ORPHIC FRAGMENT 235 - OTTO KERN

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

SUMMARY: This fragment states that many people may parade around as though they are with Diónysos, but very few of them are truly intoxicated with him. There is another quotation from Ἱστορίαι Ἡροδότου saying that the Orphic rites are actually Egyptian and Pythagorean, and that those initiated in such Mysteries are not to be buried in wool. 

235. (237) σχόλιον Ὀλυμπιοδώρου επὶ Φαίδωνος Πλάτωνος 68 c p. 48, 20 Norv.: 

διὸ καὶ παρωιδεῖ ἔπος Ὀρφικὸν τὸ λέγον, ὅτι· ὅτις δ’ ἡμῶν ἀτέλεστος ὥσπερ ἐν βορβόρωι  κείσεται ἐν Ἅιδου· τελετὴ γὰρ ἐστιν ἡ τῶν ἀρετῶν βακχεία· και φησιν· 

πολλοὶ μὲν ναρθηκοφόροι παῦροι δὲ τε βάκχοι, 

ναρθηκοφόρους, οὐ μὴν βάκχους τοὺς πολιτικοὺς καλῶν, ναρθηκοφόρους δὲ καὶ βάκχους τοὺς καθαρτικούς· καὶ γὰρ ἐνδούμεθα μὲν τῆι ὕληι ὡς Τιτᾶνες διὰ τὸν πολὺν μερισμόν· πολὺ γὰρ τὸ ἐμὸν καὶ σόν· ἀνεγειρόμεθα δὲ ὡς βάκχοι· διὸ καὶ περὶ τὸν θάνατον μαντικώτεροι γινόμεθα, καὶ ἔφορος δὲ τοῦ θανάτου ὁ Διόνυσος, διότι καὶ πάσης βακχείας. καὶ εὖ γε τοῦ λόγου, διότι καὶ ἀπὸ |49 Norv. θεοῦ ἤρξατο, ἡνίκα ἔλεγεν ‘ ὁ μὲν ἐν ἀπορρήτοις περὶ αὐτῶν λεγόμενος λόγος, ὡς ἔν τινι φρουρᾶι ἐσμεν ’ (Φαίδων Πλάτωνος 62 b fr. 7)· καὶ εἰς θεὸν κατέληξεν, ἐξ οὗ καὶ ἤρξατο, λέγω δὲ τὸν Διόνυσον. Cf. eundem 67 c p. 43, 22; 70 c p. 58, 16 et Β ρξή p. 122, 23 Norv. nec non Hermiam in Plat. Phaedr. 249 c p. 172, 10 Couvreur. 

“Through this, he (Πλάτών) re-phrases the Orphic expression, that anyone uninitiated in the Mysteries will lie in the muck in Aidîs (Ἅιδης), for the initiation is the Vakkhic orgy of virtue. And he says: 

‘Many carry the staff of Diónysos, but few are intoxicated with him,’ 

“(that is to say that) those carrying the staff of Diónysos, but not finding Vakkhic intoxication, are called to civic life, but those carrying the thyrsos with Vakkhic intoxication find purification. For the Titans (Τιτᾶνες) bind us into many parts with matter, for everything becomes ‘mine’ or ‘thine.’ But we awake as Vákkhos (Βάκχος). And through death, oracles come about, and the guardian of death is Diónysos, for the very reason that all is from Vákkhos...and happily so, at least (as we learn) from the story, because it begins from God. At the point where it says, ‘The account spoken of in the Mysteries, that (part which says that) we are in a prison,’ it also ends with the God from which it began, for this I say is Diónysos!” (trans. by the author) 

Ἱστορίαι Ἡροδότου 2.81.2 (test. nr. 216): 

ὁμολογέουσι δὲ ταῦτα τοῖσι Ὀρφικοῖσι καλεομένοισι καὶ Βακχικοῖσι, ἐοῦσι δὲ Αἰγυπτίοισι καὶ Πυθαγορείοισι· οὐδὲ γὰρ τούτων τῶν ὀργίων μετέχοντα ὅσιόν ἐστὶ ἐν εἰρινέοισι εἵμασι θαφθῆναι. ἔστι δὲ περὶ αὐτῶν ἱρὸς λόγος λεγόμενος. 

“Here their practice (the Egyptians) resembles the rites called Orphic and Dionysiac, but which are in reality Egyptian and Pythagorean; for no one initiated in these Mysteries can be buried in a woolen shroud, a religious reason being assigned for the observance.” (trans. George Rawlinson, 1858)


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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