THE ELEUSINIAN

MYSTERIES

&

RITES

DUDLEY WRIGHT

THE ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES

AND

RITES

Beach Court. FORT NEWTON.THE ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES ^ RITES BY DUDLEY WRIGHT INTRODUCTION BY THE REV.A. Colo. U. W.tA." Denver.S.D. D. J. 4.C. 412.S. THE THEOSOPHICAL PUBLISHING HOUSE I UPPER WOBURN PLACE LONDON. .I "THE SQUARE & COMPASS. D. Past Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of lowa^ U.Litt..

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n CO 5 U ^ .

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is The question as to which the original is an important antiquarian one to the student.PREFACE AT name one time the Mysteries of the various nations were the only vehicle of religion throughout it is the world. and not impossible that the very of religion might have become obsolete but which for the support of the periodical celebrations preserved all the forms and ceremonials. The is Masonic maintains that Freemasonry not a scion snatched with a violent hand from the Mysteries—whether Pythagorean. Eleusinian. rites and practices of sacred worship. supposed or between Freemasonry and the Mysteries. Uke—but is the original from which all the Mysteries were derived. is a scarcely a single ceremony rite in in the former that has not its corresponding one or other of the Ancient Mysteries. Hermetic. Samothracian. or the institution. remarkable coincidence that there is it real. Druidical. Drusian. With regard to the connection. .

fanciful? will declare the theory to it —ventures the opinion practised that is not improbable that they were among the Atlanteans. of which there historical evidence dating back to the seventh century before the Christian era— -bear a very striking resemblance in many points to the rituals of both Operative and Speculative Freemasonry. and of diversified only local by the accidental circumstances and pohtical situation economy. in these days. As to their origin. is beyond trace. Others are equally of opinion that their origin must be sought for in Persia.8 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES : In the opinion of the renowned Dr. Herodotus ascribed the institution of the Eleusinian Mysteries to influences. while at least one writer —and be who. The Eleusinian Mysteries Greece. and later of —those rites of ancient is Rome." The original foundation of the Mysteries has. however. there no In the opinion of some writers of repute an Egyptian . Egyptian Pococke declares them to have been and to have combined Brahminical and Buddhistic ideas. never been established. while of Tartar origin. George Ohver *' There is ample testimony to estabhsh the all fact that the Mysteries of nations were originally the same. the legendary account put forth.

but of this there no positive evidence. DUDLEY WRIGHT. but at the end does not claim to be it will be found to contain the principal sources of our knowledge of the Eleusinian Mysteries. John the EvangeUst by —a character honoured and revered Freemasons — was an initiate of these Mysteries. The Bibliography exhaustive.PREFACE source is 9 is attributed to them. Oxford. more than one of the early Fathers of the Certainly. it hoped. There is a legend that St. The fact that this is the first time that an attempt has been made to give a detailed exposition of the ceremonial and is its meaning in the EngHsh language interest will. to the influence of the Mysteries it will upon Christi- be seen that in more than one instance the Christian ritual bears a very close resemblance to the solemn rites of the Latin and Greek Mysteries. Christian Church boasted of his initiation into these Rites. render the articles of to and utility students of Masonic lore. As anity. .

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. . .64 V. 48 IV. THE RITUAL OF THE MYSTERIES .. . . . . PROGRAMME OF THE GREATER MYSTERIES THE INITIATORY RITES . . . . '27 . .. . ... -I? II. '3 THE ELEUSINIAN LEGEND . III.7 • PAGE INTRODUCTION I. .CONTENTS PREFACE . . -94 IO9 . . . . . THEIR MYSTICAL SIGNIFICANCE BIBLIOGRAPHY .

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and death.INTRODUCTION BY The Rev.. and became corrupt.Litt. to which they ministered by dramatizing the faiths and hopes and longings of humanity. Once the sway of the Mysteries was well-nigh universal. as all things the Church itself being no their best 13 exception. D. Past Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of Iowa. and charm. dangers. Like all human institutions. one chapter of which told in the following pages with accuracy. J. which we call our life. but towards the end of their power they fell into the mire human are apt to do. disease. and evoking that eternal mysticism which is at once the joy and solace of man as he marches or creeps or crowds through the welter of doubts.D. FEW are aspects of the history of the human of is spirit more fascinating than the story the Mysteries of antiquity.. they had their foundation in a real need. FORT NEWTON. Yet at and highest they were . D. insight.

but elevating and refining. vanished sanctuaries with sympathy and if no mystery any longer attaches to what they taught least of all to their ancient allegory of immortality —there What is still is the abiding interest in the rites. to ameliorate the cruelty of the race.— 14 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES not only lofty and noble. strove to teach purity. . in the early ages. From Pythagoras to Plutarch the teachers of old bear witness to the service what a man learned in the house of the Hidden Place made him want to live nobly. else they had not won the eulogiums of the most enlightened men of antiquity. The Mysteries. who. and symbols employed in the teaching of wise and good and beautiful truth. Such being their purpose. whom boasted of initiation —and as to say that the Mysteries died at only to live again in the ritual of the Chjurch. is hard to know. and to restrain by stronger bonds than those which human laws impose. were established by men of great genius. and the issue That they did influence the early Church evident from the writings of the Fathers of more than one some go so far last. and Cicero testified that the hour of death. said Plato. and gave him happy thoughts for of the Mysteries. influence the Mysteries is had on the new. he who gives morals and refine society a thought to the life of man at large will enter their . uprising Christianity in debate. and that they served a high purpose is equally clear. to exalt its its manners. drama.

society— was universal. . Such a study has more than an antiquarian not only to students in general. their ministry among At least. the resemblance between those ancient rites and tjae ceremonials of both Operative us. Of the Eleusinian Mysteries in particular. in which the author not only sums up in an attractive manner known.INTRODUCTION St. Such influences are difficult to so. it does perpetuate. and it is safer to say that the idea and use of Initiation —as old as the Men's House of primitive interest. we have long needed such a study as is here offered. If we may not say that Freemasonry is historically descended from the instituted Mysteries of antiquity. 15 Paul in his missionary journeys came in contact with the Mysteries. and took different forms in different lands. else public worship might come under ban. save as we ma}^ conjecture remembering the influence of Egypt upon Greece. and even makes use of some of their technical terms in his Epistles. but adds to our knowledge some important details. the better to show that what they sought his insight is sound. have been to trace. but especially to the men of the gentle Craft of Freemasonry. An Egyptian source has been is what attributed to the Mysteries of Greece. but there little it is evidence of it. to some extent. to teach by drama can be known only by spiritual experience. doubt also but surely No drama may assist to that realization.

16 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES and Speculative Freemasonry are very striking and the present study must be reckoned as not the least of the services of its author to that gracious Craft. London.. . E.C. The City Temple.

when gathering flowers. giving his Demeter (or Ceres). the god of Hades. presence at and par- which demanded an elaborate form : or ceremony of initiation.— The Eleusinian Mysteries and Rites THE ELEUSINIAN LEGEND THE ticipation legend which formed the of basis of the Mysteries in Eleusis. Eventually. For she nine nights and days she wandered. was as follows Persephone (sometimes described as Proserpine and as Cora or Kore). to enlighten her as to the whereabouts of Persephone or who had carried her away. in however. quest of her child. her mother. torch in hand. was abducted by Pluto. or willing. heard from Helios (the sun) the name of the seducer 2 17 . and carried by him to his gloomy abode Zeus. too late to assist her child. the brother of Pluto and the father of Persephone. off . or even catch a ghmpse of her seducer. arrived consent. and neither god nor man was able.

where she was honourably entertained by Keleos. the goddess. she left Olympos and the gods. Whereupon she directed the Eleusinians to erect a temple as a peace-offering. and hide him by night in the fire like a firebrand. and. the ruler of the country. and came down to scour the earth disguised as an old woman. Long was thy anxious search For lovely Proserpine. till the far-fam'd Eleusis Received thee wandering. she consented to whom. The some city of Eleusis is said to derive its name from the hero Eleusis. she promised to initiate them into the form of worship which would obtain for . Unknown to the parents Demeter used to anoint Demophon by day with ambrosia.18 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES and his accomplice. In the course of her wanderings she arrived at Eleusis. Detected one night by Metanira. a fabulous personage deemed by to have been the offspring of Mercury and Daira. nor didst thou break Thy mournful fast. Orphic Hymn. with his wife Metanira. who had and whom she undertook to make immortal. she was compelled to reveal herself as Demeter. while by others he was claimed as the son of Oxyges. daughter of Oceanus. Incensed at Zeus. this being done. and remain in order to watch over the education been born to of just the aged king Demophon.

ails her that she comes not home Demeter seeks her far and wide And gloomy-browed doth ceaseless roam What ? From many " Is a morn till eventide. a fane. which shall be observed and which are pleasing to me. but in vain. Hasten ye. " It is I. pips w^ich he offered her as sustenance on her . immortal though ! be." The temple was erected. full of glory. THE ELEUSINIAN LEGEND 19 them her goodwill and favour. but in vain was the seed sown in the prepared ground. an altar. but Demeter was still vowing vengeance against gods and men. " Persephone Persephone — ! The oxen drew the plough. it My life. below the ramparts. Mankind was threatened with utter annihilation. but before Persephone left she took from the hand of Pluto four pomegranate journey. to raise. Pluto yielded. who lightens and gladdens the hearts of gods and men. Demeter. my people.. Finally he summoned Hermes to go to Pluto and order him to restore Persephone to her mother. " for want of thee. and all the gods were deprived of sacrifices and offerings. and on the eminence of the hill. naught " she cries. hard by the citadel. Zeus endeavoured to appease the anger of the gods. and because of the continued loss of her daughter she rendered the earth sterile during a whole year. above the I will instruct you in the rites wall of CaUichorum.

our mouths. —Triptolemus.20 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES returning from the land of Persephone. the writer Homeric " Hymn is to of the happiness initiates : which belonged to Demeter makes no secret all who became Happy he who has been received . Persephone informed her mother that all she had eaten was the pomegranate pips. Polyxenos. in consequence of which demanded that Persephone should him for four months during each year. shadows." Although secrecy on the subject of the nature of the stately Mysteries of the is strictly enjoined. Demeter '' called together the princes of Eleusis and Keleos and " into the sacred rites most venerable initiated them into which no one is allowed to make enquiries or to divulge a solemn warning from the gods seals Diodes. — — — . and that the remaining four would be spent by Persephone the with Pluto. her unconditional return to earth and Olympos depended upon that. Demeter caused to awaken anew fruits of the fertile plains. found her mother in the temple at Eleusis which recently been erected. Eumolpus. sojourn with Demeter had no or one month for each pip taken. which meant that she would enjoy the company of Persephone for eight months in every year." and the whole earth was re-clothed with leaves and flowers. Her because first question had was whether her daughter had eaten anything in the land of her imprisonment. Pluto option but to consent to this arrangement.

alas ! who be destined to the same lot reserved for the faithful in the darkling abode. in his golden chariot shrilly did I cry. and Rhodope. and Electra. lore. and he bare beneath the me against my will. We were playing there and plucking beautiful blossoms with our hands crocuses mingled. the host of many guests. and Phaino. and laneira. and Plouto. and therefrom leaped the mighty prince." The earhest mention Eleusis occurs in the of the Temple of Demeter at Homeric Hymn to Demeter. a marvel to behold. but by its This was not some poet versed in probable date is about was discovered a little over a hundred years ago in an old monastery library at Moscow. and narcissus. and . and Acast^. that the wide earth bare. Persephone : own all version of the incident as follows " We were playing the lovely meadows Leucippe. and lache and Rhodeia. and cannot.— THE ELEUSINIAN LEGEND unfortunate he 21 who has never received the initiation nor taken part in the sacred ordinances. and winsome Calypso. grief. and lanthe. my and earth. Homeric B. and Styx. and Urania. and Callinhoe. which has already been mentioned. written by Homer. Gladly was I gathering them when the earth gaped beneath. and 600 It In this Homeric gives her Hymn in to Demeter. and Mehte." . and now reposes in a museum at Leyden. and Melobosis. and iris. and lilies. a wile for my undoing. hyacinth. and Admete. despite . and beautiful Galaxam^. and roses.C.

upon discovering the loss of her daughter. she took refuge in a cave. being carried from thence sea.22 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES The version of the legend given ** : by Minucius Fehx is as follows Proserpine. abode Pluto . where she lay concealed. she there she found her daughter. for the But Ceres. the Eleusinians the plantation of corn. with lighted torches and wandered over the whole earth till purpose of finding her. When famine and pestilence began to ravage the earth. through thick woods and over a length of was brought by Pluto into a cavern. begirt with a serpent. with which act she was so highly offended that after having washed herself in a river and reassumed human form. and fell in love with her. when the god of the sea transformed himself into a horse to seduce her.'' According to another version of the legend. over whom she afterwards ruled with absolute sway. came to Eleusis and discovered to . or the Erinnys. the residence of departed spirits. as she new b}^ spring. concealed herself under the form of a mare. but could not find her until Pan discovered her and apprised Jupiter of her whereabouts. because the outrages offered . in This cave was in Sicil}^ which country Ceres was known as the black Ceres. was gathering tender flowers in was ravished from her dehghtful and. the daughter of Ceres by the Jupiter. the gods made search for her everywhere. in order to escape from his attentions. Neptune met Ceres when she was in quest of her daughter. The goddess.

the Mysteries became an integral part of the Athenian religion. was one of the twelve which Theseus Leusina originally independent is said to have united site. they were lovers of and visible beauty. and Pirithous are fabled : to have ravished Helen. now occupies the of and has thus preserved the name city. holding a pigeon in one hand and a dolphin in the other. the ancient Theseus is portrayed by Virgil as suffering eternal punishment in Hades.THE ELEUSINIAN LEGEND her 23 by Neptune turned her frantic and furious. but Pirithous arduous attitude of divine contemplation. into a simple state.e. with a horse's head. but Proclus writes concerning him as follows " Theseus. and later. Demeter was depicted in Sicily as clad in black. but the secret rites of initiation were well kept throughout their history. . gives it Afterwards Theseus remained there because he could not sustain the as his opinion that Theseus was a hving character Mysteries. under the Romans. Eleusis cities of Attica. Warburton. a universal worship. in his Divine Legation of Moses." Dr. who for once forced his way into the Eleusinian which crime he was imprisoned on earth and afterwards damned in the infernal regions. of On the submission Eleusis to Athens. and to have descended to in- the infernal regions telhgible — i. was liberated by Pericles from Hades. so that the Eleusinian Mysteries became a Panhellenic institution.

Outside Eleusis the Mysteries were not celebrated so frequently nor on so magnificent a scale. as at Eleusis. who was not bound by the law of celibacy. where they were celebrated every fourth year. brother of Celeus. even Eumolpus himself being permitted to remain in Eleusis. the son of Xuthus. however. They maintained. sanias.24 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES The Eleusinian Mysteries seem to have constituted the most vital portion of the Attic religion. also. Pausanias disputed that any Eleusinian was defeated in battle and forced into exile. at the time when Ion was chosen commander-in-chief of the Athenians in the war against Eleusis. maintaining that peace was concluded between the Athenians and the Eleusinians before the war was fought out. who went to their country after he had been expelled from Eleusis by Ion. when they spread to the Greek colonies in Asia as part of the constitution of the daughter a states. the authority for a statement by the Phliasians that they imitated the Eleusinian Mysteries. a hierophant. while Pau- admitting that Dysaules might for have gone to Phlias some cause other than that . At Celeas. and always to have retained something of awe and solemnity. that their rendering was instituted by Dysaules. was elected by the people Pausanias is for each celebration. w^here the cult seems to have both exercised considerable influence on the populace and on the philosophers. They were not known outside Attica until the time of the Median wars.

sniiter of horses And mighty Eumolpus and Celeus. she gave them kinds of pulse. all where are enumerated of who were taught the ritual of the Mysteries by the goddess. indeed. questioned whether Dysaules was related to Celeus. a grandson of Eumolpus. " does Athens seem to me to have produced and . also had a sanctuary dedicated of which they called Eleusinian. Trisaules the different Two Pheneatians and Damithales — built a temple to Demeter Thesuria. according to the Phhasians. and which were said to be introduced there by Naus. the goddess of laws. " Much that is excellent and divine.— THE ELEUSINIAN LEGEND admitted — 25 by the Phliasians. except beans. or. it was Dysaules who instituted the Mysteries among them. and that. under Mount Cyllene. leader of people. The Pheneatians to Demeter. is though that Celeus mentioned : She showed to Triptolemus and Diodes. The way of performing the sacred rites and explained to all of them the orgies. where were instituted the Mysteries in her honour which were celebrated until a late period. Nevertheless. to any illustrious Eleusinian family." wrote Cicero. and in which they celebrated the Mysteries in honour the goddess. went thither gratitude to They had a legend that Demeter in her wanderings. out of the Pheneatians for the all hospitality they showed her. does not occur in The name of Dysaules the Homeric Hymn to Demeter.

indeed. away the greatest that the of all the rehgious festivals of Greece. ." Every manner writer religious worldly poet. we perceive the real principles to live happily. all with a fairer hope. orator — are of one Mysteries were far and mind about this. in the Mysteries of life. .— 26 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES life. but to die of and learn not only poet. added to our but nothing better than those Mysteries by which we are formed and moulded from a rude and savage state of humanity and. sceptical philosopher.

If any person divulged any part of them he was regarded as having offended against the divine law. and as soon as his offence was made public he was apprehended.yearly at Eleusis. Phliasians. Cretans. observed by nearly Greeks. and was regarded as is of such importance that the Festival The Mysteries. It was accounted unsafe to abide in the same house with him. but particularly by the Athenians. were celebrated . and once in every four years Pheneteans. and Spartans. Parrhasians. It was the of all most celebrated the rehgious ceremonies of Greece at any period of the country's history. drastic punishment was meted out to any person not initiated into the Mysteries who chanced 27 to be present at their ." The rites were guarded most jealously and carefully concealed from the uninitiated. though in the earlier annals of their history they were celebrated once in every three years only.II THE RITUAL OF THE MYSTERIES THE all Eleusinian Mysteries. Similarly. by the Celeans. and by the act he rendered himself referred to frequently simply as " hable to divine vengeance.

who was desirous Demeter. and no persons were until they initiated into the Greater Mysteries first had been initiated into the Lesser. but the difficulty was overcome by Eumolpus. The three were first made and then as a preliminary to the initiation ceremony as prescribed by the goddess. genuine The Mysteries were divided into two parts — the The Lesser Mysteries and the Greater Mysteries. Castor. they happening to be in Athens at the time of the celebration of the Mysteries by the of Athenians in accordance with the ordinance Not being Athenians. is With regard to Hercules. they were ineligible for the honour of initiation. of including in the ranks of the initiated a man of such power and eminence as Hercules.28 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES even through ignorance or celebration. as they then became known. . and Pollux expressed a desire be initiated. Eumolpus though he might citizens. Lesser Mysteries were said to have been instituted when to Hercules. error. of Anthes- for candidates of alien birth. foreigner be. became a general preparation for the Greater Festival. celebrated in the month terion at the beginning of spring. at Agra. In later times this Lesser Festival. which then and afterwards became a ceremony preliminary to the Greater Mysteries. there a legend that on a certain time Hercules wished to become a member of one of the secret societies of antiquity. instituted the Lesser Mysteries.

to his admission who objected he had committed. In the Lesser Mysteries. a mystery. in fact. Go ! repair the goes on to say that after his regeneration he returned and became a worthy member of the Order. took place and the Greater Mysteries represented her descent to the infernal regions. The Lesser Mysteries honoured the daughter more than the mother. and nothing was called by its Lenormant says that it is certain that the initiated of the Lesser Mysteries carried away from Agra a certain store of religious knowledge which enabled them to understand the symbols . of —which. and in the Greater Mysteries she was given the name of Kore. right name. Persephone was known as Pherrephatta. " You are forbidden to your heart is cruel. . The Lesser Mysteries represented the return Persephone to earth at Eleusis . The ceremonies of the Lesser Mysteries were entirely different from those of the Greater Mysteries. your hands are wrong you have repent of your evil doings. Everything was. enter here on account of some crimes which Consequently he was rejected. and the doors of our Mysteries shall be opened to you. who was the principal figure in the greater Mysteries." The legend stained with crime. and then come done with pure heart and clean hands. of course. : Their words to him were . 29 accordingly presented himself and applied in His case was referred to a council of wise and virtuous men.THE RITUAL OF THE MYSTERIES He due form for initiation.


30

ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES
representations

and

which

were

displayed

after-

wards before their eyes at the Greater Mysteries at
Eleusis.

The object

of the Lesser Mysteries

was

to signify

occultly the condition of the impure soul invested

with a terrene body and merged in a material nature. The Greater Mysteries taught that he who, in the
present
is
life,

is

in subjection to his irrational part,
If

truly in Hades.

Hades, then,
the

is

the region of
soul

punishment and
present
next.

misery,
of

purified

must
in

reside in the region

bliss,

theoretically,

the

life, and according to a deific energy in the They intimated by gorgeous mystic visions

the fehcity of the soul, both here and hereafter,

when

purified

from the defilements

of

a material

nature and consequently elevated to the realities
of intellectual vision.

kind of moral drama the
civil society, the

The Mysteries were supposed to represent in a rise and establishment of
doctrine of a state of future rewards

and punishments, the errors of polytheism, and the Unity of the Godhead, which last article was afterwards demonstrated to be their famous secret. The ritual was produced from the sanctuary. It was enveloped in symbolical figures of animals which suggested a correspondence which was utterly
inexplicable to the uninitiated.

K. O.

Mliller, in his
:

History of the Literature of

Ancient Greece, says

THE RITUAL OF THE MYSTERIES
**

31

All the Greek religious poetry treating of death and the world beyond the grave refers to the deities whose influence was supposed to be exercised in
this

dark region at the centre of the earth, and were

thought to have little connection with the political and social relations of human life. These deities formed a class apart from the gods of Olympus and were comprehended under the name of the

Chthenian

gods

(gods

of

the

underworld).

The

mysteries of the Greeks were connected with the

worship of those gods alone.
mortality
first

That a love

of im-

found a support in a

belief in these

deities appears

from the fable of Persephone, the

daughter of Demeter.
harvest,

Every year at the time
to

of

Persephone was supposed

be carried

from the world above to the dark dominions of the invisible King of Shadows, and to return every
spring in youthful beauty to the arms of her mother.

was thus that the ancient Greeks described the disappearance and return of vegetable life in the
It

alternations of the seasons.

The changes

of Nature,

however, must have been considerable in typifying
the changes in the lot of

man

;

otherwise Persephone

would have been merely a symbol of the seed committed to the ground and would not have become queen of the dead. But when the goddess of inanimate nature had become queen of the dead, it was
a natural analogy, which must have early suggested
itself,

that the return of Persephone to the world

32

ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES
and a new
Demeter,
in

of light also denoted a renovation of life

birth

man.

Hence the Mysteries

of

and

especially those celebrated at Eleusis, inspired

the most elevated and animating hopes with regard
to the condition of the soul after death."

No one was permitted to attend the Mysteries who had incurred the sentence of capital punishment
for treason or conspiracy,

but

all

other exiles were

permitted to be present and were not molested in

any way during the whole period

of the Festival.

No

one could be arrested for debt during the holding

of the Festival.

Scarcely anything

is

known

of

the

programme

observed during the course of the Lesser Mysteries.

They were celebrated on the 19th to 21st of the month Anthesterion, and, like the Greater Mysteries, were preceded and followed by a truce on the part of all engaged in warfare. The same officials presided at both celebrations. The Lesser Mysteries opened with a sacrifice to Demeter and Persephone, a portion of the victims offered being reserved for the members of the sacred families of Eumolpus and Keryce. The main object of the Lesser Mysteries was to
put the candidates for initiation in a condition of
ritual

purification,

and,

according to

Clement of
Like the

Alexandria, they included certain instructions and
preparations for the Greater Mysteries.

Eleusinian Mysteries, properly so called, they included

dramatic representations of the rape of Persephone

and the former family survived as a priestly caste nian history. to certain Dionysian before the full representations. to the exclusion of the Keryces. These were ancient Eleusinian families. The truce commenced on the 15th of the month preceding the celebration of the Mysteries and lasted until the loth day of the month following the celebration. were in the hands Eumolpides and Keryces. and to claim an armistice on the part of all who might be waging war. Two months of moon of the month Boedromion. Hence the recognition by the State of the exclusive right and privilege of these families to direct the initiations and to provide each a half of the religious staff of the temple. went forth to announce the forthcoming celebration of the Greater Mysteries. Its down to the latest period of Athemember possessed the hereditary and the sole right to the secrets of the Mysteries. selected of from the priestly families the Eumolpides and Keryces. All arrangements for the proper celebration of of the families of the Mysteries. 33 Demeter in addition. both Lesser and Greater. In order to be vaHd the truce had to be proclaimed in and accepted by each Hellenic city.THE RITUAL OF THE MYSTERIES and the wanderings ing to of . whose origin was traced back to the time when Eleusis was independent of Athens. The Eumolpides held so eminent a place in the Mysteries that Cicero mentions alone. sphondophoroi or heralds. them 3 . accordStephen Byzantium.

who is first mentioned in the On the death of Eumolpus according to one legend. time of Pisastrus. son of Neptune. was offered to it any of the infernal divinities. and the right of the two families solely to prepare candidates for initiation was recognized by a decree of the fifth century B. King of Athens. sacrifice But when a the fire. daughter of Cecrops. is This tradition it disputed by more modern writers.C. when Erectheus. son of Eumolpus. Eumolpus. the subdued Eleusinians. the privilege being confirmed afterwards at a convention between the representatives of Eleusis and Athens. following a war between the Eleusinians and the Athenians. but in all other respects were to be subject to the Athenians. The members of the family of Eumolpides had the first claim upon the flesh of the sacrificed animals. Ceryx. The Eumolpides were the descendants of a mythical ancestor. consumed by All religious Nothing relating must the problems Mysteries which could . else as a reward or recompense for services rendered. in making their submission. stipulated that they should remain custodians of the Mysteries. but they were permitted to give a portion to any one sons..34 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES Pausanias relates that. conquered Immaradus. the younger of the was left. the whole of to had be to be left. But the Keryces claimed that Ceryx was a son of Hermes by Aglamus. and that he was not a son of Eumolpus. but was accepted by the Athenians and acted upon generally.

pre-eminently " The human voice a magical instrument. In order to be efficacious. and the tone in which it is enunciated. or the sequence of the words of which it is composed. whose decision was " The meaning of the name Eumolpus " is "a good singer. for otherwise the words would have no efficacy. the conjuration should be accompanied by chanting. and who was selected from the family of the Eumolpides." and great importance was attached to the quality of the voice in the selection of the hierophant. either as to their existence or their manifold action.THE RITUAL OF THE MYSTERIES not be solved by the to the Eumolpides. the chief officiant at the celebration and at the ceremony of initiation. the . of this is An who explanation says : given is by Maspero. the real value of an evocation lies in its text. one mistake in the measure. 35 known laws were addressed final. Without doubt. either an incantation or a song. In order to produce the desired effect the sacramental melod}^ must be chanted without the variation of a single modulation one false : note. Correct intonation was of far of the Mysteries greater importance than syllabic pronunciation. It was essential that the formulae disclosed to the initiates at Eleusis should be pronounced with the proper intonation. without which none of the highest operations of art can be successful : each of its utterances is carried into the region of the invisible and there releases forces of which the general run of people have no idea.

. This the reason why true all who recite a prayer or formula intended to force the gods to perform certain acts must be of voice.'' Apart from a " true voice " the words were merely dead sounds. in every instance where man sought to seize hold of the god." recorded in tradition that a revelation came to the venerated Arabian prophet resembling " the tone of a bell. will depend upon the exactness of their voice. will yield the secret invocations which were used for magical in true properties and how all purposes the Brahmanical attention to It is ceremonies. Some of the hymns of the Rig-Veda. and the intended is annulled. It was the voice. monotonous chanting produce on nervous people and children are well known. The result of their effort. therefore. in the prayer of definite request. whether successful or unsuccessful." The which low. Even animals and serpents are amenable to the effects influence of sound. The Vedas contain in them many invocations and hymns which no uninitiated Brahman can initiate — recite : it is only the to put who knows their them into use. The character of the voice plays an important part in many religions. which played the most important part in the oblation. and in the evocation in a word. when anagrammatically arranged. Some Moslem Parsees pay much what is called dzdd dwd or " free voice.36 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES any two of the introversion of is sounds of which effect is it composed.

devoting himself wholly to the service of the temple and living a chaste life. but. was said to extinguish in a great measure the natural heat. sexual intercelibacy Foucart is of opinion that was In demanded only during the celebration support of Foucart it of the Mysteries. commanding presence and a simple On being raised to the dignity he received a kind of consecration at a special ceremony. it was incumbent all on the hierophant to abstain from course. certain probably. It was of essential that the hierophant should be a lead man life. according which have been discovered. . at of his which only those own rank were permitted to be present. to which end it was usual for him to anoint himself with the juice of hemlock. and held his office for life.THE RITUAL OF THE MYSTERIES 37 The hierophant was a revealer of holy things. so that. the rule was during the celebration of the Mysteries and. that any rate in all of the hierophants probabihty. He was a citizen of Athens. In the opinion of some writers celibacy was an indispensable condition of the highest branch of to inscriptions the priesthood . which. may be stated that among is the inscriptions discovered at Eleusis there one dedicating a statue to a hierophant by his wife. a man of mature age. for a time before and after. although Pausanias states definitely otherwise. by its extreme coldness. some at were married. when he was entrusted with certain Prior to this secrets pertaining to his high office.

for would have been an exception to find both father and son in possession of the many various and high quahfications regarded as essential to the holding The robe of the hierophant was a long purple garment his hair. the sight of which marked the completion of their admission into the community. by the people office as The it quahfications of a hierophant were so high that the could not be regarded as hereditary. He had the power of refusing admission to those applicants whom he deemed unfit to be entrusted with the secrets. crowned with a of the office. He alone was permitted to penetrate into the innermost shrine in the Hall of the Mysteries it as were — the holy of hohes. and was regarded being particularly holy. He alone was permitted to reveal to the fully initiated the mystic objects. at the most solemn moment of the Mysteries. of the whole mystic celebration. ceremonj^ he rite. exemplary in He had to be moral conduct. his form appeared suddenly to be transfigured with light before the rapt gaze of the initiated. flowed in long locks over his and a diadem ornamented his forehead. myrtle.38 BLEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES went through a special sea. At the celebration of the Mysteries he was held to represent the Creator of the world. . purificatory immersing himself in the his an act to which the Greeks attribute^ great virtue. He was not inactive during the intervals between the . wreath of shoulders. —and then only once during the celebration when.

:

THE RITUAL OF THE MYSTERIES
celebrations of the Mysteries.
It

39

was

his

duty to

superintend the instruction of the candidates for
initiation,

who

for that

purpose were divided into
officials

groups and instructed by
gogues.

known
the

as mysta-

The

personal

name

of

hierophant

supposed to be It was was never mentioned. unknown, " wafted away into the sea by the mystic law," and he was known only by the title
of the office

which he bore.

An

interesting inscription

was found some years

ago at Eleusis, engraved on the base of a statue
erected to a hierophant
:

"

Ask not
it

my name
away

;

the

mystic rule
blue sea.
to the
will

(or packet)
I

has carried

into the

But when
it."

reach the fated day, and go

abode

of the blest, then all

who

care for

me

pronounce
"

One

of

his

sons had written

below

this inscription, after the
:

death of the hiero-

phant

Now

we, his children, reveal the

name

of

the best of fathers, which,

when aHve, he hid

in the

depths of the sea.

This

is

the famous Apollonius."

There

is

extant an epigram by a female hierophant,
:

which runs
Cecrops
myself
in Vita

" Let
off

my name

remain unspoken

on being shut
hid
it

made me hierophantide
in

from the world when the sons of to Demeter, I
the
:

vasty depths."

Eunapius,

Maxim, says "I rmLj not tell the name of him who was then hierophant, for it was he who The manner in which the name was initiated me." committed to the sea was either by the immersion

40

ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES
which was cast into the

of the bearer or
tablet,

by writing the name on a leaden sea. The holy name, by which the hierophant was afterwards known, was derived from the name of some god or bore some ritualistic meaning. Sometimes the hierophant was known simply by the title of his office with the addition of his father's name. The rule as to
the public mention of the former

name

of the hierois

phant was occasionally transgressed, and there
addressing
a

the instance of the atheistic philosopher Theodorus

hierophant

by

his

discarded

of Lacrateides,

and

also of Deinias,

name who was put

into prison for the offence of addressing a hierophant

by

his discarded family

name.
one passage in Lexiphanes
:

Lucian refers to
" The
first I

this in

met were a
of

torch-bearer, a hierophant,

and others

the initiated, hahng Deinias before

the judge, and protesting that he had called

them

by

their

names, though he well knew that, from the
they were nameless,
to be

time of their sanctification,

and no more
In the

Imperial Inscriptions

named but by hallowed names." we find the titles
The hierophant

substituted for the proper names. ^
I

From two inscriptions found at Eleusis it would appear that it was customary to make the name public after the death of the hierophant. It seems also to have been the practice to make the name known to the initiate under the pledge of secrecy. Sir James Frazer thinks that the names were, in all probability, engraved on tablets of bronze or lead and then thrown into deep water in the Gulf of Salamis.

THE RITUAL OF THE MYSTERIES
was
compelled
to

41

avoid

contact

with

the

dead

in the

same manner as the Cohanim of the Jewish faith, and with certain animals reputed to be unclean. Contact with any person from whom blood was He was assisted by issuing also caused impurity. a female hierophant, or hierophantide an attendant upon the goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone. She also was selected from the family of the Eumolpides and was chosen for life. She was permitted to marry, and several inscriptions mention the names of children of hierophantides. On her initiation into this high degree she was brought forward naked to the side of a sacred font, in which her right hand was placed, the priest declaring her to be true and holy and dedicated to the service of the temple. The special duty of the female hierophant was to superintend the initiation of female aspirants, but she was present throughout the ceremony and played some part in the initiation An inscription on the tomb of the male candidates.

of

one hierophantide mentions to her glory that

she had set the myrtle crown, the seal of mystic communion, on the heads of the illustrious initiates, Another Marcus Aurelius and his son, Commodus. gloried in the fact that she had initiated the Emperor

Hadrian.

Next in rank to the hierophant and hierophantide came the male and female dadouchos, who were taken from the family of the Keryces. They were

as the messenger as mediator whenever of the gods. and were permitted to marry. They diadems. such as the opening address to the candidates for initiation and in the pubUc prayers for the welfare of the State. which they had to maintain in good repair. and their duty consisted mainly in the torches at the Sacred Festival. It was necessary for him to them have passed through all the various degrees. He also and a myrtle crown. wore purple robes. was indispensable to men wished approach the Immortals. and They were appointed for life. larly The male dadouchos particu- was associated with the hierophant in certain solemn and public functions. or messenger of holy tidings. the dadouchos was never addressed by his own personal name. as his duties necessitated his presence throughout the ceremonial. They were selected from one or other of the two sacerdotal families. statues . who. The hierocceryx. He made the necessary proclamations to the candidates for initiation into the various degrees. or Mercury. myrtle crowns. Until the first century B.42 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES carrying also the torch-bearers. The phaidantes had the custody of the sacred and the sacred vessels.C. wore a purple-coloured robe He was chosen for life from the family of the Keryces. but always by the title of his office. The office was frequently handed down from father to son. was the representative of Hermes. and in particular enjoined to preserve silence.

The first of these was always the King. carried the mystic fan . and wore myrtle priestesses The diluvian " bees. the hydranoi. who formed a class between the ministers and the initiated. the sacred truce. whose duty it was to take care that the ritual was punctiliously followed in every detail. included nine archons. were the their leaders of the sacred music. who proclaimed pyrphoroi." who performed other minor expiatory rites in the name and were also in the place of all the initiated. bees. the hymnetriai the neokoroi.THE RITUAL OF THE MYSTERIES Among who the other officials were : 43 The Hknophori. were sacred to Demeter. at by sprinkhng the commencement of the spondophoroi. which was to permit of the peaceful celebration of the Mysteries . to who were chosen every year manage the affairs of Greece. who maintained the temples and the altars the panageis. charge the hymnodoi. by the general name of melissae — i. Then there were the " initiates of the altar. being makers of honey. who had under . whose . The officials. and regenerated All these officials had souls were called to be of unblemished reputation.e. or Archon Basileus. brought and maintained the the hieraules. perhaps so-called be- cause bees." crowns while engaged in the service of the temple. who purified the candidates for initiation them with holy water the Festival . the fire who . the sacrifices for the sacrifices who played were being the flute during the time offered — they . There many officials.

It may be worthy of remark here that Epimenides .44 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES of the Mysteries it duty at the celebration was to offer prayers and sacrifices. and at the conclusion to pass judgment on all offenders. is who flourished about the year 600 B. in his life of that philosopher.. These look upon these Eleusis. however graphic or eloquent. of Crete. and the remaining two from the rank and file of the citizens and ten hieropoioi. into which the hierophant alone had the right to penetrate. to have been the first to perform expiatory sacrifices and lustrations in fields and houses and to said have been the of sacrifice. convey but a faint impression of the wonderful . elected by the people." as they were called. in the ceremonies were enclosed in a special chamber in the Telestrion. There were also four epimeletae.C. was permitted only sacred objects were in the charge of the Eumolpides family. to see that no indecency or irregularity was committed during the Festival. whence they were taken back to It to the initiated to " hiera. or curators. During the celebration of of the Mysteries they were carried to Athens veiled and hidden from the gaze the profane. another from the Keryces. whose duty it was to offer sacrifices. or known as the Anactoron. first to erect temples for the purpose The sacred symbols used Hall of Initiation. by Diogenes Laertius. one being appointed from the Eumolpides. Written descriptions.

principal their splendour being their attraction. THE RITUAL OF THE MYSTERIES scenes that were enacted . they became but a ceremony. but there rests is nothing on which God in so full a measure as the rites of Eleusis and the Olympic games. When the Eleusinian Mysteries were taken to Rome. in The Athenians were pious the extreme. until finally they degenerated superstition. essential In history. Another " Many a wondrous sight writer has declared may be seen and not a few tales of wonder may be Aristides says that : heard in Greece the blessing of .. although pilgrims from various and remote parts to that race the reputation of Eleusis of the world visited it at the season of the Mysteries. relaxed. as they were in the reign of Hadrian. and throughout the period that initiation was limited was maintained. their religious character disappeared. 45 what was seen rivalled anything that was heard. into a infuse late mere Julian strived in vain to it new life into the vanishing cult." For nine centuries —that the period of time being divided the pre-Christian almost equally between latter and Greek Christian eras — they were the Palladium of part of their Paganism. when the restrictions as to admission began to be and in proportion to that relaxation. but was too —the Eleusinian Mysteries were dead. they contracted impurities and degenerated into the spirituality of their teachings did not the transference or it failed to and vice accompany be comprehended riot .

a law prohibiting nocturnal rites was pubhshed by Valentinian. and the Eleusinian Mysteries suffered in the general destruction. would be rendered utterly unsupportable this." by and themselves as lucifugce or known way of reproach. though stripped of their splendour.D. rites It is certain that many of the pagan religion were performed under . a circumstance which led to their assemblies being as anteUicani " light-haters. but in the early days of Christianity also was the custom for Christians to forgather either at night or before daybreak. their most holy and comprehensive Much has been made by some it writers of the fact that the ceremonies were held at night. the licentious Romans mistook the shadow for the all substance. prevailed on him to revoke Greeks if it. In A. but Praetextatus. whom Julian had constituted governor of Achaia. It is probable. urging that the lives of the he deprived them of festival.46 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES Although the forms of initiation were still symbolical of the original and noble objects of the institution. that the Mysteries were celebrated secretly in spite of the severe edicts of Theodosius and that they were the partly continued through dark ages. About the beginning pagan theology of the fifth century Theodosius the Great prohibited and almost totally extinguished the in the Roman Empire. 364. and while they passed through the ceremonies they were strangers to the objects for which they were framed. however.

the penalties fixed being a fine of not less than a thousand drachmas. the 15th of the or present any petition except for offences committed at the Festival. During that time it was unlawful to arrest any man present. corresponding roughly with the month of September. of course.THE RITUAL OF THE MYSTERIES the dissembled 47 long name of convivial meetings. . edicts. after the publication of the Emperor's and Psellius informs us that the Mysteries of Ceres existed in Athens until the eighth century of the Christian era and were never totally suppressed. by far the more important — began on The Festival of the Greater Mysteries month of Boedromion. —and this was. and lasted until the 23rd of the same month. and some assert that transgressors were even put to death. heavy penalties being inflicted for breaches of this law.

" and the ceremonies were regarded as " religious in the highest interpretation of that term. The various functions were characterized by the greatest possible solemnity and decorum. wearing his robe of •' office is Come. " Gathering.— Ill PROGRAMME OF THE GREATER MYSTERIES THE following is the programme of the" Greater Mysteries. On day the Archon Basileus presided over all the cults of the city. fices had offered up sacri- and prayers for the welfare of Greece. and assembled the people at a place known as the Poikile Stoa. After the Archon this Basileus. whosoever justice. whoever clean of all pollution soul has not consciousness of sin. First Day." when all who had passed through the Lesser Mysteries assembled to assist in the celebration of the Greater Mysteries." which extended over a period of ten days." — The or first day was known as the the " Assembly. with four assistants. the follow- ing proclamation was made by : the Archon Basileus. hath lived a hfe of righteousness and Come . and whose Come.

any case. purple-coloured belts. clean hands. This is evident from the wording of inscriptions which have been discovered. of hand. dresses were regarded and that it that extravagant and costly by Demeter with disfavour. We know Jewellery. and bade them to be silent throughout the ceremonies. wore regalia special to the occasion. all fire who repeated Once within the sacred enclosure were subject to a purification by All the initiates ceremonial. but particulars of the regalia are wanting. was forbidden to wear such in the temple. but especially. and must 4 . each under guidance and direction of the mystagogue. with the implacable The hierocceryx then impressed upon all the duty of observing the most rigid secrecy with respect to what they might witness. and this in anger of the gods. The hair of women had to fall down loose upon the shoulders. and whose Whosoever hath not and an intelligible voice and must not assist at the Mysteries. and the impious were threatened with the punishment set forth in the law if they were discovered. gold ornaments." The people were then commanded by the hierophant to wash their hands in consecrated water. these instructions to the candidates. initiation The candidates for the assembled outside the temple. and not utter even an exclamation.PROGRAMME OF GREATER MYSTERIES all 49 ye who are pure of heart speech can be understood. and embroideries were also barred. a pure soul. as were robes and cloths of mixed colours.

or in the salt water of the two consecrated lakes. was permitted to use cosmetics. ye mystae. Capella compares Saturn to a river." had the exclusive right of fishing in these A procession was formed. immersing themselves seven times on each occasion. signifies voluminous. The planet pure intellect. The day was consecrated to Saturn. On ** returning from the bath creatures." all were regarded as new the bath being regarded as a . and cold. on what was known as " The Sacred Way. salt those who had to purify themselves from murder plunged into water on two separate occasions. the num. and Pythagoras symbolically called the sea a tear of Saturn. This general purification was akin to that practised to this day by the Jews at the beginning of the Jewish year. and made their way to the sea or the lakes.ber of immersions varied with the degree which each confessed. in which all joined lakes. sluggish. called Rheiti. where they bathed and purified themselves. into whose The priests province the soul is said to fall in the course of its descent from the tropic of Cancer. or "To the sea. Second Day. and the manner of guilt in which the bathing was carried out and According to Suidas.50 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES No woman not be in plaits or coiled upon the head. The bathing was preceded by a confession. The second day was known as Halade My sice." from — the command which greeted all the initiates to go and purify themselves by washing in the sea.

Each had carried to the river or lake a little pig. when salt. nightfall. The Archon Basileus. in a plain fawn-skin or a sheep-skin. pomegranates. when On the Eleusinian coinage the pig. they partook parched corn. there to cornfields. in the presence of representatives sacrifice from the allied cities. description. the skin of the laid on the ground by the dadouchos. and every one fasted seed cakes. 51 and the initiates were clothed purification. the Athenian citizens.PROGRAMME OF GREATER MYSTERIES laver of regeneration. who was squatting on the Third Day. appears day also and symbol of the Mysteries. The pig was offered because it was very pernicious following day. and their wives and . and on the next day this pig was sacrificed. were of forbidden. For each person whom it was desired to purify an ox was sacrificed to Zeus Mellianimal was chios. assisted again by the four epimeletae. standing on a as the sign torch placed horizontally. celebrated. which was also puritied by bathing. On this some of the initiated submitted to a special near the altar of Zeus Mellichios on purification the Sacred Way. the great of the Soteria for the well-being of the State. was not regarded as complete until the was added the sprinkling of the blood of a pig sacrificed. the infernal Zeus. The however. — On the third day pleasures of every strictly till even the most innocent. and sacred wine mixed with milk and honey. and the one the object of the lustration remained there left foot.

The oblations were accounted so sacred that the priests themselves were not permitted. to partake of them. " Hail. and was supposed to com- memorate Demeter's grief at the loss of Persephone. as was usual At the conin other offerings. and sometimes serpents. The hog solemn of propitiation offered to in Frey was a in sacrifice the North of Europe and Sweden. of the general ceremony each one individually^ clusion sacrificed the little pig purified in the sea the night before. Fourth Day. —The principal event of the fourth day was a solemn procession. Ceres " The rear end of the procession was ! composed of women carrying baskets salt. . One kind of these cakes was known as " ox-cakes " they were made with Another little horns and dedicated to the moon. on Christmas Eve. kind contained poppy seeds. a field of Eleusis. the custom has been preserved by baking. grains of granates. when the holy basket of Ceres (Demeter) was carried in a consecrated cart. a loaf or cake in the form of a hog. ivy boughs.52 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES This ceremony took place in the Eleusinion children. containing sesamin. The sacrifices offered consisted chiefly of a mullet and of barley out of Rharium. Poppy was used in . cakes corn. as the Day of The day was known Mourning. carded wool. at the foot of the Acropolis. the crowds of people shouting as it went along. reeds. pome- known as poppies. down to modern times.

and holding in Fifth Day. crowned with ears of corn. to represent the the procession. hence his statue has always a torch in the hand. or of Jupiter The " fair young Bacchus." lacchos. and. fifth —The day was known as the temple Day all of Torches. or Potter's Quarter. accompanied by the lacchogogue and other magistrates nominated of lacchos in Athens. Demeter invariably represented in her statues as being very rotund. for the occasion.PROGRAMME OF GREATER MYSTERIES the ceremonies because of it 53 poppy were given the to in Greece to induce sleep. together other sacred objects. or Dionysos. wanderings of the goddess in search of her daughter when she was conducted by kindled in the flames of Etna. her hand a branch of poppy. from the fact that at nightfall the initiates walked in pairs round the of Demete at Eleusis. was said that some grains Demeter upon her arrival which she had not enjoyed abduction of from time is of the Persephone. — lacchos Ceres. the dadouchos himself leading The torches were waved about and changed from hand to hand. He with also carried a torch. This statue. to Eleusis by the Sacred Way . was the name given to the sixth day of the Festival. were taken from the lacchion. god. conveyed from the Kerameikos. the sanctuary mounted on a heavy rustic four-wheeled chariot drawn by bulls. the light of a torch Sixth Day. was the son and and accompanied the goddess in her search for Persephone.

at the site of the house of Phytalus. the people dancing the all way along the route. who. which Pluto descended and sacred dances performed. received the goddess into his house. and singing Halts were made during the procession at various shrines.54 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES It in solemn procession. and. Night of Torches " by many ancient The pitch and resin of which the torches ** were composed were substances supposed to have the virtue of warding off evil spirits. li37mns sung. the people entered Eleusis by what was known as the Mystical Entrance. beating brass kettles of various kinds and playing instruments sacred songs. according to an inscription on his tomb. so that a great part of the journey had to be accompHshed by the light of the torches carried by each of the pilgrims. as well as the people accompanying were crowned with myrtle. Midnight had set in before Eleusis was reached. particularly at a fig-tree which it was regarded over the as sacred. The barren . she requited him by reveaUng to him the culture of the fig . where the bystanders made themselves merry at the expense of the pilgrims. by Hades with Persephone. it was said. statue. Having passed the bridge. and the nocturnal journey was spoken of as the authors. also upon a bridge built river Cephissus. At each of the shrines sacrifices and libations were the side of offered. was on this day that the its solemnity of the ceremonial reached height. because had the renown of being planted by Phytalus into . The it.

— PROGRAMME OF GREATER MYSTERIES mountains the sea ! 55 of of the Pass of Daphni and the surface " lacchos. or van. Various symbols were carried by the people. halts resounded with the chant. and wearing a veil." plaited reeds and baskets. inasmuch as the vine grows out of the earth. and clothe the field : . lacchos from thirty to forty thousand. devotion. fastened a saffron band on the the right arm and left foot of as was always a child of Demeter. as it was sometimes called. and was regarded also as an emblem of the power which separates the virtuous from the wicked. who numbered sometimes as many as procession. These symbols consisted of winnowing fans — the " Mystic Fan of lacchos. In the ancient paintings sented as is by Bellori two persons are represtanding by the side of the initiate. In some of the editions Mneid the following of Southey's translation of the lines appear : Now learn To sow what arms industrious peasants wield the furrow's glebe. was the instrument that separates the wheat from the chaff. to the worship of the goddess and her son. while who is represented as in a devout posture. One the priest who is performing the ceremony. descendants of the hero Crocon. both relating The fan. the old mark of another is holding a fan over the head of the candidate. who had formerly each one in regarded reigned over the Thriasian Plain. " O lacchos At one of the the Croconians.

sleds. — On the seventh day the statue was carried back to Athens. light osiers.000 drachmas. which he had ately He not only paid the penalty. the wain on Ceres to her fane Hails. the day on which they led forth the mystic lacchos. like the " stations " of The return journey and attended with Roman Catholic . says that he is aware that unlucky things happen sometimes on lucky days. one of the Eleusinian priests solemnly announced their arrival to the priestess of the tutelary goddess of Athens Pallas Athene. but gave a talent to the informer. the wife of sisters. numerous ceremonies. The hurdle. Halts were again made at several places. the crooked plough's strong rolls : beam. and the mystic van of God.— 56 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES share. prevent the richer women from poorer distinguishing themselves from their relate. but Lycurgus ordered that if any woman to should ride in a chariot to Eleusis she should This was be mulcted in a line of 8. in commenting upon lucky and unlucky days." Seventh Day. for the Athenians had to receive a Macedonian garrison " even on the 20th of Boedromion. The That slowly The distance covered by the procession was twentytwo kilometres. Immedi- upon the deposit of the sacred objects in the Eleusinion. Plutarch. and Lycurgus himself had to pay the ordained. was also a solemn procession. at the foot of the Acropolis. Strange to to break fine Lycurgus was the first this law. and the harrow's load.

comprised comic incidents. of solemn preparation by those who were to be initiated on the following night. to any of the initiated to it It sit was strictly forbidden down on this well lest should appear that they were mimicking the of the of jests weeping goddess. broke down with fatigue at Eleusis. is recall the tactful measures employed to rouse by a maidservant named lambe from her prolonged sorrowing. 57 when the inhabitants also fell temporarily into line with the procession. Demeter a strange There is contradiction in the various statements made by Demeter. indulging in who were were to what it was termed said. and the victors were rewarded with a measure of barley." These jests. of Yet the mimicking part of lambe were the ceremonial the . the same as on the previous day. where she sat down on a well. For those who remained behind at Eleusis the time was devoted to sports. The return journey was conducted with It the same splendour as the outward journey. " bridge fooling. tradition that that grain It it being a was also regarded as a was day first sown in Eleusis. the combatants appearing naked. when in search of her daughter. at Those who awaited the procession the the bridge over all Athenian river Cephisson exchanged those kinds of chaff and buffoonery with in the procession. overwhelmed with grief.PROGRAMME OF GREATER MYSTERIES pilgrimages. the ancient writers as to what was permissible and what was forbidden during the ceremonies.

And with her own hand lambe stripped herself under And showed — the breasts. " jests. that purpose. would be regarded to-day as in bad taste. Having thus spoken. because happened once that iEsculapius. and it : usually offered of lacchos. Blandly then the goddess laughed and laughed in her mind. —The it eighth day was called Epi- daurion. coming from Epidaurius to Athens." so-called. desired to be and had the Lesser Mysteries repeated for It therefore became customary to celebrate the Lesser Mysteries a second time upon this day. candidates who had not already enjoyed the privilege. There was also another reason for the repetition of ." all along the road during the passing Eighth Day. conditions it was necessary to omit the sacrifices who held Decelea. And received the glancing cup in which was the draught. and to admit to initiation any such approved initiated. she drew aside her garments all that shape of the body which it is improper to name the growth of puberty.58 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES According to the ancient writers the Mysteries. During the Peloponnesian war the Athenians were unable to obtain an armistice from the Lacedaemonians became necessary to send the statue of lacchos and the processionists to " Under these Plutarch says Eleusis by sea.

sinking into a perfect oblivion of her divine origin and pristine felicity. the direction of the smoke. other animals must be slain until one presented able. the chants. blessed queen. sacrifice as regarding the age. Persephone divine. but to be is said consumed to have been an within the building. The day opened with a solemn sacrifice offered to Demeter and Persephone. The utmost precision had to be observed in offering this colour. and the repeated the second of celebration of that sacred rite. ignorance. perfumes. incline O venerable goddess. sacrifice The acceptance or rejection of a was indicated by the movements of the it animal as approached the altar. the vivacity of If the flame. etc. source of life . Come. into the region of dissimilitude. PROGRAMME OF GREATER MYSTERIES The eighth day was initiation. and libations. and sex of the victim. . . 59 re- garded as symbohcal of the soul falHng into the Kmar orbi. had The following Invocation used during : the celebration of the Mysteries Daughter of Jove. Pluto's honoured wife. which took place within the peribolus.— the initiatory rites then. itself in which all the signs were favour- The flesh of the animal offered was not allowed to be taken outside the sacred precincts. was symbolical the soul bidding adieu to everything of a celestial nature. and to these rites Only-begotten. these signs were not favourable in the case of the first victim offered. and rushing profoundly and error.

bearing heav'nly light. life and death alone To wretched mortals from thy pow'r is known For thine the task. and alone desir'd by those of mortal kind. with lovely Peace Send Health with gentle hand. free from noisy strife Last in extreme old age the prey of death. Life to produce. sonorous. the parent of the vine. : : . and Pluto reigns. send a rich increase Of various fruits from earth. and all that lives to kill. Sweet to the smell. and pleasing to the sight Whose holy forms in budding fruits we view. All-ruling virgin. of a bounteous mind. O vernal queen. and after the repetition of certain mystical of Day Earthen Vessels. whose frame proceeds Jove's ineffable and secret seeds. the wine being . : 60 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES Tis thine in earth's profoundities to dwell. subterranean queen. Associate of the Seasons. To thy fair palace and the blissful plains Where happy spirits dwell. whom grassy plains delight. of a beauteous mien. Hear. The Furies' source. And many form'd. essence bright. Horn'd. —The ninth day was it known as the was the custom on that day to fill two jugs with wine. divine. of Bacchus. Ninth Day. One was placed towards the East and the other towards the West. Jove's holy offering. according to thy will. because formulae both were overthrown. Avenging goddess. blessed Goddess.. Fast by the wide and dismal gates of hell. From Mother With fruits abounding. fair-hair'd. Earth's vig'rous offspring of a various hue Espous'd in autumn. and crown my life With blest abundance. Dismiss me willing to the realms beneath.

at these games.— On tion of every third the tenth day the majority of the people returned to their homes.— PROGRAMME OF GREATER MYSTERIES spilt 61 upon the ground as a libation. when they remained behind for the Mystery Plays and Sports. but its which it thought may have had origin in a contest between the reapers on the sacred Rharian . and were the same as those used at the conclusion of the Mysteries of fact is — Isis. have been instituted as a thank-offering to Demeter and Persephone at the From an inscription conclusion of the corn harvest. and the second to the earth as a prayer for fertility. sacrifices were offered to Demeter and Persephone a horse race. which lasted from two to three days. They are supposed to dating from the latter part of the third century B. The Eleusinian Games are described by the rhetorician Aristides as the oldest of all Greek games. They included athletic and musical and a competition which is bore the Contest. with the excep- and fifth year. Tenth Day.C. This sometimes used as an argument in favour of the Egyptian origin of the Eleusinian Mysteries. contests. name is of the Ancestral or the Hereditary the nature of which not known. The words used by the hierophant termination of the celebration of " : to denote the the Mysteries Watch and do no evil " are said Conx Om Pax to have been Egyptian. The first of these formulae was directed towards the sky as a praj^er for rain.

though meant to was probable that it was be surrounded in the customary manner .— 62 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES first plain to see which should task. a prostyle. Metagenes.. at least. some ages structure after the original was erected. and Pericles was merely the overseer of the building. and that not until the time of Demetrius Phalereus. without columns. but words pil'd will build no walls. added the rest of the entablaand the upper row of columns. We are told by Vitruvius that the Temple at Eleusis consisted at first of one it cell of vast magnitude. Cratinus satirized the work as ture proceeding very slowly : Stone upon stone the orator has With swelling words. It is . and a new sanctuary was built or. Plutarch says that Coroebus began the Temple of — — Initiation at Eleusis. begun under the administration of Pericles. but only lived to finish the lower rank of columns with their architraves of the . wall. ward of Xypete. According to some writers the Temple was planned by Tetinus. the architect of the Parthenon. was undertaken by Callicrates.C. however. only was added. and that Xenocles The long of Cholargus built the dome on the top. complete his allotted The ancient sanctuary in which the Mysteries were celebrated was burnt by the Persians in 480 or 479 B. the building of which Socrates says he heard Pericles propose to the people.

At both the Lesser Mysteries and the Greater Mysteries a charge of one obole a day was demanded from each one attending. who followed the hosts of Alaric. the expense The Temple of which would have been enormous. . which was given to the hierophant. of which was the scene. its breadth 54*66 metres and its superficial area 3716-88 square metres. In the fourth century of the Christian era the Temple the of Eleusis instigation of was destroyed by the Goths.PROGRAMME OF GREATER MYSTERIES probable that the uncommon magnitude and complicated of the cell. The monumental enclosure. prevented its being a peristyle. at the monks." were inscribed over the main portal. The hieroccerj^x received a half-obole a a similar sum. Its length was 68 metres. was one of the largest of the sacred edifices of Greece. was placed in front by the eastern angle of the to Virgil According the words " Far hence. the value of a fraction over ijd. and other assistants In current coinage an obole was of day. altar of sacrifice close of the fagade. The revenues from the celebrations must have been considerable. ye profane ones. O be ye far hence. added to the various rites of initiait tion to the Eleusinian Mysteries.

at any rate. of irreproachable of — it or. an Athenian. the general Athenian citizens. In the earlier days of the Mysteries was a necessary condition that the candidates for initiation should be free-born Athenians. were admitted. but in course of time this rule was relaxed. From 64 historical records we . the scrupulous care exerto ensure that only persons cised by the Eumolpides duly qualified. slaves. circumspect. who was. second. on condition that they were introduced by a mystagogue. and. of course. and afterwards Greeks generally. ahens. character passed the portals. An interesting inscription was discovered a few years ago demonstrating the fact that the public slaves of the city were initiated at the public expense. and eventually of to in .IV THE INITIATORY RITES TWO custom of all important facts must be set down with the regard to of all Mysteries : first. seek admission into the the Eleusinian Mysteries initiation only possible manner — viz. until eventually strangers (as residents outside Athens were called). many by foreigners. and even courtesans.

and had intercourse with divinities other than those of the Mysteries. that no one could be admitted of the strict rule who had been and all guilty murder or homicide. knowing. but was rejected because of many slaughters name.THE INITIATORY RITES learn 65 difficulty that Lysias was enabled without to secure the initiation of his mistress. Metanira. but the hierophant refused to admit him on the ground that he was a magician. wilful or accidental. as I do. my offences. I have nevertheless come to you as if you were wiser than I am. declaring that he would never initiate a wizard or throw open the Mysteries to a man *' : addicted to impure rites. elected to be initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries. who was then in the service of the courtesan Nicareta. or who had been convicted were also excluded. it being recognized at that time that none was admitted into them who was or crime." The hierophant. Apollonius retorted of You have not which is yet mentioned the chief that. Antoninus. who had incurred the capital penalty for conspiracy or treason Nero sought admission into connected with his the Eleusinian Mysteries. you do yourself. however. justly guilty of heinous immorality Apollonius of Tyana was desirous of being admitted into the Eleusinian Mysteries. when he saw that the initiatory rites than more about the 5 . the of witchcraft. when he would purge himself before the world of the death of Avidius Cassius. There always prevailed.

it became the custom with all Romans. were always pointedly excluded from the ceremony. The Greeks looked upon initiation in much the same light as the majority of Christians look upon baptism." But Apollonius "I will be initiated at another time. for he glanced at the one who succeeded the hierophant he addressed. on the presentation degree of initiation but only the first it was permitted. Persons of both sexes and of all and neglect of the almost in the light ceremony came to be regarded of a crime. and presided over when Apollonius was ages were initiated. For the second and third degrees was necessary to have arrived at full age.66 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES by any means popular with the crowd. he showed his gift of exclusion of Apollonius was not : : prevision. says Philostratus. changed his tone and said " Be thou initiated. Socrates and Demonax looked were reproached and upon with suspicion Persians because they did not apply for initiation. later the temple four years initiated. who . for thou seemest to be some wise man that has come here." Hereon. Athenians of both sexes were granted the privilege of initiation during childhood of their father. and replied it is (mentioning a name) who will initiate me. Thus. So great was the rush of candidates for initiation when the restrictions were relaxed that Cicero was able to write that the inhabitants of the most distant regions flocked to Eleusis in order to be initiated.

another imperial initiate. when it was about to put was ruled that it .. the masters of the world. who was initiated 21 B. and in the course of the evidence to speak of certain Mysteries of ceremonial in connection with the which of it was not lawful to speak in the presence the uninitiated.THE INITIATORY RITES tunity of 67 journeyed to Athens to take advantage of the opporto become initiates. towards in Judaism and Druidism. Even the Emperors Rome. and ancient Britons. conceived the idea of transferring the scene of the Mysteries to to Suetonius. he was always scrupulous observing the pledge of secrecy demanded into the Eleusinian Mysteries. of initiates when of it and on one occasion. While Augustus. Rome. became necessary for some of the priests the Eleusinian temple to proceed to Rome to plead before his tribunal on the question of privilege. according the project into execution. Claudius. in the year did the towards not hesitate to show his antipathy religion of the Egyptians. came to the Eumolpides to proffer the request that they might receive the honour of initiation and become participants in the Sacred Mysteries revealed by the goddess.C. and. the official heads of the Roman rehgion. Jews. he ordered every one who had not received the privilege of initiation to leave the tribunal so that he and the witnesses alone remained. The Eleusinian Mysteries were not deemed inimical to the welfare of the Roman Empire as were the religions of the Egyptians.

a. so far as known.d. a. initiated at the same time.68 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES was obligatory that the principal scenic presentation of the Mysteries must be celebrated on the ground trodden by the feet of Demeter and where the goddess herself had ordered her temple to be erected. although from an inscription seems probable that he was and that he should be included the Hst of imperial initiates. who degrees. Hadrian is is the only imperial initiate.d. persevered and Since passed through all three he remained at Eleusis as long as it was possible for him to do so after the completion of his initiation. were in at the Lesser Mysteries March. when he presented himself for the third degree. 129. in introducing the celebration of the Mysteries into Rome) took place in a. The initiation of the Emperor Hadrian (who succeeded where Claudius had failed. as is known from Dion Cassius. present at the Lesser Mysteries in the spring and at the Greater Mysteries in the following In September. in which he mentions a journey from Eleusis to Ephesus made by him at that time. when he was autumn. Aurelius and Commodus. it is not rash to assume that he was inspired by something more than curiosity or even by a desire to show respect. 125. It is uncertain whether the Emperor Antonin it was in initiated. in father Both Marcus and son. and at the Greater Mysteries . 176.d. confirmed by a letter written by the Emperor himself. he was again at Athens.

the fast days.— THE INITIATORY RITES the following September. near to Athens. corresponding with February-March. and the ordi- throne. and the various sacrifices to be offered by and for them under the direction of the mystagogues. become an initiate degree at the celebration of the Lesser Mysteries and take part in their celebration at the Eleusinion at Agra. Immediately previous to the celebration the candidates for initiation were prepared by the Mystagogues. an appUcant could. with particulars of the food permissible and forbidden to be eaten. of initiation into this first The ceremony degree was on a far less imposing scale than the ceremony of initiation into the second and third degrees at the Greater Mysteries. Keryces. had unpolluted for to keep chaste and nine days prior to the ceremony. as stated. . The candidate. however. initiated 69 Septimius the Severus was before he ascended There was. into the first if approved. which each one attended wearing crowns and garlands of flowers and observed by offering prayers and sacrifices. three degrees. the flower month of spring. the character of the purification necessary and other prehminary rites. nary procedure follows : with regard to initiation was as In the month of Anthesterion. the special teachers selected for the purpose from the families of the Eumolpides and They were instructed in the story of Demeter and Persephone.

70 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES Without this preparation no one could be admitted was. the ceremonies at which the initiates assisted. of In cases special or particular impurity an extra preparation extending over two or three days longer became necessary. of Bowls or vases of con- secrated or holy water were placed at the entrance the temple for the purposes of aspersion. created a strong impression and lively hope in regard to the future Greece. The out- ward physical to initiation. and undergone in order that the body might become more pure. still life. or approaching to Fasting from food and drink for a certain before period and after initiation was essential. neither secret doctrine nor dogmatic teaching in this prehmi- nary instruction. had anything to offer. the result of immersion prior was but the symbol of the inward . . the meaning of which was communicated by means of the mystic formulae but the preparation demanded of the initiates. and unctions of oil or repeated immersions in water were administered. it. Revelation came through contem- plation of the sacred objects displayed during the ceremonies by the hierophant. of the kind. the secrecy imposed. There however. but the candidates did not attach to this act any idea of maceration or expiation of faults : it was of simply the reproduction of an event in the life the goddess. all of which were performed in the dead of night. purity. No other cult in less the cold Roman religion. to the Mysteries.

mystagogues was to see that According the candidates were in a state of physical cleanliness both before and throughout the ceremony. year. when he was returning to Athens. before he could see with his own eyes and hear with his own ears. wrote to the republic that on his arrival he intended to be initiated and to be admitted immediately. that of Mysta. Demetrius. A further had to elapse before the third degree. was taken. all This. Even then. In the following autumn. at least. all that took place in the temple during the celebration of the Mysteries. but to the Greater as well. there was one part of the temple and one portion of the ceremony which could be entered and witnessed only by the hierophant and hierophantide. if of full age and approved by the hierophant. not only to the Lesser MysThis was unlawful teries.THE INITIATORY RITES One of the duties of the 71 purity which was supposed to result from initiation. According to Plutarch. that of Epopta. the neophyte could be initiated into the Greater Mysteries. into the second degree. to inscriptions which have been discovered there of appear to have been temples or buildings set apart for the cleansing candidates from special im- purities. Initiation into the Lesser Mysteries only permitted the neophyte to go as far as the outer vestibule of the temple. however. did not secure admission to the ceremonies performed during the celebration of the Greater Mysteries. .

Philippides. lodging in the Parthenon. and Demetrius was admitted to the Mysteries of the next degree. " " Happy is the man. and merely human hfe and joined them in communion with the gods. we only receive pleasure from . was person his was only the who ventured to oppose the demand." wrote Euripides. procured a decree that the month of Munychion should be reputed to be and called the month of Anthesterion." The man who turns the temples into company of the was The design of initiation. : the poet. in " " with reference to his the words : inns and brings prostitutes into the virgin goddess. and Proclus states that initiation into the Mysteries drew the souls of men from a material. a torch-bearer. This was done. Pythodorus. for to give Demetrius the opportunity first the initiation into the degree. initiated into the Greater Mysteries who hath been of piety and religion. satirized Stratocles in the words tract the The man who can conwhole year into one month. sensual. and Stratocles opposition was entirely ineffectual. whereupon a second decree was issued by which Munychion was again changed into Boedromion." and Aristophanes truly represented pubhc opinion when he " On us only does the sun wrote in The Frogs : and leads a Hfe dispense his blessings . according to Plato. though when the read." and Demetrius. to restore the soul to that state from which it fell.72 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES letter and unprecedented.

who are initiated. says that no oath was demanded of the initiate. if not into the first degree.THE INITIATORY RITES his 73 beams . to the Study of Religion. Moreover. in his Introduction that silence was observed generally as an act of reverence rather than as an act of purposed conceal- ment. into the second and third degrees. initiated could not have violated five any of obligation. towards citizens and strangers all The initiates sought to imitate the justice. therefore. ^Eschylus was indicted having disclosed in the theatre certain details of the Mysteries. and profane now they had become esoteric exoteric enter upon a . we. and they were and holy. at any rate. however. There seems. A Greek scholiast says that in of his tragedies ^schylus spoke therefore may be supposed in Demeter and these cases to have touched upon subjects connected with the Mysteries. and he only escaped punishment by proving that he had never been and. The epoptae were supposed and to of existence. to be conclusive evidence that an oath of secrecy was demanded of and taken by the candidates for initiation. there are on record several prosecutions of citizens for having broken the pledge of secrecy they for had given. and perform acts of piety and alle- to have experienced a certain regeneration new state deemed to have acquired a great increase fantastically Hitherto they had been of light and knowledge. ." gorical birth of the god. but Jevons.

represented the dadouchos other companions attending as initiates and being addressed as mystae.— 74 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES and Heraclides of Pontus says that on this account he was in danger of being killed by the populace if he had not fled for refuge to the altar of Dionysos and been begged off by the Areopagites and acquitted on the ground of his exploits at Marathon. the Heralds and Priests at Eleusis. The information against him ran " Thessalus. the son of Clinian. the son of Cimon. he called himself high priest . and Theodorus. the therein acting contrary to the rules and ceremonies estabhshed by the Eumolpides." . represented his when he one of hierophant . Polytion. represented the herald . by counterfeiting to his their Mysteries his and showing them companions in robe as the high priest does things . of the ward of friends. wearing such a when he shows the holy . as did Poly- tion torch-bearer Thyges. accuseth Alcibiades. Persephone. . : Lacais. of the ward of Scambonis. and the rest of of the his ward of companions of he called persons initiated and Brethren Secret . of sacrilegiously offending the goddess Ceres and her daughter. herald . Theodorus. the biades was charged the with mimicking sacred Mysteries in one of his drunken revels. and another. An accusation was brought against Aristotle of having performed a funeral in sacrifice in honour of his wife Alci- imitation of the Eleusinian ceremonies. own house.

Cephisius. of whom had president been initiated into the the court Mysteries. Andocides was acquitted. " vested in the same costume accuser of Andocides.C.THE INITIATORY RITES 75 Alcibiades did not appear in answer to the charge. as a hierophant. as many prominent citizens. were impUcated. and named certain others as culprits with him. but turned king's evidence. it stated that obtain one-fifth of the the court. This occurred in 415 B. Cephisius having failed votes of law. Andocides " This man. and the incident created quite a panic. but those whom he named were either put to death or outlawed and He was rewarded their goods were confiscated. temple while Andocides afterwards the Mysteries entered the were in progress and was charged with breaking the law in so doing. The indictment was lodged by the chief prosecutor." said the included. has shown the sacred objects to men who were not initiated and has uttered words it which is not permissible to repeat. and he was condemned in his absence. the to according to the fine of a was that he had pay a thousand . with a free pardon under a decree which Isotmides had issued. the of being the Archon Basileus. with the Archon the celebration of during the Greater Mysteries and while Andocides was still is at Eleusis. He all defended himself before a court of hehasts. to and result. Basileus." Andocides admitted the charge. an order being made that his goods were to be confiscated.

but." Every care. was accused of raiUng at the sanctity of the Mysteries of Eleusis manner as to deter persons from seeking initiation. Details have. but chiefly through the ancient writings and inscriptions. An ancient theme of oratorical composition and in such a one set even in the sixth century of the Christian era *' ran : The law punishes with death whoever has dissome one to whom the initiation closed the Mysteries has been revealed in a dream asks one of the initiated if what he has seen is in conformity with reality the initiate acquiesces by a movement of the head and for that he is accused of impiety. supply no precise information. and a reward of one talent was offered to any one who should kill him or two talents to any one who should bring him alive. The Greek talent was of the value of about £200. . was taken to prevent the secrecy of the Mysteries from being broken and the ceremonial becoming known to any not initiated. form a perfect mosaic. Step b}/ step and piece by piece the diligent researcher has been rewarded by the discovery of disconnected and isolated fragments which. come to light in various ways. by themselves.— 76 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES to suffer drachmas and the permanent exclusion from Diagiras Eleusinian shrine. nevertheless. Though it was strictly forbidden to reveal what took place within the sacred enclosure and in the Hall of Initia: : . taken in the aggregate. therefore.

of course. ancient laws to those two who were found guilty merely of entering the sanctuary at Eleusis without having previously . but the questions asked by them. punish- ment. By virtue of the unwritten laws and customs dating back to the most remote periods the penalty of death was frequently pronounced for faults not offence of an equally impious grave in themselves..C. They happened inadvertently mix with the crowd at the season of the Mysteries and to enter the temple. was an and heinous character. in consequence of their ignorance of the proceedings. sometimes even with capital. and Rome made war upon Philip V of Macedonia on the complaint of the government of Athens against that king who wished the to punish them for having rigorously applied offenders. but the forcing of the temple enclosure by the uninitiated. It but because they concerned religion. Not only was the breaking of the obligation of secrecy given by an initiate visited with severe. it 77 was permissible to state clearly the main object of initiation and the advantages to be derived from the act. into the sacred precincts. and their intrusion was punished with death. through ignorance. This was in 200 B. a grave crime. betrayed them.THE INITIATORY RITES tion. priests ordered the death of was pro- bably by virtue of those unwritten laws that the two young Arcananians to who had penetrated. although the forcing of the temple enclosure was. as sometimes happened.

Hence the punishment meted out by the State was in lieu of. the divine wrath which such pollution might bring on the community The list at large. been No judicial penalty. was meted out to the fanatical Epicurean eunuch who. even that of a viewer. At the entrance containing a list to the temple tablets were placed of forbidden foods. or to avert. in It was a " retreat " the strictest sense of the word. not only in imitation of the sufferings of Demeter when searching for Persephone. Fasting was practised. states that a divine punishment in the form life he would not risk his the Mysteries. with the object of proving that the gods had no existence. Horace declared that by going on to the water with a companion who had revealed the secret of disease alone overtook him.78 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES initiated. The two days prior to initiation into the second and third degrees were spent by the candidates in solitary retirement and in strict fasting. but because of the danger of the contact of holy things with unholy. however. forced himself blaspheming into that part of the sanctuary into which the hierophant and the <^lianus of a hierophantide alone had the right of entry. included . is This also one of the reasons why it was held to be impious even to speak of the Mysteries to one who had not been initiated to allow such unclean and especially dangerous and profane persons to take any part. the clean with the unclean. in the ceremonies.

and is mullet. and the second because ate filth which other fish rejected. forbidden. such as chickens and pigeons. a Mediterranean fish makes a noise under the water which has been compared to bellowing. or that whistling. . but Porphyry was probably exaggerating when he said that all fish were forbidden. Birds bred at home. were also on the banned reason list. a large ScicBna. but. purring. it other fish were interdicted. buzzing. is There like it. In all probabihty the whistle-fish that known as Scicena aquila. as were beans and certain vegetables which were forbidden for a mystical which Pausanias said he dare not reveal save to the initiated. The fish was greatly esteemed by the Romans. gurnet. The gurnet was rejected because of its fecundity as witnessed in its annual writers. from the incident of the eating of the pomegranate seeds by Persephone. course. The whistle-fish first and crab were it held to be impure. according to some was rejected because it ate a fish which was poisonous to mankind. though very in the Fish Gallery of the British Museum the (Natural History) opposite the entrance from Zoological Library.THE INITIATORY RITES several kinds of fish 79 —the whistle-fish. It may well be that triple laying of eggs. crab. Pomegranates were. The probable reason was that they were connected in some ings of way with the wanderof Demeter. the because laid its it eggs through the mouth. not aquila. the air bladder being the sound-producing organ.

who prepared the candidates either singly or in groups. they purified themselves in a formal manner by immersing their hands barley. and crowns purification.80 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES The candidates were carefully instructed in these Origiin the rules before the beginning of the celebration. in in the consecrated water. the hiero- phant reserving to himself the general direction of the instruction. laurel-leaves. and this particular work was handed Mysteries. Admission to the second degree took place during the night between the sixth and seventh days of the celebration of the Mysteries. the candidates being led blindfolded into the temple and the ceremony Archon. although. who. of flowers were also employed vested in the The priests. claimed the privilege of preparing the candidates as well as that of com- municating to them the knowledge of the divine But the continually increasing number of candidates made it necessary to employ auxiliary instructors. following the example ancestor. of course. In the course of the initiation ceremony certain words had to be spoken by the candidates. on entering the building. Eumolpus. over to the charge of the mystagogues. apart from context. opened with prayers and sacrifices by the second The candidates were crowned with myrtle wreaths. their . nally the instruction of the candidates was hands of his of the hierophant. and in these were made known to them their advance. and. Salt.

in which they were was plunged Lamentations and strange noises were thunder resounded. came forward and " Begone ye profane. him instantly retire." In later years this formulary was changed. done. then 81 to receive came forward the candidates.THE INITIATORY RITES sacerdotal garments. This initial ceremony took place the temple itself in the outer hall of the temple. or Epicurean. the priests wished them joy of their initiation all the happiness left would bring them. all ye that are not purified. The candidates for initiation then took off their ordinary This garments and put on the skins of young does. heard . let is come to spy on the orgies. intruders In order to that no remained behind all present had to answer certain specified questions. uttered the proclamation Away from here. terrific peals of shaking the very foundations of the temple vivid 6 . Then all again immersed their hands into the consecrated water and renewed their pledge of secrecy. or stead the herald proclaimed : Christian. who believe It remain and be with good future. A herald then : whose souls have not been freed from sin. and in its "If any atheist. and being closed. seemingly ." was the final opportunity for the retirement of any who were not the precincts : votaries if who had by chance make certain who were entered discovered afterwards the punish- ment was death. and then the candidates alone. but let those initiated. Within a few minutes the in total apartment darkness.

witness their all hopeless remorse they saw. moreover. armed with relentless scourges and flaming torches. that all may well be imagined these fearful scenes were so terrifying that very frequently beads of anguish appeared on the brows of the novices. could hear the cries of anguish and the vain regrets They of those to whom Paradise was lost for ever. and they were beaten and thrown to the ground. like the shrieks novitiates of the condemned in Tartarus. says : " In the . The Furies. rtiost Commentavy on Alcihiades. The were taken hold of by invisible hands. rendering while a more persistent light from Sighs. who represented the judge of the earth. and cries of pain resounded on all sides.: 82 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES more fire flashes of lightning Ut it terrible. up the darkness. a displayed fearful forms. their hair was torn. Then a faint light became visible in the distance and a fearful scene appeared before their eyes. could. as well as heard. could be heard expounding the meaning of what was passing before them. the tortures of the condemned. Howling dogs and even material demons are said actually to have appeared to the initiates before the scene was changed. Meanwhile loud voice of the hierophant. abode The gates of Tartarus were opened and the They of the condemned lay before them. drove the victims incessantly to and fro. in his Proclus. and warning and It threatening the initiates. groans. rest unhappy never letting them the for a moment.

— THE INITIATORY RITES certain terrestrial call 83 holy of the Mysteries. demons are hurled forth. heavenly entranced their souls a cloudless sky overshadowed . Among other writers the scene has been described in by Aristophanes The Frogs : Heracles. them the . fragrant perfumes arose spectators and in the distance privileged beheld flowering meads. Oh dear oboles are all over the world. or smote his father's jaw. before the presence of the god. : who of Then how shall I get taken across it ? an old man In a little boat just so high plies that boat will take you across for a fee oboles. where the blessed danced and amused themselves with innocent games and pastimes. which to the ' attention from undefiled advantages At length the gates of Tartarus were closed. Then a great slough and overand in this you'll see lying any one flowing dung who ever yet at any place wronged his guest or be^t his mother. How did powerful those two they manage After this you will Theseus brought them. directly to a very big lake of For you will abysmal depth. brilliantly decked and music gleaming stones . in countless . ' sanctuary of the temple lay open before the initiates in dazzling light. come Dionysos. see serpents numbers and very terrible. and the innermost matter. the scene was suddenly changed. to get here ? Heracles. The voyage is a long one. In the midst stood the statue of the goddess with Demeter precious . Heracles. or swore and wild beasts . ! two How very Dionysos.

was regarded as permissible to describe certain scenes of the initiation. but a complete silence was demanded as to the means employed to realize the end. 3. worn by the initiates during the ceremony were equal to accounted sacred and incantations . or during part of the ceremonial. stone. And who are these people. and myrtle groves. And next a an oath and foreswore himself. and the actual words uttered. It The initiated. and happy choirs of men and women. Dionysos. the emblems which were displayed. to In the course of the ceremony the asked the candidates a which written answers had been prepared and committed to were revealed to The holy Mysteries them from a book called Petroma. and so called the candidates. and the slightest contravention of this rule rendered the offender liable to the strongest possible condemnation and chastisement. and this has been done by many writers. used to swear by and on the Petroma. and you shall see a very beautiful light. hierophant series of questions. breathing of flutes shall be wafted around you. top held within it a mask of The Pheneatians The domed Demeter which the The garments and hierophant wore at the celebration of the Mysteries. even as in this world. and a loud clapping of hands. the rites and ceremonies in which the initiate took part. .84 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES . pray ? Heracles. . a word derived from petra. memory by because the writings were kept between two cemented stones which fitted in to each other.

During the celebration of the Mysteries the hierophant and hierophantide descended into a cave or deep recess and. is save in one particular presently to be described. communicated to the initiated which. it was stated. surrounded seemingly by flames. although some have erroneously referred to the it as marriage of Pluto and Persephone. Exactly in was known as the degree of what the ceremonial consisted. Epopta. throw them away. the final degree. This. of death. to the gaze of the and the hierophant. would. Consequently they were never cast until torn Nor was it usual. after remaining there for a time. and tattered. or sacred marriage of Zeus and Demeter. with the exception of those called to be hierophants. to but it was customary to make them into swaddling clothes for children or to consecrate them to Demeter and Persephone. Certain words and signs were. Hippolytus practically the only authority for the main incident of the degree. they returned to the assembly. ensure the eternal The most solemn part of the ceremony was that which has been described by some writers as the hierogamy. when pro- nounced at the hour happiness of the soul. however. even then. Admission to the third degree took place during the night between the seventh and eighth days of the celebration of the Greater Mysteries. is unknown.THE INITIATORY RITES charms in their 85 power to avert off evils. displaying .

They could not. : admirable. no doubt whatever on the subject indeed. and there Brimos : could have been nothing material in the incident. for they believed their own salvation to depend upon the result of the mystic congress." The statement so clear as to leave . The charges brought against the Eleusinian Mysteries of rioting and debauchery during their Grecian history are brought by those who were not permitted to share or who were prejudiced in favour form of of religion. exclaimed with a loud voice : initiated '* The divine Brimo has given birth to the holy child The strong has brought forth strength. " in the initiation of Eleusis. and they maintain that the Eleusinian Mysteries produced a sanctity of manners and a cultivation of virtue. some other In the opinion of the majority contemporary writers these charges were wholly gratuitous. a notorious robber." says Hippolytus. replied that Pataecion. and most perfect mystery of the epoptae an ear is of corn gathered in silence. " The Athenians.86 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES an ear of corn. it has never been called into question." The scene was dramatic and symbolical. The torches of the multitude were extinguished while the throng above awaited with anxious suspense the return of the priest and priestess from the place into which they murky had descended. show to the epoptae the great. had obtained initiation. make a man when asked virtuous against his will and Diogenes. to submit to initiation. of course. . their of honours.

and he narrates the and birth of a details of the travesty." Apart from this isolated statement the Eleusinian Mysteries have not been charged. with promoting and encouraging immorality. is capable of certain acts and that she permits others. and Lucian says that but for the abundance of hghted . and a Trip- tolemus appearing with serpents . Much has been made by many who can see no beauty of this incident in pre-Christian or non-Christian systems of religion. indeed the most important. which is with reason kept so profound. as many other ancient rites were. ** He says : It is not in our religion that you will find a seduced that Demeter Cora. Among the mimetic performances were not only the epiphany god but the enactment of a sacred marriage. Eleusis knows as well as the witnesses the secret of the spectacle.THE INITIATORY RITES The presentation of the ear of corn 87 as was regarded a special. a Keleos. a wandering Demeter. All preliminaries were gone through. Lucian describes how the impostor instituted rites which were a close parody of those celebrated at Eleusis. their comments being based mainly on a statement of Gregory Nazianus. who stands almost alone in discerning lewdness in the Eleusinian ceremonial. feature of the Mysteries of Eleusis. false In his account of the doings of the prophet Alexander of Abountichos. and it was reserved for the final degree. I am really ashamed to throw light on the nocturnal orgies of the initiations.

. : The . Samothrace." birth of Brimo and the mighty deeds Of the Titanic hosts the servitude Of Jove and the mysterious mountain rites Of Cybele. . and lofty Cyprus. Arinian Minerva's nightly festival And Egypt's sorrow for the lost Osiris. Fair Adonean Venus and the rites Of dread Ogygian Praxidice . .. Jevons maintains that this ear of corn was the totem of Eleusis. . taken The part false the hierophant was the by the it is prophet himself. . " the lofty serpent goddess. and the woes of Prosperpine With these I sung the gifts of the Cabiri The Mysteries of Bacchus and the praise Of Lemnos. . seems to be a variation of the compound term ObRimon. made the announcement The name Brimo. . 88 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES the torches marriage would of actually have been consummated. expressed at full length Obrimo. Dr. From travesty evident that in the genuine Mysteries. . in darkness. and this view has been adopted . Orphic Hymn. in silence. . when with distracted pace she sought Through the wide world the beauteous Proserpine The far-fam'd labours of the Machian Hercules Th' Idean orgies and the giant force Of the dread Corybantes and the wanderings Of Ceres. and in perfect chastity the sacred marriage was symbolized and that immediately afterwards the hierophant came forward and standing in a blaze of torchlight to the initiates.

According to of the compound was a kind half-liquid. and in what manner it for secured existence or ensured after the individual a bUssful pre- death. among the plants which die and revive in the course of a year. Eustathius." is notwithstanding length. as a solemn form of communion with Demeter. The demonstration supposes that the preceding rites were leading up to this supreme display. wheat was chosen than the grain. and I having tasted of again took the it placed it in the calathos. it for preference. Reinach. This the fasted. for reserved what reason the spectacle was the epoptae. thick of half-solid. Justin Martyr gives the oath of as . gruel. said to have been the password leading initiation to the third degree. done. After this demonstration the epoptae partook of barley meal flavoured with pennyroyal. back in its cystos. would be interesting to know why." But he has omitted all to quote the texts It on which he relies for this assertion. who says tion : 89 " We find in the texts a certain trace not only of the cult but of the adora- and the exaltation (in the Christian meaning of the word) of the ear of corn. it why the ear more why for should be emphasized that was gathered.' I have taken from the cystos.THE INITIATORY RITES by M. it from the calathos and put This formula. each the initiated repeated : after hierophant I the following words ' "I have it have drank after I cyceon.

for there are five parts of initia- the first of which is previous purgation. the which is the end and design of inspection. binding of the head and fixing the crown. the full or complete initiation consisted of five steps or degrees. but after purgation the tradition is of the sacred rite succeeds. for to all neither are the Mysteries communicated who are willing to receive them. but there are certain characters crier. and the tradition of genuine mysteries tion . The day succeeding admission into the final degree was regarded as a rigorous fast. so help the work of God of who the is great and wise me the word Father which he spake when he established the whole universe in his wisdom/' With this that the epoptae were ceremony the third degree ended. of the mystic cyceon and ate According to Theo of Smyrna. at the conclusion of which the epoptae drank of the sacred cakes. And the fourth. which he sets out as follows " Again. since it necessary that such as are not expelled from the Mysteries should be refined by certain purgations. who are prevented by the voice of the such as those who possess impure hands is and first an inarticulate voice. so that the . save placed upon exalted seats. . The is third part denominated inspection. philosophy : may be called the initiation into true sacred ceremonies. around which the priests circled in mystic dances.— 90 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES ** : follows So help me : heaven.

be enabled to communiafter this he cate to others the sacred rites in which he has been instructed. and he which is is to lead him to the place he But now. arithmetic. is But the friendship felicity which arises is produced from with divinity." Themistius represents initiation in the following words : " Entering now the mystic dome. or sustains some other part fifth. and the enjoyment of that which the from intimate converse with the gods. is According to Plato. the prophet (hierophant) suddenly lays open to the space before the portals of the temple." Apuleius ** is represented as saying to himself of : I approached the confines the threshold of death . and. having I crossed Proserpine. music. bearer.— THE INITIATORY RITES initiated — 91 this may. mathematical disciplines. I borne along through the elements. . in the midst of his perplexity. by means. He is seized with solicitude He is unable to move a at a loss to find the entrance step forward to that road aspires to. or Whether becomes a torch- an interpreter of the Mysteries. him Having dis- thoroughly purified him. and astronomy. geometry. beheld the sun shining in the dead of night with : luminous splendour the celestial gods. all at length returned. the hierophant now . purification five to be derived from viz. he is filled with horror and amazement. and a total perplexity. I saw both the infernal and I approached and adored them. of the sacerdotal ofhce. stereometry. all these.

by which presumably served as seats for the initiated w^hile the sacred cessions took place on the floor dramas and proof the hall. to which reference has already been made." The sides Telestrion or Hall of Initiation. out of the profound depth into which it had been plunged. that at the Mysteries the Hellenes shall offer first-fruits of their crops in accordance with ancestral . nor the two goddesses." was surrounded on steps." was a minimum sum of fifteen drachmas (a drachma being of the value of 7|d. nor whoever them do not the city of Athens. To of those who do these things there shall be many good things. These steps were partly built in rock . Prefee The for initiation sumably.. for an the century b c. sometimes all called " The Mystic Temple. found at Eleusis. which before was full of disconsolate obscurity.). both good and abundant crops. in addition to which there were the usual honoraria to be bestowed upon the various officials.— 92 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES all doses to the initiated a region over illuminated and shining with a divine splendour. gifts in kind were inscription made of : to the fifth officials. reads " Let the Hierophant and the Torch-bearer com- mand usage. principal also. injure the Athenians. . replete with light and cheerful- ness. as it were. now emerges.. into day. in later and partly cut in the solid times they appear to have been covered . The cloud and thick darkness are dispersed and the mind.

of 93 There were two doors on each side of the solid rock. where the entrance was cut out rock terrace at a higher level adjoining it. and the Eleusinian Hall of Initiation was therefore the only known church of antiquity. This was probably the station of those not yet admitted The roof of the hall was carried to full initiation. contends that the phantasmal scenes in the Mysteries were shown are yet used by transparencies. . such as by the Chinese. in his work on Greek Vases. James Christie." and he carefully distinguished it from the Temple of Demeter.THE INITIATORY RITES with marble. The Hall itself did not accommodate more than four thousand people. and Hindus. " The House that welcomed the who called it Mystae. Mr. : if by that term we mean the meeting-place of the congregation. did not contain any holy image. and it. It was built for the celebration of a definite ritual. The building was perhaps more accurately described by Aristophanes. Javanese. therefore. a the hall with the exception of the north-west. It was not the dwelling-place of any god. by rows of columns which were more than once renewed.

the as we know it. and that . That e'er my soul such novel realms should know. the celebrated Pythagorean. wrote : " The ancient theologists and priests testify that the soul is united with the body for the sake of suffering it is punishment. with : Empedocles. rage. buried in the body as in while Pythagoras himself said a sepulchre " " Whatever we see when awake is death.— : THEIR MYSTICAL SIGNIFICANCE LIFE. He also calls this material abode. or the realms of generation. and when asleep a dream/' 94 . was looked upon by the and in the ancient philosophers as death. a joyless region. pathetically exclaimed For this I weep. and countless ills reside. Plato considered body is as the sepulchre of the soul. corporeal connection this world. Where slaughter. for this indulge my woe. Philolaus. Cratylus acquiesces in the doctrine of Orpheus that the soul punished through lamenting his its union with the body.

or as the felicity more especially after intimating obscurely by splendid visions of the soul here and hereafter when to the soul. Pindar. was descend and then mystic ceremonies. avenging assessors. all purified from the defilements The intention of to Sallustius. Other writers have explained the real element of the Mysteries as consisting in the relations of the universe death." explains the rape of Persephone as signifying the descent of the soul. and fallen asleep in the truth intended to be taught in the Eleusinian . in his treatise Peri Theon kai Kosmou.THEIR MYSTICAL SIGNIFICANCE This is 95 the truth intended to be expressed in the Sallustius. illustrated the difficulties besetting the soul in its approach to the gods. daemons of the gate. Mysteries. according to conjoin the world and the gods. on seeing those common concerns : under the earth. of a material nature. vipers. " Concerning the gods and the existing state of things. knows both the end of Hfe and the given end of Jupiter. is Plotinus says that to be plunged into matter fall to to asleep. which. so also the Uasarian had to repel or satisfy the mystic crocodiles. speaking of the Eleusinian Mysteries. the neo-Platonic philosopher. The initiate had withstand the daemons and spectres. in later times. and other dread beings whom he encountered in his trying passage through the valley of the shadow of death. '* Psyche is said to have rashly attempting to Hades through behold corporeal beauty. says " Blessed is he who.

They called matter the dregs or first purifica- sediment of the first life. men who pursued dreams sleep . place the under the special protection of the gods. and assure them of a peace- death and of everlasting bHss hereafter. Thus the Greeks initiates placed to be derived from initiation. in bonds through the dominion laid great stress of this Titanic life. as it were. and provide them with the means of attaining perfect virtue. visions in a future state. assured all The the hierophants who participated in . upon the advantages Not only were the under the protection of the State. Before the tion the candidate for initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries was besmeared with clay or it mud which was the object of the purification to wash away. Matter was regarded by the Egyptians as a certain mire or mud. and engaged only in the delusion of and that if they happened to die in this aroused still before they were they would be afflicted with similar. keep the soul of initiation initiates from sin and crime. above others. but sharper. but the very act the spreading of was said to assist in goodwill among men. in a state It also intimated that while the soul is of servitude to the body it lives confined. the power of living a spotless ful life. in a vigilant state. objects of and that imprudent an inferior nature were asleep.96 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES was that prudent Mysteries men who earnestly employed themselves all in divine concerns were.

— THEIR MYSTICAL SIGNIFICANCE Elysium. The perfective part. To die is to be initiated into the great mysteries. Polit. said Proclms^ precedes initiation. by sacred the gods " initiations and enjoying undefiled freed from the bondage its obtained at length a perfect establishment . a clearer 97 Mysteries that they would have a high place in understanding. They were held to contain perfective rites and appearances and the tradition of the sacred doctrines necessary to the perfection or accomplishment of the most splendid visions. was what the wisdom of the Ancients intended to signify by the descent into Hades and the speedy return from those dark abodes. Indeed. under whose immediate said to be placed. " being purified fruits. 7 . and a more whereas the intimate intercourse with the gods. " Hercules.. through purgative virtues. matter ascending beyond the reach of Plutarch wrote " : hands. Initiation of and protection they were was referred to salvation frequently as a guarantee conferred by outward and visible signs and by sacred formulae. in the third degree the epoptse were said to be admitted to the presence care of and converse with the goddesses Demeter and Persephone. The Lesser Mysteries were intended to symbolize the condition of the soul while subservient to the body. and the liberation from this servitude. as initiation precedes inspection." said Proclus also in Plat. uninitiated would for ever remain in outer darkness. among of that is.

and sees with contempt the impure multitude uninitiated. At the moment fears. was of old signified to the aspirants that those fast in who died without being initiated stuck filth . were well skilled in in these rites human nature. a lethargic stupor come and overwhelm us as soon as we are out of it. crowned with myrtle. to At the Eleusis the soul after of way was shown death the best how secure fate. ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES Our whole life is but a succession of of long journeys errors. having becomie perfect through master his new initiation. restored to liberty. of the profane itself into or ever plunged and the sinking the mire and in profound darkness. was not included in the doctrine of its the immortality of the soul traces of origin to sources anterior to the rise the Mysteries. regeneration. really of himself. . . one is impressed with celestial visions. rather than the eternity opinion those was taught. holds converse with just and pure souls. as Plato introduces Socrates saying : "In my For who it established the Mysteries. where the purest air is breathed. for possible The miracle of being. mortal sweats. . and by tortuous of quitting ways. celebrates. sacred concerts and discourses are heard . without outlet. terrors. It is there that man. it." Dogmatic instruction Mysteries . and but. quiverings. of painful wanderings. the most august mysteries.98 . in short. mire and but that he who was . v/hoever they were. we pass into delightful meadows. where where.

in sleep and conversant is with delusions and dreams and that before he will roused to a vigilant state he descend to Hades. have his habitation with the gods. not according to opinion but according to evidence. ." Plato. and proceeding with this. in his MS. . open day — as that in truth and resplenlife^ So that he who in the present state vanquishes as much possible a corporeal . in the seventh book of the Republic says : "He who all is not able by the exercise of his it reason to define the idea of the good.' THEIR MYSTICAL SIGNIFICANCE purified 93 and initiated should. he after- wards dent lived in light. endeavouring these dialectical to confute. says of the Elysian is It know that the fortunate islands are the sea. nor anything which is properly demonstrated good ? And would you not assert accomplish that such a one when he apprehended he is it rather through the medium of opinion than of science. separating from other objects and piercing as in a battle through every kind of argument all . . ' and be overwhelmed with sleep perfectly profound ? Olympiodorus. said to be raised above Hercules is reported to have accomplished his last labour in the Hesperian regions. exercises with an unshaken reason —he who cannot would you not say that he neither knows the good itself. signifying by this that. life. necessary to Commentary on the fields *' : Georgias of Plato. having vanquished an obscure and terrestrial is. that in the present life sunk . again. at his death.

in the jEneid. dragg'd the three-mouth'd dog to upper day " by temperance. composed fable — theological. in his description. of course. having passed over the Stygian lake. the intellective.100 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES reality lives through the exercise of the cathartic virtues. was properly of a four species of mixed nature. grasped the exoteric doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments. . that belonging Persephone — is twofold. By Cerberus must be understood the discriminative its part of the soul. of belonging to the Mysteries. Virgil. the exoteric teaching. revived in a spiritual it and a power The fable of all manner and gave had not hitherto Persephone. confines himself to iEneas.e. " He i. and surrounded with the bright splendours of truth and wisdom proceeding from the sun of good." The esoteric teaching was not. to According to the arcana order ancient the — i. and doxatic signify po\^-ers. theology. Coric physical. by reason of sagacity. passes in into the fortunate islands of the soul. grasped by all the initiates the majority merely recognized or . meets with the three-headed Cerberus. of which a dog.e. one part supermundane and the other mundane. and other virtues he drew upwards the various powers of the soul. of the Mysteries. continence. The teaching of the Mysteries was not in opposition to the ordinary creed it : — it deepened it rather. The three heads dianoetic. of and material. is an emblem. as to religion a force possessed. animistic.

The earth rejoices at the sight of the plants and flowers. who is usually claimed as the parent of the Arkite god Mercury. the whole face of nature and everything sorrows and grieves But. According to Nosselt the following as the lost may be taken meaning : of the myth of Demeter and her is daughter " Persephone. the daughter of the all-productive earth (Demeter). of theo- who deUvered of her most holy Eleusinian on in Mysteries. administerrestrial governing the recesses the earth and imparting soul to beings which are of themselves inanimate and dead. the seed.THEIR MYSTICAL SIGNIFICANCE Proclus says logists. but they fade and wither. and the seed disappears quickly from the face of the earth when it is strewn The dreaded monarch of the underworld has taken possession of it. In vain the mother on the ground." and as being the mother of Eubuleus or Bacchus by an ineffable intercourse with Jupiter. Persephone abides those dwelHngs in inaccessible places. world. . develops itself in the lap of the earth. the seed with her." The Orphic poet describes Persephone as " the life and the death of mortals. secretly and unseen. or the great mother. : 101 " According to the to us the rumour high. and at length mourns her loss. searches for her child. tering of But she hkewise dwells with Pluto. Porphyry asserts that the wood pigeon was sacred to her and that she was the same as Maia. mother which she prepared for her exempt from the sensible concerns.

as some imagined. Isocrates wrote : " Ceres hath the greatest made the Athenians two presents of : consequence corn. in his Journey into Greece. They used to celebrate yearly in her honour the Thesmorphoria. all decked with fresh green. or the evergreen oak. men neither cultivated corn nor tilled the ground. Greeks. the earth. and in Spain. fed upon the acorns Acorns." Demeter was worshipped in a twofold sense by the Greeks. according to Virgil. according to Strabo. The Scythians made bread with acorns. which brought the us out of a state of brutahty and the entertain Mj^steries. torches. According to some ancient writers the of the ilex. but roamed the mountains and woods in search for the wild fruits which the earth produced. . which teach the initiated to most agreeable expectations touching death and eternity. or Festival of Laws. before Demeter's time. were the food in Epiros. published in . rejoices at the recovery of her long-lost daughter. prior to the time of Demeter and Triptolemus. According to another tradition. indicating that she was searching for her daughter. George Wheler.'* The coins of Eleusis represented Demeter in a car drawn by dragons or serpents which were sometimes winged. and everything shares in the joy. The goddess had two ears of corn in her right hand or.102 it ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES : starts forth what was dead is now aUve . as the foundress of agriculture and as goddess of law and order.

Sallust says that or Milky among Ceres is the deity of the planet Saturn. who was afraid lest some violence be offered and concealed her to to Persephone on account of her inimitable beauty. the Platonist. Pluto signifies the whole of our material nature.C. while the she herself directed her course temple of Cybele. determine and Persephone self-moving. says with wheat-ears and bundles of poppy bound together these being the characters of Ceres. the mother of the gods. viz. her desertion of a Hfe fied wholly according to of intellect. . Demeter. THEIR MYSTICAL SIGNIFICANCE : 103 " We observed many large stones covered 1682. According to Taylor. On a coin of Lampsacus of the fourth century B. the empire of this god commences downwards from the Galaxy Way. Demeter in the legend represents the evolution of that self- inspective part of our nature which intellect. according to Pythagoras." At Copenhagen there is a statue representing Demeter holding poppies of corn in her left and ears is hand. conveyed her privately to in a Sicily house built on purpose by the Cyclops. signifies the entrance into of the soul mundane divinities The cavern mundane life accomplished the by the union with the terrestrial body. occultly signi- by the separation Demeter and Persephone. we properly that vital. first Here we see the cause of the soul's descent.. and.. Persephone described in the act of rising from the earth. and animate part which we call soul.

which. on which she had embroidered the primitive chaos and the formation of the world. says Taylor. By Narcissus falhng in love with his shadow in the limpid stream beautiful soul. which. is significant of desire. we have Narcissus. her he Diana three and to bear company. according In Ovid to the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. to prevent any suspicion in the Pallas virgin's mind. even in the celestial regions (for is such is the residence of Persephone until she ravished by Pluto).104 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES Afterwards Jupiter instructed Venus to go and betray Persephone from her retirement. is symbolical and Diana represents nature. or the merely natural and vegetable of the soul power part of our composition. both ensnared through the allurements of desire. that Pluto might be enabled to carry her away. Venus. forcing his life passage through the earth. begins silently and fraudulently in the recesses of the soul. and. seizes on Persephone . was the immediate consequence of her gathering this wonderful flower. commanded The at goddesses on arrival found Persephone work on a scarf for her mother. the metamorphosis of a youth who fell a victim to love of his own corporeal form. of the rational Minerva . Plato. we behold the representation of a by prolonged gaze upon the material form. becomes enamoured of a corporeal and changed into a being consisting wholly of the mere energies of nature. The rape of Persephone.

standing by the nuptial That to say. is and propriety introduced. The soul. finally becoming connected with the sublunary world and a terrene body on the of the art of intellect ninth. condition. the inerratic sphere and the seven employing planets. despite the resistance Minerva and Diana. who were forbidden by Jupiter to attempt her dehverance after her abduction. assuming a different body and different energies in each. in consequence of which she dwells wholly with delusive phantoms and her fetters is till she breaks deprived of the perception of that true. passes through eight spheres. That is to say. Demeter and the foundation realms of of tillage are said to signify the descent into the generation. unites with the dark tenement of the material body. the soul having sunk into the profoundities of a material nature.THEIR MYSTICAL SIGNIFICANCE and carries 105 of her away. the soul. by union with a material body. which is real and The nine days from her of the Festival are said to be signifi- cant of the descent of the soul. the infernal marriage succeeds. becomes familiar with darkness and subject to the empire of night. the greatest benefit and ornament which a material . in falling divine abode in the heavens. viz. Night is with great beauty couch and confirming the oblivious league. This signifies that the lapse of the soul into a is material nature contrary to the genuine wish and proper Pluto having hurried Persephone into regions. original.

" The Epopt. says that it for the State to be generally known things which. Without the possibihty the participation of intellect in the lower material sphere nothing but an irrational and a brutal life would subsist." life The Mysteries declared that the future was not the shadowy. therefore. weary existence which . But. and Plato owned it to be " difficult to find the Creator of the Universe. only dead mortals. the Greeks shut up their Mysteries in the silence of their sacred enclosures.106 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES is nature capable of of receiving. the initiates into the third degree were taught that the gods and goddesses were alive to the selves . was said to have received Autopsia. in his Religions. subject while same passions and infirmities as themand they were taught to look upon the Supreme Cause. the Creator of the Universe. Epopt as " one who sees things as they without disguise. when ' found. Virgil declared that the secret of the Mysteries was the of the Godhead. and. as pervading all things by His virtue and governing all things by His power. Thus the meaning of Mystes is given as " one of who sees things in disguise. people should believe. though false." Of there were many truths which Vv^ork Varro. impossible to discover Him to all the world." and that are. after passing through the ceremonial of exaltation. or complete Unity vision. according to some writers. and that. it was inconvenient and many was expedient the .

their places of interment. They are truly called Initia. and several facts of a like says nature that were concealed with so much care. man could secure a better hope for the Thus the Eleusinian Mysteries became the of chief agent in the conversion of the from the Homeric view belief Hades to a Greek world more hopeful Tully prosacrifices in^ as to man's state after death. and applied them are to the use of but she has given nothing better than those Mysteries by which we drawn from an irrational and savage life and tamed." it was regarded as essential that the profane should not be permitted to share the knowledge if of the true nature of it Demeter these and Persephone. as were known that goddesses were only mortal women Cicero their worship that it would become contemptible. as it were. even divine inventions life. but that through the rites of purification and sacrifices of a sacramental character future. and broken to humanity.. but made an express exception in favour of as his reason : the Eleu" Athens- Mysteries. giving hath produced many excellent.THEIR MYSTICAL SIGNIFICANCE it 107 had hitherto been supposed to be. the Melian. for they are indeed the beginnings of a life of reason Secrecy was enjoined because and virtue.. permitted to take mulgated a law forbidding nocturnal which sinian women were part. Diagoras. was the humanity of Demeter and Persephone. was accounted an atheist because he revealed the real secret of the Eleusiniaa .

referring to the Mysteries is : only God. The charge of atheism was the lot of any who communicated a knowledge of the one. having wrote : contemplated these Mysteries. thrice blessed the mortals." — the others there will find nothing but . Pindar says. for those only will there be a future life of happiness suffering.108 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES Mysteries. who. the end of Ufe. *' Happy he who has seen these : things before leaving this world he realizes the beginning and . as ordained by Zeus " and Sophocles " Oh. have descended to Hades .

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The Eleusinian and Bacchic Rites. LIMITED. Suidas.112 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES Strabo. Waechter. T. Taylor. Welcker. Suetonius. The Mystical Hymns of Orpheus. F. Of Religions. Wheler. WOKING AND LOIiDON . Griechische Gotierlehre. Varro. Reinheiisvorschrifien. Journey into Greece. Ditto. Xenophon. Virgil. Printed in Gnat Britain by VNWIN BROTHERS. Themistius. G. Theodoretus. Voltaire. Tertullian. THE GRESHAM PRESS.

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