Sunteți pe pagina 1din 5

Orphism

Orphism Orphic mosaics found in many late - Roman Villa's Orphism (more rarely Orphicism ) (Ancient

Orphic mosaics found in many late - Roman Villa's

Orphism (more rarely Orphicism) (Ancient Greek:

Ὀρυικά) is the name given to a set of religious beliefs and practices originating in the ancient Greek and the Hellenistic world, as well as by the Thracians, associated with literature ascribed to the mythical poet Orpheus, who descended into Hades and returned. Orphics also revered

Persephone (who annually descended into Hades for a

season and then returned) and Dionysus or Bacchus (who also descended into Hades and returned). Orpheus was said to have invented the Mysteries of Dionysus. Poetry containing distinctly Orphic beliefs has been traced back to the 6th century BC or at

least 5th century BC, and graffiti of the 5th century BC apparently refers to "Orphics". Classical

sources, such as Plato, refer to "Orpheus-initiators" (Ὀρυεοτελεσταί), and associated rites, although how far "Orphic" literature in general related to these rites is not certain. As in the Eleusinian mysteries, initiation into Orphic mysteries promised advantages in the afterlife.

Peculiarities

The main elements of Orphism differed from popular ancient Greek religion in the following ways:

By characterizing human souls as divine and immortal but doomed to live (for a period) in a "grievous circle" of successive bodily lives through metempsychosis or the transmigration of souls.

By prescribing an ascetic way of life which, together with secret initiation rites, was supposed to guarantee not only eventual release from the "grievous circle" but also communion with god(s).

By warning of postmortem punishment for certain transgressions committed during life.

By being founded upon sacred writings about the origin of gods and human beings.

Evidence

Distinctively Orphic views and practices are attested as early as Herodotus, Euripides, and Plato. The recently published Derveni papyrus allows Orphic mythology to be dated back to the 4th century BC, and it is probably even older. Other inscriptions found in various parts of the Greek world testify to the early existence of a movement with the same core beliefs that were later associated with the name of Orphism.

Mythology (See also: Orpheus, Orphic poems and rites)

The Orphic theologies are genealogical works similar to the Theogony of Hesiod, but the details are different. They are possibly influenced by Near Eastern models. The main story is this: Dionysus (in his incarnation as Zagreus) is the son of Zeus and Persephone; Zeus gives his inheritance of the throne to the child, as Zeus is to leave due to Hera's anger over a child being born by another mother; Titans are enraged over the proclamation of attendance and under Hera's instigation decide to murder the child, Dionysus is then tricked with a mirror and children's toys by the Titans who murder and consume him. Athena saves the heart and tells Zeus of the crime who in turn hurls a thunderbolt on the Titans. The resulting soot, from which sinful mankind is born, contain the bodies of the Titans and Dionysus. The soul of man (Dionysus factor) is therefore divine, but the body (Titan factor) holds the soul in bondage. Thus it was declared that the soul returns to a host ten times, bound to the wheel of rebirth. There are two Orphic stories of the rebirth of Dionysus, in one of which it is the heart of Dionysus that is implanted into the thigh of Zeus; the other where he has impregnated the mortal woman Semele resulting in Dionysus's literal rebirth. Many of these details differ from accounts in the classical authors. Firmicus Maternus, a Christian author, gives a different account with the book "On the Error of Profane Religions". He says that Jupiter (Zeus) originally was a (mortal) king of Crete, and Dionysos was his son. Dionysos was murdered, and cannibalized. Only his heart was salvaged by Athena. A statue of gypsum (the same substance the Titans used to disguise themselves) was then made to look like Dionysos and the heart is placed within.

The "Protogonos Theogony", lost, composed ca. 500 BC which is known through the commentary in the Derveni papyrus and references in classical authors (Empedocles and Pindar).

The "Eudemian Theogony", lost, composed in the 5th century BC. It is the product of a syncretic Bacchic-Kouretic cult.

The "Rhapsodic Theogony", lost, composed in the Hellenistic age, incorporating earlier works. It is known through summaries in later neo-Platonist authors.

Orphic hymns. 87 hexametric poems of a shorter length composed in the late Hellenistic or early Roman Imperial age.

Burial rituals and beliefs (See also: Totenpass)

Surviving written fragments show a number of beliefs about the afterlife similar to those in the "Orphic" mythology about Dionysus' death and resurrection. Bone tablets found in Olbia (5th cent. BC) carry short and enigmatic inscriptions like: "Life. Death. Life. Truth. Dio(nysus). Orphics." The function of these bone tablets is unknown. Gold-leaf tablets found in graves from Thurii, Hipponium, Thessaly and Crete (4th century BCE and after) give instructions to the dead. Although these thin tablets are often highly fragmentary, collectively they present a shared scenario of the passage into the afterlife. When the deceased arrives in the underworld, he is expected to confront obstacles. He must take care not to drink of Lethe ("Forgetfulness"), but of the pool of Mnemosyne ("Memory"). He is provided with formulaic expressions with which to present himself to the guardians of the afterlife.

I am a son of Earth and starry sky. I am parched with thirst and am dying; but quickly Grant me cold water from the Lake of Memory to drink.

Other gold leaves offer instructions for addressing the rulers of the underworld:

Now you have died and now you have come into being, O thrice happy one, on this same day.

Tell Persephone that the Bacchic One himself released you.

Transmigration

This article is about the Greek concept of the transmigration of the soul. For the general concept, see Transmigration of the soul.

Metempsychosis (Greek: μετεμψύχωσις) is a philosophical term in the Greek language referring to transmigration of the soul, especially its reincarnation after death. It is a doctrine popular among a number of Eastern religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Druzism wherein an individual incarnates from one body to another, either human, animal, or plant. Generally the term is only used within the context of Greek Philosophy, but has also been used by modern philosophers such as Schopenhauer and Kurt Gudel; otherwise, the term "transmigration" is more appropriate. The word also plays a prominent role in James Joyce's Ulysses, and is associated also with Nietzsche. Another term sometimes used synonymously is Palingenesia. Europe before the pre-Socratic philosophers, it is unclear how the doctrine of metempsychosis arose in Greece. It is easiest to assume that earlier ideas which had never been extinguished were utilized for religious and philosophic purposes. The Orphic religion, which held it, first appeared in Thrace upon the semi-barbarous north-eastern frontier. Orpheus, its legendary founder, is said to have taught that soul and body are united by a compact unequally binding on either; the soul is divine, immortal and aspires to freedom, while the body holds it in fetters as a prisoner. Death dissolves this compact, but only to re-imprison the liberated soul after a short time: for the wheel of birth revolves inexorably. Thus the soul continues its journey, alternating between a separate unrestrained existence and fresh reincarnation, round the wide circle of necessity, as the companion of many bodies of men and animals." To these unfortunate prisoners Orpheus proclaims the message of liberation, that they stand in need of the grace of redeeming gods and of Dionysus in particular, and calls them to turn to God by ascetic piety of life and self-purification: the purer their lives the higher will be their next reincarnation, until the soul has completed the spiral ascent of destiny to live forever as God from whom it comes. Such was the teaching of Orphism which appeared in Greece about the 6th century BC, organized itself into private and public mysteries at Eleusis and elsewhere, and produced a copious literature. Although Julius Caesar recorded that the druids of Gaul, Britain and Ireland had metempsychosis as one of their core doctrines, there is no indication that it was significantly related to that concept among the Greeks.

[edit] In Greek philosophy the earliest Greek thinker with whom metempsychosis is connected is Pherecydes of Syros; but Pythagoras, who is said to have been his pupil, is its first famous philosophic exponent. Pythagoras probably neither invented the doctrine nor imported it from Egypt, but made his reputation by bringing Orphic doctrine from North- Eastern Hellas to Magna Graecia and by instituting societies for its diffusion.

The real weight and importance of metempsychosis in Western tradition is due to its adoption by

Plato[citation needed]. Had he not embodied it in some of his greatest works it would be merely a

matter of curious investigation for the Western anthropologist and student of folk-lore. In the eschatological myth which closes the Republic he tells the story how Er, the son of Armenius, miraculously returned to life on the twelfth day after death and recounted the secrets of the other world. After death, he said, he went with others to the place of Judgment and saw the souls returning from heaven, and proceeded with them to a place where they chose new lives, human and animal. He saw the soul of Orpheus changing into a swan, Thamyras becoming a nightingale, musical birds choosing to be men, the soul of Atalanta choosing the honors of an athlete. Men were seen passing into animals and wild and tame animals changing into each other. After their choice the souls drank of Lethe and then shot away like stars to their birth. There are myths and theories to the same effect in other dialogues, the Phaedrus, Meno, Phaedo, Timaeus and Laws.[citation needed] In Plato's view the number of souls was fixed; birth therefore is never the creation of a soul, but only a transmigration from one body to another. Plato's acceptance of the doctrine is characteristic of his sympathy with popular beliefs and desire to incorporate them in a purified form into his system.[citation needed] Aristotle, a far less emotional and sympathetic mind, has a doctrine of immortality totally inconsistent with it.[citation needed] The extent of Plato's belief in metempsychosis has been debated by some scholars in modern times. Marsilio Ficino (Platonic Theology 17.3-4), for one, argued that Plato's references to metempsychosis were intended allegorically. In later Greek literature the doctrine appears from time to time; it is mentioned in a fragment of Menander (the Inspired Woman) and satirized by Lucian (Gallus 18 seq.). In Roman literature it is found as early as Ennius, who in his Calabrian home must have been familiar with the Greek teachings which had descended to his times from the cities of Magna Graecia. In a lost passage of his Annals, a Roman history in verse, Ennius told how he had seen Homer in a dream, who had assured him that the same soul which had animated both the poets had once belonged to a peacock. Persius in one of his satires (vi. 9) laughs at Ennius for this: it is referred to also by Lucretius (i. 124) and by Horace (Epist. II. i. 52). Virgil works the idea into his account of the Underworld in the sixth book of the Aeneid (vv. 724 sqq.). It persists in antiquity down to the latest classic thinkers, Plotinus and the other Neo-Platonists.

[edit] In literature after the Classical Era Metempsychosisis the title of a longer work by the metaphysical poet John Donne, written in 1601.[12] The poem, also known as the Infinitati Sacrum, consists of two parts, the "Epistle" and "The Progress of the Soule". In the first line of the latter part, Donne writes that he "sing[s] of the progresse of a deathlesse soule".