Who Unites and Divides


Ζεύς στί αθήρ, Ζεύς δέ γ, Ζε δ' ορανός, Ζε τοί τό πάντα χώτι τν δ' πέρτερον.

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11.  ZEFS (Zeus; Gr. Ζεὺς, ΖΕΥΣPronounced: zĕfs; the diphthong εύ is pronounced like the ef in left.

The parentage of Zefs

Zefs (Ζεὺς) is the son of Krónos (Cronus, Κρόνος) and Rǽa (Rhea, Ῥέα). And when Rǽa was called the mother of Zefs (Zeus, Ζεύς) she became Dimítir (Demeter, Δημήτηρ). [1]

The siblings of Zefs

Zefs is the youngest of his siblings who are as follows: the lovely Goddesses Æstía (Hestia, Ἑστία) and Íra (Hera, Ήρα), and his mighty brothers Ploutohn (Pluto, Πλούτων) and Poseidóhn (Poseidon, Ποσειδῶν).

The wives and children of Zefs

Zefs is called the Father of Gods and Men; he is supreme, and because of his position and his countless glorious qualities, Zefs is one the very most important of all deities in Ællinismόs (Hellenismos, Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion. By countless liaisons, Zefs fathered numerous children, indeed, he fathered all of creation, but some of the most famous of his wives, consorts, and children are as follows:

Mítis (Metis, Μῆτις), who he is said to have swallowed, by whom he fathered Athiná 
(Athena, Ἀθηνᾶ) from his own head. Mítis is the great primordial Titan Goddess who in the Orphic Theogony is equated with Phánis (Phanes, Φάνης). She is also called the first wife of Zefs.

Thǽmis (Themis, Θέμις) by whom he fathered the Óhrai (Horae, the Seasons, or Hours, Ὧραι) and the Mírai (Moirai, the Fates, Μοῖραι). 
Thǽmis is called "Good Counsel" and she is associated with divine law often revealed through oracle. Thǽmis is sometimes called the second wife of Zefs.

Evrynómi (Eurynome, Εὐρυνόμη) by whom he fathered the Kháritæs (Charites, Χάριτες). 
Evrynómi is a daughter of Tithýs (Tethys, Τηθύςand Okæanós (Oceanus or Ocean, Ὠκεανός) and is sometimes thought of as the third wife of Zefs.

Dimítir (Demeter, Δημήτηρ) by whom he fathered Pærsæphóni (Persephone, Περσεφόνη). 
When Rǽa gave birth to Zefs, she became Dimítir and her daughter, Pærsæphóni, holds, in the succession of Queens, a similar position to Diónysos in his seat in the succession of Kings. Dimítir is sometimes thought of as the fourth wife of Zefs.

Mnimosýni (Mnemosyne, Μνημοσύνη) by whom he fathered the Mousai (Muses, Μοῦσαι). 
Mnimosýni is the great Titan Goddess of Memory and is sometimes thought of as the fifth wife of Zefs.

By his sister Íra, to whom he is married, he fathered the Olympians Áris (Ares, Άρης) and Íphaistos (Hephaestus, Ἥφαιστος), as well as the Goddess Ívi (Hebe, Ἥβη). Íra is the final wife of Zefs and the third in the succession of the Three Queens.

Litóh (Let, Λητώ) by whom he fathered the twins Ártæmis (Artemis, Ἄρτεμις) and Apóllohn (Apollo, Ἀπόλλων). 
Litóh is the Titan daughter of Phívi (Phoebe, Φοίβηand Kíos (Coeus, Κοῖος).

By Dióhni (Dione, Διώνη), he fathered Pándimos Aphrodite. According to the mythology, Zefs pursued Dióhni, who avoided his advances, and Zefs' semen fell into the sea from which Pándimos Aphrodite was born, she who blesses the sexual unions of mortals. Ouranía Aphrodite, she who harmonizes the soul, was born from the castrated genitals of Ouranós (Οὐρανός) as they fell into the sea after Krónos castrated his father.

By Maia (Μαῖα), he fathered Ærmís (Hermes, Ἑρμῆς). Maia is the daughter of Átlas (Ἄτλας) and Pleióni (Pleione, Πλειόνη).

By Pærsæphóni (Persephone, Περσεφόνη), he fathered Zagréfs (Zagreus, Ζαγρεύς). Pærsæphóni is the great Goddess of the Mysteries, the great Kóri (Core or Kore, Κόρη) who has come to earth for the benefit of all.

By Sæmǽli (Semele, Σεμέλη), he fathered Diónysos (Dionysus, Διόνυσος) from the heart of ZagréfsSæmǽli is the daughter of Armonía (Harmony, Ἁρμονία) and Kádmos (Cadmus, Κάδμος).

By Alkmíni (Alcmene, Ἀλκμήνη), he fathered Iraklís (Heracles or Hercules, Ἡρακλῆς), the great saviour of mankind. Alkmíni is the daughter of Anaxóh (Anaxo, Ἀναξώ) and Ilæktrýohna (Electryon, Ἠλεκτρύωνα).

The Mythology of Zef's Rise to Supremacy

Krónos, the father of Zefs, received an oracle that one of his children would overthrow him, so he swallowed each as they were born to Rǽa. When Zefs came forth, Rǽa became Dimítir. She connived against Krónos and gave him a stone wrapped in swaddling cloth rather than surrender her last child to him. Krónos swallowed the stone and vomited up all the children. Ploutohn (Pluto, Πλούτων) now took his seat on Earth and Poseidóhn (Poseidon, Ποσειδῶν) assumed the governance of the Sea and the Middle Sky up to the moon. Zefs was taken in haste to the Cave (Ἄντρον) of Nyx (Night, Νύξ). When he grew in strength, Nyx advised him to intoxicate his father with honey and usurp the throne. Zefs explained all this to his mother Dimítir and she then held a great banquet for her husband, serving him generous helpings of honey. Krónos got very drunk and wandered off into an oaken forest falling down into a deep sleep. Zefs, with the help of his cohorts, bound and castrated him, as Krónos had castrated his father. Thus, Zefs defeated Krónos. He then consulted his deposed father as to how to set up the kingdom and the Olympian Gods took governance over the Natural Laws. Now the Goddess Nyx advised him, telling Zefs to engulf everything, the heavens, the earth, the sea, and the stars, to surround them in the Aithír (Aether, Αἰθήρ). He then swallowed Phánis (Phanes, Φάνης) and drew everything into his belly, creating everything anew [2]. Having accomplished everything, Zefs took the Staff of Phánis along with his Thunderbolts and mounted a she-goat to journey to his mighty throne in the Heavens. Thus Zefs ascended to become the king of Gods and men forever and ever. This mythology can be found in the Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony along with appropriate citations; most of these citations, both in Greek and in translation, can be found in the notes to the essay on Krónos. [3]

Introduction to Zefs

Zefs is supreme; even Fate is subservient to him. He is the great Olympian, whom even the Gods obey: he is the king and father of Gods and men (Πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε Θεῶν τε)His sister Íra (Hera, Ήρα) sits at his side and is his equal:

Orphic frag. 132. 

“Hence Juno (Ήρα) proceeds together with Jupiter (Ζεὺς), generating all things in conjunction with the father. Hence, too, she is said to be equal in rank with Jupiter, as is likewise Rhea with Saturn (Κρόνος). For this Goddess is the bosom of all the Saturnian (Kronian) power. Earth (Γαῖα) also is equal in dignity with Heaven (Οὐρανός). For Earth is the mother of all things, of which Heaven is the father.” [4]

Orphic frag. 163:

“But the Demiurgus, who is the great Jupiter (Ζεὺς), is conjoined with Juno (Ήρα). Hence also, she is said to be of equal rank with him, and proceeds from the same fathers.” [5]

Zefs oversees and manages the whole Kózmos (Cosmos, Κόσμος).  

Zefs hears everything; therefore it would have to be assumed that he possesses some sort of omnipresence: 

Orphic frag. 168, lines 19 and 20:

"Nothing which is, no word nor cry nor noise nor voice,
escapes the ear of the mightiest son of Krónos." [6]

Mind (Nous, νοῦςνόος) is the dominion of Great Zefs. 

Zefs is the source of all prophecy and Apóllohn (Apollo, Ἀπόλλωνspeaks his oracles

Zefs rules the sky, lightning and thunder and tempest, which he produces by shaking his mighty Aiyís (Aegis, Αἰγίς). 

Zefs cares for all the affairs and sufferings of man and punishes those who commit injustice. He presides over the entire state and every family and person. His dominion is that of Justice, Law and Order.

Zefs is God of hosts and God of guests who protects travelers and strangers and presides over hospitality (Xænía, Ξενία) and the rights and sanctity of suppliants.

Zefs presides over oaths, which are sworn to his name.

Zefs is accompanied by the Goddesses Vía (Gr. Βία, Power) and Níki (Nike, Νίκη, Victory), along with their brothers Krátos (Cratus, Κράτος, Authority) and Zílos (Zelos, Ζῆλος, Competition); these four siblings all being progeny of the Titánæs (Titans, Τῑτᾶνες) Styx (Στύξ) and Pállas (Πάλλας), this according to Θεογονία Ἡσιόδου 383-388. According to the same source, they fought beside him in the Titanomakhía (Battle of the Titans, Τιτανομαχία) in which Zefs ascended to the throne of Gods and men forever and ever, and they never leave his side. (Θεογονία Ἡσιόδου 389-405. Cf. above The Mythology of Zef's Rise to Supremacy) There is no mention of the Titanomakhía in the Orphic fragments as the defeat of Krónos is told differently.

The lion and the eagle are associated with Zefs, as well as the oak. The Orphic hymns call for storax (use benzoin) to be offered to him; we can offer cakes in the shape of goats and cows and bulls, as these animals were sacrificed to him in antiquity.

Zefs Unites, Zefs Divides

Zefs is he who unites, and he who divides. This was described by Sohkrátis  (Socrates, Σωκράτης) in the Kratýlos (Cratylus, Κρατύλος) of Plátohn (Plato, Πλάτων):

"But it appears that the name of him who was called his (Τάνταλος) father, is composed in an all-beautiful manner, though it is by no means easy to be understood: for in reality the name of Jupiter (Ζεὺς) is, as it were, a sentence; but dividing it into two parts, some of us use one part, and some another, for some call him Ζῆνα (the poetical, accusative of Zefs), and somΔιά (separation). And these parts collected into one, evince the nature of the God; which, as we have said, a name ought to effect: For there is no one who is more the cause of living, both to us and every thing else, than he who is the ruler and king of all things.  It happens, therefore, that this God is rightly denominated through whom life is present with all living beings; but the name, though one, is distributed, as I have said, into two parts, viz. into δια and ζηνα." [7] 

Therefore Zefs (Ζεὺς) is "he who unites and he who divides," as is explained in Próklos (Proclus, Πρόκλος):

"For he (ed. the Dimiourgós) divides the soul into parts, harmonizes the divided parts, and renders them concordant with each other. But in effecting these things, he energizes at one and the same time Dionysiacally [i.e. Bacchically] and Apolloniacally. For to divide, and produce wholes into parts, and to preside over the distribution of forms, is Dionysiacal; but to perfect all things harmonically, is Apolloniacal. As the Demiurgus, therefore, comprehends in himself the cause of both these Gods, he both divides and harmonizes the soul." [8]

The concept of uniting and dividing is related to the dual name of the God: Zefs and DiósΖεὺς is etymologically related to ζεῦξις, "to yoke" [9] Διός (genitive of Ζεὺς) is etymologically related to Δί, ΔίαΖεὺς [9] διά, poet. διαί, "through" [10] διαιρέσιμος "divisible," διαίρεσις "divisibility" [11] .

Zefs is the Dimiourgós (Demiurgus or Demiurge, Δημιουργός)  

Zefs utilizes ("swallows," as is said in the fragments) the power of Phánis (Phanes, Φάνης), the Firstborn (ProhtogónosΠρωτογόνος) to reveal the Forms which reside in the Cave (Ἄντρονof Nyx (Νύξ); by revealing the forms, he creates. Zefs does not create ex nihilo, "out of nothing," as is said in monotheistic religions, but he creates out of what is pre-existent---ex materia---"from material." In reality, Zefs does not create, he reveals what is there already. This is portrayed in the mythology in the many stories in which Zefs pursues Goddesses and mortal womenVisit this page: Creator God.

The Three Zefs

Zefs (Ζεὺς), as we speak of him on this page, is Olympian Zefs, for there are three we call Zefs: Olympian Zefs, Zefs of the Sea and the Middle Sky (Neptune or Ποσειδῶν), and Zefs of the Earth (Khthonic Zefs or 
In the words of Próklos:

"He (Olympian Zefs) is also the summit of the three, has the same name with the fontal Jupiter (Zeus), is united to him, and is monadically called Jupiter (Ζεὺς). But the second is called dyadically, marine Jupiter and Neptune (Poseidóhn). And the third is triadically denominated, terrestrial Jupiter, Pluto and Hades (Ἅιδης). The first of these also preserves, fabricates, and vivifies summits, but the second, things of a second rank, and the third those of a third order. Hence this last is said to have ravished Proserpine (Pærsæphóni), that together with her he might animate the extremities of the universe." [12]

Zefs wields the thunderbolt and Poseidóhn wields the Tríaina (Trident, Τρίαινα), Ploutohn possesses the Áïdos kynǽin (Aïdos kuneēn, Ἄϊδος κυνέην), the dog-skin cap which renders the wearer invisible. All these symbols of the Three Zefs were created by the Kýklohpæs (Cyclopes, Κύκλωπες).

The Six Vasileis

Zefs (Ζεὺς) is the personalized, primordial evolution of the non-personal Aithír (Aether, Αἰθήρ. Aithír, in this context, refers to all these three: Fire, Air, or Water [13]) therefore, his position as supreme is not arbitrary. The mythology surrounding this evolution is symbolic. This progression is represented by the Six Vasileis (Basileis = Kings, Βασιλεῖς. Βασιλεύς is nom. singular.): Phánis,  NyxOuranós,  Krónos,  Zefs, and Diónysos. 

Zefs and Íra (Hera)

According to the mythology, Zefs (Ζεὺς) is the king of Gods and the father of Gods and men (Πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε Θεῶν τε). Íra (Hera, Ήρα) is said to be his sister and wife. The meaning of this mythology is that Zefs is the manifestation of the active kozmogonic substance, Water, called variously, from this perspective, Water/Fire/Aithir. Íra is the manifestation of the receptive kozmogonic substance: Earth. These kozmogonic substances are primal, from the beginning, and exist together; therefore, poetically, they are siblings, i.e. brother and sister. Without the interaction of Earth and Water, Zefs and Íra, there is no creation; therefore, they are, poetically, married.

The philosopher Próklos (Proclus, Πρόκλος) explains marriage between Gods thus:

"That Ocean (OkæanósὨκεανός) is said to have married Tethys (TithýsΤηθύς), and Jupiter (Zefs married) Juno (Hera, Ήρα), and the like, as establishing a communion with her, conformably to the generation of subordinate natures. For an according co-arrangement of the Gods, and a connascent (i.e. born together) co-operation in their productions, is called by theologists marriage (Θεογαμία, marriage between Gods)." [14]

The voice and action of Zefs on Earth

Apóllohn (Apollo, Ἀπόλλωνsits at the right hand of Zefs and articulates the will of the Father through his oracular ability. Apóllohn is the voice of Zefs on Earth for which he is called the Orthós Lógos (Ὀρθός Λόγος), the True Word, for Apóllohn does not lie. Diónysos (Διόνυσος) makes manifest the providence of Zefs by means of his Mysteries. When Zefs acts on Earth, this is Diónysos. Thus, Zefs speaks through Apóllohn and acts through Diónysos.

Festivals of Zefs

Thæogamía – (Theogamia, Θεογαμία) Thæogamía is marriage between Gods, but here we are speaking of the festival which celebrates the marriage of Íra (Hera) and Zefs, i.e., the union of the two kozmogonic substances, Earth and Water. (See Mystic Materialism

The date of the Thæogamía is disputed, perhaps 26 or 27 Gamilióhn (Gamelion, Γαμηλιών), late January, in the month of Ydrokhóos (= Aquarius, Υδροχόος). The entire month of Gamilióhn; the "marriage month, was dedicated to Íra.

The Names Zefs, the word Diós, and the word Dióh

There is confusion between the words Διός and Δηώ, but the confusion is not so great when you see the actual Greek words: 

Διός is the genitive of Ζεὺς; it means "of Zefs." 

The name Δηώ is a name of ΔημήτηρThe dælta (Δ) at the beginning of both names became Γ (γάμμα), so the first syllable Δη became ΓῆΔη was a word meaning "earth" but became Γῆ. The word μήτηρ means "mother," therefore Δημήτηρ means "Earth-Mother."

Two Orphic Hymns to Zefs

Orphic Hymn to Zefs (from the Orphic Hymns, number 15)

Zefs and Orphismós

Zefs rules the eleventh Orphic Íkos (House or Oikos, Οἶκος)the month of Lǽohn (Leo, Λέων) from July 21 through August 20, and his dominion is the Natural Law of Life in the Divine World. The cortex (shell) of the Orphic Egg is the symbol of Zefs: Nous-Mind. The Divine Consort of Zefs is his sister, the Goddess Íra (Hera, Ήρα). The Orphic Hymns suggest an offering of storax (use benzoin) to Zefs.

The Foresight and Compassion of Zefs: Pærsæphóni and Diónysos

Zefs fathered a new generation of beings...our generation...with immortal souls but with bodies subject to dissolution by sickness, old age, and violence. This generation experiences great beauty but also persistent sufferings. When the body dies the soul eventually returns in a sorrowful circle of rebirths (κύκλος γενέσεως). This state of existence was the best possible condition, constrained by natural law. But Zefs foresaw the sufferings of his creatures and in great compassion conceived a solution. The liberation which wide-eyed Zefs conceived can be uncovered in the great stories of our religion.

According to the mythology, Zefs pursued his mother Rǽa (Rhea, Ῥέα) who had become Dimítir (Demeter, Δημήτηρ) at his own birth. Dimítir assumed the shape of a snake in order to escape his advances, but Zefs then also transformed himself into a snake and they united in a Knot of Iraklís (Heracles or Hercules, Ἡρακλῆς) and produced the Daughter (Core, Κόρη) Pærsæphóni (Persephone, Περσεφόνη), destined to promote great Mysteries. When she was of age, Zefs came to her, again in the form of a serpent, united with her, and she conceived a son. [15] This son is Zagréfs (Zagreus, Ζαγρεύς) who was sacrificed by the Titánaes (Titans, Τιτᾶνες) [16] but whose still-beating heart was retrieved by Athiná (Athena, Ἀθηνᾶ) [17].

Zefs then united with Sæmǽli (Semele, Σεμέλη), the daughter resulting from the unity of Armonía (Harmony, Ἁρμονία) and Kádmos (Cadmus, Κάδμος). Sæmǽli conceived a child but, according to the mythology, her body was burnt away when she insisted that Zefs appear to her in his true form. The fetus was saved and Zefs sewed it up in his own leg. When the months were up he bore a son. [18] This son is Diónysos (Dionysus, Διόνυσος) who with his Mysteries frees us from the cycle of births. From this story it can be understood that Zefs has compassion for all creation and that his religion is based on this compassion.

All these stories can be found in greater detail in the Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony (See The Sixth King).

"But sorrow in many forms possessed the life of men, which begins with labour and never sees the end of care: and Time his everlasting companion showed to Zeus Almighty mankind, afflicted with suffering and having no portion in happiness of heart. For the Father had not yet cut the threads of childbirth and shot forth Bacchos from his pregnant thigh, to give mankind rest from their tribulations; not yet did the libation of wine (ed. the Aithír of the Father) soak the pathways of the air and make them drunken with sweetsmelling exhalations [19] .Then all in wild jubilation will cry Euoi over the echoing table with mutual toasts, in honour of Dionysos the protector of the human race." [20]

For a more thorough discussion of this topic: The Compassion of Zefs.

Zefs in Iconography

In art, Zefs is depicted as regal, mature, powerful, and bearded. He wields the thunderbolt as his scepter or sometimes he will be depicted with a separate scepter. He is crowned with olive or oak leaves. The eagle is often at his side and he holds an image of Victory in his hand, and sometimes a cornucopia.

Zefs can be represented by the lion, the bull, or the eagle, the animals which most exemplify power and authority.

The philosopher Porphýrios (Porphyry, 
Πορφύριος) says:

"Zeus, therefore, is the whole world, animal of animals, and God of Gods; but Zeus, that is, inasmuch as he is the mind from which he brings forth all things, and by his thoughts creates them. When the theologians had explained the nature of God in this manner, to make an image such as their description indicated was neither possible, nor, if any one thought of it, could he show the look of life, and intelligence, and forethought by the figure of a sphere.

"But they have made the representation of Zeus in human form, because mind was that according to which he wrought, and by generative laws brought all things to completion; and he is seated, as indicating the steadfastness of his power: and his upper parts are bare, because he is manifested in the intellectual and the heavenly parts of the world; but his feet are clothed, because he is invisible in the things that lie hidden below. And he holds his sceptre in his left hand, because most close to that side of the body dwells the heart, the most commanding and intelligent organ: for the creative mind is the sovereign of the world. And in his right hand he holds forth either an eagle, because he is master of the Gods who traverse the air, as the eagle is master of the birds that fly aloft - or a victory, because he is himself victorious over all things." [21]

Zefs and the Generations of Man

Zefs rules over the third and final generation of man: the Titanic Age. According to Orphic literature, there are three ages of men: the Golden Age under Phánis, the Silver Age under Krónos, and the Titanic Age formed from the limbs of mighty Zefs. [22]

EPITHETS: For the many names of Zefs, visit this page: Zefs - the Epithets



From Kallímakhos of Alexandria:

Hail! greatly hail! most high Son of Cronus, giver of good things, giver of safety. Thy works who could sing? There hath not been, there shall not be, who shall sing the works of Zeus. Hail! Father, hail again! and grant us goodness and prosperity. Without goodness wealth cannot bless men, nor goodness without prosperity. Give us goodness and weal. [23]

From Áratos of Soléfs:

ἐκ Διὸς ἀρχώμεσθα, τὸν οὐδέποτ᾽ ἄνδρες ἐῶμεν 
ἄρρητον: μεσταὶ δέ Διὸς πᾶσαι μὲν ἀγυιαί, 
πᾶσαι δ᾽ ἀνθρώπων ἀγοραί, μεστὴ δὲ θάλασσα 
καὶ λιμένες: πάντη δὲ Διὸς κεχρήμεθα πάντες. 
τοῦ γάρ καὶ γένος εἰμέν: ὁ δ᾽ ἤπιος ἀνθρώποισιν 
δεξιὰ σημαίνει, λαοὺς δ᾽ ἐπὶ ἔργον ἐγείρει, 
μιμνῄσκων βιότοιο, λέγει δ᾽ ὅτε βῶλος ἀρίστη 
βουσί τε καὶ μακέλῃσι, λέγει δ᾽ ὅτε δεξιαὶ ὧραι 
καὶ φυτὰ γυρῶσαι καὶ σπέρματα πάντα βαλέσθαι. 
αὐτὸς γὰρ τά γε σήματ᾽ ἐν οὐρανῷ ἐστήριξεν, 
ἄστρα διακρίνας, ἐσκέψατο δ᾽ εἰς ἐνιαυτὸν 
ἀστέρας οἵ κε μάλιστα τετυγμένα σημαίνοιεν 
ἀνδράσιν ὡράων, ὄφρ᾽ ἔμπεδα πάντα φύωνται. 
τῶ μιν ἀεὶ πρῶτόν τε καὶ ὕστατον ἱλάσκονται. 
χαῖρε, πάτερ, μέγα θαῦμα, μέγ᾽ ἀνθρώποισιν ὄνειαρ, 
αὐτὸς καὶ προτέρη γενεή. Χαίροιτε δὲ Μοῦσαι 
μειλίχιαι μάλα πᾶσαι: ἐμοί γε μὲν ἀστέρας εἰπεῖν 
ᾗ θέμις εὐχομένῳ τεκμήρατε πᾶσαν ἀοιδήν.

"From Zeus let us begin; him do we mortals never leave unnamed; full of Zeus are all the streets and all the market-places of men; full is the sea and the havens thereof; always we all have need of Zeus. For we are also his offspring; and he in his kindness unto men giveth favourable signs and wakeneth the people to work, reminding them of livelihood. He tells what time the soil is best for the labour of the ox and for the mattock, and what time the seasons are favourable both for the planting of trees and for casting all manner of seeds. For himself it was who set the signs in heaven, and marked out the constellations, and for the year devised what stars chiefly should give to men right signs of the seasons, to the end that all things might grow unfailingly. Wherefore him do men ever worship first and last. Hail, O Father, mighty marvel, mighty blessing unto men. Hail to thee and to the Elder Race! Hail, ye Muses, right kindly, every one! But for me, too, in answer to my prayer direct all my lay, even as is meet, to tell the stars." [24]

The story of the birth of the GodsOrphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.
How do we know there are Gods? Experiencing Gods.


[1] Orphic frag. 145. (106. 128) Πρόκλος Commentary on the Κρατύλος 403e, (90, 28 Pasqu.):

Ῥείη τὸ πρὶν ἐοῦσα, ἐπεὶ Διὸς ἔπλετο μήτηρ, Δημήτηρ γέγονε.

“Formerly she was Rhea, but when she came to be the mother of Zefs (Ζεὺς), she became Dimítir (Δημήτηρ).” (trans. by the author)

[2] Orphic frag. 164. (117) Πρόκλος Commentary on the Τίμαιος B prooem (I 206, 26 Diehl): 
μαῖα, θεῶν ὑπάτη, Νὺξ ἄμβροτε, πῶς, τάδε φράζε, πῶς χρή μ' ἀθανάτων ἀρχὴν κρατερόφρονα θέσθαι; καὶ ἀκούει παρ' αὐτῆς

“(Zeus speaks to Nyx) Good mother, highest of the Gods, immortal Nyx, show me this, how am I to set up my stout-hearted rule among the Deathless Ones? and she hears him” (trans. by the author)

Orphic frag. 165. (122) Πρόκλος Commentary on the Τίμαιος I 28c (I 313, 31 Diehl):

τὰ τοίνυν ὅλα περιέχων ὁ Ζεὺς καὶ πάντα μοναδικῶς καὶ | νοερῶς κατὰ τούτους τους χρησμοὺς τῆς Νυκτὸς ὑφίστησι πάντα τὰ ἐγκόσμια, θεούς τε καὶ τὰς μοίρας τοῦ παντός. λέγει γοῦν πρὸς αὐτὸν ἡ Νὺξ ἐρωτήσαντα·

πῶς δέ μοι ἕν τε τὰ πάντ' ἔσται καὶ χωρίς ἕκαστον; αἰθέρι πάντα πέριξ ἀφάτωι λάβε, τῶι δ' ἐνὶ μέσσωι οὐρανόν, ἐν δέ τε γαῖαν ἀπείριτον, ἐν δὲ θάλασσαν, ἐν δὲ τὰ τείρεα πάντα τά τ' οὐρανὸς ἐστεφάνωται.

(Zeus speaks to Night):
"How can I have all things one yet each one apart? (Nyx answers:) 'Take hold round about all things with the unutterable Aithír, and in its midst place the vault of heaven, the immense earth, the sea, and all the constellations crowning heaven.' ” (trans. by the author)

Orphic frag. 167. (120. 121) Πρόκλος Commentary on the Τίμαιος I 29a (I 324, 14 Diehl):

ὣς τότε πρωτογόνειο χαδὼν μένος Ἠρικεπαίου 
τῶν πάντων δέμας εἶχεν ἑῆι ἐνὶ γαστέρι κοίλῃ, 
μεῖξε δ' ἑοῖς μελέεσσι θεοῦ δύναμίν τε καὶ ἀλκήν, 
τοὔνεκα σὺν τῶι πάντα Διὸς πάλιν ἐντὸς ἐτύχθη.

“Thus then taking hold of the power of first-born Irikæpaios (Ἠρικεπαῖος)
he carried the form of all things in the hollow of his own belly, 
he mingled his own limbs with the power and strength of the God,
for that reason with him all things within Zefs were made new." (trans. by the author) 

Πρόκλος Commentary on the Τίμαιος 28c (I 312, 26 Diehl):

αἰθέρος εὐρείης ἠδ' οὐρανοῦ άγλαὸν ὕψος,
πόντου τ' ἀτρυγέτου γαίης τ' ἐρικυδέος ἕδρη,
Ὠκεανός τε μέγας καὶ νείατα Τάρταρα γαίης
καὶ ποταμοὶ καὶ πόντος ἀπείριτος ἄλλα τε πάντα
πάντες τ' ἀθάνατοι μάκαρες θεοί ἠδὲ θέαιναι,
ὅσσα τ' ἔην γεγαῶτα καὶ ὕστερον ὁππός' ἔμελλεν,
                                                                    (v. fr. 169)
ἐνγένετο, Ζηνὸς δ' ἐνὶ γαστέρι σύρρα πεφύκει.

"the luminous summit of immense aithír and heaven, 
the seat of the barren sea and illustrious earth, 
great Ocean and deep Tártaros (Τάρταρος) beneath the earth, 
and rivers and the limitless sea and all other, 
all the deathless happy Gods and Goddesses, 
all that existed and all that will to come to be, 
all come about and bestrewn in the belly of Zefs (Ζεὺς).” (trans. by the author)

[3] For the more familiar mythology, see Θεογονία Ἡσιόδου 453-491.

[4] Orphic frag. 132. Πρόκλος Commentary on the Τίμαιος 18c (I 46, 27 Diehl): 

ἥ τε οὖν Ἥρα συμπρόεισι τῶι Διὶ πάντα ἀποτίκτουσα σύν τῶι πατρί· διὸ καὶ ἰσοτελὴς (fr. 163) αὐττῶι | 47 Dlchl προσαγορεύεται· καὶ ἡ Ῥέα τὼι Κρόνωι· πάσης γάρ ἐστι τῆς Κρονίας δυνάμεως κόλπος ἡ θεὸς αὕτη· καὶ ἡ Γῆ τῶι Οὐρανῶι· πάντων γάρ ἡ Γῆ μήτηρ, ὧν ὁ Οὐρανὸς πατήρ.

“Hence Juno (Ήρα) proceeds together with Jupiter (Ζεὺς), generating all things in conjunction with the father. Hence, too, she is said to be equal in rank with Jupiter, as is likewise Rhea with Saturn (Κρόνος). For this Goddess is the bosom of all the Saturnian (ed. Kronian) power. Earth also is equal in dignity with Heaven (Οὐρανός). For Earth is the mother of all things, of which Heaven is the father.” (trans. Thomas Taylor, 1820)

[5] Orphic frag. 163. Πρόκλος Commentary on the Τίμαιος 31a (I 450, 20 Diehl):

ὁ δὲ δημιουγὸς αὐτός, ὁ μέγιστος Ζεύς, συζογεῖ τῆι Ἥραι· διὸ καὶ ἰσοτελὴς αὐτῶι καλεῖται, καὶ ἐκ τῶν αὐτῶν προεληλύθασι πατέρων.

“But the Demiurgus, who is the great Jupiter (Ζεὺς), is conjoined with Juno (Ήρα). Hence also, she is said to be of equal rank with him, and proceeds from the same fathers.” (trans. Thomas Taylor, 1820)

[6] Orphic frag. 168. (123. 43) Πορφύριος, Εὐσέβιος Εὑαγγελικὴ προπαρασκευή (Praeparatio evangelica Book 3, chapter 9, p. 100a – 105d [I 121, 12 Dind.) Versus Orphici etiam ap. Stob. Eclog.  I 23 (I 29, 10 Wachsm.). Vs. 17-20 quoque Euseb. 1. 1. III  11 (I 130, 28 Dind.); vs. 20 extr. Etiam I 129, 29 Dind.; vs. 31, 32 l.l. XIII 13 (II 216, 1 Dind.) v. quoque fr. 169.Lines 19 and 20:

"...οὐδέ τίς ἐστιν
αὐδὴ οὔδ' ἐνοπὴ οὐδὲ ϰτύπος οὐδὲ μὲν ὄσσα,
ἣ λήθει Διὸς οὖας ὑπερμενέος Κρονίωνος.

"Nothing which is, no word nor cry nor noise nor voice,
escapes the ear of the mightiest son of Krónos." (trans. by the author)

[7] Κρατύλος Πλάτωνος 395e-396b, trans. Thomas Taylor, 1804.

[8] σχόλιον Πρόκλου επί Τιμαίου Πλάτωνος, Diehl pagination: 200C, 2,197; trans. Thomas Taylor, 1820.

In σχόλιον Δαμασκίου επί Φαίδωνος Πλάτωνος 3 states similar, that creation has a twofold nature, united or divisible, and that the divisible is under the dominion of Diónysos.

[9] L&S p. 754, right column.

[10] L&S p. 388, right column.

[11] L&S p. 395, left column.

[12] σχόλιον Πρόκλου επί Κρατύλου Πλάτωνος, trans. Thomas Taylor.

The Three Zefs are PloutohnPoseidóhn, and Zefs. They can be understood from the perspective of the Orphic Egg. Ploutohn rules the center (the yolk); Poseidóhn rules the middle (the liquid, or white of the egg); Zefs rules the cortex, (the shell or outer layer: Nous, mind). They are also known as Zefs of the Earth (Ploutohn or Zefs Khthonios [Terrestrial]), Zefs of the Sea (Poseidóhn), and Zefs of the Sky (Olympian Zefs): 

"...but they themselves cast lots for the sovereignty, and to Zeus was allotted the dominion of the sky, to Poseidon the dominion of the sea, and to Pluto the dominion in Hades." (Βιβλιοθήκη Ἀπολλοδώρου I:2, trans. J.G. Frazer, 1921.)

Also compare this passage from the ancient Alexandrian poet Kallímakhos:

"Fairly didst thou wax, O heavenly Zeus, and fairly wert thou nurtured, and swiftly thou didst grow to manhood, and speedily came the down upon thy cheek.  But, while yet a child, thou didst devise all the deeds of perfect stature.  Wherefore thy kindred, though an earlier generation, grudged not that thou shouldst have heaven for thine appointed habitation.  The ancient poets spake not altogether truly.  For they said that the lot assigned to the sons of Cronus their three several abodes.  But who would draw lots for Olympus and for Hades – save a very fool?  for equal chances should one cast lots;  but these are the wide world apart.  When I speak fiction, be it such fiction as persuades the listener’s ear!  Thou wert made sovereign of the Gods not by casting of lots but by the deeds of thy hands, thy might and that strength which thou hast set beside thy throne."  (εἰς Δία Καλλιμάχου 54-66, trans. A.W. Mair and G.R. Mair, 1921)

[13] The poets, particularly and with great insight, often simply call Zefs Αἰθήρ: 

Ζεύς ἐστί αἰθήρ, Ζεύς δέ γῆ, Ζεῦ δ' οὐρανός, Ζεῦ τοί τό πάντα χώτι τῶν δ' ὑπέρτερον.

“Zefs is Aithír, Zefs is earth, Zefs is the sky: Zefs, mark you, is all that and mightier yet.” (μορίον 70 Αἰσχύλου)

The Rhapsodic Theogony describes the evolution of Zefs from 

[14] σχόλιον Πρόκλου επί Κρατύλου Πλάτωνος
, trans. Thomas Taylor.

[15] Orphic frag. 58. (41) 
Pro Christian 
20 p.22, 10 Schw.:

καὶ ὅτι τὴν μητέρα Ῥέαν ἀπαγορεύουσαν αὐτοῦ τὸν γάμον ἐδίωκε, δρακαίνης δ´ αὐτῆς γενομένης καὶ αὐτὸς εἰς δράκοντα μεταβαλὼν συνδήσας αὐτὴν τῷ καλουμένῳ Ἡρακλειωτικῷ ἅμματι ἐμίγη (τοῦ σχήματος τῆς μίξεως σύμβολον ἡ τοῦ Ἑρμοῦ ῥάβδος), εἶθ´ ὅτι Φερσεφόνῃ τῇ θυγατρὶ ἐμίγη βιασάμενος καὶ ταύτην ἐν δράκοντος σχήματι, ἐξ ἧς παῖς Διόνυσος αὐτῷ·

"...and how he persecuted his mother Rhea when she refused to wed him, and, she becoming a she-dragon, and he himself being changed into a dragon, bound her with what is called the Herculean knot (ed. marriage knot), and accomplished his purpose, of which fact the rod of Hermes is a symbol; and again, how he violated his daughter Phersephoné, in this case also assuming the form of a dragon, and became the father of Dionysus." (trans. Rev. B. P. Pratten, 1885.)

[16] Orphic frag. 34. (196) Κλήμης ὁ ἈλεξανδρεύςΠροτρεπτικὸς πρὸς Ἕλληνας II 17, 2-18, 1 (I 14, 7 Staeh):

ὃν εἰσέτι παῖδα ὄντα ἐνόπλῳ κινήσει περιχορευόντων Κουρήτων, δόλῳ δὲ ὑποδύντων Τιτάνων, ἀπατήσαντες παιδαριώδεσιν ἀθύρμασιν, οὗτοι δὴ οἱ Τιτᾶνες διέσπασαν, ἔτι νηπίαχον ὄντα

“...for while still a child, and the Curetes danced around [his cradle] clashing their weapons, and the Titans having come upon them by stealth, and having beguiled him with childish toys, these very Titans tore him limb from limb when but a child..." (trans. Rev. William Wilson, 1884.)

Orphic frag. 35. (200) Κλήμης ὁ ἈλεξανδρεύςΠροτρεπτικὸς πρὸς Ἕλληνας II 18, 1. 2 (I 14, 16 Staeh):

οἱ δὲ Τιτᾶνες, οἱ καὶ διασπάσαντες αὐτόν, λέβητά τινα τρίποδι ἐπιθέντες καὶ τοῦ Διονύσου ἐμβαλόντες τὰ μέλη, καθήψουν πρότερον: ἔπειτα ὀβελίσκοις περιπείραντες ‘ὑπείρεχον Ἡφαίστοιο.'

“...the Titans who had torn him limb from limb, setting a caldron on a tripod, and throwing into it the members of Dionysos, first boiled them down, and then fixing them on spits, 'held them over the fire.' " (trans. Rev. William Wilson, 1880.)

[17] Orphic frag. 35 (200) Κλήμης ὁ ἈλεξανδρεύςΠροτρεπτικὸς πρὸς Ἕλληνας II 18, 1. 2 (I 14, 16 Staeh):

Ἀθηνᾶ μὲν οὖν τὴν καρδίαν τοῦ Διονύσου ὑφελομένη Παλλὰς ἐκ τοῦ πάλλειν τὴν καρδίαν προσηγορεύθη

“Athene, to resume our account, having abstracted the heart of Dionysos, was called Pallas, from the vibrating of the heart" (trans. Rev. William Wilson, 1880)

[18] The story of Sæmǽli and the birth of Diónysos is told very elaborately in Διονυσιακά Νόννου Books 7, 8, and 9 but it can be found in many collections of mythology from antiquity.

[19] Νόννος Διονυσιακά 7.7-13, trans. W. H. D. Rouse 1940. We are using the Loeb Classical Library edition entitled Nonnos Dionysiaca, the 1962 reprint. Harvard Univ. Press (Cambridge MA) and William Heinemann LTD (London), p. 245.

[20] Ibid. Rouse Dionysiaká 7.94, p. 251.

[21] Πορφύριος On Images, Fragment 3, excerpt, translated by Edwin Hamilton Gifford.

[22] Orphic frag. 140. Πρόκλος Commentary on Rempubl. II 74, 26 Kr.

ὁ μὲν θεολόγος Ὀ. τρία γένη παραδέδωκεν ἀνθρώπων· πρώτιστον τὸ χρυσούν, ὅπερ ὑποστῆσαι τὸν Φάνητά φησιν· δεύτερον τὸ ἀργυροῦν, οὗ φησιν ἄρχαι τὸν μέγιστον Κρόνον· τρίτον τὸ Τιτανικόν, ὅ φησιν ἐκ τῶν Τιτανικών μελῶν τὸν Δία συστήσασθαι

"Whereas the Theologian Orphéfs conveys that there are three generations of men: the very first a Golden age said to be of Phánis; the second Silver brought forth by mighty Krónos; the third is the Titanic age formed of the Titanic limbs of Zefs." (trans. by the author)

Unlike this Orphic idea, Plátohn and others describe the ages of man differently. Plátohn calls the reign of Krónos and Rǽa a golden age as can be found in Πολιτικός 268e-272c. Cf. Ἡσίοδος Ἔργα καὶ Ἡμέραι 109-201.

Καλλίμαχος I. εἰς Δία, 90-95; trans. A.W. Mair, 1921; found here in the 1989 Harvard Univ. Press edition (Cambridge MA & London England), Loeb LCL 129, pp. 45-47.

[24] Ἄρᾱτος ὁ Σολεύς Φαινόμενα 1-18. Trans.G. R. Mair, 1921. As found in Callimachus and Lycophron. Aratus. William Heinemann (London) G. P. Putnam's Sons (New York), p. 381.

The logo to the left is the principal symbol of this website. It is called the CESS logo, i.e. the Children of the Earth and the Starry Sky. The Pætilía (Petelia, Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase
 (Γῆς παῖς εἰμί καὶ Οὐρανοῦ ἀστερόεντος) are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kozmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara, κιθάρα)
, the lyre of Apóllohn (Apollo, Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (OrpheusὈρφεύς).

PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this website, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. These narratives are known as mythology, the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes. While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally. A literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result. The meaning of the myths is concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level. Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation.

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

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