What can the Derveni Papyrus tell us about the religious milieu of the author?

Rawson, Stuart. (2014) What can the Derveni Papyrus tell us about the religious milieu of the author? thesis, University of Wales, Trinity St David.

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Abstract

The discovery at Derveni in 1962 of the remains of a fourth-century BC papyrus, consisting largely of a philosophical commentary on a religious text, has provided a unique opportunity to investigate the religious milieu in which the author worked. This study concentrates neither on the author’s philosophical views nor on the text on which he is commenting, but on the clues he gives to the religious practices and beliefs of himself and his audience. It discusses the evidence it provides for the rites they practised, and for the role of the beings, the daimons, Erinyes, Eumenides and souls, to which he refers. It also examines the role of the magi who conduct the rites, concluding that they are private religious practitioners who are Greek rather than Persian, regarded positively rather than negatively, and that the author himself was one. In relation to recent scholarly debate on the nature of Orphism, this study shows that there is little evidence in the papyrus or elsewhere for the existence of a contemporary Orphic cult linked with the gold leaves found in tombs, the later Orphic theogonies, and a doctrine of the primal guilt of humanity. In conclusion, a link is made with Pythagorean ideas to characterise what is described in the papyrus as essentially a private initiation cult.

Item Type: Thesis (UNSPECIFIED)
Additional Information: Series: Carmarthen / Lampeter Dissertations.;.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Derveni (Greece)
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Masters Dissertations
Depositing User: John Dalling
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2014 16:35
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2015 10:14
URI: http://repository.uwtsd.ac.uk/id/eprint/373

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