Orpheus playing music in front of Thracians
5th c. BC – Altes Museum - Berlin
THE RHODOPES, THE MOUNTAIN OF THE LEGENDARY ORPHEUS
The Rhodopes are the most extensive mountain range in Bulgaria, covering a vast area in the southern part of the country, and rolling on across the border into Greece. According to legend this was the home of Orpheus and his spirit still seems to live on here in the music and culture of the local people.
Orpheus was the son of the Thracian ruler Oeagrus and the Epic poetry muse Calliope. He was born in 13th c BCE, the end of the Bronze Age. The French explorer Edward Chure (1843) dedicated many years of his life to the research on the sanctuaries and the life of Orpheus. In his “Les grands inities” book he writes: “Orpheus lived in the times of Moses, five centuries before Homer and thirteen centuries before Christ”. Many explorers claim that Orpheus was a real historic figure who lived a generation before the Trojan War. Chure writes: In this period there appeared a young man of noble origin who had an enchanting appearance. His mellifluous voice created a strange feeling of attraction. He talked in a new poetic way and looked inspired. His fair hair fell in golden waves on his shoulders. His dark blue eyes were always shining.
Travel to Bulgaria. Make a journey to Bulgaria and immerse in the ancient culture of Bulgaria. Please have a look at our
11 DAYS TOUR OF B ULGARIA http://www.magictours-bg.com/item/90-bulgaria-tours-11-days
8 DAYS TOUR OF BULGAR IA http://www.magictours-bg.com/item/85-unesco-heritage-tour-of-bulgaria-2014
ARCHAEOLOGICAL TOUR OF BULGARIA http://www.magictours-bg.com/archaeological-and-cultural-tours-of-bulgaria/item/94-archaeological-tour-of-bulgaria
The Rhodopes, The Mountains of the Legendary Orpheus
WHERE WAS HE BORN?
The birthplace of Orpheus has been a greater point of argument than the birthplace of Homer. None of the ancient writers disagrees with the Rhodopean origin of Orpheus. This is the claim of Edward Chure. For thousands of years it has been called the Sacred Mountain. The Pelages, Celts, Skits, Goths came to these mountains to venerate them. There was a great temple built here.
The rock-hewn sanctuary in eastern Rhodopa Mountain, Momchilgrad disrtict
A Shrine of Orpheus . Sanctuary hewn into the rocks near the village of Tatoul, Kardjali district.
Cave-womb- sanctuary Tangardik Kaya, Eastern Rhodopa Mountain, near Kardjali.
In that temple the priests offered sacrifices. Orpheus had a cell in this temple. There he had cedar chests, which held papyri scrolls, covered in Egypt hieroglyphs, brought from Egypt where Orpheus once studied. There were also books written by Orpheus himself. They held the secrets of his knowledge related to the magic sciences and the sacrifices. Orpheus traveled a lot and spread his teaching all around. He crossed Greece, became acquainted with the ancient Cretian culture. He visited the Samothrace Island, where the famous Cabeiri mysteries took place. He visited Phoenicia where writing was created. It was probably Orpheus who took the Phoenician alphabet to Greece. He went to Asia Minor and Egypt. In the period of Ramses II he studied in the Temple of Karnack where a special school of priests existed. He studied the hieroglyphs and the Book of the Dead. According to Euripides the Thracian tables contained the Word of Orpheus. This Word is mentioned also by Plato, Pythagoras and Heraclites. The Greek library of Fabricius held for a long time the catalogues of the songs of Orpheus. These songs enchanted the listener and Orpheus started being called “the father of civilization”. Aristophanes / 450- 385 BCE/ wrote a eulogy to the Rhodopean singer in his comedy “Frogs”. According to Aristophanes Orpheus was famous for his initiation in the mysteries and his telling people to reject homicide. Orpheus was a preacher for brotherhood among people.
THE GOLDEN FLEECE AND THE MARCH OF THE ARGONAUTS
The Rhodope singer Orpheus had great influence in Ancient Greece. Orpheus was called by King Jason to participate in the march of the Argonauts for the acquisition of the Golden Fleece.
Orpheus and Jason were fellow students at the Music and Arts school of Master Hyron. In order to obtain the Golden Fleece the Argonauts needed a great priest, a magician, a talented singer, a powerful healer, a prophet. All these qualities were seen in Orpheus. He brought tranquility to the Argonauts during the long days and nights of their crossing of the sea.
Before being called by Jason, Orpheus was already the famous ruler, priest, singer, prophet, healer and philosopher. In Greece was popular the Rhodope sanctuary where Orpheus gathered his followers and initiated them into the mysteries. The Greeks venerated Orpheus.
In the Golden Fleece March there were people of great importance. There were 8 kings, 6 sons of kings and several brothers. The Argonauts moved a generation before the Trojan War. The fathers of Odysseus, Achilles, and the Great Ajax were Argonauts.
The aim of the trip the Argonauts undertook was to reach ancient Colchis and to recapture the Golden Fleece. The Golden Fleece was an ordinary sheepskin, immersed in a river of gold that collected golden dust. The Colchis used to wet sheep fleece in the gold carrying waters of the Rioni River. Once out of the water the fleece would shine immensely and this is how the legend of the Golden Fleece was born. On his way to Colchis, Orpheus conquered with his music the waves and rocks, the fish and birds, the sirens and the storms. When the Argonauts were crossing the Sirens’ Island they heard the songs of the sirens that were enchanting. Orpheus started playing on his golden lyre and his music became stronger than the call of the sirens.
Behind the gilded palace of king Aeetes, there was a beautiful flower garden. In the garden was a tall and thick oak tree where the Golden Fleece hung. The Colchis Dragon, wrapped around the tree was guarding the Golden Fleece. Orpheus made a spell: he offered a sacrifice, scents and music and thus he managed to make the dragon fall asleep and Jason stole the Golden Fleece.
This place is where a link between Orpheus and Homer is made, and to mention the influence that Orpheus had on Homer. Odysseus’ father Laerth was an Argonaut and he told his son about the adventures of the Argonauts. This is how these legends of Homer’s Odyssey came into existence. The Odyssey deals with the adventures of the Argonauts and the travels of Odysseus. Homer borrowed stanzas and ideas from Orpheus, who lived 500 years before the famous writer and who exercised a great influence upon him.
THE ORPHEUS’ PENTAGRAM
The pentagram is the distinction sign of the Orphists. The word comes from the Greek words ‘pente’ (five) and ‘gramma’ (a letter or a line). It is five lines gathered in a pentagon. The pentagon itself is inserted in a circle; a star in a circle. This is the sign of Orpheus. If one of the shoulders of the star is up there can be a human figure inserted with the head up and arms and legs drawn apart. The pentagram was used as a talisman – enchantments for love, music harmony and a spiritual link with the universe. The basis of Leonardo’s Golden Ratio is the orphic pentagram.
The pentatonics is the basis of the Rhodope songs – there are five basic tones. The heart of the Rhodope folklore melody is the local pentatonic. The song from the Rhodopes is related to the pentagram of Orpheus. Due to pentatonics there are people who find cosmic elements in Rhodopes’ song. The song “Delyo Haidutin” performed by the Rhodopean singer Valya Balkanska is on the Voyager shuttle as part of the heritage humanity sent to the outer space to look for contact with other civilizations.
The breathtaking Rhodopean song "Delyu Haidutin" performed by the great Rhodopean singer Valya Balkanska is recorded on golden CDs and is on the spacecrafts Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 as a message of the human civilizations to other civilizations.
ORPHEUS AND EURYDICE
The legend of Orpheus is closely related to the legend about his love to Eurydice. Orpheus joined the expedition of the Argonauts, saving them from the music of the Sirens by playing his own, more powerful music. Upon his return, he married Eurydice, who was soon killed by snakebite. Overcome with grief, Orpheus ventured himself to the land of the dead to attempt to bring Eurydice back to life. With his singing and playing he charmed the ferryman Charon and the dog Cerberus, guardians of the River Styx. His music and grief so moved Hades, king of the underworld that Orpheus was allowed to take Eurydice with him back to the world of life and light. Hades set one condition: upon leaving the land of death, both Orpheus and Eurydice were forbidden to look back. The couple climbed up toward the opening into the land of the living, and Orpheus, seeing the Sun again, turned back to share his delight with Eurydice. In that moment, she disappeared. According to Virgil Orpheus then moved to the Rhodopes to stay there forever. /Ovid, “Metamorphoses”/
ORPHEUS AND HIS IMPACT ROUND THE WORLD
Plato became an Orphist. In his dialogue “Phedon” he discusses in great detail the Orphic idea of the immortality of the human soul. The ancient Greek poetess Sapho (7 c BCE) created an Orphic music school. Socrates became an Orphist. The bond between Euripides and Orpheus is very strong. There are many poets who make their eulogy to Orpheus in their works. The Roman poet Lucan created poems named after Orpheus. The great Dante Alighieri places Orpheus at threshold of Hell in his “Paradise”, a place where the righteous Jesus Christ, Orpheus and Virgil stand. We could safely assume that the idea of the creation of “Hell” comes with the legend about Orpheus descending into the Underground Kingdom, the horror of this place and the power of music.
Orpheus inspired many poets and writers, like Byron, Shelley, Goethe, Pushkin, Guillome Apolinaire, Paul Eluar, Ibsen, Essenin, Exupery, and Paul Verlaine. The Legend of Orpheus influenced Edgar Allan Poe. His beloved Virginia died still very young. Poe wrote his “Eurydice”. Tennessee Williams wrote his play “Orpheus’ Descent to Hell”. Orpheus was the inspiration for many composers and musicians. Luiggi Rossi created the opera “The Wedding of Orpheus and Eurydice”, Haydn – the opera “Orpheus”, Offenbach – the opera “Orpheus in Hell”, Gluch – “Orpheus and Eurydice”. Orpheus was the inspiration of individual pieces of Bach, Liszt, Berilioz, Belini, and Stravinsky. Orpheus particularly influenced Beethoven and his Fourth concerto. Beethoven visualized how Orpheus beseeched the raging furies to take his Eurydice from the Kingdom of the Dead.