ORPHIC FRAGMENT 86

OTTO KERN

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


SUMMARY: Phanes could be seen by Nyx alone, but the splendor shining forth from his gleaming body could be observed by the other Gods.

86. (59) σχόλιον Ἑρμείου επὶ Φαίδρου Πλάτωνος 247 c p. 148, 25 Couvr.:

καὶ πρῶτος καταλάμπεται ὁ οὐρανὸς ὑπὸ τοῦ θείου φωτὸς τοῦ Φάνητος· τὴν γὰρ Νύκτα ἡνῶσθαι αὐτῶι φησι· |149 Couvr.

Πρωτόγονόν γε μὲν οὔτις ἐσέδρακεν ὀφθαλμοῖσιν,

εἰ μὴ Νὺξ ἱερὴ μούνη· τοὶ δ’ ἄλλοι ἅπαντες

θαύμαζον καθορῶντες ἐν αἰθέρι φέγγος ἄελπτον

τοῖον ἀπέστραπτε χροὸς ἀθανάτοιο Φάνητος.

“And first the sky shines by the divine light of Phánîs (Φάνης); for it says that he has united Nyx to him:

‘Indeed, no-one could look at Protogónos with their eyes,

if not holy Nyx alone; but all the others

were astonished, observing in the aithír (αἰθήρ) the unexpected splendor,

such as that which shined forth from the body (or “skin,” χροὸς) of deathless Phánîs!’ ”

(trans. by the author)

Vs. 3. 4 cites σχόλιον Πρόκλου επὶ Τιμαίου Πλάτωνος 30 d (I 435, 3 Diehl),

θαύμαζον καθορῶντες ἐν αἰθέρι φέγγος ἄελπτον·

τοῖον ἀπέστιλβε χροὸς ἀθανάτοιο Φάνητος

“The Gods admir’d, in ether when they saw

A light unlook’d for, bursting on the view,

From the immortal Phanes’ glittering skin.” * (says Orpheus)

(trans. Thomas Taylor, 1820)

*Taylor has a note: “For τὸ ον ἀπέστιλβε in this place, it is necessary to read τῳ μὲν ἀπέστιλβε. He is talking about the last line which reads:

τὸ ον ἀπέστιλβε χροὸς ἀθανάτοιο Φάνητος,

but Taylor is suggesting that that it should be:

τῳ μὲν ἀπέστιλβε χροὸς ἀθανάτοιο Φάνητος

This same observation can be found in the opinions of other scholars in The Classical Journal from the early 1800’s.

Verse 4 reads ἀπέστιλβε like in Ἀπορίαι καὶ λύσεις περὶ τῶν πρώτων ἀρχῶν εἰς τὸν Πλάτωνος Παρμενίδην Δαμασκίου 133 (II 12, 13 Rue. v. Addend. p. 384):

νοητὸν ἄρα ἐστὶν τὸ πρῶτον παράδειγμα καὶ τὸ πρῶτον τῆι νοήσει σύμμετρον· διὸ καὶ εἶδος ἤδη καὶ κάλλιστον τῶν νοουμένων, οὐχ ὅτι πρῶτον, ἀλλ’ ὅτι μάλιστα ἐκφανὲς καὶ στίλβον ἐναργέστατα, καὶ τὸν Φάνητα αὐτοῦ ἐνδεικνύμενον

‘τοῖον ἀπέστιλβε χροὸς (χρόνος codd.) ἀθανάτοιο Φάνητος’

φησὶν Ορφεύς.

“The intelligible is the first paradigm and the first thing proportional to the intellect; and on which account it is a form already and the most beautiful of those observed, not because it is first, but that it is exceedingly bright and shining in form, and that it is Phánîs (Φάνης) making known himself:

‘So very brightly shone the body (or “skin,” χροὸς) of deathless Phánîs!’

“said Orphéfs (Ορφεύς).” (trans. by the author)

Compare also Περὶ τῆς κατὰ Πλάτωνα θεολογίας Πρόκλου III 21 p. 161, 46:

τοῦτο γὰρ ἐστι τὸ φανότατον τῶν νοητῶν ὁ νοῦς ὁ νοητὸς καὶ τὸ ἀποστίλβον φῶς τὸ νοητὸν, ὃ καὶ τοὺς νοεροὺς θεοὺς ἐκπλήττει φανὲν καὶ ποιεῖ θαυμάζειν τὸν πατέρα (sc. Αἰθήρ v. in σχόλιον Πρόκλου επὶ Τιμαίου Πλάτωνος 41 a [III 208, 29 Diehl]), καθάπερ φησὶν ὁ Ὀρφεύς.

“But this is the brightest of the intelligible, the intelligible intellect, and it is shining brightly with intelligible light, and it’s appearance astounds the intellectual Gods, making them marvel at their father (sc. Αἰθήρ v. in σχόλιον Πρόκλου επὶ Τιμαίου Πλάτωνος 41 a [III 208, 29 Diehl]), just as Orphéfs says.”

(trans. by the author)

Thinking of Zefs (Ζεύς) in Ἀπορίαι καὶ λύσεις περὶ τῶν πρώτων ἀρχῶν Δαμασκίου 113 (I 291, 18 Rue.):

Ὅ τε γὰρ Ἑλλήνων θεολόγος Ὀρφεύς πρῶτον ἐποίησε τὸν Φάνητα καθορώμενον ὑπὸ τῶν θεῶν, ἄλλως τε καὶ τῶν νοερῶν, ὧν ἐστι καὶ ὁ δημιουργός, οἵ τε ἐκδεδωκότες θεοὶ τὰ πολυτίμητα λόγια τὰς πρώτας ἡμῖν τριάδας παραδεδώκασι ταύτας τὰς νοητάς, ὧν τὸν ὑπερκόσμιον βυθὸν (v. fr. 55) εἰδέναι (καὶ add. BF) νοοῦντα ἀπαγγέλλουσι τοὺς νοεροὺς θεούς quem iniuria sequitur Holwerda.

“For Orphéfs (Ορφεύς), the theologian of the Greeks, made Phánîs (Φάνης) the first to be perceived by the Gods, and also any other of the intellectual (Gods), (of whom) the Dîmiourgós is also (part of); and the Gods who have given us the highly honored oracles, having conveyed (to us) these first intelligible triads, of which they report that the intellectual Gods know the supermundane abyss (fragment 55), so they thus perceive,” but Holwerda got this wrong. (trans. by the author)

σχόλιον Πρόκλου επὶ Τιμαίου Πλάτωνος 39 b (III 82, 31 Diehl):

διχῶς ἄρα θεωρήσομεν τὸν ἥλιον, καὶ ὡς ἕνα τῶν ἑπτὰ καὶ ὡς |83 Diehl ἡγεμόνα τῶν ὅλων καὶ ὡς ἐγκόσμιον καὶ ὡς ὑπερκόσμιον, καθὸ καὶ προσλάμπει τὸ θεῖον φῶς ὡς τἀγαθὸν τὴν ἀλήθειαν τὴν ἐκθεοῦσαν τούς τε νοητοὺς καὶ τοὺς νοεροὺς διακόσμους, ὡς ὁ Φάνης παρὰ τῶι Ὀρφεῖ πρΐησι τὸ νοητὸν φῶς, ὃ πληροῖ νοήσεως πάντας τοὺς νοεροὺς θεούς, ώς ὁ Ζεὺς νοερὸν καὶ δημιουργικὸν ἀνάπτει φῶς εἰς πάντας τοὺς ὑπερκοσμίους.

“Hence, we must survey the Sun in a twofold respect; viz. as one of the seven planets, and as the leader of wholes; and as mundane and supermundane, according to the latter of which he splendidly emits a divine light. For in the same manner as The Good luminously emits truth which deifies the intelligible and intellectual order; as Phanes in Orpheus sends forth intelligible light which fills with intelligence all the intellectual Gods; and as Jupiter (Ζεὺς) enkindles an intellectual and demiurgic light in all the supermundane Gods; (thus also the Sun illuminates every thing visible through this undefiled light.)”

(trans. Thomas Taylor, 1820)

Compare with σχόλιον Πρόκλου επὶ Τιμαίου Πλάτωνος 30 c. d (I 428, 9 Diehl) (Kern does not give us the text, but simply indicates the beginning line, so it is conjecture as to where to end it; therefore, I undoubtedly went further than he intended.) :

εἰ δὲ ἐκ τούτου ὁ Φάνης, κατὰ τὸ αὐτοζῷον τεταγμένος, δεῖ ζητεῖν τί τὸ κατὰ τὸν αἰῶνα παρὰ τῷ Ὀρφεῖ, μέσον ὄντα τοῦ αὐτοζῴου παρὰ Πλάτωνι καὶ τοῦ ὄντος. ἀλλὰ τοῦτο μὲν ἐν ἄλλοις. νυνὶ δὲ τὰ περὶ τοῦ Φάνητος, εἰ οὗτός ἐστι τὸ αὐτοζῷον, τρανέστερα ποιητέον καὶ λεκτέον, ὅτι τὸ αὐτοζῷον οὐκ ἄλλο τί ἐστιν ἢ ὁ παρὰ τῷ θεολόγῳ Φάνης· εἰ γὰρ πρῶτος καὶ μόνος ἀπὸ τοῦ ὠοῦ πρόεισιν, ὃ παρ᾽ἐκείνῳ δηλοῖ τὸν πρώτιστον νοητὸν νοῦν, τὸ δὲ ἐξ ὠοῦ προϊὸν πρῶτον καὶ μόνον οὐκ ἄλλο τί ἐστιν ἐξ ἀνάγκης ἢ ζῷον, δῆλον, ὅτι καὶ ὁ μέγιστος Φάνης οὐκ ἄλλο τί ἐστιν ἢ τὸ πρώτιστον ζῷον καί, ὡς ἂν φαίη ὁ Πλάτων, τὸ αὐτοζῷον. τοῦτο μὲν οὖν δέδεικται·

τὰ δ' ἑπόμενα τούτῳ θεωρήσωμεν. οὗτος δὴ οὖν ἀπὸ τῶν κρυφίων θεῶν ἐκφήνας ἑαυτὸν ἐν ἑαυτῷ τὰς τῶν δευτέρων τάξεων αἰτίας προείληφε, ποιητικῶν, συνοχικῶν, ἀρχικῶν, τελεσιουργῶν, ἀτρέπτων, καὶ κατὰ μίαν αἰτίαν πάντα τὰ νοητὰ ζῷα περιείληφεν, ἑαυτὸν μὲν εἰς τὰς ὁλικωτάτας τῶν πάντων ἰδέας ἀνεγείρων, διὸ καὶ πρῶτος θεῶν μορφὴν καὶ εἶδος ἔχειν λέλεκται.

“And if Phanes is from this, who is arranged according to animal itself, it is necessary to investigate it as situated next to eternity according to Orpheus, which is a medium between animal itself, and that which is primarily being. And thus it will be more clearly evident, that animal itself is no other than the Phanes of the theologist. For if Phanes first proceeds from the egg, which is manifestly with Orpheus the first intelligible intellect, but that which first and alone proceeds from an egg, is necessarily nothing else than an animal, it is evident that the most mighty Phanes is nothing else than the first animal; and, as Plato would say, animal itself. This therefore is demonstrated.

Let us however, in the next place, survey what is consequent to this. Phanes, therefore, thus unfolding himself into light from the occult Gods, antecedently comprehends in himself the causes of the secondary orders, viz. of the effective, connective, perfective, and immutable orders; and also contains in himself according to one cause, all intelligible animals. For he excites himself to the most total ideas of all things. Hence also, he is said [by Orpheus] to be the first of the Gods, and to have a form.”

(trans. Thomas Taylor, 1820)


Herm. 506 n. 7; Lobeck I 480; Schuster 22; Kern De Theogon. 14; Herm. XXIII 1888, 481 n. I; Holwerda 301. 311.

The poet (Εὐριπίδης) looks at these verses (or similar) in Ὑψιπύλη Εὐριπίδου τμῆμα 57 (fr. 2).

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Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

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