ORPHIC FRAGMENT 57
For links to many more fragments: The Orphic Fragments of Otto Kern.
SUMMARY: Fragment 57 states that Orpheus invented the names of the Gods and that their origin is Water, which formed Mud, the two together producing a dragon which had several heads, one with the face of a God named Heracles and Time. This God generated an egg which split in two; the top became Sky, the bottom Earth. Sky and Earth gave birth to the Fates and the 100-handers, the latter of which Sky hurled into Tartarus causing Earth to generate the Titans.
57. (39) Πρεσβεία περί των Χριστιανών Ἀθηναγόρου 18 p. 20, 12 Schw.:
Οὐκ ἐξ ἀρχῆς, ὥς φασιν, ἦσαν οἱ θεοί, ἀλλ´ οὕτως γέγονεν αὐτῶν ἕκαστος ὡς γιγνόμεθα ἡμεῖς· κα τοῦτο πᾶσιν αὐτοῖς ξυμφωνεῖται 1, Ὁμήρου μὲν (Iliad. Ξ 201 = 302) [γὰρ] 2 λέγοντος·
Ὠκεανόν τε, θεῶν γένεσιν, καὶ μητέρα Τηθύν,
Ὀρφέως δέ, ὃς καὶ τὰ ὀνόματα αὐτῶν πρῶτος ἐξηῦρεν καὶ τὰς γενέσεις διεξῆλθεν καὶ ὅσα ἑκάστοις πέπρακται εἶπεν καὶ πεπίστευται παρ´ αὐτοῖς ἀληθέστερον θεολογεῖν (cf. Herod. II 53, test. nr. 10), ᾧ καὶ Ὅμηρος τὰ πολλὰ καὶ περὶ θεῶν μάλιστα ἕπεται (v. test. nr. 245), καὶ αὐτοῦ τὴν πρώτην γένεσιν αὐτῶν ἐξ ὕδατος συνιστάντος·
Ὠκεανός, ὅσπερ γένεσις πάντεσσι τέτυκται. (Iliad Ξ 246.)
Ἦν γὰρ ὕδωρ ἀρχὴ κατ´ αὐτὸν τοῖς ὅλοις, ἀπὸ δὲ τοῦ ὕδατος ἰλὺς κατέστη, ἐκ δὲ ἑκατέρων ἐγεννήθη ζῷον δράκων προσπεφυκυῖαν ἔχων κεφαλὴν λέοντος 3, διὰ μέσου δὲ αὐτῶν θεοῦ πρόσωπον, ὄνομα Ἡρακλῆς καὶ Χρόνος. Οὗτος ὁ Ἡρακλῆς ἐγέννησεν ὑπερμέγεθες ᾠόν, ὃ συμπληρούμενον ὑπὸ βίας τοῦ γεγεννηκότος ἐκ παρατριβῆς εἰς δύο ἐρράγη. τὸ μὲν οὖν κατὰ κορυφὴν αὐτοῦ Οὐρανὸς εἶναι ἐτελέσθη, τὸ δὲ κάτω ἐνεχθὲν Γῆ· προῆλθε δὲ καὶ θεὸς † γη δισώματος. Οὐρανὸς δὲ Γῇ μιχθεὶς γεννᾷ θηλείας μὲν Κλωθώ, Λάχεσιν, Ἄτροπον, ἄνδρας δὲ Ἑκατόγχειρας Κόττον, Γύγην, Βριάρεων καὶ Κύκλωπας, Βρόντην καὶ Στερόπην καὶ Ἄργην· οὓς καὶ δήσας κατεταρτάρωσεν, ἐκπεσεῖσθαι αὐτὸν ὑπὸ τῶν παίδων τῆς ἀρχῆς μαθών. Διὸ καὶ ὀργισθεῖσα ἡ Γῆ τοὺς Τιτᾶνας ἐγέννησεν·
Κούρους δ´ Οὐρανίωνας ἐγείνατο πότνια Γαῖα,
οὓς δὴ καὶ Τιτῆνας ἐπίκλησιν καλέουσιν,
οὕνεκα τισάσθην μέγαν Οὐρανὸν
“The Gods, as they affirm, were not from the beginning, but every one of them has come into existence just like ourselves. And in this opinion they all agree. Homer speaks of
The sire of Gods, and Tethys;
and Orpheus (who, moreover, was the first to invent their names, and recounted their births, and narrated the exploits of each, and is believed by them to treat with greater truth than others of divine things, whom Homer himself follows in most matters, especially in reference to the Gods)— he, too, has fixed their first origin to be from water:—
Oceanus, the origin of all.
For, according to him (Ὀρφεύς), water was the beginning of all things, and from water mud was formed, and from both was produced an animal, a dragon with the head of a lion growing to it, and between the two heads there was the face of a God, named Heracles and Kronos. This Heracles generated an egg of enormous size, which, on becoming full, was, by the powerful friction of its generator, burst into two, the part at the top receiving the form of heaven (οὐρανός), and the lower part that of earth (γῆ). The Goddess Gê; moreover, came forth with a body; and Ouranos, by his union with Gê, begot females, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos; and males, the hundred-handed Cottys, Gyges, Briareus, and the Cyclopes Brontes, and Steropes, and Argos, whom also he bound and hurled down to Tartarus, having learned that he was to be ejected from his government by his children; whereupon Gê, being enraged, brought forth the Titans.
The godlike Gaia bore to Ouranos
Sons who are by the name of Titans known,
Because they vengeance took on Ouranos,
Majestic, glitt'ring with his starry crown.”
(trans. B. P. Pratten, 1885. Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2.)
1. ξυμφωνεῖται Schw., ξυμφωνεῖ A.
2. γὰρ del. Schw.
3. καὶ ἄλλην ταύρου “and another of a bull” post λέοντος “of a lion” add. Zoëga e Damascio (fr. 54); contradixit iure Norden Herm. XXVII 1893,614 collato scholio in Gregor. Nazianz. Oratio 31 c. 16.:
τοὺς δὲ Φάνητας πλὴν ὀλίγων οἶμαι πολλοὺς ἀγνοεῖν, ὅτι εἷς μὲν οὗτος, κἂν πληθυντικῶς λέλεκται, ὑπὸ δέ τινων ἐμυθολογήθη θεολογούντων δῆθεν, ὡς ἐξ ὕδατος καὶ ἰλύος ἀναδοθέντος δράκοντος προσπεφυκυῖανἔχοντος λέοντος κεφαλήν, διὰ μέσου δὲ αὐτῶν θεοῦ πρόσωπον, ὃν Ἡρακλῆν φασι (Nord.] φησι codd.) κἀκ τούτων ὠιὸν γεννηθῆναι, ὅπερ ἡ τοῦ γεγεννηκότος (M1] γεννηθέντος O) ἐκ παρατριβῆς διελοῦσα, δύναμις, Φάνης ἡμῖν οὑτος θεὸς ἐξ αὐτοῦ ἐφάνη, ὃς τὸ μὲν τοῦ κελύφους ὡς γῆν καταλιπών, τὸ δὲ ὑπὲρ κεφαλῆς (M1] ὑπὲρ κεφαλήν O) αίωρήσας τὸν οὐρανὸν απετέλεσεν.
“But I think these various Phánîs, apart from very few, should not be perceived as many, although he was called by many (names); and by these (names), in truth, he was known in the myths of the theologians. Thus, from water and mud was sent up a dragon bearing the head of a lion, but through the center, was the face of a God; they declare this Iraklís (Ἡρακλῆς), and from out of these things an egg was born, the very one begotten from rubbing against one another and dividing the power into parts. The God Phánîs made this appear from out of himself, leaving behind the earth from the shell, and above her head he left the swinging sky.” (trans. by the author)
Cum vers. Orphicis cf. Θεογονία Ἡσιόδου 207:
“But these sons whom he begot himself great Heaven used to call Titans (Strainers) in reproach, for he said that they strained and did presumptuously a fearful deed, and that vengeance for it would come afterwards.” (trans. Hugh G. Evelyn-White, 1914.)
Ad vs. 2 ἐπίκλησιν καλέουσιν. Cf. Ἰλιὰς Ὁμήρου 18.487:
Ἄρκτον θ', ἣν καὶ Ἅμαξαν ἐπίκλησιν καλέουσιν.
“and the Bear, which men also call the Wain” (trans. Samuel Butler, 1898)
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.
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.
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