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

SUMMARY: This fragment describes the myth of Icarius and Erigone and the swinging faces.

244. (269) Servius in Georgica Virgilii II 389 p. 253, 16 Th. ~ Myth. Vat. I 19; II 61 v. Keseling De Mythogr. Vatic. secundi font. diss. Hal. 1908, 20:

oscillorum* autem variae sunt opiniones; nam alii hanc asserunt fabulam. Icarus Atheniensis, pater Erigonae, cum acceptum a Libero patre vinum mortalibus indicaret, occisus est a rusticis, qui cum plus aequo potassent, deebriati se venenum accepisse crediderant. huius canis est reversus ad Erigonam filiam, quae, cum eius comitata vestigia pervenisset ad patris cadaver, laqueo vitam finivit. haec deorum voluntate inter astra relata est, quam Virginem vocant. canis quoque ille est inter sidera collocatus. sed post aliquantum tempus Atheniensibus morbus inmissus est talis, ut eorum virgines furore quodam compellerentur ad laqueum; responditque oraculum, sedari posse illam pestilentiam, si Erigonae et Icari cadavera requirerentur. quae cum diu quaesita nusquam invenirentur, ad ostendendam suam devotionem Athenienses, ut etiam in alieno ea quaerere viderentur elemento, suspenderunt de arboribus funem, ad quem se tenentes homines hac atque illac agitabantur, ut quasi et per aërem illorum |254 Th. cadavera quaerere viderentur. sed cum inde plerique caderent, inventum est, ut (formas) ad oris sui similitudinem facerent et eas pro se suspensas moverent. unde et oscilla dicta sunt ab eo, quod in his cillerentur, id est moverentur ora: nam ‘cillere’ est movere, unde et furcillae dictae sunt, quibus frumenta cillentur. alii dicunt oscilla esse membra virilia de floribus facta, quae suspendebantur per intercolumnia ita, ut in ea homines, acceptis clausis personis, inpingerent et ea ore cillerent, id est moverent, ad risum populo commovendum. et hoc in Orpheo (non Lucani) lectum est.

“But of the swings*, there are various opinions; in fact, others defend this story. Icarius (Ἰκάριος) of Athens, father of Erigone (Ἠριγόνη), making known to the mortals the wine of Father Liber, is killed by the peasants, who, having drank too much and being drunk, believed they had been given poison. His dog returned to his daughter Erigone, who, following his footprints, came upon the corpse of her father, and took her life by hanging herself. In recompense for this and by the will of the Gods, she was placed among the constellations; they call her Virgo. The dog is also established among the constellations. But after a little time, a malady was set upon the Athenians, such that their virgins, in some kind of madness, were driven to hang themselves; the oracle responded, that it would be possible to end the pestilence if the corpses of Erigone and Icarius were found. And since, for a long time, they did not find them, to show their piety, the Athenians, to make it seem that they were also seeking them in an unfamiliar area, suspended rope from the trees, to which the men, holding fast, swaying here and there, so that it seemed as if they were seeking the corpses even through the air. But, since very many of them fell from there, a way was found, so that, making figures in the likeness of their own face and having suspended them, setting them in motion. For which they are said to be swings from that place, quod in his cillerentur, that is, they are swinging at the end (of a rope); for ‘to move (cillere)’ is movere, whence even the little forks are called that, whereby the grain will be moved. Others say that the swings are penises made of flowers, which were suspended across between the columns (of trees) in this way, so that the men, wearing closed masks, wanted to represent them with moving faces, that is, to be moving them, to stir laughter in the people. And this was collected in Orpheus (not Lucan).”

(trans. by the author)

*oscillum. This word is found more than once in this fragment; it can mean “swing” or “little mask.” Lewis & Short reference our passage for both meanings of the word. It is not a little confusing because the text talks about Erigone swinging from a noose, but it also speaks of swinging masks which the men hang from the trees.

Lobeck I 585; Dieterich Nekyia2 134 n. 1; Heeg Diss. 47.

On the myth of Erigone from Sophocles in the Satyrs (ed. Ἰχνευταί?), by Eratosthenes most famously examined in an elegiac poem v. Preller-Robert Griech. Mythol. I4 667; Escher RE2 VI 451 n. 2; Maaβ Philolog. LXXVII 1921, 1; Rud. Pfeiffer Kallimachosstudien 1922, 102. Orpheus has spoken of Erigone also in ΓΕΩΡΓΙΑ.

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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