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For Proclus just as for his teacher Syrianus Plato expresses the very same teaching in. his dialogues The Muse Calliope Orpheus Aglaophamus Pythagoras the Pythagorean. Timaeus and Plato are links in the unbroken chain of transmission of divine wisdom. that constitutes the backbone of the Greek philosophical tradition and is at the same. time the foundation of the right religious attitude towards the gods. Proclus reproduces here almost verbatim a text that Iamblichus quotes from a. work called Sacred Discourse Hieros Logos in which Pythagoras its purported. author gives a first person account of the story Iamb VP 146 7 The quotation serves. Iamblichus to demonstrate that the core of Pythagorean theology which takes numbers. to be the divine first principles as well as the exemplary piety of Pythagoras and his. followers manifested in their religious taboos and precepts issue from Orpheus. teaching If someone then wishes to learn from whence these men received such a. degree of piety it must be said that a clear model for Pythagorean theology according to. number is laid down in the writings of Orpheus Iamb VP 145 tr Dillon and. Hershbell slightly modified, Much closer to the time of Pythagoras the authors of the classical age show no. knowledge of his initiation into the Orphic mysteries by Aglaophamus the story is. never attested before Iamblichus text 2 and are often far more sceptical about Orpheus. whom they tend to treat as a mythical character just as we do Nonetheless already the. earliest stratum of evidence about Pythagoras and his immediate followers assumes a. tight connection with Orphism with regard both to cult and to poems of theological and. 2 Cf Brisson 2002 Brisson thinks that Iamblichus himself might have invented the. story about Aglaophamus 2002 421, eschatological content Herodotus composing his Histories about sixty years after. Pythagoras death claimed in a much discussed passage that the so called Orphics. and the Pythagoreans shared with the Egyptians a particular ritual prohibition which is. otherwise alien to Greek tradition and which proscribes burying the dead in wool. Because of a discrepancy between two alternative versions of the transmitted text it is. unclear whether Herodotus speaks about Orphics and Pythagoreans and if so whether. or not he means to equate the two groups or alternatively about Orphic and Bacchic. rituals which he identifies as in reality being Egyptian and Pythagorean 3 On either. construal Herodotus asserts a non accidental connection between Orphic and. Pythagorean funerary ritual in all probability based on some shared and non standard. eschatological beliefs which as Herodotus adds were explained in sacred discourses. hieroi logoi, Other fifth and fourth century BC writers being doubtful about the historicity of. Orpheus maintained that Pythagoras and his acolytes far from drawing their wisdom. from Orphic writings as the Neoplatonists would later claim actually authored those. writings Ion of Chios says in the Triagmoi that he Pythagoras composed some. poems and attributed them to Orpheus D L 8 8 Ion of Chios 36B2 DK cf Clement. Strom 1 21 131 St hlin Epigenes an author plausibly dated to the early fourth century. wrote a treatise with the title On Works Attributed to Orpheus According to the. 3 Hdt 2 81 The latter version vindicated somewhat tentatively by Burkert 1972a. 127 128 is favored by most current interpreters For a detailed and to my mind still. rather persuasive defense of the former version see Linforth 1941 38 50 and now. Zhmud 2012a 224, information transmitted by Clement Epigenes discussed the authorship of four poems. the Descent to Hades the Sacred Discourse the Robe and the Physica and ascribed. each of them to authors whom he took to be Pythagoreans the first two to Cercops the. latter two to Bro n tinus 4 The same tradition is recorded also by Cicero Aristotle. informs us that the poet Orpheus never existed and the Pythagoreans maintain that the. Orphic poem now current was the work of a certain Cercops Cicero ND 1 107. Aristotle fr 7 tr Walsh It is tempting to read Herodotus remark in the same manner. He knew about sacred discourses that were attributed to Orpheus and that provided. the justification for the burial taboos but Herodotus claims these texts to be of. Pythagorean origin 5, The affinity between Orphism and Pythagoreanism was thus perceived very early.
on There is however a fundamental difference Whereas for the Neoplatonists the. theology and piety taught and displayed by Orpheus and following him Pythagoras. were supremely reverent and at the center of the Greek religious tradition most authors. of the classical age consider them as fringe phenomena proclaiming outlandish myths. 4 Clement Strom 5 8 49 and 1 21 131 St hlin For this dating see Linforth 1941. 114 118 followed with some reservations by Gagn 2007 7 8 On this dating. Epigenes might be identical with the one mentioned by Plato Ap 33e Phd 59b and. Xenophon Mem 3 12 as an associate of Socrates For a later Hellenistic date see. Zhmud 2012a 117 See also West 1983 9, 5 The text allows two readings Herodotus might mean that the hieroi logoi are Egyptian. so Burkert 1972a 219 with n 10 or that they are Orphic Pythagorean so Graf and. Johnston 2007 142 and 175 I am inclined to the latter view. and prescribing puzzling taboos and alien rituals 6 While withholding value judgments. modern historians of religion would agree rather with the second view Traditional. forms of religious practice and belief that permeate the life of every Greek from birth to. death from dawn to evening during festivals and on regular days are firmly rooted in. the local traditions of the polis As we shall shortly see neither the phenomena related. to Orphism nor the beliefs and cultic precepts attributable to Pythagoras and his. followers were integrated in these local ancestral traditions What remains debated is. how far membership in a Pythagorean hetairia or active participation in Orphic cult. activities would actually oppose actors to their respective local traditions and exclude. them from institutionalized forms of worship in the polis religion Central to this. problem is of course the question of vegetarianism to which we shall return soon. Modern assessments of the extent nature and direction of the connection. between Orphism and Pythagoreanism remain widely divergent Some find the. association so close that following a practice current in the earlier part of the last. century they use the coinage Orphico Pythagorean to describe various cultic practices. and eschatological ideas Others emphasize the fundamental differences between. Orphism and Pythagoreanism Zhmud 2012a 228 or argue that they were originally. two largely independent and parallel phenomena that got confused on account of some. perceived similarities Kahn 2001 21 As to the question of historical priority some. think that even if not quite in the way described by Iamblichus and Proclus Orphic. writings could indeed serve as a major source of inspiration for Pythagorean philosophy. and ritual precepts cf e g Riedweg 2005 74 76 Guthrie 1993 219 221 Others. 6 Cf Edmonds 2008, suggest that Pythagoreanism came first so that Orphism was the product of. Pythagorean influence on Bacchic mysteries Bremmer 2002 15 and that early Orphic. poems were primarily or even exclusively composed by Pythagoreans West 1983. 7 20 Kahn 2001 20 Scholars are not less divided on the question whether the. doctrine of metempsychosis often assumed to be among the most important points of. contact originated with Orphism or was rather introduced into Greece by Pythagoras. There is nothing surprising in this bewildering discord of voices about the nature. of the relationship in view of the lack of consensus about the natures of the two terms of. the relationship It seems easy to agree with Guthrie Clearly the best hope of. discovering something about the relationship between Orphics and Pythagoreans lies in. an examination of the two system themselves Guthrie 1993 217 But this is exactly. where problems erupt indeed it is highly doubtful whether one can justifiably speak. about systems to describe either Orphism or Pythagoreanism. To be sure the scholarly landscape has significantly changed since Guthrie first. wrote these words in the thirties On the side of Pythagoreanism Walter Burkert s. epoch making Lore and Science in Ancient Pythagoreanism Burkert 1962a Burkert. 1972a put the study of early Pythagoreanism on a new footing By accentuating its. religious aspects and formulating strong reservations about its scientific side Burkert s. study inevitably brought Pythagoreanism closer to Orphism At the same time a series. of fascinating archaeological discoveries has made Orphism considerably more. tangible A collection of tiny inscribed bone plates found in Olbia and dated to the fifth. century BC strongly suggests that at least there and then Orphic communities. existed 7 The enigmatic inscriptions of the bone plates indicate a connection between. Dionysus Orphic cult and an interest in the afterlife The mention of bacchoi on the. gold tablets found in Hipponion and the reference to Dionysus Bacchius releasing the. souls of the initiates on the gold tablets found in Pelinna testify further to the Dionysiac. nature of at least some aspects of Orphism The same finds invalidate the attempts of. Zuntz to distance the gold tablets from Orphism and to ascribe them to. Pythagoreanism 8 Finally the Derveni papyrus the remains of which were found among. the ashes of a funerary pyre close to Thessaloniki and the text of which was probably. written around the time of Plato presents incontrovertible evidence that Orphic poems. of theogonic nature were in circulation by the fifth century at the latest 9 Most scholars. would agree that the combined weight of this body of newly found evidence makes the. hypercritical position of Wilamowitz and Linforth according to which Orphism as a. religious phenomenon is a figment of ideologically motivated modern scholarship. hardly tenable, Burkert already taking into account most of the new evidence and armed with his. formidable knowledge of Pythagoreanism summed up a brief but nuanced analysis of. 7 Cf Rusjaeva 1978 West 1982 Zhmud 1992b, 8 Zuntz 1971 For recent editions and discussions of the gold tablets see Graf and. Johnston 2007 Bernab and Jim nez San Crist bal 2008 Edmonds 2011 For a. fascinating account of the history of the scholarship on the gold tablets and Orphism. see Graf in Graf and Johnston 2007 Ch 2 For a recent and to my mind somewhat. desperate attempt to question that all the gold tablets can be characterized as Orphic. see Edmonds 2011,9 Kouremenos et al 2006 Betegh 2004.
the relationship with a memorable image Bacchic Orphic and Pythagorean are circles. each of which has its own center and while these circles have areas that coincide each. preserves its own special sphere Burkert 1985 300 This remains the most promising. general characterization it nonetheless requires due caution and possibly some. refinements Above all it is not obvious what could count as the respective centers of. Pythagoreanism and Orphism or indeed if they had such identifiable nubs at all. Moreover we should not I would insist take Burkert s circles as referring to systems of. beliefs and practices connected to them with internal consistency and fixed borders. Rather I would suggest there was a group of phenomena that can be by some broad. characterization ranged under the heading e g Orphism yet there is no guarantee. that these phenomena have anything clearly specifiable in common in terms of beliefs. and practices with all the other phenomena that can with equal right be described as. Orphic The gamut of new and old evidence presses for a non essentialist conception. of Orphism One common feature in Orphism seems to be an authority granted to. poems attributed to Orpheus and their use in rituals which were assumed to have an. effect on the fate of the soul but even this might be too strict because for instance. Orpheus is not mentioned on the gold tablets and we cannot be sure whether and if so. how they were supposed to be connected to Orphic poems On the other hand one. shared feature among Pythagoreans seems to be the observance of a set of religiously. motivated precepts sealed by the authority of Pythagoras but even this might be too. strict because we don t have sufficient evidence to show that all Pythagoreans adhered. to these laws of conduct and there is reason to think that different Pythagoreans. attributed different precepts to the founder If so some elements of the batch of Orphic. phenomena can justifiably be linked more or less closely with some phenomena no. less multifarious that we range under the heading Pythagoreanism. In the rest of this chapter I shall substantiate these claims by presenting a number. of examples and concentrating on individual actors phenomena and specific texts First. I shall focus on those features that are most commonly considered as the principal areas. of overlap between Orphism and Pythagoreanism The outcome in some respects will. be on the minimalist side In the second part of the paper I shall however suggest a few. possible general and specific points of contact that have received relatively little or no. 7 2 Vegetarianism and Metempsychosis in Pythagoreanism and Orphism. The most commonly mentioned points of contact between Orphism and Pythagoreanism. are a belief in metempsychosis and closely related to this vegetarianism On a common. interpretation of Burkert s circles these two are constitutive or even essential features. of both Orphism and Pythagoreanism and can therefore safely be located in the area. where the two circles intersect 10 I would suggest a somewhat different picture. To begin with I strongly doubt that all actors who were involved in Orphic. religious phenomena were vegetarians or believed in metempsychosis Take for instance. the Superstitious Man as sketched by Theophrastus Char 16 Among the. 10 Burkert 1972a 180 183 presents a more nuanced view about the place of. vegetarianism among Pythagoreans but his caveats are often disregarded For a. confident statement that Pythagoreans were vegetarians see e g Frank 1923 223. hotchpotch of taboos he observes and rituals he performs he also visits the local Orphic. initiators on a monthly basis with his wife and children to repeat a set. of rituals Surely Theophrastus draws a caricature here Yet the. phenomenon he describes finds confirmation in Republic 2 where Plato describes. itinerant priests who perform their rituals according to a hubbub of books of Musaeus. and Orpheus and who make rich individuals and whole cities believe that by means of. sacrifices purifications and incantations they can expiate personal and ancestral guilt. and cure or cause harm as the client wishes R 364b 365a The author of the Derveni. papyrus presents a comparable image of gullible people who pay for the services of. those who make craft of the holy rites PDerv col 20 3 8 Although the clientele of. these Orphic initiators was certainly in the sphere of Orphism there is no compelling. reason to suppose that the individuals involved switched to a vegetarian diet believed in. metempsychosis or had anything to do with Pythagoreanism The contact with. Orphism Orphic texts and orpheotelestai does not seem to bring about any standing. alteration in the life style of these people Indeed Adeimantus in the Republic finds. these practices so reprehensible precisely because they make people think that they can. secure various advantages for themselves simply by performing some ritual actions. without any deeper and lasting transformation in their ideas or comportment Similarly. the Derveni author finds it disappointing and pitiable that people who have paid to go. through the rites leave without any genuine understanding or real change. What about the orpheotelestai themselves We simply don t know There is. however clear evidence that at least some people connected to Orphism led an. alternative life style that Plato calls the Orphic life the most conspicuous features of. which were vegetarianism and abstention from bloody sacrifices Plato Laws 782c cf. Euripides Hipp 952 Aristophanes Frogs 1032, The evidence about vegetarianism among Pythagoreans is notoriously confused. and confusing ranging from a denial of Pythagoras vegetarianism emphasizing his. predilection for certain type of meats Aristoxenus in Aulus Gellius 4 11 cf D L 8 20. through the attribution of abstention from some animals or parts of animals e g Arist. fr 195 D L 8 33 and 34 Iamb VP 85 to strict vegetarianism e g Eudoxus in. Porph VP 7 among some or all members of the group 11 A unified explanation in. which all these pieces of evidence find their places seems impossible Nonetheless I. find it conceivable that different groups and individuals applied different rules The very. discrepancy among the sources indicates that there was a serious interest in relaxing. vegetarianism in such a way that it did not block participation in public rituals involving. animal sacrifice and feasting on the ritually slaughtered animals Although dietary. taboos were no doubt important in Pythagoreanism from the beginning and it could be. that some Pythagoreans observed a fully meatless diet it appears that a strict form of. vegetarianism allowing no exceptions was not conceived as a core feature of. Pythagoreanism On the other hand hard core Orphism seems to be characterized. precisely by a complete avoidance of bloodshed and the eating of meat and the. 11 For a helpful overview of the different sources see Guthrie 1962 187 90 On how the. first two might be harmonized see Huffman 2012c 167 174. complementary use of alternative pure sacrifices based on honey. cakes etc 12, In a great number of sources starting with Empedocles staggering image of. father inadvertently slaughtering his son incarnated in a sacrificial animal and children. killing their parents and eating their flesh 31B137 DK adherence to the doctrine of. metempsychosis is presented as a preemptory reason for abstention from bloody. sacrifices and the eating of meat The reasoning only works if souls can alternately be. incarnated in humans and non human animals Yet apparently even this version of the. doctrine does not automatically imply vegetarianism Plato to all appearances was. fully committed to metempsychosis including incarnation in animal bodies in his late. period Nonetheless he seems not to have observed or promulgated a meatless diet. indeed he presents the vegetarian Orphic life as something rather distant. Remarkably his disciple Xenocrates appears to have dissociated the two starting from. the opposite direction observing that the recognition of the fundamental relatedness of. all ensouled creatures provides a sufficient reason to become vegetarian without. accepting the doctrine of metempsychosis Porph De Abst 4 22 fr 98 Heinze 13. The new pieces of evidence make it more manifest than ever that the soul and its. fate after death were of special concern in Orphism On one of the Olbia bone plates we. read Dio nysus then truth and then body soul whereas in the gravely damaged. first columns of the Derveni papyrus the author discusses eschatological topics. 12 See now also PDerv col 6 where the magoi and following them the initiates perform. bloodless sacrifices involving sacrificial cakes and wineless libations. 13 See Ch 12 3 below, including how to secure a safe passage for the soul by appeasing impeding daimones. PDerv col 6 The steady growth of gold tablets found in various parts of Greece gives. further detail to the picture However from this accumulation of data no unified clearly. specifiable doctrine emerges 14 In particular the new documents still have not provided. incontrovertible evidence for a strong presence of metempsychosis in Orphism On one. of the Olbia bone plates we read life death life below which the word truth is. inscribed Prima facie it is natural to think that the sequence was meant to be repeated. and the second mention of life refers to a new incarnation This is however not. necessary On the Pelinna gold leaves the soul of the deceased is greeted by the words. Now you have died and now you have been born O thrice happy on this very day. Surely rebirth in this case does not mean reincarnation but a new better life after. death the second mention of life following death might mean the same on the Olbia. bone plate Graf 2011 56 The most explicit reference to metempsychosis remains line. 5 of one of the Thurii tablets Bernab no 488 Graf Johnston no 5 I have flown. out of the heavy difficult circle, The strongest pieces of evidence come from Plato In a well known passage of the. Meno Socrates evokes priests and priestesses who have made it their concern to be. able to give an account logos of their practices and who teach that the immortal soul. is periodically reincarnated and punished for previous sins 81a10 d4 Plato also. associates the logoi of these officiants with a quotation from Pindar in which we hear. 14 In this stronger sense Wilamowitz of quoted dictum One should still prove that. there was an Orphic doctrine of the soul Wilamowitz Moellendorff 1931 vol 2 194. remains valid, about the ancient grief of Persephone fr 133 This in turn is often although by no.
means unanimously taken to refer to the myth tracing the origins of mankind to the. ashes of the Titans who had torn apart and devoured Persephone s child the young. Dionysus and were struck by Zeus thunderbolt in punishment 15. Although less often quoted a passage from the Laws is also relevant. we must tell the account which is so strongly believed by many when they hear. it from those who seriously concern themselves with these matters in the mystic. rites teletai retribution comes in Hades for such crimes and when the person. returns to this world again from there one is necessarily obliged to pay the full. penalty according to natural justice and suffer the same thing he had meted out to. his victim 870d5 e2, 15 It remains debated whether the Orphic anthropogony belongs to the archaic stratum. of Orphism or whether it was a later invention Johnston in her insightful presentation. and analysis of the myth tentatively dates it to the second half of the sixth century BC. Graf and Johnston 2007 Ch 3 See also Bernab 2008 with bibliography and. Alderink 1981 55 86 For a staunchly sceptical view arguing that the anthropogonic. narrative is a much later invention see Edmonds 1999 Holzhausen 2004 questions. whether Pindar s verse is a reference to the myth of Dionysus torn apart. Plato leaves the identity of these priests and cults vague in both the Meno and the Laws. It is nonetheless fair to assume that the reference at least includes Orphic teletai 16 Plato. thus seems to know about priestly figures connected to Orphism who propagated a. retributive eschatology involving metempsychosis and might have integrated the. Dionysiac myth of the origin of mankind into their logoi This however seems meager. grounds for the claim that metempsychosis was an inalienable feature of Orphism so. that all the orpheotelestai whom we hear about in Adeimantus harangue Theophrastus. or the Derveni papyrus and the initiators who distributed the gold tablets all around. Greece made metempsychosis integral to the practices that they derived from the. books of Orpheus and Musaeus Notably the individual constituents of the maximal. picture reconstructed primarily on the basis of these Platonic passages are not. indissociable The Orphic anthropogony does not imply metempsychosis later. generations can inherit the sin of the Titans without being reincarnations of the first. humans stemming from the ashes The reference to the myth of Dionysus on the Pelinna. text can make perfect sense without assuming metempsychosis just as the Derveni. author can expound a retributive eschatology without any indication of such a doctrine. All in all with respect to metempsychosis we can observe just the reverse of what I. 16 It is often thought see e g Bernab 1995 that a further piece in the puzzle is. provided by Plato when he quotes in the Cratylus 400c1 9 the etymology of. body from tomb or sign capturing the belief that our souls are. locked up in our bodies as a penalty for a sin The sin in question could then be the. crime of the Titans against Dionysus Yet I agree with Burkert 1972a 248 n 47 and. Huffman forthcoming XXX that Plato does not attribute this etymology to the Orphics.


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