Ritual Texts for the Afterlife

Orpheus and the Bacchic Gold Tablets

Published March 6, 2013 by Routledge

Fascinating texts written on small gold tablets that were deposited in graves provide a unique source of information about what some Greeks and Romans believed regarding the fate that awaited them after death, and how they could influence it.  These texts, dating from the late fifth century BCE to the second century CE, have been part of the scholarly debate on ancient afterlife beliefs since the end of the nineteenth century.  Recent finds and analysis of the texts have reshaped our understanding of their purpose and of the perceived afterlife.

The tablets belonged to those who had been initiated into the mysteries of Dionysus Bacchius and relied heavily upon myths narrated in poems ascribed to the mythical singer Orpheus.  After providing the Greek text and a translation of all the available tablets, the authors analyze their role in the mysteries of Dionysus, and present an outline of the myths concerning the origins of humanity and of the sacred texts that the Greeks ascribed to Orpheus.  Related ancient texts are also appended in English translations.  Providing the first book-length edition and discussion of these enigmatic texts in English, and their first English translation, this book is essential to the study of ancient Greek religion.


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Gnostic Religion in Antiquity


Date Published: March 2013

Gnostic religion is the expression of a religious worldview which is dominated by the concept of Gnosis, an esoteric knowledge of God and the human being which grants salvation to those who possess it. Roelof van den Broek presents here a fresh approach to the gnostic current of Late Antiquity within its historical and religious context, based on sources in Greek, Latin and Coptic, including discussions of the individual works of preserved gnostic literature. Van den Broek explores the various gnostic interpretations of the Christian faith that were current in the second and third centuries, whilst showing that despite its influence on early Christianity, gnostic religion was not a typically Christian phenomenon. This book will be of interest to theologians, historians of religion, students and scholars of the history of Late Antiquity and early Christianity, as well as specialists in ancient gnostic and hermetic traditions.


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A Companion to Second-Century Christian ‘Heretics’



The book illuminates “the other side” of early Christianity by examining thinkers and movements that were embraced by many second-century religious seekers as legitimate forms of Christianity, but which are now largely forgotten, or are known only from the characteristics attributed to them in the writings of their main adversaries.

The collection deals with the following teachers and movements: Basilides, Sethianism, Valentinus’ school, Marcion, Tatian, Bardaisan, Montanists, Cerinthus, Ebionites, Nazarenes, Jewish-Christianity of the Pseudo-Clementines, and Elchasites.

Where appropriate, the authors have included an overview of the life and significant publications of the “heretics,” along with a description of their theologies and movements. Therefore, this volume can serve as a handbook of the second-century “heretics” and their “heresies.” Since all the chapters have been written by specialists who wrestle daily with their research themes, the contributions also offer new perspectives and insights stimulating further discussion on this fascinating—but often neglected—side of early Christianity.

Editors: Antti Marjanen and Petri Luomanen

Basilides the Gnostic

Author: Birger A. Pearson

Pages: 1–31


Author: Michael A. Williams

Pages: 32–63

The School of Valentinus

Author: Ismo Dunderberg

Pages: 64–99


Author: Heikki Räisänen

Pages: 100–124

Tatian the Assyrian

Author: William L. Petersen

Pages: 125–158

Bardaisan of Edessa

Author: Nicola Denzey

Pages: 159–184

Montanism: Egalitarian Ecstatic “New Prophecy”

Author: Antti Marjanen

Pages: 185–212


Author: Matti Myllykoski

Pages: 213–246


Author: Sakari Häkkinen

Pages: 247–278


Author: Petri Luomanen

Pages: 279–314

Jewish Christianity of the Pseudo-Clementines

Author: F. Stanley Jones

Pages: 315–334

Elchasaites and Their Book

Author: Gerard P. Luttikhuizen

Pages: 335–364

Notes on Contributors

Editors: Antti Marjanen and Petri Luomanen

Pages: 365–367

Index of Modern Authors

Editors: Antti Marjanen and Petri Luomanen

Pages: 369–373

General Index

Editors: Antti Marjanen and Petri Luomanen

Pages: 374–385


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Giuliano Imperatore filosofo neoplatonico

Pubblicazione 2011

Da sempre considerato una delle figure più affascinanti del paganesimo tardoantico, per il suo sogno impossibile di riportare in auge gli antichi dèi in un mondo già permeato dal cristianesimo, l’imperatore Giuliano l’Apostata per lungo tempo non ha goduto di buona fama presso gli storici della filosofia. Il presente volume è un’esplorazione sistematica alle radici del suo pensiero, ricostruito dai molteplici spunti presenti nei discorsi, nelle lettere e nei frammenti dell’opuscolo Contro i Galilei. Attraverso un confronto dettagliato con le dottrine dei filosofi del III-V secolo, Maria Carmen De Vita intende restituire a Giuliano la sua esatta collocazione nel panorama del neoplatonismo tardoantico e, soprattutto, verificare come l’aspetto più discusso del suo breve periodo di governo, ossia la controversa lotta ai Galilei, non sia che la pars destruens di un progetto più impegnativo, comprendente, nelle intenzioni del princeps, una pars costruens altrettanto ambiziosa: l’istituzione di una nuova teologia-liturgia ellenica in cui gli antichi culti, riproposti in una cornice metafisica largamente ispirata al neoplatonismo, possano offrire una valida alternativa alla dirompente originalità del monoteismo cristiano.

Biografia dell’autore

Maria Carmen De Vita (1975) ha conseguito il titolo di dottore di ricerca in Filologia classica (2005) e in Filosofia d’età tardoantica, medievale ed umanistica (2008) presso l’Università di Salerno. Ha collaborato con l’Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Filosofici di Napoli con un progetto di ricerca sul rapporto fra retorica e filosofia nell’ambito della cultura tardoantica. È autrice di studi sulla tradizione platonica (Protagora 314c3- 316a5, 2004; Il mito di Prometeo in Platone e in Temistio, 2004), sulla storia della retorica antica (L’organismo vivo del logos, 2009), e sulla ricezione del platonismo nel dibattito pagano-cristiano del IV secolo (Un ‘agone’ di discorsi: Genesi e Timeo a confronto nel trattato di Giuliano Contro i Galilei, 2008).


(Texte de l’éditeur)

Orpheus and the Roots of Platonism


A book on the religious, mystic origins and substance of philosophy. This is a critical survey of ancient and modern sources and of scholarly works dealing with Orpheus and everything related to this major figure of ancient Greek myth, religion and philosophy. Here poetic madness meets religious initiation and Platonic philosophy. This book contains fascinating insights into the usually downplaid relations between Egyptian initiation, Greek mysteries and Plato’s philosophy and followers, right into Hellenistic Neoplatonic and Hermetic developments.

Preface   ix

  1. A Model of Unitive Madness 1
  2. Socratic Madness 5

III. Socrates as Seer and Saviour   9

  1. Philosophy, Prophecy, Priesthood 17
  2. Scribal Prophethood 19
  3. Eastern and Greek Prophethood 21

VII. Inside the Cultic Madness of the Prophets   25

VIII. Egyptian Priesthood   32

  1. Orpheus as Prophet 37
  2. Orpheus and the Pythagorean Tradition 41
  3. Orpheus and Apollo 44

XII. Orphic Revolution   47

XIII. Knowledge into Death  52

XIV. Telestic Restoration   58

  1. Lyre of Orpheus 61

XVI. Cosmic Unfolding of the One   64

Orpheus and the Roots of Platonism  viii

XVII. Recollection and Cyclic Regression    68

XVIII. Orphic and Platonic Forms   72

XIX. Method of Philosophical Catharsis   76

  1. Deification of the Egyptian Initiate-Philosopher. . . 79

XXI. From Homer to Hermetic Secrecy   84

XXII. Into the Mysteries   89

XXIII. Beyond the Tomb   93

XXIV. Conclusion   97


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