Nightwanderers mages bacchants Lenaeans For whom does Heraclitus of Ephesus and mysteryinitiatesmake this prophecy Nightwanderers

[nuktipoloi], mages, bacchants, Lenaeans [lenai], mystery-initiates": for these he makes threats about what they will suffer after death, for these he prophesies fire. "For they are initiated into men's customary mysteries in unhallowed fashion."

An EARLY and IMPORTANT but ENIGMATIC reference to mages, if genuinely Heraclitan. I assume here that it is. The tone appears to be hostile. The three terms "bacchants, Lenaeans, mystery-initiates" are most easily taken as referring to initiates into Orphic mysteries, in which a key, if largely obscure, role was played by Dionysus, the god honored by bacchants and Lenaeans (see 87, 282). The association of mages with these terms suggests that they too were thought to undergo initiation and claim arcane knowledge. The term "Night-wanderers" (similarly applied to bacchants at Euripides Ion 718) can also be applied to ghosts (see 25) and may suggest involvement with them here.

Heraclitus DK 12b F14; F87 Marcovich; Clement of Alexandria Protrepticus 22


Sophocles Oedipus Tyrannus 380-403


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