Did Orphée/Orpheus ever existed?

Orphism , the cult of Orpheus plays a major role in the construction of our western  civilizations. Indeed, rites of this worship such as those associated has seen developed the idea of the soul and immortality thereof.

For two centuries, hellenists debated this question. Lately, a papyrus has been found in a tomb in Deverni, in Macedonia, in Greece, that would light up the darkness around this issue. This groups of texts, dating Ca. 4th c. BC, are snippets of sentences, words, chapters….that slip around burnt parts. They show figurative representation that put us on the way….An Aède with his Harp is shown on a small boat often surrounded by books or in Hell…These pictures are often depicted on funerary objects such as vases and obey codified rules.

Let’s have a hint of what the historians of Antiquity and of nowadays historians have transmitted of Orphée/Orpheus and of Orphism :

– Herodote tells us that the greek theogony has been taught by poets such as Orpheus. And that the Orpheus cult and feasts comes from Egypt.

– For Denis Huismans this myth comes from Sicily, and would be the light side of cult of Dyonisos….rid of its demons, excesses and violences. Of this brotherhood emerge the idea of ​​constant identity in an afterlife, and the inclusion of guilt and punishment it can call. We can get rid of one’s faults by sacrifices, announcing therefore the christian indulgences.

– Ciceron says in De Legibus (2,14,36) that Mysteries of Orphism helped humanity to get out of wildlife, and lead us towards sweetnesses of human culture.

There are at least four mosaics depicting Orpheus in the villas of Vienna, in Isere, France. In the third mosaic, excavated in 1859, the central octagon shows Orpheus playing a lyre with eight strings. His music charms wild animals that adorn octagons devices (wild boar, leopard, lion, horse) and squares (duck, parrot, partridge, purple gallinule).


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