New Acropolis Events

from 10:15am to 5:30pm
Orpheus, Plato and Myths of Initiation
A one day workshop with Tim Addey

One of the most important tributaries to the great river that is the Platonic tradition is that of the mystical Orphic mythology and theology. As Proclus (the 5th century head of the Platonic Academy) wrote "All the theology of the Greeks is the progeny of the sacred initiations of Orpheus. For Pythagoras first learned the celebrations of the Gods from Aglaophemus [the pupil of Orpheus]; but Plato was the second who received a perfect science of these, both from the Pythagorean, and Orphic writings."

In this one day workshop we will explore the fragments of Orphic teachings that have survived the long centuries together with the insights Plato and the later Platonists took from this profound stream. We will consider especially what the mysterious myth of the torn-apart Dionysus who is regenerated from his heart through the power of Apollo and Athena has to tell us about our own journey through the realms of mortality. In doing so we may see in a new light the Platonic teaching of the immortal soul which recovers itself by drawing its divided powers together through the discovery of its divine core. This recovery, said Plato, is an act of memory - for deep within the self lies the truths of the eternal realm waiting to be brought to light in order to illuminate our lives.

Over recent years a number of gold tablets have been found in the graves of Orphic devotees from all around the Mediterranean world. Inscribed upon these tablets are short but profound texts designed to remind the departing soul of its continuing need to hold to the Orphic path: many of them have the following beautiful formula -

"I am a child of Earth and starry Sky,
but my race is heavenly. You yourselves know this.
I am parched with thirst and am dying, but quickly grant me
cold water flowing from the lake of Memory."

Thus the cult initiations of Orphic teaching and the philosophic initiations of the Platonic teaching converge and speak of one underlying truth.

Tim Addey is the author of several books on philosophy and myth, and a teacher with the Prometheus Trust.