gods, may it be thus for us.


Hier.: ΖΕΥ ΚΥΔΙΣΤΕ ΜΕΓΙΣΤΕ ΚΑΙ ΑΘΑΝΑΤΟΙ ΘΕΟΙ ΑΛΛΟΙ, ΕΛΘΕΤΕ ΚΑΙ ΝΥΝ Ο ΘΕΟΙ! [11] Zeus, All-Powerful and Greatest, and the rest of the immortal godsócome now, O gods!

People: ΕΛΘΕΤΕ ΚΑΙ ΝΥΝ Ο ΘΕΟΙ! Come now, O gods!

Hier.: ΕΛΘΕΤΕ ΚΑΙ ΝΥΝ Ο ΘΕΟΙ, ΟΙΤΙΝΕΣ ΕΣΤΕ! Come now, O gods, whoever you are!

Barley is sprinkled on the altar.

Hier.: ΥΜΙΝ, Ω ΜΑΚΑΡΕΣ, [ΣΡΟΝΔΗΝ ΘΥΣΙΑΝ ΤΕ] ΦΕΡΟΜΕΝ, ΥΜΕΙΣ ΔΕ ΗΜΙΝ ΘΥΣΙΑΝ ΠΑΓΚΑΡΠΕΙΑΣ ΔΕΞΑΣΘΕ ΠΛΗΡΗ ΠΡΟΧΥΘΕΙΣΑΝ. [12] To you, o blessed ones, we bring [a libation and a sacrifice], accept from us this sacrifice of all kinds of fruits, poured out abundantly.

The offerings are brought forward. Each worshipper making an offering says:

Worshipper: ΔΩΡΟΥΜΕΘΑ. ΟΡΑΤΕ ΤΑΔΕ! [13] We give a gift. See this!

Offerings are made first to Hestia, then to the deities specially honored by the rite, and last again to Hestia. These make take the form of food or other items, or of libations (see below). When all the offerings have been placed on the altar, the hier. separates a portion of each for the gods with the words:

Hier.: ΕΥΦΡΩΝ ΕΛΘΕΤΕ, ΜΑΚΑΡΕΣ, ΚΕΧΑΡΙΣΜΕΝΑ Δ ΙΕΡΠΑ ΔΕΞΑΣΘΕ. [14] Come propitiously, blessed ones, and accept the delightful offerings.

The remaining offerings will be consumed by the worshippers during the feast.

Libations are now made. As each worshippers pours out the drink, s/he calls: ΣΠΟΝΔΗ! A drink offering! or ΕΚΚΕΧΥΤΑΙ! It has been poured out! [15] The worshipper then takes a sip of the liquid (if it is a potable one and not oil or honey!) and passes the libation bowl and pitcher to the next person. The remaining contents of the bowl are poured out onto the fire or onto the earth.


Hier.: ΙΗ ΠΑΙΩΝ, ΙΗ ΠΑΙΩΝ, ΙΗ ΠΑΙΩΝ! ΧΑΙΡΩΜΕΝ! [16] Let us rejoice in the company of the gods!

People: ΧΑΙΡΩΜΕΝ! Let us rejoice!

Closing song: Ie Paion ("Alalalai")


[1] Eur. Phoen. 586f., quoted in Pulleyn, p. 64.
[2] Ar. Thesm. 295ff., quoted in Pulleyn, p. 184.
[3] from the Hippocratic corpus, quoted in Pulleyn, p. 214.
[4] Ar. Nub. 274, quoted in Pulleyn, p. 143. Singular: υπακουσε δεχαμεναι θυσιαν και τοισ ιεροισι χαρεισαι.
[5] Hes. Theog. 104-105.
[6] "alla theoisin...": Eur. El. 764, quoted in Pulleyn, p. 37. Singular masculine: alla qeowi eucesqai crewn. Singular feminine: alla qeai eucesqai crewn; "euphemeite": Pulleyn, p. 184.
[7] Il. 8.242, quoted in Pulleyn, p. 133.
[8] Dem. 18.1, quoted in Pulleyn, p. 10.
[9] Od. 13.357ff., quoted in Pulleyn, p. 50. If only one deity is being honored, use the name of that god/dess in the vocative case, followed by elqe, w makar (come, o blessed one [masc.]) or elqe, w makara [fem.]. Other terms may also be used, e.g., potnia [lady], anax [lord], tekoV DioV [daughter of Zeus], pater [father], mhthr [mother], file or filh [dear one masc./fem.], megaloi or megalai [mighty ones masc./fem.], etc.
[10] Soph., Phil. 779ff., quoted in Pulleyn, p. 9.
[11] Il. 3.298, quoted in Pulleyn, p. 108.
[12] Eur. fr. 912, quoted in Pulleyn, p. 123. Substitute the words for the actual offerings being given, e.g., siton for grain or bread, oinon for wine, pelanon for the mixed offering of meal, honey, and oil, etc.
[13] "doroumetha": Pulleyn, p. 142; "orate tade": Pulleyn, p. 201. Singular: Ora tade!
[14] OH 46.8 (Orphic Hymn to Liknites), quoted in Pulleyn, p. 143. Singular: eufrwn elqe, makar, kecapismena d iera dexai.
[15] Pulleyn, p. 178.
[16] Ar. Thesm. 311, quoted in Pulleyn, p. 182.