AbstractThe present paper provides a plausible interpretation of how a variety of literary elements and religious practices can augment our current understanding of ancient Orphism, although all of the sources seem to reflect a common religious function. The analysis is primarily based on close readings and deals with textual interpretation only as much as is necessary in order to highlight the intrinsic relations of textual constructions on the compositional, syntactical, and grammatical level. By focusing on structural relations, this syntactic approach enables us to integrate all the diverse emic interpretations on the basis of functional rules, while restraining us from the problem of interpreting surface meanings. The primary sources of the paper are specifically the A and D type Orphic gold leaves, because the structuring of these texts follows a common compositional pattern that seems to allude to a “model experience.” Using this “model experience” paradigm, this paper also aims to exceed the contemporary neo-ritualist interpretations of these texts as mere “ritual representations” and to propose a more holistic approach based on functionality. This is accomplished by separating formulaic components and treating them as contextualization cues which refer to the different stages that the initiate embodies, in an interdiscursive textual composition.
Archiv für Religionsgeschichte – de Gruyter
Published: Dec 2, 2020