ORPHIC FRAGMENT 49 - OTTO KERN

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

SUMMARY: This fragment comes from an ancient papyrus which tells the story of the abduction of Persephone, somewhat different than that told in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter.

Introduction:

Fragment 49 is text from the cartonnage (material from the funerary mask) of an ancient Egyption mummy, thought to have been written in the 2nd or 1st century BCE. The scroll includes two distinct texts, one written on the folium rectum (the top or smooth side of the papyrus) containing fragments of an ancient novel about Alexander the Great’s encounter with the Gymnosophists (Γυμνοσοφισταί), along with the Laterculi Alexandrini, a list of famous people and places, neither documents concerned with our subject.

Our text, however, is on the folium versum, the reverse side of the papyrus, and it preserves an account of the abduction of Pærsæphónî (Περσεφόνη). The text is highly fragmented, and there exist several proposed reconstructions of the missing areas. We are using the version found in the Orphicorum Fragmenta of Otto Kern, 1922, almost exclusively. There are several words which this translator found problematic and, therefore, chose to use the proposals found in Alberto Bernabè’s more recent collection of Orphic fragments (Poetae Epici Graeci Testimonia et fragmenta, Pars. II, Orphicorum et Orphicis similium testimonia et fragmenta, fasc. 1, Monachii et Lipsiae), all these duly noted.

The story is presented as though it had come directly from Orphéfs (Ὀρφεὺς) himself, passed down to Mousaios, who then wrote it out. It begins with child-like Pærsæphónî and the daughters of Ôkæanós (Ὠκεανός), playing and picking flowers. In the midst of all this innocence, the earth opens up and Áidîs (Hades,Ἅιδης) carries her away in his chariot drawn by black horses, with the complicity of his brother Zefs (Ζεύς).

The abduction of Pærsæphónî is usually described as a “rape,” but the text uses the word ἀπάγω, which means “to carry off” or “abduct.” Ὁμηρικὸς Ὕμνος 2 Εις Δίμητραν, likely the most familiar telling of the story, uses the word ἁρπάζω, which has the same meaning, “to snatch away” or “carry off.” In Liddell, Scott and Jones, the most criminal definition of ἁρπάζω is “to captivate” or “ravish,” quite less severe than the usual translation “rape.”

This version of the tale is not so very different from the Homeric hymn, with a notable exception: Mætáneira (Μετάνειρα), the wife of Kælæós (Κελεός) and mother of Dîmophóôn (Δημοφόων), is absent. In her place we find Vavvóh (Baubo, Βαυβώ). Dîmítîr (Δημήτηρ), who has left Sicily in search of her daughter, is welcomed into the house of Kælæós, and she begins to make Dîmophóôn immortal, but while placing the child in the fire, she is secretly observed by Vavvóh, who cries out in horror, causing Dîmítîr to abandon her task in anger, exasperated at the foolishness of mankind. She then burns the child and reveals herself as the great Goddess of fruitfulness. The text ends shortly after this in fragmentation, therefore, its conclusion would be conjecture.

Reconstruction of the text: The Descent of Pærsæphónî


(The story which follows is a paraphrase of the translation, taking certain liberties, even somewhat re-arranging the sections. Since the story is very good, I could not resist producing a version in a more euphonious form, with better English than is possible in direct translation. For a literal translation, see the ancient Greek columns with their accompanying translations below this reconstruction.)

“Here is a story told by Orphéfs (Ὀρφεὺς), the son of Íagros (Οἴαγρος) and the Mousa (Μοῦσα) Kalliópî (Καλλιόπη). King Apóllôn (Ἀπόλλων) blew inspiration upon the Mousai (Μοῦσαι), whence divine revelation was born. Therefore, Orphéfs was able to sing this poem, which contains precious little things which Mousaios remembered and wrote down. He received all this from Orphéfs: the secret rites of worship, not only for the Greeks but also for the barbarians; and Mousaios asserts that in every act of worship one should be attentive concerning the rites, Mysteries, purifications, and oracles.

“Let us pray to Goddess Dîmítîr (Δημήτηρ), who in this story is foremost along with her daughter. Orphéfs said that Dîmítîr is the sister of Zefs (Ζεύς). Others say that she is his mother. But of impious things people have expressed, although he knew them, Mousaios refrained from writing them down.

“Now, to begin our tale, Orphéfs recollects the story of the daughter of Zefs and Dîmítîr: Pærsæphónî (Περσεφόνη), the Kórî (Κόρη). Once, while yet a child, Pærsæphónî was amusing herself with the daughters of Ôkæanós (Ὠκεανός) whose names follow. All these things we know because they are attested by Orphéfs himself. Pærsæphónî was playing with Lefkíppî (Λευκίππη), Phanærí (Φανερή), Îlǽktra (Ἠλέκτρα), Iánthi the Sheep-feeder (Ἰάνθηι Μηλοβοσίς), Týkhî (Τύχη), blushing Ôkyróî (Ὠκυρόη), Krysîís (Χρυσηΐς), Iáneirá (Ἰάνειρά), Akástî (Ἀκάστη), Admítî (Ἀδμήτη), Rodópî (Ῥοδόπη), Ploutóh (Πλουτώ), charming Kallypsó (Καλυψώ), Styx (Στύξ), Ouranía (Οὐρανία), and Galaxávrî (Γαλαξαύρη)...every one so lovely and beautiful!

“All this time, Pærsæphónî and her little friends had been dancing together like silly children. They were pleasing their simple desires, making garlands from blossoms of krókos (κρόκος), hyacinth (ὑάκινθος), and buds of roses, and this made them happy little children, but such innocence was a trap for the blushing girl. Finding a narcissus (νάρκισσος), and astonished at its beauty, Kórî ran to it. She plucked the beautiful blossom with her hands, and, seemingly, from this very action, the earth cracked open, and from out of its bowels, Áidîs (Ἅιδης) came up to swallow her away on his chariot arrayed with horses. He abducted Kórî, seizing her for himself, and Zefs (Ζεύς) assisted his brother, producing thunder and lightning, and placing black horses on the axles of his chariot; he gathered these horses from the pasture of Ártæmis (Ἄρτεμις), the very horses she rode while practicing archery. But now, by the design of Zefs, for he desired to indulge his brother Ploutôn Polydéktîs, the earth became a glittering wonder, and this marvel was witnessed with astonishment by all the immortal Gods and mortal men, for from the foundation of the earth, Ploutô created a crevice a hundred headlong deep. Along the Nysian plain, lord polydǽgmôn Ploutôn, the famous son of Krónos, lunged forward with the immortal stallions.

“As long as the young Goddess could behold the earth, the starry sky, the strong-rushing sea full of fish, and the light of the sun, she held on to the hope that she might once again be in the arms of her loving mother and in the company of the races of immortal Gods. But now she was lost, and Dîmítîr (Δημήτηρ) heard the cries of her child and shouted out so as to be heeded by all, as Pærsæphónî descended into the earth with Ploutôn. In her lamentation, Dîmítîr wailed for her lost daughter, so piteously, that Kalliópî (Καλλιόπη), Kleisidíkî (Κλεισιδίκη), and Dîmóhnassa (Δημώνασσα), who had come along with the queen to fetch water, queried the Goddess, as though she were mortal, and offered her every consideration, as Mousaios says in his tales. They tried to uncover the cause of her anguish, and to offer her kindness. But Dîmítîr (Δημήτηρ) first asked for help from Ækátî (Ἑκάτη), who agreed to assist her. She then hurredly left Sicily and wandered throughout the earth in search of her daughter, but at the the gates of the city of King Kælæós (Κελεός), she conceiled her identity.

“Dîmítîr entered the palace of Ælefsís (Ἐλευσίς) and beheld Dîmophóôn (Δημοφόων), the beautiful son of the king, and Vavvóh (Βαυβώ) received her and entrusted the little one to the Goddess, to nurse entirely herself, for her love of the child was obvious. Dîmítîr had already agreed to lodge in the home, together with the little child, for a nurse such as this was needed there. Now, every night, she anointed the little boy with amvrosía (ἀμβροσία), and lowered the child into the fire, being careful at morning to escape notice, at which time the youth was returned to his parents. As concerns the desire of the boy himself, well, he was not suckling at the breast like a typical child, but was taking other sustenance, becoming well-nourished and handsome, such that Vavvóh was astonished at the remarkable, thriving-condition of the boy, so at night, peeking through the door lest she be apprehended, she observed Dîmítîr placing the child right into the fire, and was seized with fear, producing a horrible cry, ‘Dîmophóôn (Δημοφόων), my son! This strange woman conceals you in the great fire, and causes me wailing and sorrowful troubles!’

“Now hearing this, long-suffering Dîmítîr became angry and said, ‘Senseless mankind, always suffering such hard things! You do not have foresight, neither of what is bad nor good! Such folly! and now to waste all my many trials at night with the child! Instantly, you have snatched away immortality from the boy! For even now, all of you need not be subject to decay, had he avoided the Goddesses of Death.” And she then burned the little one on the fire, and killed him. And at once standing up, she disclosed her real identity, ‘For I am Dîmítîr who brings fruits in their season and bestows fine gifts. Which celestial God, or who of mortal men has carried off Pærsæphónî and seduced her sweet heart?’

“Thus, this story is called by Orphéfs The Descent of Pærsæphónî.”

(reconstructed by the author)

49. Tractatus Papyrus Berolinensis [13044 V] 44 saec. I a. Chr. (Schubart et Wilcken; saec. II Diels) editus a W. Schubartio et F. Buechelero adiutis a Dielesio Berl. Klassikertexte V 1 p. 7 n. 2. Partim ad. etiam Diels II3 173 n. 15 a. Egerunt de papyro quoque Croenert Lit. Centralbl. 1907, 442; T. W. Allen Classical Review XXI 1907, 97; K. F. W. Schmidt Wochenschr. kl. Phil. XXV 1908, 281; Ludwich Berl. philol. Wochenschr. 1919, 999. 1028. Utor quoque imagine lucis ope confecta, quam mihi benigne suppeditavit W. Schubart. Multa admodum obscura sunt. Ad meum usum papyrum nuper inspexit Udalricus Wilcken. Adhibui etiam schedulas mihi a Croenertio libraliter traditas.

I. <Ὀρφεὺς υἱὸς ἦν Οἰάγ>ρου καὶ Καλλιόπης τῆς

<Μούσης, ὁ δὲ Μουσ>ῶν βασιλεὺς Ἀπόλλων τού-

<τωι ἐπέπνευσεν, ὅθεν> ἔνθεος γενόμενος

<ἐποίησεν τοὺς ὕμνους,> οὓς ὀλίγα Μουσαῖος ἐπα-

<νορθώσας κατέγρ>αψεν· παρέδωκεν δὲ 5

<τὰ Ὀρφέως ὄργι>α σέβεσθαι ῞Ελλησίν τε καὶ

<βαρβάροις, καὶ κ>α<θ᾿> ἕκαστον σέβημα ἦν ἐ-

<πιμελέστατος περὶ> τελετὰς καὶ μυστήρια καὶ

<καθαρμοὺς καὶ> μαντεῖα. τ<>ν Δ<ή>μητρα θε<ὰν>

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . υ . ας ἡ τ . ς . . . π . νουσας 10

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . τῆς Δήμη<τ>ρος ετ . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . διᾶγοι α . . . καὶ . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . <τα>ύτης ἐχθρ<ὸ>ς . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ως . . .


“(Here is a tale of) Orphéfs (Ὀρφεὺς), the son of Íagros (Οἴαγρος) and Kalliópî (Καλλιόπη) the

Mousa (Μοῦσα). And of the Mousai (Μοῦσαι), King Apóllôn (Ἀπόλλων)

blew upon them, whence divine inspiration was born.

He composed the hymns, little things which Mousaios restored (to memory)

and wrote down. But he received them 5

from Orphéfs: the secret rites of worship, for both the Greeks and the

barbarians; and that in every act of worship (one should) be

attentive concerning the rites, mysteries, and

purifications and oracles. To Goddess Dîmítîr (Δημήτηρ)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(too fragmentary) . . . . . . ” 10

sequuntur nonnulli versus qui legi nequeunt

II. <ὁ Ὀ>ρφεὺς . . Διὸς ἀδελφὴν παραδέδωκεν, 15

οἱ δὲ μητέρα· ὧν οὐθὲν τῶν εὐσεβούν-

των εἰς ἐπίμνησιν <πε>ποίηται· ἔ<χ>ει γὰρ ἐ<κ>

Διὸς καὶ Δήμητρ<ος> θυγατρ<ὸς> ἀρχήν, Φερ-

σεφόνη<ς . . .>εκου . η . συμπαρουσῶν

τῶν <Ώκεα>νοῦ θυγατέρ<ω>ν ὀνόματα 20

τα<ῦτα ἐκ τῶν> Ὀρφέως ἐπῶν. Λευ<κ>ίππη

Φανερή <τε> καὶ Ἠλέκτρη[ι] καὶ Ἰάν<θ>η[ι] Μηλο-

βοσί<ς τε Τ>ύχη τε <καὶ> Ὠκυρόη καλυκῶπ<ις>

Χρ<υσηίς τ᾿ Ἰάνε>ιρά τ᾿ Ἀκάστη τ᾿ Ἀδμή<τη τε>

καὶ Ῥ<οδόπη Πλουτώ τε καὶ ἱμερό>εσσα Κ<α-> 25

<λυψὼ καὶ Στὺξ Ο>ὐρανίη τε Γαλαξ<αύρη τ᾿>

ἐρ<ατεινή· . . . κα>λλιερ . . τ . ν δε . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

λε . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

θυγα<τ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

υνης . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Orphéfs (Ὀρφεὺς) . . handed down (tales that she is) the sister of Zefs (Ζεύς), 15

but others (say that she is) mother; but of those not living in piety, he committed

to memory (but did not write down). Now, to begin, he maintains that

the daughter of Zefs and Dîmítîr (Δημήτηρ) (is)

Pærsæphónî (Περσεφόνη), . . . (?) . . (and that she was) playing together with

the daughters of Ôkæanós (Ὠκεανός) whose names follow; 20

these things according to Orphéfs. Lefkíppî (Λευκίππη),

Phanærí (Φανερή), Îlǽktra (Ἠλέκτρα), Iánthi the Sheep-feeder (Ἰάνθηι Μηλοβοσίς),

Týkhî (Τύχη), blushing Ôkyróî (Ὠκυρόη),

Krysîís (Χρυσηΐς), Iáneirá (Ἰάνειρά), Akástî (Ἀκάστη), Admítî (Ἀδμήτη),

Rodópî (Ῥοδόπη), Ploutóh (Πλουτώ), charming Kallypsó (Καλυψώ), 25

Styx, Ouranía (Οὐρανία), and Galaxávrî (Γαλαξαύρη), and

lovely . . . beautiful . . . . . ”

deficit papyrus

III. ναρκίσ<σο>υ, <ἐφ’ ὃν ἡ Κόρη θ>αμβήσασα ἐπέδρα-

μεν· καὶ <δὴ ταύτης τα>ῖς χερσὶν βουλομένης

ἀνασπάσα<σθαι? αὐτόν, τότε> λέγεται τὴν γῆ<ν> 35

χα<ν>εῖν καὶ <ἐκ γῆς> τὸν Ἀϊδωνέα ἀναβ<άν>τα

ἐφ’ ἅρμ<ατος> κ<αὶ ἐφ’> ἵππων συναρπά<σ>αντα

τὴν Κό<ρην ἀπαγαγεῖ>ν· τὸν δὲ Δία βρονταῖς

καὶ ἀ<στρ>απαῖ<ς καὶ ὗ>ς ἐπαξονεῖν μελαίνα<ς,>

<α>ἳ δ<ίδονται ὡς ν>ομαὶ Ἀρτέμιδος τοξεί<αι,> 40

Ἀθηνᾶς . . . . . . . . . . . χοίρας μιᾶς· ὧν

τ . . ου . . . . . . . . . . . . . . η βραβευτὴς δυσ-

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . πι . . . . ἐπὶ τῆ το<ῦ .>

. . . . . . . . . . . . . ν . . . νος . . . . . . . . . <κ>αὶ

<τῶν σ>υν<παιζ>ουσῶν καταγελασθείη· <ἐπεὶ-> 45

<δὴ> δὲ <ἤκου>σ<ε> τῆς γεγωνυίας ἡ Δημήτηρ,

<ἐκ> Σ<ικ>ελίας ἐξελθοῦσα ἐπλανᾶτο κατὰ

<γῆν· ἣ δ>ὲ πε<ρὶ> τ<ὴν> πόλιν ἀφανὴς γέγονεν

. . . . . . . . . ουτι . . . ενκ . ελ . ακ . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . ειης . . . . . . . . . . ς ε . . . . . . . ε 50

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“(Finding) a narcissus (νάρκισσος) flower, and astonished (at its beauty), Kórî (Κόρη) ran to it.

And from this action, when she desired to pluck it herself

with her hands, it is said that the earth came apart. 35

And from out of the earth to swallow her, Áidîs (Ἅιδης) came up

on his chariot with horses, and carried away

Kórî, taking her for himself. But Zefs (Ζεύς), with thunder

and lightning, placed black horses on the axles;*

they are established in the pasture of Ártæmis (Ἄρτεμις) for her archery, 40

from Athîná . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . from a sow . .

. . . . . . (too fragmentary) . . . . . . . . . . . the arbitrator . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and

from absurdly dancing together like children. But when 45

Dîmítîr (Δημήτηρ) heard (the cries of Kórî); she shouted out so as to be heeded.

Coming out from Sicily, she wandered throughout

the earth, but at the city she concealed herself.”

*To this translator, it seems that the manuscript, as found in Kern, may be wrong at this point. I accept the proposal of Alberto Barnebè which makes line 39 read καὶ ἀ[στρ]α̣π̣ὰ̣[ς ἵπποιἐπαξονεῖν μελαίνας,] instead of καὶ ἀ<στρ>απαῖ<ς καὶ ὗ>ς* ἐπαξονεῖν μελαίνα<ς,>.

IV. ειν τ<ὴν> συμφοράζουσαν στενάχειν ὑπὲρ

τῆς θυγατρός· Καλλιόπης δὲ καὶ Κλ<ει>σι<δί>κης

καὶ Δημ<ω>ν<άσ>σης μετὰ τῆς βασιλί<σσ>ης ἐ<φ᾿> ὑ-

δρείαν ἐλθουσῶν πυνθάνεσθαι τῆ<ς> Δήμη- 55

τρος ὡς θνητῆς τινος, χρείας δ᾿ ἕν<εκ>

τινος αὐτὴν παραγεγονένα<ι> ὁ Μ<ουσα>ῖο<ς>

διὰ τῶν ἐπῶν αὐτοῦ λέγων ἐστίν . . . . αν· ἐν

μὲν <τ>ο<>ς λ<ιτ>οίς δεῖ τὴν αἰτίαν αἰτεῖ<ν> μετ’ εὐ-

εργεσίαν θ . . . . . . τομεν, ἐρα<σθέ>ντι δ’ ἐν ταινία 60

κρόκον μυάκ<α>νθον (ὑάκινθον?) <καὶ> ἀκ<αλλίδ>ας* εὐτεκνείας

ναῦν, ἐπ[ε]ιπλεκ<τ>έον ἀεὶ ε . σε . . ἔνθα πρὸς αὐτο . ς

. . . . . . . . . . α . . η<. . . . ‘καλυ>κώπ<ι>δι κ<ο>ύρῃ

<Γαῖα Διὸ>ς βουλ<ῆσι χαριζομέ>νη <Πολυδέ->

κ<τῃ, θ>αυμαστὸν <γ>αν<όωντα, σέβας τ>ότε πᾶ- 65

<σι>ν ἰδ<έσθαι ἀθ>αν<ά>τοις τε <θεοῖς ἠδὲ θ>νητοῖς

<ἀνθ>ρώποις. <τοῦ> καὶ ἀπὸ ῥί<ζης ἑκατὸν κάρα ἐξε->

<νεχύκει . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“In her lamentation, she wailed for

her daughter, but Kalliópî (Καλλιόπη), Kleisidíkî (Κλεισιδίκη),

and Dîmóhnassa (Δημώνασσα), who came along with the queen

to fetch water, inquired of Dîmítîr (Δημήτηρ), 55

as though she were mortal, and came to her aid on account of

her needs, as Mousaios

says in his tales.

Indeed, in these supplications there is need to inquire, and then offer

comfort. To please their desires, they made floral-ribbons from 60

krókos (κρόκος), hyacinth (ὑάκινθος), and buds of roses* of the joy of children,

. . . . . . . . . (too fragmentary) . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (. . . this being a trap) for the blushing girl.

And the Earth (Γαῖα), by the designs of Zefs (Ζεύς) to indulge Polydéktîs (Πολυδέκτης, i.e. Πλούτων),

a glittering wonder, was seen with astonishment 65

by all the immortal Gods and mortal

men, for from the foundation of the earth, (Ploutô) had produced** a (crevice) a hundred headlong (deep).”

*Alberto Bernabè suggests κ[άλυκ]ας instead of ἀκ<αλλίδ>ας which seems more reasonable to this translator.

** assuming <νεχύκει to be [πεφύκει] as suggested by Bernabè.

deficit papyrus

V. Νέσ<ιον> ἂμ πεδίον τ<ῆ ὄρουσεν ἄναξ πολυδέ->

γμων ἵπποις ἀθανάτα<ισι Κρόνου πολυώνυ-> 70

μος υἱός. ὄφρα μὲν οὖ<ν γαῖάν τε καὶ οὐρανὸν>

ἀστερόεντα λεῦσσε θεὰ <καὶ πόντον> ἀγά<ρ>

ρουν ἰχθυό<ε>ντα αὐγά<ς> τ’ ἠελίου, ἔτι ἤλ<πε>

<το μητ>έρα <κε>δνὴν <>ψεσθαι καὶ φῦλα θε<ῶν>

αἰειγ<ενετάων’ . . . > κ . . ἡ Δημήτηρ ὑπὸ 75

τ<<κάτης? ὡς πρῶτον ἠ>ρωτήθη, ἔφη . .

ση . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . σιθη . νη . . . .

πα . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

αι . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

<>τοιμ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80

“Along the Nysian plain, there lord polydǽgmôn (πολυδέγμων, i.e. Ploutôn) darted forth

on his immortal stallions, the famous son of Krónos. 70

Indeed, so long as the Goddess could see

the earth and the starry sky,

and the strong-rushing sea full of fish, and the light of the sun, she yet had hope

to again see her dear mother and the races of Gods

who are immortal . . . . . Dîmítîr (Δημήτηρ) from 75

Ækátî (Ἑκάτη) asked (for help) before (asking the others); she said yes . .

. . . . . (too fragmentary) . . . . . . . . . . . . . .”

sequuntur nonnulli versus qui legi nequeunt

VI. ε, <δί>δωσι δ<ὲ α>ὐτῆι Β[ρ]αυβὼ[ι]* παιδίον, <δ' τι>θηνήσεται,

<ἀγαπ> <δὲ καὶ πάν>υ αὐτήν· ἡ δὲ Δημήτη<ρ ἤδη> εἰς <οἶ>κον

κ<αταινέσασ>α κ<α>τάξ<ε>σθαι σὺν τῶι πα<ιδί>ωι . . . . . .

<οἷα δεῖ τιθ>ήνην, καὶ ἀμβροσίαι χρ<ίο>υσα <τὸ> παιδίον

<καθῆ>κεν <δι>ὰ ν<υ>κτὸς εἰς τὴν πυράν, πρωὶ δὲ λ<αθο>ῦσα 85

<τοὺς γονεῖς> ἀνελάμβανεν· τοῦ δὲ παιδίου οὐ βου-

<λομένου> θηλάζειν οὐδὲ προσφορὰν ἄλλην λαμβάνον-

τος, <ἀλλ’ ὄν>τος εὐτρόφου καὶ καλοῦ, ἔκθαμβος γενηθεῖσα

ἡ Β<αυβὼ> ἐπὶ τῆι <τοῦ> παιδίου εὐτροφίᾳ, νυκτὸς

α<ἰσθομέν>η <διἀ> τῆς θύρα<ς> τὴν μὴ νοήσασαν ἐνκρύ- 90

π<του>σαν τὸ παιδίον εἰς πυρὰν καὶ ὑπολαβοῦσα

<ἄρρη>τα γείν<ε>σθαι ἀνεβόα· ‘τέκνον Δημοφόων,

<ξείνη δε πυρῇ ἔνι πο>λλῇ κρύπτ<ει, ἐμοὶ> δὲ γό<ο>ν

<καὶ κήδεα λυγρὰ τ>ίθησιν’· <τότε δ>ὲ ἡ Δημήτηρ βαρὺ

<ὀργισθεῖσα εἶπ>ε<ν·> ‘ἄφρονε<ς> ἄνθ<ρω>ποι, δυστλήμονες 95

<οὔτε κακοῖο ὔμμιν ἐπ>ερ<χομένου πρ>ογνώμονες οὔτ’ α-

<γ>α<θοἷο· . . . γ>ἀρ ἀφραδί<η . . . . . . .>μος πολὺ πείρατι νυ-

κτὸς τη . . . . . . . . . εκ . α . . . . . . ἥρπασεν ἀγηρ (ἀγήραον?). . .

<. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . νῦν δ’ οὐκ ἐσθ’ ὥς <κεν θά>ν ατον

<καὶ κῆρας ἀλύξαι.’ καὶ τὸ παι>δίον ἐπι . κ . . . σα+ καίει 100

* Perhaps Β[ρ]αυβὼ[ι] is wrong; simply Βαυβὼ (in the nominative, not dative) seems more logical.

+ Bernabé suggests επι[σ]κ[ήψα]σα (ἐπίσκηπτω “I make fall”)

“And Vavvóh (Βαυβώ) gives the little child to her, to nurse

with love entirely herself. And Dîmítîr (Δημήτηρ)

had already agreed to lodge in the home, together with the little child . . . . . .

And a nurse such as this was needed. With amvrosía (ἀμβροσία) she anointed the little one,

while throughout the night, she lowered (the child) into the fire, but at morning escaping notice, 85

(the youth then) taken up by his parents. As concerns the desires of the child,

he was not suckling (at the breast), but taking other (sustenance),

becoming well-nourished and beautiful, such that Vavvóh was astonished at the remarkable

thriving-condition of the child, so at night,

peeking through the door, lest perchance she be apprehended, 90

(she saw) the child (being placed) into the fire, and was seized with fear,

producing a horrible cry. ‘Dîmophóôn (Δημοφόων), my son!

This strange woman conceals you in the great fire, and

causes wailing and sorrowful troubles!’ And then long-suffering Dîmítîr

became angry and said, ‘Senseless mankind, suffering such hard things! 95

You do not have foresight, neither for what is bad nor good!

. . . . for folly . . . . . . my many trials of the

night there . . . . . . . . . . . . . (yet instantly) it has snatched away immortality (from the child) . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . for even now, all of you would not be subject to decay

had he avoided the Goddesses of Death!’ And having laid it down+, she burned the child*. . . . . . . . . .” 100

+ Using επισκήψασα (see note to the Greek text) as proposed by Bernabé. This word can be translated in several ways.

* The Homeric hymn states that she threw (ἕθεν ἧκε; could be translated “placed”) the baby onto the ground: τῇ δὲ χολωσαμένη καλλιστέφανος Δημήτηρ παῖδα φίλον, τὸν ἄελπτον ἐνὶ μεγάροισιν ἔτικτε, χείρεσσ᾽ ἀθανάτῃσιν ἀπὸ ἕθεν ἧκε πέδονδε, ἐξανελοῦσα πυρός, θυμῷ κοτέσασα μάλ᾽ αἰνῶς “So with her divine hands she snatched from the fire the dear son whom Metaneira had born unhoped-for in the palace, and cast him from her to the ground; for she was terribly angry in her heart.” (Ὁμηρικὸς Ὕμνος 2 Εις Δίμητραν 251-254, trans. Hugh G. Evelyn-White, 1914). But in Apollódôros (Ἀπολλόδωρος) and elsewhere, the baby is burned: τὸ μὲν βρέφος ὑπὸ τοῦ πυρὸς ἀνηλώθη, ἡ θεὰ δὲ αὑτὴν ἐξέφηνε. “Wherefore the babe was consumed by the fire and the Goddess revealed herself.” (Βιβλιοθήκη Ἀπολλοδώρου I.v.1, trans. J. G. Frazer, 1921. See LCL 122 Appendix I. Putting Children on the Fire.).

VII. καὶ ἀποκτείνει <κ>αὶ ὀ<ρθ>ῶς αὑτὴν δια<καλύπτει

λέγει γάρ· ‘εἰμὶ δὲ Δη<μ>ήτηρ ὡρηφόρ<ος ἀγλαό->

δωρος. τίς θεὸς οὐράνιος ἠὲ θν<η>τῶ<ν ἀνθρώ->

πων ἥρπασε Φερσεφ<ό>νην καὶ <ἑὸν φίλον ἤπα->

φε θυμόν;’ τοῦ δὲ Κ<ελε?>οῦ εἰς <τὴν αὐλὴν ἀνα-> 105

βάντος ἐς ἀγροῦ τ . . . . . . . . α . . . . . . .

ε . ε μὲν ἀφεικότος . . . . . . . . . . . . .

τὴν μητέρα, τίς ἡ ξέ<νη . . . . . . . . . . .

τὴν θυγατέρα ζη<τ . . . . . . . . . . . . . εἰ->

πόντος τῆι μ<η>τ<ρὶ . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110

ἡ δὲ Δημήτηρ <. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . σε->

βασ<τ>ῆς? εὶπειν . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

κύρ<ιον τῶ>ν πάν<των . . . . . . . . . . λει-

π<ο>μένου φωνῆς . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

ει . . . τά<ς μ>ελαίνα<ς . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115

χ<. .>με. τι θεος α . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

στημουχοιραεν . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

πέποται ἕως τῶν . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

πρὸς Τριπτ<όλ>εμο<ν . . . . . . . . . . . . .

ὅθεν Κάθοδος λέγ<ε>τ<αι.> 120


“And she kills him and rightly discloses her identity.

For she says: ‘I am Dîmítîr (Δημήτηρ) who brings fruits in their season,

bestowing fine gifts. Which celestial God or who of mortal men

has carried off Pærsæphónî (Περσεφόνη) and beguiled her sweet

heart?’ And of (King) Kælæós (Κελεός) having gone up to the courtyard 105

from the field . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . indeed from discharging . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

to the mother, the foreign woman . . . . . . . . . .

the daughter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

the sea with the mother . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110

but Dîmítîr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

of the venerable one it was said . . . . . . . . . .

master of all . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

from leaving behind her cry . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . the black (horses?). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115

. . . . . . which God . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

στημουχοιραεν (?) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

she drank (κυκεὼν) her . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

to Triptólæmos (Τριπτόλεμος) . . . . . . . . . . . .

Thus it is called by him (Ὀρφεὺς) The Descent (of Pærsæphónî).” 120

(trans. by the author)

Versus hymni in Cererem Homerici Orphicus mutuatus est hosce: vs. 20-27 = Ὁμηρικὸς Ὕμνος 2 Εις Δίμητραν 418-424:


Λευκίππη Φαινώ τε (Φανερή τε Orph.) καὶ Ἠλέκτρη καὶ Ἰάνθη

καὶ Μελίτη Ἰάχη τε Ῥόδειά τε Καλλιρόη τε

Μηλόβοσίς τε Τύχη τε καὶ Ὠκυρόη καλυκῶπις 420

Χρυσηίς τ᾽ Ἰάνειρά τ᾽ Ἀκάστη τ᾽ Ἀδμήτη τε

καὶ Ῥοδόπη Πλουτώ τε καὶ ἱμερόεσσα Καλυψὼ

καὶ Στὺξ Οὐρανίη τε Γαλαξαύρη τ᾽ ἐρατεινὴ

Παλλάς τ᾽ ἐγρεμάχη καὶ Ἄρτεμις ἰοχέαιρα.


“(All we were playing in a lovely meadow,) Leucippe and Phaeno and Electra and Ianthe,

Melita also and Iache with Rhodea and Callirhoe and

Melobosis and Tyche and Ocyrhoe, fair as a flower,

Chryseis, Ianeira, Acaste and Admete and

Rhodope and Pluto and charming Calypso;

Styx too was there and Urania and lovely Galaxaura

with Pallas who rouses battles and Artemis delighting in arrows.”

(trans. Hugh G. Evelyn-White, 1914)

Desunt igitur 419, ut ap. Pausan. IV 30, 4, et 424, v. Malten 423 n. 1. vs. 63-71 = Hom. 8 (v. supra adn.) -18 (= 32); desunt 13-16 deficiente papyro. vs. 71-75 = Hom. 33-36. vs. 92-94 = Hom. 248. 249. vs. 95-100 = Ὁμηρικὸς Ὕμνος 2 Εις Δίμητραν 256-262:


νήϊδες ἄνθρωποι καὶ ἀφράδμονες οὔτ᾽ ἀγαθοῖο

αἶσαν ἐπερχομένου προγνώμεναι οὔτε κακοῖο·

καὶ σὺ γὰρ ἀφραδίηισι τεῆις νήκεστον ἀάσθης.

ἴστω γὰρ θεῶν (Διὸς Nauck Mél. IV 443) ὅρκος, ἀμείλικτον Στυγὸς ὕδωρ,

ἀθάνατόν κέν τοι καὶ ἀγήραον ἤματα πάντα

παῖδα φίλον ποίησα καὶ ἄφθιτον ὤπασα τιμήν·

νῦν δ᾽ οὐκ ἔσθ᾽ ὥς κεν θάνατον καὶ κῆρας ἀλύξαι.

“Witless are you mortals and dull to foresee your lot,

whether of good or evil, that comes upon you.

For now in your heedlessness you have wrought folly past healing;

for — be witness the oath of the Gods, the relentless water of Styx —

I would have made your dear son deathless and unaging all his days

and would have bestowed on him everlasting honor,

but now he can in no way escape death and the fates.”

(Hugh G. Evelyn-White, 1914)

vs. 102 = Ὁμηρικὸς Ὕμνος 2 Εις Δίμητραν 268:


εἰμὶ δὲ Δημήτηρ


“Lo! I am that Demeter”

(Hugh G. Evelyn-White, 1914)

+ 54:


ὡρηφόρε, ἀγλαόδωρε


“bringer of seasons and giver of good gifts”

(Hugh G. Evelyn-White, 1914)

vs. 103-105 = Ὕμνος 2 Εις Δίμητραν 55. 56:


τίς θεῶν οὐρανίων ἠὲ θνητῶν ἀνθρώπων

ἥρπασε Περσεφόνην καὶ σὸν φίλον ἤκαχε θυμόν


“What God of heaven or what mortal man has rapt away Persephone and pierced with sorrow your dear heart?” (Hugh G. Evelyn-White, 1914)

Ad initium tractatus cf. Celsum ap. Origin. VII 41 (II 192, 1 Koetsch.):


εἶτ’ οὖν Ὀρφέα βούλεται ἔνθεον εἶναι ποιητὴν εἴτε Παρμενίδην εἴτ’ Ἐμπεδοκλέα εἴτε καὶ αὐτὸν Ὅμηρον ἢ καὶ Ἡσίοδον


“But whether Orpheus, Parmenides, Empedocles, or even Homer himself, and Hesiod, are the persons whom he means by inspired poets,...”

(trans. Frederick Crombie, 1885)

et VII 53 (II 203, 12 Koetsch.):


φέρε, εἰ μὴ ἤρεσκεν Ἡρακλῆς καὶ Ἀσκληπιὸς καὶ οἱ πάλαι δεδοξασμένοι, Ὀρφέα εἴχετε, ἄνδρα ὁμολογουμένως ὁσίωι χρησάμενον πνεύματι καὶ αὐτὸν βιαίως ἀποθανόντα (cf. 54 p. 204, 9).


“Why, if you were not satisfied with Hercules or Æsculapius, and other heroes of antiquity, you had Orpheus, who was confessedly a divinely inspired man, who died a violent death.

(trans. Frederick Crombie, 1885)


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.

This logo is the principal symbol of this website. It is called the CESS logo, i.e. the Children of the Earth and the Starry Sky. The Pætilía (Petelia, Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kozmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara, κιθάρα), the the lyre of Apóllôn (Apollo, Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus, Ὀρφεύς).

PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this website, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. These narratives are known as mythology, the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes. While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally. A literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result. The meaning of the myths is concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level. Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation.

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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Pronunciation of Ancient Greek

Transliteration of Ancient Greek

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