THE ELEUSINIAN

MYSTERIES

&

RITES

DUDLEY WRIGHT

THE ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES

AND

RITES

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

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n CO 5 U ^ .

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or the institution. Druidical. Eleusinian.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. Drusian. is a scarcely a single ceremony rite in in the former that has not its corresponding one or other of the Ancient Mysteries. Uke—but is the original from which all the Mysteries were derived. With regard to the connection. Samothracian. . Hermetic. supposed or between Freemasonry and the Mysteries. is The question as to which the original is an important antiquarian one to the student. remarkable coincidence that there is it real. rites and practices of sacred worship.

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

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. DUDLEY WRIGHT. Christian Church boasted of his initiation into these Rites. it hoped.PREFACE source is 9 is attributed to them. render the articles of to and utility students of Masonic lore. 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. There is a legend that St. . 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. more than one of the early Fathers of the Certainly. Oxford. but of this there no positive evidence. As anity.

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

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

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. 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. Such being their purpose. and that they served a high purpose is equally clear. to exalt its its manners. 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. who. and Cicero testified that the hour of death. else they had not won the eulogiums of the most enlightened men of antiquity. were established by men of great genius. uprising Christianity in debate. and symbols employed in the teaching of wise and good and beautiful truth. is hard to know. in the early ages. but elevating and refining.— 14 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES not only lofty and noble. strove to teach purity. he who gives morals and refine society a thought to the life of man at large will enter their . whom boasted of initiation —and as to say that the Mysteries died at only to live again in the ritual of the Chjurch. said Plato. and to restrain by stronger bonds than those which human laws impose. influence the Mysteries is had on the new. The Mysteries. . and gave him happy thoughts for of the Mysteries. drama. to ameliorate the cruelty of the race.

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

London.. The City Temple. E. 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. .C.

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

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

and because of the continued loss of her daughter she rendered the earth sterile during a whole year. an altar. immortal though ! be. Zeus endeavoured to appease the anger of the gods." The temple was erected. my people. and on the eminence of the hill. who lightens and gladdens the hearts of gods and men. " It is I. naught " she cries. it My life. full of glory. Pluto yielded. but in vain. hard by the citadel. THE ELEUSINIAN LEGEND 19 them her goodwill and favour. and all the gods were deprived of sacrifices and offerings. " for want of thee. a fane. Hasten ye. Demeter. Mankind was threatened with utter annihilation. Finally he summoned Hermes to go to Pluto and order him to restore Persephone to her mother. 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. " Persephone Persephone — ! The oxen drew the plough. above the I will instruct you in the rites wall of CaUichorum. to raise. but Demeter was still vowing vengeance against gods and men.. which shall be observed and which are pleasing to me. below the ramparts. but in vain was the seed sown in the prepared ground. pips w^ich he offered her as sustenance on her . but before Persephone left she took from the hand of Pluto four pomegranate journey.

him sojourn with Demeter had no or one month for each pip taken. and that the remaining four would be spent by Persephone the with Pluto. Demeter caused to awaken anew fruits of the fertile plains. in consequence of which demanded that Persephone should for four months during each year. 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 .20 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES returning from the land of Persephone. which meant that she would enjoy the company of Persephone for eight months in every year. 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. —Triptolemus. Her because first question had was whether her daughter had eaten anything in the land of her imprisonment. Polyxenos. found her mother in the temple at Eleusis which recently been erected. shadows. our mouths." and the whole earth was re-clothed with leaves and flowers. Persephone informed her mother that all she had eaten was the pomegranate pips." Although secrecy on the subject of the nature of the stately Mysteries of the is strictly enjoined. — — — . Eumolpus. her unconditional return to earth and Olympos depended upon that. Pluto option but to consent to this arrangement.

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

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

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

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

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

we perceive the real principles to live happily. all with a fairer hope. orator — are of one Mysteries were far and mind about this. . 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. indeed. away the greatest that the of all the rehgious festivals of Greece. but to die of and learn not only poet." Every manner writer religious worldly poet. .— 26 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES life. in the Mysteries of life.

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

Castor. of Anthes- for candidates of alien birth. who was desirous Demeter. and Pollux expressed a desire be initiated. Eumolpus though he might citizens. of including in the ranks of the initiated a man of such power and eminence as Hercules. foreigner be. they were ineligible for the honour of initiation. there a legend that on a certain time Hercules wished to become a member of one of the secret societies of antiquity. . but the difficulty was overcome by Eumolpus. became a general preparation for the Greater Festival. as they then became known. genuine The Mysteries were divided into two parts — the The Lesser Mysteries and the Greater Mysteries. instituted the Lesser Mysteries. error. Lesser Mysteries were said to have been instituted when to Hercules. The three were first made and then as a preliminary to the initiation ceremony as prescribed by the goddess. at Agra.28 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES even through ignorance or celebration. which then and afterwards became a ceremony preliminary to the Greater Mysteries. 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. celebrated in the month terion at the beginning of spring. In later times this Lesser Festival. and no persons were until they initiated into the Greater Mysteries first had been initiated into the Lesser.

your hands are wrong you have repent of your evil doings. In the Lesser Mysteries. and in the Greater Mysteries she was given the name of Kore. and then come done with pure heart and clean hands. " You are forbidden to your heart is cruel. The Lesser Mysteries honoured the daughter more than the mother.THE RITUAL OF THE MYSTERIES He due form for initiation. right name. Everything was. of course. The Lesser Mysteries represented the return Persephone to earth at Eleusis . took place and the Greater Mysteries represented her descent to the infernal regions. 29 accordingly presented himself and applied in His case was referred to a council of wise and virtuous men. . enter here on account of some crimes which Consequently he was rejected. of —which." The legend stained with crime. who was the principal figure in the greater Mysteries. a mystery. The ceremonies of the Lesser Mysteries were entirely different from those of the Greater Mysteries. and the doors of our Mysteries shall be opened to you. Persephone was known as Pherrephatta. Go ! repair the goes on to say that after his regeneration he returned and became a worthy member of the Order. to his admission who objected he had committed. : Their words to him were . in fact. 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 .


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

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

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

In order to produce the desired effect the sacramental melod}^ must be chanted without the variation of a single modulation one false : note.THE RITUAL OF THE MYSTERIES not be solved by the to the Eumolpides. Without doubt. It was essential that the formulae disclosed to the initiates at Eleusis should be pronounced with the proper intonation. pre-eminently " The human voice a magical instrument. for otherwise the words would have no efficacy. and who was selected from the family of the Eumolpides. 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. of this is An who explanation says : given is by Maspero. and the tone in which it is enunciated. one mistake in the measure. either as to their existence or their manifold action. the real value of an evocation lies in its text. whose decision was " The meaning of the name Eumolpus " is "a good singer. the chief officiant at the celebration and at the ceremony of initiation. Correct intonation was of far of the Mysteries greater importance than syllabic pronunciation. either an incantation or a song. 35 known laws were addressed final. In order to be efficacious. the . the conjuration should be accompanied by chanting." and great importance was attached to the quality of the voice in the selection of the hierophant. or the sequence of the words of which it is composed.

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. and in the evocation in a word. . which played the most important part in the oblation. Some Moslem Parsees pay much what is called dzdd dwd or " free voice. The result of their effort. will depend upon the exactness of their voice.'' Apart from a " true voice " the words were merely dead sounds. Some of the hymns of the Rig-Veda. and the intended is annulled. in the prayer of definite request. It was the voice. therefore. in every instance where man sought to seize hold of the god. The character of the voice plays an important part in many religions. Even animals and serpents are amenable to the effects influence of sound. when anagrammatically arranged. will yield the secret invocations which were used for magical in true properties and how all purposes the Brahmanical attention to It is ceremonies.36 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES any two of the introversion of is sounds of which effect is it composed. whether successful or unsuccessful. 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." The which low. monotonous chanting produce on nervous people and children are well known." recorded in tradition that a revelation came to the venerated Arabian prophet resembling " the tone of a bell.

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

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

:

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

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

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

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

they became but a ceremony. essential In history." 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. 45 what was seen rivalled anything that was heard. but was too —the Eleusinian Mysteries were dead. in The Athenians were pious the extreme. THE RITUAL OF THE MYSTERIES scenes that were enacted . when the restrictions as to admission began to be and in proportion to that relaxation.. until finally they degenerated superstition. into a infuse late mere Julian strived in vain to it new life into the vanishing cult. 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 . but there rests is nothing on which God in so full a measure as the rites of Eleusis and the Olympic games. relaxed. 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. principal their splendour being their attraction. and throughout the period that initiation was limited was maintained. 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 . When the Eleusinian Mysteries were taken to Rome. their religious character disappeared. as they were in the reign of Hadrian.

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

THE RITUAL OF THE MYSTERIES the dissembled 47 long name of convivial meetings. of course. corresponding roughly with the month of September. heavy penalties being inflicted for breaches of this law. the 15th of the or present any petition except for offences committed at the Festival. the penalties fixed being a fine of not less than a thousand drachmas. by far the more important — began on The Festival of the Greater Mysteries month of Boedromion. and lasted until the 23rd of the same month. 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. During that time it was unlawful to arrest any man present. and some assert that transgressors were even put to death. —and this was. .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and the victors were rewarded with a measure of barley. where she sat down on a well. broke down with fatigue at Eleusis. the same as on the previous day. 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. 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. the ancient writers as to what was permissible and what was forbidden during the ceremonies. when in search of her daughter. comprised comic incidents. " bridge fooling. 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. of solemn preparation by those who were to be initiated on the following night. the combatants appearing naked.PROGRAMME OF GREATER MYSTERIES pilgrimages. overwhelmed with grief." These jests. tradition that that grain It it being a was also regarded as a was day first sown in 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. indulging in who were were to what it was termed said. of Yet the mimicking part of lambe were the ceremonial the . Demeter a strange There is contradiction in the various statements made by Demeter.

coming from Epidaurius to Athens. 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. —The it eighth day was called Epi- daurion." all along the road during the passing Eighth Day. Having thus spoken. and it : usually offered of lacchos. she drew aside her garments all that shape of the body which it is improper to name the growth of puberty. candidates who had not already enjoyed the privilege. would be regarded to-day as in bad taste. And with her own hand lambe stripped herself under And showed — the breasts. that purpose. and to admit to initiation any such approved initiated." so-called. " jests.58 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES According to the ancient writers the Mysteries. And received the glancing cup in which was the draught. because happened once that iEsculapius. Blandly then the goddess laughed and laughed in her mind. 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. conditions it was necessary to omit the sacrifices who held Decelea. There was also another reason for the repetition of .

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

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

when they remained behind for the Mystery Plays and Sports. They included athletic and musical and a competition which is bore the Contest.— PROGRAMME OF GREATER MYSTERIES spilt 61 upon the ground as a libation. 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.— On tion of every third the tenth day the majority of the people returned to their homes.C. This sometimes used as an argument in favour of the Egyptian origin of the Eleusinian Mysteries. but its which it thought may have had origin in a contest between the reapers on the sacred Rharian . at these games. with the excep- and fifth year. and the second to the earth as a prayer for fertility. contests. The Eleusinian Games are described by the rhetorician Aristides as the oldest of all Greek games. have been instituted as a thank-offering to Demeter and Persephone at the From an inscription conclusion of the corn harvest. and were the same as those used at the conclusion of the Mysteries of fact is — Isis. The first of these formulae was directed towards the sky as a praj^er for rain. They are supposed to dating from the latter part of the third century B. name is of the Ancestral or the Hereditary the nature of which not known. sacrifices were offered to Demeter and Persephone a horse race. Tenth Day. which lasted from two to three days.

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

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

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

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

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

of initiates when of it and on one occasion. he was always scrupulous observing the pledge of secrecy demanded into the Eleusinian Mysteries. and..THE INITIATORY RITES tunity of 67 journeyed to Athens to take advantage of the opporto become initiates. The Eleusinian Mysteries were not deemed inimical to the welfare of the Roman Empire as were the religions of the Egyptians. according the project into execution. 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. While Augustus. the masters of the world. Rome. and ancient Britons. Even the Emperors Rome. when it was about to put was ruled that it . in the year did the towards not hesitate to show his antipathy religion of the Egyptians. who was initiated 21 B. 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. another imperial initiate. 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. conceived the idea of transferring the scene of the Mysteries to to Suetonius. Claudius. became necessary for some of the priests the Eleusinian temple to proceed to Rome to plead before his tribunal on the question of privilege. towards in Judaism and Druidism.

It is uncertain whether the Emperor Antonin it was in initiated. in which he mentions a journey from Eleusis to Ephesus made by him at that time. a. Hadrian is is the only imperial initiate. in father Both Marcus and son. 129. he was again at Athens. when he was autumn. were in at the Lesser Mysteries March.d. The initiation of the Emperor Hadrian (who succeeded where Claudius had failed. 176. and at the Greater Mysteries . so far as known. it is not rash to assume that he was inspired by something more than curiosity or even by a desire to show respect. present at the Lesser Mysteries in the spring and at the Greater Mysteries in the following In September. Aurelius and Commodus. as is known from Dion Cassius. when he presented himself for the third degree. confirmed by a letter written by the Emperor himself.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. who degrees. in introducing the celebration of the Mysteries into Rome) took place in a. 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. 125.d.d. although from an inscription seems probable that he was and that he should be included the Hst of imperial initiates. a. initiated at the same time.

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

neither secret doctrine nor dogmatic teaching in this prehmi- nary instruction. the meaning of which was communicated by means of the mystic formulae but the preparation demanded of the initiates.70 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES Without this preparation no one could be admitted was. of In cases special or particular impurity an extra preparation extending over two or three days longer became necessary. Revelation came through contem- plation of the sacred objects displayed during the ceremonies by the hierophant. of Bowls or vases of con- secrated or holy water were placed at the entrance the temple for the purposes of aspersion. had anything to offer. created a strong impression and lively hope in regard to the future Greece. to the Mysteries. all of which were performed in the dead of night. purity. it. still life. the ceremonies at which the initiates assisted. No other cult in less the cold Roman religion. 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. the secrecy imposed. or approaching to Fasting from food and drink for a certain before period and after initiation was essential. and undergone in order that the body might become more pure. of the kind. the result of immersion prior was but the symbol of the inward . and unctions of oil or repeated immersions in water were administered. The out- ward physical to initiation.

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

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

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

wearing such a when he shows the holy . own house. and Theodorus.— 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. of sacrilegiously offending the goddess Ceres and her daughter. represented the herald . accuseth Alcibiades. the son of Clinian. Theodorus. as did Poly- tion torch-bearer Thyges. herald . the son of Cimon. and the rest of of the his ward of companions of he called persons initiated and Brethren Secret . Polytion. by counterfeiting to his their Mysteries his and showing them companions in robe as the high priest does things . the Heralds and Priests at Eleusis. The information against him ran " Thessalus. represented his when he one of hierophant . the therein acting contrary to the rules and ceremonies estabhshed by the Eumolpides. . Persephone. An accusation was brought against Aristotle of having performed a funeral in sacrifice in honour of his wife Alci- imitation of the Eleusinian ceremonies. of the ward of friends. represented the dadouchos other companions attending as initiates and being addressed as mystae. of the ward of Scambonis. he called himself high priest . the biades was charged the with mimicking sacred Mysteries in one of his drunken revels. and another." . : Lacais.

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

taken in the aggregate. was taken to prevent the secrecy of the Mysteries from being broken and the ceremonial becoming known to any not initiated. 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. 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. come to light in various ways.— 76 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES to suffer drachmas and the permanent exclusion from Diagiras Eleusinian shrine. but. form a perfect mosaic. Details have. therefore. . supply no precise information." Every care. Step b}/ step and piece by piece the diligent researcher has been rewarded by the discovery of disconnected and isolated fragments which. but chiefly through the ancient writings and inscriptions. was accused of raiUng at the sanctity of the Mysteries of Eleusis manner as to deter persons from seeking initiation. Though it was strictly forbidden to reveal what took place within the sacred enclosure and in the Hall of Initia: : . by themselves. The Greek talent was of the value of about £200. nevertheless.

sometimes even with capital. ancient laws to those two who were found guilty merely of entering the sanctuary at Eleusis without having previously . betrayed them. was an and heinous character. priests ordered the death of was pro- bably by virtue of those unwritten laws that the two young Arcananians to who had penetrated. into the sacred precincts. although the forcing of the temple enclosure was.. it 77 was permissible to state clearly the main object of initiation and the advantages to be derived from the act. They happened inadvertently mix with the crowd at the season of the Mysteries and to enter the temple. as sometimes happened. in consequence of their ignorance of the proceedings. This was in 200 B. 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 questions asked by them. a grave crime. but the forcing of the temple enclosure by the uninitiated. Not only was the breaking of the obligation of secrecy given by an initiate visited with severe. It but because they concerned religion. through ignorance. and their intrusion was punished with death. of course.THE INITIATORY RITES tion. 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. punish- ment.C.

in the ceremonies. with the object of proving that the gods had no existence. was meted out to the fanatical Epicurean eunuch who. 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. The two days prior to initiation into the second and third degrees were spent by the candidates in solitary retirement and in strict fasting. 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. 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. 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. not only in imitation of the sufferings of Demeter when searching for Persephone. in It was a " retreat " the strictest sense of the word. but because of the danger of the contact of holy things with unholy. states that a divine punishment in the form life he would not risk his the Mysteries. At the entrance containing a list to the temple tablets were placed of forbidden foods. or to avert. however. been No judicial penalty. included . even that of a viewer. the clean with the unclean. Fasting was practised.

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

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

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

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

— THE INITIATORY RITES certain terrestrial call 83 holy of the Mysteries. fragrant perfumes arose spectators and in the distance privileged beheld flowering meads. them the . or smote his father's jaw. the scene was suddenly changed. Among other writers the scene has been described in by Aristophanes The Frogs : Heracles. ! two How very Dionysos. come Dionysos. which to the ' attention from undefiled advantages At length the gates of Tartarus were closed. in countless . How did powerful those two they manage After this you will Theseus brought them. The voyage is a long one. ' sanctuary of the temple lay open before the initiates in dazzling light. or swore and wild beasts . demons are hurled forth. Oh dear oboles are all over the world. Heracles. brilliantly decked and music gleaming stones . In the midst stood the statue of the goddess with Demeter precious . 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. directly to a very big lake of For you will abysmal depth. where the blessed danced and amused themselves with innocent games and pastimes. : 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. see serpents numbers and very terrible. to get here ? Heracles. and the innermost matter. before the presence of the god. heavenly entranced their souls a cloudless sky overshadowed .

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

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

" The Athenians. and most perfect mystery of the epoptae an ear is of corn gathered in silence. show to the epoptae the great. They could not. exclaimed with a loud voice : initiated '* The divine Brimo has given birth to the holy child The strong has brought forth strength. and there Brimos : could have been nothing material in the incident." The scene was dramatic and symbolical.86 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES an ear of corn. to submit to initiation. their of honours. 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. : admirable. of course. some other In the opinion of the majority contemporary writers these charges were wholly gratuitous. . and they maintain that the Eleusinian Mysteries produced a sanctity of manners and a cultivation of virtue. replied that Pataecion. " in the initiation of Eleusis. for they believed their own salvation to depend upon the result of the mystic congress. it has never been called into question." says Hippolytus. 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. no doubt whatever on the subject indeed. make a man when asked virtuous against his will and Diogenes. had obtained initiation. a notorious robber." The statement so clear as to leave .

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

made the announcement The name Brimo. : The . . taken The part false the hierophant was the by the it is prophet himself. in darkness. Dr. " the lofty serpent goddess. ." birth of Brimo and the mighty deeds Of the Titanic hosts the servitude Of Jove and the mysterious mountain rites Of Cybele. Arinian Minerva's nightly festival And Egypt's sorrow for the lost Osiris. 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. Jevons maintains that this ear of corn was the totem of Eleusis. and lofty Cyprus. . Fair Adonean Venus and the rites Of dread Ogygian Praxidice . . . seems to be a variation of the compound term ObRimon. in silence. .. Samothrace. 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. Orphic Hymn. . and the woes of Prosperpine With these I sung the gifts of the Cabiri The Mysteries of Bacchus and the praise Of Lemnos. and this view has been adopted . . 88 ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES the torches marriage would of actually have been consummated. . expressed at full length Obrimo. From travesty evident that in the genuine Mysteries.

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. said to have been the password leading initiation to the third degree. gruel. it why the ear more why for should be emphasized that was gathered. thick of half-solid. wheat was chosen than the grain. The demonstration supposes that the preceding rites were leading up to this supreme display. it for preference. After this demonstration the epoptae partook of barley meal flavoured with pennyroyal. done. Justin Martyr gives the oath of as . and I having tasted of again took the it placed it in the calathos.THE INITIATORY RITES by M.' I have taken from the cystos. as a solemn form of communion with Demeter. According to of the compound was a kind half-liquid." is notwithstanding length. among the plants which die and revive in the course of a year. and in what manner it for secured existence or ensured after the individual a bUssful pre- death. for reserved what reason the spectacle was the epoptae. 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. This the fasted. would be interesting to know why. Reinach." But he has omitted all to quote the texts It on which he relies for this assertion. Eustathius. back in its cystos.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

' THEIR MYSTICAL SIGNIFICANCE purified 93 and initiated should. again. . have his habitation with the gods. he after- wards dent lived in light. necessary to Commentary on the fields *' : Georgias of Plato. exercises with an unshaken reason —he who cannot would you not say that he neither knows the good itself. at his death. life. says of the Elysian is It know that the fortunate islands are the sea. 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. and proceeding with this. in sleep and conversant is with delusions and dreams and that before he will roused to a vigilant state he descend to Hades. signifying by this that. having vanquished an obscure and terrestrial is. endeavouring these dialectical to confute." Plato. open day — as that in truth and resplenlife^ So that he who in the present state vanquishes as much possible a corporeal . said to be raised above Hercules is reported to have accomplished his last labour in the Hesperian regions. . not according to opinion but according to evidence. separating from other objects and piercing as in a battle through every kind of argument all . . 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. in his MS. that in the present life sunk . ' and be overwhelmed with sleep perfectly profound ? Olympiodorus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

was accounted an atheist because he revealed the real secret of the Eleusiniaa . but made an express exception in favour of as his reason : the Eleu" Athens- Mysteries.. for they are indeed the beginnings of a life of reason Secrecy was enjoined because and virtue. the Melian. Diagoras.THEIR MYSTICAL SIGNIFICANCE it 107 had hitherto been supposed to be. and broken to humanity." 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. their places of interment. 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. even divine inventions life. was the humanity of Demeter and Persephone. 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. permitted to take mulgated a law forbidding nocturnal which sinian women were part. and several facts of a like says nature that were concealed with so much care. but that through the rites of purification and sacrifices of a sacramental character future.. as were known that goddesses were only mortal women Cicero their worship that it would become contemptible. They are truly called Initia. giving hath produced many excellent. as it were.

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

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