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

SUMMARY: This testimony, consisting of several quotations from the Latin poet Claudian, referring to books and writings of Orpheus.


Claudii Claudiani Carminum minorum 23.11 Deprecatio in Alethium quaestorem; Claudii Claudiani Carmina p. 226 Julius Koch:

Orpheos alii libros impune lacessunt nec tua securum te, Maro, fama vehit.

“Others challenge the books of Orpheus with impunity, and your fame does not safely transport you, Maro*.”

(trans. by the author)


Claudii Claudiani Epithalamium de Nuptiis Honorii Augusti (X) vs. 229 p. 99 Julius Koch:

illa autem secura tori taedasque parari nescia divinae fruitur sermone parentis maternosque bibit mores exemplaque discit prisca pudicitiae Latios nec volvere libros desinit aut Graios, ipsa genetrice magistra, Maeonius quaecomque senex aut Thracius Orpheus aut Mytilenaeo modulatur pectine Sappho.

“But Maria, with no thoughts of wedlock nor knowing that the torches were being got ready, was listening with rapt attention to the discourse of her saintly mother, drinking in that mother's nature and learning to follow the example of old-world chastity; nor does she cease under that mother's guidance to unroll the writers of Rome and Greece, all that old Homer sang, or Thracian Orpheus, or that Sappho set to music with Lesbian quill.”

(trans. Maurice Platnauer, 1922)

Claudii Claudiani Carminum minorum 31.19 (ed. Kern begins at line 27, which makes the quotation rather bewildering unless you know the poem) Epistula ad Serenam; Claudii Claudiani Carmina p. 247 Julius Koch; it calls to mind a (poem called) Battle of the Titans, or more possibly a Battle of the Giants of Orpheus:

Tunc opibus totoque Heliconis sedula regno

ornabat propriam Calliopea nurum. 20

ipsam praeterea dominam stellantis Olympi

ad nati thalamos ausa rogare parens.

nec sprevit regina deum vel matris honore

vel iusto vatis ducta favore pii,

qui sibi carminibus totiens lustraverat aras 25

Iunonis blanda numina voce canens

proeliaque altisoni referens Phlegraea mariti,

Titanum fractas Enceladique* minas.

(At the marriage of Orpheus)

“Busily Calliopea decked her son’s bride with her riches and all the treasures of Helicon, and, moreover, with a mother’s pride dared to invite to her son’s wedding the queen of starry heaven herself. The queen of the gods spurned not her request either out of respect for Calliopea herself or because she was drawn by a just affection for the pious poet who had so often in her honour chanted his songs before her altars, hymning Juno’s godhead with his sweet voice and telling of the battles of her lord the Thunderer waged on the plains of Phlegra, and of the menace of Enceladus* and the Titans there broken.”

(trans. Maurice Platnauer, 1922)

*Ængǽlados (Enceladus, Ἐγκέλαδος), one of the Giants and the enemy of Athena who was buried under Mount Etna in Sicily.

And vs. 25. 33 Orphic hymn to Hera. Albrecht Dieterich Nekyia: Beiträge zur Erklärung der neuentdeckten Petrusapokalypse 2 159 n. 1.

Orpheus celebrating the stories of Heracles in the preface of book 2, lines 29-48 of Claudii Claudiani De raptu Proserpina:

Ille novercales stimulos actusque canebat

Herculis et forti monstra subacta manu, 30

qui timidae matri pressos ostenderit angues

intrepidusque fero riserit ore puer:

‘te neque Dictaeas quatiens mugitibus urbes

taurus nec Stygii terruit ira canis,

non leo sidereos caeli rediturus ad axes, 35

non Erymanthei gloria montis aper.

solvis Amazonios cinctus, Stymphalidas arcu

adpetis, occiduo ducis ab orbe greges

tergeminique ducis numerosos deicis artus

et totiens uno victor ab hoste redis. 40

non cadere Antaeo, non crescere profuit hydrae;

nec cervam volucres eripuere pedes.

Caci flamma perit; rubuit Busiride Nilus;

prostratis maduit nubigenis Pholoë.

te Libyci stupuere sinus, te maxima Tethys 45

horruit, imposito cum premerere polo:

firmior Herculea mundus cervice pependit;

lustrarunt umeros Phoebus et astra tuos.’ ”

“He sang the stings of a step-dame’s (ed. Hera) ire​ and the deeds of Hercules, the monsters overcome by his strong right arm; how while yet a child he had shown the strangled snakes to his terrified mother, and had laughed, fearlessly scorning such dangers. ‘Thee nor the bull that shook with his bellowing the cities of Crete alarmed, nor the savagery of the hound of Hell; thee not the lion, soon to become a constellation in the heavens, nor the wild boar that brought renown to Erymanthus’ height. Thou hast stripped the Amazons of their girdles, shot with thy bow the birds of Stymphalus, and driven home the cattle of the western clime. Thou hast o’erthrown the many limbs of the triple-headed monster and returned thrice victorious from a single foe. Vain the falls of Antaeus, vain the sprouting of the Hydra's new heads. Its winged feet availed not to save Diana’s deer from thy hand. Cacus’ flames were quenched and Nile ran rich with Busiris’ blood. Pholoë’s slopes reeked with the slaughter of the cloud-born Centaurs. Thee the curving shoe of Libya held in awe; thee the mighty Ocean gazed at in amaze when thou laidst the world’s bulk on thy back; on the neck of Hercules the heaven was poised more surely; the sun and stars coursed over thy shoulders.’ ”

(trans. Maurice Platnauer, 1922)

See also nr. 160 a.

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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