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Orphism Q&A

Post  Achrelus on Sun Mar 24, 2013 10:14 am

Also, if there is thhe Master-Student relationship then who (in modern times) took it on themselves to be the first moders Master?

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Re: Orphism Q&A

Post  Erodius on Sun Mar 24, 2013 11:13 am

Αχρηλος wrote:Also, if there is thhe Master-Student relationship then who (in modern times) took it on themselves to be the first moders Master?


In this, Orphics are quite different, because we are not reconstructionists. We have a continuous lineage going back, documentably, to the early period of photography in Greece, and a general belief that the lineage extends back further than that. In theory, it is perhaps unbroken, though due to lack of earlier photography or written records (being as things are passed mostly orally), this could never be definitively answered affirmatively or negatively.


Last edited by Ερωδιός on Thu Apr 11, 2013 8:41 pm; edited 1 time in total

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Orphism Q&A

Post  Erodius on Sun Mar 24, 2013 11:14 am

While respecting that, due to the nature of the religion and its inner workings, which I know very little about, not all of my questions can be awnsered I would like to pose some. I have been reading up on the site in Erōdios' introduction, and I can already tell I am going to have a lot of questions as I go. If they are inapropriate for forum discussion, they can simpley be deleted. My first one is this: It iss obvious that the myths Surrounding Orpheus are the centre of the religion and that the Orphic Hymns and Teachings are central, but what is the Orphic view on others(ie Hesiod, Homeric Hymns, Platonic philosophy, other hero cults, etc)? Do they fall in line with Orphism, or are there cases of extreme contradictions? I am sure I will run accross the awnser, but I would like to know so I can keep it all in mind.

Actually, while the stories of Orpheus himself are important, the Orphic cosmogony and anthropogony are the most 'important'.

There are some cases of contradictions, but they aren't numerous. Orphics view Orpheus as a reformer figure who came to correct the superstitions that many people had fallen into in their religion, including things like animal sacrifice which he condemned. The view on Hesiod and Homer is that they are generally very valuable, but still have some elements of the beliefs that Orpheus sought to correct, Plato routinely references Orphics in explaining his teaching.

In general, the most significant difference between Orphism and non-Orphic common religion is that Orphism is deeply focused on the soul, on eternity, on human suffering, its reason, the soul's transmigration, and how we are to be freed from the circle.

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Orphism Q&A

Post  Achrelus on Sun Mar 24, 2013 11:30 am

These are all topics I take great interest in...I will do some more reading but this is more and more sounding like something that I could want to belong to. Thank you for entertaining my questions, I am sure that I will have many more.

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Re: Orphism Q&A

Post  Achrelus on Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:58 pm

Does Orphism have any rites of induction I would have to go through, should the time come?

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Re: Orphism Q&A

Post  Herakles on Sun Mar 24, 2013 2:07 pm

I wish to know. Is Orphism a Philosophy or a religion with its own tenets and rights?

Herakles


Last edited by Ερωδιός on Thu Apr 11, 2013 8:42 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spellcheck)

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Re: Orphism Q&A

Post  Erodius on Sun Mar 24, 2013 2:11 pm

Reception and understanding of the deeper teachings is itself what confers initiation — not any ritual, which are meaningless, we believe, if one does not understand their meaning and why they are done.

This is in contrast to the Eleusinian cult, where it was believed that a ritual conveyed initiation.

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Orphism Q&A

Post  Achrelus on Sun Mar 24, 2013 2:14 pm

@Herakles: Orphism is a branch of Hellenismos. I placed it under Philosophies because it seems to me so far that much of its teachings fall within the Philosophical relm. But it certainly is a religion.
@Erōdios: Thank you, I was really hoping there was no ritual. As we are so thinly spread I think it would be to complicated, anyway.

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Re: Orphism Q&A

Post  Erodius on Sun Mar 24, 2013 2:26 pm

Herakles wrote:I wish to know. Is Orphism a Philosophy or a religion with its own tenants and rights?

Herakles


I would say it is something of both, but in essence it is a revealed religion (a religion that has a specific founder on whose teachings it is centered, other revealed religions are things like Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism and Bahaiism), and a very early example of this type of religion, that is defined by its teachings and beliefs, rather than by the cultural practices to which one is born or raised.

It was also unusual in its early days, as various ancient writers remarked, for having a universalist and missionary spirit, that is, that its adherents believed that its message was meant to be spread to all people who would hear it. Plato, I believe, wrote of semi-genuine Orphic missionaries who would go door to door offering instruction in their message, and bearing scrolls of Orphic scriptures.

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Orphism Q&A

Post  Achrelus on Sun Mar 24, 2013 2:37 pm

Now I have 3 questions. 1.) How strict is Orphism? Like, how much leeway do you have to question things? Like in christianity you pretty much take it word for word. Is Orphism like this? 2.) How much does Orphism instruct ones day to day life and thought and 3.) Does this make Orphism a sort of organized Hellenismos?

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Re: Orphism Q&A

Post  Erodius on Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:49 pm

Αχρηλος wrote:Now I have 3 questions. 1.) How strict is Orphism? Like, how much leeway do you have to question things? Like in christianity you pretty much take it word for word. Is Orphism like this? 2.) How much does Orphism instruct ones day to day life and thought and 3.) Does this make Orphism a sort of organized Hellenismos?

1. Being a revealed system that is defined by its view of the cosmos and the world, and its beliefs about them, they are fairly essential. Questioning for the sake of understanding is always helpful and important, but while one is a student, one ought to act the part of the student, for whom continually questioning and doubting his/her authority figures is not especially helpful in the learning process. My personal view on the matter is that if one genuinely understands the teaching, he/she will embrace it, and if he/she does not, then it is not meant to be in this lifetime. It is stated in scriptures that the responsibility for who will achieve liberation and when he/she will achieve it rests ultimately with the divine. However, conversely, the teaching of Orphism is grounded in general more heavily in reason and natural law than the teaching of many Christian churches.

2. Ideally, as it is said often in Buddhist circles, the teaching (which Buddhists call the Dharma, and is sometimes called the Logos in Greek, a word which was later adopted by Christians as a name for the pre-manifest Christ) should not be 'something you do on Sundays' to reference Christian practice. It is not merely rituals or honoring the Gods, but is ultimately the underlying 'code' of all the universe, and should be present in everything you do, resulting in a complete transformation of your thoughts, mind and actions to pure Virtue.

3. In a way, yes, Orphism is a kind of reformed and organized Greek religion (though, historically, it was most popular and widespread in the Greek colonies of southern Italy and Sicily rather than Greece itself). The relationship between it and common religion is something like that between Buddhism or Jainism in comparison with popular Hinduism.

Admittedly, some ancients themselves seem to have thought Orphics a little strange for their spirited refusal to sacrifice animals or consume meat products, their beliefs in reincarnation and postmortem consequences for bad deeds done during life, the fact that many seem to have followed a dress-code of all-white, linen-only garments (that is, that they would not wear wool or leather), and that some playwrights (such as Euripides in Hippolytus, which some scholars think is a parody of Orphics) seem to have thought Orphics to be a little on the prudish side due to the value placed on continence and chastity.

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Orphism Q&A

Post  Achrelus on Sun Mar 24, 2013 5:25 pm

Can one be an Orphic if they consume meat? From what I read, the belief is that the souls also are in vegetation, so why is it less proper to consum meat than vegetation? I do understand the thinking behind it though.

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Re: Orphism Q&A

Post  Erodius on Sun Mar 24, 2013 6:07 pm

As with many Buddhists, the idea is that you should avoid animal food if possible to do so, but it is not a deadly sin to eat meat if you have too, so long as you yourself did not kill the animal.

While plants do have a kind of spirit, they are not conscious or sentient in the same way as animals, thus it is less harmful to the soul to eat them than it is other animals. However, again as with Buddhists, one would likely be discouraged from eating plant foods that result in the death of the plant if one can avoid them (i.e. root vegetables, palm hearts, etc.).

The bottom line is, we have to eat something.

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Orphism Q&A

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Mon May 20, 2013 12:07 am

Speaking of the value placed on chastity within Orphism, I'm curious as to exactly how far this extends.

For example, Christian chastity would be abstinence before marriage, and then relations should only exist inside a heterosexual, monogamous marriage.

What are the specifics on this topic within Orphism? Because what one religion views as chaste could be seen as lewd in another.

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Re: Orphism Q&A

Post  Erodius on Mon May 20, 2013 11:30 am

Again, as in Buddhism, chastity is a virtuous goal, but Orphism, more like Buddhism than Christianity does not spell out nearly as specifically what exactly that entails.

Various Orpheo-Pythagorean moral treatises give varying advice on chastity. Some are very strict, and consider only sexual intercourse between married couples with the purpose of having children to be lawful. Other still canonical, though more relaxed texts, consider chastity to involve simple avoidance of extra-marital affairs. However, most of these texts likewise praise the life of the unmarried ascetic as the best possible 'chastity choice', although living the married/householder life is permitted, quite literally, "for those who think they can handle the struggle."

As far as different sexualities are concerned, some texts only consider heterosexual marriage to be marriage, because marriage had the purpose of begetting children. Something that would seem very odd to many of us now, for many in the Classical world, homosexual relations were not considered to be unchaste — i.e. a man was not unfaithful to his wife if he slept with another man. Same-sex relations, if treated with restraint and prudence, were widely viewed by many philosophically-minded with a reasonably level of positivity.

It's much more complicated than this, but in general, avoid hookups, keep sex for committed relationships, and don't let your libido control you.

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Orphism Q&A

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Mon May 27, 2013 11:13 pm

So, basically, it's common sense, in general.

I must say, I have had a keen interest in Orphism for the past 4 or so months. I've practically devoured every page on the website you have in your signature space (hellenicgods.org, that is), and I've been looking for more pretty much everymore.

I might decide to dive deeper. I've been giving it consideration. But I don't think I'm at an optimal point in my life to do so yet, seeing as I'm in the U.S. Navy DEP and ship to boot camp in two month's time. I may have to wait and think on it more.

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Re: Orphism Q&A

Post  Erodius on Tue May 28, 2013 12:10 am

Yes, Orphic chastity is basically common sense/ 'do the right thing/be good'.

There is very little information available online in English — the site in my signature (my teacher's site), is the only one in English that is affiliated/tied to the actual religion. There are a handful of places to read classic texts regarding the religion online, but even these are not many — Orphism, is, after all, a Mystery religion. Much of the 'innards' of our religion is either not permitted to be discussed with the non-initiate, or is simply not discussed in public spheres out of custom.

There are a few links you might find of interest that I've posted on another thread ("Epicurism and Stoicism") in my discussion with Pemphredo: Thomas Taylor's Life & Theology of Orpheus and The Orphic Reform.

If you really want to know everything possible to learn about Orphism that is available to non-initiates, Guthrie's Orpheus and Greek Religion is essentially the definitive 'Orphism book', and has been so for over 60 years.

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Orphism Q&A

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Tue May 28, 2013 12:41 am

I actually already have Taylor's dissertation on Orpheus, but I was not aware of the other two. Thank you for sharing those ^^

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