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

SUMMARY: This testimony, by Diodorus of Sicily, says that Orpheus resembles Dionysos in that Orpheus descended to the Underworld to retrieve his wife, just as Dionysos descended to the Underworld to retrieve his mother.


Βιβλιοθήκη ἱστορικὴ Διοδώρου Σικελιώτου IV 25, 1-4:

1. πρὸς δὲ τοῦτον τὸν ἆθλον ὑπολαβὼν (sc. Ἡρακλῆς) συνοίσειν αὑτῶι, παρῆλθεν εἰς τὰς Ἀθήνας καὶ μετέσχε τῶν ἐν Ἐλευσῖνι μυστηρίων, Μουσαίου τοῦ Ὀρφέως υἱοῦ τότε προεστηκότος τῆς τελετῆς (v. nr. 166 ss.). 2. ἐπεὶ δ᾽ Ὀρφέως ἐμνήσθημεν, οὐκ ἀνοίκειόν ἐστι παρεκβάντας βραχέα περὶ αὐτοῦ διελθεῖν. οὗτος γὰρ ἦν υἱὸς μὲν Οἰάγρου, Θρᾶιξ δὲ τὸ γένος, παιδείαι δὲ καὶ μελωιδίαι καὶ ποιήσει πολὺ προέχων τῶν μνημονευομένων· καὶ γὰρ ποίημα συνετάξατο θαυμαζόμενον καὶ τῆι (add. Dind.) κατὰ τὴν ὠιδὴν εὐμελείαι διαφέρον. ἐπὶ τοσοῦτο δὲ προέβη τῆι δόξηι ὥστε δοκεῖν τῆι μελωιδίαι θέλγειν τά τε θηρία καὶ τὰ δένδρα. 3. περὶ δὲ παιδείαν ἀσχοληθεὶς καὶ τὰ περὶ τῆς θεολογίας μυθολογούμενα μαθών, ἀπεδήμησε μὲν εἰς Αἴγυπτον, κἀκεῖ πολλὰ προσεπιμαθὼν μέγιστος ἐγένετο τῶν Ἑλλήνων ἔν τε ταῖς θεολογίαις καὶ ταῖς τελεταῖς (τελεταῖς καὶ ταῖς θεολογίαις vulgo) καὶ ποιήμασι καὶ μελωιδίαις. 4. συνεστρατεύσατο δὲ καὶ τοῖς Ἀργοναύταις, καὶ διὰ τὸν ἔρωτα τὸν πρὸς τὴν γυναῖκα καταβῆναι μὲν εἰς Ἅιδου παραδόξως ἐτόλμησε, τὴν δὲ Φερσεφόνην διὰ τῆς εὐμελείας (ἐμμελείας CF) ψυχαγωγήσας ἔπεισε συνεργῆσαι ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις καὶ συγχωρῆσαι τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ τετελευτηκυῖαν ἀναγαγεῖν ἐξ Ἅιδου παραπλησίως τῶι Διονύσωι· καὶ γὰρ ἐκεῖνον μυθολογοῦσιν ἀναγαγεῖν τὴν μητέρα Σεμέλην ἐξ Ἅιδου καὶ μεταδόντα τῆς ἀθανασίας Θυώνην μετονομάσαι. ἡμεῖς δ᾽ ἐπεὶ περὶ Ὀρφέως διεληλύθαμεν, μεταβησόμεθα πάλιν ἐπὶ τὸν Ἡρακλέα.

“1. But when Heracles had made the circuit of the Adriatic, and had journeyed around the gulf on foot, he came to Epirus, whence he made his way to Peloponnesus. And now that he had performed the tenth Labour he received a Command from Eurystheus to bring Cerberus up from Hades to the light of day. And assuming that it would be to his advantage for the accomplishment of this Labour, he went to Athens and took part in the Eleusinian Mysteries, Musaeus, the son of Orpheus, being at that time in charge of the initiatory rites. 2. Since we have mentioned Orpheus it will not be inappropriate for us in passing to speak briefly about him. He was the son of Oeagrus, a Thracian by birth, and in culture and song-music and poesy he far surpassed all men of whom we have a record; for he composed a poem which was an object of wonder and excelled in its melody when it was sung. And his fame grew to such a degree that men believed that with his music he held a spell over both the wild beasts and the trees. 3. And after he had devoted his entire time to his education and had learned whatever the myths had to say about the Gods, he journeyed to Egypt, where he further increased his knowledge and so became the greatest man among the Greeks both for his knowledge of the Gods and for their rites, as well as for his poems and songs. 4. He also took part in the expedition of the Argonauts, and because of the love he held for his wife he dared the amazing deed of descending into Hades, where he entranced Persephonê by his melodious song and persuaded her to assist him in his desires and to allow him to bring up his dead wife from Hades, in this exploit resembling Dionysus; for the myths relate that Dionysus brought up his mother Semelê from Hades, and that, sharing with her his own immortality, he changed her name to Thyonê.

But now that we have discussed Orpheus, we shall return to Heracles.”

(trans. Charles Henry Oldfather, 1935)

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.

SPELLING: HellenicGods.org uses the Reuchlinian method of pronouncing ancient Greek, the system preferred by scholars from Greece itself. An approach was developed to enable the student to easily approximate the Greek words. Consequently, the way we spell words is unique, as this method of transliteration is exclusive to this website. For more information, visit these three pages:

Pronunciation of Ancient Greek

Transliteration of Ancient Greek

Pronouncing the Names of the Gods in Hellenismos

PHOTO COPYRIGHT INFORMATION: The many pages of this website incorporate images, some created by the author, but many obtained from outside sources. To find out more information about these images and why this website can use them, visit this link: Photo Copyright Information

DISCLAIMER: The inclusion of images, quotations, and links from outside sources does not in any way imply agreement (or disagreement), approval (or disapproval) with the views of HellenicGods.org by the external sources from which they were obtained.

Further, the inclusion of images, quotations, and links from outside sources does not in any way imply agreement (or disagreement), approval (or disapproval) by HellenicGods.org of the contents or views of any external sources from which they were obtained.

For more information: Inquire.hellenicgods@gmail.com

For answers to many questions: Hellenismos FAQ

© 2010 by HellenicGods.org. All Rights Reserved.