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Chapter Ten. The Central Question: Are The Gold Leaves Orphic?

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Chapter Summary

In 1836, when the first gold leaf, the one from Petelia, was published, scholars of the history of religions considered the existence of Orphism to be an indubitable fact, which is why the tablet was interpreted as Orphic. The same thing happened with those that appeared in subsequent periods. The type of text (hexameters mixed with other meters or nonmetrical formulas), the theme of the Beyond, the repetition of topoi, the consistent use of gold and their great dispersion in space and time (which precludes the possibility that we have to do with a local phenomenon), indicate that these tablets come from one and the same movement, which lasted for centuries and in various places of Greece. This chapter advances various types of arguments to support the conclusion: authorship, geography, mystical environment, references to purity and justice, the characteristics of the gods cited, and iconography.

Keywords:authorship; geography; gold leaves; iconography; mystical environment; Orphism; religious movements



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