ORPHIC CRITICAL TESTIMONY 118
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For links to many more fragments: The Orphic Fragments of Otto Kern.
SUMMARY: This testimony, by Lucian of Samosata, discusses the fate of the head of Orpheus and of his lyre. The lyre had been deceitfully acquired by Neanthus, the son of the tyrant Pittacus, who attracted nothing but vicious dogs by playing it, and these dogs killed him, proving that the power of entrancing animals was not in the lyre, but in Orpheus himself.
ORPHIC CRITICAL TESTIMONY 118.
Πρὸς τὸν ἀπαίδευτον καὶ πολλὰ βιβλία ὠνούμενον (Adversus Indoctum) Λουκιανοὺ 109-111 (numbered in other editions as 11-12):
ὅτε τὸν Ὀρφέα διεσπάσαντο αἱ Θρᾶιτται, φασὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ σὺν τῆι λύραι εἰς τὸν Ἕβρον ἐμπεσοῦσαν ἐκβληθῆναι εἰς τὸν Μέλανα κόλπον, καὶ ἐπιπλεῖν γε τὴν κεφαλὴν τῆι λύραι, τὴν μὲν ἄιδουσαν θρῆνόν τινα ἐπὶ τῶι Ὀρφεῖ, ὡς λόγος, τὴν λύραν δὲ αὐτὴν ὑπηχεῖν τῶν ἀνέμων ἐμπιπτόντων ταῖς χορδαῖς, καὶ οὕτω μετ᾽ ὠιδῆς προσενεχθῆναι τῆι Λέσβωι, κἀκείνους ἀνελομένους τὴν μὲν κεφαλὴν καταθάψαι ἵναπερ νῦν τὸ Βακχεῖον αὐτοῖς ἐστι (v. nrr. 134. 140), τὴν λύραν δὲ ἀναθεῖναι εἰς τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος τὸ ἱερόν καὶ ἐπὶ πολύ γε σώιζεσθαι αὐτήν. χρόνωι δὲ ὕστερον Νέανθον τὸν τοῦ Πιττακοῦ τοῦ τυράννου ταῦτα ὑπὲρ τῆς λύρας πυνθανόμενον, ὡς ἐκήλει μὲν καὶ θηρία καὶ φυτὰ καὶ λίθους, ἐμελώιδει δὲ καὶ μετὰ τὴν Ὀρφέως συμφορὰν μηδενὸς ἁπτομένου, εἰς ἔρωτα τοῦ κτήματος ἐμπεσεῖν καὶ διαφθείραντα τὸν ἱερέα μεγάλοις χρήμασι πεῖσαι ὑποθέντα ἑτέραν ὁμοίαν λύραν δοῦναι αὐτῶι τὴν τοῦ Ὀρφέως. λαβόντα δὲ μεθ᾽ ἡμέραν μὲν ἐν τῆι πόλει χρῆσθαι οὐκ ἀσφαλὲς οἴεσθαι εἶναι, νύκτωρ δὲ ὑπὸ κόλπον ἔχοντα μόνον προελθεῖν ἐς τὸ προάστειον καὶ προχειρισάμενον κρούειν καὶ συνταράττειν τὰς χορδὰς ἄτεχνον καὶ ἄμουσον νεανίσκον, ἐλπίζοντα μέλη τινὰ θεσπέσια ὑπηχήσειν τὴν λύραν, ὑφ᾽ ὧν πάντας καταθέλξειν καὶ κηλήσειν καὶ μακάριον ἔσεσθαι κληρονομήσαντα τῆς Ὀρφέως μουσικῆς· ἄχρι δὴ συνελθόντας τοὺς κύνας πρὸς τὸν ἦχον — πολλοὶ δὲ ἦσαν αὐτόθι — διασπάσασθαι αὐτόν, ὡς τοῦτο γοῦν ὅμοιον τῶι Ὀρφεῖ παθεῖν καὶ μόνους ἐφ᾽ ἑαυτὸν ξυγκαλέσαι τοὺς κύνας· ὅτεπερ καὶ σαφέστατα ὤφθη ὡς οὐχ ἡ λύρα ἡ θέλγουσα ἦν, ἀλλὰ ἡ τέχνη καὶ ἡ ὠιδή, ἃ μόνα ἐξαίρετα τῶι Ὀρφεῖ παρὰ τῆς μητρὸς ὑπῆρχεν: ἡ λύρα δὲ ἄλλως κτῆμα ἦν οὐδὲν ἄμεινον τῶν ἄλλων βαρβίτων.
“It is said that after Orpheus had been torn to pieces by the Thracian women, his head and his lyre were carried down the Hebrus into the sea; the head, it seems, floated down upon the lyre, singing Orpheus's dirge as it went, while the winds blew an accompaniment upon the strings. In this manner they reached the coast of Lesbos; the head was then taken up and buried on the site of the present temple of Bacchus, and the lyre was long preserved as a relic in the temple of Apollo. Later on, however, Neanthus, son of the tyrant Pittacus, hearing how the lyre had charmed beasts and trees and stones, and how after Orpheus’s destruction it had played of its own accord, conceived a violent fancy for the instrument, and by means of a considerable bribe prevailed upon the priest to give him the genuine lyre, and replace it with one of similar appearance. Not thinking it advisable to display his acquisition in the city in broad daylight, he waited till night, and then, putting it under his cloak, walked off into the outskirts; and there this youth, who had not a note of music in him, produced his instrument and began jangling on the strings, expecting such divine strains to issue therefrom as would subdue all souls, and prove him the fortunate heir to Orpheus’s power. He went on till a number of dogs collected at the sound and tore him limb from limb; thus far, at least, his fate resembled that of Orpheus, though his power of attraction extended only to hostile dogs. It was abundantly proved that the charm lay not in the lyre, but solely in those peculiar gifts of song and music that had been bestowed upon Orpheus by his mother; as to the lyre, it was just like other lyres.”
(trans. H. W. Fowler and F. G. Fowler, 1905)
Ernst Maaß Orpheus 131; Carl Robert Griechische Heldensage I 406.
Of the dogs saving the boy Orpheus v. Χιλιάδες τοῦ Ἰωάννου Τζέτζου IV 279 (130 K.), following the Lithica:
Ὀρφεὺς ὁ τῆς Μενίππης παῖς, πατρὸς δὲ τοῦ Οἰάγρου,
ἔτι τελῶν μειράκιον, ὄρνις θηράσαι χρήιζων
ἦλθεν ὡς πρὸς ακρώρειαν, οὗπερ ἦν δράκων μέγας.
ὡς οὖν Ὀρφεὺς ἀφώρα μὲν πρὸς θήραν τῶν ὀρνίθων,
ὁ δράκων ὥρμα κατ’ αὐτοῦ, σπείρας συχνὰς ἑλίσσων.
Ἐθάδες τούτωι κύνες δὲ δραμόντες βοῆι τούτου
καὶ συμβαλόντες τῶι θηρί, ἀπέκτειναν ἐκεῖνον,
τὸν δὲ Ὀρφέα ῥύονται στοργῆι τῆι πρὸς ἐκεῖνον,
ὥσπερ αὐτὸς ἐν Λιθικοῖς  Ὀρφεὺς που γράφει τοῦτο.
“Orphéfs (Ὀρφεὺς), the child of Mæníppî (Μενίππη) and his father Íagros (Οἴαγρος),
while still yet a boy and wishing to hunt birds,
came to a mountain ridge where there was a great dragon.
Since, in fact, Orphéfs was simply looking to hunt birds,
the dragon was rushing against him, coiling his great curled tail.
But his tame dogs, meanwhile, were running quickly to his shout,
and contending with the beast, they killed that thing;
they themselves rescued Orphéfs on account of their affection for him,
as even Orphéfs himself writes somewhere in the Lithiká (Λιθικὰ) .”
(trans. by the author)
 Λιθικὰ 142:
τοὔνεκεν αἰπολίοισιν ἀπόπροθι βοσκομένοισιν
ἑσπομένω δύο πατρὸς ἐμοῦ κύνε κεκλήγοντα
γνόντες ἐπεδραμέτην· μάλα γάρ σφισι μείλιχος ἔσκον.
“Two sturdy hounds, that watched my father’s flocks,
Spread o’er the plain whence rise yon towering rocks:
They hear my voice, and to my rescue come
For I had oft caressed them at my home.”
(trans. C. W. King, 1865)
* “However, it (the Λιθικὰ) does not really deserve a place in a discussion of Orphic literature, since it says nothing about Orpheus and makes no pretence of being by him. His name had become attached to it by the time of Tzetzes.” (The Orphic Poems by M. L. West, Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford & New York, 1983, p. 36)
Translator’s note: M. L. West says that by the time of Tzetzes, a Byzantine scholar of the 12th century, the Lithica was attributed to Orpheus, but quite erroneously; our testimony certainly assumes this attribution, and, indeed, the assumption is coming from Tzetzes himself, yet the quotation from the Lithica, a poem about the magical qualities of gems, does not even once mention the name of Orpheus, nor that of Musaeus.
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.