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The importance of the Orphic fragments

The vast bulk of the mythology of the Mysteries, originally contained in various writings including an epic theogony, has been lost or likely destroyed in antiquity. Fortunately, many authors quoted from these texts, and these fragments had been collected by the philologist Otto Kern and published in 1922 in his book Orphicorum Fragmenta. To anyone other than scholars, this work is completely inaccessible, because its contents are in the original languages, ancient Greek and Latin. There is no existing translation of the book, except for a relatively small collection of fragments which can be accessed online. This same collection is found in Orpheus and Greek Religion by W. K. C. Guthrie.

Why are these fragments important? The Mysteries are the heart, the deepest meaning of the ancient Greek religion known as Ællinismόs (Hellenismos; Ἑλληνισμός). Without the Mysteries, there is no explanation of what the religion is actually about. These fragments reveal the story-line from which a theology can be derived. In other words, without the knowledge contained in these fragments, there is inadequate information to properly understand ancient Greek religion. While there survive texts by theologians, mostly the Platonic philosophers, which address particular aspects of the religion, the Orphic fragments are the meat behind those words. The entire texts from which they came, was known and available in antiquity, but now only the fragments remain; they are what remains of the core, the nucleus of the theogony of the Mysteries.

The aspiration of this project is to make English translations available of as many of the fragments as possible, but also to place the Greek and Latin online for those who have need of it. While the entire Orphicorum Fragmenta is available, you cannot copy/paste anything from it as it is online as a photocopy, not actual text. The hope is that this effort will make the job of scholars easier. Many of the ancient texts have not appeared online before and the task of typing it all out letter by letter, diacriticals and all, is very laborious. So our wish is to bestow a present to those who study and love the old religion.

Orphicorum Fragmenta: This is a download of all the fragments as collected by Professor Otto Kern. They are not translated but found in their original languages. This download consists of 415 pages of a photographed book; it may take some time to appear in your browser and it is not practical to navigate the file online, better to just download it

Kern Orphicorum fragmenta

The following are pages of individual fragments from the Orphicorum fragmenta with English translation. This is an ongoing project with the intention of eventually making available translations of all the fragments.

Orphic Fragment 34 (with English translation)

Orphic Fragment 35 (with English translation)

Orphic Fragment 36 (with English translation)

Orphic Fragment 37 (with English translation)

Orphic Fragment 38 (with English translation)

Orphic Fragment 48 (with English translation)

Orphic Fragment 50 (with English translation)

Orphic Fragment 51 (with English translation)

Orphic Fragment 52 (with English translation)

Orphic Fragment 53 (with English translation)

Orphic Fragment 54 (with English translation)

Orphic Fragment 55 (with English translation)

Orphic Fragment 56 (with English translation)

Orphic Fragment 57 (with English translation)

Orphic Fragment 58 (with English translation)

Orphic Fragment 59 (with English translation)

Orphic Fragment 60 (with English translation)

Orphic Fragment 61 (with English translation)

Orphic Fragment 62 (with English translation)

Orphic Fragment 63 (with English translation)

Orphic Fragment 64 (with English translation)

Orphic Fragment 65 (with English translation)

Orphic Fragment 66 (partially translated into English)

Orphic Fragment 67 (with English translation)

Orphic Fragment 68 (with English translation)

Orphic Fragment 69 (with English translation)

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; 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 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.

SPELLING: 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: 

Pronunciation of Ancient Greek          


Transliteration of Ancient Greek          


PHOTO COPYRIGHT INFORMATION: The many pages of this website incorporate images, some created by the author, but many obtained from outside sources. To find out more information about these images and why this website can use them, visit this link: Photo Copyright Information

DISCLAIMER: The inclusion of images, quotations, and links from outside sources does not in any way imply agreement (or disagreement), approval (or disapproval) with the views of by the external sources from which they were obtained.

Further, the inclusion of images, quotations, and links from outside sources does not in any way imply agreement (or disagreement), approval (or disapproval) by of the contents or views of any external sources from which they were obtained.

For more information:

For answers to many questions: Hellenismos FAQ

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