The importance of the Orphic fragments

The vast bulk of the mythology of the Mysteries, originally contained in various books, including an epic theogony, has been lost or likely destroyed in late antiquity. Fortunately, many ancient authors quoted from these texts, thus preserving some of their most important content. These fragments were collected by the philologist Otto Kern and published in 1922 in his book Orphicorum Fragmenta [1]. To anyone other than scholars, this work is completely inaccessible, because its contents are in the original languages, ancient Greek and Latin. Any commentary and notes are found in Latin, as is the convention of scholars. There is no existing translation of the book into English, except for an impossibly abbreviated collection of fragments which can be accessed online; this same collection is found in Orpheus and Greek Religion by W. K. C. Guthrie [2]. There are also some lengthy passages in English of fragments found in translations of the early Church Fathers. Also, some translations can be found in commentaries by various Neoplatonic philosophers, mostly Proclus.

Why are these fragments important? The fragments are quotations primarily from Orphic texts. Orpheus is the source of what are called "The Mysteries." The Mysteries contain the deepest meaning of the ancient Greek religion, which we now call Hellenismos (Ἑλληνισμός). The Mysteries are, in truth, the heart of the religion. Without the Mysteries, there is no explanation of what the religion is actually about. These fragments reveal the story-line from which a theogony can be derived, as well as hints as to the meaning of what this theogony represents in symbolic form. Without the knowledge contained in these fragments and commentary, there is very little information as to how to properly understand ancient Greek religion. While there survive texts from antiquity by theologians which address particular aspects of the religion (mostly from the Platonic philosophers), the Orphic texts quoted in these fragments are the meat behind those words. The entire books from which they came, were known and available in antiquity, but now only the fragments remain; they are what survives of the core, the nucleus of the theogony and theology of the Mysteries.

It must be understood that these fragments are embedded in all kinds of texts, but it is the fragment itself that is the most important. The material surrounding the fragment is only commentary by the author who quoted the fragment. A huge mistake is to assume that the surrounding commentary is actually Orphic thought. This has been the case particularly with Neoplatonic material. Because of such assumptions, there are many books which talk about Neoplatonic ideas as though they are identical to the Orphic ideas. In most instances, this may actually be the case, but the reader must assess each quotation using one's own knowledge, understanding, and intuition. The commentary found in Christian writings must be particularly scrutinized, since most of these writers were opposed to the ancient religion, and trying very hard to disable it. The 'fragments' are sometimes literally just that...fragments, phrases or sentences quoted verbatim, word for word, from some ancient text. But often an author will not quote verbatim, but will summarize, saying something like, "Orpheus says," etc. These factors must be kept in perspective when evaluating the various fragments.

The ambition of this project is to make English translations available of as many of the fragments as is possible, and also to place the Greek and Latin online. While the entire Orphicorum Fragmenta is available on the Internet, you cannot copy/paste anything from it, as it is online as a photocopy, not actual text. Most of the ancient passages have not appeared online before as text, and the task of typing it all out, letter by letter, diacriticals and all, is, quite honestly, very laborious, so perhaps this will be helpful to those working with this material.

Finally, it should be obvious that the discussion of Orphism and its theology has been the purview of scholars. People who cannot translate have little choice but to trust the opinions of the scholars who study this material, and this is not such a huge field (it is my opinion, that it deserves far more interest). Therefore, my main aspiration in translating this book is to make the material available to anyone who has an interest, and most particularly, for those in the modern world who practice the religion, so that discussion of the Orphic ideas can become more broad and informed, and that the minds of many more people can be influenced by the beautiful religion of ancient Greece.

PLEASE NOTE: Otto Kern does not use iota subscript; this convention can be seen in some other publications; for instance, in the 1977 edition of The Orphic Hymns by Apostolos N. Athanassakis there is no iota subscript. I have tried to keep to Kern’s convention. This does not present much of a problem for a word such as τωι, because it is rather obvious that this is the same as τῳ, but the convention can be more challenging in other instances; for instance is written αι in Kern, and when you see αι in a word, you must deduce whether it is the common diphthong or subscript .

[1] Here are several books this author is aware of related to Kern's book:

There is the 3-volume ΟΡΦΙΚΑ ΚΕΙΜΕΝΑ (ΠΥΡΙΝΟΣ ΚΟΣΜΟΣ, ΑΘΗΝΑ, 1999, 2005, και 2007) "Orphic Texts," which includes much of Otto Kern as well as voluminous additional material. This set provides translations of many of the texts into Modern Greek; the translations are what I call "explanatory translations," in that they are generally not literal translations, but are very helpful to understand the texts.

In addition, there is a literal translation into Italian of all the Kern fragments: TESTIMONIANZE E FRAMMENTI - NELL' EDIZIONE DI OTTO KERN - A cura di Elena Verzura - Prefazione di Giovanni Reale (2011). This is a wonderful book which has facsimiles of all of Kern and opposite each page of Kern are the Italian translations for easy comparison.

Also, there is the 4-volume Poetae Epici Graeci, edited by Alberto Bernabé, (1996-2007). This set is not a translation of Kern, although it appears to contain all the fragments found in Kern, but they are arranged differently for ease of comparison between similar fragments, and there appear to be many additional fragments.

[2] pp. 137-142.

Orphicorum Fragmenta: This is a download of a facsimile of the entire book as originally published:

Kern Orphicorum fragmenta

THE FOLLOWING PAGES consist of individual fragments as numbered in the Orphicorum fragmenta, together with English translations.

Please note: When existing translations of fragments could be found, I decided to make use of those, and the translators are noted on the pages. When existing translations could not be found, I translated these myself. Therefore, when you see "trans. by the author", by "the author" is meant the author of this website, who is James R. Van Kollenburg.




NOMEN (his name)

Orphic Critical Testimony 1 - This fragment simply presents us with the name “Orpheus.”

Orphic Critical Testimony 2 - This testimony discusses the fragment of the poet Ibycus which simply says “famous Orpheus.”

Orphic Critical Testimony 3 - This testimony gives us two different spellings of Orpheus from the Dorian dialect.

Orphic Critical Testimony 4 - This testimony is a discussion of where the name Orpheus comes from.

ΟΡΦΕΙΣ (Orpheus, but in the plural)

Orphic Critical Testimony 5 - This testimony says that some in ancient times believed that there were two Orpheuses.

Orphic Critical Testimony 6 - This testimony states that some scholars say that there are three or even more Orpheuses.

AETAS ET GENUS (Lifetime and Descent)

Orphic Critical Testimony 7 - This testimony traces the genealogy of Homer to Orpheus.

Orphic Critical Testimony 8 - This testimony traces the descent of Homer from Apollo and Orpheus.

Orphic Critical Testimony 9 - This testimony is yet another outline of the descent of Homer, which includes Orpheus, according to the historian Charax.

Orphic Critical Testimony 10 - This testimony gives the opinion of Herodotus, who believed that Homer and Hesiod were the first to describe the descent of the Gods.

Orphic Critical Testimony 11 - This testimony consists of three quotations, all which state that there is no poetry which has survived before the epics of Homer, although admitting that there are other opinions on the matter.

Orphic Critical Testimony 12 - This testimony states that Orpheus never imitated anyone in his verses, and never used the Paeony and Cretic rhythm.

Orphic Critical Testimony 13 - This testimony says that Aristotle did not believe there was a poet named Orpheus.

Orphic Critical Testimony 14 - This testimony consists of three quotations which say, in turn, that Orpheus was one of the Seven Sages of antiquity, and the next that in addition to this, Orpheus and Linus were the most ancient of the poets, and the third, that Orpheus was the most ancient of the inspired philosophers.

Orphic Critical Testimony 15 - This testimony offers several opinions, all from Christian writers, as to exactly what era Orpheus lived, all with the aim of trying to prove that the Jewish tradition is older than the Greek tradition.

Orphic Critical Testimony 16 - This testimony consists of yet more Christian quotations trying to prove that Moses is from an earlier time than Orpheus.

Orphic Critical Testimony 17 - This testimony consists of two quotations: the first states that Orpheus, Linus, and Musaeus are the most ancient of the Greek theologians, but that they lived before the time of the Seven Sages; the second quotation discusses the doctrine which says that daimons are in a mean between Gods and men, and that this doctrine came from Orpheus, or Zoroaster, or from Egypt, or Phrygia.

Orphic Critical Testimony 18 - This testimony consists of three quotations from Christian authors, two of which state that Orpheus became famous and that Musaeus was his pupil; the third says that Orpheus lived 200 years after the time of Cecrops.

Orphic Critical Testimony 19 - This testimony, from the philosopher Proclus, states that Orpheus composed his mythology in a time prior to that of Homer and Hesiod.

Orphic Critical Testimony 20 - This testimony consists of three quotations from The City of God by Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo, who says that Orpheus lived during the time of the Hebrew Judges; later he says that Orpheus lived before the time of Romulus; and in the final quote, he says that Orpheus lived before the time of the Hebrew Prophets.

Orphic Critical Testimony 21 - This testimony provides us with two opinions concerning the time in which Orpheus lived: the first opinion states that he lived during the time of Gideon; the second opinion denies this, and claims that Orpheus lived during the times of Troy.

PATER (Father)

Orphic Critical Testimony 22 - This testimony consists of three quotations, each of which states that Orpheus was the son of Calliope; they all also agree that his father was either Oeagrus or Apollo.

Orphic Critical Testimony 23 - This testimony consists of various opinions as to who was the father of Orpheus, with the majority saying that his father was Oeagrus.

MATER (Mother)

Orphic Critical Testimony 24 - This testimony gives us many opinions as to who was the mother of Orpheus; most of these authors claim that Calliope, the eldest of the Muses, was his mother.

Orphic Critical Testimony 25 - This testimony consists of two quotations, one proposing that the mother of Orpheus was Polymnia, the other saying that his mother was Cleio or Calliope.

Orphic Critical Testimony 26 - This testimony says the Orpheus was the son of Mennippe, while allegorically they say he was the son of Calliope.

FRATRES (Brothers)

Orphic Critical Testimony 27 - This testimony consists of various opinions as to who were the brothers of Orpheus.

ORORES (Sisters)

Orphic Critical Testimony 28 - This testimony presents two lines from a poem of Moschus which refer to the daughters of Oeagrus, which, if taken literally, means that Orpheus had sisters.

FILII (Sons) [on wives, see v. nrr. 59-67]

Orphic Critical Testimony 29 - This testimony presents us with six sons of Orpheus: Musaeus, Leos, Dorion, Dries, Ortes, and Rythmonius.

THRAX (Thrace or Thracia) [v. also s. Οἴαγρος nr. 23)

Orphic Critical Testimony 30 - This testimony is a collection of references to the Thracian origin of Orpheus

Orphic Critical Testimony 31 - This testimony gives us two quotations, the first says that Orpheus was a Thracian and a cultivator of music, the second says that he was a bard and that he made the Bistonian (Thracian) land proud.

Orphic Critical Testimony 32 - This testimony states that Orpheus was a Thracian.

Orphic Critical Testimony 33 - This testimony associates the Thracian mountain ranges Haemus, Redone, and Orbelus with the Mysteries, which this quotation affirms were instituted by Orpheus.

Orphic Critical Testimony 34 - This testimony states that the forefathers of Orpheus lived on the Thracian shores of the Black Sea.

Orphic Critical Testimony 35 - This testimony states that Orpheus was living in Thrace, charming the wild beasts with his singing, and that he conquered men’s hearts, not by violent means, but, rather by his daily intercourse with man.

Orphic Critical Testimony 36 - This testimony seems to be saying that the idea of Orpheus being Thracian is just a fiction.

Orphic Critical Testimony 37 - This testimony consists of three quotations all of which connect both Orpheus and Thrace to religion, one of the quotations even claims that the etymology of the word for religion (θρησκεία) comes from the word for Thracian.

OLYMPUS ET PIERIA (Olympus and Pieria)

Orphic Critical Testimony 38 - This testimony links Orpheus to Mount Olympus and calls him the ruler of Pieria.

Orphic Critical Testimony 39 - This testimony states that Orpheus ruled over the Macedonians and the land of the Odrysians.

Orphic Critical Testimony 40 - This testimony states that Orpheus lived in Pimpleia (a city of Pieria).

Orphic Critical Testimony 41 - This testimony consists of two quotations; the first says that Orpheus is from Mount Olympus, the second says he is from Leibethra, the ancient Macedonian city at the foot of the same mountain.

MAGISTRI (Masters) [on Apollo v. nr. 22]

Orphic Critical Testimony 42 -This testimony states that Orpheus was a student of the Idaean Dactyli, and afterwards became the first to introduce to the Hellenes the initiatory rites and Mysteries.

Orphic Critical Testimony 43 - This testimony states that Orpheus was a student of Linus.

Orphic Critical Testimony 44 - This testimony claims that Orpheus was taught by Moses, who the Greeks called Musaeus, this idea coming from the Jewish historian Artapanus of Alexandria.

APOLLINIS ET SOLIS CULTOR (The Worshipper of Apollo and the Sun)

Orphic Critical Testimony 45 - This testimony mentions the Bassarae, a lost play of Aeschylus, in which Orpheus is said to rise every morning and worship Apollo as the rising sun.

MUSICES VIS. (The Power of the Music)

Orphic Critical Testimony 46 - This testimony states that the ancient wisdom of the Greeks was most addicted to music and that Orpheus was thought of as the most musical and wisest of the Demigods.

Orphic Critical Testimony 47 - This testimony says that the birds and the fish responded enthusiastically to the song of Orpheus.

Orphic Critical Testimony 48 - This testimony says that Orpheus led all things by the charm of his voice.

Orphic Critical Testimony 49 - This testimony says that Orpheus drew together trees and beasts of the fields with his lyre-playing and songs.

Orphic Critical Testimony 50 - This testimony states that Orpheus could charm any person, even Persephone and Pluto, and that he could even cause rocks to follow him.

Orphic Critical Testimony 51 - This testimony says that Orpheus charmed rocks and rivers, and that he led the wild oaks down from Pieria, to stand in ordered ranks on the Thracian shore at Zonê.

Orphic Critical Testimony 52 - This testimony is from Culex, the poem of Virgil, in which the Latin poet says that throngs of beasts were enticed by the voice of Orpheus and that the oak dislodged itself, root and all, on hearing him.

Orphic Critical Testimony 53 - This testimony consists of two quotations from Odes of Horace; the first says that the trees follow the tunes of Orpheus, the second says that not only the trees and the tiger follow him, but the guardian of Hades is subdued by him.

Orphic Critical Testimony 54 - This testimony says that by his skill at singing, Orpheus enchanted the wild beasts, the birds, the trees, and even stones to follow along with him.

Orphic Critical Testimony 55 - This testimony consists of a number of quotations which say that the music of Orpheus caused the trees, birds, and rocks to follow him, and that the beasts stopped to listen to him, and that he detained the flowing of rivers and the blowing of the wind with his musical art.

INSTRUMENTA MUSICA (Musical Instruments)

Orphic Critical Testimony 56 - This testimony consists of many quotations about Orpheus, each one of which say that he played the cithara, a type of lyre.

Orphic Critical Testimony 57 - This testimony consists of many quotations all connecting Orpheus with the lyre. Some of these quotations say that Orpheus increased the number of strings on the instrument from seven to nine, so that the number of strings would be the same as the number of the Muses.

Orphic Critical Testimony 58 - This testimony consists of four quotations again affirming the association of Orpheus with the lyre and music.

CONIUGES: (Wives:)

ANONYMAE (Anonymous)

Orphic Critical Testimony 59 - This testimony consists of two quotations from plays of Euripides which say that Orpheus had enormous skill in poetry and song.

Orphic Critical Testimony 60 - This testimony shows the belief that Orpheus, while yet himself alive, went to the Underworld to bring back the dead (specifically his love Euridice).


Orphic Critical Testimony 61 - This testimony says that Orpheus went to the Underworld, not to retrieve Euridice, but, rather, to bring back Agriope from the dead.

EURIDICE (on the origin of the name Kern Orpheus 13)

Orphic Critical Testimony 62 - This testimony says that it was Euridice who was returned to Orpheus from Hades.

Orphic Critical Testimony 63 - This testimony says it was Eurydice who died and went to Hades, and the passage calls her his wife.

Orphic Critical Testimony 64 - This testimony says that Eurydice is the Dryad Nymph who was pursued by Aristaeus and, who, in fleeing from him, fell upon a snake, and died.

Orphic Critical Testimony 65 - This testimony tells the whole story of Orpheus and Euridice, ending with Orpheus putting aside women, and surrendering himself to lonely places.

Orphic Critical Testimony 66 - This testimony, from the third Vatican mythographer, is an impious and ever-so-Christian interpretation of the fable of Orpheus and Euridice.

Orphic Critical Testimony 67 - This testimony, a quotation from the Liber Monstrorum, very briefly tells the story of Orpheus and affirms that Euridice was his wife.


Orphic Critical Testimony 68 - This testimony consists of two quotations; the first makes Aristaeus guilty for the death of Euridice; the second says he is the son of Apollo and Cyrene. There is also a brief acknowledgement of the opinions of some scholars from the time of Kern regarding the validity of the inclusion of Aristaeus in the myth of Orpheus and Cyrene.

APUD INFEROS (In the Underworld; v. nr. 59 ss.)

Orphic Critical Testimony 69 - This testimony is a description of an ancient painting by Polygnotus in which Orpheus is depicted in the Underworld with his cithara.

Orphic Critical Testimony 70 - This testimony begins with a gloomy description of the Underworld as Orpheus enters, and continues with the effect of his music on the inhabitants as he began to sing.

Orphic Critical Testimony 71 - This testimony, from the poet Horace, says that while Orpheus was in the Underworld, even the torments of famous evil-doers were relaxed for a period of time because they became enchanted while Orpheus played his lyre.

Orphic Critical Testimony 72 - This testimony consists of two quotations from the Metamorphoses of Ovid, in which Orpheus descends to the Underworld and petitions Pluto and Persephone for the return of his wife; and when he sang all wept, and at last Eurydice was summoned.

Orphic Critical Testimony 73 - This testimony says that the shades of the dead rejoiced when Eurydice was returned to the Underworld.

Orphic Critical Testimony 74 - This testimony, from the Metamorphoses of Ovid, tells us of Orpheus, who has now lost his Eurydice for the second time, attempting to reenter the Underworld, but this time his efforts are in vain.

Orphic Critical Testimony 75 - This testimony, from the Georgics of Vergil, says that for seven months Orpheus wept after he failed to retrieve Eurydice from the dead.

VENERIS CONTEMPTOR (Contemner of Venus)

Orphic Critical Testimony 76 - This testimony presents several quotations which say that Orpheus avoided marriage and grew weary of women after he lost Eurydice.

AMOR PUERORUM (Lover of Young Men)

Orphic Critical Testimony 77 - This testimony has many quotations, beginning with the main quotation by the poet Phanokles, which say that after Eurydice died, Orpheus lost interest in women and turned his affections to young men, which infuriated the Thracian women, who then killed him.

ARGONAUTA (Argonaut)

Orphic Critical Testimony 78 - This testimony first points out a metope from the Delphic treasury of the Sicyonians which shows Orpheus with his lyre amongst the Argonauts; next follows a poem which depicts Orpheus leading the oarsmen of the Argo with his song.

Orphic Critical Testimony 79 - This testimony shows that Orpheus was with Jason and his son Euneus, which means that he must have been one of the Argonauts.

Orphic Critical Testimony 80 - This testimony, from the Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius, lists Orpheus first in his catalog of Argonauts. Apollonius says that Orpheus became one of their number at the urging of Cheiron, the Centaur.

ISTHMIONICA (The Isthmian Games)

Orphic Critical Testimony 81 - This testimony says that Orpheus participated in the first Isthmian Games with the Argonauts, winning in the musical contest for the cithara.

MAGUS ET MEDICUS (Magician and Physician; Christian Lobeck Aglaophamus I 235)

Orphic Critical Testimony 82 - This testimony quotes from the Alcestis of Euripides which refers to a spell (φάρμακος) on Thracian tablets (σανίσιν) written by Orpheus.

Orphic Critical Testimony 83 - This testimony, from the Cyclops of Euripides, has the leader of the chorus saying to Odysseus that he knows a spell of Orpheus.

Orphic Critical Testimony 84 - This testimony has quotations from Strabo, Pliney, and Pausanias which show a connection between Orpheus and magic, Pliny saying that these magical superstitions were based on the practice of medicine.

Orphic Critical Testimony 85 - This testimony consists of two quotations, the first by Apollonius of Tyana and the second by Apuleius, both of whom, as they themselves say, are being falsely accused, like Orpheus, of practicing magic.

Orphic Critical Testimony 86 - This testimony, from the Byzantine poet and grammarian Tzetzes (1110-1180 CE), has Homer in Egypt learning magic, which he says was highly esteemed by Orpheus.

VATES (Prophet)

Orphic Critical Testimony 87 - This testimony says that Orpheus was a seer or prophet.

Orphic Critical Testimony 88 - This testimony calls Orpheus the prophet and companion of Apollo.

Orphic Critical Testimony 89 - This testimony claims that the divination by means of animals comes from Orpheus.

MYSTERIA (The Mysteries)

Orphic Critical Testimony 90 - This testimony says that Orpheus is the source of the Mysteries.

Orphic Critical Testimony 91 - This testimony, from Rhesus by Euripides, says that Orpheus revealed the Mysteries to the people of Troy. The quotation refers to “those dark Mysteries with their torch processions;” by “torches” it would seem that the text is implying the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Orphic Critical Testimony 92 - In this testimony from Plato, Protagoras associates Orpheus and Musaeus with the mystic rites (τελεταί), and he implies that they were sophists like himself.

Orphic Critical Testimony 93 - In this testimony, the geographer Pausanias says that Orpheus was not great because of the fables told about him, but Orpheus was great because of his poetry and that he discovered the Mysteries and other things.

BACCHI MYSTERIORUM AUCTOR (Progenitor of the Bacchic Mysteries)

Orphic Critical Testimony 94 - This testimony begins with four quotations which establish Orpheus as the founder of the Mysteries of Dionysus, and then concludes with two quotations which say that the Orphic Mysteries were produced for the fourth Dionysus.

Orphic Critical Testimony 95 - This testimony, from the historian Diodorus of Sicily, claims that Orpheus took the Egyptian myth of Osiris and made this a Greek myth with Dionysus taking the role of this God.

Orphic Critical Testimony 96 - This testimony, from Diodorus of Sicily, says that Orpheus took his mystic rites from Egypt and that the Egyptian rite of Osiris is the same as that of Dionysus, the name alone being changed.

Orphic Critical Testimony 97 - This testimony, by Diodorus of Sicily, says that Orpheus resembles Dionysos in that Orpheus descended to the Underworld to retrieve his wife, just as Dionysos descended to the Underworld to retrieve his mother.

Orphic Critical Testimony 98 - This testimony consists of two quotations from Christian church-fathers: the first says that Orpheus learned the Egyptian Mysteries and then gave them to the Greeks; the second quotation claims that while in Egypt he learned doctrines of Moses.

Orphic Critical Testimony 99 - This testimony, from the Christian church-father Lactantius, says that Orpheus was the first to introduce the rites of Dionysus (Father Liber) to Greece. There is a second quotation which says that Orpheus derived his religion from that of the Egyptians.

Orphic Critical Testimony 100 - This testimony, from the Christian theologian Theodoret, says that Orpheus learned the secret rites from the Egyptians, brought them to Greece, and with this knowledge created the Dionysia festival.

Orphic Critical Testimony 101 - This testimony, from John the Lydian, makes reference to “the Dionysus of Orpheus” (a statue?) which apparently stood before the adyton (the innermost sanctuary) of the temple of Jerusalem.

MYSTERIORUM ELEUSINIORUM CONDITOR (Founder of the Eleusinian Mysteries)

Orphic Critical Testimony 102 - This testimony consists of several quotations which seem to connect Orpheus to the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Orphic Critical Testimony 103 - This testimony, from the Christian theologian Theodoret, says that Orpheus brought the Eleusinian Mysteries to Athens, along with other sacred rites.

Orphic Critical Testimony 104 - This testimony consists of two lines from a poem by Sidonius Apollinaris: the first speaks of Orpheus celebrating the birth of Athena, the second has Orpheus singing of his mother Calliope.

Orphic Critical Testimony 105 - In this testimony, we have quotes from the historian Diodorus of Sicily who says that Orpheus was the only Argonaut initiated into the mysteries of Samothrace, but in a quotation from the Orphic Argonautica, Orpheus causes all the Argonauts to be initiated into these secret rites.

METRI HEROICI AUCTOR (Originator of the Heroic Meter)

Orphic Critical Testimony 106 - This testimony consists of several quotations which indicate that Orpheus may have invented heroic meter.

ASTROLOGUS (Astronomer)

Orphic Critical Testimony 107 - This testimony explains that Orpheus taught the Greeks astronomy and that the animals who followed and listened to him in the myths are actually the constellations surrounding the constellation of the Lyre.

TEMPLORUM CONDITOR (Establisher of Temples)

Orphic Critical Testimony 108 - This testimony, by the geographer Pausanias, reports that the Spartans said that the cult of Demeter Chthonia was handed down to them by Orpheus.

Orphic Critical Testimony 109 - This testimony, from the geographer Pausanias, says that there was a temple in Sparta dedicated to Corë (Κόρη) Savioress which some there believed had been established by Orpheus.

Orphic Critical Testimony 110 - This testimony, from the geographer Pausanias, says that the Aeginetans mostly worship Hecate, and practice mysteries believed to have been established by Orpheus.

AGRICULTURAE ET MORUM AUCTOR (Progenitor of Agriculture and Mores)

Orphic Critical Testimony 111 - This testimony, from the poet Horace, says that Orpheus turned men away from living like brutes, for which reason it is said in fables that he tamed tigers and lions.

Orphic Critical Testimony 112 - This testimony, from Themistius, says that the mysteries of Orpheus are even connected to agriculture, and through agriculture, Orpheus tamed everything, even the brutality of our souls, and that it was because of him that men learned the art of agriculture.

MORS (Death)

Orphic Critical Testimony 113 - This testimony consists of a quotation from pseudo-Eratosthenes and a quote from Ovid, both saying that Orpheus was torn apart by the Maenads, his body parts strewn about. Ovid says that the head of Orpheus floated across the sea to Lesbos.

Orphic Critical Testimony 114 - This testimony makes reference to an oracle inscribed at Delphi which says that the Pierians (a Thracian tribe) killed Orpheus.

Orphic Critical Testimony 115 - This testimony, from the Greek grammarian and mythographer Conon, says that the Thracian and Macedonian women tore apart Orpheus and threw his body parts into the sea. For this crime, the land was struck with plague. They received an oracle which declared that the plague would subside when they found the head of Orpheus and gave it proper burial. They did so and the burial site eventually became a great sanctuary.

Orphic Critical Testimony 116 - This testimony, from the geographer Pausanias, says that the Thracian women plotted to murder Orpheus, but dared not do the deed until they were drunk.

Orphic Critical Testimony 117 - This testimony, from the Astronomica of Hyginus, says that Orpheus was torn apart by the Bacchantes, either because he omitted praise of Dionysus in his songs while journeying in the Underworld, or because he had spied on the Mysteries of Dionysus.

Orphic Critical Testimony 118 - This testimony, by Lucian of Samosata, discusses the fate of the head of Orpheus and of his lyre. The lyre had been deceitfully acquired by Neanthus, the son of the tyrant Pittacus, who attracted nothing but vicious dogs by playing it, and these dogs killed him, proving that the power of entrancing animals was not in the lyre, but in Orpheus himself.

Orphic Critical Testimony 119 - This testimony consists of two quotations from the great Neoplatonic philosopher Proclus. They discuss the meaning of the music of Orpheus, that people understood it in a fragmentary way. Proclus connects this to the dismemberment of Orpheus, which, he says, reflects the dismemberment of Dionysus, and that when the myth says that the head of Orpheus floated to Lesbos, it indicates that the Lesbian people received the highest share of his teaching.

Orphic Critical Testimony 120 - This testimony, from the geographer Pausanias, reports that some people said that Orpheus took his own life in grief at the loss of his wife Eurydice.

Orphic Critical Testimony 121 - This testimony, by the Latin mythographer Hyginus, says that Venus was angry at the decision to grant Adonis to her for only half a year. The judge in this affair, appointed by Jove, was Calliope, the mother of Orpheus. In retribution for Calliope’s decision, Venus aroused the Thracian women with love, each seeking Orpheus for herself; while fighting for the man, they tore him apart.

Orphic Critical Testimony 122 - This testimony, from On the Names of Rivers and Mountains by pseudo-Plutarch, says that after the Thracian women tore Orpheus in pieces, his whole body assumed the shape of a dragon. From his blood arose an herb called ‘the harp’ which makes a sound like a lyre during the rites of Dionysos.

Orphic Critical Testimony 123 - This testimony, with quotations from Alcidamas and Pausanias, say that Orpheus was killed by a thunderbolt from Zeus.

Orphic Critical Testimony 124 - This testimony, from a book of epigrams by pseudo-Aristotle, says that the Cicones buried Orpheus in their country.

Orphic Critical Testimony 125 - This testimony, from Diogenes Laërtius, the biographer of philosophers, says that there was an inscription at Dium in Macedonia which claimed that Orpheus was killed by a thunderbolt of Zeus.

Orphic Critical Testimony 126 - This testimony, from the poet Damagetus, says that the body of Orpheus is in a tomb on the foothills of Mount Olympus.

Orphic Critical Testimony 127 - This testimony is an epitaph for Orpheus from Antipater Sidonius.

Orphic Critical Testimony 128 - This testimony is an anonymous epitaph or elegy for Orpheus from the Greek Anthology.

Orphic Critical Testimony 129 - This testimony says that the bones of Orpheus were taken away from Libethra, after it had been destroyed by a flood; the bones were taken by the Macedonians in Dium (Δίον) to their own country, this according to a story heard by the geographer Pausanias.

Orphic Critical Testimony 130 - This testimony consists of quotations from the writer Antigonus of Carystus and the geographer Pausanias, both which say that at the tomb of Orpheus, the nightingales sing more sweetly than others.

Orphic Critical Testimony 131 - This testimony, from Vergil Georgics, says that Orpheus’ head rolled down the Hebrus while still singing of his Eurydice.

Orphic Critical Testimony 132 - This testimony, from the Metamorphoses of Ovid, says that the head of Orpheus floated along with the Hebrus into the sea, finally arriving on the shore of Lesbos at Methymna.

Orphic Critical Testimony 133 - This testimony, from the Astronomica of Hyginus, says that the head of Orpheus was carried down from the mountain into the sea, and the waves cast it upon the island of Lesbos.

Orphic Critical Testimony 134 - This testimony consists of three quotations from Philostratus: the first concerns the oracular head of Orpheus at Lesbos, the second explains the singing rocks of Lyrnessus, and the third describes the silencing of the oracle of Orpheus’ head by Apollo.

Orphic Critical Testimony 135 - This testimony, from the orator Aelius Aristides, says that the men of Lesbos allege that their whole island is musical because it harbors the head of Orpheus.

LYRA INTER SIDERA CONSTITUTA (The Lyre Placed Between the Constellations)

Orphic Critical Testimony 136 - This testimony consists of six quotations which say that the lyre of Orpheus is now a constellation in the sky.

Orphic Critical Testimony 137 - This testimony, from the mythographer Hyginus, offers two different explanations for the name of the constellation The Kneeler, which is close to the constellation of the Lyre, one of these explanations being that it represents Orpheus himself.

APUD INFEROS POST MORTEM (In the Underworld after his Death)

Orphic Critical Testimony 138 - This testimony, from the Apology of Plato, implies that Socrates thought that the soul of Orpheus is now in the Underworld and that should he die, he could converse with him there.

Orphic Critical Testimony 139 - This testimony, from the myth of Er at the end of Plato’s Republic, says that Orpheus chose the life of a swan for his next life, out of enmity to womankind, since they had murdered him.

TEMPLA. (Temples)

Orphic Critical Testimony 140 - This testimony mentions two possible temples dedicated to Orpheus in antiquity.

SIMULACRA (Statues; v. nrr. 1. 78. 107)

Orphic Critical Testimony 141 - This testimony, an inscription found in the foothills of Mt. Haemus, says that a statue of Orpheus was set up in that place.

Orphic Critical Testimony 142 - This testimony, with a quotation from Pausanias and another from Callistratus, gives descriptions of a statue of Orpheus on Helicon; it is uncertain if both of these quotations refer to the same statue, or to two different statues.

Orphic Critical Testimony 143 - This testimony, from the geographer Pausanias, says that Micythus of Rhegium set up a statue of Orpheus at Olympia, along with other sculptures which he gave to the sanctuary.

Orphic Critical Testimony 144 - This testimony, with quotations from Plutarch, Arrian, and pseudo-Callisthenes, elaborates on the story of a statue of Orpheus sweating profusely while Alexander the Great gazed upon it.

Orphic Critical Testimony 145 - This testimony, from the geographer Pausanias, says there was a wooden statue of Orpheus, created by Pelasgians, in a sanctuary dedicated to Eleusinian Demeter in the district of Theras in the Peloponnese.

Orphic Critical Testimony 146 - This testimony, from an epigram of Martial, describes a glittering statue of Orpheus surrounded by mesmerized animals at the Fountain of Orpheus in Rome.

DEUS (God)

Orphic Critical Testimony 147 - This testimony consists of two quotations: the first from the Christian Church-father Tertullian says that Orpheus and other writers were supposed to be Gods; and the second quotation, from the Historia Augusta, says that the Emperor Alexander Severus worshipped Orpheus (and others).

HOMINUM NOMINA AB ORPHEO DEDUCTA (Names of men derived from Orpheus)

Orphic Critical Testimony 148 - This testimony consists of several instances in ancient texts of various people named Orpheus.

CHRISTIANA (Christian. V. see also nr. 55)

Orphic Critical Testimony 149 - This testimony makes reference to an image of Orpheus placing a lyre on an altar on a sarcophagus of Ostia.

Orphic Critical Testimony 150 - This testimony presents a sketch of a stone seal which has both an image of a crucifixion and the name Orpheus.

Orphic Critical Testimony 151 - This testimony is from the Christian church-father Clement of Alexandria, who says that Orpheus was a deceiver who taught men idolatry.

Orphic Critical Testimony 152 - This testimony, from the Christian Church-father Clement of Alexandria, envisioning the new religion as separate from and against the old religion, says that Christians should use simple symbols, like a dove or a fish, to represent their religion.

Orphic Critical Testimony 153 - This testimony, from the Christian Church-father Eusebius, is a comparison between the power of Orpheus’ lyre and the power of the Christian god; Eusebius commences his argument with the assumption that the power which charmed wild beasts was not in Orpheus, but in the unconscious lyre itself.

Orphic Critical Testimony 154 - This testimony, from the Christian Church-father Athanasius of Alexandria, equates the words of Orpheus to a useless spell. There is a second testimony, from another Christian, Caesarius of Nazianzus, who refers to the stories of the Gods as “foolish things” (λήρους) invented by Orpheus and Hesiod.

Orphic Critical Testimony 155 - This testimony, from the Christian Church-father Gregory of Nazianzus, who includes the Mysteries of Orpheus in a list of things which Gregory finds abominable from the old religion.

Orphic Critical Testimony 156 - This testimony, from Jerome, the Christian saint, says that Christ has joined together all the languages under one song, so that beasts and birds can know God, an idea which parallels the use of music by Orpheus.

Orphic Critical Testimony 157 - This testimony, from the Christian deacon Procopius, says that the doctrine of Orpheus is false and useless.

Orphic Critical Testimony 158 - This testimony, from the chronicle of the sack of Thessalonica in 904 CE by the Christian John Kaminiatos, says that the works of Orpheus are inscribed with false idols and spurious rumors which lead men astray and enslave them to deception.

Orphic Critical Testimony 159 - This testimony is from the age of the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos; it seems to be a weak attempt to understand Orphic theology, but ultimately calls it “Chaldean nonsense.”

DISCIPULI (Disciples):


Orphic Critical Testimony 160 - This testimony, consisting of five quotations, shows that the Phrygian King Midas was a disciple of Orpheus. There are also some citations giving evidence that Heracles was also a disciple of Orpheus.


Orphic Critical Testimony 161 - This testimony, from the Parian Chronicle, says that Eumolpus was the son of Musaeus, and that he celebrated the Mysteries in Eleusis.

Orphic Critical Testimony 162 - This testimony consists of two quotations from Ovid which show that Eumolpus was a disciple of Orpheus.


1. Fragmenta veteriora (frr. 1-46; The More Ancient Fragments)

Orphic Fragment 1 - This fragment consists of a tiny cosmogony in which Night laid an egg from which Eros sprang forth. He mated with Chaos. Then, from their union, Uranus, Oceanus, Ge, and all the race of Gods was born.

Orphic Fragment 2 - This tiny quotation is cosmogonic in nature, speaking of Protogonus, Aether, Eros, and Nyx, but it is so fragmentary that it is difficult to discern its meaning.

Orphic Fragment 3 - This fragment consists of several quotations from the Platonic dialogues which discuss rites, whether dubious or legitimate, for the expiation of past misdeeds.

Orphic Fragment 4 - The first two fragments talk of Plato saying, according to Mousaios, that the just are rewarded and the unjust are punished. The other fragments claim that Homer and Pindar take things from Orpheus.

Orphic Fragment 5 - This fragment states that many people claim to be religious people, but few actually are.

Orphic Fragment 6 - This fragment asserts that there is an ancient doctrine which states that the souls of men, after death, return, and are born again from the dead. Olympiodorus explains that this Orphic view is also Pythagorean.

Orphic Fragment 7 - There is a secret doctrine that man is in a prison and does not have license to open its door and escape (i.e. that one should not commit suicide).

Orphic Fragment 8 - The soul is imprisoned in the body until the penalty is paid.

Orphic Fragment 9 - In this fragment, Plátôn (Πλάτων), through the character of the Athenian Stranger, describes a type of freedom, in which disobedience to rulers, parents, elders, laws, and to Gods, results in a life of endless evils, which he compares to the rebellion of the Titans in mythology.

Orphic Fragment 10 - There are sacred teachings from long ago which say that the soul is immortal, and, when free from its body, will be judged for its conduct and punished.

Orphic Fragment 11 - This fragment consists of a tiny phrase referring to a state in which some men are ripe for true pleasure, or who have attained this joy.

Orphic Fragment 12 - This fragment consists of two quotations from which we can glean that the songs of Orpheus were sweet and that he discovered things in the arts, along with other great ones such as Daedalus, Palamedes, Marsyas, Olympus and Amphion.

Orphic Fragment 13 - This fragment makes use of the famous Orphic admonishment to close doors upon the ears of the profane before the Mysteries are spoken.

Orphic Fragment 14 - This fragment consists of several Orphic quotations about the “sixth generation.”

Orphic Fragment 15 - Oceanus who, when he married his sister Tethys, was the first to marry.

Orphic Fragment 16 - According to Plato, we must simply accept the genealogy of the first Gods (Ὠκεανός καὶ Τηθὺς, Γῆς καὶ Οὐρανὸς, Φόρκυς, Κρόνος καὶ Ῥέα, Ζεὺς καὶ Ἥρα), believing that they, in the accounts of them, were speaking of what took place in their own families.

Orphic Fragment 17 - In this fragment, Socrates questions blind religious beliefs in the story of Zeus binding Cronus, and Cronus punishing Uranus.

Orphic Fragment 18 - In this quotation, Plato, speaking through the “Stranger,” says that Parmenides and others have talked carelessly when telling stories of the Gods and the nature of reality.

Orphic Fragment 19 - This quotation from Plato is a description of the role of religion in training girls and boys for future participation in the necessities of war, with mention of imitation of the Curetes and the Dioscuri in the choruses of the ancient peoples.

Orphic Fragment 20 - According to Plato, there is an inescapable law (Ἀδράστεια), that a soul which attains a glimpse of truth following a God, such a soul is preserved from harm, and always so, if always thus attaining. But when a soul is not capable of attaining to truth, there are degrees of rebirth dependent upon its understanding.

Orphic Fragment 21 - This set of fragments discuss the glory of Zeus, and, in particular, that Zeus is the beginning, the middle, and the source of all things. It can be seen that oftentimes, when ancient Greek texts use the word God in the singular, they are referring to mighty Zeus.

Orphic Fragment 22 - This fragment states that the followers of Orpheus suppose that each star makes a world.

Orphic Fragment 23 - This fragment consists of several quotations related to Justice (Δίκη).

Orphic Fragment 24 - This fragment consists of two quotations from Aristotle: The first states that the (Orphic) theologians assert that the world is generated from Nyx; the second quotation states that the poets say that Zeus reigns and rules, despite the fact that Nyx, Uranus, Chaos, and Oceanus precede him in time.

Orphic Fragment 25 - This fragment states that ancient (Orphic?) writers made Oceanus and Tethys the parents of creation, and speaks of the oath of the Gods sworn by the river Styx.

Orphic Fragment 26 - This fragment states that animals come into being in a manner resembling (ὅμοιος) the knitting of a net.

Orphic Fragment 27 - In this fragment, Aristotle summarizes the view of Orphic poetry, that the soul is carried on the winds, and that it enters the body through respiration. In addition, there statements from various commentators elaborating on this idea.

Orphic Fragment 28 - This fragment consists of several quotations offering the ideas of Eudemus concerning the origin of the universe.

Orphic Fragment 29 - This fragment consists of several quotations with various ideas about the beginning of the universe, as seen from the Argonautica, both the Orphic and that of Apollonius Rhodius, and ideas of Empedocles, and Vergil.

Orphic Fragment 30 - This fragment states the Zeus is the Aether, and is both father and son; Rhea is both the mother of Zeus as well as his daughter.

Orphic Fragment 31 - 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 Dionysus.

Orphic Fragment 32 - This fragment consists of the contents of several famous “gold tablets,” prayers or poems found in the graves of what is assumed to be Orphic practitioners.

Orphic Fragment 33 - The use of symbolism in Orphic texts.

Orphic Fragment 34 - The Toys of Dionysus from several sources.

Orphic Fragment 35 - The sacrifice of Dionysus (Διόνυσος) by the Titans including the involvement of Athena as having retrieved his heart.

Orphic Fragment 36 - The three births of Diónysos: from Semele (Σεμέλη; "out of the mother"), from the thigh of Zeus, and from Persephone (Περσεφόνη; "torn asunder by the Titans").

Orphic Fragment 37 - According to the Orphic theogony, Time (Χρόνος) produced Eros (Ἔρως) and all the souls, differing from the Theogony of Hesiod.

Orphic Fragment 38 - The importance of the Muses.

Orphic Fragment 39 - This fragment states that the inventor of dance is Erato, according to Orphic teachings.

Orphic Fragment 40 - This fragment says that Asclepius and others were slain by being struck with a thunderbolt for having raised the dead back to life.

Orphic Fragment 41 - This fragment states that, according to the Orphics, Hecate is born from Demeter.

Orphic Fragment 42 - In this fragment, Callimachus of Alexandria says that Hecate is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter.

Orphic Fragment 43 - In this fragment, Orpheus says that Persephone, in the famous stories of her abduction, was seized from the districts around Oceanus.

Orphic Fragment 44 - In this fragment, Orpheus states that calamint was once a great plant which bore fruit (but Demeter hated it and made it barren).

Orphic Fragment 45 - This fragment states that according to Orphic literature, Sinope was born from Ares and Aegina.

Orphic Fragment 46 - In this fragment, according to Orphic literature, it is said that the children of Hecuba are called piglets and are addressed by the name “Hecabae.”

2. Carmina de raptu et reditu Proserpinae (frr. 47-53)

SONGS OF THE ABDUCTION AND RETURN OF PÆRSÆPHÓNÎ - These fragments, for the most part, speak of the search by Demeter for her daughter Persephone.

I. Carmen Siculum servatum in lamella aurea

II. Κάθοδος <τῆς Κόρης?> 1 (The Descent of Kórî - frr. 48-49)

Orphic Fragment 47 - This consists of a fragmentary hymn to various deities...Zeus, the Sun, and the Mother...reconstructed from a golden tablet.

Orphic Fragment 48 - The agricultural role of Demeter.

Orphic Fragment 49 - This fragment comes from an ancient papyrus (Berlin Papyrus Berolinensis [13044 V]) which tells the story of the abduction of Persephone.

III. [Κάθοδος τῆς Κόρης 2] (frr. 50-53)

Orphic Fragment 50 - The abduction of Persephone.

Orphic Fragment 51 - Knowledge of the sowing of seed was given to the sons of Dysaules as a reward for their having given to Demeter information about her daughter.

Orphic Fragment 52 - Fragment 52 consists of several quotations related to Baubo lifting her robes and exposing her private parts to the Goddess Demeter to make her laugh, the first fragment stating that the infant Iacchus was under her robes.

Orphic Fragment 53 - Fragment 53 briefly mentions Baubo as appearing in the Orphica, represented in a rather strange story.

3. Hieronymi et Hellanici theogonia (frr. 54-59)

Orphic Fragment 54 - Fragment 54 is a summary of a theogony by Hieronymus of Rhodes, or perhaps Hellanicus, as outlined by Damascius in his work on first principles (ἀπορίαι καὶ λύσεις περὶ τῶν πρώτων ἀρχῶν). The primal nature of Earth and Water is clearly stated in this text.

Orphic Fragment 55 - Fragment 55 is the beginning of an exposition by Apion (the Hellenized Egyptian grammarian?) found in the work known as Homilies by pseudo-Clement of Rome in which Apion discusses the primordial state of the universe as described by Orpheus. Also, for comparison, is a passage on the same subject from a Latin translation of Recognitiones (pseudo-Clement) by Tyrannius Rufinus.

Orphic Fragment 56 - Fragment 56 is the conclusion of the exposition by Apion (the Hellenized Egyptian grammarian?) begun in Fragment 55. Also, for comparison, is a passage on the same subject from a Latin translation of Recognitiones (pseudo-Clement) by Tyrannius Rufinus.

Orphic Fragment 57 - 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.

Orphic Fragment 58 - Fragment 58 says that the Gods were created and owed their nature to Water. Phanes was the First-Born (Protogonus), and that he was produced from the Egg and had the shape of a dragon, and that Zefs swallowed him. Heracles also had the form of a dragon. It discusses the rise of the Six Kings (mostly following Hesiod). Zeus united with Rhea who became a she-dragon to escape him, then Zeus, also becoming a dragon, united with her, producing Persephone. Zeus, again in the form of a dragon, united with Persephone who thereby gave birth to Dionysus.

Orphic Fragment 59 - Fragment 59 says that Zeus begat children by Rhea, by his daughter Core (Persephone), and that he took his own sister Hera as his wife.

4. Ἱεροὶ λόγοι ἐν ῥαψωιδίαις κδ' (frr. 60-235) INTRODUCTION

Orphic Fragment 60 - Fragment 60 is a Neoplatonic explanation of first principles derived from the epic Orphic poem Sacred Logos in 24 Rhapsodies. These first principles being Time, followed by Aether and Chaos. Next there is a discussion of the Egg from which Phanes leaps forth; Phanes, Ericapaeus, and Metis are united as a triad, implying that the Rhapsodies give these as names of the same God.

Orphic Fragment 61 - Fragment 61 states that Orpheus calls Phanes the “son of the God,” and that Dionysus is addressed as Phanes and "son of God," and, directly quoting the Fourth Rhapsody, he urges Mousaios to remember these things as they are ancient and from Phanes.

Orphic Fragment 62 - In fragment 62, Orpheus claimed that he did not invent his stories, but, rather, that he learned these things by petitioning Apollo himself.

Orphic Fragment 63 - Fragment 63 states that the Giants were born from Earth (Gaia) and the blood of Uranus, this from the The Sacred Logos in 24 Rhapsodies by Orpheus.

Orphic Fragment 64 - Fragment 64 says the Orpheus conceived of many Gods in the interval between Time and first-born Phanes.

Orphic Fragment 65 - Fragment 65 states, according to John Malalas (491-578 CE) the Syrian chronicler from Antioch, that Orpheus outlined the following sequence: the Incomprehensible One, Time, Aether, and Chaos. Under the Aether is everything; this everything is the possession of and is concealed by Nyx (Night). Earth was in this darkness, but the light of the Incomprehensible One broke through the Aether and illuminated everything. This Incomprehensible One is three-fold: Metis (Counselor), Phanes (Light), and Ericapaeus (Giver-of-Life). These three are one power of one God, who is the source of all creation.

Orphic Fragment 66 - Time gave birth to Aether causing a vast chasm to open.

Orphic Fragment 67 - Three brief phrases, all having in common the word ὁμίχλην, "mist."

Orphic Fragment 68 - Orpheus calls Chronos (Time, Χρόνος) the first cause of all things.

Orphic Fragment 69 - It can be gleaned from the Orphic stories that the world is a God.

Orphic Fragment 70 - Orphic fragment 70 states that Time begot an Egg in the Aether.

Orphic Fragment 71 - The Egg (from which Phanes emerged) moved in an untiring circle.

Orphic Fragment 72 - At the birth of Phanes, the Chasm and the Aether were torn apart.

Orphic Fragment 73 - Phanes, the son of Aether, is identical with Protogonus (the Firstborn) and Phaethon.

Orphic Fragment 74 - Phanes is called the very beautiful son of Aether and pretty (ἁβρὸς) Eros.

Orphic Fragment 75 - Phanes was the first visible thing in the Aether.

Orphic Fragment 76 - Phanes has four eyes which look everywhere.

Orphic Fragment 77 - The Dionysian deity (Phanes) is a tetrad with four eyes and four horns.

Orphic Fragment 78 - Phanes has golden wings, which flutter this way and that.

Orphic Fragment 79 - Phanes has the heads of animals: a ram, a bull, a serpent, and a lion.

Orphic Fragment 80 - In the Orphic verses, there are the names Phanes, and also Ericepaeus, who swallowed all the Gods, but it was different than when Cronus swallowed his sons.

Orphic Fragment 81 - This set of fragments state that Ericepaeus (and thus also Phanes) is both female and male.

Orphic Fragment 82 - In the heart of Phanes is sightless (ἀνόμματος) Eros.

Orphic Fragment 83 - Orpheus calls Eros both a great daemon and Metis.

Orphic Fragment 84 - This fragment says that the theologian of the Greeks (Orpheus) sees Phanes on the highest peak, speaking of a portentous storm.

Orphic Fragment 85 - In this group of fragments, Metis is identified with Phanes.

Orphic Fragment 86 - Phanes could be seen by Nyx alone, but the splendor shining forth from his gleaming body could be observed by the other Gods.

Orphic Fragment 87 - This is the Orphic hymn to Protogonus in which he is called egg-born, Phanes, Priapus, Antauges, and various epithets.

Orphic Fragment 88 - According to these fragments, Orpheus says that God made the heavens and earth.

Orphic Fragment 89 - Phanes is the Father of the Gods, for whom he has built an imperishable home.

Orphic Fragment 90 - This fragment consists of two quotations which discuss the region above the heavens (the supercelestial).

Orphic Fragment 91 - This group of fragments discusses the moon.

Orphic Fragment 92 - This fragment consists of four quotations regarding the sun and the moon.

Orphic Fragment 93 - This fragment says that Orpheus calls the moon “aithirial earth.”

Orphic Fragment 94 - The Demiurge gave men a place apart from the Gods which had a moderate temperature.

Orphic Fragment 95 - The works of nature are glorious and boundless.

Orphic Fragment 96 - The Sun rules over all and that Phánîs (Φάνης) is the creator (δηµιουργὸς).

Orphic Fragment 97 - In the cave (of Nyx) the Father (Phánîs) made (all things).

Orphic Fragment 98 - This group of fragments states that the first generation of mothers advance from only a father (Phanes).

Orphic Fragment 99 - These fragments state that there are three Nights (Νύκτες): Justice (Δικαιοσύνη), Moderation (Σωφροσύνη), and Knowledge (Ἐπιστήμη).

Orphic Fragment 100 - These fragments speak of Night and the stars.

Orphic Fragment 101 - Nyx receives the scepter from Phánîs.

Orphic Fragment 102 - This fragment states that Nyx holds the scepter of Ericepaeus.

Orphic Fragment 103 - Phanes gave Nyx oracular ability which carries the truth.

Orphic Fragment 104 - This fragment states that while the theogony of Orpheus begins with Phanes and Nyx, Plato begins with Uranus and Ge.

Orphic Fragment 105 - This consists of two fragments stating that beautiful Ida is the sister of Adrasteia, and that Adrasteia holds in her hands a tambourine.

Orphic Fragment 106 - This fragment states that Night is the nurse of the Gods.

Orphic Fragment 107 - Fragment 107 consists of several quotations mostly dealing with the reigns of the Six Kings.

Orphic Fragment 108 - This group of fragments talks of Phanes-Ericepaeus, who ruled before Nyx.

Orphic Fragment 109 - This set of fragments discusses the earlier generations of Gods. The first two of the generation of Uranus and Gaia. The third how Phanes makes all things visible with his light. The fourth fragment discusses the functions of primordial deities such as Oceanus and Tethys, but also the functions of the Six Kings and their consorts. The fifth fragment syncretizes similar Egyptian mythology of generation.

Orphic Fragment 110 - This fragment discusses the application of the names of the Gods by the Orphic theologians.

Orphic Fragment 111 - According to this fragment, Uranus reigned next after Nyx.

Orphic Fragment 112 - These two fragments discuss marriage between Gods.

Orphic Fragment 113 - This group of fragments discuss the etymology of Uranus.

Orphic Fragment 114 - This set of fragments begins with one stating that Earth, unknown to Uranus, gave birth to the Seven Pairs of Titans.

Orphic Fragment 115 - These fragments are all about Oceanus.

Orphic Fragment 116 - According to this fragment, Oceanus is the cause of all motion.

Orphic Fragment 117 - This fragment includes a discussion of certain sea-Gods, and it also establishes that Cronus is higher in rank than Oceanus, as, similarly, Rhea is above Tethys.

Orphic Fragment 118 - These two fragments discuss the God Thávmas (Θαύμας).

Orphic Fragment 119 - This fragment speaks of the character of the Titans.

Orphic Fragment 120 - This fragment comments on the ascension of the Olympic over the Titanic Gods.

Orphic Fragment 121 - Uranus hurls the Cyclopes and the Hundred-Handers deep into the earth.

Orphic Fragment 122 - This group of fragments is concerned with the meaning of the expression “hurling down to Tartarus.”

Orphic Fragment 123 - This fragment discusses three rivers of the underworld and Oceanus.

Orphic Fragment 124 - This fragment gives the opinions of Numenius, Pythagoras, Plato, Hesiod, Orpheus, and Pherecydes regarding the source of the birth of souls.

Orphic Fragment 125 - This fragment identifies the four rivers of the Underworld with the four classical elements.

Orphic Fragment 126 - This fragment discusses the relationship between Anange and the Moirai.

Orphic Fragment 127 - The birth of Pandemus Aphrodite from the foam produced when the members of Uranus were cast into the sea.

Orphic Fragment 128 - Plato, in agreement with the Orphic theogonies, calls Uranus the father of Cronus, and Cronus the father of Zeus.

Orphic Fragment 129 - Out of all the Titans, Cronus was nurtured by Nyx.

Orphic Fragment 130 - In this fragment, Orpheus says that the beard of Cronus is always black.

Orphic Fragment 131 - This fragment speculates that Orpheus saw Cronus as mind and Nyx as the first substance and nurse of all things.

Orphic Fragment 132 - These fragments all mention the bosoms of Rhea and her role in creation. The second quotation states that Hera is equal in rank with Zeus.

Orphic Fragment 133 - This fragment says by means of Rhea, generation extends to the plants and fruits.

Orphic Fragment 134 - This fragment speaks of the importance of Rhea.

Orphic Fragment 135 - This fragment describes how Oceanus decides against helping his brothers in their plot to castrate their father Uranus.

Orphic Fragment 136 - This fragment states the opinion of Orpheus concerning the role of Cronus.

Orphic Fragment 137 - Three quotations regarding the castration of Uranus by Cronus.

Orphic Fragment 138 - This fragment says that Cronus overpowered his father and that his destiny would be to have the same fate from his own children.

Orphic Fragment 139 - This fragment states that Cronus first ruled men on earth and from him, Zeus came forth.

Orphic Fragment 140 - This fragment discusses the three ages of humans, according to Orpheus.

Orphic Fragment 141 - In this fragment, Orpheus says that Kronos reigns over the silver race.

Orphic Fragment 142 - This fragment states that Orpheus said that the hairs on the face of Cronus are always black.

Orphic Fragment 143 - This fragment says that according to Orpheus and Hesiod, Prometheus draws the soul into generation.

Orphic Fragment 144 - According to this fragment, Themis remained a virgin until Rhea begot a child with Cronus out of love.

Orphic Fragment 145 - This consists of several fragments which say that when Rhea gave birth to Zeus, she became Demeter.

Orphic Fragment 146 - This fragment says that Cronus swallows his own children.

Orphic Fragment 147 - This fragment says that Rhea deceived Cronus with a stone wrapped in swaddling cloth, as told by Hesiod, but plagiarized from Orpheus.

Orphic Fragment 148 - This fragment states that Cronus, having eaten the food which tricked him, fell asleep and snored loudly.

Orphic Fragment 149 - This fragment states that Cronus had fallen asleep (in the oaken woods).

Orphic Fragment 150 - This fragment states that Rhea, by herself, generates the Curetes.

Orphic Fragment 151 - This fragment consists of several quotations about the Curetes, including one which speaks of their relationship to Athena.

Orphic Fragment 152 - In this fragment, Orpheus says that Adrasteia received brazen drumsticks and a goat-skin drum.

Orphic Fragment 153 - This fragment consists of a string of what are described as violations by Gods, using a literal translation of the mythology. It appears that the author does not know his mythology, for instance, he says that Apollo violated his own sister Artemis.

Orphic Fragment 154 - In this fragment, Nyx tells Zeus that when Cronus is drunk with honey in the oaken wood, that he should then bind him.

Orphic Fragment 155 - Fragment 155 consists of five quotations about Cronus, all of which quote a prayer from Zeus to his father to “raise up our generation.”

Orphic Fragment 156 - In this fragment, Zeus is exhorted to bring purification from Crete.

Orphic Fragment 157 - These quotations state that Zeus possesses a scepter consisting of “four and twenty measures.”

Orphic Fragment 158 - This fragment consists of several quotations stating that Justice sits firmly at the side of Zeus.

Orphic Fragment 159 - These two fragments state that Justice is generated by Law and Piety.

Orphic Fragment 160 - These fragments state that Justice is the companion of Zeus.

Orphic Fragment 161 - These fragments discuss the roles of Hera and Hestia.

Orphic Fragment 162 - According to this fragment, the Demiurgus, together with Necessity, generates Destiny (Εἱμαρμένη).

Orphic Fragment 163 - This group of fragments discuss the marriage of Gods and the equality of Hera and Zeus.

Orphic Fragment 164 - This group of fragments discusses the involvement of Nyx (who Orpheus calls Maia) assisting Zeus in the fabrication of the universe.

Orphic Fragment 165 - In this fragment, Nyx instructs Zeus to envelop all things in the aether.

Orphic Fragment 166 - In this fragment, Nyx advises Zeus to surround everything with a strong bond, fitting a golden chain from the aether.

Orphic Fragment 167 - These fragments say that Zeus swallowed Phanes, thereby using his power, and then all things that existed were drawn into his belly.

Orphic Fragment 168 - This fragment includes as the main quotation, the great Orphic hymn to Zeus, wherein it is stated that he is the mind of the world, and created everything therein, and contains the world within himself. Additionally, there are many other related quotations.

Orphic Fragment 169 - This fragment presents a quotation from an oracle found in Syrianus which glorifies Zeus and contains segments of the Great Orphic Hymn to Zeus (fragment 168).

Orphic Fragment 170 - The first fragment states that both Dionysos and Zeus pre-existed their commonly known manifestations, and the second fragment, that Zeus and Eros are united to each other.

Orphic Fragment 171 - This fragment comes from a Christian author, attacking our religion by interpreting the mythology literally, but saying that the first causes are Oceanus and Tethys and Phanes, and that Cronus devoured his children.

Orphic Fragment 172 - According to this fragment, Orpheus, in a certain respect, considers the Sun to be the same as Apollo.

Orphic Fragment 173 - According to this fragment, the myth of Apollo and Marsyas was invented by musicians.

Orphic Fragment 174 - This fragment states that Athena was born from the head of Zeus “with shining armor like a brazen flower.”

Orphic Fragment 175 - According to these two fragments, Athena is called by the name Virtue, both in the Orphic and Chaldean theologies.

Orphic Fragment 176 - This fragment states that Athena will accomplish mighty works.

Orphic Fragment 177 - According to this fragment, Athena is the realization of the mind of Zeus.

Orphic Fragment 178 - This fragment consists of several quotations, primarily about Athena and her weaving.

Orphic Fragment 179 - According to these fragments, the Cyclopes gave thunder to Zeus, and made him the thunderbolt, and they taught Hephaestus and Athena all the crafts.

Orphic Fragment 180 - Several fragments concerning the relationship of various Gods and the arts, especially Hephaestus and brass, and how he is a kozmic artisan who is involved in the creation of the heavens.

Orphic Fragment 181 - This group of fragments discuss the roles of:

the Graces (or Charities), daughters of Zeus and Eurynome (Aglaia, Thalia, and Euphrosyne);

and the Horae (the Seasons), daughters of Zeus and Themis (Eunomia, Dike, and Eirene).

Orphic Fragment 182 - This fragment states that, together with Aphrodite, Hephaestus forges everything, and together with Aglaea, he fathered children, who beautify the material world.

Orphic Fragment 183 - This fragment explains the birth of the second Aphrodite, Pandemus, from Zeus and Dione.

Orphic Fragment 184 - This fragment states that the Demiurgus (Zeus) is also Metis and Eros.

Orphic Fragment 185 - In this fragment, Athena is the leader of the Couretes, according to Orpheus.

Orphic Fragment 186 - Orpheus states that even the very first of the Couretes were devoted to the division of Athena, and crowned with a branch of olive.

Orphic Fragment 187 - This fragment states that Persephone, who contains an Artemis, and thus herself not fettered with marriage, frees women from all the difficulties of childbirth.

Orphic Fragment 188 - This group of fragments states that Artemis is sometimes called Hecate, sometimes Kore, and sometimes Athena.

Orphic Fragment 189 - In this fragment, Demeter, with her attendants, prepared ambrosia, nectar, and honey (for the feast).

Orphic Fragment 190 - This fragment states that Core is only-begotten.

Orphic Fragment 191 - According to this fragment, the Corybantes guard Core on all sides.

Orphic Fragment 192 - The quotations in this fragment discuss the idea of mystical “weaving.”

Orphic Fragment 193 - According to this fragment, working the loom is an endless labor adorned with flowers.

Orphic Fragment 194 - In this fragment, Demeter says to Core that with Apollo she will bring forth splendid children with faces of burning fire.

Orphic Fragment 195 - This set of quotations explain the symbolism of the myths which tell of the ravishing of Persephone.

Orphic Fragment 196 - This fragment explains why Aphrodite is associated with autumn, and that the abduction of Core also occurred in this season.

Orphic Fragment 197 - This group of quotations discuss Persephone, how although she gives birth to the Eumenides and nine bright-eyed, flower-producing daughters, she remains a virgin.

Orphic Fragment 198 - The fragment discusses the relationship between Core and the following three deities: Zeus, Demeter, and Pluto.

Orphic Fragment 199 - These fragments say that Hipta (Hippa) is the soul of the universe, or the head of the soul; she dwells on Mount Tmolus with Sabazios (Ζεύς).

Orphic Fragment 200 - This fragment gives several names for Artemis: Ploutona, Euphrosyne, and Bendis, as told by Orpheus.

Orphic Fragment 201 - These fragments talk of Attis and Adonis.

Orphic Fragment 202 - According to this fragment, theologists refer to two types of health, one to Asclepius, being beyond the ordinary course of nature, and the other prior to this God which is produced from Persuasion and Eros.

Orphic Fragment 203 - This fragment discusses the different causes of memory.

Orphic Fragment 204 - In these two fragments, Fortune (Τύχη) is spoken of by Orpheus, and is identified as Artemis, Selene, and as Hecate.

Orphic Fragment 205 - In this quotation, Orpheus calls Dionysos a younger (νέος) God to whom the Demiurge gave power over the reincarnation of the mortals.

Orphic Fragment 206 - According to this fragment from Clement of Alexandria, Homer "stole" from Orpheus.

Orphic Fragment 207 - In these fragments, Orpheus calls both Zeus and Dionysus young Gods.

Orphic Fragment 208 - In this fragment, Zeus gives Dionysus to the Gods as their king.

Orphic Fragment 209 - This group of fragments talk about the mirror, Dionysos, and his lamentations.

Orphic Fragment 210 - Many fragments concerning the dismemberment of Dionysus by the Titans and the saving of his still-beating heart by Athena.

Orphic Fragment 211 - These three fragments discuss the role of Apollo during and after the dismembering of Dionysus.

Orphic Fragment 212 - This fragment says that there are associations between the Sun and Dionysus, through the moderation of Apollo.

Orphic Fragment 213 - This consists of two quotations. The first fragment, from a Latin author of late antiquity, says that Dionysus was torn apart by the Giants. The second fragment states that the disciples of Orpheus call Dionysus the soul of the world.

Orphic Fragment 214 - According to the first fragment, the Titans struck down Dionysus, but Zeus raised him up again and punished the Titans. The second quotation is a euhemeric telling of the story of Zagreus and the Titans.

Orphic Fragment 215 - These fragments discuss the role of Atlas after the dismemberment of Dionysus.

Orphic Fragment 216 - These fragments use the word Wine to name Dionysus.

Orphic Fragment 217 - This fragment states that Orpheus knew of the Crater of Dionysus.

Orphic Fragment 218 - These fragments say that Bacchus completes the works of his father.

Orphic Fragment 219 - This fragment states that water is the Bedu (βέδυ) of the Nymphs.

Orphic Fragment 220 - This fragment states that after the Titans tore apart Dionysus, they were thunderblasted by Zeus, and from the vapor rising up, soot came down, from which man was created. Thus, Dionysus is part of us, because the soot consists not only of the bodies of the Titans, but also of Dionysus, for the Titans had eaten of his flesh.

Orphic Fragment 221 - This fragment states that in the Phaedo, Plato reveals secrets of the Mysteries, of the symbolic language in the mythology, of Dionysus and the Titans, and other cryptic things.

Orphic Fragment 222 - According to this fragment, those who lead pure lives will be rewarded after death, while the unjust are led to Tártaros. The text also states that Orphic wisdom, including the teaching on rebirth, has been transferred altogether to the Platonic teaching.

Orphic Fragment 223 - This fragment states that the souls of the animals fly about in the air after death, awaiting rebirth, while the souls of man are taken to Hades by Hermes.

Orphic Fragment 224 - These fragments talk of reincarnation. In the citation from Olympiodorus, the author states that “everywhere Plato imitates Orpheus.”

Orphic Fragment 225 - This fragment is just a tiny phrase talking about the longevity of an unnamed being.

Orphic Fragment 226 - The relationship between earth, water, and soul.

Orphic Fragment 227 - The fragment is difficult to interpret (although the grammarian Dionysius Thrax here gives his interpretation), but perhaps is saying that all the souls have multiple fates as they revolve about in the race (δρόμος) of lives.

Orphic Fragment 228 - This fragment consists of four Orphic phrases, all about the soul of man, which is immortal and comes from Zeus.

Orphic Fragment 229 - This fragment proclaims the possibility of the end of the circle of rebirths and freedom from misery.

Orphic Fragment 230 - This fragment proclaims that Zeus has ordained the end of the circle of births and relief from misery to the souls of humans.

Orphic Fragment 231 - According to this fragment, Orpheus taught that three hundred years was the perfect or complete period of time for the purification of human souls between lives.

Orphic Fragment 232 - Men will make great offerings seeking freedom, for Diónysos has great power and is willing to free us from suffering and madness.

Orphic Fragment 233 - This quotation is a summary of the teachings of Orpheus as understood by the Christian chronicler John Malalas (Ἰωάννης Μαλάλας, 491-578 CE).

Orphic Fragment 234 - This fragment, taken out of context by Clement of Alexandria, criticizes bad women.

Orphic Fragment 235 - This fragment quotes the famous saying that many carry the thyrsus of Dionysus, but few are intoxicated with him.

5. Βακχικά (frr. 236-244) INTRODUCTION

Orphic Fragment 236 - In this fragment, the Sun, whirling through the heavens, is equated with Zeus-Dionysus, and is called the father of everything.

Orphic Fragment 237 - In this fragment, Dionysus is called Phanes, Eubouleus, Antauges, and by many other names. In a second fragment, Dionysus is identified with the Sun.

Orphic Fragment 238 - This fragment is a poetic instruction-manual as to how to deck out the statue of Dionysus (or perhaps an initiate) like the Sun.

Orphic Fragment 239 - This fragment basically consists of two quotations, one which calls Dionysus the Sun, the other reads: “one Zeus, one Hades, on Sun, one Dionysus.”

Orphic Fragment 240 - This fragment states that the Orphics suspect that by the phrase “the mind of matter” is meant none other than Dionysus, who being born undivided, is divided and returns whole.

Orphic Fragment 241 - This fragment talks of the creation of souls, that they are dragged into matter in a state of intoxication, which causes forgetfulness.

Orphic Fragment 242 - This fragment seems to say that Apollo has prudence and wise counsel.

Orphic Fragment 243 - This fragment states that Orpheus teaches the ceremonies of initiation and the Mysteries, and that prior to the Mysteries of Eleusis, these Orphic orgies were celebrated in Phlium (Φλύα?) of Attica.

Orphic Fragment 244 - This fragment describes the myth of Icarius and Erigone and the swinging faces.

6. Διαθῆκαι (fragments 245-248) INTRODUCTION

I. Redaction of Pseudo-Justin Martyr

Orphic Fragment 245 - This fragment consists of a number of spurious quotations, mostly from by Christian authors, who try to convince their readers that Orpheus retracted his beliefs.

II. Redaction of Clement (Pseudo-Hecataeus?)

Orphic Fragment 246 - This fragment is mostly from the Christian Church father Clement of Alexandria in which he quotes from what is called the Testament of Orpheus, a Jewish-Egyptian revision of an Orphic poem in which he is said to deny polytheism in favor of monotheism.

Orphic Fragment 247 - This fragment concerns mostly the redaction of Aristobulus, a poem attributed to Orpheus by Jews and Christians in which the great teacher is made to retract his belief in multiple Gods.

Orphic Fragment 248 - The main quotation in this fragment comes from the Christian, Clement of Alexandria, who tries to compare verses from an Orphic poem to verses from the Jewish Bible, implying that they were stolen therefrom.

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.

SPELLING: uses the Reuchlinian method of pronouncing ancient Greek, the system preferred by scholars from Greece itself. An approach was developed to enable the student to easily approximate the Greek words. Consequently, the way we spell words is unique, as this method of transliteration is exclusive to this website. For more information, visit these three pages:

Pronunciation of Ancient Greek

Transliteration of Ancient Greek

Pronouncing the Names of the Gods in Hellenismos

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