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The concerns of this brief essay are the underlying etiological myths upon which the foundation of Orphismós rests; here we are concerned with the Gods of whom we worship and of the entire universe in which both we and these Gods dwell. While Thæogonía (Theogony; Gr. Θεογονία) is the origin and genealogy of the Gods, Kozmogonía (Cosmogony; Gr. Κοσμογονία) is the origin of the universe. In Hellenic polytheistic religion, these two terms are closely related and cannot actually be entirely separated, for the phenomenal universe is itself divine and the personal deities are intimately connected with its origin and both emerge simultaneously.

The etymology of Thæogonía is Θεοί (Gods) + γέννα (birth), hence, the birth or origin of the Gods. The etymology of Kozmogonía is Κόσμος (order, to put in order) + γέννα (birth); the word Κόσμος only later came to mean the entire universe, but its original meaning has some bearing on how we understand our world, as the view of
Orphismós sees the birth or origin of the Kózmos (Cosmos; Gr. Κόσμος) as having a form and order, what Pythagóras (Gr. Πυθαγόρας) called diakózmisis (diakosmesis; Gr. διακόσμησις), the orderly arrangement of the universe.

In general, the philosophical view of Ællinismόs (Hellenismos; Gr. Ἑλληνισμός) is kozmogonical. In other words, everything in the religion, if you call it a religion, stems from the Kozmogonía and has it as its center. Despite the fantastic imagery, when properly understood, the Orphic kosmogony provides a natural and materialistic, rather than spiritual (incorporeal or immaterial), explanation for the creation of the Kózmos. To a great extent, it could be said that this entire website is an attempt to explain the Kosmogonía and why it is a natural view of the universe.
In antiquity, many theogonies are known to us, such as those by Akousílaos of Árgos (Acusilaus; Gr. Ἀκουσίλαος), Æpimænídis (Epimenides; Gr. Ἐπιμενίδης) of Knohssós (Knossos; Gr. Κνωσσός), and Phærækýdis (Pherecydes; Gr. Φερεκύδης) of Sýros (Gr. Σύρος) [1a], but only one has come down to us in complete form, the Thæogonía of Isíodos (Hesiod; Gr. Ἡσίοδος). Isíodos' Theogony is viewed by many modern Hellenic reconstructionists as definitive and orthodox, in contrast to Orphic theogony, which some view as of a more recent and perhaps eccentric authorship, but this view of precedence is questioned by some scholars and most certainly by ancient authors. The Isíodos is a fixed, known text; the Orphic theogonies vary somewhat from author to author and, to complicate matters, the major Orphic theogony (The Rhapsodies) is not preserved in complete form.

According to the scholar W.K.C. Guthrie, "Among the many names to which theogonical and kozmogonical writings were attached, two, as is rightly remarked by the Christian apologist, stand out, Orpheus and Hesiod. The other writers whose names I have quoted (ed., as in the above paragraph, the theogonies of AkousílaosÆpimænídis, and Phærækýdis) were always known to be later than Hesiod, who was sometimes regarded as the father of this kind of composition. Herodotus thought him so, and there were others too who doubted the authenticity of the theogony of Orpheus. The weight of that ancient name, however, was not taken away from it, and this must have suggested to many of the ancient world that, if not the poems, at least the stories which they told belonged to a time before Hesiod and Homer himself." [1b] Guthrie seems to think that the Orphic theogonic mythology likely pre-dates Isíodos and Homer. He goes on to say that the content of the Orphic theogony can be found in Neoplatonic writings and even Plátohn (Plato; Gr. Πλάτων) himself: "In their (ed. the Neoplatonists) commentaries therefore they made a point of illustrating a sentence of Plato, whenever they could, by a quotation from the Orphic poems." Here Guthrie is trying to demonstrate how these philosophers tried to justify their ideas or those of Plátohn by substantiating them with the weight of Orphic corpus, making obvious their reverence for the texts and the very name of Orphéfs (Orpheus; Gr. Ὀρφεύς).

In reference to the Orphic theogony, there appears to have existed a group of twenty-four Orphic Rhapsodiai (parts or lays) viewed as the Orphic theogony, according to the Neoplatonist Damáskios (Damascius; Gr. Δαμάσκιος), from which all of Orphismós (Orphism; Gr. Ορφισμός) is derived. The Neoplatonists believed that Orphéfs himself wrote these poems. The poems have come down to us only in fragmentary form, found scattered throughout Neoplatonic writings as quotations, and it is uncertain how these fragments were originally pieced together. Damáskios tells us of three theogonies: 1) one by Évdimos (Eudemus; Gr. Εὔδημος), a pupil of Aristotǽlis (Aristotle; Gr. Ἀριστοτέλης), 2)  by Iæróhnymos Ródios (Hieronymus of Rhodes; Gr. Ιερώνυμος Ῥόδιος) or perhaps it was authored by Ællánikos (Hellanicus; Gr. Ἑλλάνικος), and 3) lastly, the Rhapsodiai, the "orthodox" Orphic theogony. [1c] 

There is the brief but important theogony found at the beginning of the Orphǽohs Argonaftiká (Orphic Argonautica; Gr. Ὀρφέως Ἀργοναυτικά) and that found in the Argonaftiká of Apollóhnios Ródios (Apollonius Rhodius; Gr. Ἀπολλώνιος Ῥόδιος), and the Orphic theogony quoted by Alǽxandros o Aphrodisiéfs (Alexander of Aphrodisias; Gr. Ἀλέξανδρος ὁ Ἀφροδισιεύς). "Finally Gruppe mentions a theogony in Clemens Romanus not named as Orphic but belonging to the same circle of thought, which again shows points of difference from the rest.” [1c] Further still, there is the Pythagorean kosmogony of the Tímaios (Timaeus; Gr. Τίμαιος) of PlátohnPythagóras (Gr. Πυθαγόρας), Sohkrátis (Socrates; Gr. Σωκράτης), and Plátohn are regarded here as in the lineage of Orphéfs.

Of more recent discovery, but of quite ancient origin (fourth century BCE), is the Dærvǽni (Derveni; Gr. Δερβένι) Papyrus, a commentary likely authored by someone from the school of Anaxagóras (Gr. Ἀναξαγόρας) on an Orphic text; this commentary includes a theogony.


Prologue: Here follows the skeletal Orphic theogony derived from two sources: the Iæróhnymos-Ællánikos (Hieronymus-Hellanicus) theogony and the Orphic Rhapsodies as found in the Orphicum FragmentaThe paraphrased contents are derived entirely from the texts with no additions unless found in brackets; it is for this reason that the story-line is a bit fragmented.


Beginning with the Iæróhnymos-Ællánikos (Hieronymus-Hellanicus) Kosmogonía as described by Damáskios [2]

Before the beginning of all that is: The Unutterable Principle

First: Water and solid matter that hardened into Earth. (See Mystic Materialism

Out of Water and Earth came a serpent with the heads of a bull and a lion between which was the face of a God, with wings on its shoulders: his name was Un-ageing Time (Khrónos or Chronos; Gr. Χρόνος) and Iraklís (Heracles; Gr. Ἡρακλῆς)Along with and united with Khrónos was born Necessity (Anángki or Ananke; Gr. Ἀνάγκη) and Adrásteia (Gr. Ἀδράστεια) whose extended arms stretch to the limits of the Kósmos.  

Time has triple offspring: moist Aithír (Ether; Gr. Αθήρ), unlimited Kháos (Chaos; Gr. Χάος), and misty Ǽrævos (Erebos; Gr. ρεβος) (described as "a great yawning gulf, and darkness over all"). Among these, Khrónos creates an Egg and from among these the third intelligible triad emerges: The Egg; the Dyad of the two natures (male and female) with the plurality of the seeds in between; and thirdly, the incorporeal God with the golden wings on his shoulders, Phánis (Phanes; Gr. Φάνης), the son of Aithír. Phánis is described as being incorporeal, yet having golden wings on his shoulders, the head of a bull emerging from his shanks, and a massive serpent, showing the form of every type of animal.

Further, this theology has a hymn to Prohtogónos (Protogonos = the First-born = Phánis; Gr. Πρωτογόνος), calling him Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς) who ministers the whole Kósmos, calling him Pan (Pan = All; Gr. Πᾶν).

Continuing with the Orphicorum Fragmenta: The rest of the kozmogony is now constructed from quotations of the Rhapsodies found in the writings of various ancient writers, mostly the Platonists, collected and placed in the order suggested by Prof. Otto Kern (1863-1942), the classical philologist who uncovered much of the Orphic corpus. The Rhapsodies provide the most common theogony, the one customarily used by the Neoplatonists, so claims Damáskios (although Damáskios would not, of course, use that term). (For the complete extant fragments, visit this page: ORPHIC RHAPSODIES - ΙΕΡΌΣ ΛΌΓΟΣ ΣΕ 24 ΡΑΨΩΔΊΕΣ)

At the birth of Phánis, the "misty abyss below" and Aithír were torn. Phánis has both sexes and is able to give birth all of himself. He is imagined as marvelously beautiful, a figure of shining light, with golden wings on his shoulders, four eyes, and the voice of a bull and a lion. He has many names: Phaǽthohn (Phaeton; Gr. Φαέθων), First-Born Prohtogónos, Ǽrohs (Eros; Gr. Ἔρως), Mítis (Metis; Gr. Μῆτις), and Irikapaios (Erikepaios; Gr. Ἠρικαπαῖος) among them.

Phánis gave birth to Nyx (Nyx = Night; Gr. Νύξ). He gave her his scepter and prophecy.  

Night gave birth to Yaia (Gaia = Earth; Gr. Γαῖα) and Ouranós (Uranus; Gr. Οὐρανός), to whom Nyx gave supreme power.   

[Earth] gave birth to the Titánæs (Titans: Gr. Τιτᾶνες)Krónos (Cronus; Gr. Κρόνος)Rǽa (Rhea; Gr. Ῥέα), and the rest. The Titánæs [those necessary] were defeated (by the Olympians) and cast into Tártaros (Gr. Τάρταρος) by Ouranós.  

Ouranós is castrated (by Krónos).  

Krónos fathers Zefs who conspires to overthrow him. 

Zefs asks Nyx how he should establish his kingdom and have all things one and yet separate. Nyx answers that he should surround all things in his Aithír and suspend within it heaven and all its constellations and the earth.

Zefs now becomes the Dimiourgós (Demiurge or Creator; Gr. Δημιουργός). How can this be since Phánis is the creator? Zefs swallows Phánis, and with Phánis, who is the first-born and the origin of all, he may be regarded as taking into himself all things that exist. With this act, Zefs creates or reveals everything anew.

Zefs makes Diónysos (Gr. Διόνυσος) king. [The Titánæs] cut him into seven parts. Zefs asks for the parts. Vákkhos (Bacchus = Diónysos; Gr. Βάκχος) rules after Zefs.

Theogony in the Rhapsodies (another version) This second version of the Rhapsodies is derived from Gábor Betegh's book The Derveni Papyrus [3]. It is included here because Betegh quite helpfully "fills in" details not found in the above version, details missing from the extant fragments of the original text.

First: Khrónos or Time

From Khrónos were born Aithír and Kháos.

Khrónos places an egg in the Aithír, called the white tunic or cloud.

Phánis (also called Mítis, Irikapaios, ProhtogónosǼrohs, Zefs, and Vrómios [Bromios; Gr. βρόμιος]), the first king,  emerges from the egg.

This concludes direct information from the Rhapsodies. We continue with testimony from various ancient (mostly) Platonic writers:

Next comes Night (Nyx, the second king), the daughter and lover of Phánis, to whom Phánis passes the power of the sceptre.

Night gives birth to Ouranós (the third king) and Yaia (Earth).

Ouranós and Yaia give birth to a great number of Gods, including the royal couple, Krónos and Rǽa (identified as Dimítir; Gr. Δημήτηρ).

Krónos castrates Ouranós and becomes the fourth king. The phallus of Ouranóis thrown in the sea and from the foam, Aphrodíti (Aphrodite; Gr. Ἀφροδίτη) is born.

Zefs is born to Krónos and Rǽa and castrates his father as Krónos had to Ouranós, becoming the fifth king.

Night and the oracular advice of Krónos assist Zefs: he must swallow Phánis and by doing so, the whole Kózmos is within him to give new birth.

The universe is created anew and numerous Gods are fathered by Zefs. By a union with Rǽa/Dimítir, Kóri (Core; Gr. Κόρη) is born, with whom Zefs commingles, giving birth to Diónysos.

Diónysos is the sixth and final king. Zefs enthrones him. The Titánæs, jealous of Diónysos, kidnap and tear him into seven pieces, eating of his flesh. The beating heart is retrieved by Athiná (Athena; Gr. Ἀθηνᾶ) from whom a new Diónysos is created. Zefs strikes the Titánæs with a thunderbolt and from their ashes Mankind rises up.

Theogony According to Évdimos (Eudemus)

We have very little theogony of Évdimos (Eudemus; Gr. Εὔδημος) but this significant quotation of  Damáskios:

"The theology described in the Peripatetic Eudemus as being that of Orpheus is silent about the entire realm of the intelligible for it is completely inexpressible and unknowable by the method of exposition and narration:  it made its start from Night, from whom also Homer begins, although he (sc. Homer) did not make his genealogy continuous.  For we should  not believe Eudemus when he says that he (sc. Homer) begins from Okeanos and Tethys. For he too manifestly knows that Night is the greatest divinity, so that even Zeus feels awe before her..." [4]

And now we have a summary of Évdimos as presented by M.L. West: 

"In the beginning was Night.  From her came Uranus and Ge (ed. Earth or Yaia);  from them Oceanus and Tethys;  from them the twelve Titans.  Rhea bore children to Kronos, but he swallowed them as they were born.  Zeus, however, was born secretly in a cave in Crete (Ida/Dicte), nursed by nymphs, and guarded by the Kouretes.  Kronos was given a stone to swallow.  When Zeus was grown up, Rhea made Kronos drunk with honeycombs, whereupon Zeus tied him up, castrated him, and with the help of Metis induced him to regurgitate his children.  His three sons drew lots, and Hades took the lower world, Poseidon the sea, and Zeus Heaven, whither he proceeded on a goat.

"Zeus fathered children by several Goddesses, and others of the younger Gods also had families.  Persephone bore Dionysus to Zeus in Crete.  There followed the story of the murder of Dionysus by the Titans and his restoration to life.  The Titans were blasted to Tartarus, and mankind came into being from the sooty fall-out.  So theirs is a bad inheritance;  Dionysus, however, can help them by his purification rites, which were first established in Crete but soon spread everywhere." [5]

Theogony according to the Tímaios of Plátohn

The Tímaios (Timaeus; Gr. Τίμαιος) of Plátohn (Plato; Gr. Πλάτων) is of enormous significance. While the general thrust of Platonic writing encourages questions more than answers, in the Tímaios, Plátohn speaks extensively of a Creator, the Dimiourgós (Δημιουργὸς). He puts these words, not in the mouth of Sohkrátis (Socrates; Gr. Σωκράτης), but in that of the natural philosopher and Pythagorean, Tímaios o Lokrós (Timaeus of Locri; Gr. Τίμαιος ὁ Λοκρός). While the perspective expressed in this dialogue may appear different from the Rhapsodies, the Tímaios is Pythagorean and Platonic; therefore it is in the tradition of Orphismós (Orphism; Gr. Ορφισμός).

"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."  [6]

As is typical of Plátohn, the Tímaios takes the position that the Gods, or in this case the Creator, is good and not evil or neutral:

"Let me tell you then why the creator made this world of generation. He was good, and the good can never have any jealousy of anything. And being free from jealousy, he desired that all things should be as like himself as they could be. This is in the truest sense the origin of creation and of the world, as we shall do well in believing on the testimony of wise men: God desired that all things should be good and nothing bad, so far as this was attainable."  [7]

The text goes on to describe how the Dimiourgós, the Creator or Maker, brought order to Kháos (Chaos; Gr. Χάος):

"Wherefore also finding the whole visible sphere not at rest, but moving in an irregular and disorderly fashion, out of disorder he brought order, considering that this was in every way better than the other.  [8]

And he endowed the world with a soul:

"Now the deeds of the best could never be or have been other than the fairest; and the Creator, reflecting on the things which are by nature visible, found that no unintelligent creature taken as a whole was fairer than the intelligent taken as a whole; and that intelligence could not be present in anything which was devoid of soul. For which reason, when he was framing the universe, he put intelligence in soul, and soul in body, that he might be the creator of a work which was by nature fairest and best.  Wherefore, using the language of probability, we may say that the world became a living creature truly endowed with soul and intelligence by the providence of God." [9]

The Tímaios goes on to describe two kosmogonic substances, Fire and Earth, and further, Water and Air:

"Now that which is created is of necessity corporeal, and also visible and tangible. And nothing is visible where there is no fire, or tangible which has no solidity, and nothing is solid without earth. Wherefore also God in the beginning of creation made the body of the universe to consist of fire and earth. But two things cannot be rightly put together without a third; there must be some bond of union between them. And the fairest bond is that which makes the most complete fusion of itself and the things which it combines; and proportion is best adapted to effect such a union. For whenever in any three numbers, whether cube or square, there is a mean, which is to the last term what the first term is to it; and again, when the mean is to the first term as the last term is to the mean-then the mean becoming first and last, and the first and last both becoming means, they will all of them of necessity come to be the same, and having become the same with one another will be all one. If the universal frame had been created a surface only and having no depth, a single mean would have sufficed to bind together itself and the other terms; but now, as the world must be solid, and solid bodies are always compacted not by one mean but by two, God placed water and air in the mean between fire and earth, and made them to have the same proportion so far as was possible (as fire is to air so is air to water, and as air is to water so is water to earth); and thus he bound and put together a visible and tangible heaven. And for these reasons, and out of such elements which are in number four, the body of the world was created, and it was harmonised by proportion, and therefore has the spirit of friendship; and having been reconciled to itself, it was indissoluble by the hand of any other than the framer."  [10]

Plátohn speaks of the two kosmogonic substances being combined to create the soul: 

"And now I shall explain how he made soul and what materials he used. He combined the two kinds of substance--the one indivisible and never changing, and the other the divided and created substance of the physical world--into an intermediate, third kind of substance, and then again, in the case of both identity and difference, he likewise formed intermediates between, in each case, that aspect of them which is undivided and that aspect of them which is divided in the physical realm." [11]


As for the Gods, the Tímaios describes them as having arisen from Earth and Heaven (Ouranós):

"Oceanus and Tethys were the children of Earth and Heaven, and from these sprang Phorcys and Cronos and Rhea, and all that generation; and from Cronos and Rhea sprang Zeus and Herè, and all those who are said to be their brethren, and others who were the children of these."  [12]

Next follows  some statements that may surprise many people:

"Now, when all of them, both those who visibly appear in their revolutions as well as those other Gods who are of a more retiring nature, had come into being, the Creator of the universe addressed them in these words: 'Gods, children of Gods, who are my works, and of whom I am the artificer and father, my creations are indissoluble, if so I will. All that is bound may be undone, but only an evil being would wish to undo that which is harmonious and happy. Wherefore, since ye are but creatures, ye are not altogether immortal and indissoluble, but ye shall certainly not be dissolved, nor be liable to the fate of death, having in my will a greater and mightier bond than those with which ye were bound at the time of your birth.' "  [13]

For comparison in another translation, the same section:

"Once the Gods had been created -- both those that traverse the heavens for all to see and those that make themselves visible when they choose -- the Creator of this universe of ours addressed them as follows: 'Gods, divine works of which I am the craftsman and father, anything created by me is imperishable unless I will it.  Any bond can be unbound, but to want to destroy a structure of beauty and goodness is a mark of evil.  Hence, although as created beings you are not altogether immortal and indestructible, still you shall not perish nor shall death ever be your lot, since you have been granted the protection of my will, as a stronger and mightier bond than those with which you were bound at your creation."  [14]

The T
ímaios seems to be saying that the hosts of Gods are the creation of a Creator or Dimiourgós, where the Rhapsodies say that the Gods arise from Phánis and finally are created or revealed anew by Zefs. This would make Zefs the Dimiourgós.

All these quotations from the 
Tímaios are at the beginning of the kosmogony; there is a vast amount of material beyond it, but for the purposes of this brief essay, we end here. In truth, this very important work should be studied in its totality and it should be kept in mind that the comments concerning the work found here in this essay are regrettably cursory.

Read the Tímaios in either English or Greek:  Platohn: Timaios

Download a free MP3 audiobook of the Tímaios:  LibriVox » Tímaios of Plátohn.

Próklos: Orphic Theogony compared to Plátohn

"...Timæus being a Pythagorean, follows the Pythagorean principles. But these are the Orphic traditions. For what Orpheus delivered mystically through arcane narrations, these Pythagoras learned, being initiated by Aglaophemus in the Mystic wisdom which Orpheus derived from his mother Calliope. For these things Pythagoras says in the Sacred Discourse. What then are the Orphic traditions, since we are of opinion that the doctrine of Timæus about the Gods should be referred to these? They are as follows: Orpheus delivered the kingdoms of the Gods who preside over wholes, according to a perfect number, viz. Phanes, Night (ed. Nyx), Heaven (ed. Ouranós), Saturn (ed. Krónos), Jupiter (ed. Zefs), Bacchus (ed. Diónysos). For Phanes is the first that bears a sceptre, and the first king is the celebrated Ericapæus (ed. another name for Phánis). But the second is Night, who receives the sceptre from her father [Phanes]. The third is Heaven, who receives it from Night. The fourth is Saturn, who, as they say, offered violence to his father. The fifth is Jupiter, who subdued his father. And after him, the sixth is Bacchus. All these kings, therefore, beginning supernally from the intelligible and intellectual Gods, proceed through the middle orders, and into the world, that they may adorn mundane affairs. For Phanes is not only in intelligibles, but also in intellectuals, in the demiurgic, and in the supermundane order; and in a similar manner, Heaven and Night. For the peculiarities of them proceed through all the middle orders. And with respect to the mighty Saturn, is he not arranged prior to Jupiter, and does he not after the Jovian kingdom, divide the Bacchic fabrication in conjunction with the other Titans? And this indeed, he effects in one way in the heavens, and in another in the sublunary region; in one way in the inerratic sphere, and in another among the planets. And in a similar manner Jupiter and Bacchus. These things, therefore, are clearly asserted by the ancients.

"If, however we are right in these assertions, these divinities have every where an analogous subsistence; and he who wishes to survey the progressions of them into the heavens, or the sublunary region, should look to the first and principal causes of their kingdoms. For from thence, and according to them, their generation is derived. Some, therefore, say, that Plato omits to investigate the Gods who are analogous to the two kings in the heavens, I mean Phanes and Night. For it is necessary to place them in a superior order, and not among the mundane Gods, being eternally established in the adytum, as Orpheus says of Phanes, who by the word adytum, signifies their occult and immanifest order. Whether, therefore, we refer the circulation of same and different, mentioned by Plato in this dialogue, to the analogy of these, as male and female, or paternal and generative, we shall not wander from the truth. Or whether we refer the sun and moon, as opposed to each other among the planets, to the same analogy, we shall not err. For the sun indeed through his light preserves a similitude to Phanes, but the moon to Night. Jupiter, or the Demiurgus, in the intellectual, is analogous to Phanes in the intelligible order. And the vivific crater Juno is analogous to Night, who produces all life in conjunction with Phanes from unapparent causes; just as Juno is parturient (ed. pregnant) with, and emits into light, all the soul contained in the world. For it is better to conceive both these as prior to the world; and to arrange the Demiurgus himself as analogous to Phanes; since he is said to be assimilated to him according to the production of wholes; but to arrange the power conjoined with Jupiter, (i.e. Juno) and which is generative of wholes, to Night, who produces all things from the father Phanes. After these, however, we must consider the remaining as analogous to the intellectual kingdoms.

"If, likewise, it should be asked why Plato does not mention the kingdoms of Phanes and Night, to whom we have said Jupiter and Juno are analogous? It may be readily answered, that the tradition of Orpheus contains these; on which account Plato celebrates the kingdom of Heaven and Earth as the first, the Greeks being more accustomed to this than to the Orphic traditions; as he himself says in the Cratylus, where he particularly mentions the Theogony of Hesiod, and recurs as far as to this kingdom according to that poet. Beginning, therefore, from this Theogony as more known, and assuming Heaven and Earth as the first kingdoms above the world, he produces the visible Heaven and Earth analogous to those in the intellectual order, and celebrates the latter as the most ancient of the Gods within the former. From these also, he begins the Theogony of the sublunary Gods. These things, however if divinity pleases, will be manifest from what follows. At present we shall only add, that it is requisite to survey all these names divinely or dæmoniacally, and according to the allotments of these divinities in the four elements. For this ennead is in ether and water, in earth and in air, all-variously, according to the divine, and also according to the dæmonical peculiarity. And again, these names are to be surveyed aquatically and aerially, and likewise in the earth terrestrially, in order that all of them may be every where, according to an all-various mode of subsistence. For there are many modes of providence divine and dæmoniacal, and many allotments according to the division of the elements." [15]

There is a great myth of Ællinismόs in the Politikós (Statesman; Gr. Πολιτικός) of Plátohn (Plato; Gr. Πλάτων), which concerns contains a cosmogonic explanation of the universe: The Age of Krónos and the Reversal of Time.

The story of Iásohn (Jason; Gr. Ἰάσωνand the Argonáftai (Argonauts; Gr. Ἀργοναῦται) has several variants,  the most common being that which was told by Apollohnios Rothios (Apollonios of Rhodes; Gr. Ἀπολλώνιος Ῥόδιος), but there is a one which is in the Orphic tradition which includes a brief cosmogony:

(Abbreviations can be found on this page: Glossary Home Page.)

- (Cosmogony; Gr. Κοσμογονία, ΚΟΣΜΟΓΟΝΙΑ) Lexicon entry: κοσμογονία, ἡ, creation or origin of the world; applied to the poem of Parmenides. (L&S p. 984, right column, within the entries beginning with 
κοσμογένεια, edited for simplicity.)

Kózmos - (cosmos; Gr. κόσμος, ΚΟΣΜΟΣ) Lexicon entry: κόσμος, ὁ, order: generally, of things, natural order. 2. good order, good behaviour, = κοσμιότης; discipline. 3. form, fashion. 4. of states, order, government. II. ornament, decoration, esp. of women. 2. metaph., honour, credit. III. ruler, regulator, title of chief magistrate in Crete, etc.; collectively, body of κόσμοι. IV. Philos., world-order, universe. 2. metaph., microcosm; of living beings in general. 3. in later Gr., = οἰκουμένη, the known or inhabited world. 4. men in general; esp. of the world as estranged from God by sin (ed. in Christian literature). 5. οὗτος ὁ κ. this present world, i.e. earth, opp. heaven (ed. in Christian literature). V. Pythag.name for six, Theol.Ar.37; for ten, ib.59. (L&S p. 985, left column, edited for simplicity.)

Thæogonía (Theogony; Gr. Θεογονία, ΘΕΟΓΟΝΙΑ. Θεοί "Gods" + γέννα "birth.") Thæogonía is a story telling the genealogy or birth of the Gods.
- Lexicon entry: θεογονία, Ion. -ιη, ἡ, genealogy of the Gods, title of Hesiod's poem. II. generation or birth of Gods. (L&S p. 790, left column, edited for simplicity.)

Thæológos - (theologos; Gr. θεολόγος, ΘΕΟΛΟΓΟΣ. Plural is θεολόγοι.) Lexicon entry: θεολόγος, (λέγωone who discourses of the Gods, of poets such as Hesiod and Orpheus; of cosmologists (like the Orphics); of diviners and prophets. 2. theologian. (L&S p. 790, right column, within the entries beginning with θεολογεῖον, edited for simplicity.)

Thæothrǽmmohn - (theothremmon; Gr. θεοθρέμμων, ΘΕΟΘΡΕΜΜΩΝ) Lexicon entry: θεοθρέμμων, ον, gen. ονος, maintained by God. (L&S p. 790, left column, edited for simplicity.)


[1a] Orpheus and Greek Religion by W.K.C. Guthrie, 1952 but in the 1993 Princeton Univ. Press  Princeton edition, p. 71.

[1b] Ibid. Guthrie, pp. 71-72.

[1c] Ibid. Guthrie, p. 74.

[2]  Damáskios (Damascius; Gr. Δαμάσκιος) I.317.15 Ruelle; summarized from THE DERVENI PAPYRUS - Cosmology, Theology and Interpretation by Gábor Betegh, Cambridge University Press, 2004,  pp. 143-144. (I.317.15 Ruelle)  Betegh here is quoting Damáskios directly.

[3] Summarized from: Ibid. Betegh, pp. 140-143. Betegh provides numerous citations in the form of notes, supporting the entire Theogony.

[4] Quoted directly from Betegh, p. 146, who gives this citation for the quotation: Damaskios, De princ. 3.162 Combès-Westerink = 1.319 Ruelle.

[5] The Orphic Poems by M.L. West, 1983, pp. 138-139 

[6] Plato Tímaios (Timaeus; Gr. Τίμαιος) 27d-29d; translated by Benjamin Jowett, 1892, found in volume II of the 1937 Random House edition of The Dialogues of Plato on pp.12-13

[7] Tímaios 29d, Jowett, pp.13-14

[8] Tímaios 30a, Jowett, p.14

[9] Tímaios 30 b-c, Jowett, p.14

[10] Tímaios 31b -32 c, Jowett, pp.14-15

[11] Plátohn (Plato; Gr. ΠλάτωνTímaios 34c-35a, trans. Robin Waterfield in Timaeus and Critias, Oxford World's Classics, 2008, pp.22-23

[12] Tímaios 40e - 41a, Jowett, p. 22

[13] Tímaios 41a-b, Jowett, p. 22

[14] Tímaios 41a-b, from Plato: Timaeus and Critias by Robin Waterfield, 2008, Oxford World's Classics, p. 30

[15]  Próklos (Proclus; Gr. ΠρόκλοςThe Theology of Plato, Book Seven, Chapter XXVII, translated by Thomas Taylor, 1816; found in the 1999 Prometheus Trust edition on pp.548-550.

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.

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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