THE ORPHIC FRAGMENTS

OF OTTO KERN

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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 the 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 was the convention of scholastic writings of that time. There is no existing translation of the book into English, except for a very 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, mostly of fragments found in translations of the early Church Fathers. Also, some fragments can be found in translations of commentaries by various Neoplatonic philosophers, mostly Próklos (Πρόκλος).

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 known as Ællinismόs (Hellenismos, Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion. 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 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.

The aspiration of this project is to make English translations available of as many of the fragments as 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 this ancient language text has not appeared online before, 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.

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 some instances, this may actually be the case, but the reader must assess each quotation using one's own knowledge and understanding. The commentary found in Christian writings must be particularly scrutinized, since most of these writers were opposed to the ancient religion.

The 'fragments' are sometimes literally that...fragments, phrases or sentences quoted verbatim, word for word, from some ancient text. But sometimes an author will not quote verbatim, but will summarize, saying something like, "Orpheus says that..." These factors must be kept in perspective when evaluating the various fragments.

[1] Here follows books this author is aware of related to Kern's Orphicorum fragmenta:

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 are many additional fragments.

[2] pp. 137-142.


Orphicorum Fragmenta: This is a download of all the fragments as collected by Professor Otto Kern. They are not translated but found in their original languages. This download consists of 415 pages of a photographed book; it may take some time to appear in your browser and it is not practical to navigate the file online, better to just download it:

Kern Orphicorum fragmenta


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

Please note: The translators are noted on the pages. When you see "trans. by the author," the author is James R. Van Kollenburg.


PARS POSTERIOR FRAGMENTA ORPHICORUM:

1. Fragmenta veteriora (frr. 1-46)

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

Orphic Fragment 245


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: HellenicGods.org 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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