Chapter 2. On the Rites Described and Commented Upon in the Derveni Papyrus, Columns I–VI

Alberto Bernabé
Universidad Complutense

1. Introduction

In this paper, I intend to discuss a number of issues concerning the rituals described and commented upon in the first six columns of the Derveni Papyrus, and to propose a few suggestions regarding two specific aspects: first, the nature of the rituals described in the document; and second, the interpretation of these rituals offered by the text’s author. [1] Several seminal studies have already made significant progress in this field, [2] but it is possible, in my opinion, to advance a few steps forward.
Nevertheless, an obstacle to such progress is the fact that the text of the first columns has undergone continuous and significant changes in the last years. In the first draft of this paper for the CHS Conference I used the text of the six first columns in the form it has in my edition of the papyrus, [3] analyzing the remains of these, taking into account recent interpretations of this text, and trying to situate the isolated and incomplete statements within a context that will plausibly serve to explain them. But Janko proposed many changes in the arrangement of the fragments of columns I–III and joined fragments unplaced in the edition by Kouremenos, Parássoglou, and Tsantsanoglou (henceforth KPT); [4] during the conference itself, Tsantsanoglou made new proposals based on {19|20} Janko’s text of the third column; [5] and since then, Ferrari and Piano have made successive efforts to place some scraps in the first columns and rearrange the fragments. [6] So, after reading my paper at the CHS Conference I have reworked it four or five times, accepting and rejecting statements according to the successive rearrangements of the text.
Now, following the texts of Ferrari and Piano, I present my proposals with some variations.

2. Text Analysis

2.1 Column I [7]

2.1.1 The text
The text of column I 2–11 and its translation are as follows: [8]
. . ] . ιδ[ ]κ̣ε ̣. [
. δα̣ρ̣α .  [ ]επιτα[ ] ἕκαστον
. . α̣ν̣ταν .  [ ].οις καὶ κα[ ]ας̣
5ἐλ̣[π]ίδι νεῖμ̣[αι κ]αὶ τὰ σημε[ῖ(α) δ]ι̣ὰ̣ θ̣έ̣α̣ν̣
ὧδ̣’ ἐ̣π̣έθηκ’ ἐ[ντα]ῦθ̣’ εὐχη̣̃ς ἵν’ ἀμφὶ̣ [Ἐρι]ν̣ύ̣ων
κ̣α̣τασημαι[ . . ]  . . . . . . . ρ̣αι ἐᾶμ̣ μ[αν]τ̣ε̣ί̣α̣ς̣
μ̣[υ̣]σ̣τῶν κατ̣[ο]χῆς . . . . λ[ . . ]  . . .   [ . . . ]α̣ν̣ εἰ̣ ἔ̣σ̣[τιν
ὁ]μ̣ῶς̣ ἐ̣π[ὶ π]υρὸς ὕδατος δι̣[ ]  . .  [ . . . . ]εια
10 ]ιν ἕκαστα σημει̃α  [
ἀχ]λὺς καὶ̣ τ̣ἆ̣λ̣λ’ ὅσα̣  [
... each ... to entrust with hope ... and [to decipher] ... the signs through observation, he added the following instruction in that passage of the prayer about the Erinyes ... to dismiss the prophecies [resulting from] a state of mental possession of the mystai ... if it is equally possible .... according to fire and water ... each sign ... the mist and all things that ...
2.1.2 ἐλπίδι
It is not clear whether it is Orpheus who recommends “to entrust with hope” or if this recommendation is part of the author’s explanatory method on the correct attitude toward the rites, to which we shall return in §2.1.3. In the first {20|21} case, this might refer to the belief in the afterlife; in the second, to the conviction that it is possible to understand the meaning of the rites through observation (δ]ι̣ὰ̣ θ̣έ̣α̣ν̣). [9] The reference to hope recurs in column XX 12, when the commentator states that those who are with an incompetent initiator expect to acquire knowledge but, after performing the rites, go away devoid even of expectation.
2.1.3 τὰ σημε[ῖ(α) ... δ]ι̣ὰ̣ θ̣έ̣α̣ν̣
The commentator’s references to σημεῖα and to the verb κατασημαίνω indicate that he is describing particular ritual practices with the intention of attributing to them some specific meaning. It seems that he takes for granted that the meaning of the ritual is not evident (i.e. it is not what it seems to be) and must be attained through observation ([δ]ι̣ὰ̣ θ̣έ̣α̣ν̣, Ι 5). [10] The commentator does this in precisely the same way in which he later cites verses from an Orphic text verbatim in order to ascribe to them an interpretation from philosophical points of view. In other words, in the same way in which the literary text contains two distinct levels—the first being the ancient poem and the other its subsequent commentary—so also does the ritual description. The first level describes the performance of the ancient ritual. On another level, the commentator’s interpretation of the performance is provided, following the idea that rituals, like Orpheus’ verses, contain an undisclosed meaning. The commentator, therefore, considers himself able to explain what lies beneath the surface of the text—its hidden truth and final significance. [11] He differs from other practitioners in positioning his explanations within a cosmic framework much vaster in extent than that of others. [12]
Furthermore, as we shall see, the text contains linguistic markers indicative of this hermeneutic activity. In brief, these are: {21|22}
  1. (a)the use of the verb “to be” in expressions of the form “A is B” in which A frequently corresponds to what is done during the ritual and B to its interpretation;
  2. (b)a variant of (a), whereby “A and B” are identified as “the same [thing]” (τὸ αὐτό);
  3. (c)the use of the verb δηλόω, indicating that Orpheus “makes clear” something that is a part of the commentator’s explanation;
  4. (d)rhetorical questions used as argumentative resources (ἆρα, τί);
  5. (e)the use of the optative to refer to alternative possibilities (e.g. “if we interpret a in some way, then b might occur, so we must interpret a in a different way”);
  6. (f)references to the ignorance of others (οὐ γινώσκοντες);
  7. (g)comparative particles like ὅπωσπερ; and
  8. (h)causal expressions such as ὅτι, γάρ, or τούτου ἕνεκα, used to introduce an explanation of ritual performance by the commentator.
The ritual does not supply its own interpretation as such; only an etiological myth can explain its raison d’être. [13] Thus, if the text includes an explicitly causal explanation, one clearly arises from the commentator’s intervention. The words ἕκαστα σημει̃α suggest an accurate observation of individual phenomena, similar to those in column XIII 6 about the text that is considered allegorical; for this reason “it is necessary to speak about each word/verse in turn” (κ̣[α]τ̣᾽ ἔπος ἕκαστον ἀνάγκη λέγειν).
2.1.4 ἐπέθηκ᾽
The subject of the verb ἐπέθηκ᾽ should be the person who transmitted the ritual. If we are here dealing with Orphic rites, as everything seems to indicate, this person cannot be anyone other than Orpheus himself, who at several points is mentioned either by name or using the third-person pronoun as the author of the poem which is to be discussed in following columns; Orpheus is always considered to be responsible for introducing the τελεταί into Greece. [14] {22|23}
2.1.5 εὐχη̣̃ς ... ἀμφὶ̣’ [Ἐρι]ν̣ύ̣ων
The commentator refers to a prayer addressed to the Erinyes as part of the ritual. It must be stressed that, after he lists the component parts of the ritual in column VI 1 (χοαὶ ... εὐ]χ̣α̣ὶ καὶ θυσ[ί]α̣ι, “libations, pra]yers, and sacrifices”), both χοαί and θυσίαι recur in the column, but εὐχαί does not. [15] Instead, we find in column VI 2 ἐπ̣[ωιδή “spell,” a term that most likely refers to the same reality, which may be evidence of connections to magical practice. [16]
2.1.6 μ[αν]τ̣ε̣ί̣α̣ς
A mantic practice was also part of the rite. [17] With regard to this issue, it seems that the commentator rejects divination practices based on the possession of mystai (col. I 7–8 ἐᾶμ̣ μ[αν]τ̣ε̣ί̣α̣ς̣ μ̣[υ̣]σ̣τῶν κατ̣[ο]χῆς); rather, he prefers to use water and fire as means of divination, [18] although he thinks it is necessary to draw a rational knowledge after observing the sacred action. [19] On the eventual relationship between the Erinyes and divination, Johnston reconsiders Harrison’s idea that the prophecy of Xanthus in Iliad 19.408–417 was inspired by the Erinyes: [20] when the prophecy had been completed, the Erinyes would have stopped the horse’s voice.
2.1.7 ἀχ]λύς
In line 11 we read the sequence ]λ̣ὺς καὶ̣ τ̣ἆ̣λ̣λ’ ὅσα̣ [. KPT 114 suggest the reading πο]λ̣ὺς, which would not seem to tie in very well with the following καὶ τ᾽ ἆλλ’ ὅσα. Conversely, ἀχ]λ̣ὺς, as proposed by Janko, provides a wonderful reading. It would refer to a “shroud of mist,” a clouded frame of mind that can hinder the proper comprehension of things. [21] The commentator would be referring to the fact that most people do not understand the meaning of ritual (cf. σημαίνει, σημεῖα) due to certain mental clouding. The expression is very similar to the {23|24} one we find in column V 8–9 (ὑπὸ τ̣[ῆς τε] ἁμαρτ<ί>ης̣ / κ̣αὶ [τ]ῆς ἄλλης ἡδον[ῆ]ς νενικημέν̣[οι, οὐ] μ̣α̣ν̣θ̣[άνο]υ̣σιν οὐδὲ] π̣ιστεύουσι, “overcome both by error and pleasure as well, they neither learn nor believe”) and is consistent with the numerous references in the poem to the ignorance of others.
2.1.8 In sum
In column I the commentator is making references to a purificatory ritual to honor the Erinyes, in which prayers, the burning of pure offerings, and some divinatory practices were included; here he rejects divination practices based on the possession of mystai and prefers a thoughtful analysis of water and fire. The commentator advises that the ritual has a meaning and that there are signs in it (σήματα) that could be (philosophically) interpreted one by one. People, however, are unable to either notice this meaning or interpret the signs due to their obfuscated minds. Hope also takes an important part in this process. [22]

2.2 Column II

2.2.1 Text
The text and translation of column II 3–8 are as follows: [23]
5 α̣υ̣[ χ]ο̣αὶ στα̣γόσιν̣  [χ]έον̣[ται
  [ ν]ε̣κ̣ρ̣οὺς τιμὰς  [χ]ρὴ
.  [ ]σ̣ι̣ [δ’] ἑκάστοι̣ς ὀρ̣ν̣ί̣θ̣ε̣ιόν τι
κλ̣ε̣[ισθὲν ἁρμ]οστο[ὺ]ς τῆ[ι]  μ̣ουσ̣[ι]κῆι
7 ἐπιτελοῦ]σ̣ι̣ vel ἐπιτελέσου]σ̣ι̣ temptaverit Bernabé : δαίμο]σ̣ι̣ Ferrari ||
8 κλ̣ε̣[ισθὲν Bernabé (temptaverit κλ̣ε̣[ισθὲν οἴκημα) : κά̣ε̣[ται Ferrari
... the Erinyes ... they honor ... the libations are poured down in drops... the dead ought [to be given] honors ... [and] to each [of the participants (?) in the rite they give] a little bird in a cage [24] ... [hymns] adapted to music ... {24|25}
2.2.2 Some impressions
This is the second time that the Erinyes, who will be analyzed by the commentator in the following columns, are mentioned, probably as addressees of a ritual performed by the magoi (col. VI) and as objects of the verb τιμῶσι. Libations are poured [25] and some ritual duty is stated, consisting of honoring the dead. It seems that each of the participants in the rite is given a little bird in a cage. [26] There is also a reference to music (]μ̣ουσ̣[ι]κῆι), a usual part of Orphic rituals. [27]

2.3 Column III

2.3.1 Text and translation
The text and translation of column III 3–11 are as follows: [28]
. . . . . . ] . . α̣ιω̣σ .  [ . . . . ]σ̣ι̣ κ̣ά̣τ̣ω̣[
δαίμ]ω̣γ γίνετα[ι ἑκά]σ̣τωι ἵλ̣ε̣[ως θε]ή̣λ̣α̣τ̣[ος· οὐ γὰ]ρ̣ ἡ̣
5θείη τύ]χη ἐξώλεα σ̣[ίνεται] ε̣ἰ̣ ἔ̣τεισ’ ἕκ̣α̣[στ᾽]  Ἐρινύσ̣[ι, οἱ] δ̣ὲ
δ]α̣ίμονες οἱ κατὰ̣  [γῆς ο]ὐδέ̣κ̣οτ̣᾽  [ἐλευθ]ε̣ρ̣ο̣ῦσι, ὡ[ς δὲ
θ̣εῶν ὑπηρέται δ̣[εινο]ὶ̣ π̣ά̣ντ̣ας̣ υ̣[ ]ι
εἰσὶν ὅπωσπερ ἄ[νδρες]  ἄ̣δικοι̣ θ̣α̣[νάτωι ζημιούμε]νοι
αἰτίην  [τ’ ἔ]χουσι̣[
10οἵους .[ . . ] . [
. . ]υστ[
8 θ̣α̣[νάτωι ζημιούμε]νοι West ap. Tsantsanoglou 1997:96 : θ̣ω̣[ὴν τίνωσι ἐπιμελόμεν]οι
... down there ... [at the moment] of his birth [29] every human being is given a benevolent daimon sent [by the gods, for] the [heavenly] fate [does not harm] a noxious man who has paid all his faults to the Erinyes. On the contrary, [the] under[world] daimones never release, [but, as] servants of the gods [are quite capable of persecuting] all [the culprits. ... ] They [i.e. the culprits] are in exactly the same way as unjust [punished by death], [30] and they are responsible ... just as ... {25|26}
The statements in column III are not a description of the rite, but clearly a commentator’s explanation, as indicated by the use of the causal conjunction γάρ as well as the two comparisons (ὅπωσπερ line 8, and οἵους line 10), for clarifying the exposition. This leads me to posit that West’s integration is more convenient than the one proposed by Ferrari, since it implies a comparison between the punishment of daimones and the punishments of human justice.
The commentator provides a theory about two kinds of daimones. In the first place are those who are sent by the gods [31] and who, according to Tsantsanoglou, [32] “reflect the widespread concept of a daimon who accompanies every person either as a ‘guardian angel’ or as his or her fate, from the moment of birth until death”; second are the daimones from the underworld, who chase the culprits. Later on we shall return to the commentator’s daimonological theory. [33]
The proposal of θείη τύχη is also interesting. Apart from the significant parallels presented by Ferrari, [34] it should be noted that Τύχη has a relevant role in some of the Orphic texts. [35] Certainly the expression has a strong eschatological meaning. The culprit of a given fault can be freed from it by making offerings to the Erinyes; this is the religious context that explains the ritual, described and commented on in the papyrus.

2.4 Column IV

The text of the first five lines of column IV has been improved by the integration of two scraps (F 14 and F 17) by Ferrari, [36] but these lines are not important for our purposes.
In lines 6ff., the function of the Erinyes in their role as auxiliaries of Justice is connected to the cosmic order as a whole. The commentator insists that the punishment of the Erinyes is not solely related to bloodshed; in fact, the text by Heraclitus cited in support does not concern itself with the topic of violent crime within the family. “It is unlikely that he (Heraclitus) completely ignored the roles and characteristics that common opinion had assigned to them (the Erinyes), but it is likely that he adapted them probably by extending {26|27} the jurisdiction in which the Erinys operated,” [37] and so they persecute unjust celestial bodies. The commentator quotes Heraclitus because he ascribes to the Erinyes the role of guarantors of natural order and justice in the universe. [38]
On the contrary, his insistence on the link between the Erinyes and Justice leads us to postulate that good destiny in the afterlife is connected to justice, a theory that seems strange in the context of the Orphic leaves, but not in that of Apulian pottery (where Orpheus and Dike appear on the same vase and in the same explanatory context) or of Plato. [39]

2.5 Column V [40]

In column V, the commentator mentions, most likely in relation to the punishments just discussed, that “the terrors coming from Hades” [41] should be taken seriously. These terrors are connected to the consultation of oracles. Janko [42] has suggested a reading for line 5 that makes this connection explicit: εἰ θέμι[ς ἀπιστ]ῆ̣σ̣α̣[ι, “whether it is right if one were to disbelieve.”
The first-person πάριμεν̣ (line 4) and χρη[στη]ριαζόμ[εθα in line 2 seem to present the very author of the papyrus as a specialist in oracular consultation. [43] If there is no punctuation after αὐ̣τοῖς (line 3) we should understand that the consultation is on behalf of others. [44] One parallel that immediately suggests itself if this is the case is Tiresias’ consultation of the Delphic Oracle at the request of Oedipus in the Oedipus the King of Sophocles. [45]
The mention of dreams appears to indicate that, if correctly interpreted—an act of which common people are incapable—they provide, as παραδείγματα of reality, testimony of the existence of horrific scenes in Hades. [46] The commen- {27|28} tator censures people because they are ignorant and because, as they do not wish to restrict their pleasures with just behavior, they take no notice of this testimony. He argues that dream-visions (and perhaps also oracles, given the reference to their consultation) are παραδείγματα, in which correct faith and learning should be rooted. Because people ignore these models, however, they neither learn nor believe. In this way the commentator equates lack of faith with ignorance. It is worthwhile to recall at this point that, according to the Pythagorean text I will quote in §4.5, daimones are responsible for dream-visions and for oracles. [47] In any case, the author intends to convince these people that they are endangering their own salvation.

2.6 Column VI

2.6.1 New readings
Janko has integrated fr. I 70 in this column, affecting the reading of lines 8–10; I have also modified a former suggestion of mine for lines 11–12, [48] because Ferrari has offered a better alternative, [49] and I have accepted it with some different readings. The text is as follows: [50]
[χοαὶ γάρ, εὐ]χ̣α̣ὶ καὶ θυσ[ί]α̣ι μ[ειλ]ί̣σ̣σ̣ο̣υσι τ̣ὰ̣[ς ψυχάς.]
ἐπ̣[ωιδὴ δ]ὲ̣ μάγων δύν[α]ται δ̣αίμονας ἐμ[ποδὼν]
γι̣[νομένο]υ̣ς μεθιστάν̣αι· δαίμον̣ες ἐμπο[δὼν ὄντες εἰσὶ]
ψ[υχαὶ τιμω]ροί. τὴν θυσ[ία]ν̣ τούτου̣ ἕνεκε[μ] π̣[οιοῦσ]ι̣[ν]
5οἱ μά̣[γο]ι̣, ὡ̣σ̣περεὶ ποινὴν̣ ἀποδιδόντες. τοῖ<ς> δὲ
ἱεροῖ[ς] ἐπισπένδουσιν ὕ[δω]ρ καὶ γάλα, ἐξ ὧμπερ καὶ τὰς
χοὰς ποιοῦσι, ἀνάριθμα̣ [κα]ὶ̣ πολυόμφαλα τὰ πόπανα
θύουσιν, ὅτι καὶ αἱ ψυχα[ὶ ἀν]ά̣ριθμοί̣ εἰσι. μύσται
Εὐμεν̣ίσι προθύουσι κ[ατὰ τὰ] α̣ὐτὰ μάγοις· Εὐμενίδες γὰρ
10ψυχαί ε̣ἰ̣σιν. ὧν ἕνεκ̣[εν ὁ μέλλων ἱ]ερὰ θεοῖς θύειν
ὀ̣ρ̣ν̣ί̣θ̣ιον πρότερον [λύει, ἵνα φίλος αὐτ]α̣ῖ̣ς̣ τ̣ό̣τ̣᾽ ἔ̣[ρχη]ται
[κάτ]ω, [ὅ]τε καὶ τὸ κα̣[κὸν   ]ου . . . [ . . ]οι̣,
εἰσὶ δὲ [ψυχα]ὶ...[. ].τουτο.[
ὅσαι δὲ [ ]ων ἀλλ̣[
15φ̣ο̣ρ̣ου[ ]...[ {28|29}
1 χοαὶ Tsantsanoglou : χοαὶ γάρ Bernabé : nihil rest. Ferrari | εὐ]χ̣α̣ὶ Tsantsanoglou 1997:95 : χ̣ο̣ὴ̣ Tsantsanoglou 2008, prob. Ferrari | τ̣ὰ̣[ς ψυχάς Tsantsanoglou 1997:95 : τ̣ὰ̣[ς ἀ]ρ̣τά̣δ̣[ας Ferrari || 3 ἐμπο[δὼν ὄντες εἰσὶ Janko 2001 : ἐμπο[δίζειν τὰς Ferrari || 4 ψ[υχαὶ τιμω]ροί Tsantsanoglou 1997:113 : ψ[υχὰς δει]ν̣οί Ferrari || 10 ὁ μέλλων ἱ]ερὰ Janko 2008 : τὸμ μέλλοντ]α Tsantsanoglou || 11 ὀ̣ρ̣ν̣ί̣θ̣ιον Ferrari : `ὀ̣´[[θ̣]][ρ]ν̣ί̣θ̣[ε]ιον Janko 2008 | λύει Bernabé, prob. Ferrari : θύει Janko 2008 | εἰ σὺν ψυχ]α̣ῖ̣ς̣ π̣ο̣τ̣ε̣ [ἔσ]ται Ferrari : ὅτι σὺν αὐτ]ο̣ἷ̣ς̣ π̣ο̣τ̣έ̣[ον]ται Bernabé :]α̣ι̣σ̣π̣ο̣τ̣ε̣[. .]ται Janko 2008 || 12 κάτ]ω Bernabé : [ὅ]τε καὶ τὸ κα̣[κὸν Ferrari : . . .] ὥ[σ]τε (iam Janko) καὶ τὸ κα̣[ (κα̣[κὸν dub. in ap. crit.) Bernabé
[For libations, pra]yers, and sacrifices placate [souls]. An in[cantation] by magoi can dislodge daimones that [have become] a hindrance; daimones that [are a hindrance] are vengeful so[uls]. This is why the magoi per[form] the sacrifice, as they are paying a blood-price. Onto the offerings they make libations of wa[ter] and milk, with both of which they also made drink-offerings. They sacrifice cakes which are countless and many-humped, because the souls too are countless. Initiates make a first sacrifice to the Eumenides in the same way as magoi do; for the Eumenides are souls. For these reasons [a person who intends] to make offerings to the gods, first [frees] a bird, [so that he will come welcome] to them in the [netherw]orld, when the e[vil (?)] also ... but they are [souls] ... this (?), but as many (souls) as ... of ... but (?) they wear ...
The reason I prefer these readings in lines 1–4, instead of following Ferrari, is partially that ἀρτάδας is based on very scarce evidence but mostly because, in my opinion, the commentator’s argument can be more easily followed this way: first, he announces that certain practices placate the souls (which will be mentioned again in a later explanation; otherwise, if we read ἀρτάδας, it seems strange that no further explanation of the term is introduced, as if it was completely familiar to him) so, given that the rite intends to placate the Eumenides, the initial statement must be explained, something that the commentator does in subsequent steps:
  1. (a)the ἐπωιδή dislodge daimones that are souls;
  2. (b)the sacrifice is equivalent to a ποινή;
  3. (c)the cakes are many-humped since the souls are countless;
  4. (d)sacrifices are made to the Eumenides because they are souls.
2.6.2 Description and explanation
In column VI the commentator returns to the ritual and its explanation; as a result, the two levels I pointed out in §2.1.3 necessarily reappear. Following {29|30} the above-explained methodology, I will analyze first the descriptive level (§3), trying to place this ritual within a Greek religious context. Afterwards, I will focus on the commentator’s interpretation (§4), aiming at placing it in a philosophical framework.

3 Ritual’s Reconstruction [51]

3.1 Δρώμενα and Λεγόμενα

3.1.1 χοαί
References to libations appear in column VI 6 (ἐπισπένδουσιν) and 7 (χοὰς), and in column II 5. As Tsantsanoglou has already noted, it is likely that among the six to eight letters missing in column VI 1 we should read χοαὶ, which are usually associated with funerary rituals. [52] I propose χοαὶ γάρ, εὐ]χαὶ κτλ. In column II 5, the commentator specifies that they are made in drops (στα̣γόσιν). Yet such a libation was in fact uncommon, since scholars define the χοή as a libation in which the content of the entire vessel was poured out, a practice common in the ritual dedicated to the dead. On the other hand, σπονδή consists of a moderate pouring over the altar. [53] However, sequences such as Aeschylus Choephoroi 149 (τάσδ’ ἐπισπένδω χοάς) [54] call into question the existence of a categorical difference between the two types of libation.
We must pay attention to a small fragment of the papyrus (fr. I 78, KPT 124):
where νηφ[ could be read as a form of νηφάλιος “lacking in wine, sober, abstemious.” [55] In fact, many texts mention wineless libations for the Erinyes, [56] and in almost all cases their purpose is to appease these vengeful divinities. The most interesting is a passage of the Orphic Argonautica in which there are many striking coincidences with the Derveni text: {30|31]
αὐτὰρ ἔγωγε
ψυχὴν ἱλασάμην, σπένδων μειλίγματα χύτλων
ὕδατί τ᾽ ἠδὲ γάλακτι, μελισσορύτων ἀπὸ νασμῶν
575λοιβαῖς συμπροχέων, καὶ ἐμοῖς ὕμνοισι γεραίρων. [57]
That such libations are made without wine seems to arise from the fact that in sacrificial contexts wine is normally considered a substitute for blood. The ritual described by the commentator appears to be similar in this respect to those mentioned elsewhere.
3.1.2 θυσίαι
As the second component of the ritual, the author mentions sacrifices (θυσίαι) in column VI 1 and 4; the verbs θύουσιν (col. VI 8), θύειν (col. VI 10), and προθύουσι (col. VI 9) also appear. Usually, the sacrifice in question is a burnt offering.
It is therein specified (as one might expect, given Orphic beliefs) that this offering does not involve bloodshed, its main components being some cakes (col. VI 7 πόπανα). Other texts give evidence of cake offerings in similar ritual contexts, in particular the mysteries celebrated in honor of the chthonic deities Demeter and Dionysus [58] or in funeral rites. [59]
3.1.3 εὐ]χ̣α̣ί/ἐπ̣[ωιδή
The third component of the ritual, according to column VI 1, consists of invocations εὐ]χ̣α̣ί. [60] εὐχη̣̃ς also appears in column I 6, but in column VI 2 we find ἐπ̣[ωιδή instead of εὐχή. [61] In the ritual context, the most likely purpose of the ἐπωιδή is to appease the Erinyes. Yet the commentator hastens to explain, in the course of discussing the Erinyes and Eumenides, that the addressees are the {31|32} souls of the dead, rather than the Erinyes—here identified, as always, with the Eumenides, a point to which I shall return (§3.2.1).
3.1.4 ἔπη
Another component of the ritual is the hexameter text the author comments upon in columns VII–XXVI, which might form part of τὰ λεγόμενα, though the issue is not the primary focus of our current discussion.
3.1.5 ὀρνίθειον/ὀρνίθιον
In column II 7 we read ὀρνίθειον and in column VI 11 ὀρνίθιον. I have dealt with this topic in a prior paper. [62] Here I will restate the main conclusions along with some new proposals following the new readings:
  1. (a)ὀρνίθειον is attested in ancient authors as a noun meaning “a little bird.” [63] An alternative possibility would be to consider it an adjective in column II 7, and to reconstruct a neuter term for “cage” in the gap (e.g. οἴκημα) [64] ; cf. infra (d).
  2. (b)Since the Orphics did not use living beings (ἔμψυχα) in their sacrifices, I think that this ὀρνίθ(ε)ιον cannot be destined for sacrifice.
  3. (c)I suggested reconstructing λύει instead of Janko’s θύει in column VI 11. Liberation of a bird can be understood as a soul’s liberation from injustice by some sort of sympathetic magic. The mystai probably received (or took) a caged bird. We have parallels to the bird metaphor, [65] and the motif of the cage of the soul-bird stands in clear relation to the Orphic theory of the body as prison of the soul, quoted by Plato, [66] and thus to the doctrine of metempsychosis. The Orphics held the belief that, once {32|33} freed from the cycle of reincarnation, the soul would fly like a bird. If we are to imagine caged birds that later fly away as part of the ritual, their release would be an imitative act serving as a preliminary part of the ritual.
  4. (d)I had proposed a reconstruction of the text based on the reading π̣ο̣τ̣έ̣[ον]ται “they fly” in line 11. Ferrari’s reconstruction seems to be more acceptable (since ποτέονται is a poetic term), but this does not change the interpretation of the ritual act: it consists in the liberation of a bird in order to please the Eumenides. Besides, Ferrari [67] mentions two images in tombstones, where releasing a little bird from a cage seems to hint at a soul departing from its body.

3.2 Addressees of the Ritual

3.2.1 The Eumenides/Erinyes
The addressees of the ritual performed by the magoi are the Erinyes/Eumenides. Given the frequency with which this euphemism is employed in cult worship, [68] it seems likely that the Eumenides are being also identified here with the Erinyes. [69] The type of the offering described is, in fact, the same as that usually offered to the Eumenides in the parallels given above (§3.1.1).
Martín Hernández [70] points out that outside of Orphic circles the ritual for the Erinyes would carry significance in eschatological terms only if the deceased or some of his ancestors had committed a blood crime or made a slanderous allegation against the family. [71] It would be nonsensical, however, to suppose that the ritual described in the papyrus would be aimed at a large group of mystai who were all guilty of a crime of this type. Martín Hernández furthermore turns her attention to the role that these divinities play in the afterlife as depicted on Apulian vase paintings. [72] As in the Orphic texts, in these paintings we find the Erinyes punishing dead individuals who were presumably uninitiated, unjust, {33|34} or those who did not manage entirely to atone for guilt incurred during their lifetime. [73]
Henrichs believes that the “preliminary sacrifice” to the Eumenides cannot be anything like that dedicated to them in the woods near Athens because the cult of the Eumenides is not of a mystic nature and because if it were a preliminary sacrifice, the principal one would then be dedicated to other gods. [74] Both assumptions would be correct within the context of the Attic cult of the Erinyes/Eumenides, but nothing prevents mystic rituals from embracing elements drawn from other Greek rituals and adapting them to their own “liturgy.”
3.2.2 The daimones
There are two different types of daimones in column III. Some of them are benevolent daimones sent by the gods at the moment of birth, one for each human, as a sort of “guardian angels”; the others come from the underworld and chase the culprits. These are probably the same entities as the hindering daimones of column VI 2–3. [75] They most likely hinder the passage of the soul to the afterlife by demanding a penalty for the guilt of each individual. [76]
Tsantsanoglou rightly rejects any supposed relationship between these daimones and the reference Patroclus makes in the Iliad to the souls that will not let him cross to the afterlife because he is unburied. [77] Instead he notes parallels to the μακραίωνες δαίμονες of Empedocles, who keep sinful souls away from those of the just. [78]
These hindering (ἐμ[ποδῶν) daimones are also related to the Ἔμπουσα that Aristophanes introduces in The Frogs. [79] Brown believes that the appearance of Empusa in this role should be linked to the presentation of the φάσματα in the Eleusinian Mysteries. [80] He furthermore suggests that this scene should be interpreted as comic imitation of the dramatization of the afterlife carried out by the mystai and priests in their concoction of their great mysteries. Martín Hernández, however, [81] argues that we should not reject the possibility that one or more similar beings might in fact appear in the panoply of Orphic ritual. {34|35}

3.3 Ritual Performers: Mystai and Magoi

In column VI, two types of ritual performers are mentioned: the μύσται (8) and the μάγοι (2, 5, and 9).
The μύσται are assistants to the μάγοι, who direct the initiation rituals. Obbink calls attention to the fact that μύσται can be associated with both Eleusinian initiates and the Bacchic mysteries. [82] Earlier, Henrichs had suggested the possibility of linking this cult with that of Eleusis, [83] based on the fact that in this period μύσται refers above all to Eleusis. However, Tsantsanoglou rightly refuses to credit this inference. [84] Moreover, Henrichs himself shows that μύσται can be found in the Heraclitus fragment already cited, and in the Orphic gold tablet from Hipponium, [85] where the word μύσται is paired with βάκχοι. Tsantsanoglou adds the testimony of the tablet from Pherai [86] that confirms that the mystai are freed from any punishment after death. Given that the magoi are not to be identified at all with the hierophants of Eleusis, it is clear that these mystai participate in an Orphic-Bacchic ritual.
Tsantsanoglou outlines clearly and precisely the conditions that a mystes should fulfill, always as seen through the eyes of our commentator: [87] he should live a righteous life, avoid injustice, acquire a certain degree of knowledge, eschew the pleasure and distrust that might hinder him from doing so, [88] and celebrate the rite. Dream-visions also provide a source of information for the men, and their exegesis is a part of the process. The mystai probably believed that they could be liberated from their own injustice through the ritual.
On the other hand, the identity of the magoi is a controversial issue. Tsantsanoglou, Burkert, and Ferrari insist that the magoi are professionals of foreign origin, perhaps Persian; Jourdan sees them as charlatans; Most and Betegh see them as Orphic priests. [89] I agree with Betegh’s explanation that, despite the {35|36} Persian origin of the word, the magoi mentioned here are Orphic officiants. It seems likely, furthermore, that the Persian magoi were considered experts in ritual acts and that Orphic officiants were accordingly compared with them. I have dealt with magoi in the Derveni Papyrus in another paper, [90] whose main conclusions are that magoi were neither charlatans nor Persian magoi, but Orphic officiants identical to those who in some sources are referred to as “Orpheotelests.” This name has never been documented in any Orphic source, yet it appears in works of “external” authors, including those with an openly hostile attitude toward Orphism; it almost seems as though the word Ὀρφεοτελεστής is virtually a technical term used by authors with an “external perspective” upon Orphism. [91] If this is the case, the designation “Orpheotelest” might best be understood as a term of art used by erudite ancient “historians of religions,” whilst the term magoi is that current with those who share the “internal perspective.” If we compare the activities attributed to the Orpheotelests (or to the same professionals called by other names) with the ones quoted in the Derveni Papyrus, we can see that they are the same. In the table that follows, I compare the information given in the quoted texts regarding the Orpheotelests with the information about the magoi offered in column VI. This comparative view clearly indicates that the sources refer to the same type of person.
Information about the Orpheotelests in other sources Information about the μάγοι in P.Derv.
Their rituals are mystic [92] VI  8 μύσται
They perform sacrifices [93] VI  1 εὐ]χ̣α̣ὶ καὶ θυσ[ί]αι
They promise happiness in Hades [94] VI  2 δύν[α]ται δ̣αίμονας ἐμ[ποδὼν γ̣ι̣[νομένο]υ̣ς μεθιστάν̣αι [95]
…and terrors to those who were not initiated [96] V  6 ἐξ Ἅιδου δεινά
They use incantation [97] VI  2 ἐπ̣[ωιδή
and also divination [98] V  3 χ̣ρ̣ησ̣[τ]ηρ̣ιάζον[ται,
V 4 μα]ν̣τεῖον

They base their knowledge on Orpheus’ books [99] The text of Orpheus is commented on in P.Derv.
They purify from injustice [100] VI  4–5 τὴν θυσ[ία]ν̣ ... π̣[οιοῦσ]ι̣[ν οἱ μά̣[γο]ι̣, ὡ̣σ̣περεὶ ποινὴν̣ ἀποδιδόντες.
Dream-visions play a specific role [101] V  6 ἐ]ν̣ύ̣πνια {36|37}
Edmonds offers an insightful approach to this topic when he points out “the Derveni author’s use of the text of Orpheus and mention of the magoi as part of his definition of himself as an extra-ordinary ritual specialist” and that “one of the aims of the text was to establish the credentials of the Derveni author as an authority on religious matters, one who was able to give an explanation in support of his ritual practices.” [102] Furthermore, he highlights the fact that “the fundamental ambivalence of the term magos admits a sense of both a positive and a negative abnormality, and the shift from positive to negative is not a chronological, but a situational shift, dependent upon who is labeling whom and for what reasons.” [103] It is likely that criticism cast by competitors upon the magoi in their capacity as religious or healing practitioners eventually infected the word with the negative connotations it acquires in other texts. The positive or strictly technical associations of the word thus came to be overshadowed by the “negative aspect” that Edmonds recognizes within its ambivalent designation of what he calls “extra-ordinary people.”
The analysis of the given data leads us to conclude that the magos, a term of Persian origin referring to certain specific ritual performers, was accepted in Greece, most likely because of the professional prestige such performers enjoyed. More importantly, this expression refers to performers of non-civic rites related to mystic and initiatory rituals. It is crucial to understand that {37|38} these rituals are Greek, in the Greek language, and intended for Greek participants. The λεγόμενα refer almost certainly to explanations of the mythical significance of the mysteries, and also to ἐπωιδαί, which brings them closer to the world of magic. The professionals designated as magoi undertook diverse duties, such as sacrifice (apparently bloodless), divination, healing, purification, preparation for death, funerary rituals—all of them containing a strong magical component. Those who participated in the rituals were called mystai, and they acted in the way indicated by the magoi.
Other types of priests, physicians, official diviners, and other “professionals” must have seen in their performances a dangerous competition, or an intolerable intrusion. They accordingly denounced their practices as being ill-intentioned or simply deceptive and useless. The magoi thus became more and more discredited, and gradually the use of the term became restricted to what we now call “magicians.”

3.4 Conclusions: Concerning Elements of the Ritual

Let us briefly review, then, what elements of the ritual described in the first columns of the papyrus can be asserted.
The first libation is carried out by pouring droplets, as homage paid to the Erinyes/Eumenides. Every mystes takes a little bird, probably caged. The ritual act involves, in addition to the burning of many-lobed cakes, new libations made of water and milk being poured over offerings, accompanied by the recitation of an ἐπωιδή or Orphic poem. Every mystes then releases his caged bird.
It seems clear that the goal of such a ritual act is to propitiate the Erinyes in a funerary ceremony, or better in a τελετή that involves an imitatio mortis by means of sacrifices, prayers/incantations, and libations. [104] Releasing the bird is prima facie an act in accordance with the principles of sympathetic magic, performed to free the soul from its corporal imprisonment or as a metaphor of this liberation. In a previous paper I have underscored the significance of a series of Buddhist rituals linked with karma in which releasing caged birds forms a part of the ritual act. [105] Casadesús [106] provides an interesting alternative when he interprets the bird in a context of ornithomancy and supports this theory by a quotation of a Stoic passage. [107] However, he fails to offer any specific reading for filling the gap. {38|39}

4. Ritual as Interpreted by Commentator

4.1 Premises

The commentator, as I have pointed out (§2.1.3), not only describes the rite, but also proceeds to explain its meaning. At this point it is important to scrutinize the principles upon which his explanation is based, as well as the linguistic markers that indicate his interpretation, which separate the roles of the μάγοι and the μύσται.

4.2 The Function of Magoi

The interpreter concludes the following about the rite performed by the magoi:
  1. (a) The effect he attributes to the χοαί, εὐχαί, and θυσίαι (col. VI 1) is to appease the dead souls: μ[ειλ]ί̣σ̣σ̣ο̣υσι is an almost certain reading. The reconstruction τ̣ὰ̣[ς ψυχάς relies on the commentator’s following statements: daimones must be moved away, and they are souls (col. VI 3–4); it is said in lines 7–8 that πόπανα of countless “nombrils” are sacrificed because the souls of the departed are themselves countless. [108] The commentator thus understands that those who are appeased are the souls. The marker could be γὰρ if, as I believe, this should be read in the lost initial part of line 1.
  2. (b) The effect he attributes to the ἐπωιδή is μεθιστάναι (col. VI 3) to the daimones that hinder (δέ coordinates the sentence with the first one introduced by γάρ). The problem is that the word μεθιστάναι has a double sense in Greek; it may refer to a “change of place” or “displacement,” but it has also the sense “to change in spirits or mood.” [109] I have discussed this problem in another paper, [110] concluding that if the Eumenides are appeased they maintain their distance and do not attack, or, as Henrichs [111] rightly puts it, “they are kept at a safe distance by proper rites of appeasement.” To use a phrase our commentator might have endorsed, “to appease” and “to maintain distance” τὸ αὐτό ἐστι. {39|40}
  3. (c) Impeding daimones are vengeful souls (the linguistic marker being εἰσί). [112]
  4. (d) This is why the magoi perform the sacrifice precisely as though they were paying a blood-price (the linguistic markers are τούτου̣ ἕνεκε[μ] and ὡ̣σ̣περεὶ). [113]
  5. (e) The cakes have multiple lobes because the souls are likewise multiple (marker: ὅτι).

4.3 The Function of Mystai

Regarding what the mystai do, the commentator concludes:
  1. (a) The mystai perform the same acts as the magoi (col. VI 8–9; the marker κατὰ τὰ αὐτά indicates the identification of apparently distinct phenomena).
  2. (b) The Eumenides are the souls of the dead.
  3. (c) προθύουσι is interpreted in etymological terms not as “to sacrifice in the foremost position” in honor of the Eumenides, but rather as “to do prior to the sacrificial act” (θύειν … πρότερον col. VI 10–11; marker: ὧν ἕνεκ̣[εν).
  4. (d) The bird’s liberation implies that the soul of the μύστης will be welcomed by the Erinyes in the netherworld.

4.4 The Erinyes/Eumenides

The commentator identifies the Erinyes/Eumenides as the souls of the dead, which confirms the theory of Rohde to that effect. [114] This scholar, however, takes his hypothesis even further when he states that they are the souls of the dead who passed away in a violent fashion. Nothing in the text seems to indicate this conclusion. Tsantsanoglou suggests that they are the souls of the pious instead, the ἀγαθοί. [115]
Nevertheless, in my opinion, it is important to nuance this picture considerably. Johnston points out that “there is no good indication that the Erinyes were considered to be souls of the dead in popular belief,” [116] and I believe she is absolutely right. More attention should be paid to the fact that the identification {40|41} of the Erinyes/Eumenides with the souls of the deceased is not depicted in the text as being the belief of ritual performers; rather, as the linguistic marker γάρ in line 9 indicates, it is an explanation offered by the commentator. The Derveni commentator can thus be said to have arrived at Rohde’s idea many centuries earlier, but this is not to say his explanation reflects ancient beliefs. On the other hand, there is no indication that they are “principally positive agents,” given the necessity of performing a ritual act in order to appease them.

4.5 The Demonological Theory

The commentator seems to support a rather complex demonological theory, but it is difficult to derive its exact formulation because it is for the most part revealed in the first columns, whose text is not yet sound. I will summarize what we can currently read in the papyrus about daimones:
  1. (a) Daimones are souls (col. VI  3–4).
  2. (b) They are countless and must be propitiated with offerings (col. VI  8).
  3. (c) The Eumenides are also souls, that is, daimones (col. VI  9).
  4. (d) They are sent by the gods and they act as their assistants (col. III 2 δαίμ]ω̣γ ... [θε]ή̣λ̣α̣τ̣[ος; col. III 6–7 ὡ[ς δὲ θ̣εῶν ὑπηρέται δ̣[εινο]ί̣).
  5. (e) The commentator makes mention of diverse types of daimones, but it is not easy to determine whether some of these groups can be distinguished from others. [117]
(e1) First are the daimones that, according to Tsantsanoglou, [118] “reflect the widespread concept of a daimon who accompanies every person either as a ‘guardian angel’ or as his or her fate, from the moment of birth until death” (col. III 4 δαίμ]ω̣γ γίνετα[ι ἑκά]σ̣τωι ἵλ̣ε̣[ως θε]ή̣λ̣α̣τ̣[ος).
(e2) Second are the ones who come from the underworld and chase the culprits. The statement in column III 4–5 οὐ γὰ]ρ̣ ἡ̣ θείη τύ]χη ἐξώλεα σ̣[ίνεται] ε̣ἰ̣ ἔ̣τεισ’ ἕκ̣α̣[στ᾽] Ἐρινύσ̣[ι seems to indicate that it is the function of these daimones from the underworld to punish those who have not propitiated the Erinyes.
(e3) Some of them are a hindrance and are vengeful souls (col. VI 3–4). It is highly probable that they are the same daimones of the previous group. {41|42}
Many points of contact with the commentator’s ideas can be found in a text by Alexander Polyhistor in which Pythagoras identifies the daimones with the souls of the dead and portrays the Erinyes, who put shackles on those who enter the afterlife without being ritually pure (ἀκαθάρτους), as divinities in charge of punishing such souls:
Hermes is the controller of the souls … he brings upwards the purified souls, but impure souls were not allowed to approach each other, much less to come close to pure souls, since they were fettered in unbreakable bonds by the Erinyes. And all the air is full of souls and they are called daimones and heroes; and they carry to men dreams, portents, diseases, and purification, averting by expiatory sacrifices, all divination and omens are related to them. [119]
Although it seems clear that Pythagorean eschatology is celestial (the righteous being is brought upwards) whereas Orphic eschatology is chthonic, there are a number of significant points of contact between the two, most notably the presence of the Erinyes as guardians and punishers of impure souls, references to dreams, portents, and prophecies, and the relationship of these to daimones.
Martín Hernández also draws attention to a very clear parallel in Plutarch. [120]
On the other hand, δαίμων ἵλεως does not lack parallels: there are references in Marcus Aurelius to a similar entity; [121] additionally, Socrates alludes to a personal daimon (τι/τὸ δαιμόνιoν), to whom he attributes discouraging functions, above all. [122] Plato presents daimones as intermediaries between gods and men in Symposium; in Republic the philosopher refers “to gods, daimones, heroes, and Hades’ things.” [123] Even Menedemos’ jokes indicate that the relationship between Erinyes and daimones was a widespread belief. [124] {42|43}
Although the issue can be only sketched here, this doctrine can be traced to Hesiod, who speaks about the golden race that become daimones, guardians of mortal human beings. [125] Some philosophers speak about a world that is ἔμψυχον and full of souls or daimones. [126] An enigmatic fragment by Heraclitus talks about certain beings who transform themselves into guardians watching over the living and the dead. [127] The Ephesian philosopher seems to allude to this doctrine as well when claiming that the δαίμων (that is, the individual one) is the character. [128]
On the other hand, Sara Macías [129] points out an interesting parallel in a fragment of Euripides, [130] where reference is made to a bloodless sacrifice accompanied by a libation to Zeus, here identified with Hades. Subsequently, they ask a god, whom Macías interprets as Dionysus, to wield the scepter of Zeus, share power over the underworld with Hades, and send the souls of the dead to the light in order to increase the ritual knowledge of the participants in the rite.
Also we find in Chrysippos evil daimones used by gods as executioners and avengers upon unholy and unjust men. Plutarch says that, while others go about as avengers of arrogant and grievous cases of injustice, daimones are guardians of sacred rites of the gods and prompters of the Mysteries. [131] Plutarch also asserts that it is ridiculous that Apollo “should offer some libations and perform those ceremonies which men perform in the effort to placate and mollify the wrath of daimones whom men call the ‘unforgetting avengers,’ as if they followed up the memories of some unforgotten foul deeds of earlier days.” [132] {43|44}
To sum up, the commentator’s interpretation does not seem to be utterly idiosyncratic. Rather, it is situated within a deep, and widely understood, cultural context.

4.6 The Absence of the Gods

In the above-mentioned passages, we met Hermes in the text by Pythagoras (Diogenes Laertius 8.31) and Zeus/Hades and Dionysus in the text by Euripides (fr. 192 Kannicht). We can also find gods situated within an Orphic eschatological context in the gold tablets. A gold tablet from Thurii mentions that the soul of an initiate addresses a declaration of purity to Persephone (the queen of the subterranean world), Hades (Eucles), and Dionysus (Eubouleus). [133]
However, in the papyrus no god is mentioned in the context of the rituals related to the netherworld. Tsantsanoglou offers a useful explanation when he notes: “He would contradict himself if he spoke of the worship of Hades and Persephone, since he goes on subsequently to deny the existence of distinct deities, claiming that their different names represent successive stages in the creative process of the world.” [134] Probably for this reason he prefers to refer to the divine with general designations, such as θε]ή̣λ̣α̣τ̣[ος (col. III 4) or θείη τύ]χη (col. III 5).

4.7 Conclusions Concerning Commentator’s Interpretation

The commentator understands that the goal of the ritual act is to propitiate not the Erinyes or the daimones, but rather—given that the daimones, Eumenides, and Erinyes are merely souls of the dead—souls who may potentially seek to obstruct the liberation of the deceased after death. The mystai perform their preliminary sacrifice in the same way that the magoi do. He considers their acts to be parallel: the sacrifices to the Eumenides are identical to appeasing the souls of the dead, and liberating birds from their cages serves to remove impeding daimones. {44|45}

5. Coda. Some Concluding Remarks

5.1 About the Described Ritual

Columns I–VI of the Derveni Papyrus describe a ritual that the magoi (in other words, Orphic priests) perform in the presence of initiates (mystai) who also participate. A first libation is carried out by pouring droplets. The rest of the ritual involves simple elements well known in the Greek world, including some divinatory practices, “abstemious” libations, the burning of πόπανα, and magical rites (ἐπωιδαί and probably the liberation of caged birds) performed to ward off the hindering daimones and liberate the souls, as well as to propitiate the Erinyes/Eumenides, as they are the ones who punish the non-initiates in the Beyond. A poem is also recited that explains a “history of the world” in which the ritual acquires its mythical foundation. The ritual probably also refers to gods such as Persephone, Dionysus, and Zeus-Hades, in accordance with the mythological and ritual practice elsewhere, but the commentator seems to have deliberately muted this aspect of the rite. In the commentary of the poem, the commentator proclaims an absolute supremacy of Zeus, though it is impossible to say if this reflects the first part of the papyrus.
It seems clear that, in a ritual such as this, the purpose is to propitiate the Erinyes in a funerary ceremony, or τελετή, which involves an imitatio mortis by means of sacrifices, enchanting songs, and libations. [135] The ritual is therefore performed on two levels, both initiatory and eschatological, for the τελετή anticipates in the ritual the soul’s journey into the afterlife. The act of releasing a bird follows the principle of sympathetic magic performed in order to liberate the soul from its bodily imprisonment, or alternatively serves as a metaphor for this liberation.
Betegh [136] recognizes two different kinds of rite: “one, rites that should secure the safe passage of the soul of the dead to the underworld and to the most blissful part of it; the other, initiation rites.” He does not forget to add, however, that “these two ritual contexts are closely connected.” His assumptions are entirely correct, but we may add another consideration to complete them. Martín Hernández [137] has postulated that what is described in the papyrus is a ritual intended to purify its participants of μίασμα, the stain caused by the rebellion of the Titans—the precedent sin which humanity must bear throughout its existence. [138] The new readings can be easily placed within this {45|46} paradigm. The soul of the participant, united with the body, is in a state of pollution due to the ancient blood crime committed against the son of Persephone. In this respect, the Erinyes would play a distinctive role since they are, as noted above, in charge of avenging crimes committed against blood relations—in this case, the blood of the child Dionysus that must be atoned for by all men, who are polluted by this crime. The magoi would try to appease the Erinyes by means of the sacrifices and prayers described in the papyrus, and would purify the souls of the mystai. The rite could liberate them from the μίασμα of the Titan’s crime and from the cycle of reincarnations. The ποινή quoted in column VI 5 should be taken as a reference to the wrongdoings of ancestors—the Titans—committed against the son of the goddess of the netherworld, before whom the dead must appear in the afterlife. We may find similar expressions in some gold tablets from Thurii, [139] in the Papyrus from Gurôb, [140] in two passages by Pindar, [141] and in one by Plato. [142] One gold tablet from Pherai confirms that the mystai are freed from any penalty in the afterlife. [143] These texts describe the wrongdoings of the ancestors and their subsequent liberation in various ways, but the recurrence of vocabulary indicates their relation to common religious antecedents. [144]
Thus it is more than likely that the myth of the Titans provides the very grounds of the ritual. In fact, column XX 13ff. of the papyrus seems to allude to Demeter and Persephone, while column XXVI makes clear reference to Zeus and the incestuous act that would lead to the birth of Persephone.
In this way, the mystai are liberated from the terror of Hades in a triple sense: first, they will be free from hindering daimones; second, because they are initiates, they have taken steps to ensure that they do not suffer punishment in the afterlife, because they have paid all his faults to the Erinyes; and, third, they are liberated from having to fear these punishments in this world. {46|47}

5.2 About the Commentator’s Interpretation of the Ritual

The commentator, furthermore, attempts to confer a profound value upon the ritual act—a moral perspective—which it did not have before. He causes the gods to disappear from rites of magic propitiation. He also sketches a complex demonological theory with different types of daimones/souls, good and evil, and makes the Erinyes guarantors of justice. He considers the purpose of the ritual to be to the warding off and/or propitiating of the Eumenides and the δαίμονες who hinder the souls’ progress after death, and that both the Eumenides and the δαίμονες are in fact the souls of the deceased. The magoi perform the sacrifice as if they were paying a blood-price. So, in the commentator’s interpretation, the ritual acts, in a way, like criminal compensation, which individuals condemned for an offense are expected to pay; sacrifice plays the same role as ποινή in human justice. The poem contains an explanation of the world that is philosophical in tone and conceptualized within a framework of natural philosophy. That the commentator mentions neither Dionysus nor the myth of the Titans may reflect the scientific and quasi-monotheistic hermeneutic tendencies of the interpreter, who in fact strives to eliminate the infernal gods as the addressees of the ritual.
The most interesting point regarding the commentator’s contribution is, according to Betegh, the ethical perspective [145] with which he interprets the ritual. Betegh writes: “col. IV indicates that the discussion is still within the sphere of improper behaviour-justice-punishment.” He then further indicates that “the precondition both for piety and gain in knowledge about the divine can be taken as an intellectualized interpretation of the need for purification before initiation.” [146]
Instead of the quasi-automatic nature of the ritual, the commentator introduces a more intense conceptualization of the idea of justice and transgression. References to Justice permeate the text. In column IV, the author’s reference to a fragment by Heraclitus suggests that he considers the Erinyes to watch over transgressions of natural law, which allows him to contextualize the injustice-penalty pattern within the cosmic order. In column V he alludes to the terrors of Hades. In defending their existence, the commentator outlines a vision whereby wrongdoings, rather than any lack of initiation, constitute the faults that are atoned for with terrible punishments in the afterlife. In the next column, he offers an explanation of the ritual as a form of atonement, comparable to the {47|48} role played by ποινή—the mandated compensation for a crime (almost always involving blood) in human justice. [147]
On the other hand, the Erinyes had already broadened their function [148] within the Orphic rite so that they might serve also as the guardians of the ritual order. In the commentator’s interpretation this role is defined even more broadly, so that they become guardians of the moral order.
The commentator thus shares with Plato a moralizing tendency, as well as the notion that ritual elements are not the sole or fundamental factor in affecting the punishments one can expect in the afterlife. Such an idea, in fact, would in this conception be an offense against justice and ethics. The difference between the commentator and the Athenian philosopher lies in the fact that, whereas the former attempts to include a new moralized and philosophical vision in ritual practice, Plato goes a step further as he denies the ritual act any kind of value, instead developing a system in which the true τελετή is philosophy. [149] {48|}


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[ back ] 1. The Spanish Ministry of Economy and Innovation has given financial support for the research for this paper (FFI2010-17047).
[ back ] 2. Henrichs 1984; Obbink 1997; Tsantsanoglou 1997; Johnston 1999; Betegh 2004:74–91; Kouremenos, in Kouremenos, Parássoglou, and Tsantsanoglou 2006; Ferrari 2011a, 2011b, 2011c. See also Chiarabini 2006; Martín Hernández 2010.
[ back ] 3. Bernabé 2007a.
[ back ] 4. Janko 2008.
[ back ] 5. Tsantsanoglou, in this volume. Also Scermino 2008–2009:70.
[ back ] 6. Ferrari has published the new arrangement of col. IV (Ferrari 2010), cols. I–III (Ferrari 2011c), and col. VI (Ferrari 2011a); cf. also Ferrari 2012 and Piano 2011.
[ back ] 7. Col. 0 is in a very bad state. No full words are discernable.
[ back ] 8. A critical apparatus can be seen in Ferrari 2011c:42 and 2012. Translation by Ferrari (2012).
[ back ] 9. Ferrari 2011c:42–43.
[ back ] 10. According to KPT 114 σημε[ῖα can be supernatural signs. Janko (2008:44) thinks that the text deals with divination from signs, apparently using lots. Probably the word means “signals” in rites that allow the wise (i.e. the commentator) to interpret rightly their meaning.
[ back ] 11. Cf. Bernabé 2010a. Henrichs (1984:261) writes: “the author of the papyrus speculates about the underlying meaning of the ritual which he is describing,” thus highlighting the fact that, except for Plato, this type of theological speculation is somewhat uncommon in authors writing in the fourth century. He also distinguishes (Henrichs 1998:45) two methodologies of ritual explanation: “the traditional form provides an etiological explanation via the mythical paradigm, whereas the ‘historical’ rationale explains the efficacy of action.” Obbink (1997) also emphasizes this point. Betegh (2004:84) takes the “explanatory account” a step further when he outlines the following formula: “the interpretation or ritual action can be described in the general form ‘Actor a performs ritual action R because E.’” He develops this theory on p. 350, but these remarks have generally failed to attract the attention of other scholars.
[ back ] 12. Betegh 2004:354.
[ back ] 13. Cf. Henrichs 1984.
[ back ] 14. Ferrari 2011c:42. Cf. Orpheus fr. 546–562 Bernabé 2004–2005 (henceforth OF) and Bernabé 2008a. On the other hand, Kouremenos (KPT 145) believes that the person in question is Orpheus and he quotes OF 547, 549–554, though he does not exclude the possibility of ὁ τέχνην ποιούμενος τὰ ἱερά. The later proposal is, however, difficult to accept since the performer does not create the ritual, but only performs it.
[ back ] 15. χοαὶ in col. VI 1 is a conjecture by Tsantsanoglou (see §3.1.1). The word recurs in col. VI 7 χοὰς (cf. ἐπισπένδουσιν in col. VI 6); θυσία reappears in col. VI 4 θυσ[ία]ν (cf. θύουσιν in col. VI 8, προθύουσι in col. VI 9, and θύειν in col. VI 10).
[ back ] 16. Pfister 1924; Furley 1933. In Plutarch Quaestiones convivales 706D (ὥσπερ γὰρ οἱ μάγοι τοὺς δαιμονιζομένους κελεύουσι τὰ Ἐφέσια γράμματα πρὸς αὑτοὺς καταλέγειν καὶ ὀνομάζειν), the μάγοι—the term naturally being understood with the sense it had in the time of Plutarch—use a form of ἐπωιδή (the Ephesia grammata) to act upon daimones, in this case those who were possessing an unfortunate victim. On the Ephesia grammata see Bernabé 2003 and forthcoming.
[ back ] 17. On divination in the Derveni papyrus see Johnston in this volume.
[ back ] 18. Cf. KPT 114.
[ back ] 19. Ferrari 2011c:44.
[ back ] 20. Johnston 1992:95; cf. Ferrari 1911c:45–46.
[ back ] 21. As in Archilochus 191.2 West (here due to love), or in Critias 6.10 West.
[ back ] 22. Cf. in contrast col. XX 11–12, concerning bad performers of the rites: πρὶμ μὲν τὰ [ἱ]ε̣ρὰ ἐπιτελέσαι, ἐλπίζον̣[τε]ς εἰδήσειν, ἐπ̣[ιτελέσ]α̣ντ̣[ες] δ̣έ, στερηθέντες κα̣[ὶ τῆ]ς ἐλπί[δος] ἀπέρχονται̣, “before they perform the rites expecting to acquire knowledge, but after performing them they go away devoid even of expectation” (translation from KPT).
[ back ] 23. Text and translation by Ferrari, unless otherwise indicated. For a complete critical apparatus cf. Ferrari 2011c:46, CHS.
[ back ] 24. “[of the performers? of the rites they give] some little bird in a cage” (my translation); “[and] for each [of the daimons] a ... of bird is burnt” (Ferrari CHS).
[ back ] 25. See §3.1.1.
[ back ] 26. See §3.1.5.
[ back ] 27. On music in Orphic rituals see Molina 2008.
[ back ] 28. Text and translation by Ferrari, unless otherwise indicated. For a complete critical apparatus see Ferrari 2011c:50, CHS.
[ back ] 29. Cf. Menander fr. 500.1–3 KA: ἅπαντι δαίμων ἀνδρὶ συμπαρίσταται / εὐθὺς γενομένῳ, μυσταγωγὸς τοῦ βίου / ἀγαθός; Ferrari 2011c:51.
[ back ] 30. “[but, as] servants of the gods, [they are quite capable of persecuting] all [the culprits.... ] They [i.e. the culprits] are in exactly the same way as unjust [punished by death]” (my translation): “[but, as] servants of the gods [quite capable of persecuting] all [the culprits,] they [take care that] the unjust [men will pay] the penalty for their crimes” (Ferrari).
[ back ] 31. On the link δαίμ]ω̣γ ... θε]ή̣λ̣α̣τ̣[ος, Ferrari (2011c:52) provides the parallel with Plutarch De vitando aere alieno 830F: οἱ θεήλατοι καὶ οὐρανοπετεῖς ἐκεῖνοι τοῦ Ἐμπεδοκλέους δαίμονες; cf. Empedocles B 115 DK.
[ back ] 32. Tsantsanoglou 1997:105.
[ back ] 33. See §4.5.
[ back ] 34. Ferrari 2011:52n52.
[ back ] 35. Just like the Orphic tablet from Thurii OF 492, the Orphic Hymn 72, and two lead tablets from Selinous; cf. Martín Hernández 2011.
[ back ] 36. Ferrari 2010. For the following lines see Bernabé 2007a:188–195.
[ back ] 37. Rightly Johnston 1999:266.
[ back ] 38. Obbink 1997:51. As Tsantsanoglou (1997:109) points out, it is not the size of the sun that worries the exegete but rather the theological problem of the role played by the Erinyes.
[ back ] 39. Cf. Bernabé 2010b:201–204. About δίκη among Orphics see Jiménez San Cristóbal 2005.
[ back ] 40. Cf. the deep analysis of this column in Johnston in this volume.
[ back ] 41. Ferrari reads ἐ̣ξ (ἐ̣ν̣ Tsantsanoglou; ἆ̣ρ̣᾽ KPT; ἂ̣ν̣ Janko).
[ back ] 42. Janko 2008:50–51.
[ back ] 43. Johnston (in this volume), however, considers that our author is not talking only about himself and people just like him when he uses the first-person plural.
[ back ] 44. Cf. the interpretative possibilities offered by Kouremenos (KPT 162) and by Johnston (in this volume).
[ back ] 45. Edmonds 2008:25 and 34. Kouremenos (KPT 162) asserts that “there is no reason to assume that the speaker here is the Derveni author,” but his text does not offer any alternative explanation of the first-person plural. Cf. also Santamaría 2012.
[ back ] 46. Col. V 6–8: οὐ γινώσ̣[κοντες ἐ]ν̣ύ̣πνια ο̣ὐδὲ τῶν ἄλλωμ πρ̣αγμάτων ἕκασ̣[τον], δ̣ιὰ ποίω̣ν ἂν π̣α̣ρ̣α̣δειγμάτωμ π̣[ι]στεύοιεν; “without knowing (the meaning of) dreams or any of the other things, by what kind of evidence would they believe?” (trans. KPT). Johnston in this volume considers that the commentator means “miseries that those already dead are suffering, which causes them, in turn, to inflict miseries on the living.” If this is so, ritual described in the papyrus could mainly concern the correct manner to avoid such a situation.
[ back ] 47. καὶ ὑπὸ τούτων (sc. δαιμόνων) πέμπεσθαι ἀνθρώποις τούς τ᾽ ὀνείρους καὶ τὰ σημεῖα νόσους τε.
[ back ] 48. Bernabé 2007b, 2007c.
[ back ] 49. Ferrari 2011a:75, reproduced in Ferrari CHS.
[ back ] 50. Janko 2008. In the critical apparatus I present only the new proposals. Cf. Bernabé 2007a and Ferrari 2011a:75 for more complete critical apparatus.
[ back ] 51. About Orphic rituals, see Jiménez San Cristóbal 2002. The reconstruction will be easier when we have a better text.
[ back ] 52. Tsantsanoglou 1997:110; cf. Graf 1980:217–218; Henrichs 1984:260; Betegh 2004:76. Ferrari reads ] χ̣ο̣ὴ̣ instead of εὐ]χ̣α̣ὶ.
[ back ] 53. Rudhardt 1958:240–248; Casabona 1966:231–297; Graf 1980:217–218; Henrichs 1984; Tsantsano-glou 1997:102–103; Jourdan 2003:2n2; Betegh 2004:76.
[ back ] 54. Which Henrichs (1984:260n18) underscores as “exceptional,” even though he adds “and similar phrases in Euripides.” See further Martín Hernández’s inspiring appraisals (2010:237–241).
[ back ] 55. Cf. Bernabé 2007a. Ferrari (2007:203) suggested the inclusion of α̣ὐ̣[ταῖς] δ̣ ᾽ ἄ̣ρ̣α̣ ν̣[ηφαλίοις χ]οαὶ in col. II 5.
[ back ] 56. Aeschylus Eumenides 107–109, Sophocles Oedipus Coloneus 100, 159, and schol. ad loc. (16.1 di Marco), Apollonius Rhodius 4.712–715. Cf. Henrichs 1983, 1984.
[ back ] 57. Orphei Argonautica 572–575.
[ back ] 58. Clemens Alexandrinus Protrepticus 2.22.4 (OF 590): πόπανα πολυόμφαλα (with regard to the mysteries related to Orpheus); Aristophanes Plutus 660: πόπανα καὶ προθύματα; Thesmophoriazusae 284–289: τὴν κίστην κάθελε, κἆιτ᾽ ἔξελε / τὸ πόπανον, ὅπως λαβοῦσα θύσω τοῖν θεοῖν (Demeter and Kore); Polybius 6.25.7: τοῖς ὀμφαλωτοῖς ποπάνοις παραπλήσιον (a shield) τοῖς ἐπὶ τὰς θυσίας ἐπιτιθεμένοις; Menander Dyscolos 449–451: ὁ λιβανωτὸς εὐσεβὲς / καὶ τὸ πόπανον· τοῦτ᾽ ἔλαβεν ὁ θεὸς ἐπὶ τὸ πῦρ / ἅπαν ἐπιτεθέν (from a pious sacrifice, as opposed to the sacrifice with extravagant expenditure); Epiphanius Expositio fidei 10 (OF 592): τύμπανά τε καὶ πόπανα, ῥόμβος τε καὶ κάλαθος amongst the elements of the Eleusinian mysteries; Callimachus fr. 681 Pf.: νηφάλιαι καὶ τῆισιν ἀεὶ μελιηδέας ὄμπας / λήιτειραι καίειν ἔλλαχον Ἡσυχίδες; Sokolowski, Lois sacrées 52.9: π[ό]πανον χιονικιαῖον ὀρθόμφαλον δωδεκόνφαλον. Cf. Henrichs 1984:260–261nn22–24, Kearns 1994, Martín Hernández 2010:248–252.
[ back ] 59. In Lucian Cataplus 2 Charon says: παρ᾽ ἡμῖν μὲν γὰρ ἀσφόδελος μόνον καὶ χοαὶ καὶ πόπανα καὶ ἐναγίσματα.
[ back ] 60. Contra Ferrari 2011a.
[ back ] 61. See §2.1.5.
[ back ] 62. Bernabé 2007b. Although this paper was based on the former readings of cols. II–III, I think that the main arguments are still valid. Details and criticism of other interpretations can be read in it.
[ back ] 63. Clytus fr. 1: σκέλη δὲ ἄκεντρα, ὅμοια τοῖς ὀρνιθείοις, “their legs lack spurs, just like chickens”; Pherecrates 50.5–6 KA: ὀρνίθεια πλήθει πολλά, “a vast number of birds” (trans. Gulick); Aristophanes Aves 1590: καὶ μὴν τά γ’ ὀρνίθεια λιπάρ’ εἶναι πρέπει, where Del Corno translates “gli uccelli.”
[ back ] 64. Cf. Herodotus 7.109: ἔτρεφόν τε ὄρνιθας χερσαίους καὶ λιμναίους ἔν τε οἰκήμασι; Hippolitus Haereses 6.8.2: τότε ἀνοίξας τὸ οἴκημα εἴασεν ἄλλον ἀλλαχόσε τοὺς ψιττακούς; Hsch.: κουμάσιον· τὸ τῶν ὀρνίθων; Suda: οἴκημα ὀρνιθοκομεῖον· τὸ τὰς ὄρνιθας ἔχον οἴκημα. Cf. Aristophanes fr. 446 KA and note ad loc: ὀρνίθειον οἰκίσκον. Nevertheless, οἰκίσκος is masculine and cannot be restored here since τι requires a neuter noun.
[ back ] 65. Plutarch Consolatio ad uxorem 611D (OF 595 I), cf. Bernabé 2001 (there is a similar statement in Non posse suaviter vivi secundum Epicurum 1105D), an Orphic gold tablet found in Thurii (OF 488.5). See also Turcan 1959; Casadio 1991:135–136; Bernabé and Jiménez San Cristóbal 2008:120.
[ back ] 66. Plato Cratylus 400c, cf. Bernabé 1995 and 2010b:115–143; see also Méautis 1932:582, Nilsson 1957:123n15, Turcan 1959:38.
[ back ] 67. Ferrari 2011a:80.
[ back ] 68. Johnston 2004:35, with additional bibliography; see also Johnston 1999:267–273.
[ back ] 69. Henrichs (1994) points out that “Erinyes” was a term that could be used, from the middle of the fifth century at the latest, to express negative aspects of the Eumenides. Betegh (2004:86) points also to a close link between the Erinyes and Bacchic initiates—especially in tragedy, where the Erinyes frequently show maenadic or Bacchant-like characteristics, or are explicitly described using such terms.
[ back ] 70. Martín Hernández 2010:271.
[ back ] 71. In relation thereto he quotes Iliad 9.571; Odyssey 11.280; Pindar Olympian 2.41; Aeschylus Septem 70, 700, 723, 1055, Choephoroi 283, Eumenides 950; Sophocles Electra 112, Antigone 1075. See also Johnston 1999:252.
[ back ] 72. Martín Hernández 2010:272. Cf. also Schmidt 1975; Pensa 1977; Tsantsanoglou 1997:112n23; Bernabé 2009.
[ back ] 73. Cf. Schmidt 1975; Bianchi 1976:32–34; Aellen 1994; Bernabé 2009. Cf. also Aristophanes The Frogs 144f–161; Pseudo-Plato Axiochus 371d; Papyrus Bononiensis 4.24.
[ back ] 74. Henrichs 1984:266.
[ back ] 75. See §4.5.
[ back ] 76. It cannot be ruled out that, in the framework of a ritual or the analysis of the commentator, they might be identified with the Erinyes. Cf. Betegh 2004:88 as well as Martín Hernández 2010:258–270.
[ back ] 77. Iliad 23.71–74; Tsantsanoglou 1997:112.
[ back ] 78. Empedocles B 115 DK.
[ back ] 79. Aristophanes The Frogs 292–305; cf. Johnston 1999:130–139, Betegh 2004:89n45.
[ back ] 80. Brown 1991.
[ back ] 81. Martín Hernández 2010:261–264.
[ back ] 82. Obbink 1997:51.
[ back ] 83. Henrichs 1984:266–267.
[ back ] 84. Tsantsanoglou 1997:115.
[ back ] 85. Heraclitus fr. 87 Marcovich (= B 14 DK and OF 474), cf. Bernabé and Jiménez San Cristóbal 2008:52–53.
[ back ] 86. OF 493, cf. Bernabé and Jiménez San Cristóbal 2008:151.
[ back ] 87. Tsantsanoglou 1997:101.
[ back ] 88. Cf. Tsantsanoglou 1997:102, quoting the parallels in vocabulary in the Bacchae 473–474 (εἰδέναι), 480 (ἀμαθής), and 490 (ἀσέβεια).
[ back ] 89. Most 1997; Tsantsanoglou 1997:110–115; Jourdan 2003:XIV and 37–38; Burkert 2004:117; Ferrari 2011a, 2011b; Betegh 2004:78. West remarks, in less explicit form, that the Babylonian or Assyrian priests, then subdued by the Persians, can serve as a role model of exegesis and that the exegete bridges the ritual of the Orphic initiates with the magoi “speaking as if the wisdom of the μάγοι guaranteed the validity of Orphic ritual” (West 1997:89–90). The expression “as if” does not make it clear whether he believes that the authentic Babylonian magoi participated in the rituals or that they are a model for the Greek officiants; cf. Bernabé 2006.
[ back ] 90. Bernabé 2006.
[ back ] 91. Plutarch Apophthegmata Laconica 224D (OF 653), Theophrastus Characteres 16.11 (OF 654), Philodemus De poematis Papyrus Herculanensis 1074 fr. 30 (181.1 Janko = OF 655); see also Hippocrates De morbo sacro 18.6 (90 Grensemann = OF 657), Plato Respublica 364b (OF 573 I) and 364e (OF 573 I), Strabo 7 fr. 10a Radt (OF 659), about Orpheus himself described as an Orpheotelest (cf. Livy 39.8.3, and Bernabé 2002a).
[ back ] 92. μυηθέντες: Plutarch Apophthegmata Laconica 224D; τελετάς: Plato Respublica 364b, Strabo 7 fr. 10a Radt; τελεσθησόμενος: Theophrastus Characteres 16.11.
[ back ] 93. θυσίαις and θυηπολοῦσιν: Plato Respublica 364b.
[ back ] 94. εὐδαιμονοῦσι: Plutarch Apophthegmata Laconica 224D; τελευτήσουσι: Plato Respublica 364b.
[ back ] 95. I understand that liberation from δαίμονες ἐμποδών that are ψ[υχαὶ τιμω]ροί allows the initiate to be free from punishment in the netherworld.
[ back ] 96. μὴ θύσαντας δὲ δεινὰ περιμένει: Plato Respublica 364b.
[ back ] 97. ἐπωιδαῖς: Plato Respublica 364b.
[ back ] 98. μαντικῆς: Strabo 7 fr. 10a Radt; μάντεις: Plato Respublica 364b.
[ back ] 99. βίβλων Ὀρφέως: Plato Respublica 364b.
[ back ] 100. λύσεις τε καὶ καθαρμοὶ ἀδικημάτων διὰ θυσιῶν: Plato Respublica 364b.
[ back ] 101. Probably it is not a coincidence that Theophrastus Characteres 16.11 refers to the Orpheotelests just after talking about ἐνύπνια. Cf. Tsantsanoglou (1997:98–99), who rightly argues that the professional referred to consults the oracles—he is a μάντις—interprets dreams (ὀνειροκρίτης), and might even be a τερατοσκόπος as well. In Leges 933d, Plato jointly quotes the μάντις and the τερατοσκόπος when he most likely refers to these Greek professionals (Bernabé 2010b:222).
[ back ] 102. Edmonds 2008:31–32. See also Burkert 1962.
[ back ] 103. Edmonds 2008:35. On the contrary, KPT’s argumentation (53) is based on a false dilemma: “the term μάγος is used pejoratively ... unless it refers to a member of the priestly Persian caste.”
[ back ] 104. Martín Hernández 2005.
[ back ] 105. Bernabé 2007b.
[ back ] 106. Casadesús 2010.
[ back ] 107. SVF II 1213: eademque efficit in avibus divina mens, ut tum huc tum illuc volent alites tum in hac tum in illa parte se occultent, tum a dextra tum a sinistra parte canant oscines, etc.
[ back ] 108. Instead of offering analogous or symbolic interpretations of the ritual, Betegh believes the passage is intended to have the sense “to give each of the angry souls its share” (see Betegh 2004:84).
[ back ] 109. Laks and Most (1997a:11) translate it as “to change,” but they add in n7 “or ‘keep away.’” Tsantsanoglou (1997:98) takes it as “change (or drive away?),” Janko (2002:13), as “to dislodge,” while Betegh (2004:15) prints “remove” and Jourdan (2003:6) opts for “change de voie,” attempting to maintain both meanings, “déplacement” and “transformation.”
[ back ] 110. Bernabé 2008b.
[ back ] 111. Henrichs 1984:257.
[ back ] 112. On daimones see §4.5.
[ back ] 113. Cf. Jourdan’s (2003) interpretation of ὡ̣σ̣περεὶ and my criticisms in Bernabé 2007b.
[ back ] 114. Rohde 1901:229, 1925:269; cf. Henrichs 1984, Tsantsanoglou 1997:99–100.
[ back ] 115. Tsantsanoglou 1997:100. Betegh (2004:86) considers the Erinyes to be “principally positive agents.”
[ back ] 116. Johnston 1999:274.
[ back ] 117. Cf. Betegh 2004:88.
[ back ] 118. Tsantsanoglou 1997:105.
[ back ] 119. Diogenes Laertius 8.31 (FGH 273 F 93 = Phythagorici B 1a DK): τὸν δ’ Ἑρμῆν ταμίαν εἶναι τῶν ψυχῶν ... καὶ ἄγεσθαι μὲν τὰς καθαρὰς ἐπὶ τὸν ὕψιστον, τὰς δ’ ἀκαθάρτους μήτ᾽ ἐκείναις πελάζειν μήτ᾽ ἀλλήλαις, δεῖσθαι δ’ ἐν ἀρρήκτοις δεσμοῖς ὑπ’ Ἐρινύων. εἶναί τε πάντα τὸν ἀέρα ψυχῶν ἔμπλεων· καὶ ταύτας δαίμονάς τε καὶ ἥρωας ὀνομάζεσθαι· καὶ ὑπὸ τούτων πέμπεσθαι ἀνθρώποις τούς τ᾽ ὀνείρους καὶ τὰ σημεῖα νόσους τε, ... εἴς τε τούτους γίνεσθαι τούς τε καθαρμοὺς καὶ ἀποτροπιασμοὺς μαντικήν τε πᾶσαν καὶ κληδόνας καὶ τὰ ὅμοια.
[ back ] 120. Plutarch De defectu oraculorum 417C: (περὶ μὲν οὖν τῶν μυστικῶν) θεῶν μὲν οὐδενὶ δαιμόνων δὲ φαύλων ἀποτροπῆς ἕνεκα φήσαιμ᾽ ἂν τελεῖσθαι μειλίχια. “I will never believe that this [sc. mysteria] is done for any of the gods: but will say rather, it is to appease the fury of some malign daimones.” See Martín Hernández 2010:261.
[ back ] 121. Marcus Aurelius 3.16: τὸν δὲ ἔνδον ἐν τῷ στήθει ἱδρυμένον δαίμονα μὴ ... θορυβεῖν ... ἀλλὰ ἵλεων διατηρεῖν; 8.45: τὸν ἐμὸν δαίμονα ἵλεων, cf. 12.3.
[ back ] 122. Plato Apologia 31d; Phaedrus 242b; Euthydemos 272e; Alcibiades 1.103a.
[ back ] 123. Plato Symposium 202e; Respublica 392a, cf. 427b.
[ back ] 124. Hippobotus ap. Diogenes Laertius 6.102.
[ back ] 125. Hesiod Opera et dies 122–123: τοὶ μὲν δαίμονες ἁγνοὶ ἐπιχθόνιοι τελέθουσιν / ἐσθλοί, ἀλεξίκακοι, φύλακες θνητῶν ἀνθρώπων.
[ back ] 126. Aëtius Placita 1.7.11 (Thales A 23 DK): Θαλῆς ... τὸ δὲ πᾶν ἔμψυχον ἅμα καὶ δαιμόνων πλῆρες; Diogenes Laertius 9.7 (Heraclitus A 1 DK): ἐδόκει δὲ αὐτῶι ... πάντα ψυχῶν εἶναι καὶ δαιμόνων πλήρη.
[ back ] 127. Heraclitus B 63 DK: φύλακας γίνεσθαι ἐγερτὶ ζώντων καὶ νεκρῶν.
[ back ] 128. Heraclitus Β 119 DK: ἦθος ἀνθρώπωι δαίμων. Cf. Schibli 1993; Tsantsanoglou 1997:105; Betegh 2004:76; Kouremenos in KPT 146–147; and Bernabé 2007a:185–186.
[ back ] 129. Macías Otero 2007 and 2010.
[ back ] 130. Euripides fr. 912 Kannich; Macías Otero proposes some different readings: σοὶ τῶι πάντων μεδέοντι χλόην / πέλανόν τε φέρω, Ζεὺς εἴτ᾽ Ἀίδης / ὀνομαζόμενος στέργεις· σὺ δέ μοι / θυσίαν ἄπυρον παγκαρπείας / δέξαι πλήρη προχυταῖαν. / *** / σὺ γὰρ ἔν τε θεοῖς τοῖς οὐρανίδαις / σκῆπτρον τὸ Διὸς μεταχειρίζεις / χθονίων θ’ Ἅιδηι μετέχεις ἀρχῆς. / πέμψον μὲν φῶς ψυχὰς ἐνέρων / τοῖς βουλομένοις ἄθλους προμαθεῖν / πόθεν ἔβλαστον, τίς ῥίζα κακῶν, / τίνα δεῖ μακάρων ἐκθυσαμένους / εὑρεῖν μόχθων ἀνάπαυλαν.
[ back ] 131. Chrysippus ap. Plutarch Aetia Romana et Graeca 277A (deest in SVF), De defectu oraculorum 417Α (cf. 417B, De facie in orbis lunae 944C).
[ back ] 132. Plutarch De defectu oraculorum 418B, whose last words (ὡς ἀλήστων τινῶν καὶ παλαιῶν μιασμά-των μνήμαις ἐπεξιόντας) can be easily applied to the Titanic crime.
[ back ] 133. Gold tablet from Thurii (4th cent. BC), OF 489–490: “I come from among the pure, pure, queen of the subterranean beings, / Eucles, Eubouleus, and the other gods and daimones”; cf. Bernabé and Jiménez San Cristóbal 2008:100–105.
[ back ] 134. Tsantsanoglou 1997:99.
[ back ] 135. Martín Hernández 2005.
[ back ] 136. Betegh 2004:88–89.
[ back ] 137. Martín Hernández 2010:267.
[ back ] 138. Cf. Plutarch De defectu oraculorum 418B: παλαιῶν μιασμάτων μνήμαις ἐπεξιόντας, also quoted in n132.
[ back ] 139. OF 489.4 (cf. 490.4): ποινὰν δ’ ἀνταπέτεισ’ ἔργων ἕνεκ᾽ οὔτι δικαίων; see Bernabé and Jiménez San Cristóbal 2008:105–114.
[ back ] 140. Papyrus Gurôb (in an Orphic τελετή): δῶρον δέξ]ατ᾽ ἐμὸν ποινὰς πατ[έρων ἀθεμίστων, 1 (OF 578 col. I  4, with bibliography).
[ back ] 141. Pindar fr. 133 Maehl. (OF 443): οἷσι δὲ Φερσεφόνα ποινὰν παλαιοῦ πένθεος / δέξεται, which refers to a moment in which a mortal has paid for the original wrongdoings of his ancestors, the Titans (see Bernabé 1999); and in Pindar Olympian 2.57f. (OF 445): ὅτι θανόντων μὲν ἐνθάδ’ αὐτίκ᾽ ἀπάλαμνοι φρένες / ποινὰς ἔτεισαν (also in an Orphic context) (see Santamaría 2005).
[ back ] 142. Plato Cratylus 400c (OF 430 I): ὡς δίκην διδούσης τῆς ψυχῆς ὧν δὴ ἕνεκα δίδωσιν, (see Bernabé 2010b:115–118).
[ back ] 143. Gold tablet from Pherai (fourth cent. BC) (OF 493): εἴσιθ<ι> ἱερὸν λειμῶνα. ἄποινος γὰρ ὁ μύστης (see Bernabé and Jiménez San Cristóbal 2008:157–158).
[ back ] 144. See also Bernabé 2002b; Martín Hernández 2010:268.
[ back ] 145. Betegh 2004:89.
[ back ] 146. Betegh 2004:90.
[ back ] 147. Cf. Johnston 1999:138.
[ back ] 148. Nevertheless, as Casadesús per litteras points out, Erinyes have a similar function of maintaining the cosmic order already in Iliad 19.418, when they stay the speech (Ἐρινύες ἔσχεθον αὐδήν) of Achilles’ horses. See Edwards 1991 ad loc. with discussion and further bibliography.
[ back ] 149. Cf. Bernabé 2010b.