Orpheus the and prophet

Strabo C333 F18


THE ROLE OF the ORPHIC INITIATOR, OR something akin to that of Plato's sorcerer amalgam, is projected backward in this rationalizing account of the life of the mythical Orpheus: the roles of Orphic—devotee, initiator, sorcerer, beggar-priest, and prophet are drawn together. In the famous version of Or-pheus's myth he descended to the underworld in order to retrieve his dead wife Eurydice from it but failed (Virgil Georgics 4.453-525; Ovid Metamorphoses 10.1-63). It is likely, however, that in the original version of his myth he was successful, and that the myth served as a paradigm for the Orphic ability to penetrate the mysteries of the underworld and reveal them in the world of the living, and to manipulate the souls of the dead.

initiator, sorcerer, beggar-priest, At the foot of Olympus lies the city of Dium.

The village of Pimpleia is its neighbor. There they say Orpheus the Ciconian lived. A sorcerer [goes], he first lived the life of a beggar priest [agurteuon] by means of music and divination [mantike] and the celebration the secret rites of mystery-initiation. Later on he began to think more highly of himself and acquired for himself a troop of disciples and a degree of power. Some people accepted him willingly, but others suspected that he was plotting violence against them and clubbed together and killed him. Near here too is Leibethra.

21 The Dactyls: Initiators, instructors of Orpheus, sorcerers metal-workers, and creators of amulets i B.C.

Diodorus 5.64 Greek

The first of these Cretan gods handed down in tradition were the so-called Idaean Dactyls, who lived in the area around Mount Ida in Crete. One tradition tells that they were a hundred in number, but another one says that there were ten of them and this is how they got their name, because they were equivalent in number to the fingers [daktu-loi] on the hands. But some record, Ephorus among them, that the Idaean Dactyls were born on the Mount Ida that is in Phrygia but crossed over into Europe with Mygdon. They also say that they were sorcerers, that they practiced incantations [epoidai] and initiation-rites and mysteries, and that, spending time in Samothrace, they amazed the inhabitants of the island to an extraordinary degree with these. This was the time at which Orpheus too, who had an outstanding ability in poetry and song, became their pupil, and became the first to make initiation rites and mysteries known to the Greeks.

Anyway, tradition tells that the Idaean Dactyls in Crete, in the region of the Apter-aeans, around so-called Berecynthus, discovered the use of fire, the nature of bronze and iron, and the process for preparing them. Regarded as having shown the way in great boons for humankind, they received divine worship. They record that one of them was called Heracles. With an outstanding reputation he was able to found the Olympic Games. People of subsequent generations attributed the foundation of the Games to the son of Alcmene because he had the same name. As proof of this they say that the custom persists even to this day in accordance with which many women derive their incantations and their manufacture of amulets from this god, in the belief that he was a sorcerer [goes] and practiced rites of initiation, and that these are highly uncharacteristic of the Heracles that was born of Alcmene.

This MYTHICAL RACE OF SORCERERS and initiators, said even to have initiated Orpheus himself, is also credited with the invention of metalwork and, appropriately, the invention of (metal) amulets (see 248-77). Hephaestus, the metal-working god, was himself credited with magical powers (note his animated golden serving-girls at Homer Iliad 18.417-20), powers embodied in his twisted feet.

Diodorus 5.55 Greek

0 0

Post a comment