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Who is the Dimiourgόs?

he concept of a Creator-God is a difficult subject within Ællinismόs (Hellenismos; Gr. Ἑλληνισμός) and one of some debate. Creator-God in Greek is Pitrís-Thæόs (literally Worker-God or Maker-God; Gr. Ποιητής Θεός) or, more commonly, Dimiourgόs (Demiurgus or Demiurge; Gr. Δημιουργός. pronounced thee-mee-oor-GOHS). Dimiourgόs, a word associated with Plátohn (Plato; Gr. Πλάτων) and the dialogue Tímaios (Timaeus; Gr. Τίμαιος), has the connotation of a craftsman (see Lexicon Entry below), the Craftsman-Deity who creates or puts the Kόsmos (Cosmos; Gr. Κόσμος) in order. The word Dimiourgόs was utilized in particular ways by Christian and Gnostic theologians resulting in some of the confusion regarding the original meaning of the word.

The Thæogonies of Orphéfs and Isíodos

Although there are others, we will discuss the two fundamental Hellenic theogonies, one from Orphéfs (Orpheus; Gr. Ὀρφεύς) called the Orphic Rhapsodies, and the Thæogonía (Theogony; Gr. Θεογονία) of Isíodos (Hesiod; Gr. Ἡσίοδος).

From the perspective of Orphéfs, the universe originates from the Ineffable or Unutterable Principle
[1], the Gods, in reality everything, born of Earth and Ouranόs (Uranus; Gr. Οὐρανός), or as is more usually stated, Earth and Water.

Isíodos states that Kháos (Chaos; Gr. Χάος) was the first that arose; but the way the text is written, Kháos arises from something.

Both theogonies describe a type of creation, but they imply a process which is self-emerging. In the Orphic Kozmogony, the universe comes about of its own accord, but then Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς) swallows Phánis (Phanes; Gr. Φάνης) and creates the Kόzmos (Cosmos; Gr. Κόσμος) anew; therefore he is the creator, or as is commonly said, the "Father of Gods and Men."

"(Zeus speaks) 'Mother, highest of the Gods, immortal Night (ed. Nyx), how am I to establish my proud rule among the Immortals? How may I have all things one and each one separate?'

(Night to Zeus) 'Surround all things with the ineffable Aither, and in the midst of that set the heaven, and in the midst the boundless earth, in the midst the sea, and in the midst all the constellations with which the heaven is crowned. But when thou shalt stretch a strong bond about all things, fitting a golden chain from the Aither.'

Thus then engulfing the might of Erikepaios, the Firstborn, he held the body of all things in the hollow of his own belly; and he mingled with his own limbs the power and strength of the God. Therefore together with him all things in Zeus were created anew, the shining height of the broad Aither and the sky, the seat of the unharvested sea and the noble earth, great Ocean and the lowest depths beneath the earth, and rivers and the boundless sea and all else, all immortal and blessed Gods and Goddesses, all that was then in being and all that was to come to pass, all was there, and mingled like streams in the belly of Zeus." [3]

Yet something predates Khrόnos (Chronos; Gr. Χρόνος), Phánis, Nyx, Ouranόs, Krόnos, and Zefs. Zefs is the Father, but he is the natural evolution of what we call Water or in Greek, Ýdohr (Hydor; Gr.Ὕδωρ). Ýdohr "pre-dates" the more complex form who is the God Zefs, so therefore Zefs cannot be a creator that always existed from time immemorial. Mystic Materialism is the view that the Kόzmos consists of material substances. This material is primordial and does not arise out of "nothing," as is said in the Dærvǽni (Derveni; Gr. Δερβένι) Papyrus:

"...beings that are now come to be from the already subsistent..." and "...the beings that are now come to be from (or: out of) subsisting things." [4]

Professor Gábor Betegh, in his commentary on the poem, states:

"...the Derveni author is making here an explicit ontological claim. His point is that the things which exist now were not created out of nothing, but were formed out of already existing things." [5]

This fundamental viewpoint of the most prominent ancient Hellenic Thæogonies is in direct contrast to the opinion of the Judeo-Christian monotheistic religion, and the difference was so obvious that the early Church-Fathers brought attention to it in their teachings against Ællinismόs as, for instance, in the following quotation from the Christian apologist Athinagóras o Athinaios (Athenagoras of Athens; Gr. Ἀθηναγόρας ὁ Ἀθηναῖος; ca. 133 – 190):

"The Gods, as they affirm, were not from the beginning, but every one of them has come into existence just like ourselves. And in this opinion they all agree. Homer speaks of:

Old Oceanus, 
The sire of Gods, and Tethys;

 and Orpheus (who, moreover, was the first to invent their names, and recounted their births, and narrated the exploits of each, and is believed by them to treat with greater truth than others of divine things, whom Homer himself follows in most matters, especially in reference to the Gods)— he, too, has fixed their first origin to be from Water:—

Oceanus, the origin of all.

For, according to him, Water was the beginning of all things, and from Water, Mud (ed. Earth or Gi) was formed, and from both was produced an animal, a dragon with the head of a lion growing to it, and between the two heads there was the face of a God, named Heracles and Kronos. This Heracles generated an egg of enormous size, which, on becoming full, was, by the powerful friction of its generator, burst into two, the part at the top receiving the form of Heaven (Οὐρανός), and the lower part that of Earth (Γῆ). The Goddess Gê; moreover, came forth with a body; and Ouranos, by his union with Gê, begot females, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos; and males, the hundred-handed Cottys, Gyges, Briareus, and the Cyclopes Brontes, and Steropes, and Argos, whom also he bound and hurled down to Tartarus, having learned that he was to be ejected from his government by his children; whereupon Gê, being enraged, brought forth the Titans."

The godlike Gaia bore to Ouranos
Sons who are by the name of Titans known,
Because they vengeance took on Ouranos,
Majestic, glitt'ring with his starry crown." [6]

The Tímaios and the Dimiourgόs

In the dialogue Tímaios (Timaeus; Gr. Τίμαιος), Plátohn (Plato; Gr. Πλάτων) speaks extensively of a creator. He puts these words, not in the mouth of Sohkrátis (Socrates; Gr. Σωκράτης), but in that of the natural philosopher and Pythagorean, Tímaios of Lokrós (Timaeus of Locri; Gr. Τίμαιος ὁ Λοκρός).

"What is that which always is and has no becoming; and what is that which is always becoming and never is? That which is apprehended by intelligence and reason is always in the same state; but that which is conceived by opinion with the help of sensation and without reason, is always in a process of becoming and perishing and never really is. Now everything that becomes or is created must of necessity be created by some cause, for without a cause nothing can be created. The work of the creator, whenever he looks to the unchangeable and fashions the form and nature of his work after an unchangeable pattern, must necessarily be made fair and perfect; but when he looks to the created only, and uses a created pattern, it is not fair or perfect. Was the heaven then or the world, whether called by this or by any other more appropriate name---assuming the name, I am asking a question which has to be asked at the beginning of an enquiry about anything---was the world, I say, always in existence and without beginning? or created, and had it a beginning? Created, I reply, being visible and tangible and having a body, and therefore sensible; and all sensible things are apprehended by opinion and sense and are in a process of creation and created. Now that which is created must, as we affirm, of necessity be created by a cause. But the father and maker of all this universe is past finding out; and even if we found him, to tell of him to all men would be impossible. And there is still a question to be asked about him: Which of the patterns had the artificer in view when he made the world---the pattern of the unchangeable, or of that which is created? If the world be indeed fair and the artificer good, it is manifest that he must have looked to that which is eternal; but if what cannot be said without blasphemy is true, then to the created pattern. Every one will see that he must have looked to, the eternal; for the world is the fairest of creations and he is the best of causes. And having been created in this way, the world has been framed in the likeness of that which is apprehended by reason and mind and is unchangeable, and must therefore of necessity, if this is admitted, be a copy of something. Now it is all-important that the beginning of everything should be according to nature. And in speaking of the copy and the original we may assume that words are akin to the matter which they describe; when they relate to the lasting and permanent and intelligible, they ought to be lasting and unalterable, and, as far as their nature allows, irrefutable and immovable---nothing less. But when they express only the copy or likeness and not the eternal things themselves, they need only be likely and analogous to the real words. As being is to becoming, so is truth to belief. If then, Socrates, amid the many opinions about the Gods and the generation of the universe, we are not able to give notions which are altogether and in every respect exact and consistent with one another, do not be surprised. Enough, if we adduce probabilities as likely as any others; for we must remember that I who am the speaker, and you who are the judges, are only mortal men, and we ought to accept the tale which is probable and enquire no further." [7]

From the above passage, we can assume that Tímaios is speaking of the archetypal forms, when the text uses the term unchangeable pattern (eidos; Gr. εἶδος), as primordial.

And according to Próklos (Proclus; Gr. Πρόκλος), the Dimiourgόs is Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς):

"Very properly therefore do we say that the Demiurgus in the Timæus is the mighty Jupiter (ed. Zefs). For he it is who produces mundane intellects and souls, who adorns all bodies with figures and numbers, and inserts in them one union, and an indissoluble friendship and bond. For Night (ed. Nyx) also in Orpheus (ed. Orphéfs) advises Jupiter to employ things of this kind in the fabrication of the universe.

αυταρ επην δεσμον κρατερον περι πασι τανυσσης
(ed. aftar æpin dæsmon kratæron pæri pasi tanyssis)

i.e. But when your power around the whole has spread
A strong coercive bond." [8]

Why did the Dimiourgόs Create the Kósmos, according to the Tímaios?

But why then did this Creator-God, this kosmic craftsman, create or order the universe? The Tímaios says:

"Now why did he who framed this whole universe of becoming frame it? Let us state the reason why: He was good, and one who is good can never become jealous of anything. And so, being free of jealousy, he wanted everything to become as much like himself as was possible. In fact, men of wisdom will tell you (and you couldn't do better than to accept their claim) that this, more than anything else, was the most preeminent reason for the origin of the world's coming to be. The God wanted everything to be good and nothing to be bad so far as that was possible, and so he took over all that was visible--not at rest but in discordant and disorderly motion--and brought it from a state of disorder to one of order, because he believed that order was in every way better than disorder." [9]

Tímaios calls this creator Intellect, but he also describes the role of Anángki (Ananke; Gr. Ἀνάγκη), the force of Necessity or Need:

"Now in all but a brief part of the discourse I have just completed I have presented what has been crafted by Intellect. But I need to match this account by providing a comparable one concerning the things that have come about by Necessity. For this ordered world is of mixed birth: it is the offspring of a union of Necessity and Intellect. Intellect prevailed over Necessity by persuading it to direct most of the things that come to be toward what is best, and the result of this subjugation of Necessity to wise persuasion was the initial formation of this universe. So if I'm to tell the story of how it really came to be in this way, I'd also have to introduce the character of the Straying Cause--how it is its nature to set things adrift." [10]

The view of Orphéfs as compared to the Tímaios

Comparing Tímaios' view, or the Platonic view, to the view of Orphic Thæogonía, the forms exist within the Unutterable Principle, the pre-existent state of the Kόsmos, which we call material, and that the forms are revealed by the Fire-Aithír. These are the forms that are revealed when Zefs, acting as the Dimiourgόs, uses Phanis to surround the forms in the Ántron (Cave, Gr. Ἄντρον) of Nyx, as quoted above from the Orphic Rhapsodies
[3]. Both are views of a self-generated pantheon of Gods and of a self-generated universe. This would also seem to be in union with the opinion of Isíodos.

The Two Kosmogonic Substances and Creation

Again according to Orphéfs, we can think of creation from another perspective. Pre-existent within the Unutterable Principle are the two most fundamental material substances. Orphéfs calls them Earth and Water. Earth is a divisible or particulate substance. Water is not divisible and is continuous. There are other fundamental elements discussed in ancient philosophy, Aithír and Fire, but these two are also continuous substances like Water. According to Plátohn
[11], Water, Fire, and Aithír can transform into each other, but Earth remains the same. Therefore, from this perspective, there are only two basic Kosmogonic substances: Earth and Water-Fire-Aithír. Earth is receptive to the formative power of Aithír. The Aithír is a most powerful creative force. It draws the particles of Earth and unites with them, creating, or rather, revealing forms, creating souls, creating the universe. Since these forms derive from pre-existent material, this genitive action, revealed by the light of Phánis, is not a creation from nothing. This Aithír is the Dimiourgόs in that the Aithír is active, but Aithír cannot "create" without Earth. The fully evolved form of Aithír is Zefs; therefore, Zefs is the Aithír and Zefs is the Dimiourgόs who puts the universe in order.


The position of this website is that there is no creator-God as a deity that pre-exists all that ever existed, in the sense that, for instance, most Christians conceive of God, but that there is a creator-God, the Dimiourgόs, who creates or reveals the potential of the Kózmos and sets it in order, out of the pre-existent material that exists eternally in a state which we call Ineffable or Unutterable. 

Please also visit this page: The Orphic Rhapsodic Hymn to Zefs

Lexicon entry
 for Dimiourgos: δημιουργ-ός, Ep. δημιοεργός (also Hdt.7.31 codd.), ὁ, one who works for the people, skilled workman, handicraftsman; of medical practitioners; of sculptors; of confectioners and cooks. 2. metaph., maker, morn that calls man to work3. creator, producer; esp. in later philosophy, the Creator of the visible world, DemiurgeII. in many Greek states, title of a magistratIII. as a priestly title.  [12]

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.


(a key to abbreviations can be found at the bottom of this page: GLOSSARY HOME)

[1] "That Orpheus greatly availed himself of the licence of fables, and manifests every thing prior to Heaven (ed. Ouranos) by names, as far as to the first cause.  He also denominates the ineffable, who transcends the intelligible unities, Time; whether because Time pre-subsists as the cause of all generation, or because, as  delivering the generation of true beings, he thus denominates the ineffable, that he may indicate the order of true beings, and the transcendency of the more total to the more partial; that a subsistence according to Time may be the same with a subsistence according to cause; in the same manner as generation with an arranged progression.  But Hesiod venerates many of the divine natures in silence, and does not in short name the first.  For that what is posterior to the first proceeds from something else, is evident from the verse,

'Chaos of all things was the first produced.'

For it is perfectly impossible that it could be produced without a cause; but he does not say what that is which gave subsistence to Chaos.  He is silent indeed with respect to both the fathers of intelligibles, the exempt, and the co-ordinate; for they are perfectly ineffable.  And with respect to the two co-ordinations, the natures which are co-ordinate with the one, he passes by in silence, but those alone which are co-ordinate with the indefinite duad, he unfolds through genealogy.  And of this account Plato now thinks Hesiod deserves to be mentioned, for passing by the natures prior to Heaven, as being ineffable.  For this also is indicated concerning them by the (ed. Chaldean) Oracles, which likewise add "they possess mystic silence," σιγ' εχε μυστα (ed. sig ækhæ mistah).  And Socrates himself in the Phædrus, calls the intellectual perception of them μυησις (ed. miisis) and εποπτεια (ed. æpohptia), in which nearly the whole business is ineffable and unknown."

(Extract from the Manuscript Scolia of Próklos On the Kratýlos (Cratylus; Gr. Κρατύλος) of Plátohn, found in The Theology of Plato/Proclus, trans. Thomas Taylor, The Prometheus Trust, Somerset UK, Vol. VIII of The Thomas Taylor Series, pp. 679-680)

[2] Kháos (Chaos; Gr. Χάος) following the Ineffable primordial state of the Kósmos, for Isíodos (Hesiod; Gr. Ἡσίοδος) says that Kháos comes to be, not that it pre-exists everything else:

"Verily at the first chaos came to be...."  (Isíodos Thæogonía 116, trans. by Hugh G. Evelyn-White, 1914; found  here in the 1936 Harvard (Cambridge, MA)/William Heinemann (London, England) edition of Hesiod: The Homeric Hymns and Homerica, pp. 86-87)

Glenn W. Most in his translation of Isíodos' Thæogonía prefers the term chasm to chaos:

"...but that (ed. the word Chaos) suggest to us, misleadingly, a jumble of disordered matter, whereas Hesiod's term indicates instead a gap or opening."  (Hesiod: Theogony/Works and Days/Testimonia by Glenn W. Most, 2006; Harvard Univ. Press (Cambridge, MA and London, England), p. 24, note 7.)

[3]  Orphicorum Fragmenta 164-167 (Otto Kern numbering) as found in Orpheus and Greek Religion by W.K.C. Guthrie, 1906, in the 1993 Princeton Univ. Press edition (Princeton, New Jersey) on pp. 139-140. 

[4] Dærvǽni (Derveni; Gr. Δερβένι) Papyrus, Col. 16, trans. by Gábor Betegh; quoted from The Derveni Papyrus: Cosmology, Theology and Interpretation, Cambridge University Press (United Kingdom, Cambridge), 2004,  p. 35. 

[5] Ibid. Betegh, p. 225. 

[6] Athinagóras o Athinaios (Athenagoras of Athens; Gr. Ἀθηναγόρας ὁ Ἀθηναῖοςca. 133 – 190) A Plea for the Christians: To the Emperors Marcus Aurelius Antoninus and Lucius Aurelius Commodus, conquerors of Armeniaand Sarmatia, and more than all, philosophersChapter 18, as found in the Ante-Nicene Nicene Christian Library, published between 1867 and 1873, edited by Rev. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, Vol. 2, p. 375, .

[7] Plátohn Tímaios  27-29; trans.by Benjamin Jowett, 1892, found in volume II of the 1937 Random House edition (New York, USA) of The Dialogues of Plato on pp. 12-13.

[8] Extract from the Manuscript Scolia of Próklos On the Kratýlos (Cratylus; Gr. Κρατύλος) of Plátohn
, found in The Theology of Plato/Proclus, trans. Thomas Taylor, Prometheus Trust (Somerset UK), Vol. VIII of The Thomas Taylor Series, p. 669.

[9] Plátohn Tímaios 29d-30a; trans.Donald J.Zeyl, 1997 as found in Plato: Complete Works, Hackett Publishing Co. (Indianapolis/Cambridge), p.1236.

[10] Plátohn Tímaios 47e-48a; Ibid. Zeyl, p.1250.

[11] Plátohn Tímaios 56d-57a, in the section following triangles. 

[12] L&S (Liddell & Scott) p. 386, left column; within the entries beginning with δημιουργ-εῖον.

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; Gr. Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase 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; Gr. κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus; Gr. Ὀρφεύς).

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.

SPELLING: HellenicGods.org uses the Reuchlinian method of pronouncing ancient Greek, the system preferred by scholars from Greece itself. An approach was developed to enable the student to easily approximate the Greek words. Consequently, the way we spell words is unique, as this method of transliteration is exclusive to this website. 

Please visit the following pages to familiarize yourself with the Greek pronunciation of the ancient letters and words as well as the unique transliteration system we have developed:

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