The Gods in Later Orphism

Jan N. Bremmer and Andrew Erskine

in The Gods of Ancient Greece

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780748637980
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670758 | DOI:
The Gods in Later Orphism

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The chapter analyzes the main features of Orphic gods. Most Orphic gods are the same as those of the Olympian religion. Yet there is a tendency in Orphism to identify gods with each other through various mechanisms, e.g. a god may be born more than once or reappears in another god. The Orphic tendency to unity may lead to an image of Zeus as supreme god who oscillates between creator god and a deity identified with the universe. The most un-Olympic of the features of the Orphic gods is the idea that human beings are of divine origin and can be re-integrated into their primitive condition. An important source for these themes is the Neoplatonic philosopher Damascius who gives evidence for the existence of three distinct Orphic theogonies.

Keywords: Orphism; Concept of the divine; Olympian gods; Neoplatonism; Zeus; Creator god; Damascius; Theogony

Chapter.  8098 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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