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

SUMMARY: This testimony, from the Christian theologian Theodoret, says that Orpheus brought the Eleusinian Mysteries to Athens, along with other sacred rites.


Ἑλληνικών Θεραπευτική Παθημάτων Θεοδωρήτου τοῦ Κύρρου I 21 p. 10, 10 Raed.:

ὅτι δὲ καὶ τῶν Διονυσίων καὶ τῶν Παναθηναίων, καὶ μέντοι τῶν Θεσμοφορίων καὶ τῶν Ἐλευσινίων τὰς τελετὰς Ὀρφεύς, ἀνὴρ Ὀδρύσης, εἰς τὰς Ἀθήνας ἐκόμισε καὶ εἰς <τὴν add. BL> Αἴγυπτον ἀφικόμενος τὰ τῆς Ἴσιδος καὶ τοῦ Ὀσίριδος εἰς τὰ τῆς Δηοῦς (τοῦ διὸς M2) καὶ <τὰ add. BL> τοῦ Διονύσου μετατέθεικεν ὄργια, διδάσκει μὲν Πλούταρχος (fr. 984 p. 55, 23 Duebn.) ὁ ἐκ Χαιρωνείας τῆς Βοιωτίας, διδάσκει δὲ καὶ ὁ Σικελιώτης Διόδωρος (I 96, 4-6 nr. 96 [1]), μέμνηται δὲ καὶ Δημοσθένης ὁ ῥήτωρ (XXV 11[2]) καί φησι τὸν Ὀρφέα τὰς ἁγιωτάτας αὐτοῖς τελετὰς καταδεῖξαι <ἐπιδεῖξαι S>.

“And that also Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς), the Odrysian, brought the rites of the Dionýsia (Διονύσια) and the Panathínaia (Παναθήναια), and indeed both the Thæzmophória (Θεσμοφόρια) and the rites of Ælefsís (Ἐλευσίς), to Athens; and when he came to Egypt, he transformed the orgies of Isis and Osiris into those of Dîmítîr (Δημήτηρ) and Diónysos (Διόνυσος). Indeed, Ploutarkhos (Πλούταρχος; fr. 984 p. 55, 23 Duebn.) of Hairóhnia (Χαιρώνεια) in Viôtía (Βοιωτία) teaches this, and Diódôros Sikælióhtis (Διόδωρος Σικελιώτης; I 96, 4-6 nr. 96 [1]) teaches this, and also the rhetorician Dîmosthǽnîs (Δημοσθένης; XXV 11[2]) recalled this, and he says that Orphéfs discovered and made known the most holy secret rites.”

(trans. by the author)

V. nr. 102.


[1] Βιβλιοθήκη ἱστορικὴ Διοδώρου Σικελιώτου I 96, 4-6:

4. Ὀρφέα μὲν γὰρ τῶν μυστικῶν τελετῶν τὰ πλεῖστα καὶ τὰ περὶ τὴν ἑαυτοῦ πλάνην ὀργιαζόμενα καὶ τὴν τῶν ἐν Ἄιδου μυθοποιίαν ἀπενέγκασθαι. 5. τὴν μὲν γὰρ Ὀσίριδος τελετὴν τῆι Διονύσου τὴν αὐτὴν εἶναι, τὴν δὲ τῆς Ἴσιδος τῆι τῆς Δήμητρος ὁμοιοτάτην ὑπάρχειν, τῶν ὀνομάτων μόνων ἐνηλλαγμένων· τὰς δὲ τῶν ἀσεβῶν ἐν Ἄιδου τιμωρίας καὶ τοὺς τῶν εὐσεβῶν λειμῶνας καὶ τὰς παρὰ τοῖς πολλοῖς εἰδωλοποιίας ἀναπεπλασμένας παρεισαγαγεῖν μιμησάμενον τὰ γινόμενα περὶ τὰς ταφὰς τὰς κατ᾽ Αἴγυπτον. 6. τὸν μὲν γὰρ ψυχοπομπὸν Ἑρμῆν κατὰ τὸ παλαιὸν νόμιμον παρ᾽ Αἰγυπτίοις ἀναγαγόντα τὸ τοῦ Ἄπιδος σῶμα μέχρι τινὸς παραδιδόναι τῶι περικειμένωι τὴν τοῦ Κερβέρου προτομήν.

“4. Orpheus, for instance, brought from Egypt most of his mystic ceremonies, the orgiastic rites that accompanied his wanderings, and his fabulous account of his experiences in Hades. 5. For the rite of Osiris is the same as that of Dionysus and that of Isis very similar to that of Demeter, the names alone having been interchanged; and the punishments in Hades of the unrighteous, the Fields of the Righteous, and the fantastic conceptions, current among the many, which are figments of the imagination — all these were introduced by Orpheus in imitation of the Egyptian funeral customs. 6. Hermes, for instance, the Conductor of Souls, according to the ancient Egyptian custom, brings up the body of the Apis to a certain point and then gives it over to one who wears the mask of Cerberus.”

(trans. Charles Henry Oldfather, 1933 but Public Domain)

[2] Δημοσθένης· 25.11 (πρός Ἀριστογείτονι):

τὴν τὰ δίκαι᾽ ἀγαπῶσαν Εὐνομίαν περὶ πλείστου ποιησαμένους, ἣ πάσας καὶ πόλεις καὶ χώρας σώιζει· καὶ τὴν ἀπαραίτητον καὶ σεμνὴν Δίκην, ἣν ὁ τὰς ἁγιωτάτας ἡμῖν τελετὰς καταδείξας Ὀρφεὺς παρὰ τὸν τοῦ Διὸς θρόνον φησὶ καθημένην πάντα τὰ τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἐφορᾶν.

As is the custom, we should warmly greet Evnomía (Εὐνομία), for producing the greatest good; she preserves all, not only the cities but also the lands. And we should greet implacable and holy Justice, seated beside the throne of Zefs (Ζεύς) observant over all human affairs, as Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς) says, who made known the most holy secret rites.

(trans. by the author)

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic 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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