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

LYRA INTER SIDERA CONSTITUTA (The Lyre Placed Between the Constellations)

SUMMARY: This testimony consists of six quotations which say that the lyre of Orpheus is now a constellation in the sky.


Καταστερισμοί ψευδούς Ἐρατοσθένους 24 v. nrr. 57. 113. σχολιαστὴς επὶ Ἀράτου 269 p. 394, 6 Maaß::

καὶ μετὰ θάνατον αὐτοῦ τὴν λύραν αἱ Μοῦσαι ἔδωκαν Μουσαίωι ἀξιώσαντι (fort. ἀξιώσασαι Carl Robert) τὸν Δία, ὅπως αὐτοῦ μνημόσυνον εἴη ἐν τοῖς ἄστροις.

“And after his death, the Mousai (Μοῦσαι) offered the lyre to Mousaios (Μουσαῖος), who considered it worthy that Zefs (Ζεύς) may make a memory of him among the stars.”

(trans. by the author)

Scholiast on Germanicus BP 84 (Carl Robert Eratosthenis Catasterismorum reliquiae p. 140, also p. 10):

eiusque lyram Musaeo dederunt Iovemque rogavere, ut eius memoriam astris inferret.

“They gave his lyre to Musaeus and asked Zeus to place a remembrance of him in the stars.”

(trans. by the author)

Hygini De Astronomica 2.7 (Carl Robert Eratosthenis Catasterismorum reliquiae p. 141):

Musas autem collecta membra sepulturae mandasse et lyram quo maxime potuerunt beneficio, illius memoriae causa figuratam stellis inter sidera constituisse Apollinis et Iovis voluntate quod (V] quorum DG) Orpheus Apollinem maxime laudarat (Bunte] laudaret libri); Iupiter autem filio (GV] filiae D) beneficium concessit.

“But the members of his body were gathered together by the Muses, who gave them burial; and with the greatest gratitude they could give him in honor of his memory, they placed the lyre in the form of stars amongst the constellations, in accordance with the will of Apollo and Zeus, for Orpheus had greatly honored Apollo, and Zeus conceded the benefaction to his (Apollo’s) son.”

(trans. by the author)

Marcii Manilii Astronomicon I 324:

at Lyra diductis (Scal.] deductis O) per caelum cornibus inter

sidera conspicitur, qua quondam ceperat Orpheus

omne quod attigerat cantu manesque per ipsos

fecit iter domuitque infernas carmine leges.

“And the Lyre can be seen amidst the constellations, its horns spread out through the sky, through which at one time Orpheus had charmed all whom he touched with song; he made his way through the shades of the dead, a journey which overcame even the infernal laws by his song.”

(trans. by the author)

Marcii Manilii Astronomicon V 325:

nunc surgente Lyra testudinis enatat undis forma per heredem tantum post fata sonantis, qua quondam somnumque feris (Bentl.] ferens O) Oeagrius Orpheus et sensus scopulis et silvis addidit aures et Diti lacrimas et morti denique finem.

“Now, with the rising of the Lyre, the form of a tortoise-shell appears above the horizon of the sea, which later, through an heir, uttered such very great song, by which at one time Orpheus, the son of Oeagrus, induced sleep to the wild beasts, sensation to rocks, gave ears to trees, tears to Pluto, and at last, a limit to death*.”

(trans. by the author)

*Orpheus taught the mysteries of Dionysos, which end the circle of births (κύκλου λήξαι), i.e. one is no longer born in a mortal body.

Rufi Festi Avieni Aratea 618:

est chelys illa dehinc, tenero quam lusit in aevo

Mercurius, curva religans testudine chordas,

ut Parnaseo munus memorabile Phoebo

formaret nervis opifex deus. hanc ubi rursum

concentus superi complevit pulcher Apollo,

Orphea Pangaeo docuit gestare sub antro.

hic iam fila novem docta in modulamina movit

Musarum ad speciem Musa satus, ille repertor

carmina Pleiadum numero deduxerat. at cum

inpia Bassaridum carpsisset dextera vatem

et devota virum tegerent Libethra (Libenthra V) peremptum,

intulit hanc caelo miseratus Iupiter artem

praestantis iuvenis, pecudes qui et flumina vates

flexerat. ad nixi qua semet sidera ponto

sustollunt, laevum propter chelys haec femur adstat (v. nr. 57).

advolat ast aliud latus ales et ora canoros

tenditur ad nervos, media est lyra sede dicata,

cygneo capiti et curvo contermina signo.

“Henceforth, there is the lyre, with which Hermes amused himself in his youth, fastening strings to the tortoise-shell, so as to fashion a memorable gift with strings for Parnasian Apollo, the divine craftsman. In return, as soon as he had filled it with celestial harmonies, beautiful Apollo carried it to a cave at the foot of Mount Pangaeus and taught it to Orpheus. Then in this place, he, a Muse’s son, set the strings in motion, now nine in number in imitation of the Muses, playing melodies; that inventor had spun out his songs from the number of the Pleiades. But after the ungodly hand of the Bassarides had cut the poet to pieces, and devout city of Libethra acquired and buried the man. Zeus carried him to the sky, moved with compassion by the skill of the youth, a poet who had tamed brutes and rivers. Leading towards where the constellations themselves rise up from the sea, this Lyre stands near the left thigh [1] (v. nr. 57). But the bird [2] flies to the other side, and its beak is directed to the melodious strings; in the middle is the Lyre, set apart from the throne, near to the head of the swan and the curved constellation [3].”

(trans. by the author)


[1] the thigh and knee of the constellation Hercules.

[2] the constellation called the Swan or Cygnus

[3] Draco? The constellation of Lyra is surrounded by Hercules, the Swan, and Draco.

V. see also Περὶ τῆς Ἀστρολογίας τοῦ ψευδούς Λουκιανοὺ 10 nr. 107.

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.

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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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