ABSTRACT

Theearliestauthority·whomentionsOrphicsectsandtheir practicesisHerodotos(ii,81),whocallsattentiontothe correspomlenrcbehveencertainsacerdotalandasceticordinancesoftheEgyptianpriesthood,andthe"Orphicand 13acchic"mysteries.Thelatter,hesays,arereallyEgyptian andPythagorean,orinotherwordstheyw·erefoundedby PythagorasorPythagoreansuponEgyptianmodels;andthus,. intheopinionofthehistorian,theycannothavecomeinto exi,stenccbeforethelastdecadeofthesixthcentury.Heroclotosthen,eitherinAthensorelsewhere,hadheardduringhis journeysofcertainprivatesocietieswhobycallingthemselves afterthenameofOrpheus,theprototypeofThraciansongso wellknowntolegend,recognizedtheoriginoftheirpeculiar cultandcreedinthemountainsofThrace,anddidhonourto BakchostheThraciangod.ThefactthattheGreekOrphics didindeedworshipDionysos,thelordoflifeanddeath,before allothergods,isclearlyshownbytheremainsofthetheologicalpoemsthatoriginatedintheirmidst.Orpheushimself, asfounderoftheOrphicsect,isactuallysaidtohavebeenthe founderalsooftheDionysiacinitiation-mysteries.1