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For links to many more fragments: The Orphic Fragments of Otto Kern.
Titulum praebet Suid. test. nr. 223 d. Hoc carmine Neoplatonici usi sunt, qui maxime inde a Syriani aetate id interpretantur. Compositum est e singulis Ἱεροῖς λόγοις, quorum numerus non traditur, et dispositum in viginti quattuor rhapsodias ad Homeri carminum exemplar. Ab Ἱερῶι λόγωι ab Epigene Cercopi (test. nr. 174) ascripto distinguendum est nec demonstrari potest Ἱεροὺς λόγους ἐν Ῥαψωιδίαις κδ' cum Suida Cercopi vel Theogneto Thessalo (test. nr. 196) assignandos esse (Rohde Psyche II6 415). Quo tempore hoc magnum carmen varios Orphicorum λόγους comprehendens compositum sit, obscurum est. Quod quamvis multo ante Neoplatonicorum aetatem facum esse negem, tamen veterum carminum vestigia in eo conservata esse mihi extra omnem dubitationem positum est. Rhapsodiarum laudant quartam Aristocritus Manichaeus Theosophiae Tubingensis auctor (A. Brinkmann Rhein. Mus. LI 1896, 273) fr. 61, duodecimam Malalas fr. 62 vs. 4; Ἱερῶν λόγων citat quinquagesimum (?) Etymologicum M. fr. 63. Haec fragmenta initio collocavi ne quis me reliquias ordine genuino disponere ausum esse opinetur; nam hoc fieri nequit. Desunt pemulta, desunt normae; nam Neoplatonici semper eadem citare, eadem tractare solent. Addendum est, multa in Ἱεροῖς λόγοις diversis carminis permagni locis repetita esse ut Noctis partes, Titanum καταταρταρώσεις (“hurling down to Tártaros”), Veneris ortum alia. Aliquoties Ἱεροὶ λόγοι etiam ex argumento afferuntur ut:
Θεογονία, Διονύσου ἀφανισμός, τὸ περὶ Διὸς καὶ Ἥρας, οἱ περὶ τῆς Ἴπτας λόγοι
PREFACE TO FRAGMENTS IN 4. SACRED LOGOS IN 24 RHAPSODIES
Please Note: What follows is a paraphrase of Professor Kern’s introduction to fragments quoted from the 24 Rhapsodies.
Sections of the Sacred Logos in 24 Rhapsodies were examined in the writings of the Neoplatonists, particularly so after the time of Syrianós (Συριανός). The poem consisted of an unknown number of individual essays, but somehow fashioned into 24 books or rhapsodies, in the manner of the Iliad and the Odyssey. It is not the same poem as the Sacred Logos attributed by Æpiyǽnîs (Epigenes, Ἐπιγένης) to the poet Kǽrkôps (Cercops, Κέρκωψ) [test. Nr. 174], nor can it be assigned to Thæógnîtos (Theognetus, Θεόγνητος) of Thessaly (Rohde Psyche II6 415). It is unknown when the poem was written, but Kern suspects it was created not long before the Neoplatonists, while, at the same time, maintaining that it preserved traces of far more ancient poems. The Rhapsodies are mentioned by Aristókritos (Αριστόκριτος) the Manichaean, who wrote the Theosophy of Tübingen, in fragment 61 (A. Brinkmann Rhein. Mus. LI 1896, 273); by Iôánnîs Malálas (John Malalas, Ἰωάννης Μαλάλας) in fragment 62 vs. 4; and the Etymologicum Magnum mentions the 50th anniversary of the Sacred Logos, fragment 63.
Kern goes on to say that the order of fragments is unknown and that the Neoplatonists always quote from the same sections of the poem. Kern says that much material in the work was taken from various places, such as the stories about Nyx, the Titans, and the birth of Aphrodítî (Ἀφροδίτη). Sometimes authors quote on various subjects such as:
“The theogony, the destruction of Diónysos, about Zefs and Íra, the tales about Ípta” (trans. by the author)
Hos locos infra eo delegavi quo res postulare videbatur. Versum celeberrimum (quoted in Φίληβος Πλάτωνος in 66 c):
ἕκτηι δ’ ἐν γενεῆι καταπαύσατε κόσμον ἀοιδῆς
After six generations of Gods had been recounted, the poem inserted the famous verse:
“And in the sixth generation you put an end to ornament of the song.” (Φίληβος Πλάτωνος 66 c, trans. by the author)
iam a Platone fr. 14 (adde Tannery Arch. Gesch. Philos. XI 1898, 15) laudatum, post sex deorum genera enarrata positum fuisse elucet... which can be found already in fragment 14.
Orphei carmen theogonicum quod haud dubie Ἱερῶν λόγων pars erat testantur Πρεσβεία περὶ των Χριστιανὼν Ἀθηναγόρου c. 18, 12 Schw., Λόγος Στρώματα Κλήμεντος του Ἀλεξανδρέως VI 2, 26, 1 (II 442 Staeh.), Genethl. De encom. VI 144 (Rh. Gr. III 338, 5 Sp., cf. III 340, 27), Χρονογραφία του Ἰωάννου Μαλάλα IV (fr. 62), Fulgentius Mitologia III 9 p. 74, 8 Helm;
Cf. σχόλιον Σιμπλικίου επὶ περὶ οὐρανοῦ Ἀριστοτέλους I 3 p. 93, 11 Heib.:
διὰ τοῦτο τὰς θεογονίας ἡμῖν οἱ θεῖοι ἄνδρες παραδεδώκασι θεῶν μὲν πλῆθος ἐν τῶι ἑνὶ μένον
“Through this, divine men transmitted to us theogonies, indeed, (which describe) a multitude of Gods abiding in the One.” (trans. by the author)
[spectat ad Phanetis cataposin], Macrob. in Somn. Scipion. I 2, 9:
narratio fabulosa, non fabula, ut sunt caerimoniarum sacra, ut Hesiodi et Orphei quae de deorum progenie actuve narrantur, ut mystica Pythagoreorum sensa referuntur,
“A narrative rich in myths, not just a tale, as are the sacred rites, as are the accounts on the lineage and actions of the Gods, as are the mystic ideas of the Pythagoreans that are recounted.” (trans. by the author)
Michael the Syncellus in Life of Dionysos the Areopagite p. 362 (Migne 4, 622):
τὰς κατ’ Ὀρφέα τὸν πάντα τοῖς μουσικοῖς ἕλ| 623 Migne κοντα κρούμασι μυθώδεις θεολογίας ἀσπαζόμενος καὶ τὴν γραοπρεπῆ παρ’ Ἡσιόδωι Θεογονίαν ἀσμενιζόμενος.
“Welcoming the fabulous theologies of Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς), who had grasped all with music in notes nearby, and who had gladly received the theogony of Isíodos (Ἡσίοδος) suited for the old women.” (trans. by the author)
Λόγος δ΄ Στηλιτευτικὸς δεύτερος κατὰ Ἰουλιανοῦ Βασιλέως Γρηγορίου ὁ Ναζιανζηνός II 168 (Oration 5: Second Invective Against Julian, Section 31 Migne 35, 704):
κατάβαλε τοὺς Τριπτολέμους σου, καὶ τοὺς Κελεοὺς καὶ τοὺς μυστικοὺς δράκοντας· αἰσχύνθητί ποτε ταῖς τοῦ Θεολόγου σου βίβλοις Ὀρφέως· δέξαι τοῦ καιροῦ τὸ δῶρον, τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην σοι συγκαλύπτοντος. εἰ δὲ ταῦτα μῦθοι καὶ πλάσματα, ἐγώ σου τὰ τῆς νυκτὸς ἀποκαλύψω μυστήρια.
“Throw down thy Triptolemuses, and thy Eleusis, and thy foolish Dragons: shame thyself of the books of thine oracular Orpheus: accept the gift of the season that covers thy nakedness; and if these things be but fables and fictions, I will reveal to thee the mysteries of Night!” (trans. C. W. King, 1888)
E. Peripateticorum et Neoplatonicorum farragine addo hic σχόλιον Ἀλεξάνδρου του Ἀφροδισίου περὶ Μετεωρολογικῇ τοῦ Ἀριστοτέλους B 353 a 32 p. 66, 12 Hayd.:
τοὺς μὲν οὖν ἀρχαιοτέρους τε καὶ περὶ τὰς θεολογίας καταγινομένους - θεολόγους δὲ λέγει τοὺς περὶ θεῶν ἐπαγγελλομένους λέγειν, ὧν ἦν Ὅμηρος καὶ Ὀρφεὺς καὶ Ἡσίοδος, ὃς καὶ θεογονίαν συνέγραψε -, τούτους δή φησι ποιεῖν τινας τῆς θαλάσσης πηγάς, ἵνα αὐτοῖς ὦσιν ἀρχαί τε καὶ ῥίζαι ὁμοίως γῆς τε καὶ θαλάσσης, καὶ μὴ ἐξ ἄλλων τινῶν μεταβαλλόντων ἡ τούτων γένεσις ἦι, ἀλλ' οἰκείας ἀρχὰς ἔχωσιν, eundem ap. Ioann.
“Certainly in fact, those who are concerned with these ancient things and also about the theologies – and he speaks to the theologians, for they profess to speak about the Gods, among whom were Ómiros (Ὅμηρος), Orphéfs (Ὀρφεὺς) and Isíodos (Ἡσίοδος), who also composed a theology. And he declares these things, making them streams of the sea, where they are to be the origins both of the foundation of the earth and also the sea, and not from other things changing, where it is to be the origin of these, but they have their own suitable beginnings.” (trans. by the author)
Ἰωάννου Ἀλεξανδρέως τοῦ Φιλοπόνου κατὰ τῶν Πρόκλου περὶ άϊδιότητος τοῦ κόσμου ἐπιχειρημάτων VI 27 p. 212, 16 Rabe (cf. σχόλιον Σιμπλικίου επὶ περὶ οὐρανοῦ Ἀριστοτέλους I 10, 279 b 12 p. 293, 11 Heib.):
περὶ μὲν οὖν τοῦ γεγονέναι τὸν κόσμον πάντας φησὶν (sc. Ἀριστοτέλης Περὶ οὐρανοῦ Γ 1, 298 b 28) ἀλλήλοις ὁμογνωμονεῖν τούς τε θεολόγους καὶ τοὺς φυσικούς, ἐν δὲ τοῖς μετὰ ταῦτα εἶναι τὴν διαφωνίαν αὐτοῖς. τοὺς μὲν γὰρ τῶν γεγονέναι λεγόντων ἀΐδιον φάσκειν αὐτὸν εἶναι· Ὀρφεύς τε γὰρ καὶ Ἡσίοδος καὶ οἱ πλεῖστοι τῶν θεολόγων ἐπὶ ταύτης ἐγένοντο τῆς δόξης καὶ μετὰ τούτους Πλάτων,
“He (Ἀριστοτέλης) says, concerning the arising of the whole world, that there is agreement both with the theologians and the natural philosophers, and in these thereafter, there being disagreement in themselves. For of those saying the world was born, they alleged (that the world) itself is eternal. For Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς), Isíodos (Ἡσίοδος), and most of the theologians came to have this opinion, and after these Plátôn (Πλάτων).” (trans. by the author)
σχόλιον Σιμπλικίου επὶ περὶ οὐρανοῦ Ἀριστοτέλους III 1, 298 b 24 p. 560, 19 Heib.:
τοῦτον (sc. Hesiodum) μὲν οὖν μάλιστα πάντα γενητὰ ποιεῖν φησιν, ὅτι καὶ τὸ πρῶτον (sc. τὸ Χάος) παρ’ αὐτῶι γενέσθαι λέγει· τῶν δὲ ἄλλων πρώτους φυσιολογῆσαι τοὺς περὶ Ὀρφέα καὶ Μουσαῖον λέγειν εἰκός, οἵτινες πλὴν τοῦ πρώτου πάντα γενέσθαι λέγουσι. δῆλον δέ, ὅτι διὰ μύθων οὗτοι θεολογοῦντες γένεσιν ἐκάλουν τὴν ἀπὸ τῶν αἰτίων πρόοδον· διὸ καὶ τὸ πρῶτον αἴτιον πάντες ἀγένητον φυλάττουσι.
“He (Ἡσίοδος) then says, above all, to reflect on all generated things; and he says that the first thing (Χάος) was born by itself (translator: or “with it”). And of the others (the other philosophers), it is likely to say that the first of them to study science were those (philosophers) surrounding Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς) and Mousaios (Μουσαῖος); they say that except for the first (principle or entity), that all else “came to be.” But what is evident is that through the myths they were theologizing and they call the origin the progression from causes. Wherefore, also, they observe that the first cause of all is uncreated.” (trans. by the author)
σχόλιον Πρόκλου επὶ Τιμαίου Πλάτωνος III 143, 33 Diehl:
ἔτι τοίνυν | 144 Diehl θεατίον τὴν ἀναλογίαν τῆς γῆς, ἣν ἔχει πρὸς τὴν νοερὰν γῆν· ὡς γὰρ ἐκείνη περιέχει τάξεις θεῶν καὶ ὑφίστησι τελεσιουργούς, φρουρητικάς, Τιτανικάς, ὧν αἱ Ὀρφικαὶ θεολογίαι πλήρεις, οὕτω δὴ καὶ αὕτη δυνάμεις ἔχει ποικίλας . . .
“Farther still, we may survey the analogy which Earth has to the intellectual Earth. For as the latter comprehends and gives subsistence to perfective, guardian, and Titannic orders of Gods, of which the Orphic theologists are full, so likewise the former possesses various powers.” (trans. Thomas Taylor, 1820)
Περὶ τῆς κατὰ Πλάτωνα θεολογίας Πρόκλου I 4 p. 9, 38:
ἔστι δὲ ὁ μὲν διὰ τῶν συμβόλων τα θεῖα μηνύειν ἐφιέμενος (sc. τρόπος) Ὀρφικὸς καὶ ὅλως τοῖς τὰς θεομυθίας γράφουσιν οἰκεῖος, ὁ δὲ διὰ τῶν εἰκόνων Πυθαγόρειος.
“And he who desires to signify divine concerns through symbols is Orphic, and in short, accords with those who write fables concerning the Gods. But he who does this through images is Pythagoric.” (trans. Thomas Taylor, 1816)
σχόλιον Πρόκλου επὶ Παρμενίδου Πλάτωνος 130 b p. 801, 14 Cous.:
καὶ πολλὰ ἄν τις ἄλλα περὶ τὴν ἐξήγησιν τῶν θείων τούτων νοημάτων βαθύνας θεωρήσειεν· ἀλλὰ νῦν τόγε τοσοῦτον ἐν τῶι παρόντι ληπτέον ὅτι καὶ οἱ θεοὶ ταῖς τοῦ Πλάτωνος ἐπιβολαῖς ἐμαρτύρησαν, ἰδέας τε καλέσαντες τὰς νοερὰς ταύτας αἰτίας, καὶ κατ' αὐτὰς τετυπῶσθαι τὸν κόσμον εἰπόντες. εἰ τοίνυν καὶ οἱ λόγοι πείθουσιν ἡμᾶς πρὸς τὴν περὶ τούτων ὑπόθεσιν, καὶ οἱ σοφοὶ περὶ αὐτῶν συνηνέχθησαν Πλάτων, Πυθαγόρας, Ὀρφεὺς καὶ οἱ θεοὶ τούτοις ἐναργῶς ἐμαρτύρησαν, σμικρὰ φροντιστέον τῶν σοφιστικῶν λόγων, αὐτῶν ὑφ' ἑαυτῶν ἐληλεγμένων, οὐδὲν ἐπιστημονικὸν οὐδὲ ὑγιὲς λεγόντων, cf. Kroll De oracul. Chald. 7 n. 1.
“And, going deeper, there are many other things which may have been good to consider concerning the explanation of these godlike designs; but now, in the present circumstance, one must accept that the Gods bore witness to these intuitions of Plátôn (Πλάτων), both by his having called the noetic causes “ideas,” and by having said that the kózmos is formed in conformity with them. Accordingly, if these explanations persuade us towards this hypothesis concerning them, and if the wise have agreed concerning them, from Plátôn, Pythagóras (Πυθαγόρας), and Orphéfs (Ὀρφεὺς), and if the Gods manifestly bore witness, (then we need take) little heed the of the words of the sophists, which disprove themselves (by their own arguments), not one (argument) scientific and in no wise having sound reasoning.” (trans. by the author)
Nonnullos Ἱεροὺς λόγους sicut Hymnos, Argonautica, Lithic alia Musaeo dedicatos fuisse fr. 61 docet. Apollinis acclamatio fr. 62 conferri potest cum Ὀρφέως Ἀργοναυτικά 1:
Ὦναξ Πυθῶνος μεδέων, ἑκατηβόλε, μάντι.
Fragment 61 shows that some of the Sacred Logos, such as the Hymns, the Argonaftiká (Ἀργοναυτικά), the Lithiká (Λιθικά) and others, were dedicated to Mousaios. The acclamation of Apollo in fragment 62 can be compared with Ὀρφέως Ἀργοναυτικά 1:
“Oh lord guardian of Pythóh (Πυθώ = Δελφοί), far-darting one, prophet.” (trans. by the author)
Ἱρὸς λόγος Orphicorum iam ap. Ἱστορίαι Ἡροδότου II 81 test. nr. 216; v. etiam Ἐπιστολαί Πλάτωνος VII 335 a fr. 10:
παλαιοῖς τε καὶ ἱεροῖς λόγοις.
The Orphic Sacred Logos is already in Ἱστορίαι Ἡροδότου II 81 test. nr. 216; see also Ἐπιστολαί Πλάτωνος VII 335 a fragment 10:
“To the ancient and sacred logos.”
Neque praeterire volo Philodem. De pietat. 51, 2-11 p. 23 Gomp.:
Σοφοκλῆς ἐ<ν Ἰνά>χωι (TGF 193 fr. 268) τὴν γῆν μ<ητέ>ρα τῶν θεῶν φη<σιν>, ἐν Τριπτολέμ<ωι (ibidem 266 fr. 558) δὲ> καὶ Ἑστίαν εἶ<ναι·> Κλείδημος δὲ μητέρα θεῶν ὃ κἀν τοῖς Ἱεροῖς λ<ό>γοις τινὲς ἐξε<ν>ην<ό>χασιν.
Sophoklís in (the lost play) Ínakhos (Ἴναχος) says that Earth is the Mother of the Gods; in (the play) Triptólæmos (Τριπτόλεμος), Æstía (Ἑστία) is also (called the same); and Keidîmos (Κλείδημος) (calls her) the Mother of the Gods (Ῥέα); this they disclosed in the Sacred Logos (Ἱεροῖ λόγοι).” (trans. by the author)
Cf. etiam Ἠθικὰ Πλουτάρχου· 49. Συμποσιακά II 3, 1 p. 636 d:
‘ἀείσω ξυνετοῖσι’ (v. s. ΔΙΑΘΗΚΑΙ) τὸν Ὀρφικὸν καὶ ἱερὸν λόγον, ὃς οὐκ ὄρνιθος μόνον τὸ ὠιὸν ἀποφαίνει πρεσβύτερον, ἀλλὰ καὶ συλλαβὼν ἅπασαν αὐτῶι τὴν ἁπάντων ὁμοῦ πρεσβυγένειαν ἀνατίθησι.
“ ‘I shall sing to the wise’ the holy Orphic saying, that not only declares the egg older from the hen, but also it sets up the whole priority of conceptions of birth to itself of all things together.” (trans. by the author)
“I speak to those that are acquainted with the mystical and sacred discourse of Orpheus, who not only affirms the egg to be before the bird, but makes it the first being in the whole world.” (trans. by various scholars. Corrected and revised by William W. Goodwin, 1874)
Ἱερὸν λόγον on Egypt calls to mind Ἀργοναυτικά 43 test. nr. 224 p. 67 vs. 32.43-45 (v. infra s. ΙΕΡΟΣ ΛΟΓΟΣ [ΑΙΓΥΠΤΙΟΣ].
De Hieronymi et Hellanici Theogonia multis modis cum Ἱεροῖς λόγοις consentiente cf. p. 132.
As for the Theogony of Iæróhnymos and Ællánikos (Ἱερώνυμος καὶ Ἑλλάνικος), it agrees in many ways with the Sacred Logos.
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.