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Zeus is the first. Zeus the thunderer, is the last.
Zeus is the head. Zeus is the middle, and by Zeus all things were fabricated.
Zeus is male, Immortal Zeus is female.
Zeus is the foundation of the earth and of the starry heaven.
Zeus is the breath of all things. Zeus is the rushing of indefatigable fire.
Zeus is the root of the sea: He is the Sun and Moon.
Zeus is the king; He is the author of universal life;
One Power, one Dæmon, the mighty prince of all things:
One kingly frame, in which this universe revolves,
Fire and water, earth and ether, night and day,
And Metis (Counsel) the primeval father, and all-delightful Eros (Love).
All these things are United in the vast body of Zeus.
Would you behold his head and his fair face,
It is the resplendent heaven, round which his golden locks
Of glittering stars are beautifully exalted in the air.
On each side are the two golden taurine horns,
The risings and settings, the tracks of the celestial gods;
His eyes the sun and the Opposing moon;
His unfallacious Mind the royal incorruptible Ether.

   Eus. Pr. Ev. III.—Proc. Tim.—Aristot. de Mund.


First I sung the obscurity of ancient Chaos,
How the Elements were ordered, and the Heaven reduced to bound;
And the generation of the wide-bosomed Earth, and the depth of the Sea,
And Eros (Love) the most ancient, self-perfecting, and of manifold design;
How he generated all things, and parted them from one another.
And I have sung of Cronus so miserably undone, and how the kingdom
Of the blessed Immortals descended to the thunder-loving Zeus.

   Arg. 419.


First (I have sung) the vast necessity of ancient Chaos,
And Cronus, who in the boundless tracts brought forth
The Ether, and the splendid and glorious Eros of a two-fold nature,
The illustrious father of night, existing from eternity.
Whom men call Phanes, for he first appeared.
I have sung the birth of powerful Brimo (Hecate), and the unhallowed deeds
Of the earth-born (giants), who showered down from heaven
Their blood, the lamentable seed of generation, from whene sprung
The race of mortals, who inhabit the boundless earth for ever.

   Arg. v. 12.


Chaos was generated first, and then
The wide-bosomed Earth, the ever stable seat of all
The Immortals that inhabit the snowy peaks of Olympus,
And the dark aerial Tartarus in the depths of the permeable Earth,
And Eros, the fairest of the immortal Gods,
That relaxes the strength of all, both gods and men,
And subjugates the mind and the sage will in their breasts.
From Chaos were generated Erebus and black Night,
And from Night again were generated Ether and Day,
Whom she brought forth, having conceived from the embrace of Erebus.
And Earth first produced the starry Heaven equal to herself,
That it might inclose all things around herself.

   Theog. v. 116.


First was Chaos and Night, and black Erebus and vast Tartarus;
And there was neither Earth, nor Air, nor Heaven: but in the boundless bosoms of Erebus.
Night, with her black wings, first produced an aerial egg,
From which, at the completed time, sprang forth the lovely Eros,
Glittering with golden wings upon his back, like the swift whirlwinds.
But embracing the dark-winged Chaos in the vast Tartarus.
He begot our race (the birds),2 and first brought us to light.
The race of the Immortals was not, till Eros mingled all things together;
But when the elements were mixed one with another, Heaven was produced, and Ocean,
And Earth, and the imperishable race of all the blessed Gods.

   Aristop. Aves. 698.—Suid. v. Chaos.


Chaos and a vast yawning chasm on every side.


"Maia, supreme of Gods, Immortal Night, tell me this,
How shall I constitute the magnanimous first principles of the Immortals?"
"Surround all things with ineffable Ether, and place them
In the mid Heaven."

   Proc. Tim. 63.


I invoke Protogonus, of a double nature, great, wandering through the ether,
Egg-born, rejoicing in thy golden wings,
Having the countenance of a bull, the procreator of the blessed gods and mortal men,
The renowned Light, the far-celebrated Ericepæus,
Ineffable, occult, impetuous, all-glittering strength;
Who scatterest the twilight clouds of darkness from the eyes,
And roamest throughout the world upon the flight of thy wings,
Who bringest forth the pure and brilliant light, wherefore I invoke thee as Phanes,
As Priapus the king, and as dazzling fountain of splendour.
Come, then, blessed being, full of wisdom and generation, come in joy
To thy sacred, ever-varying mystery. Be present with the Priests of thy Orgies.


   What Orpheus has asserted upon the subject is as follows: "From the beginning the Ether was manifested in time," evidently having been fabricated by God: "and on every side of the Ether was the Chaos; and gloomy Night enveloped and obscured all things which were under the Ether." by attributing to Night a priority, he intimates the explanation to be, that there existed an incomprehensible nature, and a being supreme above all others, and pre-existing, the demiurgus of all things, as well of the Ether itself (and of the night)4 as of all the creation which existed and was concealed under the Ether. Moreover he says, "Earth was invisible on account of the darkness: but the Light broke through the Ether, and illuminated the Earth and all the material of the creation:" signifying by this Light, which burst forth through the Ether, the before-mentioned being who was supreme above all things: "and its name," which Orpheus learnt from the oracle, is Metis, Phanes, Ericepæus," which in the common Greek language may be translated will (or counsel), light, life-giver; signifying, when explained, that these three powers of the three names are the one power and strength of the only God, whom no one ever beheld, and of whose power no one can have an idea or comprehend the nature. "By this power all things were produced, as well incorporeal principles as the sun and moon, and their influences, and all the stars, and the earth and the sea, and all things that are visible and invisible in them. And man," says he, "was formed by this God out of the earth, and endued with a reasonable soul," in like manner as Moses has revealed.—J. Malala, p. 89.—Ced.—Suidas v. Orpheus.


Metis bearing the seed of the Gods, whom the blessed
Inhabitants of Olympus call Phanes Protogonus.

   In Crat.

And Metis, the first father, and all-delightful Eros.

   In Tim. II. 102.

Soft Eros and inauspicious Metis.

   Ib. 181.

Metis bearing the generation of the Gods, illustrious Ericepæus.


   Orpheus has the following theological speculation in allusion to Phanes. Therefore the first God bears with himself the heads of animals, many and single, of a bull, of a serpent, and of a fierce lion, and they sprung from the primeval egg in which the animal is seminally contained.

   Proc. in Tim.


   The theologist places around him the heads of a ram, a bull, a lion, and a dragon, and assigns him first both the male and female sex.

Female and father is the mighty god Ericapæus.

   To him also the wings are first given.

   Proc. in Tim.


   They, the theologists, assert that Night and Heaven (Ouranus) reigned, and before these their most mighty father.

Who distributed the world to Gods and Mortals,
Over which he first reigned, the illustrious Ericepæus,

   After whom reigned Night,

Having in her hands the excellent sceptre of Ericepæus,

   After whom Heaven (Ouranus),

Who first reigned over the Gods after his mother Night.


   In short, that to the power of the Sun is to be referred the control and supremacy of all things, is indicated by the theologists, who make it evident in the mysteries by the following short invocation.

   Oh, all-ruling Sun, Spirit of the world, Power of the world, Light of the world.—Macrob. Sat. lib. i. c. 23.



1 Eusebius and Proclus omit the fifth and sixth verses between the parentheses. Aristotle places the fourth before the third.

2 This cosmogony is delivered by the Birds in the comedy so called, and in this line they claim the priority of birth before the gods as well as men.

3 I have given this fragment from Malala, in whose text it appears to be less corrupted. It was originally preserved by Timotheus, who has evidently endeavoured to explain it upon Christian principles. His parenthetical explanations have been considered as part of the Orphic text, and been the cause of its obscurity. Without tampering with the text, I have endeavoured to restore it in the translation to its original purity. It is, doubtless, the same passage from the theogony of Orpheus, commented upon by Damascius. See infra.

4 Omitted by Ced.

5 This extract from a MS. of Syrian is is given by Lobeck, Aglaophamus I. 577, and a translation of it with the Orphic lines from a MS. of Gale, was first given by Mr. Taylor, Class. Jour. XVII. 163.