Derveni Papyrus col. 13 and 16
He swallowed the phallus of […], who sprang from the aither first.
Since in his [i.e. Orpheus] whole poetry he speaks about facts enigmatically, one has to speak about each word in turn. Seeing that people consider that generation is dependent upon the genitalia, and that without genitals there is no becoming, he used this (word), likening the sun to a phallus. For without the sun the things that are could not have become such … things that are … the sun everything ….
It has been made clear above [that] he called the sun a phallus. Since the beings that are now came to be from the already subsistent he says:
[with?] the phallus of the first-born king, onto which all the immortals grew (or: clung fast), blessed gods and goddesses And rivers and lovely springs and everything else That had been born then; and he himself became solitary
In these (verses) he indicates that the beings always subsisted, and the beings that are now came to be from (or: out of) subsisting things. And as to (the phrase): ‘and he himself became solitary’, by saying this, he makes clear that the Mind [Nous] itself, being alone, is worth everything, as if the others were nothing. For it would not be possible for the subsisting things to be such without the Mind. And in the following verse after this he said that Mind is worth everything:
Now he is king of all and will always be
…. Mind and …
Dio Chrysostom, Oration 12.33-34
So it is just as if someone were to initiate a man, Greek or barbarian, leading him into some mystic shrine overwhelming in its size and beauty. He would see many mystic spectacles and hear many such voices; light and darkness would appear to him in alternation, and a myriad other things would happen. Still more, just as they are accustomed to do in the ritual called enthronement, the initiators, having enthroned the initiands, dance in circles around them. Is it at all likely that this man would experience nothing in his soul and that he would not suspect that what was taking place was done with a wiser understanding and preparation? … Still more, if, not humans like the initiands, but immortal gods were initiating mortals, and night and day, both in the light and under the stars were, if it is right to speak so, literally dancing around them eternally.
Plotinos, Enneads 4.3.12
The souls of humans, having seen their images as in the mirror of Dionysos, became there, having leapt from above.
Plutarch, De Esu Carn. 1. 996b-c
It would perhaps not be wrong to mention those verses of Empedokles where he says allegorically that souls, paying the penalty for murders and the eating of flesh and cannibalism, are imprisoned in mortal bodies. However, it seems that this account is even older, for the legendary suffering of dismemberment told about Dionysos and the outrages of the Titans on him, and their punishment and their being blasted with lightning after having tasted of the blood, this is all a myth, in its hidden inner meaning, about reincarnation. For that in us which is irrational and disorderly and violent and not divine but demonic, the ancients used the name ‘Titans’, and this pertains to one being punished and paying the penalty.
Plutarch, On the E at Delphi 9
As for his passage and distribution into waves and water, and earth, and stars, and nascent plants and animals, they hint at the actual change undergone as a rending and dismemberment, but name the god himself Dionysos or Zagreus or Nyktelios or Isodaites. Deaths too and vanishings do they construct, passages out of life and new births, all riddles and tales to match the changes mentioned. So they sing to Dionysos dithyrambic strains, charged with sufferings and a change wherein are wanderings and dismemberment. For Aischylos says:
In mingled cries the dithyramb should ring,
With Dionysos revelling, its King.
In constrast Apollon has the Paean, a set and sober music. Apollon is ever ageless and young; Dionysos has many forms and many shapes as represented in paintings and sculpture, which attribute to Apollon smoothness and order and a gravity with no admixture, but to Dionysos a blend of sport and sauciness with seriousness and frenzy:
God that sett’st maiden’s blood
Dancing in frenzied mood,
Blooming with pageantry!
Evoe! we cry
So do they summon him, rightly catching his changeable character.
Proklos, Commentary on the Timaios 2.819
Dionysos sees his own image in the mirror and goes out into the whole divided creation.
Olympiodoros, Commentary on the Phaedrus 1.3
And the mythical argument is as such: four reigns are told of in the Orphic tradition. The first is that of Ouranos, to which Kronos succeeds after cutting off the genitals of his father. After Kronos, Zeus becomes king, having hurled his father down into Tartaros. Then Dionysos succeeds Zeus. Through the scheme of Hera, they say, his retainers, the Titans, tear him to pieces and eat his flesh. Zeus, angered by the deed, blasts them with his thunderbolts, and from the sublimate of the vapors that rise from them comes the matter from which men are created. Therefore we must not kill ourselves, not because, as the text appears to say, we are in the body as a kind of shackle, for that is obvious, and Socrates would not call this a mystery; but we must not kill ourselves because our bodies are Dionysiac; we are, in fact, a part of him, if indeed we come about from the sublimate of the Titans who ate his flesh.
Oppian, Cynegetica 4. 230
Ino, scion of Agenor, reared the infant Bakchos and first gave her breast to the son of Zeus, and Autonoe likewise and Agaue joined in nursing him, but not in the baleful halls of Athamas, but on the mountain which at that time men called by the name Meros (Thigh). For greatly fearing the mighty spouse of Zeus and dreading the tyrant Pentheus, son of Echion, they laid the holy child in a coffer of pine and covered it with fawn-skins and wreathed it with clusters of the vine, in a grotto where round the child they danced the mystic dance and beat drums and clashed cymbals in their hands, to veil the cries of the infant. It was around that hidden ark that they first showed forth their mysteries, and with them the Aionian women secretly took part in the rites. And they arrayed a gathering of their faithful companion to journey from that mountain out of the Boiotian land. For now, now was it fated that a land, which before was wild, should cultivate the vine at the instance of Dionysos who delivers from sorry. Then the holy choir took up the secret coffer and wreathed it and set it on the back of an ass. And they came unto the shores of Euripos, where they found a seafaring old man with his sons, and all together they besought the fishermen that they might cross the water in their boats. Then the old man had compassion on them and received on board the holy women. And lo! On the benches of his boat flowered the lush bindweed and flooming vine and ivy wreathed the stern. Now would the fishermen, cowering in god-sent terror, have dived into the sea, but ere that the boat came to land. And to Euboia the women came, carrying the god, and to the abode of Aristaios, who dwelt in a cave on the top of a mountain at Karyai and who instructed the life of country-dwelling men in countless things; he was the first to establish the flock of sheep; he first pressed the fruit of the oily wild olive, first curdled the milk with rennet making cheese, and brought the gentle bees from the oak and shut them up in hives. He at that time received the infant Dionysos from the coffer of Ino and reared him in his cave and nursed him with the help of the Dryades and the Nymphai that have bees in their keeping and the maidens of Euboia and the Aionian women. And, when Dionysos was now come to boyhood, he played with the other children; he would cut a fennel stalk and smite the hard rocks, and from their wounds they poured for the god sweet liquor. Otherwhiles he rent rams, skins and all, and clove them piecemeal and cast the dead bodies on the ground; and again with his hands he neatly put their limbs together, and immediately they were alive and browsed on the green pasture. And now he was attended by holy companies, and over all the earth were spread the gifts of Dionysos, son of Thyone, and everywhere he went about showing forth his excellence to men.
Scholiast on Homer’s Odyssey 11.322
Theseus son of Aigeus, assigned by lot with the youths, sailed to Crete to be supplied to the Minotaur for destruction. But when he arrived, Minos’s daughter Ariadne fell in love with him and gave him a ball of thread that she took from Daidalos the builder. She instructed him, when he entered, to bind the beginning of the ball around the crossbar above the door and to go along unrolling it until he entered the innermost place, and if he overtook him while he was sleeping (text missing) that having vanquished (him) to sacrifice to Poseidon from the hairs on his head, and to return back by rolling up the ball of thread. And Theseus took Ariadne and embarked on his ship with both the youths and maidens not yet served up to be killed by the Minotaur. And when he had done these things, he sailed out in the middle of the night. And when he anchored at the island of Dia, he disembarked to sleep on the shore. And Athena stood beside him and ordered that he abandon Ariadne and come to Athens. He did this and departed immediately. But when Ariadne bewailed her lot, Aphrodite appeared and advised her to be strong, for she would be Dionysos’s wife and become famous. Whence the god appeared and mated with her, and gave her a golden crown that moreover the gods placed among the stars by the grace of Dionysos. And they say that she suffered death at the hands of Artemis for throwing away her virginity. The story is in Pherekydes.
Hyginus, Astronomica 2.5
This is thought to be Ariadne’s crown, placed by Father Liber among the constellations. For they say that when Ariadne wed Liber on the island of Dia, and all the gods gave her wedding gifts, she first received this crown as a gift from Venus and the Hours. But, as the author of the Cretica says, at the time when Liber came to Minos with the hope of lying with Ariadne, he gave her this crown as a present. Delighted with it, she did not refuse the terms. It is said, too, to have been made of gold and Indian gems, and by its aid Theseus is thought to have come from the gloom of the labyrinth to the day, for the gold and gems made a glow of light in the darkness.
Nonnos, Dionysiaka 47.434
He shed the blood of the halfbull man whose den was the earthdug labyrinth, but you know your thread was his savior for the man of Athens with his club would never have found victory in that contest without a rosy-red girl to help him.
Nonnos, Dionysiaka 47.665 ff
Perseus shook in his hand the deadly face of Medousa, and turned armed Ariadne into stone. Bakchos was even more furious when he saw his bride all stone … Hermes descended upon the battlefield and spoke to Dionysos these words, ‘She has died in battle, a glorious fate, and you ought to think Ariadne happy in her death, because she found one so great to slay her … Come now, lay down your thyrsos, let the winds blow battle away, and fix the selfmade image of mortal Ariadne where the image of heavenly Hera stands.’
Philostratos the Younger, Imagines 10
Behold the troup of dancers, like the chorus which Daidalos is said to have invented for Ariadne, daughter of Minos; young men and maidens with hands clasped and going about in a circle.
Plutarch, Life of Theseus 20.1-5
There are many other stories about these matters, and also about Ariadne, but they do not agree at all. Some say that she hung herself because she was abandoned by Theseus; others that she was conveyed to Naxos by sailors and there lived with Oinaros the priest of Dionysos, and that she was abandoned by Theseus because he loved another woman. […] A very peculiar account of these matters is published by Paion the Amathusian. He says that Theseus, driven out of his course by a storm to Kypros, and having with him Ariadne, who was big with child and in sore sickness and distress from the tossing of the sea, set her on shore alone, but that he himself, while trying to succour the ship, was borne out to sea again. The women of the island, accordingly, took Ariadne into their care, and tried to comfort her in the discouragement caused by her loneliness, brought her forged letters purporting to have been written to her by Theseus, ministered to her aid during the pangs of travail, and gave her burial when she died before her child was born. Paion says further that Theseus came back, and was greatly afflicted, and left a sum of money with the people of the island, enjoining them to sacrifice to Ariadne, and caused two little statuettes to be set up in her honor, one of silver, and one of bronze. He says also that at the sacrifice in her honor on the second day of the month Gorpiaeus, one of their young men lies down and imitates the cries and gestures of women in travail; and that they call the grove in which they show her tomb, the grove of Ariadne Aphrodite. Some of the Naxians also have a story of their own, that there were two Minoses and two Ariadnes, one of whom, they say, was married to Dionysos in Naxos and bore him Staphylos and his brother, and the other, of a later time, having been carried off by Theseus and then abandoned by him, came to Naxos, accompanied by a nurse named Korkyne, whose tomb they show; and that this Ariadne also died there, and has honors paid her unlike those of the former, for the festival of the first Ariadne is celebrated with mirth and revels, but the sacrifices performed in honor of the second are attended with sorrow and mourning.
Plutarch, Life of Theseus 21.1-2
On his voyage from Crete Theseus put in at Delos, and having sacrificed to the god and dedicated in his temple the image of Aphrodite which he had received from Ariadne, he danced with his youths a dance which they say is still performed by the Delians, being an imitation of the circling passages in the labyrinth, and consisting of certain rhythmic involutions and evolutions. This kind of dance, as Dikaiarchos tells us, is called by the Delians The Crane, and Theseus danced it round the altar called Keraton, which is constructed of horns taken entirely from the left side of the head.
Plutarch, Life of Theseus 23.2
It was Theseus who instituted also the Athenian festival of the Oschophoria. For it is said that he did not take away with him all the maidens on whom the lot fell at that time, but picked out two young men of his acquaintance who had fresh and girlish faces, but eager and manly spirits, and changed their outward appearance almost entirely by giving them warn baths and keeping them out of the sun, by arranging their hair, and by smoothing their skin and beautifying their complexions with unguents; he also taught them to imitate maidens as closely as possible in their speech, their dress, and their gait, and to leave no difference that could be observed, and then enrolled them among the maidens who were going to Crete, and was undiscovered by any. And when he was come back, he himself and these two young men headed a procession, arrayed as those are now arrayed who carry the vine-branches. They carry these in honor of Dionysos and Ariadne, and because of their part in the story; or rather, because they came back home at the time of the vintage. And the women called Deipnophoroi, or supper-carriers, take part in the procession and share in the sacrifice, in imitation of the mothers of the young men and maidens on whom the lot fell, for these kept coming with bread and meat for their children. And tales are told at this festival, because these mothers, for the sake of comforting and encouraging their children, spun out tales for them. At any rate, these details are to be found in the history of Damon.
Bone tablets from Olbia
Life. Death. Life. Truth. Zagreus. Dionysos.
Peace. War. Truth. Lie. Dionysos
Dionysos. Truth. Body. Soul.
Passwords: Male child of the thyrsos, Male child of the thyrsos; Brimo, Brimo; Enter the sacred meadow. For the initiate is without penalty.
Gold tablet from Rome
A: I come pure from the pure, Queen of the Underworld, Eukles and Eubouleus, noble child of Zeus! I have this gift of Memory, prized by men!
B: Caecilia Secundina, come, made divine by the Law!
Gold tablet from Pelinna
Now you have died and now you have been born, thrice blessed one, on this very day. Say to Persephone that Bakchios himself freed you. A bull you rushed to milk. Quickly, you rushed to milk. A ram you fell into milk. You have wine as your fortunate honor. And rites await you beneath the earth, just as the other blessed ones.
Gold tablet from Petelia
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 Ge and starry Ouranos; 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 will reign with the other heroes.
Gold tablet from Eleutherae in Crete
A: I am dry with thirst and am perishing.
B: Come, drink please, from the ever-flowing spring on the right, where the cypress is. Who are you, and where do you come from?
A: I am the son of Earth and Starry Heaven.
Gold tablet from Thurii
A: I come from the pure, o Pure Queen of the earthly ones, Eukles, Eubouleus, and You other Immortal Gods! I too claim to be of your blessed race, but Fate and other Immortal Gods conquered me, the star-smiting thunder. And I flew out from the hard and deeply-grievous circle, and stepped onto the crown with my swift feet, and slipped into the bosom of the Mistress (Kore), the Queen of the Underworld. And I stepped out from the crown with my swift feet.
B: Happy and blessed one! You shall be a god instead of a mortal.
A: I have fallen as a kid into milk.
Gold tablet from Thurii
But whenever a soul leaves the light of the sun–enter on the right, where one must, if one has kept all well and truly. Rejoice at the experience! This you have never before experienced. You have become a god instead of a man. You have fallen as a kid into milk. Hail, hail, as you travel on the right, through the Holy Meadow and Groves of Persephone.
Orphic tablet from Thurii
To the First-Born, to Mother Earth, to Cybela, daughter of Demeter.
Zeus, Air, Sun. Fire conquers all.
Avatars of fortune and Phanes. Moirai that remember all. You, O illustrious daimon.
Father who subdues all. Compensation.
Air, fire, Mother, Nestis, night, day,
Fasting for seven days. Zeus who sees all. Always. Mother, hear my prayer.
Fine sacrifices. Sacrifices. Demeter. Fire. Zeus. The Underground Girl.
Hero. Light to the intelligence. The Adviser seized the Girl.
Earth. Air. To the intelligence.
Orphic tablet from Thurii
To Earth, first-born Mother, Cybelean Kore said: … [lacuna] …
… of Demeter … all-seeing Zeus.
O Sun, Fire, you went through all towns, when you appeared with the Victories and Fortunes and All-wise Fate, where you increase the brightness of the festival with your lordship, O glorious deity! By you all things are subdued, all things overpowered, all things smitten! The Decrees of Fate must everywhere be endured. O Fire, lead me to the Mother, if the fast can endure, to fast for seven nights and days! For there was a seven-day fast, O Olympian Zeus and all-seeing Sun …
The Mikroteros krater
Hermes the interpreter is messenger of all; Nymphai are the water, Hephaistos the fire, Demeter the grain. Sea is the great Poseidon, the Earth-shaker, war is Ares and peace is Aphrodite. Wine, beloved by gods and mortal men, which Dionysos, born as a bull, found as charmer of all pains for humans and furnished as the most pleasant cause of merriment for mortals, is present in all banquets.
The Gurôb Papyrus
… in order that he may find
… on account of the rite they paid the penalty of their fathers. Save me, Brimô, Demeter, Rhea and armed Curêtês!
So that we may perform beautiful sacrifices …
Goat and bull, limitless gifts …
And by the law of the river …
… of the goat, and let him eat the rest of the flesh. Let no uninitiated look on!
… dedicating to the …
… prayer …
I call on … Eubouleus, and I call the Maenads who cry Euoi …
You having parched with thirst … the friends of the feast …
… of Demeter and Pallas for us …
King Irekepaigos, save me, Phanes!
… top, rattle, dice-bones, mirror …
Sword of Dardanos: Rite which is called “sword,” which has no equal because of its power, for it immediately bends and attracts the soul of whomever you wish. As you say the spell, also say: “I am bending to my will the soul of him NN.”
Take a magnetic stone which is breathing and engrave Aphrodite sitting astride Psyche and with her left hand holding on her hair bound in curls. And above her head: “ACHMAGE RARPEPSEI”; and below Aphrodite and Psyche engrave Eros standing on the vault of heaven, holding a blazing torch and burning Psyche. And below Eros these names: “ACHAPA ADONAIE BASMA CHARAKO IAKOB IAO E PHARPHAREI.” On the other side of the stone engrave Psyche and Eros embracing one another and beneath Eros’s feet these letters: “SSSSSSSS,” and beneath Psyche’s feet: “EEEEEEEE.” Use the stone, when it has been engraved and consecrated, like this: put it under your tongue and turn it to what you wish and say this spell:
“I call upon you, author of all creation who spread your own wings over the whole world, you, the unapproachable and unmeasurable who breathe into every soul life-giving reasoning, who fitted all things together by your power, firstborn, founder of the universe, golden-winged, whose light is darkness, who shroud reasonable thoughts and breathe forth dark frenzy, clandestine one who secretly inhabit every soul. You engender an unseen fire as you carry off every living thing without growing weary of torturing it, rather having with pleasure delighted in pain from the time when the world came into being. You also come and bring pain, who are sometimes reasonable, sometimes irrational, because of whom men dare beyond what is fitting and take refuge in your light which is darkness. Most headstrong, lawless, implacable, inexorable, invisible, bodiless, generator of frenzy, archer, torch-carrier, master of all living sensation and of everything clandestine, dispenser of forgetfulness, creator of silence, through whom the light and to whom the light travels, infantile when you have been engendered within the heart, wisest when you have succeeded; I call upon you, unmoved by prayer, by your great name: AZARACHTHARAZA LATHA IATHAL Y Y Y LATHAI ATHA LLALAPH IOIOIO AI AI AI OUERIEU OIAI LEGETA RAMAI AMA RATAGEL, first-shining, night-shining, night rejoicing, night-engendering, witness, EREKISITHPHE ARARACHARARA EPHTHISIKERE IABEZEBYTH IT, you in the depth, BERIAMBO BERIAMBEBO, you in the sea, MERMERGO U, clandestine and wisest, ACHAPA ADONAIE MASMA CHARAKO IAKOB IAO CHAROUER AROUER LAILAM SEMESILAM SOUMARTA MARBA KARBA MENABOTH EIIA. Turn the ‘soul’ of her NN to me NN, so that she may love me, so that she may feel passion for me, so that she may give me what is in her power. Let her say to me what is in her soul because I have called upon your great name.”
And on a golden leaf inscribe this sword: “One THOURIEL MICHAEL GABRIEL OURIEL MISAEL IRRAEL ISTRAEL: May it be a propitious day for this name and for me who know it and am wearing it. I summon the immortal and infallible strength of God. Grant me the submission of every soul for which I have called upon you.” Give the leaf to a partridge to gulp down and kill it. Then pick it up and wear it around your neck after inserting into the strip the herb called “boy love.”
The burnt offering which endows Eros and the whole procedure with soul is this: manna, 4 drams; storax, 4 drams; opium, 4 drams; myrrh, [f drams;] frankincense, saffron bdella, one-half dram each. Mix in rich dried fig and blend everything in equal parts with fragrant wine, and use it for the performance. In the performance first make a burnt offering and use it in this way.
Fragments from the Rhapsodic Theogony ascribed to Orpheus
Proklos. (All things were in confusion) Throughout the misty darkness.
Damaskios. Then great Chronos fashioned in the divine Aither a silvery egg.
Proklos. (a) And it moved without slackening in a vast circle. (b) And it began to move in a wondrous circle.
Proklos. And at the birth Phanes the musty gulf below and the windless Aither were rent.
Lactantius. First-born, Phaeton, son of lofty Aither.
Proklos quotes the latter with half with the variant ‘beauteous’ for ‘lofty’.
Etymologicum Magnum. Whom they call Phanes… because he first appeared in the Aither.
Hermias. (Of Phanes.) With four eyes looking this way and that.
Hermias. (Of Phanes.) With golden wings moving this way and that.
Proklos. (Of Phanes.) Uttering the voice of a bull and of glaring lion.
Proklos. Female and Father the mighty god Erikepaios.
Proklos, Olympiodoros. Cherishing in his heart swift and sightless Eros.
Proklos. (Of Phanes.) The key of mind.
Proklos. (Of Eros-Metis.). A great deamon ever treading on their tracks.
Proklos. An awful deamon. Metis, bearing the honoured seed of the gods, whom the blessed on tall Olympus were wont to call Phanes, the Firsborn.
Hermias and others. The Firstborn none saw with his eyes, unless it were holy Night alone. But all the others marveled when there burst upon their gaze the unlooked-for light in the Aither; so gleamed the body of immortal Phanes.
Lactantius. (Of Phanes.) He built for the Immortals an imperishable house.
Proklos. And he devised another world, immense, which the Immortals call Selene and the inhabitants of Earth Mene (both words mean Moon), a world which has many mountains, cities, many mansions.
Proklos. (Of the moon.) That it may return in a month as much as the sun in a year.
Proklos. He appointed for mortals a seat to inhabit apart from the Immortals, where the path of the sun in the middle turns back upon itself, neither too cold above the head nor fiery hot, but betwixt the two.
Proklos. And the honourable works of nature are steadfast and boundless eternity.
Proklos. (Of Phanes.) And he made him (the sun) guardian and bade him have lordship over all.
Proklos. These things the Father made in the misty darkness of the cave.
Proklos. (Of Phanes.) Himself he robbed his daughter of the flower of her maidenhood.
Proklos. (Of Phanes.) His splendid scepter he placed in the hands of the goddess Night, that she might have the honour of royal sway.
Alexander of Aphrodisias. (Of Night.) Holding in her hands the noble scepter of Erikepaios.
Hermias. He granted to her (Night) to have the gift of prophecy wholly true.
Hermias. (a) Fair Ide and her sister Adrasteia.
(b) He (She?) gave to Adrasteia brazen cymbals in her hands.
Proklos. Nurse of the gods is ambrosial Night.
Fragments of Empedokles
11 12 Fools!—for they have no far-reaching thoughts—who deem that what before was not comes into being, or that aught can perish and be utterly destroyed. For it cannot be that aught can arise from what in no way is, and it is impossible and unheard of that what is should perish; for it will always be, wherever one may keep putting it.
13 And in the All there is naught empty and naught too full.
14 In the All there is naught empty. Whence, then, could aught come to increase it?
15 A man who is wise in such matters would never surmise in his heart that as long as mortals live what they call their life, so long they are, and suffer good and ill; while before they were formed and after they have been dissolved they are just nothing at all.
16 For even as they (Strife and Love) were aforetime, so too they shall be; nor ever, methinks, will boundless time be emptied of that pair.
17 I shall tell thee a twofold tale. At one time it grew to be one only out of many; at another, it divided up to be many instead of one. There is a double becoming of perishable things and a double passing away. The coming together of all things brings one generation into being and destroys it; the other grows up and is scattered as things become divided. And these things never cease continually changing places, at one time all uniting in one through Love, at another each borne in different directions by the repulsion of Strife. Thus, as far as it is their nature to grow into one out of many, and to become many once more when the one is parted asunder, so far they come into being and their life abides not. But, inasmuch as they never cease changing their places continually, so far they are ever immovable as they go round the circle of existence.
. . .
But come, hearken to my words, for it is learning that increaseth wisdom. As I said before, when I declared the heads of my discourse, I shall tell thee a twofold tale. At one time it grew together to be one only out of many, at another it parted asunder so as to be many instead of one;—Fire and Water and Earth and the mighty height of Air; dread Strife, too, apart from these, of equal weight to each, and Love in their midst, equal in length and breadth. Her do thou contemplate with thy mind, nor sit with dazed eyes. It is she that is known as being implanted in the frame of mortals. It is she that makes them have thoughts of love and work the works of peace. They call her by the names of Joy and Aphrodite. Her has no mortal yet marked moving round among them, but do thou attend to the undeceitful ordering of my discourse.
For all these are equal and alike in age, yet each has a different prerogative and its own peculiar nature, but they gain the upper hand in turn when the time comes round. And nothing comes into being besides these, nor do they pass away; for, if they had been passing away continually, they would not be now, and what could increase this All and whence could it come? How, too, could it perish, since no place is empty of these things? There are these alone; but, running through one another, they become now this, now that, and like things evermore.
19 Clinging Love.
20 This (the contest of Love and Strife) is manifest in the mass of mortal limbs. At one time all the limbs that are the body’s portion are brought together by Love in blooming life’s high season; at another, severed by cruel Strife, they wander each alone by the breakers of life’s sea. It is the same with plants and the fish that make their homes in the waters, with the beasts that have their lairs on the hills and the seabirds that sail on wings.
21 Come now, look at the things that bear witness to my earlier discourse, if so be that there was any shortcoming as to their form in the earlier list. Behold the sun, everywhere bright and warm, and all the immortal things that are bathed in heat and bright radiance. Behold the rain, everywhere dark and cold; and from the earth issue forth things close-pressed and solid. When they are in strife all these are different in form and separated; but they come together in love, and are desired by one another.
For out of these have sprung all things that were and are and shall be—trees and men and women, beasts and birds and the fishes that dwell in the waters, yea, and the gods that live long lives and are exalted in honour.
For there are these alone; but, running through one another, they take different shapes—so much does mixture change them.
22 For all of these—sun, earth, sky, and sea—are at one with all their parts that are cast far and wide from them in mortal things. And even so all things that are more adapted for mixture are like to one another and united in love by Aphrodite. Those things, again, that differ most in origin, mixture and the forms imprinted on each, are most hostile, being altogether unaccustomed to unite and very sorry by the bidding of Strife, since it hath wrought their birth.
23 Just as when painters are elaborating temple-offerings, men whom wisdom hath well taught their art,—they, when they have taken pigments of many colours with their hands, mix them in due proportion, more of some and less of others, and from them produce shapes like unto all things, making trees and men and women, beasts and birds and fishes that dwell in the waters, yea, and gods, that live long lives, and are exalted in honour,—so let not the error prevail over thy mind, that there is any other source of all the perishable creatures that appear in countless numbers. Know this for sure, for thou hast heard the tale from a goddess.
24 Stepping from summit to summit, not to travel only one path of words to the end . . .
25 What is right may well be said even twice.
26 For they prevail in turn as the circle comes round, and pass into one another, and grow great in their appointed turn.
There are these alone; but, running through one another, they become men and the tribes of beasts. At one time they are all brought together into one order by Love; at another, they are carried each in different directions by the repulsion of Strife, till they grow once more into one and are wholly subdued. Thus in so far as they are wont to grow into one out of many, and again divided become more than one, so far they come into being and their life is not lasting; but in so far as they never cease changing continually, so far are they evermore, immovable in the circle.
27 There (in the sphere) are distinguished neither the swift limbs of the sun, no, nor the shaggy earth in its might, nor the sea,—so fast was the god bound in the close covering of Harmony, spherical and round, rejoicing in his circular solitude.
27a There is no discord and no unseemly strife in his limbs.
28 But he was equal on every side and quite without end, spherical and round, rejoicing in his circular solitude.
29 Two branches do not spring from his back, he has no feet, no swift knees, no fruitful parts; but he was spherical and equal on every side.
30 31 But when Strife was grown great in the limbs of the god and sprang forth to claim his prerogatives, in the fulness of the alternate time set for them by the mighty oath, . . . for all the limbs of the god in turn quaked.
32 But when Strife was grown great in the limbs of the god and sprang forth to claim his prerogatives, in the fulness of the alternate time set for them by the mighty oath, . . . for all the limbs of the god in turn quaked.
33 Even as when fig juice rivets and binds white milk . . .
34 Cementing meal with water . . .
35 36 But now I shall retrace my steps over the paths of song that I have travelled before, drawing from my saying a new saying. When Strife was fallen to the lowest depth of the vortex, and Love had reached to the centre of the whirl, in it do all things come together so as to be one only; not all at once, but coming together at their will each from different quarters; and, as they mingled, strife began to pass out to the furthest limit. Yet many things remained unmixed, alternating with the things that were being mixed, namely, all that Strife not fallen yet retained; for it had not yet altogether retired perfectly from them to the outermost boundaries of the circle. Some of it still remained within, and some had passed out from the limbs of the All. But in proportion as it kept rushing out, a soft, immortal stream of blameless Love kept running in, and straightway those things became mortal which had been immortal before, those things were mixed that had before been unmixed, each changing its path. And, as they mingled, countless tribes of mortal creatures were scattered abroad endowed with all manner of forms, a wonder to behold.
37 Earth increases its own mass, and Air swells the bulk of Air.
38 Come, I shall now tell thee first of all the beginning of the sun, and the sources from which have sprung all the things we now behold, the earth and the billowy sea, the damp vapour and the Titan air that binds his circle fast round all things.
39 If the depths of the earth and the vast air were infinite, a foolish saying which has been vainly dropped from the lips of many mortals, though they have seen but a little of the All . . . 
40 The sharp-darting sun and the gentle moon.
41 But (the sunlight) is gathered together and circles round the mighty heavens.
42 And she cuts off his rays as he goes above her, and casts a shadow on as much of the earth as is the breadth of the pale-faced moon.
43 Even so the sunbeam, having struck the broad and mighty circle of the moon, returns at once, running so as to reach the sky.
44 It flashes back to Olympos with untroubled countenance.
45 46 There circles round the earth a round borrowed light, as the nave of the wheel circles round the furthest (goal).
47 For she gazes at the sacred circle of the lordly sun opposite.
48 It is the earth that makes night by coming before the lights.
49 . . . of solitary, blind-eyed night.
50 And Iris bringeth wind or mighty rain from the sea.
51 (Fire) swiftly rushing upwards . . .
52 And many fires burn beneath the earth.
53 For so it (the air) chanced to be running at that time, though often otherwise.
54 But the air sank down upon the earth with its long roots.
55 Sea the sweat of the earth.
56 Salt was solidified by the impact of the sun’s beams.
57 On it (the earth) many heads sprung up without necks and arms wandered bare and bereft of shoulders. Eyes strayed up and down in want of foreheads.
58 Solitary limbs wandered seeking for union.
59 But, as divinity was mingled still further with divinity, these things joined together as each might chance, and many other things besides them continually arose.
60 Shambling creatures with countless hands.
61 Many creatures with faces and breasts looking in different directions were born; some, offspring of oxen with faces of men, while others, again, arose as offspring of men with the heads of oxen, and creatures in whom the nature of women and men was mingled, furnished with sterile parts.
62 Come now, hear how the Fire as it was separated caused the night-born shoots of men and tearful women to arise; for my tale is not off the point nor uninformed. Whole-natured forms first arose from the earth, having a portion both of water and fire. These did the fire, desirous of reaching its like, send up, showing as yet neither the charming form of the limbs, nor yet the voice and parts that are proper to men.
63 . . . But the substance of (the child’s) limbs is divided between them, part of it in men’s (and part in women’s body).
64 And upon him came desire reminding him through sight.
65 . . . And it was poured out in the purified parts; and when it met with cold women arose from it.
66 The divided meadows of Aphrodite.
67 For in its warmer part the womb brings forth males, and that is why men are dark and more manly and shaggy.
68 On the tenth day of the eighth month it turns to a white putrefaction.
69 Double bearing.
71 But if thy assurance of these things was in any way deficient as to how, out of Water and Earth and Air and Fire mingled together, arose the forms and colours of all those mortal things that have been fitted together by Aphrodite, and so are now come into being . . .
72 How tall trees and the fishes in the sea . . .
73 And even as at that time Kypris, preparing warmth, after she had moistened the Earth in water, gave it to swift fire to harden it . . .
74 Leading the songless tribe of fertile fish.
75 All of those which are dense within and rare without, having received a flaccidity of this kind at the hands of Kypris . . .
76 This thou mayest see in the heavy-backed shell-fish that dwell in the sea, in sea-snails and the stony-skinned turtles. In them thou mayest see that the earthy part dwells on the uppermost surface of the skin.
77 78 It is moisture that makes evergreen trees flourish with abundance of fruit the whole year round.
79 And so first of all tall olive trees bear eggs . . .
80 Wherefore pomegranates are late-born and apples succulent.
81 Wine is the water from the bark, putrefied in the wood.