Orphic Tablets and Hymns

(ca. 400 BCE–300 CE)

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Orphic Tablets

Gold tablet from Petelia (ca. 350 BCE)

You will find a spring on the left of the halls of Hades, and beside it a white cypress growing. Do not even go near this spring. And you will find another, from the Lake of Memory, flowing forth with cold water. In front of it are guards. You must say, “I am the child of Gê (Earth) and of starry Ouranos (Heaven); this you yourselves also know. I am dry with thirst and am perishing. Come, give me at once cold water flowing forth from the Lake of Memory.” And they themselves will give you to drink from the divine spring, and then thereafter you shall reign with the other heroes.

Gold tablet from Eleutherna (ca. 150 BCE)

A I am dry with thirst and am perishing.

B Come, drink, I pray, from the ever-flowing spring on the right, where the cypress is. Who are you, and whence?

A I am the son of Earth and starry Heaven.

Gold tablet from Thurii (ca. 350 BCE)

I come from the pure, O pure Queen of the earthly ones, Euclês, Eubouleus,...

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Orpheus and Eurydice (Library of Congress)

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