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

SUMMARY: This testimony consists of two quotations from the Metamorphoses of Ovid, in which Orpheus descends to the Underworld and petitions Pluto and Persephone for the return of his wife; and when he sang all wept, and at last Eurydice was summoned.


Publii Ovidii Nasonis Metamorphoses X 11:

Quam (sc. Eurydicen) satis ad superas postquam Rhodopeius auras

deflevit vates, ne non temptaret et umbras,

ad Styga Taenaria est ausus descendere porta

perque leves populos simulacraque functa sepulcro

Persephonen adiit inamoenaque regna tenentem

umbrarum dominum pulsisque ad carmina nervis

sic ait: “o positi sub terra numina mundi,

in quem reccidimus, quidquid mortale creamur,

si licet et falsi positis ambagibus oris

vera loqui sinitis, non huc, ut opaca viderem

Tartara, descendi, nec uti villosa colubris

terna Medusaei vincirem guttura monstri:

causa viae est coniunx, in quam calcata venenum

vipera diffudit crescentesque abstulit annos.

“After the bard

of Rhodope (ed. Orpheus) had mourned, and filled the highs

of heaven with the moans of his lament,

determined also the dark underworld

should recognize the misery of death,

he dared descend by the Taenarian gate

down to the gloomy Styx. And there passed through

pale-glimmering phantoms, and the ghosts

escaped from sepulchres, until he found

Persephone and Pluto, master-king

of shadow realms below: and then began

to strike his tuneful lyre, to which he sang:—

“O deities of this dark world beneath

the earth! this shadowy underworld, to which

all mortals must descend! If it can be

called lawful, and if you will suffer speech

of strict truth (all the winding ways

of Falsity forbidden) I come not

down here because of curiosity

to see the glooms of Tartarus and have

no thought to bind or strangle the three necks

of the Medusan Monster, vile with snakes.

But I have come, because my darling wife

stepped on a viper that sent through her veins

death-poison, cutting off her coming years.”

(trans. Brookes More, 1922)

Publii Ovidii Nasonis Metamorphoses X 40:

Talia dicentem nervosque ad verba moventem

exsangues flebant animae: nec Tantalus undam

captavit refugam, stupuitque Ixionis orbis,

nec carpsere iecur volucres, urnisque vacarunt

Belides, inque tuo sedisti, Sisyphe, saxo.

tunc primum lacrimis victarum carmine fama est

Eumenidum maduisse genas, nec regia coniunx

sustinet oranti nec qui regit ima negare,

Eurydicenque vocant: umbras erat illa recentes

inter et incessit passu de vulnere tardo.

“While he sang all his heart said to the sound

of his sweet lyre, the bloodless ghosts themselves

were weeping, and the anxious Tantalus

stopped clutching at return-flow of the wave,

Ixion’s twisting wheel stood wonder-bound;

and Tityus’ liver for a while escaped

the vultures, and the listening Belides

forgot their sieve-like bowls and even you,

O Sisyphus! sat idly on your rock!

“Then Fame declared that conquered by the song

of Orpheus, for the first and only time

the hard cheeks of the fierce Eumenides

were wet with tears: nor could the royal queen,

nor he who rules the lower world deny

the prayer of Orpheus; so they called to them

Eurydice, who still was held among

the new-arriving shades, and she obeyed

the call by walking to them with slow steps,

yet halting from her wound.”

(trans. Brookes More, 1922)

Similar others are brought together in Gruppe as found in Rosch. III 1160.

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).

PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this website, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. These narratives are known as mythology, the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes. While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally. A literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result. The meaning of the myths is concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level. Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation.

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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