ORPHIC FRAGMENT 130 - OTTO KERN

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

SUMMARY: In this fragment, Orpheus says that the beard of Kronos is always dark.

130. (245) σχόλιον Πρόκλου επὶ Ἔργων καὶ Ἡμερῶν τοῦ Ἡσιόδου 113 (Gaisf. II 115, 9):

καὶ τοῦτο Κρόνιόν ἐστι· καὶ γὰρ τὸν Κρόνον ἀεὶ μελαίνας ἔχειν τὰς ἐπὶ τοῦ γενείου τρίχας φησὶν Ὀρφεύς· Πλάτων (Πολιτικὸς Πλάτωνος 270 d. e) δὲ τοὺς ἐπὶ τῆς Κρονίας περιόδου ἀποβάλλειν φησὶ τὸ γῆρας, καὶ ἀεὶ γίνεσθαι νεωτέρους.

“And he is Krónion (Κρόνιόν). For Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς) says also that Krónos has hair on his beard which is always dark. But Plátôn says these things [1] in the case of the age (περιόδου) of Krónos, (of men) casting off old age, and always becoming younger.”

(trans. by the author)

Lobeck I 511; M. Mayer Gigant. u. Titan. 238.

Cf. fr. 142.

[1] Πολιτικὸς Πλάτωνος 270 d. e:

Ξένος: γένος ὀλίγον τι περιλείπεται: περὶ δὲ τούτους ἄλλα τε παθήματα πολλὰ καὶ θαυμαστὰ καὶ καινὰ συμπίπτει, μέγιστον δὲ τόδε καὶ συνεπόμενον τῇ τοῦ παντὸς ἀνειλίξει τότε, ὅταν ἡ τῆς νῦν καθεστηκυίας ἐναντία γίγνηται τροπή.

Νεώτερος Σωκράτης: τὸ ποῖον;

Ξένος: ἣν ἡλικίαν ἕκαστον εἶχε τῶν ζῴων, αὕτη πρῶτον μὲν ἔστη πάντων, καὶ ἐπαύσατο πᾶν ὅσον ἦν θνητὸν ἐπὶ τὸ γεραίτερον ἰδεῖν πορευόμενον, μεταβάλλον δὲ πάλιν ἐπὶ τοὐναντίον οἷον νεώτερον καὶ ἁπαλώτερον ἐφύετο: καὶ τῶν μὲν πρεσβυτέρων αἱ λευκαὶ τρίχες ἐμελαίνοντο, τῶν δ᾽ αὖ γενειώντων αἱ παρειαὶ λεαινόμεναι πάλιν ἐπὶ τὴν παρελθοῦσαν ὥραν ἕκαστον καθίστασαν, τῶν δὲ ἡβώντων τὰ σώματα λεαινόμενα καὶ σμικρότερα καθ᾽ ἡμέραν καὶ νύκτα ἑκάστην γιγνόμενα πάλιν εἰς τὴν τοῦ νεογενοῦς παιδὸς φύσιν ἀπῄει, κατά τε τὴν ψυχὴν καὶ κατὰ τὸ σῶμα ἀφομοιούμενα: τὸ δ᾽ ἐντεῦθεν ἤδη μαραινόμενα κομιδῇ τὸ πάμπαν ἐξηφανίζετο. τῶν δ᾽ αὖ βιαίως τελευτώντων ἐν τῷ τότε χρόνῳ τὸ τοῦ νεκροῦ σῶμα τὰ αὐτὰ ταῦτα πάσχον παθήματα διὰ

“Stranger: ...and the survivors have many experiences wonderful and strange, the greatest of which, a consequence of the reversal of everything at the time when the world begins to turn in the direction opposed to that of its present revolution, is this.*

“Younger Socrates: What is that experience?

“Stranger: First the age of all animals, whatever it was at the moment, stood still, and every mortal creature stopped growing older in appearance and then reversed its growth and became, as it were, younger and more tender; the hoary locks of the old men grew dark, and bearded cheeks grew smooth again as their possessors reverted to their earlier ages, and the bodies of young men grew smoother and smaller day by day and night by night, until they became as new-born babes, to which they were likened in mind and body; and then at last they wasted away entirely and wholly disappeared. And the bodies of those who died by violence in those times quickly underwent the same changes, were destroyed, and disappeared in a few days.”

*The tale of Atreus (ed. about the age of Krónos) introduces the fanciful theory of the reversal of the revolution of the heavenly bodies, and this, especially in an age when the stars were believed to exercise a direct influence upon mankind and other creatures, naturally brings with it the reversal of all processes of growth. This leads to a new birth of mankind, and the Stranger then briefly describes the age of innocence, the fall of man and the barbarism that follows, and the partial restoration of man through divine interposition and the gift of the various arts of civilization. Plato does not offer this as a real explanation of the existing condition of the world, but it serves, like the myths introduced in other dialogues to present, in connection with accepted mythology, a theory which may account for some of the facts of life.

(trans. and note: Harold N. Fowler, 1921)


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Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

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