ORPHIC FRAGMENT 52 - OTTO KERN

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


SUMMARY: Fragment 52 consists of two separate fragments, both related to Vavóh (Βαυβώ) lifting her robes and exposing her private parts to the Goddess Dîmítîr (Δημήτηρto make her laugh, the first fragment stating that the infant Íäkkhos (Ἴακχος) was under her robes.


52. (215) Λόγος Προτρεπτικὸς πρὸς Ἕλληνας Κλήμεντος του Ἀλεξανδρέως II 20, 1-21, 1 (I 15 Staeh.) ~ Euseb. Praep. ev. II 3, 30-34 (I 82 Dind.):

Καὶ τί θαυμαστὸν εἰ Τυρρηνοὶ οἱβάρβαροι αἰσχροῖς οὕτως τελίσκονται παθήμασιν, ὅπουγε Ἀθηναίοις καὶ τῇ ἄλλῃ Ἑλλάδι, αἰδοῦμαι καὶ λέγειν, αἰσχύνης ἔμπλεως ἡ περὶ τὴν Δηὼ μυθολογία; ἀλωμένηγὰρ ἡ Δηὼ κατὰ ζήτησιν τῆς θυγατρὸς τῆς Κόρης περὶτὴν Ἐλευσῖνα ῾τῆς Ἀττικῆς δέ ἐστι τοῦτο τὸ χωρίον̓ἀποκάμνει καὶ φρέατι ἐπικαθίζει λυπουμένη. τοῦτο τοῖςμυουμένοις ἀπαγορεύεται εἰσέτι νῦν, ἵνα μὴ δοκοῖεν οἱτετελεσμένοι μιμεῖσθαι τὴν ὀδυρομένην. ᾤκουν δὲτηνικάδε τὴν Ἐλευσῖνα οἱ γηγενεῖς: ὀνόματα αὐτοῖςΒαυβὼ καὶ Δυσαύλης καὶ Τριπτόλεμος, ἔτι δὲ Εὔμολπόςτε καὶ Εὐβουλεύς: βουκόλος ὁ Τριπτόλεμος ἦν, ποιμὴν δὲὁ Εὔμολπος, συβώτης δὲ ὁ Εὐβουλεύς: ἀφ̓ ὧν τὸΕὐμολπιδῶν καὶ τὸ Κηρύκων τὸ ἱεροφαντικὸν δὴ τοῦτοἈθήνησι γένος ἤνθησεν. καὶ δὴ ῾οὐ γὰρ ἀνήσω μὴ οὐχὶ εἰπεῖν̓ ξενίσασα ἡ Βαυβὼ τὴν Δηὼ ὀρέγει κυκεῶνα αὐτῇ: τῆς δὲ ἀναινομένης λαβεῖν καὶ πιεῖν οὐκ ἐθελούσης ῾πενθήρης γὰρ ἦν̓ περιαλγὴς ἡ Βαυβὼ γενομένη, ὡς ὑπεροραθεῖσα δῆθεν, ἀναστέλλεται τὰ αἰδοῖα καὶ ἐπιδεικνύει τῇ θεῷ: ἡ δὲ τέρπεται τῇ ὄψει ἡ Δηὼ καὶ μόλις ποτὲ δέχεται τὸ ποτόν, ἡσθεῖσα τῷ θεάματι. ταῦτ̓ ἔστι τὰ κρύφια τῶν Ἀθηναίων μυστήρια. ταῦτά τοι καὶ Ὀρφεὺς ἀναγράφει. παραθήσομαι δέ σοι αὐτὰ τοῦ Ὀρφέως τὰ ἔπη, ἵν̓ ἔχῃς μάρτυρα τῆς ἀναισχυντίας τὸν μυσταγωγόν:

ὣς εἰποῦσα πέπλους ἀνεσύρετο, δεῖξε δὲ πάντα σώματος οὐδὲ πρέποντα τύπον: παῖς δ̓ ἦεν Ἴακχος, χειρί τέ μιν ῥίπτασκε γελῶν Βαυβοῦς ὑπὸ κόλποις: ἡ δ̓ ἐπεὶ οὖν μείδησε θεά, μείδης᾿ ἐνὶ θυμῷ, δέξατο δ̓ αἰόλον ἄγγος, ἐν ᾧ κυκεὼν ἐνέκειτο.

“Yet how can we wonder if Tyrrhenians, who are barbarians, are thus consecrated to base passions when Athenians and the rest of Greece – I blush even to speak of it – possess that shameful tale about Demeter? It tells how Demeter, wandering through Eleusis, which is a part of Attica, in search of her daughter the Maiden, becomes exhausted and sits down at a well in deep distress. This display of grief is forbidden, up to the present day, to those who are initiated, lest the worshippers should seem to imitate the goddess in her sorrow. At that time Eleusis was inhabited by aborigines, whose names were Baubo, Dysaules, Triptolemus, and also Eumolpus and Eubouleus. Triptolemus was a herdsman, Eumolpus a shepherd, and Eubouleus and swineherd. These were progenitors of the Eumolpidae and of the Heracles, who form the priestly [hierophantic] clan at Athens. But to continue; for I will not forfear to tell the rest of the story. Baubo, having received Demeter as a guest, offers her a draught of wine and meal. She declines to take it, being unwilling to drink on account of her mourning. Baubo is deeply hurt, thinking she has been slighted, and thereupon uncovers her secret parts and exhibits them to the goddess. Demeter is pleased at the sight, and now at least receives the draught, — delighted by the spectacle! These are the secret mysteries of the Athenians! These are also the subjects of Orpheus’ poems. I will quote you the very lines of Orpheus, in order that you may have the originator of the mysteries as witness of their shamelessness:

“This said, she drew aside her robes, and showed a sight of shame; child Iacchus was there, and laughing, plunged his hand below her breasts. Then smiled the Goddess, in her heart she smiled, and drank the draught from out the glancing cup.' "

(trans. G. W. Butterworth, 1919)

Clementum sequitur Arnobius, Adversus Nationes V 25 p. 196, 3 Reiff. :

"In istius conquisitionis errore Eleusinios etiam pervehitur fines. Pagi istud est nomen regione in Attica constituti. Quinque illud temporis has partes incolebant terrigenae, quibus nomina haec fuerant: Baubo Triptolemus Eumolpus Eubuleus Dysaules: boum iugator Triptolemus, capellarum Dysaules custos, Eubuleus porcorum, gregis lanitii Eumolpus, a quo gens ecfluit Eumolpidarum et ducitur clarum illud apud Cecropios nomen et qui postea floruerunt caduceatores, hierophantae atque praecones. Igitur Baubo illa, quam incolam diximus Eleusinii fuisse pagi, malis multiformibus fatigatam accipit hospitio Cererem, adulatur obsequiis mitibus, reficiendi corporis rogat curam ut habeat, sitientis ardori oggerit potionem cinni, cyceonem quam nuncupat Graecia: aversatur et respuit humanitatis officia maerens dea nec eam fortuna perpetitur valetudinis meminissecommunis. Rogat illa atque hortatur contra, sicut mos est in huiusmodi casibus, ne fastidium suae humanitatis adsumat: obstinatissimedurat Ceres et rigoris indomiti pertinaciam retinet. Quod cum saepius fieret neque ullis quiret obsequiis ineluctabile propositum fatigari, vertit Baubo artes et quam serio non quibat allicere ludibriorum statuit exhilarare miraculis: partem illam corporis, per quam secus femineum et subolem prodereet nomen solet adquirere genetricum, longiore ab incuria liberat, facit sumere habitum puriorem et in speciem levigarinondum duri atque histriculi pusionis. Redit ad deam tristem et inter illa communia quibus moris est frangere ac temperare máerorss retegit se ipsam atque omnia illa pudoris loca revelatis monstrat inguinibus. Atque pubi adfigit oculos diva et inauditi specie solaminis pascitur: tumdiffusior facta per risum aspernatam sumitatque ebibit potionem, et quod diu nequivit verecundia Baubonis exprimerepropudiosi facinoris extorsit obscenitas". Calumniari nos improbe si quis forte hominum suspicatur, libros sumat Threicii vatis, quos antiquitatis memoratis esse divinae, et inveniet nos nihil neque callide fingere neque quo sint risui deum quaerere atque efficere sanctitates. Ipsos namque in medio ponemus versus, quos Calliopae filius ore edidit Graeco et cantando per saecula iuri publicavithumano:

sic effata simul vestem contraxit ab imo obiecitque oculis formatas inguinibus res: quas cava succutiens Baubo manu - nam puerilis ollis vultus erat - plaudit, contrectat amice. Tum dea defigens augusti luminis orbes tristitias animi paulum mollita reponit: inde manu poclum sumit risuque sequentiperducit totum cyceonis laeta liquorem.

25. In her wanderings on that quest, she reaches the confines of Eleusis as well as other countries — that is the name of a canton in Attica. At that time these parts were inhabited by aborigines named Baubo, Triptolemos, Eubuleus, Eumolpos, Dysaules: Triptolemos, who yoked oxen; Dysaules, a keeper of goats; Eubuleus, of swine; Eumolpos, of sheep, from whom also flows the race of Eumolpidae, and from whom is derived that name famous among the Athenians, and those who afterwards flourished as caduceatores, hierophants, and criers. So, then, that Baubo who, we have said, dwelt in the canton of Eleusis, receives hospitably Ceres, worn out with ills of many kinds, hangs about her with pleasing attentions, beseeches her not to neglect to refresh her body, brings to quench her thirst wine thickened with spelt, which the Greeks term kykeon. The Goddess in her sorrow turns away from the kindly offered services, and rejects them; nor does her misfortune suffer her to remember what the body always requires. Baubo, on the other hand, begs and exhorts her— as is usual in such calamities— not to despise her humanity; Ceres remains utterly immoveable, and tenaciously maintains an invincible austerity. But when this was done several times, and her fixed purpose could not be worn out by any attentions, Baubo changes her plans, and determines to make merry by strange jests her whom she could not win by earnestness. That part of the body by which women both bear children and obtain the name of mothers, this she frees from longer neglect: she makes it assume a purer appearance, and become smooth like a child, not yet hard and rough with hair. In this wise she returns to the sorrowing Goddess; and while trying the common expedients by which it is usual to break the force of grief, and moderate it, she uncovers herself, and baring her groins, displays all the parts which decency hides; and then the Goddess fixes her eyes upon these, and is pleased with the strange form of consolation. Then becoming more cheerful after laughing, she takes and drinks off the drought spurned before, and the indecency of a shameless action forced that which Baubo's modest conduct was long unable to win.

26. If any one perchance thinks that we are speaking wicked calumnies, let him take the books of the Thracian soothsayer, which you speak of as of divine antiquity; and he will find that we are neither cunningly inventing anything, nor seeking means to bring the holiness of the Gods into ridicule, and doing so: for we shall bring forward the very verses which the Son of Kalliope uttered in Greek, and published abroad in his songs to the human race throughout all ages:—

‘With these words she at the same time drew up her garments from the lowest hem
And exposed to view formatas inguinibus res
Which Baubo grasping with hollow hand, for 
Their appearance was infantile, strikes, touches gently. 
Then the Goddess, fixing her orbs of august light, 
Being softened, lays aside for a little the sadness of her mind; 
Thereafter she takes the cup in her hand, and laughing, 
Drinks off the whole draught of kykeon with gladness.’ ”

(trans. Hamilton Bryce and Hugh Campbell, 1871)


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.


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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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