ORPHIC FRAGMENT 143 - OTTO KERN

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

SUMMARY: This fragment says that according to Orpheus and Hesiod, Prometheus draws the soul into generation.

143. σχόλιον Πρόκλου επὶ Πολιτείας Πλάτωνος II 53, 2 Dr.:

δεῖ δέ, ὥσπερ ἑκατέρας εἰσὶν ἡγεμόνες, οὕτω καὶ τὸν ἕνα προστάτην τῆς συναμφοτέρας νοεῖν ἀνόδου τε καὶ καθόδου καὶ τῆς διπλῆς ἐν τῆι γενέσει ζωῆς εὐγονίας τε καὶ δυσγονίας· ὅν, εἰ δεῖ τῆι ἐμῆι μαντείαι προσέχειν, οὐκ ἄλλον ἢ τὸν Προμηθέα δεῖ νομίζειν, ὃν καὶ Πλάτων ἐν Πρωταγόραι (Πρωταγόρας Πλάτωνος 320 d [1]), τῆς ἀνθρωπίνης ζωῆς ἔφορον, ὥσπερ τ<ὸν> Ἐπιμηθέα τῆς ἀλόγου φησίν, καὶ Ὀρφεὺς καὶ Ἡσίοδος (Θεογονία Ἡσιόδου 565 [2]) διὰ τῆς κλοπῆς τοῦ πυρὸς καὶ τῆς εἰς ἀνθρώπους δόσεως ἐνδείκνυνται τὴν ψυχὴν ἀπὸ τοῦ νοητοῦ κατάγειν εἰς τὴν γένεσιν, ὡς τῆς ἀνθρωπίνης περιόδου κύριον καὶ τῶν ἀμεινόνων καὶ χειρόνων γενέσεων. Cf. σχόλιον Ὀλυμπιοδώρου επὶ Φαίδωνος Πλάτωνος B ρξή p. 122, 13 Norvin.

“But there must, just as there are rulers on both sides, so also (there must be) one to protect from both together, the understanding of the ascent and the descent, and to the origin of twofold existence and fruitfulness, that which is conceived with difficulty. If it be useful by means of my own conjecture, that Plátôn (Πλάτων) in the Prôtagóras (Πρωταγόρας Πλάτωνος 320 d [1]), says that by the customary story, Promîthéfs (Προμηθεύς) is the guardian of human life, and not another; and he asserts that Æpimîthéfs (Ἐπιμηθεύς) is irrational. And Orphéfs (Ὀρφεὺς) and Isíodos (Θεογονία Ἡσιόδου 565 [2]) point out that through the theft of fire, and giving it to humans, (Promîthéfs) draws down the soul from the intelligible into generation. Thus, he is the ruler of the succession of humankind and the origin of (those things which are both for the) better and worse.”

(trans. by the author)

NOTES:

[1] Πρωταγόρας Πλάτωνος 320 d:

οὐκ ἦν. ἐπειδὴ δὲ καὶ τούτοις χρόνος ἦλθεν εἱμαρμένος γενέσεως, τυποῦσιν αὐτὰ θεοὶ γῆς ἔνδον ἐκ γῆς καὶ πυρὸς μείξαντες καὶ τῶν ὅσα πυρὶ καὶ γῇ κεράννυται. ἐπειδὴ δ᾽ ἄγειν αὐτὰ πρὸς φῶς ἔμελλον, προσέταξαν Προμηθεῖ καὶ Ἐπιμηθεῖ κοσμῆσαί τε καὶ νεῖμαι δυνάμεις ἑκάστοις ὡς πρέπει. Προμηθέα δὲ παραιτεῖται Ἐπιμηθεὺς αὐτὸς νεῖμαι, ‘νείμαντος δέ μου,' ἔφη, ‘ἐπίσκεψαι:' καὶ οὕτω πείσας νέμει. νέμων δὲ τοῖς μὲν ἰσχὺν ἄνευ τάχους προσῆπτεν, [320 e] τοὺς δ᾽ ἀσθενεστέρους τάχει ἐκόσμει: τοὺς δὲ ὥπλιζε, τοῖς δ᾽ ἄοπλον διδοὺς φύσιν ἄλλην τιν᾽ αὐτοῖς ἐμηχανᾶτο δύναμιν εἰς σωτηρίαν.

“(Once upon a time there were Gods only, and no mortal creatures.) But when the time came that these also should be created, the Gods fashioned them out of earth and fire and various mixtures of both elements in the interior of the earth; and when they were about to bring them into the light of day, they ordered Prometheus and Epimetheus to equip them, and to distribute to them severally their proper qualities. Epimetheus said to Prometheus: ‘Let me distribute, and do you inspect.’ This was agreed, and Epimetheus made the distribution. There were some to whom he gave strength without swiftness, while he equipped the weaker with swiftness; some he armed, and others he left unarmed; and devised for the latter some other means of preservation, etc.”

(trans. Benjamin Jowett, 1892)

[2] Θεογονία Ἡσιόδου 565:

ἀλλά μιν ἐξαπάτησεν ἐὺς πάις Ἰαπετοῖο

κλέψας ἀκαμάτοιο πυρὸς τηλέσκοπον.

“But the noble son of Iapetus (i.e. Προμηθεύς) outwitted him

and stole the far-seen gleam of unwearying fire in a hollow fennel stalk.”

(trans. Hugh G. Evelyn-White, 1914)


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