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This paper will discuss the novel contributions to theology advanced by the author of the Derveni Papyrus (DP). Specifically, this paper will investigate how the new discovery (Janko, in Kotwick 2017; cf. Janko 2016) of the first line of Parmenides’ poem (DK28 B1.1), “The mares that bear me as far as desire reaches…”, conditions our reading of the Derveni Author’s (DA) theology. Scholars have only considered the DA’s inflection to Parmenidean themes in limited ways: while Betegh (2004) states that the DA felt the need to respond to the Parmenidean ‘ontological challenge’, he considers this only in relation to the cosmology of the text, and not to its theology. Janko’s discovery, however, raises a number of questions about the DA’s allegorical approach to divinity, since quotation of the first line implies direct knowledge of Parmenides’ poem. Indeed, in Janko’s text, the next line includes ειδο̣ (Col. 39), which also occurs at the end of line 3 in Parmenides’ poem, φέρει εδότα φτα, as the mares “carry the man who knows” on the “many-named road of the divinity” (ς δν πολύφημον δαίμονος), probably Night (B1.2-3). Again, the section that follows in the DP refers to a diviner or divination (μαντ: Col. 40) and goes on (Col. 41) to explain that “he assumed as a premise, like a natural philosopher, that any god [should] perform according to the things signified by the prayers” (πθηκε[ν, ]ϲ̣περ φυϲικ[όϲ, χρν τιν]α θ̣εν̣ [κατ] τ ϲημαι[ν]μενα εχα̣[ϲ). Hence, the DA’s allegorical approach to Parmenides appears to have focussed on (1) the epistemic status of Parmenides’ “man who knows”, (2) the activities appropriate to deities, and (3) how the signs produced in Parmenides’ hymn to the goddess should correspond to divinity’s actions.

Janko’s new text compels us to reconsider the DA’s approach to allegoresis of the gods across the DP, and in particular the question of whether the DA presents a programmatically rationalizing approach (the consensus view), or an ad hoc approach (Edmonds 2018). Hence, this paper will investigate the DA’s explanations of the quotations of Heraclitus (Col. 4) and selections from the Orphic poem (Cols. 7-26), with the aim to evaluate the extent to which the tripartite model for allegoresis applied to Parmenides’ poem – (1) status of speaker, (2) divine actions, and (3) consistency of the sign-system for divine epithets – corresponds to exegesis of other quoted materials. Given that there are many deities mentioned in the DP, this paper will restrict its scope to the deities and ‘eternal’ agents found in both Parmenides’ poem (a) and the DP (b): Night (a/b), Justice/Necessity (a)/ Justice (b), and What-Is (a)/Zeus (b). If this tripartite model for allegoresis can be shown to be confirmed elsewhere in the DP, this would be strong circumstantial evidence that Janko’s reconstruction of the beginning of the DP is justified, and it would provide new chapters in the early reception of Parmenides and in the history of pre-Aristotelian notions of divine allegoresis.