The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Orchestic – Orchestra – Orcus – Oreads – Oreibasios – Orestes



generally regarded with contempt. The Romans did not consult even the Sibylline verses in order to forecast the future. On the other hand, the growth of superstition in the imperial period not only brought the native oracles into repute, but caused a general resort to foreign oracles besides. The inclination to this kind of prophecy seems never to have been more generally spread among the masses of the people than at this time. Apart from the Greek oracular deities, there were the oriental deities whose worship was nearly everywhere com­bined with predictions. In most of the famous sanctuaries the most various forms of prophecy were represented, and the stranger they were, the better they were liked. In the case of the oral oracles the responses in earlier times were for the most part composed in verse: on the decay of poetic productiveness, they began to take the form of prose, or of passages from the poets, the Greeks generally adopting lines of Homer or Euripides, the Italians, lines of Vergil. The public declaration of oracles ended with the official extermination of paganism under Theodostus at the end of the 4th century. Orchestic. See dancing. Orchestra. The space of the Greek theatre situated in front of the stage, in •which the chorus went through its evolu­tions. In the Roman theatre it was ab­sorbed in the area occupied by the audience. (See theatre.)

Orcus. In Roman mythology, a peculiar divinity of the dead, a creation of the popular beliefs. He carried men off to the lower world, and kept the dead imprisoned there. His name, like that of the Greek Hades, served to denote the lower world. (Cg. Dis pater.),

6r6ads (Gr. Oreiades). The mountain Nyjnpbs. (See nymphs.)

Oreibaslos (Lat. Orlbfislus) of Pergamum, physician and adviser of the emperor Julian the Apostate, after whose death (363 a.d.) he was banished by his successors Valens and Valentimanua, and lived among the bar­barians. He was afterwards recalled. He seems not to have died before the beginning of the 5th century. At the suggestion of Julian he composed, on the plan of abstracts from earlier works, a medical treatise (Synagoge Idtrike) in 72 books, of which some 22 are preserved, partly in the Greek original and partly in a Latin rendering. He himself prepared for his son Eustathius a conspectus (Synopsis) of the larger work

in 9 books, only part of which has been published.

Orestes. The youngest child and only son of Agamemnon and Clyttemnestra. In Homer [Od. iii 306] it is only stated that in the eighth year after the murder of his father, who was never able to see him again after his return home, he came back from ! Athens and took a bloody vengeance on JEgisthus and his mother. In later legend he is described as doomed to death, but saved from his father's murderers by his nurse Arslnoe or his sister Electra, and brought by a trusty slave to Phanote on Parnassus to king Strophlus, husband of Anaxibia, the sister of Agamemnon. Here he lives in the most intimate friendship with Pylades, his protector's son, until his twentieth year, and then comes with his friend, by Apollo's direction, to M<~cense, and in concert with Electra effects the deed of vengeance. This deed is represented in Homer as one in­disputably glorious and everywhere com­mended ; but in later legend Orestes is, after his mother's murder, attacked by delusions and harassed by the Erinyes. According to jEschylus, in his Eumlntde's, the Furies do not suffer him to escape even after he is purified in the Delphian temple. Acting on the advice of Apollo, he presents himself at Athens before the court of the AreSpagus, which on this occasion is instituted bj Athene for the trial of homicide. Tha goddesses of vengeance appear as prosa-cutors, Apollo as his witness and advocate, and on the trial resulting in an equality of votes, Athene with her voting pebble decides in his favour. According to Euripides, i» his Iphigenla among the Tauri, Orestes goes with Pylades (as in ^Eschylus) by Apollo's advice, to the Tauric Chersonese, in order to fetch thence the image of Artemis which had fallen from heaven in former times. The friends are captured upon landing, and according to the custom of the country, are to be sacrificed to Artemis, when the priestess, Iphigenia (q.v.), and Orestes recognise one another as sister and brother, and escape to Greece with the image of the goddess. According to the Peloponnesian myth, Orestes spent the time of his delusion in Arcadia [Pausanias, viii 5 § 4], and after he had on one occasion in a fit of frenzy bitten off a finger, the Eume-nides appeared to him in a dream, in white robes, as a token of reconciliation. After he is cured, he places himself, by the mur­der of Aletes, jEgisthus' son, in possession of his father's dominion, Mycenae, and

About | First | Index



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.