''Martin Litchfield West (born 23 September 1937, London, England) is an internationally recognised scholar in classics, classical antiquity and philology. In 2002, upon his receipt of the Kenyon Medal for Classical Studies from the British Academy, he was called "the most brilliant and productive Greek scholar of his generation." He is an Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College, University of Oxford.
He has written extensively on ancient Greek music, the relations between Greece and the ancient Near East, and the connexion between shamanism and early ancient Greek religion, including the Orphic tradition. This work stems from material in Akkadian, Phoenician, Hebrew, Hittite, and Ugaritic, as well as Greek and Latin. In addition to the Near-Eastern connection, he has recently written on the reconstitution of Indo-European culture and poetry, and its influence on Greece.
He has recently produced an edition of Homer's Iliad for Teubner, accompanied by a study of its critical tradition and overall philology, Studies in the Text and Transmission of the Iliad.''
The Gnostic Succotash: Orphic ceremonial bowl showing sixteen naked adepts, eight men and eight women, in a circle with their feet touching. ("The Sanctum of the Winged Serpent," Orphic bowl, 200-300 CE. In Joseph Campbell, Creative Mythology, p. 96.)
MARCEL CHICOTEAU THE “ORPHIC” TABLETS DEPICTED IN A ROMAN CATACOMB (C. 250 AD?) aus: Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 119 (1997) 81–83
81 THE “ORPHIC” TABLETS DEPICTED IN A ROMAN CATACOMB (C. 250 AD?) Most commentators of the gnostico-Christian Viale Manzoni hypogeum pay virtually no heed to what they have called ‘the idyllic pastoral scene’, or just a ‘farm’ displayed in Chamber ‘C’1 directly above the more outwardly impressive and often discussed ‘Odyssean’ picture to which it is generally assumed to be related (see Pl. VII). The fresco in question shows what might be described as a well appointed house on each side of a large doorway. In the centre there is a clearly delineated fountain, beside which stands a woman, and to the right another spring provides water to ‘queuing up’ domestic animals. To the right of the central fountain stands an apparently white cypress tree. The evanescent state of the paintings, even in 1924 when O. Ferretti skillfully reproduced them in water-colour for Mgr G. Wilpert’s appraisal, makes it hard to be ultra precise, but the woman appears to be contemplating the animals moving in two opposite directions, drinking from the right-hand fountain and remaining virtually black in colour before and after their drink. The most notable interpretation of the scene prior to my 1976 attempt is that of Ch. Picard2 postulating that both this and the lower panel refer to the Circe episode of the Odyssey; one suspects that having made a case for the lower one featuring Ulysses, the ‘Monte Circeo scene’ as he calls it, up above, completes a set, with the woman above and the one below both representing the enchantress. This, however, would not apply if the more usual acceptance of the lower panel representing Ulysses and Penelope prevailed. The present paper offers a new assessment of the top painting, in which the female figure, far from being the simple ‘housemaid’ that Wilpert suggested, becomes in fact an instrument of initiation more in keeping with the deep spiritual values (notably in other female figures) discernable in this unique catacomb. None of the judgments on the fresco in question takes account of the third element in this mural testimony: the refrigerium inscription by one Remius Celerinus for ‘A . . . Epaphroditus’ directly below the two paintings above mentioned. Here must clearly lie a link of exegetic value regarding the portraying of flowing water in the top panel. It is also noteworthy that in a hypogeum having only three inscriptions (apart from a small caricature of a Christian theme without wording also in Chamber ‘C’) this one should refer to the pre-Christian and Christian theme of énãcujiw, refreshment of souls, and perhaps more importantly that this is possibly 1 I adopt J. Carcopino’s designation here (De Pythagore aux Apôtres, Paris 1956) as I did in my work Glanures au Viale Manzoni, Brisbane 1976. 2 Mém. Acad. Inscript. et Belles-Lettres, 1945. There was also an interesting effort on the part of V. Daniel in Revue Belge de Phil. et d’Histoire, 1924, suggesting the grotto of the nymphs at Ithaca, implying the hope of a happy after-life. However, the reference to a Porphyry text seems debatable on the grounds of chronology. 82 M. Chicoteau the earliest use of refrigerium in a ‘semi-Christian’ catacomb yet discovered, perhaps implying some particular significance.3 In a monument of syncretism such as the Viale Manzoni hypogeum, a reminiscence of orphic tenets is even more feasible than one of Homeric epic. Such a possibility clearly lies behind the equation by E. Norden (albeit at the end of a footnote only) of the Thurii tablet IG XIV 641 dated 4–3 century BC and what he calls ‘the gnostic mysteries’4. This holds all the more interest for this paper in that one of the most recently discovered of the 17 known gold tablets was near Rome itself. The text is given by G. Pugliese Carratelli as follows: ¶rxetai §k kayar«n kayarã, | xyon¤vn bas¤leia EÎkleew EÈbou|leË te, DiÚw t°kow églaã. ¶xv d¢ Mnhmo|sÊnhw tÒde d«ron éo¤dimon ényr≈|poisin: Kaikil¤a S<e>kounde›na, nÒmvi | ‡yi d›a geg«sa. This tablet is in the British Museum (Catalogue of Jewellery, Oxford 1911, p. 380 no. 3154), and is probably not much earlier than the 3rd century AD catacomb, i.e. 4 to 5 centuries later than all the other lamellae aureae (from Magna Graecia, Crete and Thessaly). My contention is that the mural in question, independently of the one directly beneath it, is a direct representation of orphic ritual elements – guides to entering the underworld for pure souls – as handed down to us by these tablets (though not only the Roman one).5 Much has been written on these ‘amulets’6. I confine myself to stressing two particular elements of similarity, using Ferretti’s watercolour reproduction of what is now a fast vanishing fresco: 1. The feminine element One sole being, a female, is the picture’s centrepiece. I do not think she is the Sophia of Chamber ‘B’. Dressed in a white garment, still unsullied by time, she stands near the left of the two sources or wells of water7 which I take to be that of Memory (from which she may be drawing water to be drunk by the elect (gnostic pneumatics?) and that of Oblivion, to be avoided by them. She may be Persephone (as in Thurii texts IG XIV 641–2) but more likely to be the goddess Mnemosyne as purveyor of a gift (d«ron) in the form of a password (‘Be thou godlike’) for the mystes about to enter the underworld reigned over by the gods duly invoked8. Here, as xyon¤vn bas¤leia she holds sway, receiving the elect’s vow of purity (¶rxetai §k kayar«n kayarã, formula taken up from Thurii by the Roman tablet). Finally she will confer divine – and legal – status on the godlike soul (nÒmvi ‡yi d›a geg«sa). The candidate for these supreme honours, in the Roman tablet, was also a woman, by name Caecilia Secundina. 3 Credit must go a) to F. Cumont, Les religions orientales dans le paganisme romain, 1905–1963, for his consciousness of a link (p. 247 note) between the refreshment tenet of the early Church and ‘orphic tablets’ and b) to N. Maurice Denis- Boulet, Rome souterraine, Paris 1965, for holding the Viale Manzoni text as the earliest we possess to date on this theme (p. 150). NB in Carcopino, op. cit. the reconstruction epigraphically of refrigerium here by my former mentor Paul Fabre (p. 96). One also notes with interest that as long ago as in 1903, J. A. Stewart returned to the orphic tablets as a source of refrigerium (Classical Review 17, p. 117) cuxrÚn Ïdvr . . . 4 Agnostos Theos, Leipzig/Berlin 1923, p. 193. 5 The Thurii texts are grouped with that of Rome by G. Pugliese Carratelli, Parola del Passato, XXIX, 1974. However, one needs to have all the texts in mind (e.g. with O. Kern, Orphicorum Fragmenta, Berlin 1922), particularly having regard to two notable divergencies in them (positioning of the 2 wells as of the shining/white cypress). Something of the gist, but without the emphasis of this paper, appears in my Glanures, op. cit., p. 54, and black-white illustration opposite p. 56. 6 In ZPE, in particular 17, 1975; 23, 1976; 25, 1977; in Epigraphica 35, Firenze 1974, 1–2. 7 Not mentioned in the Roman tablet, but e.g. Hipponion places Lethe on right whereas Petelia places Memory on the right . . . 8 Texts given here in Greek from the Roman tablet. The “Orphic” Tablets Depicted in a Roman Catacomb 83 2. The importance of colour, especially white: Mgr Wilpert claimed9 that Ferretti’s work failed to do justice to the background contrasts and thought that the shining white elements (woman, fountain of Memory and adjoining house or palace) were too obscured under dark woodlands. Be this as it may, the most notable feature (and one I failed to take into account in my 1976 appraisal of the fresco) must be the whiteness of the cypress near the life-giving fountain. One critic suggested that the tree had ‘dried up’10. Whilst there is no reference to this phenomenon in the Roman tablet, there has been ample debate on its significance. It appears to play some sort of indicative, not to say initiatic role, illuminating the way to Hades. But whereas the divergency displayed in its positioning in the various texts makes one disinclined to be dogmatic about it, it is clear that to the Roman artist of the Viale Manzoni hypogeum who placed it next to the fountain of Memory, it played a vital part. Its colour still shines out, to this day. One hardly needs to add that the white sections of the painting are in sharp contrast with the extreme blackness of the animals (gnostic psychikoi or sarkikoi, v. supra). Whether the above-detailed interpretation of this Viale Manzoni catacomb painting, linked with the refrigerium inscription, has, if justified, any bearing on the scene depicted on the panel directly below it, is a further conundrum.11 Brisbane, Australia Marcel Chicoteau 9 Atti della Pontif. Accad. di Arch. III, 1924. 10 G. Germain, La genèse de l’Odyssée, Paris 1954, p. 367. But he is referring to the Petelia text which places the cypress near the water not to be drunk by the elect. 11 One briefly glimpses the orphic mysteries, like a palimpsest for this lower panel, in R. Turcan’s Ulysse et les prétendus prétendants, in Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum, 21–22, 1978–79, p. 169. Fresco in the Viale Manzoni Hypogeum
Theophile Roller (Protest.): Les Catacombes de Rome. Histoire de l’art et des croyances religieuses pendant les premiers siècles du Christianisme. Paris, 1879–1881, 2 vols. fol, 720 pages text and 100 excellent plates en hétiogravure, and many illustrations and inscriptions. The author resided several years at Naples and Rome as Reformed pastor.
Celestial pastures in funerary art served as symbols of the kingdom of heaven. Prefigured by Orpheus of pagan mythology, David signified the Judaic shepherd and Jesus the Christian shepherd in catacomb renderings of Paradise.
The Vanished Pastoral Scene 150. On the vandalized rear wall in the Vigna Randanini catacomb, vestiges of an arboreal scene suggest Orpheus, tamer of beasts, a theme common to Christian catacombs. This 1881 view of cubiculum II in the Vigna Randanini catacomb is from a work by Théophile Roller, Les Catacombes de Rome, I, plate UV, b. (See no. 15 fro a recent view of the same.)
A la première catégorie appartiennent deux peintures du cimetière de Domitilla. C'est d'abord un plafond : au milieu d'un cadre octogonal, qu'entourent huit compartiments à scènes bibliques, Orphée, vêtu d'une tunique flottante et coiffé d'un bonnet phrygien, est assis sur un rocher et joue de la cithare ; à droite et à gauche, un arbre où perchent un paon et d'autres oiseaux ; aux pieds du chanteur, divers animaux, dont un lion, un cheval, une tortue, un serpent. Une autre fresque, au fond d'un arcosolium, montre Orphée dans la même attitude et le même costume, entre deux arbres et des oiseaux ; à droite, deux lions ; à gauche, un boeuf et deux chameaux. Ces deux fresques sont étroitement apparentées à l'art païen.
Tout autres sont les peintures de la seconde catégorie. La figure du héros, moins personnelle et moins vivante, y devient un symbole. Dans un arcosolium du cimetière de Priscilla, Orphée n'a plus autour de lui que les animaux symboliques, familiers à l'art chrétien : le bélier, la brebis, le chien, la colombe.
La scène est encore plus simple et plus abstraite sur un plafond du cimetière de Calliste : Orphée, transformé en «Bon Pasteur», n'a plus pour auditeurs que deux brebis.
C'est ce dernier type qu'adoptèrent les sculpteurs chrétiens. Sur un sarcophage d'Ostie (fig. 5136), Orphée, en costume romain du temps, n'est plus caractérisé que par le bonnet phrygien, équivalent conventionnel du bonnet thrace ; il ne joue que pour une colombe et un bélier, d'ailleurs très attentifs ; la scène laisse une impression toute mystique. Mêmes caractères sur des sarcophages de Porto Torres et de Cacarens, sur une pyxis de Brioude, sur un sceau de Spalato.
''On a récemment découvert à Jérusalem, près de la porte de Damas, une mosaïque où est représentée une scène analogue. Cette mosaïque se trouvait dans un cimetière chrétien, et parait elle-même chrétienne. Orphée s'y montre avec sa physionomie symbolique, comme dans les fresques les plus récentes des Catacombes ; près de lui sont deux femmes, Theodosia et Georgia, en qui l'on a voulu reconnaître des saintes. Si l'interprétation est justifiée, cette mosaïque de Jérusalem, qui date probablement du iv ou du ve siècle, marquerait la dernière étape dans l'évolution du type. Orphée ne serait plus seulement un symbole de christianisme ; associé à des saints, il serait devenu lui-même une sorte de saint. Mais il convient d'attendre de nouvelles découvertes, avant d'admettre cette conclusion.
En Occident, aucun des monuments chrétiens où figure Orphée ne parait postérieur au IVe siècle. Et l'on s'explique aisément pourquoi. A force de simplifier et d'idéaliser la scène, on en avait supprimé tous les traits caractéristiques : Orphée disparut sans doute de l'art chrétien, parce qu'il s'était identifié avec le Bon Pasteur.
Pour aller plus loin...
Les représentations iconographiques d'Orphée dans les monuments chrétiens Article Orphée du Dictionnaire des Antiquités chrétiennes de Martigny (1877)
L'orphisme Article Orphici du Dictionnaire des Antiquités grecques et romaines de Daremberg et Saglio (1877)''
''In accepting rites and customs which were not offensive to her principles and morality, the Church showed equal tact and foresight, and contributed to the peaceful accomplishment of the transformation. These rites and customs, borrowed from classical times, are nowhere so conspicuous as in Rome. Giovanni Marangoni, a scholar of the last century, wrote a book on this subject which is full of valuable information.16 The subject is so comprehensive, and in a certain sense so well known, that I must satisfy myself by mentioning only a few particulars connected with recent discoveries. First, as to symbolic images allowed in churches and cemeteries. Of Orpheus playing on the lyre, while watching his flock, as a substitute for the Good Shepherd, there have been found in the catacombs four paintings, two reliefs on sarcophagi, one engraving on a gem. Here is the latest representation discovered, from the Catacombs of Priscilla (1888).''
''Its resemblance to the name of the Annei reminds me of another remarkable discovery connected with the same city, and with the same question. There lived at Ostia, towards the middle of the second century, a manufacturer of pottery and terracottas, named Annius Ser. . . . . ., whose lamps were exported to many provinces of the empire. These lamps p18are generally ornamented with the image of the Good Shepherd; but they show also types which are decidedly pagan, such as the labors of Hercules, Diana the huntress, etc. It has been surmised that Annius Ser. . . . . . was converted to the gospel, and that the adoption of the symbolic figure of the Redeemer on his lamps was a result of his change of religion; but to explain the case it is not necessary to accept this theory. I believe he was a pagan, and that the lamps with the Good Shepherd were produced by him to order, and from a design supplied to him by a member of the local congregation.''
Talisman or cylinder seal of Orpheus-Bacchus Crucified (False color)
''Another piece of archaeological evidence is a talisman or cylinder seal depicting a figure nailed to a cross, with a half moon and seven stars residing overheard. Across the bottom reads, �Orpheus Bacchus,� Bacchus being the Roman name for Dionysus. This artifact came to an unfortunate end as well. It was kept in the Berlin Museum until it was lost or destroyed during the Second World War and it�s image has only survived in a black and white photograph of it. This ornament features in both Campbell�s book as well as the cover of the book, The Jesus Mysteries: Was the �Original Jesus� a Pagan God?, by Timothy Freke & Peter Gandy. The last two artifacts are featured in Freke and Gandy�s book as well.
''This is not the first archaeological find to show an intermixing of early Christianity and the Orphic mysteries. Many other ancient Roman artifacts, most of them dating from the 300�s A.D., also show definite links between the two religions. The first three of these I will show are referenced in Joseph Campbell�s fourth book in his Masks of God series: Creative Mythology. Campbell�s book provides a drawing of the restored ceiling of the Domitilla Catacomb in Rome, with are eight panels circling the dome (p. 7). Four of the panels exhibit scenes from the Bible and four of them show pastoral scenes of a bull (the pagan sacrificial animal) or a ram (a Jewish sacrificial animal). The Bible scenes include: Moses drawing water from the rock, David with his sling, Daniel being cast into the lion�s den, and Jesus resurrecting Lazarus using a wand similar to the augur�s wands used by the Roman priestly class. In the center of the eight panels is Orpheus playing the lyre. ''
The casket from Grado, however, depicts, in addition to Christ, .... (2) The interfusion of the Aristaeus and Orpheus stories, ...... the problem of double-selfhood between personal identity and the inner self is also discussed. ...... Simon Swain, Stephen Harrison and Jas Elsner (edds.), Severan Culture. ... www.bmcreview.org/2009_01_01_archive.html
Magyarország első és legnagyobb fórum szolgáltatása. A web kettő pre-bétája, amit 1997 óta töltenek meg tartalommal a fórumlakók. Fórumok változatos témákban, hangnemben, moderálva. Ha nem csak megosztani akarsz, hanem diskurálni egy egy témában, csatlakozz Te is, és ha kitartó vagy, társakra találhatsz.
A Fórum otthont ad számos zárt klubfórumnak is, azok számára, akik készek az önszabályozás szellemében együtt élni ebben a virtuális közegben.