By Miguel Herrero de Jáuregui

Many contemporary discoveries have proven the significance of Orphism for historical Greek faith, philosophy and literature. Its nature and position are nonetheless, in spite of the fact that, one of the so much debated difficulties of Classical scholarship. A cornerstone of the query is its dating to Christianity, which smooth authors have too usually mentioned from apologetic views or projections of the Christian version into its meant precedent. along with, smooth techniques are strongly in accordance with old ones, considering that Orpheus and the poems and mysteries attributed to him have been basic within the spiritual controversies of overdue Antiquity. either Pagan and Christian authors frequently current Orphism as a precedent, replacement or imitation of Chistianity.This loose and thorough research of the traditional assets sheds gentle on those debatable questions. The presence of the Orphic culture in Imperial Age, documented via literary and epigraphical facts, is faced with the informations transmitted via Christian apologists on Orphic poems and cults. The manifold Christian remedies of Pagan assets, and their specific worth to appreciate Greek faith, are illuminated through this particular case, which exemplifies the complicated come upon among Classical tradition and Jewish-Christian culture.

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Let 45 This tendency is clearly seen in the Derveni Papyrus (Betegh 2004). Six hundred years later we find it quite unchanged in the Orphic Hymns (Morand 2001, Ricciardelli 2000). Cf. Herrero 2009a. 46 On Middle Eastern connections of Orphism, cf. West 1983; Casadio 1986 (sceptical, as is Bremmer 2002); Burkert 1992, pp. 9–41, 125–127, and 1999; Bernabé 1997 and 2006a, Herrero 2009b. 22 I. Introduction us examine briefly each of these fields, postponing for later consideration the crucial question of their mutual relationship.

Instances of the spontaneous formation of a thiasos – crystallizations of the process of ritual diffusion – whose similarity to other groups would be at best haphazard, are, however, adventitious developments, an accidental side effect rather than the driving force of the process. If “Orphics” of this kind existed, they are far less important than the Orphic poets and theologians who led the intellectual process just described. Their disappearance without a trace is the best proof of their scarce relevance.

12 presents the Lykomids preserving and transmitting Orphic poems at the sanctuary of Phlya. 63 As the συνετοί or οἷς θέμις ἐστί from OF 1 (cf. Henrichs 2003). 64 OF 463. 79) of the Scythian Scylas, who took part in the Dionysiac thiasos in Olbia, seems to imply that some groups of initiates on the borders 30 I. Introduction tablet proves the existence of some self-styled “Orphic” in fifth-century-BC Crimea (that is to say, on the very margins of Hellenic civilisation), this does not allow us to generalize concerning the rest of Greece.

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