ORPHIC FRAGMENT 31 - OTTO KERN

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

SUMMARY: This fragment consists of what is likely a liturgical text from a papyrus manuscript (Gurôb Papyrus) dated at the beginning of the third century BCE which includes a listing of most of the Toys of Diónysos.

31. Papyri tertii a. Chr. saec. fragmentum in vico Gurob repertum et editum cum commentario bonae doctrinae plenissimo a J. Gilbart Smyly Greek Papyri from Gurôb Dublin 1921 n. 1 tab. I. II; edo ex tabulae imagine et apographo mihi a Smylyo comiter misso. Gurôb Papyrus Col. 1:

Translation note: The first half of each line is lost, hence the strangeness of the translation.

I (versuum exitus).


. ας ταε . . . να εὐρηι

ωμα . . . υν λεγε

διὰ τὴν τελετὴν (. διοτοκιν τελετην* or [καρ] διοφορειας τελετήν+)

ἔτεμον ποινὰς πατέ<ρων> ([τὸν θεόν] ἔτεμον ποινὰς πατ[έρων ἔτεισα]+)

σῶισομ με Βριμώ με 5

Δημήτηρ τε Ρέα

Κούρητές τε ἔνοπλοι

ωμεν.

>να ποιῶμεν ἱερὰ καλὰ

. νηι κριός τε τραγός τε 10 ([κοι]νῆι κριός τε τραγός τε+)

ἀπερίσια δῶρα ([Καβείρων] ἀπερίσια δῶρα+)

. ου καὶ ἐπὶ ποταμοῦ νομωι

ανων τοῦ τράγου ([τὴν καρδίαν λαμβ]ανων τοῦ τράγου+)

τὰ δὲ λοιπὰ κρέα ἐσθιέτω (τὰ δὲ λοι[[κρα]] κρέα ἐσθιέτω*)

ος μὴ ἐφοράτω 15

χου ἀναθεὶς εἰς τὸ ἀνηιρε (λλου ἀναθεὶς εἰς τὸ ἀνηιρε* or [εὔ]χου ἀναθεὶς εἰς τὸ ἀνηιρε[μένον λίκνον]+)

αλων εὐχή· ([Γάλ]λων εὐχή·+)

[Πρωτογο*]νον καὶ Εὐβουλέα καλῶ

. ας ευιηας κικλήσκω (. ας Ευιηας κικλήσκω*)

. . ιτοφίλους σὺ ἀπαυάνας 20

Δ>ήμητρος καὶ Παλλάδος ἡμῖν

λευ Ἰρικεπαῖγε σῶισόμ με (λευ Πίκεπαιγε σῶισόμ με*)

ητα˙ εἷς Διόνυσος σύμβολα (ιτα˙ εις Διονυσος συμβολα*)

υρα θεὸς διὰ κόλπου ([εὗρον σωτ]υρα θεὸς διὰ κόλπου+)

. . . ν ἔπιον ὄνος βουκόλος 25 (ρ[.]ν επιον ονος βουκολος*) ([εὔφαγο]ν ἔπιον ὄνος βουκόλος+)

γιας σύνθεμα ἄνω κάτω τοῖς ([θυσ]ιας σύνθεμα ἄνω κάτω τοῖς+)

καὶ ὅ σοι ἐδόθη ἀνηλῶσαι (ς διο σοι εδοθη ανηλωσαι*)

ε>ἰς τὸν κάλαθον ἐμβαλῖν

κ>ῶνος ῥόμβος ἀστράγαλοι

ἡ ἔσοπτρος 30

*lines which differ from Kern in the manuscript found in The Classical Quarterly, Vol. 16, 1922, A New Ritual of the Orphic Mysteries by Michael Tierney, pp. 77-87.

+possible solutions proposed by Michael Tierney in the above article.


Verily, you found

the raw pieces . . . you lay the swine

for the sake of the tælætí (τελετὴ).

I severed the penalties of the fathers

Save me, Vrimó (Βριμώ), 5

Dîmítîr (Δημήτηρ), Rǽa (Ρέα),

and the armed Kourîtæs (Κούρητες)!

...to have spoken out.

that we make beautiful sacrifices,

the ram and the he-goat 10

unblemished gifts.

and yet near the river by the pasture

from the fulfillments (ανων?) of the goat.

He should eat the remaining meat

but he should not watch. 15

...dedicating...(?)

the prayer from the threshing floors.

I summon Protogónos (+) and Euvouléfs (Εὐβουλεύς).

I call the Vakkhic ones (? εὐιάς +).

...the beloved ones, you having withered away. 20

... for us of Dîmítîr and Pallás (Παλλάς)

Irikæpaios (Ἠρικεπαῖος) save me!

One Diónysos in (many) symbols

the God through the womb

I drank, the ass, the herdsman 25

symbol (σύνθεμα = σύνθημα?) above below

and what has been given to you for your expenditure.

Place in the basket:

cone (κῶνος), rómvos (ῥόμβος), knucklebones (ἀστράγαλοι),

the mirror (ἔσοπτρος). 30

(trans. by the author)


Orphicorum legis sacrae reliquiae cui partes metricae immixtae erant (maxime vs. 4-7. 10. 11. 21. 23 v. etiam II 14). Cum textus continuus restitui nequeat, bis precationem (vs. 5 et 18 ss.), vs. 9 ss. sacra ineunda, vs. 23 ss. σύμβολα Orphica indicari eluct. Vs. 20 et 27 sacerdos mystam alloquitur. Vs. 5 Βριμώ in Ὀρφέως Ἀργοναυτικά 17 et 429 occurrit (v. fr. 29 et de hierophantae Eleusinii voce mystica

ἱερὸν ἔτεκε πότνια κοῦρον Βριμὼ Βριμόν

Kern RE2 III 854 et Dieterichi Mithrasliturgie 218 n. II); vs. 6 ad Δημήτηρ (cf. vs. 21) te Ῥέα vide infra in Carminibus de raptu Proserpinae et s. ΙΕΡΟΙ ΛΟΓΟΙ; vs. 7 Κούρητες te ἔνοπλοι in Εὐχὴ πρὸς Μουσαῖον 20 Κούρητάς τ' ἐνόπλους Κορύβαντάς τ' ἠδὲ Καβείρους et Κούρητες saepissime in Ἱεροῖς λόγοις et Hymnis; vs. 18 Εὐβουλεύς in lamellis aureis fr. c – e 2, g 2, in Carminibus de raptu Proserpinae, in Hymnis XXIX 8, XXX 6, XLI 8, XLII 2, LII 4, LVI 3, LXXII 3; vs. 21 Παλλάς v. s. ΙΕΡΟΙ ΛΟΓΟΙ. De Baccho (vs. 24 εἷς Διόνυσος ex versu notissimo

εἷς Ζεὺς εἷς Ἀίδης εἷς Ἥλιος εἷς Διόνυσος

cf. Weinreich Neue Urkunden sur Sarapis – Religion 27 et infra s. ΒΑΚΧΙΚΑ) taceo, quia deus vere Orphicus est; vs. 18 Πρωτόγ?>νο(ς) et vs. 23 Φά?ν>η(ς) eiusdem dei figurae sunt velut vs. 22 Ἰρικεπαῖγος, cuius nulla antiquior extat memoria. Nam latet haud dubie Ἠρικεπαῖος, Orphicorum deus clarissimus, cuius cultum testatur titulus secundi p. Chr. saeculi Hierocaesareae in Lydia a. 1906 ab Ios. Keilio et A. de Premersteinio (Denkschr. Wien. Akad. Phil. hist. Kl. LIII 1908, 54 n. 112) felicissime repertus:

ἐπὶ ἱεροφάντου | Ἀρτεμιδώρου τοῦ Ἀπολ|λωνίου Μηνόφιλος, Περη|λίας(?) καὶ Σεκοῦνδος Ἀπολ|5λωνίου οἱ συνγενεῖς Διο|νύσω Ἠρικεπ ίω τὸν βωμόν

(Kern Genethliakon f. Robert 1910, 93; Herm. LI 1916, 565 n. 2) Ad vs. 20 cf. fr. 32 b 1

δίψαι αὖος ἐγὼ καὶ ἀπόλλυμαι,

ad vs, 24

θεὸς διὰ κόλπου

Hymn. LII 11 ὑποκόλπιε (Εὐβουλεῦ vs. 4), fr. 32 c 8

Δεσσπποίνας δὲ ὑπὸ κόλπον ἔδυν

et quae Dieterich Mithrasliturgie 123. 136 exposuit; ad vs. 25 ὄνος ἄγων μυστήρια Aristophan. Ran. 159; ad vs. 28 symbolum Eleusinium

ἐνήστευσα, ἔπιον τὸν κυκεῶνα, ἔλαβον ἐκ κίστης, ἐργασάμενος ἀνεθέμην εἰς κάλαθον καὶ ἐκ καλάθ υ εἰς κίστην


Dieterich l. l. 212 n. I et Epiphan. fr. 34; ad vs. 29 versus de Zagrei crepundiis ibidem. Cetera apud Smylyum in commentario inveniuntur.

These are the remnants of the Orphic sacred law, within which were mixed metric parts (particularly vs. 4-7. 10. 11. 21. 23 v. etiam II 14). While it is impossible to restore a continuous text, that prayer (is said or referred to) two times (vs. 5 et 18 ss.), vs. 9 ss. the ritual commences, vs. 23 ss. the Orphic symbols are disclosed. Vs. 20 and 27 the priest addresses the mystic. Vs. 5 The name Βριμώ appears in the Ὀρφέως Ἀργοναυτικά, 17 and 429 (v. fr. 29 on the mystical words of the hierophant of Ælefsís (Ἐλευσίς):

ἱερὸν ἔτεκε πότνια κοῦρον Βριμὼ Βριμόν

"The queen has given birth to a boy, Vrimó (Βριμώ) to Vrimós (Βριμός)!"

Kern RE2 III 854 et Dieterichi Mithrasliturgie 218 n. II); vs. 6 “And Dîmítîr (cf. vs. 21) and Rǽa”, see below (in the Orphic fragments) on the rapture of Proserpina and s. SACRED LOGOS; vs. 7 “the armed Kourîtæs (Κούρητες)” in Prayer of Mousaios 20 “armed Kourîtæs and Korývandæs (Κορύβαντες) and Káveiri (Κάβειροι).” The Kourîtæs found often in the Sacred Logos and Hymns; vs. 18 (The name) Evvouléfs (Εὐβουλεύς) (can be found) in the gold “tablets” fr. c – e 2, g 2, in the poems on the abduction of Proserpina, in the Hymns XXIX 8, XXX 6, XLI 8, XLII 2, LII 4, LVI 3, LXXII 3; vs. 21 Παλλάς v. s. ΙΕΡΟΙ ΛΟΓΟΙ. Of Vákkhos (Βάκχος) (vs. 24 "one Dionysus" from the familiar verse:

εἷς Ζεὺς εἷς Ἀίδης εἷς Ἥλιος εἷς Διόνυσος

"One Zefs (Ζεὺς), one Aidîs (Ἀίδης), one Ílios (Ἥλιος), one Diónysos"

cf. Weinreich Neue Urkunden sur Sarapis – Religion 27 et infra s. ΒΑΚΧΙΚΑ). I am silent, because in reality he is the true Orphic God; vs. 18 Protogónos and vs. 23 Phánîs are names of the same (deity), just as in vs. 22 Ἰρικεπαῖγος, of whom there can be found no more ancient memory. Inasmuch as Ἠρικεπαῖος is certainly concealed, the illustrious God of the Orphics, of whom the cult attests in an inscription from 2nd century C. E. at Hierocaesareae in Lydia, auspiciously discovered in 1906 near Ios by J. Keil and A. from Premersteinio (Denkschr. Wien. Akad. Phil. hist. Kl. LIII 1908, 54 n. 112):

ἐπὶ ἱεροφάντου | Ἀρτεμιδώρου τοῦ Ἀπολ|λωνίου Μηνόφιλος, Περη|λίας(?) καὶ Σεκοῦνδος Ἀπολ|5λωνίου οἱ συνγενεῖς Διο|νύσω Ἠρικεπ ίω τὸν βωμόν

“In the time of the Hierophant Artæmidórus (Ἀρτεμιδώρος), son of Apollónios (Ἀπολλώνιος), Mînóphilos (Μηνόφιλος), Pærîlias (Περηλίας) and Sækoundos (Σεκοῦνδος), the relatives of Apollónios, (erected?) the altar to Diónysos Îrikæpaios (Ἠρικεπαῖος).”

(Kern Genethliakon f. Robert 1910, 93; Herm. LI 1916, 565 n. 2) Ad vs. 20 cf. fr. 32 b 1:

δίψαι αὖος ἐγὼ καὶ ἀπόλλυμαι,

"For I am parched with thirst and I perish"

ad vs, 24:

θεὸς διὰ κόλπου

“God in the womb”

Hymn. LII 11 ὑποκόλπιε (Εὐβουλεῦ vs. 4), fr. 32 c 8

Δεσσποίνας δὲ ὑπὸ κόλπον ἔδυν

“And I entered into the womb of the Mistress”

And what (was found?)? Dieterich Mithrasliturgie 123.

136 it is set forth; ad vs. 25 ὄνος ἄγων μυστήρια Aristophan. Ran. 159; ad vs. 28 symbolum Eleusinium


ἐνήστευσα, ἔπιον τὸν κυκεῶνα, ἔλαβον ἐκ κίστης, ἐργασάμενος ἀνεθέμην εἰς κάλαθον καὶ ἐκ καλάθ υ εἰς κίστην

“I fasted. I drank the kykæón (κυκεών). I took from the basket (κίστη). Having accomplished this, I put back into the kálathos (κάλαθος, a type of basket), and from the kálathos into the basket (κίστη).”

Dieterich l. l. 212 n. I et Epiphan. fr. 34; ad vs. 29 the verses from Zagréfs with the rattle in that very place. The remainder are found in Smyly's commentary.

(translations by the author)


The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Rhapsodic 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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