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The Gods of Ancient GreeceIdentities and Transformations$
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Jan Bremmer and Andrew Erskine

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780748637980

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748637980.001.0001

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The Gods in Later Orphism

The Gods in Later Orphism

(p.422) 22 The Gods in Later Orphism
The Gods of Ancient Greece

Jan N. Bremmer

Andrew Erskine

Edinburgh University Press

The chapter analyzes the main features of Orphic gods. Most Orphic gods are the same as those of the Olympian religion. Yet there is a tendency in Orphism to identify gods with each other through various mechanisms, e.g. a god may be born more than once or reappears in another god. The Orphic tendency to unity may lead to an image of Zeus as supreme god who oscillates between creator god and a deity identified with the universe. The most un-Olympic of the features of the Orphic gods is the idea that human beings are of divine origin and can be re-integrated into their primitive condition. An important source for these themes is the Neoplatonic philosopher Damascius who gives evidence for the existence of three distinct Orphic theogonies.

Keywords:   Orphism, Concept of the divine, Olympian gods, Neoplatonism, Zeus, Creator god, Damascius, Theogony

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