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

SUMMARY: This fragment consists of several quotations explaining the meaning of the grammatically declined names of Zeus.


298. (Abel 164) Ἰωάννης Διάκονος Γαληνός (John Galenus the Deacon, Pediasmus) about Θεογονία Ἡσιόδου 482 (Allegoriae in Hesiodi Theogoniam; Thomas Gaisford Poetæ Minores Græci II 588, 24; Hans Flach Glossen und Scholien zur Hesiodischen Theogonie p. 343):


ὁ Ζεὺς τοῦ Διὸς κλίνεται, δηλουμένου πάντως ἡμῖν, ὡς οὗτός τε ζωή ἐστι, καὶ δι’ αὐτοῦ ζῶσι τὰ ζῶντα, καὶ τὰ ὄντα ἁπλῶς δι’ αὐτοῦ τὸ εἶναι εἴληχεν· ἄκουε γὰρ τοῦ Ὀρφέως ἐν τῶι λεγομένωι κρατῆρι τάδε σοι λέγοντος·


ἔστιν δὴ πάντων ἀρχὴ Ζεύς. Ζεὺς γὰρ ἔδωκε

Ζῶια τ’ ἐγέννησεν καὶ Ζῆν αὐτὸν καλέουσι

καὶ Δία τῆιδ ̓, ὅτι δὴ διὰ τοῦτον ἅπαντα τέτυκται.

εἷς δὲ πατὴρ οὗτος πάντων θηρῶν τε βροτῶν τε.


“Zefs (Ζεύς) diminishes “of Zefs,” making himself visible to us in all ways, as this God is life, and through him living beings live, and living things have obtained existence simply through him; in fact, hear from Orphefs (Ὀρφεύς), saying these words to you in the Kratír (Κρατῆρ):


‘Zefs is the origin of all things. For Zefs gave freely,

and he generated the living creatures, and they call him Zína (Ζῆνα)

and Día (Δία) for this reason, inasmuch as through this God all things were made.

And this is the one father of all beasts and mortal men.’ ”

(trans. by the author)


Herm. XXXIX; Christian Lobeck Aglaophamus I 735; Kern Arch. 391; Otto Gruppe Suppl. 735; Eduard Zeller Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Theologie vol. 42 1899 p. 260 = Kl. Schr. II 177.



The open doctrine of the Stoics, v. Khrýsippos (Χρύσιππος) in Ἐκλογαὶ φυσικαὶ καὶ ἠθικαί Ἰωάννου Στοβαῖου Ioannis Stobaei Anthologium I 26 p. 31, 11 Curtius Wachsmuth and Otto Hense.


Ζεὺς μὲν οὖν φαίνεται ὠνομάσθαι ἀπὸ τοῦ πᾶσι δεδωκέναι τὸ ζῆν. Δία δὲ αὐτὸν λέγουσιν, ὅτι πάντων ἐστὶν αἴτιος καὶ δι’ αὐτὸν πάντα (II 312, 1062 Arnim).


“In fact it appears that Zefs (Ζεὺς) was named from having given everyone life (ζῆν). And they call him Δία because he is the cause of all things and all things exist through him.”

(trans. by the author)



The Κρατύλος Πλάτωνος 396 a. b preceded:


παγκάλως τὸ ὄνομα κεῖσθαι: ἔστι δὲ οὐ ῥάιδιον κατανοῆσαι. ἀτεχνῶς γάρ ἐστιν οἷον λόγος τὸ τοῦ Διὸς ὄνομα, διελόντες δὲ αὐτὸ διχῆι οἱ μὲν τῶι ἑτέρωι μέρει, οἱ δὲ τῶι ἑτέρωι χρώμεθα— οἱ μὲν γὰρ ‘Ζῆνα,' οἱ δὲ ‘Δίά καλοῦσιν—συντιθέμενα δ᾽ εἰς ἓν δηλοῖ τὴν φύσιν τοῦ θεοῦ, ὃ δὴ προσήκειν φαμὲν ὀνόματι οἵωι τε εἶναι ἀπεργάζεσθαι. οὐ γὰρ ἔστιν ἡμῖν καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις πᾶσιν ὅστις ἐστὶν αἴτιος μᾶλλον τοῦ ζῆν ἢ ὁ ἄρχων τε καὶ βασιλεὺς τῶν πάντων. συμβαίνει οὖν ὀρθῶς [396β] ὀνομάζεσθαι οὗτος ὁ θεὸς εἶναι, δι᾽ ὃν ζῆν ἀεὶ πᾶσι τοῖς ζῶσιν ὑπάρχει· διείληπται δὲ δίχα, ὥσπερ λέγω, ἓν ὂν τὸ ὄνομα, τῶι ‘Διῐ καὶ τῶι ‘Ζηνί.' τοῦτον δὲ Κρόνου ὑὸν ὑβριστικὸν μὲν ἄν τις δόξειεν εἶναι ἀκούσαντι ἐξαίφνης, εὔλογον δὲ μεγάλης τινὸς διανοίας ἔκγονον εἶναι τὸν Δία· κόρον γὰρ σημαίνει οὐ παῖδα, ἀλλὰ τὸ καθαρὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀκήρατον τοῦ νοῦ.


“For the name of Zeus is exactly like a sentence; we divide it into two parts, and some of us use one part, others the other; for some call him Zena (Ζῆνα), and others Dia (Δία); but the two in combination express the nature of the god, which is just what we said a name should be able to do. For certainly no one is so much the author of life (ζῆν) for us and all others as the ruler and king of all. [396b] Thus this god is correctly named, through whom (δι᾽ ὅν) all living beings have the gift of life (ζῆν). But, as I say, the name is divided, though it is one name, into the two parts, Dia and Zena. And it might seem, at first hearing, highly irreverent to call him the son of Cronus and reasonable to say that Zeus is the offspring of some great intellect; and so he is, for κόρος (for Κρόνος) signifies not child, but the purity (καθαρόν) and unblemished nature of his mind.”

(trans. Harold N. Fowler, 1921)


Compare to σχόλιον Πρόκλου επὶ Κρατύλου Πλάτωνος, Procli Diadochi in Platonis Cratylum Commentaria, edited by Giorgio Pasquali p. 52, 4:


εἰκότως ἄρα καὶ τὸ ὄνομα διττόν ἐστιν αὐτοῦ, ὧν τὸ μὲν Δία τὴν δι’ οὗ αἰτίαν δηλοῖ, ἥτις ἐστὶν ἡ πατρικὴ ἀγαθότης, τὸ δὲ Ζῆνα τὴν ζωιογονίαν, ὧν πρώτας ἐν τῶι παντὶ αἰτίας ὁ δημιουργὸς ἑνιαίως προείληφεν.


“Certainly his name is justly twofold: of them Δία makes manifest the cause through him, which is paternal goodness, and Ζῆνα the generation of living beings, whose first causes to the whole the Dîmiourgós (δημιουργὸς, Zeus the creator) anticipated individually.”

(trans. by the author) 


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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