The Beginnings of European Theorizing--Reflexivity in the Archaic Age - Vol. 2

By Barry Sandywell | Go to book overview

6

ORPHISM

Orphic discourse during the archaic period

Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?

(Paul Gauguin)

1Introduction: the appearance of Orphism in Greek culture
2Orphic cosmogony as an allegory of cosmic alienation
3The Orphic body and the doctrine of cathartic reflexivity
4The tropes of Dionysus
5The Orphic background of the logos

1 INTRODUCTION: THE APPEARANCE OF ORPHISM IN GREEK CULTURE

Orphism

In the previous chapter we came across recurrent Orphic themes in the poetry of Pindar (particularly with regard to Fragment 131 which thematizes the spiritual imago of the soul as a gift of the Gods and the Orphic speculations about the postmortem soul in Olympian II). Pindaric texts like Fragments 129 and 131 are frequently cited as evidence of the influence of Orphism and the cult of Dionysus in Greek culture in the sixth century. But on first appearances Orphism is in many respects antithetical to Pindar’s conservative aesthetic. The religion of Orpheus (after the mythical Orpheus—the singer of enchanting songs who journeyed to Hades to rescue his wife Eurydice only to lose her by turning back to gaze at her before leaving the Underworld) originated in popular religious cults and folk-customs, yet by the sixth century its influence was so pervasive that its concerns can be felt in even the most austere writers and poets. Like a popular mirror image of Hermes (the messenger of Zeus and God of thieves who led the souls of the dead down to the realm of Hades), Orpheus symbolized the return of life by conducting souls back from the dead. In Greek folk-culture, of course, Orpheus was primarily the patron of song and, in the generalized Greek sense of the word, music.

In this chapter I will deliberately focus on only one aspect of the complex

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The Beginnings of European Theorizing--Reflexivity in the Archaic Age - Vol. 2
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Abbreviations x
  • Introduction xiii
  • 1 - Mythopoiesis 1
  • 2 - Homeric Epic Reflexivity 47
  • 3 - Hesiod and the Birth of the Gods 160
  • 4 - Lyric Reflexivities 206
  • 5 - Pindar and the Age of Literary Consciousness 250
  • 6 - Orphism 278
  • Notes 302
  • Bibliography 386
  • Name Index 411
  • Subject Index 415
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