ORPHIC FRAGMENT 227 - OTTO KERN

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

SUMMARY: The fragment is difficult to interpret, but seems to be saying that all the souls have multiple fates as they revolve about in the race (δρόμος) of lives.

227. (251) Λόγος Στρώματα Κλήμεντος του Ἀλεξανδρέως V 8, 45, 4 (II 356, 9 Staeh.):

Ἀλλὰ καὶ Διονύσιος ὁ Θρᾶιξ ὁ γραμματικὸς ἐν τῶι Περὶ τῆς ἐμφάσεως Περὶ τῆς ἐμφάσεως  (fr. 2 M. Schmidt Phil. VII 1852, 369 n. 2) περὶ τοῦ τῶν τροχίσκων συμβόλου φησὶ κατὰ λέξιν·

“ἐσήμαινον γοῦν οὐ διὰ λέξεως μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ διὰ συμβόλων ἔνιοι τὰς πράξεις, διὰ λέξεως μὲν ὡς ἔχει τὰ λεγόμενα Δελφικὰ παραγγέλματα, τὸ ‘μηδὲν ἄγαν’ καὶ τὸ ‘γνῶθι σαυτὸν’ καὶ τὰ τούτοις ὅμοια, διὰ δὲ συμβόλων ὡς ὅ τε τροχὸς ὁ στρεφόμενος ἐν τοῖς τῶν θεῶν τεμένεσιν εἱλκυσμένος παρὰ Αἰγυπτίων καὶ τὸ τῶν θαλλῶν τῶν διδομένων τοῖς προσκυνοῦσι. φησὶ γὰρ Ὀρφεὺς ὁ Θράικιος·

‘θαλλῶν δ' ὅσσα βροτοῖσιν ἐπὶ χθονὸς ἔργα μέμηλεν,
οὐδὲν ἔχει μίαν αἶσαν ἐπὶ φρεσίν, ἀλλὰ κυκλεῖται
πάντα πέριξ, στῆναι δὲ καθ' ἓν μέρος οὐ θέμις ἐστίν,
ἀλλ' ἔχει, ὡς ἤρξαντο, δρόμου μέρος ἶσον ἕκαστος.’

οἱ θαλλοὶ ἤτοι τῆς πρώτης τροφῆς σύμβολον ὑπάρχουσιν, ἢ ὅπως ἐπιστῶνται οἱ πολλοὶ τοὺς μὲν καρποὺς δί ὅλου θάλλειν καὶ αὔξεσθαι διαμένοντας ἐπὶ πλεῖστον, σφᾶς δὲ αὐτοὺς ὀλίγον εἰληχέναι τὸν τῆς ζωῆς χρόνον, τούτου χάριν δίδοσθαι τοὺς θαλλοὺς βούλον |357 Staeh. ται, ἴσως δὲ καὶ ἵνα ἐπιστῶνται, ὅτι, ὡς οὗτοι [αὖ] καίονται, οὕτως καὶ <αὐ>τοὺς δεῖ τοῦτον τὸν βίον ταχέως ἐκλιπεῖν καὶ πυρὸς ἔργον γενέσθαι.”

“Also Dionysius Thrax, the grammarian, in his book, Respecting the Exposition of the Symbolical Signification in Circles, says expressly,

‘Some signified actions not by words only, but also by symbols: by words, as is the case of what are called the Delphic maxims, ‘Nothing in excess,’ ‘Know thyself,’ and the like; and by symbols, as the wheel that is turned in the temples of the Gods, derived from the Egyptians, and the branches that are given to the worshippers. For the Thracian Orpheus says:

“Whatever works of branches are a care to men on earth,
Not one has one fate in the mind, but all things
Revolve around; and it is not lawful to stand at one point,
But each one keeps an equal part of the race as they began.

‘The branches either stand as the symbol of the first food, or they are that the multitude may know that fruits spring and grow universally, remaining a very long time; but that the duration of life allotted to themselves is brief. And it is on this account that they will have it that the branches are given; and perhaps also that they may know, that as these, on the other hand, are burned, so also they themselves speedily leave this life, and will become fuel for fire.’ ”

(trans. William Wilson, 1885)


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.

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