ORPHIC FRAGMENT 151 - OTTO KERN

ORPHIC FRAGMENT 151 - OTTO KERN

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

SUMMARY: This fragment consists of several quotations about the Kourîtæs (Κούρητες), including one which shows their relationship to Athîná (Ἀθηνᾶ).

151. (112. 194. 210.) σχόλιον Πρόκλου επὶ Κρατύλου Πλάτωνος 396 b p. 58, 1 Pasqu.:

τοσάτη γάρ ἐστιν ἡ τοῦ θεοῦ τούτου (Saturni) πάσης τῆς πρὸς τὰ καταδεέστερα συντάξεως ὑπερβολὴ καὶ ἡ πρὸς τὸ νοητὸν ἄχραντος ἕνωσις, ὥστε μηδὲ τῆς Κουρητικῆς αὐτὸν δεῖσθαι φρουρᾶς, ὥσπερ τὴν Ῥέαν καὶ τὸν Δία καὶ τὴν Κόρην· πάντες γὰρ οὗτοι διὰ τὰς εἰς τὰ δεύτερα προόδους τῆς ἀτρέπτου φυλακῆς τῶν Κουρήτων ἐδεήθησαν· ὁ δὲ Κρόνος, ἐν ἑαυτῶι μονίμως ἱδρυμένος καὶ ἀφ’ ὅλων τῶν δευτέρων ἁρπάσας ἑαυτόν, τῆς παρὰ τῶν Κουρήτων ὑπερίδρυται φρουρᾶς, ἔχει δὲ καὶ τούτων ἑνοειδῶς ἐν ἑαυτῶι τὴν αἰτίαν· τὸ γὰρ καθαρὸν τοῦτο καὶ τὸ ἄχραντον ὑπόστασιν παρέχεται πάσαις ταῖς τῶν Κουρήτων προόδοις.

“Such indeed is the transcendency of this God (Κρόνος) with respect to all co-ordination with things subordinate, and such his undefiled union with the intelligible, that he does not require a Curetic guard, like Rhea (Ῥέα), Jupiter (Ζεύς) and Proserpine (Κόρη). For all these, through their progressions into secondary natures, require the immutable defence of the Curetes (Κουρῆτες). But Saturn (Κρόνος) being firmly established in himself, and hastily withdrawing himself from all subordinate natures is established above the guardianship of the Curetes. He contains however, the cause of these uniformly in himself. For this purity, and the undefiled which he possesses, give subsistence to all the progressions of the Curetes.” (trans. Thomas Taylor, 1816.)

Idem in σχόλιον Πρόκλου επὶ Τιμαίου Πλάτωνος 28 c (I 317, 11 Diehl):

ὥσπερ γὰρ ὁ θεολόγος περὶ αὐτὸν (sc. Iovem) ἵστησι τὴν Κουρητικὴν τάξιν, οὕτω δὴ καὶ ὁ Πλάτων (Πρωταγόρας Πλάτωνος 321 d) ‘φυλακὰς φοβερὰς’ εἶναί φησι περὶ αὐτόν, καὶ ὡς ἐκείνος ἐπὶ τῆς τοῦ Ὀλύμπου κορυφῆς αὐτὸν ἱδρύει, οὕτως καὶ οὗτος ‘τὴν ἀκρόπολιν’ ἀνῆκεν αὐτῶι, ἐν ἧι διαιωνίως ἱδρυμένος διὰ τῶν μέσων τάξεων κοσμεῖ τὰ πάντα. τίς μὲν οὖν ὁ δημιουργός ἐστι καὶ ὅτι νοῦς θεῖος τῆς ὅλης ποιήσεως αἴτιος, εἰρήσθω διὰ τούτων, καὶ ὅπως ὑπό τε Ὀρφέως καὶ Πλάτωνος ὁ αὐτὸς ἀνυμνεῖται δημιουργὸς Ζεύς, ἀπὸ τούτων ὑπεμνήσθω (Diehl] an ὑπομεμνήσθω? ὑπομνήσθω P).

“For as the theologist establishes about him (Ζεύς) the Curetic (Κουρητικός) order, thus also Plato says, that he is surrounded with terrible guards. And as the former establishes him on the summit of Olympus, so the latter assigns to him a tower, in which being eternally seated, he adorns all things through the middle orders. Who the Demiurgus therefore is, and that he is a divine intellect, the cause of total fabrication, is evident from what has been said; and likewise that Jupiter (Ζεύς) himself is celebrated as the Demiurgus both by Orpheus and Plato.” (trans. Thomas Taylor, 1820)

Idem Περὶ τῆς κατὰ Πλάτωνα θεολογίας Πρόκλου V 3 p. 253, 36:

ἀλλὰ μὴν καὶ τριάδα τὴν ἀμείλικτον καὶ ἄχραντον τῶν νοερῶν θεῶν διαρρήδην ὁ Πλάτων ἑπόμενος τῶι Ὀρφεῖ Κουρητικὴν ἀποκαλεῖ, καθάπερ ἐν Νόμοις (VII 796 b) φησὶν ὁ Ἀθηναῖος ξένος τὰ τῶν Κουρήτων ἐνόπλιαπαίγνια καὶ τὴν ἔνρυθμον (ἔρρυθμον Port.) χορείαν αὐτῶν ἀνυμνῶν. καὶ γὰρ Ορφεὺς τοὺς Κούρητας φύλακας τῶι Διὶ παρίστησι τρεῖς ὄντας. καὶ οἱ θεσμοὶ τῶν Κρητῶν καὶ ἡ Ἑλληνικὴ πᾶσα Θεολογία τὴν καθαρὰν καὶἄχραντον ζωὴν καὶ ἐνέργειαν εἰς τὴν ταύτην ἀναπέμπουσιν· οὐδὲ γὰρ ἄλλο τι τὸ κορὸν ἢ τὸ καθαρὸν καὶ ἀκήρατον ἐνδείκνυται.

“Moreover, Plato following Orpheus, calls the inflexible and undefiled triad of the intellectual Gods Curetic (Κουρητικός), as is evident from what the Athenian guest says in the Laws (Νόμοι Πλάτωνος), celebrating the armed sports of the Curetes (Κουρῆτες), and their rhythmical dance. For Orpheus represents the Curetes who are three, as the guards of Jupiter (Ζεύς). And the sacred laws of the Cretans, and all the Grecian theology, refer a pure and undefiled life and energy to this order. For κορὸν ἢ τὸ καθαρὸν, indicates nothing else than the pure and incorruptible.” (trans. Thomas Taylor, 1816)

Cf. eundem Περὶ τῆς κατὰ Πλάτωνα θεολογίας Πρόκλου 1. 1. V 35 init. p. 322, 23:

ἴθι δὴ οὖν ἀπὸ τῆς ἀορίστου ταύτης καὶ κοινῆς περὶ τῶν θεῶν τούτων διδασκαλίας καὶ τὴν Ἑλληνικὴν περὶ αὐτῆς φήμην ὑπὸ τοῦ Πλάτωνος ἡμῖν παραδοθεῖσαν εἰς μέσον ἀγάγωμεν καὶ ἐπιδείξωμεν αὐτὸν καὶ μέχρι τῶνὀνομάτων ἑπόμενον τοῖς ραρ’ Ἕλλησι θεολόγοις, καθάπερ ἐν τῆι τῶν τριῶν βασιλέων μυστικῆι θεωρίαι, κἀν τῆι τῶν ἀχράντων θεῶν ἐξηγήσει, τῆς ἐκείνων οὐκ ἀφιστάμενον ὑφηγήσεως. τίς γὰρ οὐκ οἶδε τῶν καὶ σμικρὰτῆς Ἑλληνικῆς θεοσοφίας ἀκηκοότων ἔν τε ταῖς ἀρρήτοις αὐτῶν τελεταῖς καὶ ταῖς ἄλλαις περὶ τῶν θεῶν πραγματείαις τὴν τῶν Κουρήτων τάξιν παρ αὐτοῖς διαφερόντως ὑμνημένην ὡς τῆς ἀχράντου προεστῶσανἰδιότὴτος, τῆς θεᾶς ἡνεμονοῦσαν καὶ τὴν φρουρὰν τῶν ὅλων εἰς αὐτὴν ἀναδησαμένην; οὗτοι (αὐτοὶ Port.) γοῦν οἱ θεοὶ καὶ τὴν βασιλίδα Ῥέαν λέγονται φρουρεῖν καὶ τὸν τῶν ὅλων δημιουργόν, καὶ μέχρι τῶν αἰτίων τῆςμεριστῆς ζωιογονίας τε καὶ δημιουργίας προϊόντες, τήν τε Κόρην ἐν ἐκείνοις καὶ τὸν Διόνυσον, ἐξηιρημένους τῶν δευτέρων φυλάττειν, ὥσπερ ἐνταῦθα τὰς τῆς ὅλης ζωῆς ζωιογονίας καὶ τῆς παντελοῦς δημιουργίας (δημιουργήας Port.) πρωτουργοὺς ἀνέχουσι μονάδας· ταύτην δὴ οὖν τὴν Κουρητικὴν τάξιν οὐ μόνον Ὀρφεὺς καὶ οἱ πρὸ τοῦ Πλάτωνος ἔγνωσαν θεολόνοι καὶ γνόντες ἐθρήσκευσαν, ἀλλὰ καὶ ὁ Ἀθηναῖος ξένος ἐνΝόμοις (VII 796 b) ἀνύμνησε. τὰ γὰρ ἐν Κρήτηι τῶν Κουρήτων ἐνόπλια παίγνια, πάσης τῆς εὐρύθμου κινήσεως εἶναί φησιν ἀρχηγικὰ παραδείγματα. καὶ νῦν οὐδὲ τοῦτο ἀπέχρησεν αὐτῶι τὸ τῆς Κουρητικῆς μνησθῆναιταύτης τάξεως, ἀλλὰ καὶ προστίθησι καὶ τὴν μίαν αὐτῶν ἑνάδα, τὴν δέσποιναν ὑμνῶν Ἀθηνᾶν, | 323 ἧς καὶ ἡ παρὰ τοὶς πρὸ αὐτοῦ θεολόγοις μυσταγωγία τὴν ὅλην ἐξάπτει τῶν Κουρήτων πρόοδον, ἄνω μὲν αὐτοὺςπεριστρέφουσα τοῖς Ἀθηναϊκοῖς συμβόλοις, ὡς τῆς ἀειθαλοῦς ζωῆς καὶ τῆς ἀκμαίας νοήσεως προστάτας, κάτω δὲ περιφανώς ὐποτάττουσα τῆι τῆς Ἀθηνᾶς προνοίαι. οἱ μὲν γὰρ πρώτιστοι Κούρητες, ἅτε τῆς νοητῆςὄντες θεοὶ καὶ κρυφίας ὀπαδοί, τοῖς ἐκεῖθεν προϊοῦσιν ἀρκοῦνται συνθήμασιν. οἱ δὲ ἐν ταῖς δευτέραις καὶ τρίταις τάξεσι τὴς νοερᾶς Ἀθηναϊκῆς ἐξήρτηνται μονάδος. . . . ὅθεν δὴ καὶ οἱ Κούρητες τὴν ἐπωνυμίαν ἔλαχοντῆς ἀχράντου προεστῶτες καθαρότητος τῶν θεῶν.

“Let us now then from this indefinite and common doctrine about these Gods, adduce the Grecian rumour concerning it, as delivered to us by Plato, and demonstrate that he as far as to the very names follows the theologists of the Greeks, just as in the mystic theory of the three kings, and the narration of the unpolluted Gods, he does not depart from their interpretation. For who that is in the smallest degree acquainted with the divine wisdom of the Greeks, does not know that in the arcane mysteries, and other concerns respecting the Gods, the order of the Curetes (Κουρῆτες), is in a remarkable manner celebrated by them, as presiding over the undefiled peculiarity, as the leader of the Goddess [Rhea,] and as binding in itself the guardianship of wholes? These Gods therefore, are said to guard the queen Rhea, and the demiurgus of wholes, and proceeding as far as to the causes of partible vivification and fabrication, to preserve the Proserpine (Κόρη) and Bacchus (Διόνυσος) which are among these causes, exempt from secondary natures, just as here [i.e. in the intellectual order], they defend the vivifications of total life, and the first-effective monads of all-perfect fabrication. Not only Orpheus therefore, and the theologists prior to Plato knew this Curetic order, and knowing, venerated it, but the Athenian guest also in the Laws (Νόμοι Πλάτωνος) celebrates it. For he says, that the armed sports of the Curetes in Crete, are the principal paradigms of all elegant motion. And now, neither is he satisfied with having mentioned this Curetic order, but also adds the one unity of the Curetes, viz. our mistress Minerva (Ἀθηνᾶ), from which the mystic doctrine also of theologists prior to him, suspends the whole progression of the Curetes. He likewise, surrounds them above with the symbols of Minerva, as presiding over an ever-flourishing life, and vigorous intellection; but beneath, he manifestly arranges them under the providence of Minerva. For the first Curetes indeed, as being the attendants of the intelligible and occult Goddess, are satisfied with the signs that proceed from thence; but those in the second and third orders, are suspended from the intellectual Minerval monad.

. . . Whence also the Curetes are allotted their appellation, as presiding over the undefiled purity of the Gods.” (trans. Thomas Taylor, 1816)

et VI 13 p. 382, 11. σχόλιον Ὀλυμπιοδώρου επὶ Φαίδωνος Πλάτωνος B ρκέ p. 110, 24 Norv. καὶ οἱ Κούρητες περὶ τοὺς δημιουργικοὺς θεούς, ὅτι νενεύκασι πρὸς τὸ χεῖρον.

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony.

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

Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.

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