Orpheus and the Orphics: Ancient Greek Monotheism

In this article we show, with direct reference to ancient sources/texts, that Orpheus and the Orphics were Monotheists. Orpheus was named ‘theologist‘ by the ancient Greeks. His theological system was symbolic, the same it was for most of the ancient Greek Monotheist Philosophers-Mystics, where the various names of gods and men, depending on the way each text is analyzed, simultaneously provide us with information about History, Science and Theology. The reason for this habit is unknown; but, nevertheless, it is a fact documented already in Antiquity. Here we will present some excerpts that do not need any special interpretation or special discussion of their symbolisms, but ‘speak’ for themselves about the truth of our original claim.

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In the Orphic hymn of Zeus (15), among others, we read:

Ancient Greek: ‘Ζεύ πολυτίμητε, Ζεύ άφθιτε’.

English: ‘Zeus multi-honoured, Zeus that you do not know wear’

Ancient Greek: ‘δια σήν κεφαλήν εφάνη τάδε πάντα’ (η γαία, τα όρη, ο πόντος και όλα όσα περιέχει ο ουρανός).

English: ‘from your own head all these appeared (the earth, the mountains, the sea and everything that the sky contains)’,

Ancient Greek: ‘αρχή πάντων, πάντων τε τελευτή’.

English: ‘you are the beginning of everything and the end of everything’,

Ancient Greek: ‘αυτοπάτωρ’.

English: ‘(you are) father of your own/of yourself (i.e. self-born and self-existent)’,

Ancient Greek: ‘μακάρων τε θεών πάτερ ηδέ και ανδρών’.

English: ‘father of the unruffled gods and of men’

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From the “Orphicorum Fragmenta” we read:

Ancient Greek: (1) ‘είς έστ’, αυτογενής, ενός έκγονα πάντα τέτυκται. Εν δ’ αυτοίς αυτός περινίσσεται. Ούδε τις αυτόν εισοράα θνητών. Αυτός δε γε πάντας οράται. Oύτος δ’ εξ αγαθοίο κακόν θνητοίσι δίδωσι, και πόλεμον κρυόεντα, και άλγεα δακρυόεντα. Ουδέ τις έσθ’ έτερος χωρίς μεγάλου βασιλήος. Αυτόν δ’ ουχ ορόω. Περί γαρ νέφος εστήρικται. Πάσιν γαρ θνητοίς θνηταί κόραι εισίν εν όσσοις, ασθενέες δ’ιδέειν Δία τον πάντων μεδέοντα’

English: (1) ‘He is One, self-born, everything that exists was born by One. Inside all creations He hangs about. No mortal can see Him. But He sees everyone. He gives the mortals everything, from Good up to Bad; the cold war and lachrymose pains. There can be no one without the great king (no one can exist/be without the great king). But I can’t see Him. Because there is a permanent cloud around Him. Because all mortals have mortal pupils in their eyes, weak to be able to see Deus/Zeus, the governor of everyhting’

Ancient Greek: (2) ‘εις δε λόγον θείον βλέψας, τούτω προσέδρευε, ιθύνων κραδίης νοερόν κύτος. Εύ δ’ επίβαινε ατραπιτού, μούνον δ’ εσόρα κόσμοιο τυπωτήν αθάνατον’

‘Είς έστ’ αυτοτελής, αυτού δ’ υπό πάντα τελείται, εν δ’ αυτοίς αυτός περινίσσεται. Ουδέ τις αυτόν εισοράα ψυχών θνητών, νώ δ’ εισοραάται’

‘Ουδέ τις έσθ’ έτερος. Σύ δε κεν ρέα πάντ’ εσορήσαις αί κεν ίδης αυτόν’

English: (2) ‘turn your sight towards the divine Logos, and stay around it/near it, leading  your heart’s noetic cover. And walk well on this path, and observe the only immortal creator of the Cosmos (Everything/Universe)’

‘One is self-existent, under Him everything is happening (everything is taking place), Inside all creations He hangs about. No mortal soul  can see Him; He can only be seen through nous’

‘Neither there is anyone else. You will easily see everything if you manage to see Him’

Ancient Greek: (4) ‘Εις Ζεύς, είς Αΐδης, είς Ήλιος, είς Διόνυσος. Είς θεός εν πάντεσσι, τι σοι δίχα ταύτ’ αγορεύω;’

English: ‘One is Zeus, one is Hades, one is the Sun, one is Dionysus. One is the god in everything. Why do I recite them to you separately?’

Ancient Greek: (5) ‘Ουρανόν ορκίζω σε, θεού μεγάλου σοφού έργον, αυδήν ορκίζω σε πατρός, την φθέγξατο πρώτον, ηνίκα κόσμον άπαντα εαίς στηρίξατο βουλαίς’.

English: ‘In Heaven, I put you on oath, that is a creation of the great and wise God; In the word of the Father, I put you on oath, the word He firstly said, when He set the Cosmos according to His will’

Ancient Greek: (6) ‘Ζεύς πρώτος γένετο’.

‘Ζεύς κεφαλή, Ζεύς μέσσα, Διός δ’ εκ πάντα τέτυκται. Ζεύς άρσην γένετο, Ζεύς άμβροτος έπλετο νύμφη. Ζεύς πυθμήν γαίης τε κι ουρανού αστερόεντος. Ζεύς πνοιή ανέμων, Ζεύς ακαμάτου πυρός ορμή. Ζεύς πόντου ρίζα, Ζεύς ήλιος ηδέ σελήνη. Ζεύς βασιλεύς, Ζεύς αυτός απάντων αρχιγένεθλος. Έν κράτος, είς δαίμων γένετο, μέγας αρχός απάντων, έν δε δέμας βασίλειον, εν ω τάδε πάντα κυκλείται’.

English: (6) ‘Zeus came to be first (before anything else)’.

‘Zeus is the head, Zeus is the medium, from Zeus/Deus everything was created. Zeus was born male, Zeus has been the immortal nymphe/bride, Zeus is the foothold of earth and heaven/sky, that is full of stars. Zeus is the breath of winds, Zeus is the impetus of the tireless fire, Zeus is the root (groundwork) of the sea, Zeus is the Sun and the Moon. Zeus is the king, Zeus is the first-born before anything/anyone else. He is one sway, one daemon (god), the grand master/lord of everything, one royal body, inside which all these here move cyclically’

Ancient Greek: (24) ‘Γλυκερόν δε τέκος (ψυχή) Διός εξεκαλείτο’

‘Λέγοι γούν η ψυχή περί του Διός -του δημιουργήσαντος το πάν- μετά δή πατρικάς διανοίας ψυχή εγώ ναίω, θέρμη ψυχώσα τα πάντα. Κατέθετο γαρ νούν μεν ενί ψυχή, ψυχήν δ’ ενί σώματι αργώ, ημέας εγκατέθηκε πατήρ ανδρών τε θεών τε’.

English: ‘It was called (the soul) the sweet child of Deus/Zeus’

‘so says the soul about Deus/Zeus, who created everything “in the midst of the father’s intellect, I the soul, I dwell/reside; I animate everything with heat/warmness. Because He placed the nous inside the soul and He placed the soul inside a lazy/sluggard body, the Father of men and gods installed us (i.e. nous and soul)” ’

Ancient Greek: (28) ‘Μαρτυρεί και εν τω μικροτέρω κρατήρι Ορφεύς, τάδε λέγων. ΕΡΜΗΣ δ’ ερμηνεύς των πάντων άγγελός εστιν ΝΥΜΦΑΙ ύδωρ. Πυρ ΗΦΑΙΣΤΟΣ, σίτος ΔΗΜΗΤΗΡ. Η δε θάλασσα ΠΟΣΕΙΔΑΩΝ μέγας, ηδ’ Ενοσίχθων. Και πόλεμος μεν ΑΡΗΣ, ειρήνη δ’ εστ’ ΑΦΡΟΔΙΤΗ. Οίνος, τον φιλέουσι θεοί, θνητοί τ’ άνθρωποι, όντε βροτοίς εύρεν λυπέων κηλήτορα πασέων ταυρογενής ΔΙΟΝΥΣΟΣ, εϋφροσύνην πόρε θνητοίς ηδίστην, πάσησι τ’ επ’ ειλαπίνησι πάρεστι. Και ΘΕΜΙΣ, ήπερ άπασι θεμιστεύει τα δίκαια, ήλιος, όν καλέουσιν ΑΠΟΛΛΩΝΑ κλυτότοξον, ΦΟΙΒΟΝ εκηβελέτην, μάντιν πάντων εκάεργον, ιητήρα νόσων, ΑΣΚΛΗΠΙΟΝ. Έν τάδε πάντα. Ότι δε εκ της Μνημοσύνης αι Μούσαι γεννώνται, και ότι ο Ζεύς και Αιθήρ λέγεται, άκουε του ειρημένου Ορφέως. ΖΕΥΣ δε των πάντων εστί θεός, πάντων τε κεραστής, πνεύμασι συρίζων, φωνήσιν τ’ ηερομίκτοις. Ή γαρ ου δήλος εστι τον αιθέρα καλών ούτως; ταυτό και αρμονίη Μουσέων, ταίς τ’ όργανα πάντα μνημοσύνη πάντων πρώτον πόρεν, ούτ’ ανεφάνθη. Αλλά χρόνος λήθη κατεχρήσατο και κατέκρυψε. Νυν δε τέχναι τε, λόγοι τε, νόμοι θ’, όσα τ’ έργα τέτυκται, πάντα δια μνήμην διασώζεται ανθρώποισιν’

English: (28) ‘As Orpheus witnesses in the smaller crater, saying the following: ΕΡΜΗΣ (Hermes) the ερμηνευτής (interpreter) of everything, is messenger. ΝΥΜΦΑΙ (Nymphs) are water. ΗΦΑΙΣΤΟΣ (Hephaestus) is fire. ΔΗΜΗΤΗΡ (Demeter) is wheat/grain. ΠΟΣΕΙΔΑΩΝ (Poseidon) the great who makes the earth tremble is the Sea. ΑΡΗΣ (Ares/Mars) is war, while ΑΦΡΟΔΙΤΗ (Aphrodite) is peace. Wine, which is loved by both gods and mortal men, which was invented by ΔΙΟΝΥΣΟΣ (Dionysus), from the generation of Taurus (of the bull generation), as a pacifier of all grievances of men, brought men very sweet pleasure, is present in every feast, and ΘΕΜΙΣ (Themis) who administers justice to all. The Sun, who they name ΑΠΟΛΛΩΝΑ (Apollo) with the famous bows, ΦΟΙΒΟΝ (Phoebus) with the long throw, oracle of everything, who darts at great distance, and ΑΣΚΛΗΠΙΟΝ (Asclepius) as healer of diseases. All of these are one. On the fact that the Μούσαι (Muses) were born from Μνημοσύνη (Mnemosene/Memory/Ability to memorize) and that Ζευς (Zeus) is also named Αιθήρ (Aether) listen to Orpheus of whom we spoke earlier: ‘Zeus is the god of everything, who mixes everything, who whistles/hisses with the winds and with voice mixed with the area’. Isn’t it rather evident that he calls Aether with this name? The same is for the harmony of the Muses, to whom Mnemosene had brought/offered all their instruments, neither revealed. But time has made bad usage of λήθη (Lethe/Oblivion) and hidden all these. But now, the arts, the speeches, the laws and everything else done/achieved, all are preserved/guarded by Men through memory’

Ancient Greek: (38) ‘Έργα νοήσας γαρ πατρικός νόος αυτογένεθλος, πάσιν ενέσπειρεν δεσμόν πυριβριθή έρωτος, και την αιτίαν προσέθηκεν, όφρα τα πάντα μένη χρόνον εις απέραντον ερώντα, μηδέ πάσι τα πατρός νοερώς υφασμένα φέγγει. Δια γαρ τούτον τον έρωτα πάντα ήρμοσται αλλήλοις, ως εν έρωτι μένη κόσμου στοιχεία θέοντα’

English: (38) ‘After understanding the created, the fatherly nous, the self-born, in all creations he seeded the bond of Έρως (Eros/’love’, actually means the ‘creative flux’), who is full of fire and added the cause, so that they remain ‘in love’ (ερωτευμένα here means ‘in a creative flux’) in infinite time, so that they don’t separate, all the noetically woven with light by the father. Because it was due to this έρωτος (‘love’) that all (every thing) had bound between them (one with the other) harmonically, so that all the elements of the Cosmos stay ‘in love’ and speedily moving.’

Ancient Greek: (39) ‘Έστιν δη πάντων αρχή Ζεύς. Ζεύς γαρ έδωκε, ζώα τ’ εγέννησεν. και ΖΗΝ’ αυτόν καλέουσι, καί ΔΙΑ τ’ ηδ’, ότι δη διά τούτον άπαντα τέτυκται. είς δε πατήρ ούτος πάντων, θηρών τε βροτών τε’

English: ‘Zeus is indeed the beginning of everything. Because ΖΕΥΣ has given ζωή (Το ζην – life) and gave birth to animals. And they name him ΖΗΝΑ (Zena). And moreover they name him ΔΙΑ (Deus-Dias) because indeed δια τούτου (through Him) everything was created. One is the father of everything, of animals and mortal men’

From the ‘Orphic Fragmenta Inedita‘ we read:

Ancient Greek: 12. ‘Αύτη δε Ζηνός και εν όκμασι πατρός άνακτος ναίουσ’ αθάνατοί τε θεοί, θνητοί τ’ άνθρωποι, όσα τε ήν γεγαώτα, και ύστερον όπως έμελλε’

English: ‘This is of Zeus’ ; and in the όκμασι (this means something like ‘the hollow, the cavity’, one could even say ‘vagina’) of the father-king (anax) dwell both the immortal gods and the mortal men, everything that has been done and everything that will be done’

Ancient Greek: 18. ‘Πάρεδρος ο νόμος του Διός’

English: 18. ‘Νόμος (the Law) stands near the bench/stool of Deus/Zeus’

NovoScriptorium: We believe that no special analysis is required on the above as they are quite clear and self-evident. We should only add that the word ‘θεός‘ actually has the meaning of ‘the watcher‘, just as the word ‘δαίμων/δαήμων‘ intimates ‘the wise‘. Justifiably, both epithets can be attributed to the Actual/True Being, i.e. the God-Creator and moreover, in their ‘absolute -maximum- values’. They could also be attributed without phallacy to the various invisible Orders. ‘Θεός‘ because we are indeed ‘watched’ either by angels or by demons (in the way we use the words today), while ‘δαίμων‘ can be reasonably be attributed to any invisible Order because, even though neither angels or demons are ‘wise in the absolute magnitude’ (as God is), they are definetly much wiser than the earthen Man.

Isidoros Aggelos

 

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