The Mystical Hymns of Orpheus

The Mystical Hymns of Orpheus

by Thomas Taylor


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In the Orphic rhapsodies, neglecting two principles, together with one who is delivered in silence, a third principle, posterior to the two, is established by the theology as the original; because this first of all possesses something effable and commensurate to human discourse. For in the former hypothesis, the highly reverenced and undecaying Time, the father of aether and chaos, was the principle: but in this Time is neglected, and the principle becomes a dragon. It likewise calls triple aether, moist; and chaos, infinite; and Erebus, cloudy and dark; delivering this second triad analogous to the first: this being potential, as that was paternal. Hence the third procession of this triad is dark Erebus: its paternal and summit aether, not according to a simple but intellectual subsistence: but its middle infinite chaos, considered as a progeny or procession, and among these parturient, because from these the third intelligible triad proceeds. What then is the third intelligible triad? I answer the egg; the dyad of the natures of male and female which it contains, and the multitude of all-various seeds, residing in the middle of this triad: And the third among these is an incorporeal God, bearing golden wings on his shoulders; but in his inward parts naturally possessing the heads of bulls, upon which heads a mighty dragon appears, invested with the all-various forms of wild beasts. This last then must be considered as the intellect of the triad; but the middle progeny, which are many as well as two, correspond to power, and the egg itself is the paternal principle of the third triad: but the third God of this third triad, this theology celebrates as Protogonus, and calls him Jupiter, the disposer of all things and of the whole world; and on this account denominates him Pan. And such is the information which this theology affords us, concerning the genealogy of the intelligible principles of things.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781781071380
Publisher: Old Book Publishing Ltd
Publication date: 01/08/2013
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 1,038,445
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.61(d)

About the Author

Thomas Taylor (1758 - 1835) was an English translator and Neoplatonist, the first to translate into English the complete works of Aristotle and of Plato, as well as the Orphic fragments.
Born in London, Taylor was educated at St. Paul's School, and devoted himself to the study of the classics and of mathematics. After first working as a clerk in Lubbock's Bank, he was appointed Assistant Secretary to the Society for the Encouragement of Art (precursor to the Royal Society of Arts), in which capacity he made many influential friends, who furnished the means for publishing his various translations, which besides Plato and Aristotle, include Proclus, Porphyry, Apuleius, Ocellus Lucanus and other Neoplatonists and Pythagoreans. His aim was the translation of all the untranslated writings of the ancient Greek philosophers.
Taylor was an admirer of Hellenism, most especially in the philosophical framework furnished by Plato and the Neoplatonists Proclus and the "most divine" Iamblichus, whose works he translated into English. So enamored was he of the ancients, that he and his wife talked to one another only in classical Greek.
He was also an outspoken voice against corruption in the Christianity of his day, and its shallowness. Taylor was ridiculed and acquired many enemies, but in other quarters he was well received. Among his friends was the eccentric traveler and philosopher John "Walking" Stewart, whose gatherings Taylor was in the habit of attending. The texts that he used had been edited since the 16th century, but were interrupted by lacunae; Taylor's understanding of the Platonists informed his suggested emendations. His translations were influential on W. Blake, Percy B. Shelley and W. Wordsworth. In American editions they were read by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson Alcott, and H. P. Blavatsky, the founder of Theosophy.
Taylor also published several original works on philosophy (the Neoplatonism of Proclus and Iamblichus) and mathematics.
It appears that he and his wife were landlords at Walworth in the late 1770 to a family that included the 18 year old Mary Wollstonecraft; it is not clear whether the future author of "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman" actually knew the Taylors, as at that age she left home for a job as a lady's companion. Consideration of Wollstonecraft's 1792 magnum opus, together with Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man" inspired Taylor in his "A Vindication of the Rights of Brutes": if men and women have rights, why not animals too?

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