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Regular version of the site

Book chapter

The Derveni papyrus and Prodicus of Ceos

P. 713-790.

Section (1) explains why the Deveni papyrus has often been misunderstood: among the main reasons are the wrong label “Orphic” and the confusion of two types of pantheism in Greek thought: the ethico-religious and the naturalistic. The Orphic hymn to Zeus is a classical example of the first type, the Derveni commentary – of the second (which is incompatible with the immortality of the soul and afterlife). Section (2) deals with the literary genre, the general purpose and the hermeneutical method of the Derveni treatise, and draws a preliminary intellectual portrait of its author describing his peculiar features, a kind of «composite image».  In the section (3) we argue for Prodicus as the author of PDervand present 18 testimoniaon which this attribution is based. These include both the verbatimquotations with Prodicus' name that find an exact correspondence in the text ofPDervand the common peculiar features of the language and style.  In the section (4) we propose a reconstruction and interpretation of the text of the col.IV that contains a quotation from Heraclitus. This column is of primary importance for the understanding of the aims and allegorical method of the author in general as well as for his theory of names. Section (5) detects a neglected (polemical)  peritrope of Prodicus' benefaction theory of the origin of religion in Xenophon's Memorabillia4.4. In the section (6) the problems of the original title and date of the Derveni treatise are addressed, as well as its relation to the Psephismaof Diopeithes (432 BC) as well as the trial and death of Anaxagoras. The last section (7) clarifies our use of the term peritropeand explains the Derveni treatise as a polemical naturalistic peritropeof a religious text (Orphic theogony).