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

SUMMARY: This testimony, from the Greek grammarian and mythographer Conon, says that the Thracian and Macedonian women tore apart Orpheus and threw his body parts into the sea. For this crime, the land was struck with plague. They received an oracle which declared that the plague would subside when they found the head of Orpheus and gave it proper burial. They did so and the burial site eventually became a great sanctuary.


Διηγήσεις Κόνωνος f. 45 (25, 14 Hoef.):

τελευτᾶι δὲ διασπασαμένων αὐτὸν τῶν Θραικίων καὶ Μακεδόνων γυναικῶν, ὅτι οὐ μετεδίδου αὐταῖς τῶν ὀργίων, τάχα μὲν καὶ κατ’ ἄλλας προφάσεις· φασὶ δ’ οὖν αὐτὸν δυστυχήσαντα περὶ γυναῖκα πᾶν ἐχθῆραι τὸ γένος (v. nr. 76). ἐφοίτα μὲν οὖν τακταῖς ἡμέραις ὡπλισμένων πλῆθος Θραικῶν καὶ Μακεδόνων ἐν Λιβήθροις, εἰς οἴκημα συνερχόμενον μέγα τε καὶ πρὸς τελετὰς εὖ πεποιημένον· ὁπότε δ’ ὀργιάζειν εἰσίασι, πρὸ τῶν πυλῶν ἀπετίθεσαν τὰ ὅπλα. ὃ αἱ γυναῖκες ἐπιτηρήσασαι καὶ τὰ ὅπλα ἁρπασάμεναι ὑπ’ ὀργῆς τῆς διὰ τὴν ἀτιμίαν τούς τε προσπίπτοντας κατειργάσαντο, καὶ τὸν Ὀρφέα κατὰ μέλη ἔρριψαν εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν σποράδην.

λοιμῶι δὲ τῆς χώρας, ὅτι μὴ ἀπηιτήθησαν δίκην αἱ γυναῖκες, κακουμένης δεόμενοι λωφῆσαι τὸ δεινὸν ἔλαβον χρησμόν, τὴν κεφαλὴν τὴν Ὀρφέως ἢν ἀνευρόντες θάψωσι, τυχεῖν ἀπαλλαγῆς. καὶ μόλις αὐτὴν περὶ τὰς ἐκβολὰς τοῦ Μέλητος δί ἁλιέως ἀνεῦρον ποταμοῦ, καὶ τότε ἄιδουσαν καὶ μηδὲν παθοῦσαν ὑπὸ τῆς θαλάσσης, μηδέ τι ἄλλο τῶν ὅσα κῆρες ἀνθρώπιναι νεκρῶν αἴσχη φέρουσιν, ἀλλ’ ἐπακμάζουσαν αὐτὴν καὶ ζωικῶι καὶ τότε αἵματι (om. A) μετὰ πολὺν χρόνον ἐπανθοῦσαν. λαβόντες οὖν ὑπὸ σήματι μεγάλωι θάπτουσι, τέμενος αὐτῶι περιείρξαντες, ὃ τέως μὲν ἡρῶιον ἦν, ὕστερον δ’ ἐξενίκησεν ἱερὸν εἶναι. θυσίαις τε γὰρ καὶ ὅσοις ἄλλοις θεοὶ τιμῶνται γεραίρεται. ἔστι δὲ γυναιξὶ παντελῶς ἄβατον.

“And he died from the Thracian and Macedonian women having torn him apart, in that he was not giving them a share in his mystic rites, and probably because of other motives as well. But they say, in fact, that after the misfortune in regards to his wife, he began to hate all womankind. At that time, on prescribed days, a great number of armed Thracians and Macedonians were coming into Leivîthra (Λείβηθρα), assembling themselves in a great chamber, well esteemed for mystic initiatory rites. And whenever they entered to worship with orgies, they stowed their weapons in front of the gates. The women were watching, and hastily seized the weapons, propelled by anger from their deprivation of privileges, and falling upon them, killed those who attacked them, and (tore apart) Orphéfs, limb by limb, scattering the pieces into the sea.

“But the land was then infested by a plague, for the women had not made amends for their crime; and begging relief from their suffering, they received a fearful oracle, that should they find the head of Orphéfs and honor it with funeral rites, they would obtain deliverance. And they only just found it with the help of a seaman near the mouth of the River Mǽlîs (Μέλης); even then, it was singing and had not suffered from the sea, nor did it have any other deformities of corpses which human deaths bring to bear, but it was still in full flower and in animation; and even then, the blood was still bright after much time had passed. Then, having taken hold of it, they buried it under a large mound, enclosing it as a sacred precinct; for a time it was a hero-shrine, and later prevailed becoming a sanctuary. For it is honored with great sacrifices and every other kind of offerings for which the Gods are celebrated. But it is altogether inaccessible to women.”

(trans. by the author)

Or from Hegesippus Mecybernaeus? Ernest Maaß Orpheus 139; v. also see Ulrich Hoefer Konon 103. 109; Carl Robert Griechische Heldensage I 405 n. 2.

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.

This logo 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).

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We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology.

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