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] There is the 3-volume ΟΡΦΙΚΑ ΚΕΙΜΕΝΑ (ΠΥΡΙΝΟΣ ΚΟΣΜΟΣ, ΑΘΗΝΑ, 1999, 2005, και 2007) "Orphic Texts," which includes all 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 more 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).

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.


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)

Preface to the fragments found in 4. ΙΕΡΟΙ ΛΟΓΟΙ EN ΡΑΨΩΙΔΙΑΙΣ ΚΛ': Link to the Preface (This preface itself preserves many fragments).

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 - Ouranós (Οὐρανός) reigned next after Nyx.

Orphic Fragment 112 - This is a discussion of marriage between Gods.

Orphic Fragment 113 - This fragment consists of several quotations discussing the etymology of Οὐρανὸς.

Orphic Fragment 114 - Yî (Γῆ), unknown to Ouranós (Οὐρανός), gave birth to the Seven Pairs of Titánæs (Τιτᾶνες).

Orphic Fragment 115 - These fragments are all about Ôkæanós (Ὠκεανός).

Orphic Fragment 116 - According to this fragment, Ôkæanós (Ὠκεανός) is the cause of all motion.

Orphic Fragment 117 - This fragment includes a discussion of certain sea-Gods, and it also establishes that Krónos (Κρόνος) is higher in rank than Okæanós (Ὠκεανός), as, similarly, Rǽa (Ῥέα) is above Tîthýs (Τηθύς).

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 - Ouranós (Οὐρανὸς) hurls them deep into the earth.

Orphic Fragment 122 - This group of fragments concerns the meaning of “hurling down to Tártaros” (Τáρταρος).

Orphic Fragment 123 - This fragment discusses three rivers of the underworld and Ôkæanós (Ὠκεανός).

Orphic Fragment 124 - This fragment gives the opinions of Noumínios (Νουμήνιος), Pythagóras, Plátôn, Isíodos (Ἡσίοδος), Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς), and Phærækýdîs (Φερεκύδης) 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 Pándîmos Aphrodítî (Πάνδημος Ἀφροδίτη) from the foam produced when the members of Ouranós (Οὐρανὸς) were cast into the sea.

Orphic Fragment 128 - Plátôn (Πλάτων), in agreement with the Orphic theogonies, calls Krónos (Κρόνος) the father of Zefs (Ζεὺς), and Ouranós (Οὐρανός) the father of Krónos.

Orphic Fragment 129 - Krónos (Κρόνος), out of them all (the Titans?), was nurtured by Nyx.

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

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

Orphic Fragment 132 - There are three quotations, all of which mention the bosoms of Rǽa (Ῥέα) and her role in creation. The second quotation states that Íra (Hera, Ἥρα) is equal in rank with Zefs (Ζεύς).

Orphic Fragment 133 - This fragment says by means of Rǽa (Ῥέα), generation extends to the plants and fruits.

Orphic Fragment 134 - The importance of Rǽa (Ῥέα).

Orphic Fragment 135 - Ôkæanós (Ὠκεανὸς) decides against helping his brothers in their plot to castrate their father Ouranós (Οὐρανός).

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

Orphic Fragment 137 - Three quotations regarding the castration by Krónos of Ouranós.

Orphic Fragment 139 - Krónos (Κρόνος) first ruled men on earth and then from he, sprang forth Zefs (Ζεύς).

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 - During the Age of Krónos (Κρόνος) men were immortal with a youthful countenance.

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

Orphic Fragment 144 - According to this quotation, Themis is at the creation of the universe from its inception and is the cause of the demiurgic laws. She remained a virgin until Rhea begot a child with Krónos, after which she produces the Horae with Zeus.

Orphic Fragment 145 - When Rǽa (Ῥέα) gave birth to Zefs (Ζεὺς), she became Dîmítîr (Δημήτηρ).

Orphic Fragment 147 - Rǽa (Ῥέα) deceived Krónos (Κρόνος) with a stone wrapped in swaddling cloth.

Orphic Fragment 148 - Kronos, having eaten the cunning food, fell asleep and snored loudly.

Orphic Fragment 149 - That Krónos (Κρόνος) had fallen asleep (in the oaken woods?).

Orphic Fragment 150 - Rǽa (Ῥέα) by herself generated the Kourítæs (Κουρῆτες).

Orphic Fragment 151 - This fragment consists of several quotations about the Kourîtæs (Κούρητες), including one which shows their relationship to Athîná (Ἀθηνᾶ).

Orphic Fragment 152 - Adrásteia (Ἀμάλθεια) received copper 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 must be stated that even seeing these stories in such a way, it appears that the author does not know his mythology, i.e. the story of Apóllôn (Ἀπόλλων) violating Ártæmis (Ἄρτεμις).

Orphic Fragment 154 - Nyx tells Zefs (Ζεύς) that when Krónos (Κρόνος) is drunk with honey in the oaken woods, to bind him.

Orphic Fragment 155 - This fragment consists of four quotations describing the glorious qualities of Krónos (Κρόνος)

Orphic Fragment 156 - Zefs (Ζεὺς) is exhorted to bring purification from Krítî (Κρήτη).

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

Orphic Fragment 158 - This fragment consists of several quotations stating that Justice (Δίκη) sits firmly at the side of Zefs (Ζεύς).

Orphic Fragment 159 - Justice is produced by Law and Piety.

Orphic Fragment 162 - The Demiourgós (Δημιουργός) was reared by Adrásteia (Ἀδράστεια), but having intercourse with Necessity (Ἀνάγκη), gives birth to Destiny (Εἱμαρμένη).

Orphic Fragment 163 - Discussion of the marriage of Gods and the equality of Íra (Ἥρα) and Zefs (Ζεὺς).

Orphic Fragment 164 - The involvement of Night (Νύξ) in assisting Zefs (Ζεύς) in the fabrication of the universe.

Orphic Fragment 165 - All things...the earth, the heavens, the sea, the stars...embraced in the aithír (αἰθήρ) of Zefs (Ζεύς).

Orphic Fragment 166 - Nyx (Νύξ) advises Zefs (Ζεύς) to surround everything with a strong bond, fitting a golden chain from the aithír (αἰθήρ)

Orphic Fragment 167 - In the belly of Zefs (Ζεύς) were all things.

Orphic Fragment 168 - This fragment includes the great Orphic hymn to Zefs (Ζεὺς), wherein it is stated that he is the mind of the world, and created everything therein, and contains the world within himself. There are also many other fragments, all about glorious Zefs.

Orphic Fragment 170 - Both Diónysos (Διόνυσος) and Zefs (Ζεὺς) antecedently existed.

Orphic Fragment 171 - The first causes being Ôkæanós (Ὠκεανός) and Tîthýs (Τηθύς) and Phánîs (Φάνης), and that Krónos (Κρόνος) devoured his children.

Orphic Fragment 172 - Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς), in a certain respect, considers the sun to be the same as Apóllôn (Ἀπόλλων).

Orphic Fragment 174 - (That Athîná [Ἀθηνᾶ] was born from the head of Zefs [Ζεὺς]) with shining arms like a brass flower.

Orphic Fragment 175 - Athîná (Ἀθηνᾶ) is called by the name Virtue, both in the Orphic and Chaldean theologies.

Orphic Fragment 176 - That Athîná (Ἀθηνᾶ) will accomplish great works.

Orphic Fragment 177 - Athîná (Ἀθηνᾶ) is the realization of the will of Zefs (Ζεύς).

Orphic Fragment 178 - This fragment consists of three quotations, primarily about Athîná (Ἀθηνᾶ) and her weaving.

Orphic Fragment 179 - The Kýklôpæs (Κύκλωπες) gave to Zefs (Ζεὺς) thunder, and they made him the thunderbolt, and they taught Íphaistos (Ἥφαιστος) and Athiná (Ἀθηνᾶ) all the crafts.

Orphic Fragment 180 - Several fragments concerning the relationship of Íphaistos (Ἥφαιστος) and brass, and how he a kozmic artificer who is involved in the creation of the heavens.

Orphic Fragment 181 - The Kháritæs (Χάριτες, the Charities or Graces): Íphaistos (Ἥφαιστος) is joined with Aglaïa (Ἀγλαΐα); Tháleia (Θάλεια) causes the lives of the stars to flourish; Efphrosýnî (Εὐφροσύνη) grants to all of them energy. The Órai (Ὧραι, the Seasons), Evnomía (Εὐνομία) preserves the stars in their proper order; Díkî (Δίκη) has governance over the planetary region; Eirínî (Εἰρήνη) has dominion over the sublunary region.

Orphic Fragment 182 - Together with Aphrodítî (Ἀφροδίτη), Íphaistos (Ἥφαιστος) forged everything. Together with Agläía (Ἀγλαΐα), Íphaistos fathered Éfkleia (Εὔκλεια), Efthînía (Ευθηνία), Efphímî (Εὐφήμη), and Philophrosýnî (Φιλοφροσύνη), who beautified the material world.

Orphic Fragment 183 - Zefs (Ζεύς) was full of desire for Dióhnî (Διώνη), and his seed flew into the sea. From his seed, foam arose, which, in the Spring, gave birth to Pándîmos Aphrodítî (Πάνδημος Ἀφροδίτη).

Orphic Fragment 184 - The Dîmiourgós (Δημιουργός) is Mítis (Μῆτις) and Ǽrôs (Ἔρως).

Orphic Fragment 185 - Athîná, according to Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς), is the leader of the Kourítæs (Κουρῆτες).

Orphic Fragment 186 - Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς) states that even the very first of the Kourîtæs (Κούρητες) were devoted to the division of Athîná (Ἀθηνᾶ).

Orphic Fragment 187 - Ártæmis (Ἄρτεμις), while herself not fettered with marriage, frees women from all the difficulties of childbirth.

Orphic Fragment 188 - That Ártæmis (Ἄρτεμις) is sometimes called Ækátî (Ἑκάτη) and sometimes Kórî (Κόρη)

Orphic Fragment 189 - Dîmítîr (Δημήτηρ), with her attendants, laid out amvrosía (ἀμβροσία), nectar, and honey (for the feast).

Orphic Fragment 190 - That Kórî (Κόρη) is only-begotten.

Orphic Fragment 191 - The Korývandæs (Κορύβαντες) guard Kórî (Κόρη) on all sides.

Orphic Fragment 192 - Kórî (Κόρη) is represented by Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς) as weaving type of web, and while weaving was a Nymph (virginal).

Orphic Fragment 193 - Working the (kozmic?) loom is an endless labor of embroidery.

Orphic Fragment 194 - Dîmítîr (Δημήτηρ) says to Kórî (Κόρη) that with Apóllôn (Ἀπόλλων) she will bring forth splendid children with faces of burning fire.

Orphic Fragment 195 - The ravishing of Pærsæphónî (Περσεφόνη).

Orphic Fragment 197 - Pærsæphónî (Περσεφόνη) bears nine bright-eye, flower-producing children.

Orphic Fragment 198 - (Próklos [Πρόκλος] is expounding the view of Plátôn [Πλάτων], which, he says, is in the manner of Orphéfs [Ὀρφεύς]; there is, however, considerable text before our quotation, therefore, making it difficult to tell if all of these views are in agreement with Orphéfs.) The text discusses the relationship between Kórî and the following three deities: Zefs (Ζεύς), Dîmítîr (Δημήτηρ), and Ploutôn (Πλούτων).

Orphic Fragment 199 - Ípta (Ἵπτα) is the soul of the universe, or the head of the soul; she dwells on Mount Tmólos (Τμῶλος) with Savázios (Σαβάζιος = Ζεύς).

Orphic Fragment 200 - The names of Sælínî (Σελήνη, the Moon)... Ploutônî (Πλουτώνη), Efphrosýne (Εὐφροσύνη), and the one which Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς) gives to Ártæmis (Ἄρτεμις): Vendís (Βενδῖς).

Orphic Fragment 201 - Áttis and Ádônis.

Orphic Fragment 202 - Theologists refer to two types of health, one to Asklîpiós (Ἀσκληπιός), being out of the ordinary course of nature, and the other prior to this God which is produced from Persuasion (Πειθώ) and Ǽrôs (Ἔρως).

Orphic Fragment 204 - Fortune (Τύχη) is spoken of by Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς); Fortune is identified as Ártæmis, Sælínî (Σελήνη) as Ækátî (Ἑκάτη).

Orphic Fragment 205 - Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς) calls Diónysos (Διόνυσος) a younger (νέος) God.

Orphic Fragment 206 - A brief Orphic quote: “As a man grows a shoot of olive...”

Orphic Fragment 207 - Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς) calls both Zefs (Ζεύς) and Diónysos (Διόνυσος) young (νέος) Gods.

Orphic Fragment 208 - Zefs (Ζεύς) makes Diónysos (Διόνυσος) the King of the Gods.

Orphic Fragment 209 - The mirror, Diónysos, and his lamentations.

Orphic Fragment 210 - Many fragments concerning the dismemberment of Diónysos by the Titans.

Orphic Fragment 211 - The role of Apóllôn (Ἀπόλλων) after the dismembering of Diónysos (Διόνυσος).

Orphic Fragment 212 - This fragment says that there is a partnership between Diónysos and Apóllôn (Ἀπόλλων).

Orphic Fragment 213 - This consists of two quotations from Latin texts. The first fragment claims that Diónysos was torn apart by the Giants, and that this is what Orphéfs said. The second fragment states that the disciples of Orphéfs call Diónysos the soul of the world.

Orphic Fragment 214 - The Titánæs (Τιτάνες) struck down Diónysos, but Zefs (Ζεὺς) raised him up again.

Orphic Fragment 215 - After the dismemberment of Diónysos, the (Orphic) theologists say that Átlas was established in the western regions, holding up the heavens.

Orphic Fragment 216 - This consists of several quotations giving Diónysos the name Wine, including the famous one in which Zefs (Ζεύς) commands that the limbs of Wine be brought to him.

Orphic Fragment 217 - Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς) knew of the mixing vessel (κρατήρ) of Diónysos.

Orphic Fragment 218 - All things were formed by Zefs (Ζεὺς), but completed by Vákkhos (Βάκχος).

Orphic Fragment 219 - Water (Ὕδωρ) is the Vǽdy (βέδυ) of the Nymphs.

Orphic Fragment 220 - Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς) taught the reigns of four kings: Ouranós, Krónos, Zefs (Ζεὺς), and Diónysos. After the Titans tore apart Diónysos, they were thunderblasted by Zefs, and from the vapor rising up, soot came down, and from this, man was created. The bodies of men are a part of Diónysos, because the soot consists not only of the bodies of the Titans, but also of Diónysos, for the Titans had tasted his flesh.

Orphic Fragment 221 - This fragment states that in the Phaidôn (Φαίδων), Plátôn (Πλάτων) reveals secrets of the Mysteries, of the mythology, which is symbolic language, of Diónysos and the Titánæs (Τιτάνες), and other cryptic things.

Orphic Fragment 222 - After death, those who lead holy lives will be rewarded 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 - The souls of the beasts fly about in the lower air after death (awaiting rebirth), while the souls of man are taken to Aidîs (Ἅιδης) by Ærmís (Ἑρµῆς).

Orphic Fragment 224 - These fragments talk of reincarnation: fathers and sons change into mothers and daughters; the soul of man was once a horse, a cow, a bird, a cow, and a snake.

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

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

Orphic Fragment 227 - The fragment is difficult to interpret, but seems to be saying that all the souls have multiple fates as they revolve about in the race (δρόμος) of lives.

Orphic Fragment 228 - The soul of man is from Zefs (Ζεύς) and is immortal, but the bodies are subject to death.

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

Orphic Fragment 230 - Zefs (Ζεὺς) has ordained the end of the circle of births and relief from misery to the souls of humans.

Orphic Fragment 231 - The teachings of Orphéfs (Ὀρφεὺς) are more efficient, even than those of Plátôn (Πλάτων), for the purification of human souls.

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 Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς) as understood by the Christian chronicler Iôánnîs Malálas (Ἰωάννης Μαλάλας, 491-578 CE).

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

Orphic Fragment 235 - This fragment states that many people may parade around as though they are with Diónysos, but very few of them are truly intoxicated with him. There is another quotation from Ἱστορίαι Ἡροδότου saying that the Orphic rites are actually Egyptian and Pythagorean, and that those initiated in such Mysteries are not to be buried in wool.

5. Βακχικά (frr. 236-244)

Orphic Fragment 236 - In this fragment, the Sun, whirling through the heavens, is equated with Zefs-Diónysos (Ζεὺς Διόνυσος), and is called the father of everything.

Orphic Fragment 237 - In this fragment, Diónysos is said to be called Phánîs (Φάνης), Evvouléfs (Εὐβουλεύς), Antavyís (Ἀνταυγής), and by many other names. In a second fragment, Diónysos is identified with the Sun.

Orphic Fragment 238 - This fragment is a poetic instruction manual as to how to deck out the statue of Diónysos like the Sun.

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Rhapsodic 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; Gr. 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; Gr. κιθάρα), the the lyre of Apóllohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus; Gr. 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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