ANCIENT DOCUMENTS OLD AND NEW

A New Orphicorum Fragmenta
(Alberto Bernabé, 27 November, 1997)

This paper dealt with the author's new edition of the Orphic fragments, which will include testimonia and fragments from Orpheus, Musaeus, Epimenides, Onomacritus and Linus, to be published in Leipzig, in the Biblioteca Teubneriana series. The presentation was divided into three parts.

1. Definition of Orphic fragment. The author considers the following to be Orphic fragments: a) Verse fragments or prose references assigned by the source either to Orpheus or to ta Orphika. b) Fragments referring to doctrines supported or shared by Orphics, which are assigned to a palaios logos, to a hieros logos, or to teletai, etc. c) Some inscriptions or papyri showing certain forms of thought that can be labelled as Orphic in a broad sense. In the editions he includes also: d) Testimonia, i.e. texts that allude to the existence of certain Orphic literature or certain practices, but do not give references about the contents; and e) Vestigia, non-Orphic texts, which, nevertheless, show clear traces of doctrines which we may consider as Orphic.

2. Criteria of the edition: The format of the edition will be the usual one for the Biblioteca Teubneriana. There are many differences from the criteria used by Kern: the author has tried to remove from the indirect sources references that do not provide information for the reconstruction of the Orphic poem. He also prefers to follow a thematic arrangement scheme, flexible enough to assign fragments to entitled works when possible, but also accepting ample and less definite thematic grouping when it is not possible to be more precise. He has tried to reconstruct the order of the events in the Rhapsodie. Since the Neoplatonists, the main source for the reconstruction of this work, quote the fragments in a "philosophical" order, putting together passages from very different origins with the intention of proving the Orphic character of some aspects of the Platonic doctrine, it is necessary to divide Neoplatonic references, detaching the different sections referring to different passages of the Rhapsodies, and then regroup those that refer to the same passage of the Orphic poem.

3. New fragments. These are of three types: a) New inscriptions or papyri (e.g., Theogony from the Derveni Papyrus, gold leaves from Hipponion, Pelinna, Entella or Pherae, etc.); b) Fragments transmitted by manuscripts, not taken into account by Kern in his edition; and c) Texts derived either from new readings or from reconstructions made from prose references.

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