MYSTERY (Gr. µw(Trilpcov, from tcuvrm, an initiate, µfew, to shut the mouth) , ageneral
See also:term for what is secret and excites wonder, derived from the religious sense (see below) . It is not to be confounded with the other old word " mystery," or more properly " mistery," meaning a
See also:trade or handicraft (
See also:Lat. ministerium, Fr. metier) . For the
See also:medieval plays, called mysteries, see DRAMA; they were so called (
See also:Skeat) because acted by craftsmen . Greek Mysteries.—It is important to obtain a clear conception of the exact significance of the Greek term 12vvri7Pcov, which is often associated and at times appears synonymous with the words re). r'rl, opyca . We may interpret " mystery " in its
See also:original Greek meaning as a " secret " worship, to which only certain specially prepared people—oi pveivres—were admitted after a
See also:period of
See also:purification or other preliminary
See also:probation, and of which the ritual was so important and perilous that the "
See also:catechumen " needed a hierophant or expounder to
See also:guide him aright . In the ordinary public worship of the state or the private worship of the
See also:household the sacrifice with the prayer was the chief
See also:act of the ceremony; in the " mysterion " something other than a sacrifice was of the essence of the rite; something was shown to the eyes of the initiated, the mystery was a Spaµa yvaruc6v, and Spicy and Sp17o-,uoaivp are verbal terms expressive of the mystic act . We have an interesting account given us by Theo Smyrnaeusl of the various elements and moments of the normal mystic ceremony: first is the ica8ap,u6s or preliminary purification; secondly, the rmXeri s Irapdcoots, the mystic communication which probably included some kind of X yos, a sacred exegesis or exhortation; thirdly, the ifro1rreia or the
See also:revelation to sight of certain
See also:holy things, which is the central point of the whole; fourthly, the crowning with the
See also:garland, which is henceforth the badge of the privileged; and finally, that which is the end and
See also:object of all this, the happiness that. arises from the friendship or communion with the deity . This exposition is probably applicable to the Greek mysteries in general, though it may well have been derived from his know-ledge of the Eleusinian . We may supplement it by a statement of Lucian's that " no mystery was ever celebrated without dancing " (De saltat . 15), which means that it was in some sense a religious drama,
See also:ancient Greek dancing being generally mimetic, and represented some iep6s Aiyos or sacred
See also:story as the theme of a mystery-
See also:play . Before we approach the problem as to the content of the mysteries, we may naturally raise the question why certaLl 1 De util. math., Herscher, p . 15 .
ancient cults in
See also:Greece were mystic, others open and public . An explanation often offered is that the mystic cults are the Pelasgic or pre-Hellenic and that the conquered populations desired to
See also:shroud their religious ceremonies from the profane eyes of the invaders . But we should then expect to find them administered chiefly by slaves and the
See also:lower population; on the contrary they are generally in the hands of the noblest families, and the evidence that slaves possessed in any of them the right of initiation is only slight . Nor does the explanation in other respects
See also:fit the facts at all . The deities who are worshipped with mystic
See also:rites have in most cases Hellenic names and do not all belong to the earliest stratum of Hellenic religion . Besides those of
See also:Demeter, by far the most numerous in the Hellenic
See also:world, we have record of the mysteries of Ge at Phlye in
See also:Attica, of Aglauros and the Charities at Athens, of Hecate at Aegina; a
See also:shrine of
See also:Artemis Mvaia on the road between
See also:Sparta and
See also:Arcadia points to a mystic cult of this goddess, and we can infer the existence of a similar worship of
See also:Themis . Now these are either various forms of the
See also:earth-goddess, or are related closely to her, being
See also:powers that we
See also:call " chthonian," associated with the world below, the
See also:realm of the dead . We may surmise then that the mystic setting of a cult arose in many cases from the dread of the religious miasma which emanated from the nether world and which suggested a
See also:prior ritual of purification as necessary to safeguard the
See also:person before approaching the holy presence or handling certain holy
See also:objects . This would explain the
See also:necessity of mysteries in the worship of Dionysus also, the Cretan Zagreus, Trophonius at Lebadeia,
See also:Melicertes on the
See also:Isthmus of Corinth . They might also be necessary for those who desired communion with the deified ancestor or hero, and thus we hear of the mysteries of Dryops at Asine, of Antinoiis the favourite of
See also:Hadrian at
See also:Mantineia . Again, where there was hope or promise that the mortal should by communion be able to attain temporarily to divinity, so hazardous an experiment would be safeguarded by special preparation, secrecy and mystic ritual; and this may have been the
See also:motive of the institution of the
See also:Attis-Cybele mystery . (See
See also:MOTHER OF THE GODS.) For the student of
See also:Hellenism, the Eleusinian and Orphic ceremonies are of paramount importance; the Samothracian, which vied with these in attractiveness for the later Hellenic world, were not Hellenic in origin, nor whoily hellenized in character, and cannot be considered in an e.rticle of this compass .
As regards the Eleusinia, we are in a better position for the investigation of them than our predecessors were; for the
See also:modern methods of
See also:comparative religion and anthropology have at least taught us to ask the right questions and to apply relevant hypotheses; archaeology, the study of vases, excavations on the site, yielding an ever-increasing hoard of inscriptions, have taught us much concerning the
See also:external organization of the mysteries, and have shown us the beautiful figures of the deities as they appeared to the
See also:eye or to the
See also:mental vision of the initiated . As regards the inner content, the secret of the mystic celebration, it is in the highest degree unlikely that Greek inscriptions or
See also:art would ever reveal it, the Eleusinian scenes that appear on
See also:Attic vases of about the 5th century cannot be supposed to show us the heart of the mystery, for such sacrilegious rashness would be dangerous for the
See also:vase-painter . If we are to discover it, we must turn to the ancient
See also:literary records . These must be handled with extreme caution and a more careful
See also:scrutiny than is often applied . We must not expect full enlightenment from the
See also:Pagan writers, who convey to us indeed the
See also:poetry and the glow of this fascinating ritual, and who attest the deep and purifying influence that it exercised upon the religious temperament, but who are not likely to tell us more . It is to the Christian Fathers we must turn for more
See also:esoteric knowledge, for they would be withheld by no
See also:scruple from revealing what they knew . But we cannot always believe that they knew much, for only those who, like
See also:Clement and Arnobius, had been Pagans in their youth, could ever have been initiated . Many of them uncritically confuse in the same context and in one sweeping verdictof condemnation Orphic, Phrygian-Sabazian and Attis-Mysteries with the Eleusinian; and we ought not too lightly to infer that these were actually confused and blended at
See also:Eleusis . We must also he on our guard against supposing that when Pagan or Christian writers refer vaguely to " mysteria," they always have the Eleusinian in their mind . The questions that the critical analysis of all the evidence may hope to solve are mainly these: (a) What do we know or what can we infer concerning the
See also:personality of the deities to whom the Eleusinian mysteries were originally consecrated, and were new figures admitted at a later period ? (b) When was the mystery taken over by Athens and opened to all Hellas, and what was the state-organization provided ? (c) What was the inner significance, essential content or purport of the Eleusinia, and what was the source of their great influence on Hellas ?
(d) Can we attribute any ethical value to them, and did they strongly impress the popular belief inimmortality ? Limits of space allow us only to adumbrate the results that
See also:research on the lines of these questions has hitherto yielded . The paramount divine personalities of the mystery were in the earliest period of which we have literary record, the mother and the daughter, Demeter and Kore, the latter being never styled Persephone in the official language of Eleusis; while the third figure, the
See also:god of the lower world known by the euphemistic names of
See also:Pluto (Plouton) and at one
See also:time Eubouleus, the ravisher and the
See also:husband, is an
See also:accessory personage, comparatively in the background . This is the conclusion naturally
See also:drawn from the Homeric hymn to Demeter, a composition of great ritualistic value, probably of the 7th century B.C., which describes the abduction of the daughter, the sorrow and
See also:search of the mother, her sitting by the sacred well, the drinking of the KimeWV or sacred
See also:cup and the
See also:legend of the
See also:pomegranate . An ancient hymn of Pamphos, from which
See also:Pausanias freely quotes and which he regards, as genuine,' appears to have told much the same story in much the same way . As far as we can say, then, the mother and daughter were there in possession at the very beginning . The other pair of divinities known as 6 9e6s Bea, that appear in a 5th-century inscription and on two dedicatory reliefs found at Eleusis, have been supposed to descend from an aboriginal period of Eleusinian religion when deities were nameless, and when a peaceful pair of earth-divinities, male and
See also:female, were worshipped by the rustic community, before the earth-goddess had pluralized herself as Demeter and Kore, and before the story of the madre dolorosa and the lost daughter had arisen ? But for various reasons the contrary view is more probable, that 6 Oebs and i1 Bea are later cult-titles of the married pair Pluto-Cora (Plouton-Kore), the
See also:personal names being omitted from that feeling of reverential shyness which was specially timid in regard to the sacred names of the deities of the underworld . And it is a fairly
See also:familiar phenomenon in Greek religion that two
See also:separate titles of the same divinity engender two distinct cults . The question as to the
See also:part played by Dionysus in the Eleusinia is important . Some scholars, like M . Foucart, have supposed that he belonged from the beginning to the inner circle of the mystery; others that he forced his way in at a somewhat later period owing to the great influence of the Orphic sects who captured the stronghold of Attic religion and engrafted the Orphic-Sabazian lep6r Xlyos, the story of the incestuous union of Dionysus-
See also:Sabazius with Demeter-Kore, and of the
See also:death and rendering of Zagreus, upon the
See also:primitive Eleusinian faith .
A saner and more careful
See also:criticism rejects this view . There is no genuine trace discovered as yet in the inner circle of the mysteries of any characteristically Orphic
See also:doctrine; the names of Zagreus and Phanes are nowhere heard, the legend of Zagreus and the death of Dionysus are not known, to have been mentioned there . Nor is there any
See also:print within or in the precincts of the TeXeo'Ti7Piov: the
See also:hall of the Mu:
See also:rat, of the footsteps of the Phrygian deities, Cybele, Attis, Sabazius . ' i . 38, 3 ; i . 39, I . 2 See Dittenberger, Sylloge, 13; Corp. inscr. att . 2, 1620 c, 3, 1109; Ephem. archaiol . (1886), rip . 3; Heberdey in Festschrift fur Benndorf, p . 3, Taf . 4; Von Prott in Athen .
Mittheil . (1899), p . 262 . The exact relation of Dionysus to the mysteries involves the aaapxal or tithe-offerings pfcorn to Eleusis,2 record the far-sighted policy of Periclean Athens, her determination to find a religious support for her
See also:hegemony . At least from the 5th century onwards, the external
See also:control and all questions of the organization of the mysteries were in the hands of the Athenian state, the
See also:rule holding in Attica as elsewhere in Hellas that the state was supreme over the
See also:Church . The
See also:head of the general management was the
See also:archon (archon-basileus) who with his paredros and the four " epimeletai " formed a general
See also:committee of supervision, and matters of importance connected with the ritual were decided by the Boule or Ecclesia . But the claim of Eleusis as the religious metropolis was not ignored . The chief of the two priestly families, in whose hands
See also:lay the mystic celebration itself and the formal right of
See also:admission, was the Eleusinian " gens " of the Eumolpidae; it was to their ancestor that Demeter had entrusted her 6pyca, and the recognition of their claims maintained the principle of apostolic succession.' To them belonged the hierophant (tepo46vrrs), the high
See also:priest of the Eleusinia, whose
See also:function alone it was to " reveal the orgies," to show the sacred things, and who alone—or perhaps with his
See also:consort-priestess—could penetrate into the innermost shrine in the hall; an impressive figure, so sacred in person that no one could address him by his personal name, and bound, at one period at least, by a rule of celibacy . We hear also of two " hierophantides," female attendants on the older and younger goddesses . In fact, while the male priest predominates in this ritual, the
See also:women play a prominent part: as we should expect, considering that the
See also:sister-festival of the Thesmophoria was wholly in their hands . The other old priestly
See also:family was that of the " Kerykes," to whom the Sgbovxoc belonged, " the holder of the
See also:torch," the official second in
See also:rank to the lepo4avrri . It is uncertain whether this family was of Eleusinian origin; and in the 4th century it seems to have died out, and the
See also:office of the Sgboirxos passed into the hands of the Lycomidae, a priestly family of Phlye, suspected of being devotees of Orphism .
Turning now to the celebration itself, we can only
See also:sketch the more salient features here . On the 13th of Boedromion, the Attic
See also:month corresponding roughly to our
See also:September, the Ephebi (q.v.) marched out to Eleusis, and returned to Athens the next
See also:day bringing with them the " holy- things " (feat) to the " Eleusinion " in the city; these teat probably included small images of the goddesses . The 16th was the day of the ayvpµos, the gathering of the catechumens, when they met to hear the address of the hierophant, called the Irpbpproncs . This was no
See also:sermon, but a proclamation bidding those who were disqualified or for some reason unworthy of initiation to depart . The legally qualified were all Hellenes and subsequently all Romans above a certain—very youthful—limit of age, women, and as it appears even slaves; barbarians, and those uncleansed of some notorious
See also:guilt, such as
See also:homicide, were disqualified . We are sure that there was no dogmatic test, nor would time allow of any searching moral scrutiny, and only the Samothracian rites, in this respect unique in the world of classical religion, possessed a
See also:system of
See also:confessional . The hierophant appealed to the
See also:conscience of the multitude; but we are not altogether sure of the terms of his proclamation, which can only be approximately restored from
See also:late Pagan and early Christian writers . We know that he demanded of each
See also:candidate that he should be " of intelligible speech (i.e. an Hellene) and pure of
See also:hand "; and he catechized him as to his
See also:condition of ritualistic purity—the
See also:food he had eaten or abstained from . It appears also from
See also:Libanius that in the later period at least he solemnly proclaimed that the catechumen should be " pure of soul," 3 and this spiritual conception of holiness had arisen already in the earlier periods of Greek religious thought . On the other hand we must bear in mind the criticism that
See also:Diogenes is said to have passed upon the Eleusinia, that many
See also:bad characters were admitted to communion, thereby securing a promise of higher happiness than an uninitiated
See also:Epaminondas could aspire to . An essential preliminary was purification and
See also:lustration, and z Dittenberger, Sylloge, 13 .. 2 Or .
Corinth, iv . 356 . question as to the divine personage called Iacchus; who and what was Iacchus ?
See also:Strabo (p . 468), who is a poor authority on such matters, describes him as " the daemon of Demeter, the founder of the
See also:leader of the mysteries." More important is it to note that " Iacchus " is unknown to the author of the Homeric hymn, and that the first literary
See also:notice of him occurs in the well-known passage of
See also:Herodotus (viii . 65), who describes the procession of the mystae as moving along the sacred way from Athens to Eleusis and as raising the cry "Iaaxe . We find Iacchus the theme of a glowing invocation in an Aristophanic Ode (Frogs, 324-398), and described as a beautiful "
See also:young god "; but he is first explicitly identified with Dionysus in the beautiful ode of
See also:Antigone (1119); and that this was in
See also:accord with the popular ritualistic lore is proved by the statement of the scholiast on Aristophanes (Frogs, 482) that the
See also:people at the Lenaea, the winter-festival of Dionysus, responded to the command of " Invoke the god!" with the invocation "
See also:Hail, Iacchus, son of
See also:Semele, thou giver of
See also:wealth!" We are sure, then, that in the high
See also:tide of the Attic religious
See also:history Iacchus was the youthful Dionysus, a name of the great god
See also:peculiar to Attic cult; and this is all that here concerns us to know . We can now answer the question raised above . This youthful Attic Dionysus has his home at Athens; he accompanies his votaries along the sacred way, filling their souls with the exaltation and ecstasy of the Dionysiac spirit; but at Eleusis he had no
See also:altar or abiding home; he comes as a visitor and departs . His image may have been carried into the Hall of the Mysteries, but whether it played any part there in a passion-play we do not know . That he was a
See also:primary figure of the essential mystery is hard to believe, for we find no traces of his name in the other Greek communities that at an early period had instituted mysteries on the Eleusinian
See also:model . Apart from Iacchus, Dionysus in his own name was powerful enough at Eleusis as in most other localities .
And the votaries carried with them no doubt into the hall the Bacchic exaltation of the Iacchus procession and the nightly revel with the god that preceded the full initiation; many of them also may have belonged to the private Dionysiac sects and might be tempted to read a Dionysiac significance into much that was presented to them . But all this is conjecture . The
See also:interpretation of what was shown would naturally
See also:change somewhat with the changing sentiment of the ages; but the mother and the daughter, the stately and beautiful figures presented to us by the author of the homeric hymn, who says no word of Dionysus, are still found reigning paramount and supreme at Eleusis just before the
See also:Gothic invasion in the latter days of Paganism .
See also:Triptolemus the apostle of corn-culture, Eubouleus—originally a euphemistic name of the god of the under-world, " the giver of
See also:good counsel," conveying a hint of his oracular functions—these are accessory figures of Eleusinian cult and
See also:mythology that may have played some part in the great mystic drama that was enacted in the hall . The development and organization of the Eleusinia may now be briefly sketched . The legends concerning the initiation of Heracles and the Dioscuri preserve the record of the time when the mysteries were closed against all strangers, and were the
See also:privilege of the Eleusinians alone . Now the Homeric hymn in its obvious
See also:appeal to the whole of the Greek world to avail themselves of these mysteries gives us to suppose that they had already been thrown open to Hellas; and this momentous change, abolishing the old gentile barriers, may have naturally coincided with, or have resulted from, the
See also:fusion of Eleusis and Athens, an event of equal importance for politics and religion which we may place in the prehistoric period . The reign of
See also:Peisistratus was an era of architectural activity at Eleusis; but the construction of the AVvTCKbc orKOS was one of the achievements of the Periclean administration . Two inscriptions, containing decrees passed during the supremacy of
See also:Pericles, the one proclaiming a holy truce of three months for the votaries that came from any Greek community,' the other bidding the subject
See also:allies and inviting the
See also:independent states to send ' Corp. inscr. all. i . 1 . after the
See also:assembly the " mystae " went to the
See also:shore (tXa& archaeological evidence that has been supposed to support the pia-rat) and purified themselves with sea-
See also:water, and probably with sprinkling of pigs'
See also:blood, a
See also:common cathartic
See also:medium . After their return from the sea, a sacrifice of some kind was offered as an essential condition of pawls, but whether as a
See also:sacrament or a
See also:gift-offering to the goddesses it is impossible to determine .
On the loth of Boedromion the great procession started along the sacred way bearing the "
See also:fair young god " Iacchus; and as they visited many shrines by the way the
See also:march must have continued long after sunset, so that the loth is some-times spoken of as the day of the exodus of Iacchus . On the way each wore a
See also:band as an
See also:amulet; and the ceremonious reviling to which the " mystai " were subjected as they crossed the
See also:bridge of the Cephissus answered the same purpose of averting the evil eye . Upon the arrival at Eleusis, on the same
See also:night or on the following, they celebrated a midnight revel under the stars with Iacchus, which Aristophanes glowingly describes . The question of supreme
See also:interest now arises: What was the mystic ceremony in the hall? what was said and what was done ? We can distinguish two grades in the celebration; the greater was the ram and E7r07rrcxa, the full and satisfying celebration, to which only those were admitted who had passed the lesser stage at least a
See also:year before . As regards the actual ritual in the hall of the mystae, much remains uncertain in spite of the unwearying efforts of many generations of scholars to construct a reasonable statement out of fragments of often doubtful evidence . We are certain at least that something was acted there in a religious drama or passion-play, the revelation was partly-a
See also:pageant of holy figures; the accusations against
See also:Aeschylus and
See also:Alcibiades would suffice to prove this; and Porphyry speaks of the hierophant and the 5 ouxos acting divine parts . What the subject of this drama was may he gathered partly from the words of Clement—" Deo (Demeter) and Kore became the personages of a mystic drama, and Eleusis with its 50ovXor celebrates the wandering, the abduction and the sorrow " (Protrept., p . 12
See also:Potter), partly from
See also:Psyche's appeal to Demeter in
See also:Apuleius (llletamorph . 6)—" by the unspoken secrets of the mystic chests, the winged chariots of thy
See also:dragon-ministers, the bridal descent of
See also:Proserpine [Persephone], the torch-lit wanderings to find thy daughter and all the other mysteries that the shrine of Attic Eleusis shrouds in secret." We may believe then that the great myth of the mother's sorrow, the loss and the partial recovery of her beloved was part of the Eleusinian passion-play . Did it also include a iepdr yayos ? We should naturally expect that the sacred story acted in the mystic pageant would close with the scene of reconciliation, such as a holy
See also:marriage of the god and the goddess .
But the evidence that this was so is mainly indirect, apart from a doubtful passage in Asterius, a writer of questionable authority in the 4th century A.D . (Econom.
See also:martyr. p . 194,
See also:Combe) . At any
See also:rate, if a holy marriage formed part of the passion-play, it may well have been acted with solemnity and delicacy . We have no reason to believe that even to a modern taste any part of the ritual would appear coarse or obscene; even Clement, who brings a vague
See also:charge of obscenity against all mysteries in general, does not try to substantiate it in regard to the Eleusinia, and we hear from another Christian writer of the scrupulous purity of the hierophant . It would be interesting to know if the
See also:birth of a holy
See also:child, a babe Iacchus, for example, was a motive of the mystic drama . The question seems at first sight to be decided by a definite statement of Hippolytus (Philosoph . 5, 8), that at a certain moment in the mysteries the hierophant cried aloud: " The
See also:lady-goddess Brimo has
See also:borne Brimos the holy child." But a careful
See also:consideration of the context almost destroys the value of his authority . For he does not pretend to be a first-hand witness, but admits that he is
See also:drawing from Gnostic
See also:sources, and he goes on at once to speak of Attis and his self-mutilation . The
See also:formula may then refer to the Sabazian-Phrygian mystery, which the Gnostics with their usual spirit of religious
See also:syncretism would have no scruple in identifying with the Eleusinian . And the statement of Hippolytus is deceptive . Finally, we must not suppose that there could be any very elaborate scenic arrangements in the hall for the
See also:representation of
See also:Paradise and the Inferno, whereby the rewards of the faithful and the punishments of the damned might be impressively brought home to the mystae .
The excavations on the site have proved that the
See also:building was without substructures or under-ground passages . A large number of inscriptions
See also:present us with elaborate accounts of Eleusinian
See also:expenditure; but there is no item for scenic expenses or
See also:painting . We are led to suppose that the pageant-play produced its effect by means of gorgeous raiment, torches and stately figures . But the mystic
See also:action included more than the pageant-play . The hierophant revealed certain holy objects to the eyes of the assembly . There is reason to suppose that these included certain primitive idols of the goddesses of immemorial sanctity; and, if we accept a statement of Hippolytus (loc. cit.) we must believe that the epoptae were also shown " that great and marvellous mystery of perfect revelation, a cut corn-stalk." The value of this definite assertion, which appears to be an explicit revelation of the secret, would be very great, if we could
See also:trust it; but unfortunately it occurs in the same suspicious context as the Brimo-Brimos formula, and we again suspect the same uncritical confusion of Eleusinian with Phrygian ritual, for we know that Attis himself was identified in his mysteries with the " reaped corn," the vraXvs aµrlros, almost the very phrase used by Hippolytus . Only, it is in the highest degree probable, whether Hippolytus knew anything or not, that a corn-token was shown among the sacred things of a mystery which possessed an original agrarian significance and was intended partly to consecrate and to
See also:foster the agricultural
See also:life . But to say this is by no means the same as to admit the view of Lenormanti and Dr Jevons2 that the Eleusinians worshipped the actual corn, or revered it as a
See also:clan-totem . For of
See also:direct corn-worship or of corn-
See also:totemism there is no trace either at Eleusis or elsewhere in Greece . Among the
See also:Spes €va or " things done " may we also include a
See also:solemn sacrament, the celebration of a holy communion, in which the votary was
See also:united to the divinity by partaking of some holy food or drink ? We owe to Clement of Alexandria (Protrept. p . 18, Potter) an exact transcription of the pass-word of the Eleusinian mystae; it ran as follows (if we accept
See also:Lobeck's emendation of Eyyeva-a,useoc for Epyaah 'Os): " I have fasted, I have drunk the
See also:barley-drink, I have taken [the things] from the sacred chest, having tasted thereof I have placed them into the
See also:basket and again from the basket into the chest." We gather from this that some kind of sacrament was at least a preliminary condition of initiation; the mystae drank of the same cup as the goddess drank in her sorrow, partly—as we say—" in memory of her," partly to unite themselves more closely with her .
We know also from an inscription that the priest of the Samothracian mysteriesbroke sacred
See also:bread and poured out drink for the mystae (Arch. epigr . Mitth . 1882, p . 8, No . 14) . But neither in these nor in the Eleusinian is there any trace of the more mystic sacramental conception, any indication that the votaries believed themselves to be partaking of the actual
See also:body of their divinity;3 for there is no evidence that Demeter was identified with the corn, still less with the barley-
See also:meal of which the KUKEWY was compounded . Nor is it likely that the sacrament was the
See also:pivot of ,the whole mystery or was part of the essential act of the l,cumvts itself . In the first place we have an almost certain representation of the Eleusinian sacrament on an archaic vase in Naples,' probably of Attic provenance, and the
See also:reproduction of a holy act would have been impious and dangerous, if this had belonged to the inner circle of the mystery . Again, there is no mention of sacrament or sacrifice among the five essential parts of afmacc given by Theo 1 Daremberg et Saglio, Dictionnaire, 1, p. io66 . 2 Introduction to the Study of Religion . 3 This is Dr
See also:Jevons's supposition—op. cit—on which he bases an important theory of the whole Eleusinian mysteries and their
See also:intrinsic attraction . 4 Farnell, Cults. vol. iii. pl. xvb .
Smyrnaeus, nor in the imaginary narrative of the late rhetorician be found in the ancient sources suggesting that therecital of magic formulae was part of the ceremony . The Xoyos, what-ever it was, was comparatively unimportant . And the Greek public in general, in its vigorous period when the Eleusinian religion reached its
See also:zenith, was not tormented, as modern
See also:Europe has at times been, by ghostly terrors of
See also:judgment . The assurance of the hope of the Eleusinian votary was obtained by the feeling of friendship and mystic sympathy, established by mystic contact, with the mother and the daughter, the powers of life after death . Those who won their friendship by initiation in this life would by the
See also:simple logic of faith regard themselves as certain to win blessing at their hands in the next . It is obvious that the mysteries made no direct appeal to the intellect, nor on the other hand revolted it by any oppressive dogmatism . As regards their psychic effect, we have Aristotle's invaluable judgment: " The initiated do not learn anything so much as feel certain emotions and are put into a certain
See also:frame of mind " (Synes .
See also:Dion. p . 48a) . The appeal was to the eye and to the
See also:imagination through a
See also:form of religious mesmerism working by means that were solemn, stately and beautiful . To understand the quality and the intensity of the impression produced, we should
See also:borrow something from the modern experiences of Christian communion-service, mass, and passion-play, and bear in mind also the extraordinary susceptibility of the Greek mind to an artistically impressive pageant . _ That the Eleusinia preached a higher morality than that of the current standard is not proved .
That they exercised a direct and elevating influence on the individual character is nowhere explicitly maintained, as Diodorus (v . 49) mainta?,ns concerning the Samothracian . But on general grounds it is reasonable to believe that such powerful religious experience as they afforded would produce moralfruit in many minds . The genial Aristophanes (Frogs, 455) intimates as much, and
See also:Andocides (De myster. p . 36, § 31; p . 44, § 125) assumes that those who had been initiated would take a juster and sterner view of moral innocence and guilt, and that foul conduct was a greater sin when committed by a man who was in the official service of the mother and the daughter . Besides the greater mysteries at Eleusis, we hear of the lesser mysteries of Agrae on the
See also:banks of the Ilissos . Established, perhaps, originally by Athens herself at a time when Eleusis was independent and closed her rites to strangers, they became wholly subordinated to the greater, and were put under the same management and served merely as a necessary preliminary to the higher initiation into them . Sacrifice was offered to the same great goddesses at both; but we have the authority of
See also:Duris (Athenae, 253d), the Samian historian, and the evidence of an Attic painting, called the pi;:ax of Nannion,4 that the predominant goddess in the mysteries at Agrae was Kore . And this agrees with the time of their celebraticn, in the
See also:middle of Anthesterion, when Kore was supposed to return in the young corn . Stephanus (s.v . "Aypa), drawing from an unknown source, declares that the Dionysiac story was the theme of their mystic drama .
Hence theorists have supposed that their content was wholly Orphic or that their central motive was the marriage of Dionysus and Kore . The theory has no archaeological or literary support except the passage in Stephanus, nor have we reason for believing that the marriage of these two divinities was recognized in Attic state ritual . The influence of Eleusis in early times must have been great, for we find offshoots of its cult, whether mystic or not, in other parts of Greece . In
See also:Boeotia, Laconia, Arcadia, Crete and
See also:Thera, Demeter brought with her the title of "Eleusinia"; and no other explanation is so probable as the obvious one that this name designates " the goddess of Eleusis," and though there may have been other places called " Eleusis," the only famous religious centre was the Attic . The initiation rites of Demeter at Celeae near Phlius, at Lerna in Argolis, and at Naples, were organized after the
See also:pattern of the Eleusinian . But of these and the other Demeter mysteries in the Greek world, 4 Farnell, Cults of the Greek States, vol. iii. p . 242, pl. xvi . Sopatros,l who supposes the
See also:strange case of a man being initiated by the goddesses in a dream: they admit him to their full communion merely by telling him something and showing him something . Besides the Speepeva, then, there were also certain things said in the hall, or in the earlier stages of initiation, which we would gladly discover . Part of these were mystic formulae, one of which has been discussed already, the pass-word of the votaries . We gather also from
See also:Proclus and Hippolytus2 that in the Eleusinian rites they gazed up to
See also:heaven and cried aloud "
See also:rain "—lie—and gazed down upon the earth and cried "conceive "—x6e . This ritual charm—we cannot call it prayer—descends from the old agrarian magic which underlay the primitive mystery .
What else the votaries may have uttered, whether by way of thanksgiving or solemn
See also:litany, we do not know.3 But there was also a certain lepos Aoyos, some exposition accompanying the unfolding of the mysteries; for it was part of the
See also:prestige of the hierophant that he was chief spokesman, " who poured forth winning utterance and whose
See also:voice the catechumen ardently desired to hear " (Anth .
See also:Pal., app . 246) and Galen speaks of the rapt
See also:attention paid by the initiated " to the things done and said in the Eleusinian and Samothracian mysteries " (De usu part . 7 . 14) . But we have no trustworthy evidence as to the real content of the Xeyos of the hierophant . We need not believe that the whole of his discourse was taken up with corn-symbolism, as Varro seems to imply (Aug . De civic . Dei . 20), of that he taught natural philosophy rather than
See also:theology, or again, the special doctrine of
See also:Euhemerus, as two passages in
See also:Cicero (De natur. dear. i . 42; Tusc . 13) might prompt us to suppose .
His chief theme was probably an expo-• sition of the meaning and value of the le pa, as in an Australian initiation rite it is the privilege of the elders to explain the nature of the " churinga " to the youths . And his discourse on these may have been coloured to some extent by the theories current in the philosophic
See also:speculation of the day . But though in the time of Julian he appears to have been a philosopher of Neo-platonic tendencies, we ought not to suppose that the hierophant as a rule would be able or inclined to rise above the anthropomorphic religion of the times . Whatever symbolism attached to the iepa, the sacred objects shown, was probably simple and natural; for instance, in the Eleusinian, as in
See also:eschatology, the token of the growing corn may have served as an emblem—though not a proof—of man's resurrection . The doctrine of the continuance of the soul after death was already accepted by the popular belief, and the hierophant had no need to preach it as a
See also:dogma; the votaries came to Eleusis to ensure themselves a happy immortality . And in our earliest record, the Homeric hymn, we find that the mysteries already hold out this higher promise . How, we may ask, were the votaries assured ? M . Foucart in
See also:Les grands rnysleres d'Eleusis has maintained that the object of the mysteries was much the same as that of the Egyptian
See also:Book of the Dead; to provide the mystae with elaborate rules for avoiding the dangers that beset the road to the other world, and for attaining at last to the happy regions; that for this purpose the hierophant recited magic formulae whereby the soul could repel the demons that it might encounter on the path; and that it was to seek this deliverance from the terrors of
See also:hell that all Greece flocked to Eleusis . This is in accord with his whole " egyptizing " theory concerning the Eleusinia, a theory which, though Egyptian influence cannot a priori be ruled out, is not found in harmony with the facts of the two religious systems . And the particular hypothesis just stated is altogether wanting in direct evidence, or—we may say—in vraiserblance . There is no hint or allusion to Rhet. greet. viii .
12I . 4In Tim . 293'; Ref . Omn . Haer . 5, 7, p . 146 . 3 The other formula which the scholiast on
See also:Plato (
See also:Gong . 497 c.) assigns to the Eleusinian rite: " I have eaten from the
See also:timbrel, I have drunk from the cymbal, I have carried the sacred vessel, I have crept under the bridal-chamber," belongs, not to Eleusis, hut, as Clement and
See also:Firmicus Maternus themselves attest, to
See also:Phrygia and to Attis . 4, there is little to record that is certain and at the same time of primary importance for the history of religion . The Arcadian city of Pheneus possessed a mystery that boasted an Eleusinian character and origin, yet in the record of it there is no mention of Kore, and we may suspect that, like other Demeter-worships in the Peloponnese, it belonged to a period when the earth-goddess was revered as a single personality and Kore had not yet emanated from her . We know much more of the details of the great Andanian mysteries in Messenia, owing to the
See also:discovery of the important and much-discussed Andanian inscription of 91 B.C.' But what we know are facts of secondary importance only .
We gather from Pausanias (4 . 33 . 4; cf . 4 . 1 . 5. and 4 . 26 . 8; 4 . 27 . 6) that the rites, which he regards as secend in solemnity and prestige to the Eleusinian alone, were consecrated to the MeyaXa:
See also:Beat the great goddesses, . . . and that Kore enjoyed the mystic title of Hagne, " the holy one." The inscription has been supposed to correct and to refute Pausanias, but it does not really controvert his statements, which are attested by other evidence; it proves only that other divinities came at a later time to have a
See also:share in the mysteries, such as the Meyaxot Not who were probably the Cabeiri (q.v.) . It is clear that the Andanian mysteries included a sacred drama, in which women personated the goddesses .
The priestesses were married women, and were required to take an
See also:oath that they had lived " in relation to their husbands a just and holy life." We hear also of grades of initiation, purification-ceremonies, but of no sacrament or eschatologic promise; yet it is probable that these mysteries, like the Eleusinian, maintained and secured the hope of future happiness . The Eleusinian faith is not wholly unattested by the
See also:grave-inscriptions of Hellas, though it speaks but rarely on these . The most interesting example is the epitaph of a hierophant who proclaims that he has found that " death was not an evil, but a blessing."' Of equal importance for the private religion of Greece were the Orphic mystic
See also:societies, bearing a Thraco-Phrygian tradition into Greece, and associated originally with the name of Dionysus, and afterwards with Sabazius also and the later cult-ideas of Phrygia.3 The full account of the Dionysiac mysteries would demand a critical study of the Dionysiac religion as a whole, as well as of the private sects
See also:diet sprang up under its
See also:shadow . It is only possible here to indicate the salient characteristics of those which are of primary value for the history of religion . Originally a great nature-god of the Thraco-Phrygian stock, powerful over all vegetation and especially revealing his power in the
See also:vine, Dionysus was forcing his way into Greece at least as early as the Homeric period, and by the 6th century was received into the public cults of most of the Greek communities . We can gather with some certainty or probability his aboriginal characteristics and the form of his worship . Being a god of the life of the earth, he was also a nether divinity, the
See also:lord of the world of souls, with whom the dead votary entered into privileged communion; his rites were mystic, and nightly celebrations were frequent, marked by
See also:wild ecstasy and orgiastic self-
See also:abandonment, in which the votary became at one with the divinity and temporarily possessed his powers; women played a prominent part in the ritual; a savage form of sacra-mental communion was in vogue, and the animal victim of whose flesh and blood the votaries partook was at times regarded as the incarnation of the divinity, so that the god himself might be supposed to die and to rise again; finally we may regard certain cathartic ideas as part of the primeval tradition 1 See Sauppe, Mysterieninschrift von Andania; cf . Foucart's commentary in Le Bas, Voyage archeol . 2, No . 326k; H . Collitz, Dialect-inschriften, 4689 . 2 Eph. arch .
(1883), p . 81 . L The best account of the origin and development of the Dionysiac religion is in Rohde's Psyche, vol. i.; for Orphic ritual and doctrine seearticle on "
See also:Orpheus " in Roscher's Ausfuhrliches Lexikon der griechischen and romischen Mythologie;
See also:Harrison, Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion, pp . 455-659, with critical appendix by G .
See also:Murray on the Orphic tablets discovered in Crete, near Rome, and in south Italy.of this religion . Admitted among the soberer cults of the Greek communities, it lost most of its wildness and savagery, while still retaining a more emotional ecstatic character than the
See also:rest . But this cooling
See also:process was arrested by a new
See also:wave of Dionysiac fervour that spread over Greece from the 7th century onwards, bringing with it the name of Orpheus,' and engendering at some later date the Orphic brotherhoods (thiasi) . This religious
See also:movement may have started like the earlier one from the lands
See also:north of Greece; but Crete and even
See also:Egypt are supposed to have contributed much to the Orphic doctrine and ritual . Our earliest authority for the proceedings of the mystery-practitioner who used the name of Orpheus is the well-known passage in Plato's Republic (p . 364a), in which he speaks contemptuously of the itinerant ritualists who knock at the doors of the
See also:rich, the vendors of magic incantations, who promise absolution from sins and happiness in the next world to be attained by a ritual of purification and mystic initiation . This record brings to our notice a phenomenon unknown elsewhere in Greek religion; the missionary spirit, the impulse to preach to all who would hear, which foreshadows the breaking down of the gentile religious barriers of the ancient world . And it is probable that some kind of " Orphic " propagandism, whether through books or itinerant mystery-priests, or both, had been in vogue some time before Plato .
We may fairly conjecture that it has to some extent inspired the glowing eschatology ofPindar, who describes the next world as a place of penance and purgation from ancestral or personal taint and of final
See also:reward for the purified soul, and who unites this belief with a doctrine of reincarnation . In the Hippolytus of
See also:Theseus taunts his son with cloaking his immorality under hypocritical " Orphic " pretensions to purity, the pharisaic affectation, for instance, of a vegetarian diet (952-954) . Still more important is the fragment of the Cretans of Euripides, attesting the strength of the antiquity of these mystic Dionysiac associations in Crete . The initiated votary proclaims himself as sanctified to
See also:Zeus of
See also:Ida, to Zagreus--the Orphic name of the nether-world Dionysus —and to the
See also:Rhea-Cybele; he has fulfilled " the solemn rite of the banquet of raw flesh," and henceforth he " robes himself in pure
See also:white and avoids the taint of child-birth and funerals and abstains from
See also:meat." And—what is most significant—he calls himself by the very name of his god—he is himself Baexor . In spirit and in most of its details the passage accords well with the Bacchae of Euripides, which reflects not so much the public worship of Greece, but rather the mystic Dionysiac brotherhoods . Throughout this inspired drama the votary rejoices to be one with his divinity and to call himself by his name, and this mystic union is brought about partly, though Euripides may not have known it, through " the meal of raw flesh " or the drinking of the blood of the
See also:goat or the kid or the bull . The sacramental intention of this is confirmed by abundant
See also:proof; even in the state-cult of Tenedos they dressed up a bull-calf as Dionysus and reverentially sacrificed it (Ael . Nat. an . 12 . 34); those who partook of the flesh were partaking of what was temporarily the body of their god . The Christian fathers at once
See also:express their abhorrence of this savage is sotpayla and reveal its true significance (Arnob . Adv. nat .
5 . 119); and Firmicus Maternus (Deerror., p . 84) attests that the Cretans of his own day celebrated a funeral festival in
See also:honour of Dionysus in which they enacted the life and the death of the god in a passion-play and "
See also:rent a living bull with their teeth." But the most speaking record of the aspirations and ideas of the Orphic mystic is preserved in the famous gold tablets found in tombs near
See also:Sybaris, one near Rome, and one in Crete . These have been frequently published and discussed; and here it is only possible to allude to the salient features that concern the general history of religion . They contain fragments of a sacred hymn that must have been in vogue at least as early as the 3rd century B.C., and which was inscribed in
See also:order to ' The name 'Op4'ths first occurs in
See also:Ibycus, Frag. lo: hvoµaxavrbv , o,* p be buried with the defunct, as an amulet that might protect him from the dangers of his
See also:journey through the under-world and open to him the
See also:gates of Paradise . The verses have the power of an
See also:incantation . The initiated soul proclaims its divine descent: " I am the son of Earth and Heaven ": " I am perishing with thirst, give me to drink of the
See also:waters of memory ": " I come from the pure ": " I have paid the
See also:penalty of unrighteousness ": " I have flown out of the weary, sorrowful circle of life." His reward is assured him: " 0 blessed and happy one, thou hast put off thy mortality and shalt become divine." The strange formula fpicks Es yhX' grow, " I a kid fell into the milk," has been interpreted by Dieterich (Eine Mithras—Liturgie, p . 174) with great probability as alluding to a conception of Dionysus himself as ipi.iptos, the divine kid, and to a ritual of milk-
See also:baptism in which the initiated was
See also:born again . We discern, then, in these mystic brotherhoods the germs of a high religion and the prevalence of conceptions that have played a great part in the religious history of Europe . And as late as the days of Plutarch they retained their power of consoling the afflicted (Consol. ad uxor., c. zo) . The Phrygian-Sabazian mysteries, associated with Attis, Cybele and Sabazius, which invaded later Greece and early imperial Rome, were originally akin to these and contained many concepts in common with them . But their orgiastic ecstasy was more violent, and the psychical aberrations to which the votaries were prone through their passionate
See also:desire for divine communion were more dangerous .
Emasculation was practised by the devotees, probably in order to assimilate themselves as far as possible to their goddess by abolishing the distinction ofsex, and the high-priest himself
See also:bore the god's name . Or communion with the deity might be attained by the priest through the bath of blood in the taurobolion (q.v.), or by the gashing of the
See also:arm over the altar . A more questionable method which
See also:lent itself to obvious abuses, or at least to the imputation of indecency, was the simulation of a sacred marriage, in which the catechumen was corporeally united with the great goddess in her bridal chamber (Dieterich, op . Cit. pp . 121-134) . Prominent also in these Phrygian mysteries were the conception of rebirth and the belief, vividly impressed by solemn pageant and religious drama, in the death and resurrection of the beloved Attis . The Hilaria in which these were represented fell about the time of our
See also:Easter; and Firmicus Maternus reluctantly confesses its resemblance to the Christian celebration.' The Eleusinian mysteries are far more characteristic of the older Hellenic mind . These later rites breathe an
See also:Oriental spirit, and though their forms appear strange and distorted they have more in common with the subsequent religious phenomena of Christendom .
MYSTICISM (from Or. µuety, to shut the eyes; µuor...
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