ORPHIC FRAGMENT 235

OTTO KERN

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


SUMMARY: This fragment quotes the famous saying that many carry the thyrsus of Dionysus, but few are intoxicated with him.

235. (237) σχόλιον Ὀλυμπιοδώρου επὶ Φαίδωνος Πλάτωνος 68 c p. 48, 20 William Norvin:

διὸ καὶ παρωιδεῖ ἔπος Ὀρφικὸν τὸ λέγον, ὅτι· ὅστις δ’ ἡμῶν ἀτέλεστος ὥσπερ ἐν βορβόρωι κείσεται ἐν Ἅιδου· τελετὴ γὰρ ἐστιν ἡ τῶν ἀρετῶν βακχεία· και φησιν·

πολλοὶ μὲν ναρθηκοφόροι παῦροι δὲ τε βάκχοι,

ναρθηκοφόρους, οὐ μὴν βάκχους τοὺς πολιτικοὺς καλῶν, ναρθηκοφόρους δὲ καὶ βάκχους τοὺς καθαρτικούς· καὶ γὰρ ἐνδούμεθα μὲν τῆι ὕληι ὡς Τιτᾶνες διὰ τὸν πολὺν μερισμόν· πολὺ γὰρ τὸ ἐμὸν καὶ σόν· ἀνεγειρόμεθα δὲ ὡς βάκχοι· διὸ καὶ περὶ τὸν θάνατον μαντικώτεροι γινόμεθα, καὶ ἔφορος δὲ τοῦ θανάτου ὁ Διόνυσος, διότι καὶ πάσης βακχείας. καὶ εὖ γε τοῦ λόγου, διότι καὶ ἀπὸ |49 Norv. θεοῦ ἤρξατο, ἡνίκα ἔλεγεν ‘ ὁ μὲν ἐν ἀπορρήτοις περὶ αὐτῶν λεγόμενος λόγος, ὡς ἔν τινι φρουρᾶι ἐσμεν ’ (Φαίδων Πλάτωνος 62 b fr. 7)· καὶ εἰς θεὸν κατέληξεν, ἐξ οὗ καὶ ἤρξατο, λέγω δὲ τὸν Διόνυσον.

“Wherefore he (Πλάτών) also alludes to the Orphic verse which says: anyone uninitiated in the Mysteries will lie in the muck in Aidîs (Ἅιδης), for the initiation is the Vakkhic orgy of the virtues. And he says:

‘Many bearers of the staff of Diónysos, but few are intoxicated with him,’

“calling politicians thyrsos-bearers, yet not truly intoxicated by him, but those thyrsos-bearers with Vakkhic intoxication are fit for purifying. For we are entangled with matter just as the Titans (Τιτᾶνες), because of the great division: for ‘big’ becomes ‘mine’ or ‘thine;’ and we are roused just as the Vákkhi (βάκχοι); and wherefore as regards death, we become prophetic, and the guardian of death is Diónysos, because he also protects all Vakkhic frenzy. And of this story, it is exactly right, because it began from the God, at the point where he was saying, ‘The account spoken of in the Mysteries, that we are in a prison’ (Φαίδων Πλάτωνος 62 b fr. 7); it also ended with the God from whom it began, and this I say is Diónysos!”

(trans. by the author)

Compare the same at 67 c p. 43, 22; 70 c p. 58, 16 and Β ρξή p. 122, 23 William Norvin, and also σχόλιον Ἑρμείου επὶ Φαίδρου Πλάτωνος 249 c p. 172, 10 P. Couvreur.

Lobeck II 813 which has brought together numerous imitations of this celebrated verse; Maaβ Orpheus 109; Tannery Rev. philol. XXV 1901, 316.

The verse at present was not unknown to Plato v. fragment 5.

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.

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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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