Orphic Literature

(2613 words)
  • Miguel Herrero (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

In ancient Greece the mythical bard Orpheus was widely believed to be the author of a considerable amount of epic verse. The corpus of Orphic poetry, edited several times in the nineteenth and twentieth century, consists of poetic fragments differing widely in nature and subject matter. The most important of these fragments, on account of their religious content, come from theogonies (narratives about the origins of gods and the cosmos), hymns, and descents to Hades (katabaseis). As was commonly the case with ancient pseudepigraphic literature, the lack of canonicity in Orphic poetry meant that earlier poems were manipulated, reinterpreted, expanded, and imitated with different purposes, from archaic times to late antiquity. A…

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Citation:
Herrero, Miguel. "Orphic Literature". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 08 November 2009
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=7208, accessed 30 August 2014.]