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

SUMMARY: This fragment states that Orpheus teaches the ceremonies of initiation and the Mysteries, and that prior to the Mysteries of Eleusis, these Orphic orgies were celebrated in Phlium (Φλύα?) of Attica.

243. (3) Φιλοσοφούμενα ή κατὰ πασῶν αἱρέσεων ἔλεγχος τοῦ Ἱππολύτου τῆς Ῥώμης V 20, 4 p. 121, 21 Wendl.:

ἔστι δὲ αὐτοῖς ἡ πᾶσα διδασκαλία τοῦ λόγου ἀπὸ τῶν παλαιῶν θεολόγων, Μουσαίου καὶ Λίνου καὶ τοῦ τὰς τελετὰς μάλιστα καὶ τὰ μυστήρια καταδείξαντος Ὀρφέως. ὁ γὰρ περὶ τῆς μήτρας αὐτῶν καὶ τοῦ Ὀρφέως λόγος, καὶ <ὁ> ὀμφαλός, ὅπερ ἐστὶν ἀνδρεία, διαρρήδην οὕτως ἐστὶν ἐν τοῖς Βακχικοῖς τοῦ Ὀρφέως. τετέλεσται δὲ ταῦτα καὶ παραδέδοται ἀνθρώποις πρὸ τῆς Κελεοῦ καὶ Τριπτολέμου καὶ Δήμητρος καὶ Κόρης καὶ Διονύσου ἐν Ἐλευσῖνι τελετῆς, ἐν Φλιοῦντι |122 Wendl τῆς Ἀττικῆς· πρὸ γὰρ τῶν Ἐλευσινίων μυστηρίων ἔστιν ἐν τῆι Φλοιοῦντι <τῆς> λεγομένης Μεγάλης ὄργια. ἔστι δὲ παστὰς ἐν αὐτῆι, ἐπὶ δὲ τῆς παστάδος ἐγγέγραπται μέχρι σήμερον ἡ τούτων πάντων τῶν εἰρημένων λόγων ἰδέα. πολλὰ μὲν οὖν ἐστι τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς παστάδος ἐκείνης ἐγγεγραμμένα, περὶ ὧν καὶ Πλούταρχος ποιεῖται λόγους ἐν ταῖς πρὸς Ἐμπεδοκλέα δέκα βίβλοις (M. Treu Der sog. Lampriaskatalog der Plutarchschriften Waldenburg 1873, 8, 43)· ἔστι δὲ τοῖς πλείοσι καὶ πρεσβύτης τις ἐγγεγραμμένος πολιὸς πτερωτὸς ἐντεταμένην ἔχων τὴν αἰσχύνην, γυναῖκα ἀποφεύγουσαν διώκων κυανοειδῆ. ἐπιγέγραπται δὲ ἐπὶ τοῦ πρεσβύτου· φάος ῥυέντης, ἐπὶ δὲ τῆς γυναικός· περεηφικόλα. ἔοικε δὲ εἶναι κατὰ τὸν Σηθιανῶν λόγον ὁ φάος ῥυέντης τὸ φῶς, τὸ δὲ σκοτεινὸν ὕδωρ ἡ φικόλα, τὸ δὲ ἐν μέσωι τούτων διάστημα ἁρμονία πνεύματος μεταξὺ τεταγμένου. τὸ δὲ ὄνομα τοῦ φάος ῥυέντος τὴν ῥύσιν ἄνωθεν τοῦ φωτὸς, ὡς λέγουσι, δηλοῖ κάτω. ὥστε εὐλόγως ἄν τις εἴποι τοὺς Σηθιανοὺς ἐγγύς που τελεῖν παρ’ αὐτοῖς τὰ τῆς Μεγάλης Φλοιασίων ὄργια.

“The entire system of their doctrine, however, is (derived) from the ancient theologians Musaeus, and Linus, and Orpheus, who elucidates especially the ceremonies of initiation, as well as the Mysteries themselves. For their doctrine concerning the womb is also the tenet of Orpheus; and the (idea of the) navel, which is harmony, is (to be found) with the same symbolism attached to it in the Bacchanalian orgies of Orpheus. But prior to the observance of the mystic rite of Celeus, and Triptolemus, and Ceres, and Proserpine, and Bacchus in Eleusis, these orgies have been celebrated and handed down to men in Phlium of Attica (ed. it seems he means Φλύα). For antecedent to the Eleusinian mysteries, there are (enacted) in Phlium the orgies of her denominated the ‘Great (Mother).’ There is, however, a portico in this (city), and on the portico is inscribed a representation, (visible) up to the present day, of all the words which are spoken (on such occasions). Many, then, of the words inscribed upon that portico are those respecting which Plutarch institutes discussions in his ten books against Empedocles. And in the greater number of these books is also drawn the representation of a certain aged man, grey-haired, winged, having his pudendum erectum, pursuing a retreating woman of azure colour. And over the aged man is the inscription ‘phaos ruentes (φάος ῥυέντης “flowing light”),’ and over the woman ‘pereaphicola (περεηφικόλα).’ But ‘phaos ruentes’ appears to be the light (which exists), according to the doctrine of the Sethians*, and ‘phicola’ the darkish water; while the space in the midst of these seems to be a harmony constituted from the spirit that is placed between. The name, however, of ‘phaos ruentes’ manifests, as they allege, the flow from above of the light downwards. Wherefore one may reasonably assert that the Sethians celebrate rites among themselves, very closely bordering upon those orgies of the ‘Great (Mother’ which are observed among) the Phliasians.”

(trans. Rev. J. H. MacMahon, 1886)

*The Sethians were a Gnostic sect.

Schuster 1 n. 5; Ed. Hiller Herm. XXI 1886, 365; Rohde Psyche II6 104 n.; Maaβ Orpheus 301; Tannery Rev. philol. XXIV 1900, 97 ss., who denied that Hippolytus saw a convincing poem of the Orphics; he proposes that neither μήτρα (“womb”) nor ὀμφαλὸς (“naval”) should be placed in the Orphic fragments, but should be attributed to the Sethians. Compare to J. Kroll Lehren d. Herm. Trismeg. 129.

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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