ORPHIC FRAGMENT 223 - OTTO KERN

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For links to many more fragments: The Orphic Fragments of Otto Kern.

SUMMARY: This quotation is a summary of the teachings of Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς) as understood by the Christian chronicler Iôánnîs Malálas (Ἰωάννης Μαλάλας, 491-578 CE). 

233. (76) Χρονογραφία του Ἰωάννου Μαλάλα IV 91 p. 74 Dind. ~ Georg. Cedrin. Histor. compend. I 103 Bekk., v. etiam Suid. s.:

Ὀρφεύς.  τὸ δὲ τῶν ἀνθρώ |75 Dind. πων γένος εἶπεν (sc. ὁ Ὀρφεύς) ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ πλασθέντα ἐκ γῆς καὶ ψυχὴν ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ λαβόντα λογικήν, καθὼς Μωσῆς ὁ πάνσοφος ἐξέθετο ταῦτα. ὁ δὲ αὐτὸς Ὀρφεὺς ἐν τῆι αὐτοῦ βίβλωι συνέταξεν ὅτι διὰ τῶν αὐτῶν τριῶν ὀνομάτων, μιᾶς δὲ θεότητος, τὰ πάντα ἐγένετο, καὶ αὐτός ἐστι τὰ πάντα (v. fr. 167 ss.). περὶ δὲ τοῦ ταλαιπώρου γένους τῶν ἀνθρώπων ὁ αὐτὸς Ὀρφεὺς ἐξέθετο ποιητικῶς στίχους πολλούς, ὧν μέρος εἰσὶν οὗτοι.

     θῆρές τε οἰωνοί τε βροτῶν τ’ ἀλιτήρια φῦλα, ἑρμηνεία· θηρία, ὄρνεά τε, τῶν ἀνθρώπων τὰ καταναλισκόμενα ἔθνη· 

     ἄχθεα γῆς, εἴδωλα τετυγμένα, μὴ διὰ μηδὲν ἑρμηνεία. τὸ βάρος τῆς γῆς, εἶδος κατεσκευασμένον, μηδὲ διὰ τί ἐγεννήθησαν μηδὲ διὰ τί ἀποθνήσκουσιν 

     εἰδότες, οὔτε κακοῖο προσερχομένοιο νοῆσαι γινώσκοντες. ἑρμηνεία· οὔτε κακοῦ ἐρχομένου κατ’ αὐτῶν αἰσθανόμενοι 

     φράδμονες, οὔτε ποῖον μάλ’ ἀποστρέψαι κακότητος ἀσφαλίσασθαι, οὔτε ἀπὸ μακρόθεν πολὺ ἀποστρέψαι ἐκ τοῦ κακοῦ 

     οὔτ’ ἀγαθοῦ παρεόντος ἐπιστρέψαι καὶ εἶρξαι οὔτε ἀγαθοῦ ἐρχομένου ὑποστρέψαι ἐκ τοῦ κακοῦ καὶ κρατῆσαι καλὸν· 

     ἴδριες, ἀλλὰ μάτην ἀδαήμονες, ἀπρονόητοι. 

ἔμπειροι. ἑρμηνεία. ἀλλ’ ὡς ἔτυχεν ἅμα ἀμαθεστάτως φέρονται, μηδὲν προεννοούμενοι. καὶ ἄλλους δὲ πολλοὺς στίχους ἐξέθετο ὁ αὐτὸς σοφώτατος Ὀρφεύς. ταῦτα δὲ πάντα ἐξέθετο ὁ σοφώτατος Τιμόθεος χρονογράφος, λέγων τὸν αὐτὸν Ὀρφέα πρὸ τοσούτων χρόνων εἰπόντα τριάδα ὁμοούσιον δημιουργῆσαι τὰ πάντα. 

“Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς) said that the race of man was formed by God from beneath the earth, taking a reasoning soul from Him, just as wise Moses set forth these things. For Orpheus in his book, arranging things such that through three names, but one divine nature, all things came to be. Concerning the suffering race of men, Orphéfs wrote many lines of poetry, some portion of which are as follows: 

     ‘Beasts and birds and sinful races of mortals, explained thus: wild animals, and birds, consuming the tribes of men. 

     ‘(Men are) the weight of the earth, created forms, but not through having any understanding; (they are) the misery of the earth, equipped with form, but not knowing why they were born or why they die.  

     ‘Not having knowledge or discretion to perceive the (effects) of evil, interpreted thus: perceiving not the evil coming into themselves. 

     ‘Not securing the understanding and the needed facilities to turn away from vice; not turning away from evil before it approaches (from afar). 

     ‘Nor holding in their hands the good, (but, rather) shutting it out; while they should turn from the bad and take possession of the good.

     ‘Those experienced ones (do well), but the ignorant waste their time, being careless.’ 

“They wish for experience...to have understanding...but when, at the same time, they happen to suffer from ignorance, not one wants to consider consequences beforehand. And learned Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς) expounded many other verses. The erudite chronicler Timóthæos (Τιμόθεος) wrote all this, related that Orphéfs himself, for such a long time, said that a consubstantial triad fabricated all things.”

(trans. by the author)


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


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 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 the lyre of Apóllôn (Apollo, Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus, 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.

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. For more information, visit these three pages: 

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