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Ancients' feasts, games and rituals (9)

Festivals for gods and gods' deeds

A general article on Mysteries

Mysteria (musteria). Though the term musteria is that which has survived, still it was only one and that a late one, and perhaps the least common of the terms used by the Greeks to express their mystic rites. The word orgia is found in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, ll. 274, 476, derived from eorga (cf. Lat. operari), which signifies to perform ritual, and it was only in later times that it came to connote ecstatic worship. The term musteria is derived from muein, used of closing the lips or eyes; mustes, according to Petersen, means with eyes shut, as opposed to epoptes. Musteria is applied both to the objects of secret worship (Themist. Or. iv. 55) and also the secret ritual; aporreta is similarly used. According to Lobeck mustikon is anything recondite, enigmatical, indirect, allegorical; in fact, what is purposely not simple, plain, and straightforward. Again there is the term telete.. It is used of an ordinary festival (Pind. Nem. x. 34); as applied to sacred worship, it signifies the consummation of the votary's progress in his religion. (Cf. such phrases as telos gamoio, tele used for the magistrates of the state, and telete taken by the philosophers to express complete knowledge of the subject). Diutius initiant quam consignant, says Tertullian (contra Valentin. 1), translating pleiona chronon muousin e telousin: compare sphragis and teleiosis, used for baptism. The Latins used initia, which signified an ideal beginning (initia ut appellantur ita re vera principia vitae cognovimus, Cic. de Leg. ii. 1. 4, 36), -a sort of new birth, as Preller says. Thus then we have terms signifying both the objective secret nature of the ritual and the subjective condition of the votary.

1. The Kinds of Mysteries.
We can hardly consider under the head of mysteries those mystic usages which occur here and there in certain festivals, such as the marriage of the basileus and basilissa at the Dionysia; nor the multitude of purifications and sin-offerings found in most religions, all with more or less of a mystic meaning. Again the mystic worships performed by private families are hardly to be reckoned either, and do not come under our notice except in some few cases, such as the Orphic rites of the Lycomidae (see Eleusinia). But the mysteries properly so called, viz. those which were recognised by the state and required a regular initiation, may be divided into
(1) those performed by a special sex, e. g. the Thesmophoria celebrated by women only, as was also the worship of Dionysus in Laconia (Pans. ii. 20, 3), of Cora in Megalopolis (ib. viii. 31, 8), Rhea in Thaumasion (ib. 36, 3), Dionysus on Parnassus (ib. x. 4, 3). Special mystic ceremonies for men only are rarely found, such as that to Demeter, Cora, and Dionysus at Sicyon (ib. ii. 11, 3).
(2) Those open to all Greeks, such as the Eleusinian and Samothracian mysteries. It is often stated that the only gods who had a mystic worship were the Chthonian ones; but this statement is not quite true, though the Chthonian gods are the gods principally worshipped in mysteries, as might be inferred even a priori from their very nature. But there are some Olympian gods to whom mystic worship was performed, e. g. Zeus Idaeus (Eur. Cretes, Frag. 2), a mixture of Phrygian Cybele-worship and Cretan or Thracian Zagreus worship, in honour of Zeus, celebrated (phaneros, according to Diod. v. 77, i. e. during the day, not at night; the Argive Hera (Paus. ii. 38, 2), even the Graces (ib. ix. 35, 3). Foreign mystic worships are those of Cybele, which were wild and enthusiastic, with flutes, drums, and cymbals (Herod. iv. 76); the trieteric worship of Dionysus; of Hecate at Aegina (Paus. ii. 30, 2) and in the Zerynthian cave in Samothrace (Schol, on Lycophr. 77). This goddess was especially worshipped in the Roman Empire just before it became Christian; during which period too, and indeed earlier also, the mysteries of Isis, Sabazius, and Mithras were much in vogue. For these the reader must be referred to the articles Rhea, Hecate, Isis, Sabazius in Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, There is a good article on Mitiras in the Dict. of Christian Biography. A remarkable Roman mystery confined to women was that of the celebrated Bona Dea, which Cicero (Att. vi. 1, 26) calls Romana mysteria. See Dict. of Myth. s. v. Bona Dea.
  As to the general character of the gods of the mysteries, we cannot do better than quote Lenormant: Like all the worships of antiquity, the Eleusinian mysteries were founded on the adoration of Nature, its forces and its phenomena, conceived rather than observed, interpreted by the imagination rather than by the reason, transferred into divine figures and histories by a kind of theological poetry, which went off into pantheism on the one side and into anthropomorphism on the other. The nature and concatenation of their rites and plays were connected with precise beliefs; which tended to efface the distinction between the divine personages of the poetical and popular mythology, in such a manner as to lead to what has been called mustike theokrasia, and to reduce these gods who were exoterically individuals to mere general abstractions. But the form under which these beliefs were presented was such that, among the ancients themselves, some have been able to find in it a kind of philosophy of nature or physiologia, and others bring out of it euhemerism and with it atheism. So far we will go, emphasising the fact, that this physiologia was of late growth in the mysteries; but no further. However, to such students as do not easily get dizzy and who may wish to pursue the subject into its details, we recommend Lenormant's articles on Bacchus, Ceres, and the Cabiri, in Daremberg and Saglio; also chapter vi. of his Voie Sacree, where his views issue in the purest pantheism, which he supposes to be the doctrine taught by the Hierophant at Eleusis and to be the primitive Aryan dogma that lay at the base of the mysteries.

2. The Origin of the Mysteries.
That they were mostly old Pelasgian worships, which were driven into the background by the conquering races, and accordingly carried on as mysteries, is a very reasonable view, and is supported by what Herodotus says of the Thesmophoria (ii. 171) and the Cabiri (ii. 51). By the Pelasgians we mean what Curtius means (Hist. of Greece, i. 35 ff.), viz. the first great body of emigrants westward from among the Phrygians, that tribe which forms the link by which the Aryans of the West were connected with the Asiatics proper. They are the primitive indigenous race of Hellas, the dark background of history, children of the black earth (as the poets called Pelasgus), who amidst all the changes of the ruling generations calmly clave to the soil, leading their life unobserved under unchanging conditions, as husbandmen and herdsmen. They brought with them their Phrygian forms of worship, as they passed through Thrace into Hellas. Curtius represents their religion to have been of the purest and noblest type -the worship of the Pelasgian Zeus upon the- mountain-tops, a god without images or temples, a god unnamed except as the pure, the great, the merciful, &c --and that Greek polytheism was a development in decadence as far as spirituality went. When the fascination of Curtius's eloquence is passed, we are unable to feel: that the religion which the Pelasgians brought from Phrygia was much better than that of ordinary savages. Mr. Andrew Lang mentions several points in which the Greek mysteries are in harmony with Australian, American, and African practice: the mystic dances (cf. tous exagoreuontas ta musteria exorcheisthai legousin hoi polloi, Lucian, de Salt. 15), the fastings, the elaborate and anxious purifications; the use of the konos described by Lobeck as xularion hou exeptai to spartion kai en tais teletais edoneito hina rhoizei, similar to the turndun of the Australians, to call the votaries together; the plastering of initiates with clay or dirt of some kind and washing it off to symbolise purification (cf. Dem. de Cor. 313, 259, and Soph. Frag. 32, stratou kathartes kapomagmaton idris), and the purifications by blood of swine mentioned in Aesch. Eum. 273 -an undoubted savage custom, though not immediately connected with the mysteries- the use of serpents in the mysteries, and so forth. Mr. Lang goes on to repeat again and again in his gentle vein of satire how easy it is to think anything as a symbol of anything, and wonders why the allegory should choose the practices of early savage tribes. Nor is it any disgrace to the Greek race to allow this; rather that the list of savage survivals is not many times as large and very much more apparent. Most of the savage elements disappeared soon, and what remained became blended with purer and later speculations.
  This old religion was thrust into the background by the conquering tribes, the gods of the latter becoming predominant and the stategods of the nation, while the old religion for the most part gradually disappeared. But by some families and tribes its ritual was in a large measure retained, and they probably formed themselves into brotherhoods, like those of the Roman Church, and preserved their rites doubtless with great strictness. Surely they were sodalities or confraternities that lived the Orphic life. Now, the Greeks never persecuted doctrine, unless indeed any doctrine was much blazed abroad and seemed likely to involve danger to the state-worship; and no danger seemed to arise from the remnants of this primitive worship. Indeed, they were sometimes adopted into the state-religion on occasions. of religious terror, when a feeling of sin and need for purification laid hold of the people. Thus it was that the mysteries of Eleusis and Samothrace were adopted. The gradual development of the Eleusinian worship (that mystic ritual with which we are best acquainted), from its original Phrygian-Pelasgian beginnings to its adoption into the Athenian religion, we, have attempted to sketch in outline in Eleusinia § 1.

3. Silence enjoined on the Votaries.
This is an important feature in the mysteries; the votaries could not divulge the mysteries to noninitiates. Its original reason doubtless lies in the separatism of early worships, a fear lest any outsider should learn how to get the favour of the god; and the reason why it was retained in later and more enlightened periods was to enhance the solemnity of the ritual. Strabo says x. 717, 77 he krupsis he mustike ton hieron semnopoiei to theion mimoumene ten phusin autou ekpheugousan ten aisthesin. Every expression, says Renan, is a limit, and the only language not unworthy of things divine is silence. It prevented familiarity breeding contempt, as in the ordinary religion. Chrysippus, Etym. Mag. 751, thinks it was intended for an ethical purpose, viz. to teach the government of the tongue, tes psuches echouses herma kai pros tous amuetous siopan dunamenes.

4. The Ceremony.
Whatever is to be said specially about the initiated, the priests, and the ceremony, we have endeavoured to set forth in the particular articles, especially Eleusinia. There will be found some description of the mystic drama, such as it was in later times when it was part of the state-religion and full of foreign accretions. It was of a splendid, solemn, vague nature, such as fettered the imagination of the votary; and, if it only put the worshipper in a certain state and did not teach anything (tous tetelesmenous ou mathein ti dein alla pathein kai diatethenai, as Aristotle says, ap. Synes. Orat.), yet it made a man here and there think of things spiritual and proceed on the task of working out his own salvation. To such a man further progress was possible and a higher and deeper knowledge open, imparted by gradual stages, after due time being given to allow the awakened thought and imparted knowledge to germinate and fructify. All this is very Eastern, but it is none the less very rational. Among the peasants who attend a midnight mass, how many are there who think of the mystery of the Incarnation? asks M. Renan. Yet, if a man here and there does think about it, he can learn more about it from his teachers. But to the majority of the worshippers (and everyone who spoke the Greek language and was not stained with gross crime was welcome, no previous katechesis being required) the impression of the whole, not the perception of each particular, was the important part. We may allow that the whole drama of Eleusis would appear a miserable travesty to us, even its fireworks; but we answer in the bold words of Renan, You are not to ask for reason from the religious feeling. The spirit bloweth where it listeth; and if it chooses to attach the ideal to this or to that, what have you to say?
  But was there any reality at the back of it all, any doctrine like the Incarnation, symbolised by the midnight ceremonies? There certainly was in later times. The reality which the priests then appear to have taught was some kind of system of cosmogony: cf. Cic. de Nat. Deorum, i. 42, 119 (of the Samothracian mysteries), quibus explicatis ad rationemque revocatis rerum magis natura cognoscitur quam deorum; Clem. Alex. Stromat. v. 689, ta de megala [musteria] peri ton sumpanton ou manthanein eti hupoleipetai, epopteuein de kai perinoein ten te phusin kai ta pragmata. But the true value of the mysteries did not lie here, in this kind of dogmatic teaching, but in the moral improvement apparent in the votaries (Diod. v. 48), in the comfort they gave in the present life and the glad hopes for the world to come (Isocr. Panegyr. 28).

5. Monotheism and Immortality.
It is generally supposed that the mysteries were the fountain from which Greek philosophy derived the two great ideas of monotheism and immortality. The mystic school of theological teaching is the Orphic; to it we must look for these ideas. Now, as regards monotheism, we have attempted to show in Orphica that the passages which refer to monotheism in the Jewish or Christian sense date from Alexandrine times, and in the pantheistic sense are hardly much earlier: even the celebrated Zeus kephale, Zeus messa, Dios d'ek panta tetuktai, supposed to be alluded to by Plato (Legg. iv. 715 E), as Zeller shows, does not imply more than Homer's line that Zeus is the father of gods and men, or Terpander's (650 B.C.) address, Zeu panton archa panton agetor. The Greeks with their personifying of everything in nature came to have a feeling of the Divine pervading all nature,--one and the same Nature-power, as Petersen puts it. This unity of the Divine element which polytheism presupposes was made concrete in Zeus as king of the gods; and so far all that exists and all that happens is ultimately referred to Zeus, but it does not imply that Zeus is the ideal complex (Inbegriff) of all things. Zeller goes on to contrast the polemic of Xenophanes against polytheism, with the syncretism of the Stoics and Alexandrines, showing how the Greeks arrived at the idea of the Divine unity less by way of syncretism than of criticism. But if the idea of monotheism was naturally developed into a distinct form by Greek thought, and that only in comparatively late times, it was thereafter adopted into the mysteries, and especially some of the Orphic ones, and doubtless taught in them to those who had gone through the various stages and shown themselves naturally fitted to receive and understand it.
  As to immortality, the case is different. Mr. Tylor has shown that the doctrine of Transmigration migration was universal among savage and barbarian races. This doctrine the Aryans probably brought with them into Europe. Herodotus thinks it came from Egypt (ii. 123); but when we find similar notions among the Indians from the earliest times even to the present day, and among the ancient Druids in Gaul (Caes. B. G. vi. 14; Diod. v. 28; Amm. Marc. xv. 9 fin.), we may infer that it was an original idea of the Aryan race, which gradually developed into the purer doctrine of what we call a Future Life; we find a strange example of this latter doctrine among the Thracians (Herod. iv. 94, 95). For the further discussion of immortality in the Orphic doctrine, see Orphica

6. The modern Critics of the Mysteries.
Passing over such treatises as Warburton, On the divine Legation of Moses (ii. 133-234), and Sainte-Croix, Recherches sur les Mysteres du Paganisme (1784), the first really great work on the mysteries was that by Creuzer, Symbolik und Mythologie der alten Volker, 1810-1812, written by a genuinely religious Doctor in Theology of the Roman Church. The title is certainly not a misnomer, for he finds symbolism everywhere. He is in fact too symbolical. He does not distinguish the ideas of different epochs, does not weigh evidence nor take sufficient thought of development in religious ideas. After him followed J. H. Voss, a zealous Protestant, who attacked Creuzer with unpardonable virulence and little success, especially in his Anti-Symbolik (1824). Abuse of priests occupies a large portion of the work. In 1829 Lobeck's great work, Aglaophamus, was published with the view of crushing the symbolical school. Its learning is portentous, its satire grim and savage. But with all his great gifts Lobeck had one thing wanting, the sense of things religious. Everything is judged from the level of the intellect, but religion is of another order. The whole book bears the character of a violent reaction, and so far is necessarily unfair; and Lobeck sometimes quite forgets himself, as for example when he says (p. 119) that the spectacles at Eleusis were seen with the eyes of the mind, not with those of the body. K. O. Muller (art. Eleusinia in Ersch and Gruber), and after him Preller (Demeter und Persephone, 1837; art. Mysteria in Pauly), make accurate distinctions of times, places, and races. They allow a mystic character to the worship of the Pelasgi, who adored Nature regarded as living and divine, especially in their worship of the Chthonian divinities, the naturalism of the Pelasgi being contrasted with the anthropomorphism of the Hellenes, as exemplified in the Homeric Age; but hold that, when this warrior age passed away at the time of Solon, there was a reaction in favour of the ancient cults. Francois Lenormant, in his Voie Sacre Eleusinienne (1864) and in the articles in Daremberg and Saglio mentioned above, is a strong symbolist; cf. also his articles in the Contemporary Review for May, July, September 1881. Other works to be consulted with advantage are Hermann, Die Gottesdienstlichen Alterthumer, 32, 55; Maury, Histoire des Religions de la Grece antique, ii. chap. xi.; Renan, Les Religions de l'Antiquite, No. 1 of his Etudes d'Histoire religieuse; Ramsay, s. v. Mysteries, in the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

This text is from: A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890) (eds. William Smith, LLD, William Wayte, G. E. Marindin). Cited July 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Eleusinian mysteries

Eleusinia, (ta Eleusinia). A title chiefly applied to a festival held by the Athenians in the autumn, in honour of Demeter, Persephone, and Iacchus, consisting of sacrifices, processions, and certain mystical ceremonies. It was one of the most important festivals of Greece. The mythical origin of the Eleusinia is contained in the Homeric hymn to Demeter, which tells how Persephone, while gathering flowers, was, with the connivance of Zeus, carried off by the god of the lower world, Hades or Polydegmon (the great receiver); and how her mother Demeter, daughter of Rhea, searching distractedly for her child, is advised by Hecate to consult Helios, who sees all things; and how Helios in pity tells her that Zeus has granted to Hades to carry off her daughter to be his wife. Forthwith Demeter changes herself into an old woman; and as she wanders forth disconsolate through the world she comes to Eleusis, and sits down on the cheerless stone by a well. The daughters of Celeus, the king of Eleusis, come to the well to draw water. They bring her to their home, where Metanira, wife of Celeus, gives her the latest born child, Demophoon, to nurse. But Demeter is still bowed down with grief; she sits dignified but silent in her room, till the jests and raillery of Iambe, the servant-maid, at last make her smile. She consents to take food and drink, but will have no wine, only a mixture (kukeon) of water with barley-meal and mint. Days go on, and the child Demophoon thrives beyond what mortal child was wont, for a goddess was his nurse; she used to anoint him daily with ambrosia and place him in the fire by night. But a little more time and the child would have been immortal, when one night Metanira saw the nurse place him in the fire and cried aloud with terror. Then the anger of Demeter blazed forth, and the aged nurse transformed herself into the goddess, told who she was, what she had intended to do, and how that the little faith of the mother had robbed the child of immortality, and finally bade the people of Eleusis to erect a temple for her on the hill above the fountain, when she herself would prescribe the services they must perform in order to gain her favour. They did so, and Demeter dwelt there, shunning all association with the other gods who had been parties to the carrying off of her daughter. For a year Demeter dwelt there--a year of want, for nothing grew; and the human race would have perished, had not Zeus agreed that Persephone should return. Gladly did Persephone obey the summons of Hermes; but Hades persuaded her to eat a pomegranate seed before she left, and that prevented her staying away from him for a whole year. So Persephone returns, and great is the joy of mother and daughter, in which the faithful Hecate sympathizes. Rhea is then sent down by Zeus to her daughter and effects the reconciliation. The corn comes up in abundance in the Rarian plain; Demeter returns to Olympus to dwell with the gods, and prescribes to Celeus and to his sons Triptolemus, Diocles, and Eumolpus the solemnities and divine services that were in future time to be paid her; and hence the famous Eleusinian Mysteries were a [p. 579] direct appointment of the great goddess Demeter herself.
   Such was the story of the origin of the mysteries; but how the mysteries came to be Athenian depends on another story, which concerns the union of Eleusis with Athens. Erechtheus warred with the Eleusinians, who were helped by one Eumolpus, a Thracian, son of Poseidon and founder of the mysteries. The difficulties connected with the exact birthplace and genealogical position of Eumolpus we may pass over, remembering that he is, according to this legend, a foreigner. Eleusis was conquered, and to the Athenians fell the political headship, but to the family of Eumolpus and the daughters of the Eleusinian king Celeus was assigned the highpriesthood (hierophantia) of the Eleusinian worship. The other family which held a priesthood in the mysteries, the Kerykes, were said to have been descended from Keryx, the son of Eumolpus; though the family itself considered its ancestors to have been Hermes and Aglauros, daughter of Erechtheus, and so genuine Athenians.
   Mysteries were celebrated in honour of Demeter, Persephone, and Dionysus in Asia Minor (e. g. at Cyzicus); in Egypt on Lake Mareotis; in Sicily at Gela and elsewhere; in Boeotia at Plataea; in many parts of Arcadia; and in Messenia at Andania. But the most splendid and important of all the Eleusinia were those of Attica, which may be regarded as having consisted of two parts: (1) the Lesser Mysteries at Agrae, and (2) the Greater Mysteries at Eleusis.
   (1) The Lesser Mysteries at Agrae (ta en Agrais). These were held in the spring at Agrae, a place on the Ilissus, southeast of the Acropolis. There is no doubt that they were held in the month Anthesterion, when there were the first signs of returning vegetation just after field-work began. The exact date cannot be fixed, but Mommsen's suggestion is most probable, that the chief day was the 20th, the same day of the month as the Greater Mysteries were held on in Boedromion, to which the Lesser Mysteries had many points of similarity, even in matters connected with the calendar--e. g. the same length of the mystery truce. Mommsen supposes that the 19th was a day of preparation, and the 20th and 21st the special mystery days. These Lesser Mysteries were considered as a prelude to the Greater, being on a much smaller scale; but initiation in the Lesser was generally required before the candidate could present himself for initiation into the Greater. The mysteries at Agrae consisted probably to a large extent of purifications, for which the water of the Ilissus was much used. They were held more especially in honour of Persephone, called Pherrephatta here, than of Demeter. It appears that the carrying off of Persephone was the most important representation in these mysteries. Again we hear that at Agrae the fate of Dionysus was pourtrayed (mimema ton peri ton Dionuson, Steph. Byzant. s. v. Agrai). The death of Dionysus-Zagreus took place on the 13th of Anthesterion, the day on which the festival of the Chytri was held; so perhaps on the ninth day after, the 21st (for funeral rites on the ninth day after death, the enata, see Aesch. Ctesiph. 225), the funeral ceremony may have been held and his violent death related in a drama. A great many, especially strangers, were initiated into these mysteries who did not proceed to initiation into the regular Eleusinia; the legend, too, said it was for the purpose of initiating Heracles, who was a stranger and according to the primitive regulations could not be initiated into the Eleusinia, that these Lesser Mysteries were established.
   (2) The Greater Mysteries at Eleusis. Two days are fixed by definite evidence--viz. the 16th Boedromion for the Halade mustai, and the 20th for the Iacchus day. The fixing of other days depends on conjecture, but can be determined with a considerable degree of certainty. A month before the middle of Boedromion--i. e. the middle of Metageitnion--the spondophoroi used to announce the mystery truce to the neighbouring States, so as to give the strangers time to make all arrangements necessary for a visit to Athens. During the latter portion of this month the votary who intended to be initiated used to betake himself to some private man who had gone through all the grades of initiation, was examined by him as to his freedom from sin, received instruction as to what purifications and offerings were necessary to gain the favour of the goddesses, and submitted the actual offerings for his inspection and approval. This instructor was the mustagogos. He certified to the Hierophant the fitness of the applicant and introduced him, this proceeding being apparently called sustasis. Sincere devotees appear to have fasted for nine days, from the 13th to the 21st--i. e. ate nothing during the day, taking whatever food they did take between sunset and sunrise, like the Mahomedans during Ramadan; and votaries generally appear to have abstained from domestic birds, fish, pomegranates, apples, and beans. On the 15th of Boedromion the formal assemblage (agurmos, Hesych. s. v.) was held of those citizens and strangers who intended to take part in the mysteries--though this assemblage does not appear to have been absolutely essential, at least in late times. At the beginning of the 16th, in the evening (the day is reckoned from sunset to sunset), Chabrias's distribution of wine to the people in honour of his victory at Naxos used to take place; and the next morning began the first formal act of the festival--viz. the prorresis or Halade mustai. A proclamation was made by the Archon Basileus and by the Hierophant and Daduchus in the Stoa Poecile (Schol. on Aristoph. Ran. 369), for the departure of all strangers and all murderers; and then the order for purification given, "Ye mystae, to the sea!" The "sea" was sometimes the Piraeus, though probably only in time of Attica being occupied by enemies; but generally the Rheitoi, two salt streams on the Sacred Road, one dedicated to Demeter, the other to Core, which contained fish that the priests alone were allowed to eat. The next day, the 17th, sacrifices (hiereia) were offered for the safety of the State by the Archon Basileus and the epimeletai in the Eleusinium at Athens; and at all these sacrifices the theoroi of foreign States seem to have taken part. The night of the 18th may have been spent by the very devout in sleeping in the Temple of Aesculapius, southwest of the Acropolis, or in the Iaccheum, also called the Temple of Demeter. It was just where the road from the Piraeus entered Athens. The early morning of that day till about 9 a.m. was devoted to ordinary business, as we find decrees issued bearing that date. After this hour the Epidauria was celebrated in the Temple of Demeter or Iacchus and in the Temple of Aesculapius. It was, as has been seen, a supplementary sacrifice for those who came late, and legend said it was instituted for the sake of Aesculapius, who himself came late for the mysteries. Doubtless, however, the thought really lay in this, that Aesculapius was supposed by his wondrous skill to have raised again Iacchus from the dead, and the festival probably was incorporated in the Eleusinia when the worship of Epidaurus became connected with that of Athens. Meanwhile there were being brought from Eleusis certain religious objects--playthings, it was said, of the child Iacchus --bone (astragalos), top (strobilos), ball (sphaira), apples (mela), tambourine (rhombos), looking-glass (esoptron), fleece (pokos), fan (liknon), and such like, as is learned from Clement of Alexandria. Phalli were perhaps also carried among these mystical objects; but we must remember that the statue of Iacchus, as we shall see, which was carried in procession to Eleusis on the 19th, was not kept at Eleusis during the year, but at Athens, having been brought back some day shortly after the conclusion of the mysteries; for there was no Iaccheum at Eleusis. The Athenian Ephebi met this convoy at the Temple of Echo (evidence from inscriptions in Mommsen, p. 252), and conveyed it to Athens by nightfall. In the early morning of the 19th, there were occasionally decrees passed. In the forenoon the Iacchus procession started from the Eleusinium and proceeded to the Iaccheum, where they got the statue of Iacchus; perhaps then definitely organized the procession in the building assigned for that purpose; and then passing through the Ceramicus left Athens by the Sacred Gate, priests and people crowned with myrtle and ivy, the rich ladies till the time of the orator Lycurgus riding in carriages. The statue of Iacchus was probably that of a fair child crowned with myrtle and holding a torch, hence called phosphoros aster in Aristophanes. There were many ceremonies to be performed as the procession passed along the Sacred Way to Eleusis-- ceremonies which had to be given up during the Peloponnesian War, while Attica was invaded by the Peloponnesians. One section of the procession repaired to the Cephissus and took baths therein, another to the bath by Anemocritus's statue near the tomb of Scirus the soothsayer, who came from Dodona to Eleusis to assist the Eleusinians in the war against Erechtheus and was slain. The Phytalidae sacrificed to Phytalus in Laciadae, where lay a temple to the Mourning (Achea) Demeter, and to Core, with whose worship that of Athene and Poseidon was joined. At the palace of Crocon, the Croconidae perhaps bound small bands of saffron thread round the right wrist and right foot of each mystes, which was considered as a protection from the evil eye.
   Occasionally during the procession the majority of those who took part in it indulged in flouts and gibes at one another, a proceeding called gephurismos, the origin of which title is unknown, but is generally associated with the bridge over the Cephissus. Chants in honour of Iacchus were sung constantly during the procession, which swelled louder as when, near midnight, Iacchus arrived at Eleusis amid the blaze of torches. That the procession did not arrive till late at night is plain from the splendid chorus in the Ion, which sings of the torches and of the moon and stars dancing in heaven at the sight. The journey from Athens to Eleusis is really only four hours long, but the various ceremonies performed during the course of the procession extended it to three or four times its normal length. On the next morning certain sacrifices were performed, consisting probably in part of swine, to Demeter. An inscription in Mommsen, p. 257, orders sacrifices to be made by the hieropoioi to Hermes Enagonius, the Graces, Artemis, and certain heroes, Telesidromus and Triptolemus. It is not known what these sacrifices were at Eleusis; at Andania they were, besides others, a sheep to Persephone and a sow to Demeter. In later times the Ephebi made supplementary sacrifices of cattle. The bulls were brought unbound to the altar, and the Ephebi struggled with them to hold them as they were being sacrificed.
   The 22d and 23d were the musteriotides hemerai, and the ceremonies celebrated thereon were pannuchides. During the evening of the 22d was probably what was called lampadon hemera, which consisted of a symbol of search after Core with torches, performed principally by and for the less highly initiated, who conducted the search crowned with myrtle, wearing a fawn-skin, and holding a wand, the mystagogues of the several initiates taking part in the search --the whole proceeding being perhaps an interlude in the story of Demeter and Core, which appears to have been represented in the temple on this night. After it, came with much ceremonial the partaking of the kukeon, a mixture of mint, barley-meal, and water. This was a cardinal feature in the ceremony, being, if we may so say, a participation in the Eleusinian sacrament. It was in remembrance of Demeter being refreshed after her long wandering and fruitless search. Thereafter followed what was called the paradosis ton hieron: certain relics and amulets were given to the votary to touch or kiss or even taste, the votary repeating, as the priest tendered him the objects with a regular question, a formula (sunthema), given by Clement of Alexandria. It appears that some kind of memento of this ceremony was given by the priest to the votaries, which a sincere believer used to keep in a linen cloth. The actual hiera themselves were kept in a chest (teletes enkumona mustida kisten, Nonnus, Dionys. ix. 127) bound with purple ribbons, and consisted among others of sesame cakes of particular shapes, pomegranates, salt, ferules, ivy, poppy-seeds, quinces, etc.: the uninitiated were not allowed to see these "even from the housetop".
   Not very different appear to have been the ceremonies of the 23d. There were many wand-bearers but few bacchants, as the superintendents of the mysteries used to say, and it was for these latter, the more highly initiated mystae of at least a year's standing, generally called epoptai, that the ceremonies of the 23d were held, and they were the highest and greatest. Here, too, was probably a paradosis ton hieron, the sacramental words used in receiving which being ek tumpanou ephagon, ek kumbalou epion, ekernophoresa, hupo ton paston hupeduon. All this undoubtedly points to the Phrygian worship of Sabazius, which was introduced by the Orphics into the Eleusinian mysteries. On the afternoon of the 23d was held that portion of the feast which was called plemochoai or plemochoe, a sacrifice to the dead. The plemochoe was a broad-bottomed earthen jar, and two such were used in the ceremony, one filled with wine and the other with water, the contents of the one thrown to the east and of the other to the west, while mystic words (hue kue) were spoken. This sacrifice formed a fitting conclusion to the mysteries in the special sense, the musteriotides hemerai. It ended with a chairete to the dead, which conclusion was called prochaireteria.
   The next morning, the 24th, occurred perhaps the balletus, also called tuptai, a sort of sham fight, enjoined, it seems, in the Homeric hymn. There was a similar contest, called lithobolia, at the festival of Damia and Auxesia at Troezen. On this same morning and afternoon were the agones stadiakoi. They were called Eleusinia or Demetria, and the prize was some barley grown on the Rarian Plain. There is no reason to suppose that these games were not annual. In early times these games probably lasted two days; but in later times, on the 25th, the theatrical representations of the Dionusou technitai were held, and we have some inscriptions referring to the sacrifices offered by this guild. As time went on, the 26th and 27th appear to have been devoted to such theatrical exhibitions, held perhaps for the purpose of keeping the visitors in the country. The people do not appear to have returned to Athens in a regular procession, though Lenormant thinks they did, and that the gephurismos and the plemochoe were incidents in that return journey. The mystery truce lasted till the middle of Pyanepsion.
   (3) The Priests and Priestesses. (a) The most important priest was the Hierophant (Hierophantes). In lists of the Eleusinian priests he is put first. He was nominated for life from the Eleusinian family of the Eumolpidae, and was generally an elderly man and bound to a life of strict chastity. There was only one Hierophant at a time, and his name was never mentioned, though in late inscriptions we find the Roman gentile name but not the praenomen or the cognomen given. His principal duty was, clothed in an Oriental style, with a long robe and a turban (strophion), as his name indicates, to show and explain the sacred symbols and figures--perhaps in a kind of chant or recitative, as he was required to have a good voice. (b) The Daduchus (daidouchos) or torch-bearer was inferior to the Hierophant, and of the same rank with the Keryx. Originally he was descended from the Eleusinian Triptolemus; but about B.C. 380 this family died out, and the Lycomidae, the family to which Themistocles belonged, which celebrated a local worship of Demeter at Phlyae full of Orphic doctrines and ceremonies, succeeded to the daduchia. It is uncertain whether the name of the Daduchus was sacred. His head-dress was Oriental, as we may infer from a Persian soldier mistaking a Daduchus for a king. His main duty was to hold the torch at the sacrifices, as his name indicates; but he shared with the Hierophant several functions, reciting portions of the ritual, taking part in certain purifications in the prorresis, and even in the exhibition of the mysteries. For these two priests, the Hierophant and the Daduchus, who had to be men of tried sanctity, there was a regular consecration on their entering office. It was the telos tes epopteias, and was called anadesis kai stemmaton epithesis, because the sign of it consisted in placing on the head of the new priest the diadem of purple and the wreath of myrtle which they wore permanently. (c) The Keryx or Hierokeryx (Kerux, Hierokerux). According to Eleusinian tradition, the Kerykes traced their origin back to Keryx, a younger son of Eumolpus; but they themselves considered their ancestors to be Hermes and one of the daughters of Cecrops--Aglauros according to Pausanias, Pandrosos according to Pollux. His duties were chiefly to proclaim silence at the sacrifices. (d) The Epibomios (ho epi bomoi). In early times he was certainly a priest; he is generally mentioned in connection with the other three priests, but not always. No family laid especial claim to this priesthood. His name, as well as that of the Keryx, was probably not sacred. The four Eleusinian priests were among those who were maintained in the Prytaneum--were aeisitoi, as they were called. (e) The Hierophantis (Hierophantis). There was originally only one at a time; she belonged to Demeter, and her name was sacred; but a new one was added when Hadrian's wife Sabina was deified as the younger Demeter. Perhaps at this time or afterwards the priestesses came to be multiplied. (See the Schol. on Soph. Oed. Col. 683). They lived a life of perfect chastity during their tenure of office, though they might have been married previously. It is uncertain to what family the original Hierophantis of Demeter belonged; that of the younger belonged to a branch of the Lycomidae. The duties of the Hierophantis corresponded to those of the Hierophant. Pollux appears to call these priestesses prophantides, and perhaps they were also called melissai (Hesych. s. v.). (f) Female torch-bearer, Daidouchesasa. (g) Priestess (Hiereia). She was not hieronymous, but eponymous. These priestesses belonged to the family of the Phillidae. Their duties corresponded in all probability with those of the Epibomius. (h) The Spondophori (Spondophoroi) were sent out to the adjoining country a month before the ceremony to announce the truce for the mysteries. They belonged to the families of the Eudanemi and Kerykes. (i) Minor offices: (1) phaidruntes toin theoin, perhaps belonging to the Eleusinium of the city. (2) hudranos, whom Hesychius describes as hagnistes ton Eleusinion. He probably superintended the halade mustai. (3) iakchagogos and kourotrophos, female nurses attending on the child Iacchus. (4) Perhaps the same may be said of the daeiritis, but it is very uncertain. It is known that Persephone was originally called Daeira in the Eleusinian worship. (5) hieraules was probably the head of the humnoidoi and humnetrides (Poll. i. 35), a sort of choir. (6) Who the panageis and the purphoroi were, beyond what can be inferred from their names, cannot be determined. Lenormant says the panageis were intermediate between the ministers and the initiates. Though not strictly a priest, yet as exercising an important function in the mysteries, (j) the mystagogi (mustagogoi) may be mentioned here. They had to be men who had passed through all the grades of initiation. They were probably under the cognizance of the State, in a manner licensed. Prior to presenting himself for initiation, each votary had to place himself under the guidance of one of these mystagogues, and get instruction from him as to the various purifications and ceremonies he was to perform. It was only by the carelessness of mystagogues that unworthy applicants ever got admission to the mysteries. After due examination, if the mystagogue was satisfied, he presented the applicant or returned his name to the Archon Basileus or his assistants. This was called sustasis. If a mystagogue could not say what purificatory sacrifices were required for a special candidate, recourse was had to (k) an Exegetes (Exegetes), who appears to have been elected by the people from the Eumolpidae or Kerykes, and whose business it was to decide such difficult cases and generally to give responsa on eleusinian ecclesiastical law. There were many books of the mysteries which were intended to have been strictly kept from the uninitiated, and which appear to have contained not only what ritual was to be performed in various cases, but also, perhaps, the allegorical and symbolical interpretations of some of the myths.
   The priests of the mysteries, especially the Eumolpidae, appear to have had a special ecclesiastical court (hiera gerousia) for trying offences of impiety, in connection with the festival, which court they conducted according to unwritten laws of immemorial antiquity. To prosecute before this court was called dikazesthai pros Eumolpidas. Their punishments, according to Caillemer (D. and S., s. v. Asebeia), were strictly religious--exclusion from the mysteries, deprivation of title of initiate, and such like. The curse and excommunication were most solemn--priests and priestesses, turning to the west, uttered the words of imprecation and shook their garments ([Lys.] in Andoc. 51). It may be that this court was the only tribunal for cases of what we may call heterodoxy, impiety consisting in the performance [p. 583] of rites contrary to the traditional one and to that held by the priests; while other kinds of procedure, superadded to the religious investigation and condemnation, were adopted in accordance with ordinary criminal law in cases of impiety, which consisted of disorder and vulgar profanity. These charges were brought before the Senate of Five Hundred sitting in the Eleusinium of the city on the day after the mysteries. The penalty was death or banishment, with confiscation of goods, for profanation of the mysteries. The accuser, if he did not get the fifth part of the votes, suffered a kind of atimia --i. e. was deprived of the right to enter the temples and fined the usual 1000 drachmas. Many shrank from themselves bringing the accusation, and used to inform the Archon Basileus of the profanation they had observed, and if he thought it serious he made the accusation officially.
   (4) Civil Functionaries connected with the Festival. The chief civil superintendence of the festival was intrusted to the Archon Basileus, who was assisted by four epimeletai, elected by the people, two from the people generally and one each from the families of the Eumolpidae and Kerykes. The Archon generally appears to have appointed an assistant (paredros). The duties of the Archon and his assistant were to sacrifice and pray for the prosperity of the people, both at Athens and Eleusis, and to have general police supervision over the whole solemnity. The epimeletai had also such duties as looking after the sacrifices, testing the offerings of the votaries, classifying and marshalling the different grades of initiates, managing certain moneys, etc., as may be inferred from the similar duties attaching to the officials of this name at Andania. As to the finances of the festival generally, according to C. I. G. 71 a, 29, three hieropoioi had the administration of them.
   (5) The Initiates. Originally only Athenians were admitted; legend said that Heracles and the Dioscuri had to be adopted prior to initiation; but later all Greek-speaking people who were not murderers were admissible to be initiated. Barbarians were excluded; but it was not at all necessary to be an Athenian citizen. Women, and even perhaps slaves, were admissible. Children were admitted to the first grade only; but among the children brought to Eleusis one was picked out for special initiation, and "to appease the divinity by a more exact performance" of the ceremonies required. The boy or girl had to be an Athenian of high birth, perhaps of the special family of the Lycomidae, Eumolpidae, or the like; and was probably initiated standing on the steps of the altar, while the rest stood afar off. The parents of the child had to make extensive offerings and pay a large fee. Originally admission was free for all initiates; but by virtue of a law passed by the orator Aristogiton, each initiate paid a fee to the public treasury.
   The ordinary proceeding was for the initiate to receive his first introduction as a child and afterwards the higher grades as a man. The whole cycle of the mysteries was a trieteris, and could be gone through in two years; even the Homeric hymn extends the whole legend beyond a year; and when the Orphic theology blended Iacchus Zagreus into the story, the regular course of two years came to be adopted. There is a high probability that the first-year votaries at Eleusis viewed a drama representing the usual story of Demeter and Core, while the second-year votaries were shown the whole legend of Zagreus; and as to the whole course of the actual mysteries, there is a possibility that the following arrangement was that adopted, though it must be remembered that it is little more than conjecture and given for what it is worth:
(a) First Spring at Agrae--the votaries mourn for Core ravished by Hades.
(b) First Autumn at Eleusis--mourning with Demeter for the loss of her daughter, and exhibition of the ordinary legend.
(c) Second Spring at Agrae--the murder of Zagreus and his heart being given to Core (who here seems to take the place of Semele), and conception of Iacchus.
(d) Second Autumn at Eleusis--rebirth of Iacchus, who is carried in procession to Demeter at Eleusis, and there the votaries sympathize in the joy of the earth-goddess, who once more has her child and grandchild about her.
   That there were different grades of initiates hardly needs proof: the mustai were those who had received any degree of initiation, the epoptai or ephoroi the second-year votaries. Suidas (s. v. epoptai) says so explicitly. There were mystic ceremonies for both these classes of initiates, one on each of the two days, 22d and 23d. While any one introduced by a mystagogue could get admission to the ceremonies of the first year, the muesis, the epopteia or epopsia could only be seen by those who got a ticket from the daidouchos. A ticket of that kind has been discovered marked DAD and EPOPs, with the symbols of an ear of corn and a poppy. What those ceremonies were is the most important and interesting point in our subject, but the seal of silence which was laid on the votaries has not been broken. This secrecy was most strenuously enjoined and most rigorously enforced, as we have seen. The prosecution of Alcibiades for holding a travesty of the mysteries in his own house and Andocides's speech on the subject are well known. Aeschylus is said to have divulged the mysteries in styling Artemis a daughter of Demeter and in other matters, and to have only barely escaped death. Diagoras of Melos was banished from Athens and a price set on his head for having divulged the mysteries. It was the prevailing belief of antiquity that he who was guilty of divulging the mysteries was sure to bring down divine vengeance on himself and those associated with him.
   (6) The Ceremonies in the Temple. They were performed in the temple of the two goddesses at Eleusis, a building reckoned one of the greatest masterpieces of the Periclean Age. Ictinus superintended the whole. Coroebus built the lower story, with four rows of columns which divided the interior space. On his death Metagenes took up the work and added an upper story, and Xenocles built a cupola roof with an opening (opaion) in the middle for the light. The dimensions of the whole building were 223 feet by 179, the measurement of the cella being 175 feet by 179. The temple had no pillars in the facade till the architect Philon, in the time of Demetrius of Phalerum, built a pronaos with twelve pillars. The temple stood inside a large enclosure, which was approached by a propylaeum, there being yet another propylaeum leading to the temple. Inside this enclosure Lenormant has fixed the position of the agelastos petra, where Demeter was said to have rested in her wanderings, as the rock where the great statue of Demeter Achea, now at Cambridge, stood--i. e. on the axis of the first propylaeum close to a well, which he also identifies as Callichorum. The temple of Ictinus, though built on the site of an older and smaller one, must be distinguished from the most ancient temple which stood more to the north, occupying a platform which overlooked the well Callichorum and the agelastos petra, exactly on the spot where the Homeric hymn (273) orders it to be built. The great temple of Ictinus was called by the ancients mustikos sekos, and the inner portion telesterion or anaktoron or megaron.
   The ceremony was doubtless dramatic. "Deo and Core," says Clement of Alexandria, "have become a mystic drama. Eleusis illustrates by the light of the torches of the Daduchus the carrying off of Core, the wandering journeys and grief of Deo." The ceremony, then, was dramatic. Aelius Aristides asks, "Where else do the recitals of the narratives chant forth greater marvels, or does the ceremonial (ta dromena) involve a greater affrightment (ekplexin), or does the spectacle match more fully what the ear hears?" The drama consisted of dromena and legomena, the former being much the more important, for the ancient religious worship addressed itself more to the eye than to the ear. There were hymns and chants, speeches and exhortations (rheseis, parangelmata), recitals of myths (muthon phemai), and wailings for the loss of Persephone. There were kinds of dancing or rhythmical movements by those performing the ceremony, clashing of cymbals, sudden changes from light to darkness, "toilsome wanderings and dangerous passages through the gloom, but the end is not yet, and then before the end all kinds of terror, shivering and quaking, sweating and amazement, when suddenly a wondrous light flashes forth to the worshipper, and pure regions and meadows receive him: there are chants, voices, and dances, solemn words and holy images; and amongst these the votary now perfected is freed at last and is released, he wanders to and fro with a crown on his head, joining in the worship and in the company of pure and holy men; and he sees the uninitiated and unpurified crowd of the living in the thick mire and mist, trampling one another down, and huddled together, abiding ever in evils through fear of death and disbelief in the good things yonder" represents a man having entered Hades and got into the dark asking his companion if what was represented at Eleusis was not like this. Claudian's description is sufficiently terrible; and amidst that rhetoric Lenormant fancies he can infer that the votaries, waiting anxiously outside the building, saw the glimmer of the lighted interior through the opaion: then was heard the noise of the preparations for the play, the doors were thrown open, and the Daduchus appeared with torches in his hands, and the statue of Demeter was seen in gorgeous vestments and brilliantly lighted up. It is more probable that the whole performance took place inside the temple. But that figures of the gods were introduced is certain, which flitted noiselessly (apsopheti, Themist. Or. xvi. 224, ed. Dind.) across the stage; but the images were incomplete, not simple but overcharged with strange attributes, they were ever in motion and represented in a dim and murky light. To be more precise, the mystic drama of Demeter and Core was unfolded to the mystae, the first-year initiates; but the epoptae were shown a representation of what Clement calls "the mysteries of the dragon," which is the story of Zeus uniting himself with Persephone (called Brimo: cf. Philosophumena, viii. p. 115, ed. Miller) in the form of a serpent, and the whole tale of Iacchus-Zagreus was probably told. There was shown to the epoptae a representation, symbolical probably of creation, in which we hear that the Hierophant used to assume the part of the Creator, the Daduchus that of the sun, the altar-priest that of the moon, and the Hierokeryx that of Hermes. Again, "the last, the most solemn, and the most wonderful act of the epopsia" was shown--the ear of corn cut in perfect stillness; the blade of corn symbolized, we are told, the great and perfect ray of light issuing from the Inexpressible One, whatever that means, or rather, perhaps, it was the symbol of life, the cutting down being death. This may lead us to what is to be said in conclusion on the moral and religious import of the mysteries. If we choose to regard them in a cold, un-religious way, we can say that they were a somewhat melodramatic performance, splendid no doubt, full of what Lobeck calls fireworks (pyrotechnia), but a mere theatrical display. That there were connections between the mysteries and the theatre (the Hierophants are said to have borrowed costume from the dramas of Aeschylus, Athen. i. p. 22, if the reverse is not rather the case) need not surprise us; and that modern arch?ologists profess to find in the temple of Eleusis evidences of machinery by which the spectacle was worked is only natural; for there undoubtedly was a spectacle, a religious spectacle. But anything moral or religious may be made ridiculous if one chooses to regard it from the lower plane of the intellect alone, and does not take into account the subjective condition of the moral worker or the religious worshipper. The universal voice of the great names of pagan antiquity, from the Homeric hymn down to the writers of the late Roman Empire, attest to the wonderfully soothing effect the mysteries had on the religious emotions, and what glad hopes they inspired of good fortune in the world to come. Neque solum, says Cicero, cum laetitia vivendi rationem accepimus, sed etiam cum spe meliore moriendi. For the object aimed at was rather, not that the initiate should be taught anything that would appeal merely to his intellect, but should be moved and have his higher impulses stirred. "The light of the sun is bright for the initiated alone," sing the chorus of mystae in the Ranae (454). Not but that there were many scenes and symbols of a somewhat coarse nature--phallic rites, hieroi gamoi, such as those represented by the Hierophant and Hierophantis, which portrayed perhaps the unions of Zeus and Demeter, Zeus and Persephone, and which entered into the higher worship, but which are probably grossly exaggerated by the Christian writers, who did not take into consideration their symbolical meaning. The truths, however, which these and other symbolical performances contained were known only to the Hierophant, and explained by him to those whom he thought fit to hear them. Even the epoptai only knew part of the mystic secrets, gnonai ti ton aporreton. The multitude of worshippers took it all on faith, but, as Mahaffy finely remarks, "even the coarsest features were hallowed and ennobled by the spirit of the celebrants, whose reverence blinded their eyes while it lifted up their hearts."
   The Eleusinian Mysteries lasted for more than five centuries after Greece became a Roman province. As late as the time of the emperor Julian they still enjoyed a considerable portion of their primeval sanctity, and were held in the highest esteem by the Neo-Platonic philosophers. The edict of Valentinian and Valens against secret worships did not extend to the Eleusinia, the prefect of Achaea, Pretextatus, having represented that the life of the Greeks would be barren and comfortless without the mysteries. The Hierophant who initiated Maximus and Eunapius in the fourth century was the last Eumolpid. Subsequently Mithraic worship was blended with the Eleusinian; but the mysteries did not finally perish till the destruction of Eleusis by Alaric in his invasion of Greece, A.D. 396.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Eleusinia. This title was chiefly applied to a festival held by the Athenians in autumn, in honour of Demeter, Persephone, and Iacchus, consisting of sacrifices, processions, and certain mystical ceremonies. It was one of the most important festivals of Greece, dated from the earliest times, and continued to maintain its high position long after living Greece was no more, and everything else in that country had either perished or become mean and contemptible (cf. Aristides, Or. Eleusinia).

1. The Origin of the Eleusinia.
The mythical origin is contained in the Homeric hymn to Demeter, which tells how Persephone, while gathering flowers, was, with the connivance of Zeus, carried off by the god of the lower world, Hades or Polydegmon (the great receiver); and how her mother Demeter, daughter of Rhea, searching distractedly for her child, is advised by Hecate to consult Helios, who sees all things and how Helios in pity tells her that Zeus has granted to Hades to carry off her daughter to be his wife. Forthwith Demeter changes herself into an old woman; and as she wanders forth disconsolate through the world, she comes to Eleusis, and sits down on the cheerless stone by a well. Anon the daughters of Celeus, the king of Eleusis, come to the well to draw water. They bring her to their home, where Metanira, wife of Celeus, gives her the latest born child, Demophoon, to nurse. But Demeter is still bowed down with grief: she sits dignified but silent in her room, till the jests and raillery of Iambe, the servant-maid, at last make her smile. She consents to take food and drink, but will have no wine, only a mixture (kukeon) of water with barley-meal and mint. Days go on, and the child Demophoon thrives beyond what mortal child was wont, for a goddess was his nurse: she used to anoint him daily with ambrosia, and place him in the fire by night. But a little more time and the child would have been immortal, when one night Metanira saw the nurse place him in the fire and cried aloud with terror. Then did the anger of Demeter burn forth. Of a sudden the aged nurse transformed herself into the goddess, told who she was, what she had intended to do, and how that the little faith of the mother had robbed the child of immortality, and finally bade the people of Eleusis be told to erect a temple for her on the hill above the fountain, when she herself would prescribe the services they must perform in order to gain her favour. They did so, and Demeter dwelt there, shunning all association with the other gods who had been parties to the carrying off of her daughter. For a year Demeter dwelt there -an awful and desperate year. Nothing grew. The human race would have perished, had not Zeus agreed that Persephone should return. Right joyfully did Persephone obey the summons of Hermes: but Hades persuaded her to eat a pomegranate seed before she left, and that prevented her staying away from him for a whole year. So Persephone returns, and great is the joy of mother and daughter, in which the faithful Hecate sympathises. Rhea is then sent down by Zeus to her daughter, and effects the reconciliation. The corn comes up in abundance in the Rarian plain, and Demeter returns to Olympus to dwell with the gods: but before she goes she prescribes to Celeus, and to his sons Triptolemus, Diocles, and Eumolpus, the solemnities and divine services that were in future time to be paid her: and so the famous Eleusinian mysteries were a direct appointment of the great goddess Demeter herself.
  This was the story of the origin of the mysteries: but how the mysteries came to be mysteries of the Athenians depends on another story, which concerns the union of Eleusis with Athens. Erechtheus warred with the Eleusinians (Pans. i. 38, 3), who are helped by one Eumolpus, a Thracian, son of Poseidon (Apoll. iii. 14, 4), and founder of the mysteries (Lucian, Demon, 34). The difficulties connected with the exact birthplace and genealogical position of Eumolpus -even Pausanias (i. 38, 7) is perplexed with Eleusinian genealogies- we may pass over, remembering that he is, according to this legend, a foreigner (Plut. de Exsilio). The many beautiful stories which are connected with Erechtheus and his family we may also forget for the present, and proceed at once to the result, which was, that Eleusis was conquered, and to the Athenians fell the political headship, but to the family of Eumolpus and the daughters of the Eleusinian king Celeus was assigned the high-priesthood (hierophantia) of the Eleusinian worship. The other family which held a priesthood in the mysteries, the Kerykes, were said to have been descended from Keryx, the son of Eumolpus; though the family itself considered its ancestors to have been Hermes and Aglauros, daughter of Erechtheus, and so genuine Athenians (Pans. i. 38, 3).
  So ran the legends of Eleusis, grouping together, in the same scene and story, the goddess and the heroic fathers of the town; legends which did not take their start from realities of the past, but from realities of the present, combined with retrospective feeling and fancy, which filled up the blank of the aforetime in a manner at once plausible and impressive (Grote, i. 42). But yet something perhaps of the realities of the past may be learned from them. We can clearly see that it is in connexion with the lower world that the goddesses are honoured. They are Chthonian divinities, who presided over the production of the fruits of the earth; and it is reasonable to suppose that this most primitive kind of worship was a relic of the Pelasgian past, which continued on into historical times, in the form of mystical and secret worship. The religions of previous inhabitants sometimes continued in this form: e. g. the Thesmophoria in the Peloponnesus, after its conquest by the Dorians (Herod. ii. 171). The worship, too, was confined to certain families, which we shall see took an important part in the ceremonies during historical times, when the festival had become a state one. Curtius (Hist. of Greece, i. 304) indeed holds the view that the worship of the Great Goddesses was brought into Attica and domesticated there by a number of illustrious Messenian families who had fled from the Dorian invaders; a view Schomann approves of, but suggests a more remote origin by pointing out that the Homeric hymn (v. 123) seems to hint at Crete being the original home of the mysteries; and that a worship of Demeter, similar to that of Eleusis except that it was not secret, was held at Cnosus is stated by Diodorus (v. 77). Phrygian and Lydian influences may be seen in the appearance of Rhea and Hecate in the hymn, but the influence of Thrace and Crete (where Bacchus was a great god) -unless we are to suppose, with K. O. Muller, that Demophoon of the hymn is to be taken as a representative of Iacchus- had not yet been felt, though it appears in the second legend.
  That influence came with the elaborate Orphic theology and mythology (see Orphica), about the 7th and 6th centuries B.C. One of their tales related that Zagreus was son of Zeus and his own daughter Persephone, a noble child, destined to be Zeus's successor. Hera, in jealousy, urged the Titans to destroy him. They cut him up and boiled him in a caldron, all except his heart, which Athena picked up and carried to Zeus, who, after striking down the Titans, gave the heart to Semele, and Zagreus was born again from her under the name of Dionysus, or Iacchus, as he is called in the Eleusinian worship. This tale is a good specimen of the Orphic mythology; according to which the clear and definite Hellenic gods disappear into vague kinds of half-allegorical or symbolical forms, the divinities blend into one another according to stories which are of a coarse and extravagant as well as tragical and terror-striking nature, but which, from the very first, were in all probability intended for the initiates, and meant to be taken as symbolical representations of cosmogony, rather than as actual dogmatic facts (cf. Euseb. Praepar. Evang. iii. 1). Along with the Orphic theology came also the Orphic life (Plat. Leg. vi. 782), and the need it inculcated of religious purifications and various kinds of asceticism, e.q. abstinence from animal food (Herod. ii. 81; Eur. Hipp. 967; Cretes, fragm. 20). Lenormant thinks that Orphism, though introduced in a measure at this time, did not get any permanent hold on the Eleusinian worship till 380 B.C., when the family of the Lycomidae, who were specially devoted to Orphic rites, obtained the office of daduchus, his reason being that there is no allusion to Zagreus in Aristophanes or the other Attic writers, while he appears quite established by the time of Callimachus. And then, again, there was the influence of Egypt, which became fully open to the Greeks about 660 B.C. This influence was most marked. Dionysus and Demeter became identified with Osiris and Isis (Herod. ii. 42, 59, 144); and with this adoption of the Egyptian divinities came the peculiarities of the Egyptian priesthood, with their minute and scrupulous ceremonies, separate mode of life, elaboration of sacred tales (hieroi logoi), and the secrecy and silence they required. This secrecy is a cardinal feature of the Eastern religions and the Eastern hierarchies; and it was doubtless owing to Eastern influences, superadded to the national privacy of separate family cults, that this secret and mystic character came to be attached so especially to the worship of Demeter at Eleusis, the more so as we find many striking Oriental characteristics in other mystic worships in Greece, such as that of the Cabeiri in Samothrace (see Cabeiria). This influx of new and peculiar religious rites is a marked feature in the history of Greek thought in the 6th century B.C., producing as it did not only oracles such as those of Bakis and the Sibyls, purificatory and tranquillising rites such as those of Epimenides, but also the great Pythagorean philosophy and the mystic brotherhood who held it.
  It is just at this point that we are to fix the adoption of the Eleusinian mysteries by the Athenians, consequent on the incorporation of Eleusis into the Athenian state. Grote has proved that this incorporation took place much later than is generally supposed, as it occurred only a short time before Solon (cf. Herod. i. 30, about Tellus the Athenian), and the list of Athenian-Eleusinian priests does not reach higher. The fact is, this introduction of the Eleusinian worship, with its foreign teaching concerning the death and re-birth of Iacchus, was brought about by Epimenides, who was called in from Crete to assuage the religious terrors of the Athenians after the murder of Cylon, and the feeling of guilt which took hold of the state in consequence of that crime of the Alcmaeonidae. That was a time which in an eminent degree called for the introduction of new forms of religious service; and to this earnest and holy priest the Athenians were indebted for the development of the gracious worship of Apollo (Curtius, Hist. i. 323), and for the introduction of the Eleusinian worship of Demeter and Iacchus, with the religious hope and consolation they brought to the afflicted; and in gratitude a statue of Epimenides was set up before the temple of the goddess in Agrae.

2. Eleusinia elsewhere than in Attica.
Not to mention the wide-spread worship of Demeter, Persephone, and Dionysus throughout Asia Minor, evinced by such ceremonies as were held at the Carian Nysa (Strabo, xiv.), the Pherrephattia at Cyzicus (Plut. Lucull. 10; Appian, Bell. Mithr. 75), and the Dionysiac symbols which so constantly occur on Asiatic coins; nor the Eleusis on Lake Mareotis in Egypt, where there were initiations which were arche tou Kanobismou (Strabo, xvii.), accompanied indeed with much debauchery; nor the worship of these goddesses in Sicily, both at Gela, where Telines used their sacred symbols with such effect as to restore his political faction and to get himself established as their high-priest (Herod. vii. 153), and elsewhere (Diod. v. 77) -we find special evidence that the Eleusinian Demeter was worshipped in Boeotia, at Plataea where she had a temple (Herod. ix. 62, 65, 101), at Celeae near Phlius (Paus. ii. 14, 1), and in many places in Arcadia, Pheneus (ib. viii. 15, 1), Thelpusa (25, 2, 3), Basilis (29, 5), Megalopolis (31, 7). The mysteries at Pheneus are interesting not only for the writings on the stone (petroma) read each year to the mystae, but also from its clearly being a worship of the dead, as may be seen from the ceremony of the priest striking the ground with rods and calling on those that are beneath the earth (tous hupochthonious, Paus. l. c.). In Messenia there were ancient solemn mysteries to these goddesses and to the Great Gods -i. e. the Cabeiri- at Andania in Messenia, which were put down by the Spartans after the Second Messenian War, but restored to their old splendour by Epaminondas (Paus. iv. 1, 5; 2, 6 ; Curtius, Hist. iv. 433). At this place was found a most important inscription of 91 B.C. relating to the mysteries. But even this worship was inferior in solemnity and importance to the Attic Eleusinia (Paus. iv. 33, 5), which may be considered to have consisted of two parts, viz. the Lesser Mysteries at Agrae and the Greater Mysteries at Eleusis.

3. The Mysteries at Agrae (ta en Agrais).
These were held in the spring at Agrae, a place on the Ilissus, S.E. of the Acropolis. There is no doubt they were held in Anthesterion, when there were the first signs of returning vegetation just after field-work began (C. I. G. 103, l. 20). The exact date cannot be fixed, but Mommsen's suggestion is most probable, that the chief day was the 20th, the same day of the month as the Greater Mysteries were held on in Boedromion -to which the Lesser Mysteries had many points of similarity, even in matters connected with the calendar, e. g. the same length of the mystery truce (C. I. G. 71). Mommsen supposes that the 19th was a day of preparation, and the 20th and 21st the special mystery days. These Lesser Mysteries were considered as a prelude to the Greater (Schol. Aristoph. Plut. 845, esti ta mikra hosper prokatharsis kai proagneusis ton megalon), being on a much smaller scale, but initiation in the Lesser was generally required before the candidate could present himself for initiation into the Greater (Plat. Gorg. 497 C; Plut. Dem. 26). At Eleusis there were temples to Artemis Propylaea, to Triptolemus and to Poseidon, as well as to Demeter; similarly at Agrae there was a temple to Demeter, and altars to Artemis and Poseidon, and a statue of Triptolemus. The mysteries at Agrae consisted probably to a large extent of purifications, for which the water of the Ilissus was much used. They were held more especially in honour of Persephone, called Pherrephatta here, than of Demeter (Schol. on Aristoph. Plut. 845). It appears that the carrying off of Persephone was the most important representation in these mysteries. Again we hear that at Agrae the fate of Dionysus was pourtrayed (mimema ton peri ton Dionuson, Steph. Byz. s. v. Agrai). The death of Dionysus-Zagreus took place on the 13th of Anthesterion, the day on which the festival of the Chytrae was held (see Dionysia): so perhaps on the ninth day after, the 21st (for funeral rites on the ninth day after death, the enata, see Aeschin. Ctesiph. 225), the funeral ceremony may have been held and his violent death related in a drama. A great many, especially strangers, were initiated into these mysteries who did not proceed to initiation into the regular Eleusinia: the legend, too, said it was for the purpose of initiating Heracles, who was a stranger and according to the primitive regulations could not be initiated into the Eleusinia, that these Lesser Mysteries were established... There is a very similar one on a Pourtales vase in the British Museum.

4. The Course of the Festival at Eleusis.
Two days are fixed by definite evidence; viz. the 16th Boedromion for the Halade mustai (Polyaen. iii. 11, 11; de Glor. Ath. 349 fin.), and the 20th for the Iacchus day (Plut. Cam. 19, Phoc. 28). The fixing of other days depends on conjecture, but can be determined with a considerable degree of certainty. A month before the middle of Boedromion, i. e. the middle of Metagitnion, the spondophoroi (see below) used to announce the mystery truce to the neighbouring states (C. I. G. 71; Aeschin. Fals. Leg.133), so as to give the strangers time to make all arrangements necessary for a visit to Athens. During the latter portion of this month the votary who intended to be initiated used to betake himself to some private man who had gone through all the grades of initiation, was examined by him as to his freedom from sin, received instruction as to what purifications and offerings were necessary to gain the favour of the goddesses, and submit the actual offerings for his inspection and approval. This instructor was the mustagogos (see below). He notified to the hierophant. the fitness of the applicant and introduced him, this proceeding being apparently called sustasis. A not uncommon form of purification was the Dios kodion (Suidas, s. v.), which the daduchus used to cover the sinner's feet with. Sincere devotees appear to have fasted for nine days (cf. Hom. Hymn. Dem. 47), from the 13th to the 21st, i. e. ate nothing during the day, taking whatever food they did take between sunset and sunrise, like the Mahomedans during Ramadan (cf. Ov. Fast. iv. 535;); and votaries generally appear to have abstained from domestic birds, fish, pomegranates, apples, and beans (Porphyr. Abst. iv. 16). Ramsay notices the effect of the long fasts as tending to enfeeble the body, already weak enough after the heat of summer, and as a consequence the predisposition of the votaries to religious enthusiasm; but perhaps he exaggerates too much these fasts.
  On the 15th of Boedromion the formal assemblage (agurmos Hesych. s. v.) took place of those citizens and strangers who intended to take part in the mysteries--though this assemblage does not appear to have been absolutely essential, at least in late times (C. I. G. 523).
  At the beginning of the 16th, in the evening (the day is reckoned from sunset to sunset), Chabrias's distribution of wine to the people in honour of his victory at Naxos used to take place (Plut. Phoc. 6); and the next morning began the first formal act of the festival, viz. the prorresis or Halade mustai. These are to be identified in point of time, else Philostratus ( Vit. Apoll. iv. 18) in an important passage would omit the striking ceremony of Halade mustai. The passage is this: ta de Epidauria meta prorresin te kai hiereia deuro muein Athenaiois patrion epi thusia deuterai ( as a secondary sacrifice ), touti d enomisan Athklepiou heneka, hoti de emuesan auton hekonta, Epidaurothen opse musterion. A proclamation was made by the Archon Basileus (Poll. viii. 90) and by the Hierophant and Daduchus in the Stoa Poecile (Schol. Aristoph. Ran. 369), for the departure of all strangers and all murderers: and then the order for purification given, Ye mystae to the sea. The sea was sometimes the Piraeus (Plut. Phoc. 28), though probably only in time of Attica being occupied by enemies ; but generally the Hpeitoi, two salt streams on the Sacred Road, one dedicated to Demeter, the other to Cora, which contained fish that the priests alone were allowed to eat (Pans. i. 38, 1; Hesych. s. v.; cf. Etym. M. s. v.: hiera hodos: he eis Eleusina agousa hen apiasin hoi mustai halade).
  The next day, the 17th, sacrifices (hiereia) were offered for the safety of the state (Rangabe, Inscr. 795) by the Archon Basileus and the epimeletai in the Eleusinium at Athens (Lys. Andoc. 4); and at all these sacrifices the theoroi of foreign states seem to have taken part (Eur. Suppl. 173).
  The night of the 18th may have been spent by the very devout in sleeping in the temple of Aesculapius, S.W. of the Acropolis, or in the laccheum, also called the temple of Demeter. It was just where the road from Piraeus entered Athens (Paus. i. 2, 4). The early morning of that day till about 9 A.M. was devoted to ordinary business, as we find decrees issued bearing that date. After this hour the Epidauria was celebrated in the temple of Demeter or Iacchus and in the temple of Aesculapius. It was, as we have seen, a supplementary sacrifice for those who came late, and legend said it was instituted for the sake of Aesculapius, who himself came late for the mysteries. Doubtless, however, the thought really lay in this, that Aesculapius was supposed by his wondrous skill to have raised again Iacchus from the dead, and the festival probably was incorporated in the Eleusinia when the worship of Epidaurus got connected with that of Athens (Herod. v. 82). Meanwhile there were being brought from Eleusis certain religious objects -playthings, it was said, of the child Iacchus- bone (astragalos), top (strobilos), ball (sphaira), apples (mela), tambourine (rombos), looking-glass (esoptron), woolly fleece (pokos), fan (liknon), and such like, as we learn from Clement of Alexandria. Phalli were perhaps also carried among these mystical objects; but we must remember that the statue of Iacchus, as we shall see, which was carried in procession to Eleusis on the 19th, was not kept at Eleusis during the year, but at Athens, having been brought back some day shortly after the conclusion of the mysteries; for there was no Iaccheum at Eleusis. The Athenian Ephebi met this convoy at the temple of Echo, which was probably the same as the hiera suke, where the story ran that Phytalus met the wandering Demeter, and the bridge over the Cephissus, and was so called from the cymbals (echeia) used in the Eleusinian ceremony (Schol. Theocr. ii. 36), and conveyed them to Athens by nightfall. This is Mommsen's view as to the date: but Lenormant thinks this convoy took place on the 16th; for the convocation of the Ephebi is on the 14th, according to the inscription given by Mommsen , and it is highly probable that it should have been thus arranged so that additional splendour might be given to the procession by the mystae who went to the Rheitoi joining it on their return home. In the early morning of the 19th, there were occasionally decrees passed. In the forenoon (Plut. Alcib. 34; cf. Herod. viii. 65) the Iacchus procession started from the Eleusinium and proceeded to the Iaccheum, where they got the statue of Iacchus; perhaps then definitely organised the procession in the building assigned for that purpose (Paus. i. 2, 4); and then passing through the Ceramicus (Schol. Aristoph. Ran. 399) left Athens by the Sacred Gate (Plut. Sull. 14), priests and people crowned with myrtle and ivy, the rich ladies till the time of the orator Lycurgus (Plut. Vit. X. Orat. 842-4) riding in carriages (Schol. Aristoph. Plut. 1014). The statue of Iacchus was probably that of a fair child crowned with myrtle and holding a torch, hence called phosphoros asteer in Aristophanes (Ran. 342). There were many ceremonies to be performed as the procession passed along the Sacred Way to Eleusis--ceremonies which had to be given up during the Peloponnesian War, while Attica was invaded by the Peloponnesians (Plut. Alcib. 34). One section of the procession repaired to the Cephissus and took baths therein, another to the bath by Anemocritus's statue near the tomb of Scirus the soothsayer, who came from Dodona to Eleusis to assist the Eleusinians in the war against Erechtheus and was slain. The Phytalidae sacrificed to Phytalus in Laciadae, where lay a temple to the Mourning (Achea) Demeter, and to Cora, with whose worship that of Athena and Poseidon was joined (Pans. i. 37, 2). Here according to Preller lay the sacra gentilitia of the Gephyraei (cf. Herod. v. 61) at the sacred fig-tree. At the palace of Crocon, the Croconidae perhaps bound small bands of saffron thread round the right wrist and right foot of each mystes (cf. Phot. s. v. krokoun), which was considered as a protection from the evil eye. The other priestly families had probably particular ceremonies to perform at particular places... Occasionally during the procession the majority of those who took part in it indulged in flouts and gibes at one another, a proceeding called gephurismos, the origin of which title is unknown, but is generally associated with the bridge over the Cephissus (Strabo, ix. 400). It was similar to the ta ex hamaxon of the Dionysia, or the stenia of the Thesmophoria. We must remember, however, that Lenormant supposes this gephurismos to have occurred during the procession, as it returned to Athens after the ceremonial at Eleusis was finished. Chants in honour of Iacchus (e. g. Aristoph. Ran. 325 ff.) were sung constantly during the procession, which swelled louder as when, near midnight, Iacchus arrived at Eleusis amid the blaze of torches (Soph. Oed. Col. 1045). That the procession did not arrive till late at night is plain from the splendid chorus in the Ion (1076 ff.), which sings of the torches of the 20th and of the moon and stars dancing in heaven at the sight. The journey from Athens to Eleusis is really only four hours long; but the various ceremonies performed during the course of the procession extended it to three or four times its normal length.
  On the next morning certain sacrifices were performed (Rangabe, 813, 4), consisting probably in part of swine, to Demeter (Schol. to Aristoph. Pax, 374). An inscription orders sacrifices to be made by the hieropoioi to Hermes Enagonius, the Graces, Artemis, and certain heroes, Telesidromus and Triptolemus. We do not know what these sacrifices were at Eleusis: at Andania they were (Inscr. l. 70), besides others, a sheep to Proserpina and a sow to Demeter... In later times the Ephebi made supplementary sacrifices of oxen. The bulls were brought unbound to the altar, and the Ephebi struggled with them to hold them as they were being sacrificed: compare the rites to Demeter Chthonia at Hermione (Paus. ii. 35, 5); hence perhaps the origin of the bull-fights alluded to by Artemidorus (Oneirocr. i. 8) as occurring at the Eleusinia.
  The 22nd and 23rd were the musteriotides hemerai, and the ceremonies celebrated thereon were pannuchides. During the evening of the 22nd was probably what was called lamprdon hemera, which consisted in a symbolical search after Cora with torches, performed principally by and for the less highly initiated, who conducted the search crowned with myrtle, wearing a fawn-skin, and holding a wand, the mystagogues of the several initiates taking part in the search--the whole proceeding being perhaps an interlude in the story of Demeter and Cora, which appears to have been represented in the temple on this night. After this came with much ceremonial the partaking of the kukeon a mixture of mint, barley-meal, and water. This was a cardinal feature in the ceremony, being, if we may so say, a participation in the Eleusinian sacrament. It was in remembrance of Demeter being refreshed after her long wandering and fruitless search. There-after followed what was called the paradosis ton hieron (Suidas, s. v.): certain relics and amulets were given to the votary to touch or kiss or even taste, the votary repeating, as the priest tendered him the objects with a regular question (quae rogati in sacrorum acceptionibus respondeant, Arnob. Adv. Gentes, v. 26), this formula (sunthema), as given by Clement of Alexandria (Protrept): enesteusa, epion ton kukeona, elabon ek kistes engeusamenos, apethemen eis kalathon kai ek kalathou eis kisten. It appears that some kind of memento of this ceremony was given by the priest to the votaries, which a sincere believer used to keep in a linen cloth (Apul. Apol.). The actual hiera themselves were kept in a chest (teletes enkumona mnstida kisten, Nonnus, Dionys. ix. 127) bound with purple ribands, and consisted among others of sesame cakes of particular shapes, pomegranates, salt, ferules, ivy, poppy-seeds, quinces, &c. (Clem. Alex. Protrept.): the uninitiated were not allowed to see these even from the housetop (Callim. Hymn to Ceres, 4).
  Not very different appear to have been the ceremonies of the 23rd. There were many wand-bearers but few bacchants, as the superintendents of the mysteries used to say (Plat. Phaed. 69 C), and it was for these latter, the more highly initiated mystae of at least a year's standing, generally called epoptai, that the ceremonies of the 23rd were held, and they were the highest and greatest. Here, too, was probably a paradosis ton hieron, the sacramental words used in receiving which being ek tumpanou ephagon, ek kumbalou epion, ekernophoresa, hupo ton paston hupeduon. All this undoubtedly points to the Phrygian worship of Sabazius, which was introduced by the Orphics into the Eleusinian mysteries. On the afternoon of the 23rd was held that portion of the feast which was called plemochoai (Ath. x.) or plemochoe (Poll. x. 74), a sacrifice to the dead. The plemochoe was a broad-bottomed earthen jar, and two such were used in the ceremony, one filled with wine and the other with water, the contents of the one thrown to the east and of the other to the west, while mystic words (hue kue) were spoken. This sacrifice formed a fitting conclusion to the mysteries in the special sense, the musteriotides hemerai: for that is the way we are to understand Athenaeus, not that it was the end of the whole festival. It was like the zemia of the Thesmophoria: and it ended with a chairete to the dead, which conclusion was called prochaireteria (Harpocr. 161, 9). It must be noticed, however, that Lenormant supposes the plemochoe to have taken place just outside the Dipylon gate of Athens, on the return of the procession from Eleusis; and that this is proved from the mystic words hue kue huperkue found engraved on the kerbstone of a well near that spot.
  The next morning, 24th, occurred perhaps the balletus (Athen. 406; Hesych. s. v.), also called tuptai (Hesych. s. v.), a sort of sham fight, enjoined, it seems, in the Homeric hymn (v. 267 ff.). There was a similar contest, called lithobolia, at the festival of Damia and Auxesia at Troezen (cf. Paus. ii. 32, 2). Lenormant sees a connexion with the herb balis, symbol of resurrection and immortality (Etym. M. s. v.; Plin. H. N. xxv.14). On this same morning and afternoon were the agones stadiakoi. They were called Eleusinia or Demetria, and the prize was some barley grown on the Rarian plain (Schol. on Pind. Ol. ix. 150, 166). Euripides was crowned at these Eleusinian games (Gell. xv. 20, 3). There is no reason to suppose that these games were not annual; for the Eleusinian penteteris referred to by Pollux, viii. 107, is a different and second-rate festival, as may be seen from its being mentioned last in the list. In early times these games probably lasted two days; but in later times on the 25th the theatrical representations of the Dionusou technitai were held, and we have some inscriptions referring to the sacrifices offered by this guild (ib. 266-7).
  As time went on, the 26th and 27th appear to have been devoted to such theatrical exhibitions, held perhaps for the purpose of keeping the visitors in the country. According to a decree in Mommsen, dated 28th, the people were assembled at Eleusis and had not yet returned to Athens: but in the time of Andocides (de Myst. 111) the 26th was the day after the mysteries; and that there were some business days in Boedromion free after the mysteries is proved by Demosthenes (Ol. iii.5). The people do not appear to have returned to Athens in a regular procession, though Lenormant, as we have seen, thinks they did, and that the gephurismos and the plemochoe were incidents in that return journey. The mysterytruce lasted till the middle of Pyanepsion (C. I. G. 71).

5. The Priests and Priestesses.
(a.) The most important priest was the Hierophant (Hierophantes). In lists of the Eleusinian priests he is put first (Dio Chrys. xxxi.; C. I. G. 184, 190). He was nominated for life (Paus. ii. 14, 1) from the Eleusinian family of the Eumolpidae, and was generally an elderly man and bound to a life of strict chastity. There was only one hierophant at a time, and his name was never mentioned (Lucian, Lexiph. 10), though in late inscriptions we find the Roman gentile name but not the praenomen or the cognomen given (C. I. G. 187). His principal duty was, clothed in an Oriental style with a long robe (stole) and a turban (strophion), as his name indicates, to show and explain the sacred symbols and figures -perhaps in a kind of chant or recitative, as he was required to have a good voice (cf.Plut. Alcib. 22; Epictet. iii. 21,16; C. I. G. 401).
(b.) The Daduchus (daidouchos) or torchbearer was inferior to the Hierophant, and of the same rank with the Keryx (C. I. G. 185, compared with 188). Originally he was descended from the Eleusinian Triptolemus (Xen. Hell. vi. 3, 6); but about 380 B.C. this family died out, and the Lycomidae, the family to which Themistocles belonged, which celebrated a local worship of Demeter at Phlyae full of Orphic doctrines and ceremonies, succeeded to the daduchia. We have seen above, how important Lenormant thinks the introduction of this family into the Eleusinian priesthood was, in that it brought with it into the Eleusinian ceremonies in a large measure the Orphic rites it was accustomed to practise. It is uncertain whether the name of the daduchus was sacred (Lucian, l. c.) or not (C. I. G. 403, 423). His head-dress was Oriental, as we may infer from a Persian soldier mistaking a daduchus for a king (Plut. Arist. 5). His main duty was to hold the torch at the sacrifices, as his name indicates; but he shared with the hierophant several functions, reciting portions of the ritual (Paus. ix. 31, 6, compared with Philostr. Vit. Soph. ii. 20), taking part in certain purifications (Suid. s. v. Dios koidion), in the prorresis (Schol. Aristoph. Ran. 369), and even in the exhibition of the mysteries (Suid. s. v. daidouchei). For these two priests, the Hierophant and the Daduchus, who had to be men of tried sanctity (nomos ton mellonta daidouchein dokimazesthai, quoted by Mayor on Juv. xv. 140), there was a regular consecration on their entering office. It was the telos tes epopteias, and was called anadesis kai stemmaton epithesis, because the sign of it consisted in placing on the head of the new priest the diadem of purple and the wreath of myrtle which they wore permanently.
(c.) The Keryx or Hierokeryx (kerux, hierokerux). According to Eleusinian tradition, the Kerykes traced their origin back to Keryx, a younger son of Eumolpus; but they themselves considered their ancestors to be Hermes and one of the daughters of Cecrops, Aglauros according to Pausanias (i. 38, 3), Pandrosos according to Pollux (viii. 103). Mommsen supposes they were an Athenian family which ousted or absorbed an Eleusinian family, perhaps the Eudanemi (Hesych. s. v.). His duties were chiefly to proclaim silence at the sacrifices (Poll. iv. 91).
(d.) The Epibomios (ho epi bomoi). In early times he was certainly a priest (ton epi toi bomoi hierea, C. I. G. 71 a, 39); he is generally mentioned in connexion with the other three priests, but not always (e. g. Plut. Alc. 22; Epictet. iii. 21, 13; C. I. G. 188, 190, 191). No family laid especial claim to this priesthood. His name, as well as that of the Keryx, was probably not sacred. The four Eleusinian priests were among those who were maintained in the prytaneum -were aeisitoi, as they were called (C. I. G. 183 ff.).
(e.) The Hierophantis (hierophantis). There was originally only one at a time; she belonged to Demeter (C. I. G. 434, 2), and her name was sacred: but a new one was added when Hadrian's wife Sabina was deified as the younger Demeter (ib. 435, 1073). Perhaps at this time or afterwards the priestesses came to be multiplied; see the Schol. on Soph. Oed. Col. 683, kai ton hierophanten de kai ras hierophantdas kai ton daidouchon kai tas allas hiereias murrines echein stephanon. They lived a life of perfect chastity during their tenure of office, though they might have been married previously. It is uncertain to what family the original hierophantis of Demeter belonged; that of the younger belonged to a branch of the Lycomidae (ib.). The duties of the hierophantis corresponded to those of the hierophant. Pollux (i. 14) appears to call these priestesses prophantides, and perhaps they were also called melissai (Hesych. s. v.).
(f.) Female torch-bearer, daidouchesasa (C. I. G. 1535; cf. Lucian, Cataplus, 22).
(g.) Priestess (hiereia). She was not hieronymous, but eponymous (cf. C. I. G. 386, epi hiereias Phlaouias Aodamias). These priestesses belonged to the family of the Phillidae (Suid. and Phot. s. v.). Her duties corresponded in all probability with those of the Epibomios.
(h.) The Spondophori (spondophoroi) were sent out to the adjoining country a month before the ceremony to announce the truce for the mysteries (Aeschin. Fals. Leg.133). They belonged to the families of the Eudanemi and Kerykes (Hesych. s. v. Eudanemos). Mommsen thinks that a Eudanemos went from Eleusis and a Keryx from Athens at the same time.
(i.) Minor offices: (1.) phaidruntes toin theoin, perhaps belonging to the Eleusinium of the city. (2.) hudranos, whom Hesych. describes as hagnistes ton Eleusinion. He probably superintended the halade mustai. (3.) iakchagogos and kourotrophos, female nurses attending on the child Iacchus (Poll. i. 35; C. I. G. 481, 9). (4.) Perhaps the same may be said of the daeiritis; but it is very uncertain. We know that Proserpina was originally called Daeira in the Eleusinian worship. (5.) hieraules (ib. 184, c. 18) was probably the head of the humnoidoi and humnetrides (Poll. i. 35), a sort of choir. (6.) Who the panageis and the purphoroi were beyond what can be inferred from their names cannot be determined. Lenormant says the panageis were intermediate between the ministers and the initiates. Though not strictly a priest, yet as exercising an important function in the mysteries,
(j) the mystagogi (mustagogoi) may be mentioned here. They had to be men who had passed through all the grades of initiation. They were probably under the cognisance of the state, in a manner licensed. Prior to presenting himself for initiation, each votary had to place himself under the guidance of one of these mystagogues, and got instruction from him as to the various purifications and ceremonies he was to perform. It was only by the unconscientiousness of mystagogues that unworthy applicants ever got admission to the mysteries. After due examination, if the mystagogue was satisfied, he presented the applicant or returned his name to the Archon Basileus or his assistants. This was called sustasis. If a mystagogue could not say what purificatory sacrifices were required for a special candidate, recourse was had to
(k) an Exegetes (exegetes), who appears to have been elected by the people from the Eumolpidae or Kerykes (cf. C. I. G. 392) and whose business it was to decide such difficult cases and generally to give responsa on Eleusinian ecclesiastical law. There were many books of the mysteries which were intended to have been strictly kept from the uninitiated and which appear to have contained not only what ritual was to be performed in various cases--such perhaps was the Eumnolpidarum patria which Cicero asks Atticus (i. 9, 2) for--but also perhaps the allegorical and symbolical interpretations of some of the myths.
  The priests of the mysteries, especially the Eumolpidae, appear to have had a special ecclesiastical court (hiera gerousia, C. I. G. 392, 399) for trying offences of impiety (a very vague and elastic term) in connexion with the festival, which court they conducted according to unwritten laws of immemorial antiquity (Lys. in Andoc.10). To prosecute before this court was called dikazesththi pros Eumolpidas. Their punishments, according to Caillemer, were strictly religious, exclusion from the mysteries, deprivation of title of initiate, and such like. The curse and excommunication were most solemn; priests and priestesses, turning to the west, uttered the words of imprecation and shook their garments (Lys. Andoc. 51). It may be that this court was the only tribunal for cases of what we may call heterodoxy, impiety consisting in the performance of rites contrary to the traditional one and to that held by the priests; while other kinds of procedure, superadded to the religious investigation and condemnation, were adopted in accordance with ordinary criminal law (such as apagoge, asebeiai graphe, endeixis, probole, eisangelia, impiety, which consisted in disorder and vulgar profanity. These charges were brought before the Senate of Five Hundred sitting in the Eleusinium of the city on the day after the mysteries (Andoc. de Myst.111). The penalty was death (Thuc. vi. 61 fin.) or banishment (Andoc.15), with confiscation of goods (C. I. A. i. 277), for profanation of the mysteries. The accuser, if he did not get the fifth part of the votes, suffered a kind of atimia (Andoc.33), i. e. was deprived of the right to enter the temples and fined the usual 1000 drachmas. Many shrank from themselves bringing the accusation, and used to inform the Archon Basileus of the profanation they had observed, and if he thought it serious he made the accusation officially. This information laid before the archon was called phrazein pros ton basilea (Dem. Androt. l. c.).

6. The Civil Functionaries connected with the Festival.
The chief civil superintendence of the festival was entrusted to the Archon Basileus, who was assisted by four epimeletai, elected by the people, two from the people generally and one each from the families of the Eumolpidae and Kerykes. The Archon generally appears to have appointed an assistant (paredros), who was probably as a rule his relation -at least for the Dionysia in one case the Archon appointed his father-in-law (Dem. c. Neaer.). The duties of the Archon and his assistant were to sacrifice and pray for the prosperity of the people, both at Athens and Eleusis, and to have general police supervision over the whole solemnity (Lys. c. Andoc. 4). The epimeletai had also such duties as looking after the sacrifices, testing the offerings of the votaries, classifying and marshalling the different grades of initiates, managing certain monies, &c., if we may infer from the similar duties attaching to the officials of this name at Andania. As to the finances of the festival generally, according to C. I. G. 71 a, 29, hieropoioi had the administration of them. Midias was elected one of these. They were three in number (Dem. Mid.), though Etym. M. (s. v.) says they were ten.

7. The Initiates.
Originally only Athenians were admitted: legend said that Hercules and the Dioscuri (Plut. Thes. 33) had to be adopted prior to initiation; but later (cf. Herod. viii. 65) all Greek-speaking people who were not murderers were admissible to be initiated (Isocr. Panegyr.42). Barbarians were excluded: so Anacharsis had to be naturalised (Lucian, Scyth. 8); but it was not at all necessary to be an Athenian citizen, as the Emperor Julian (Or. vii. 238) implies. This Lobeck (Aglaoph. 17-20) proves elaborately. Women (Aristid. Eleus. vol. i.), and even perhaps slaves (Theophilus, Fr. i., vol. ii.), were admissible. Children were admitted to the first grade only; but among the children brought to Eleusis one was picked out for special initiation, and to appease the divinity by a more exact performance of the ceremonies required (Porphyr. Abst. iv. 5). That boy or girl (for boys, see C. I. G. 393, 400; for girls, 443-445, 448) was said muethenai aph hestias, and was called ho (or he) aph hestias. He or she had to be an Athenian of high birth, perhaps of the special family of the Lycomidae, Eumolpidae, or the like; and was probably initiated standing on the steps of the altar, while the rest stood afar off (Cf. Themist. xiii., all echren hos eoike ton mustagogon moi genesthai tes erotikes teletes ou porrothen ton paidikon oude othneion all enguthen kai aph hestias). The parents of the child had to make extensive offerings and pay a large fee. For more concerning initiation aph heotias, see Boeckh on C. I. G. 393. Originally admission was free for all initiates; but by virtue of a law passed by the orator Aristogiton, each initiate had to pay a fee to the public treasury.
  The ordinary proceeding was for the initiate to receive his first introduction as a child and afterwards the higher grades as a man--pais mustes kai epoptes aner, as Himerius says (Or. xxii. 1). This falls in admirably with what Tertullian says (contra Valentin. 1): Idcirco et aditum prius cruciant, diutius initiant antequam consignant, cum epoptas ante quinquennium instituunt, --a statement not contradicted by the fact that the shortest possible interval between the two grades of initiation is stated at one year (Plut. Demetr.26; cf. Schol. on Aristoph. Ran. 745). The whole cycle of the mysteries was a trieteris, and could be gone through in two years: even the Homeric hymn extends the whole legend beyond a year, and when the Orphic theology blended Iacchus-Zagreus into the story, the regular course of two years came to be adopted. There is a high probability, as we shall see, that the first-year votaries at Eleusis were shown a drama representing the usual story of Demeter and Cora, while the second-year votaries were shown the whole legend of Zagreus: and as to the whole course of the actual mysteries, there is a possibility that the following arrangement was that adopted, though it must be remembered that it is little more than conjecture, and given for what it is worth.
(1.) First Spring at Agrae--the votaries mourn for Cora ravished by Hades.
(2.) First Autumn at Eleusis--mourning with Demeter for the loss of her daughter, and exhibition of the ordinary legend.
(3.) Second Spring at Agrae--the murder of Zagreus and his heart being given to Cora (who here seems to take the place of Semele), and conception of Iacchus.
(4.) Second Autumn at Eleusis--rebirth of Iacchus, who is carried in procession to Demeter at Eleusis, and there the votaries sympathise in the joy of the earth-goddess, who once more has about her her child and grandchild.
  That there were different grades of initiates hardly needs proof: the mustai were those who had received any degree of initiation, the epoptai or ephoroi the second-year votaries. Suidas (s. v. epoptai) says so explicitly--cf. Harpocr. s. v. epopteukoton, and Plut. Demetr. 26; not to mention such passages as Plut. de Iside et Osiride, c. 78, where the different grades of proficiency in philosophy are compared to those of the initiates into the mysteries. There were mystic ceremonies for both these classes of initiates, one on each of the two days, 22nd and 23rd. While anyone introduced by a mystagogue could get admission to the ceremonies of the first year, the muesis, the epopteia or epopsia could only be seen by those who got a ticket from the daidouchos. A ticket of that kind has been discovered marked DAD and EROPs, with the symbols of an ear of corn and a poppy. What those ceremonies were is the most important and interesting point in our subject; but the seal of silence which was laid on the votaries has not been broken. This secrecy was most strenuously enjoined and most rigorously enforced, as we have seen. The prosecution of Alcibiades for holding a travesty of the mysteries in his own house, and Andocides's speech on the subject, are well known. Aeschylus is said to have divulged the mysteries in styling Artemis a daughter of Demeter (Herod. ii. 156; Paus. viii. 37, 6), and: in other matters (Arist. Nic. Eth. iii. 1, 17 ), and to have only barely escaped death. Diagoras of Melos (Diod. xiii. 6; Lys. Andoc. 17) was banished from Athens and a price set on his head for having divulged the mysteries. It was the prevailing belief of antiquity that he who was guilty of divulging the mysteries was thought sure to bring down divine vengeance on himself and those associated with him (Hor. Carm. iii. 2, 26). We are accordingly left to conjectures more or less probable as to what the chief mystic ceremonies were.


8. The Mystic Ceremonies in the Temple.
They were performed in the temple of the two goddesses at Eleusis, a building reckoned one of the greatest masterpieces of the Periclean age. Ictinus superintended the whole. Coroebus built the lower story, with four rows of columns which divided the interior space. On his death Metagenes took up the work and added an upper story, and Xenocles built a cupola roof with an opening (opaion) in the middle for the light (Plut. Pericl. 13; Vitruv. vii. Pref.16, 17). The dimensions of the whole building were 223 feet by 179, the measurement of the cella being 175 feet by 179. The temple had no pillars in the facade till the architect Philon, in the time of Demetrius of Phalerum, built a pronaos with twelve pillars (Vitruv. l. c.). The temple stood inside a large enclosure, which was approached by a propylaea, there being yet another propylaea leading to the temple. Inside this enclosure Lenormant has fixed the position of the agelastos petra, where Demeter was said to have rested in her wanderings, as the rock where the great statue of Demeter Achea, now at Cambridge, stood, i. e. on the axis of the first propylaea close to a well, which he also identifies as Callichorum.. The temple of Ictinus, though built on the site of an older and smaller one, must be distinguished from the most ancient temple which stood more to the north, occupying a platform which overlooked the well Callichorum and the agelastos petra, exactly on the spot where the Homeric hymn (v. 273) orders it to be built. The great temple of Ictinus was called by the ancients mustikos sekos (Strabo, ix. 395), and the inner portion telesterion or anaktoron or megaron (cf. Lobeck, Aglaoph. 59).
  The ceremony was doubtless dramatic. Deo and Cora, says Clement of Alexandria (Protrept. p. 12), have become a mystic drama. Eleusis illustrates by the light of the torches of the daduchus the carrying off of Cora, the wandering journeys and grief of Deo (cf. Minuc. Felix, Octav. c. 21), a view to which the terms hierophantes and epoptes also lead us, and which is consistent with the whole tenor of the ancient Greek religion, which was materialist and naturalist in its doctrines, and used for its inculcation visible symbols, but did not rise through the hearts and the consciences of its votaries to a conception of the Divinity whom eye hath not seen nor ear heard. Above these two conditions, says Preller, Nature as object and the sensible as its formal expression, the religions of the ancients have never arisen. The ceremony, then, was dramatic. Aelius Aristides (Eleus. i. 256) asks, Where else do the recitals of the narratives chant forth greater marvels, or does the ceremonial (ta dromena) involve a greater affrightment (ekplexin), or does the spectacle match more fully what the ear hears? The drama consisted of dromena and legomena, the former being much the more important, for the ancient religious worship addressed itself, as Grote points out, more to the eye than to the ear. There were hymns and chants (Paus. ix. 27, 2: the name Eumolpus pointing to such, C. I. G. 401, and the hierophant, as we saw, was required to have a good voice), speeches and exhortations (rheseis, parangelmata), recitals of myths (muthon phemai. Aristid. l. c.), wailings for the loss of Persephone (Proclus on Plat. Politic.). There were kinds of dancing or rhythmical movements by those performing the ceremony (Lucian, de Salt. 15), clashing of cymbals (Schol. on Theocr. ii. 36; Vell. i. 4, 1), sudden changes from light to darkness (skotous te kai photos enallax genomenon, Dio Chrys. xii. 387), toilsome wanderings and dangerous passages through the gloom, but the end is not yet, and then before the end all kinds of terror, shivering and quaking, sweating and amazement, when suddenly a wondrous light flashes forth to the worshipper, and pure regions and meadows receive him: there are chants, voices, and dances, solemn words and holy images; and amongst these the votary now perfected is freed at last and is released, he wanders to and fro with a crown on his head, joining in the worship and in the company of pure and holy men; and he sees the uninitiated and unpurified crowd of the living in the thick mire and mist, trampling one another down, and huddled together, abiding ever in evils through fear of death and disbelief in the good things yonde. For somewhat similar descriptions of the mingled terror and comfort in the spectacle, see Dio Chrys. xii. 202; Plut. Frag. de Anim. vi. 2, p. 270; de Facie lunae, c. 28; de Prefect. Virt. p. 81; Proclus on Plut. Alc. p. 142. Lucian (Catapl. 22) represents a man having entered Hades and got into the dark asking his companion if what was represented at Eleusis was not like this. Claudian's description is sufficiently terrible; and amidst that rhetoric Lenormant fancies he can infer that the votaries, waiting anxiously outside the building, saw the glimmer of the lighted interior through the opaion (et claram dispergere culmina lucem, v. 8); then was heard the noise of the preparations for the play, the doors were thrown open, and the daduchus appeared with torches in his hands, and the statue of Demeter was seen in gorgeous vestments and brilliantly lit up. It is more probable that the whole performance took place inside the temple. But that figures of the gods were introduced is certain--eudaimona phasmata, as Plato (Phaedr.) calls them, which flitted noiselessly (apsopheti, Themist. Or. xvi. 224, ed. Dind.) across the stage; but the images were incomplete, not simple but over-charged with strange attributes, they were ever in motion and represented in a dim and murky light -they were neither holoklera, hapla, atreme, nor en augei katharai, like the Platonic Ideas- as we may infer with Lenormant from Plato. Galen, too, says the representations were amudra. At Andania, too (Inscr.), provision is made for hosa dei diaskeuazesthai eis theon diathesin. To be more precise, the mystic drama of Demeter and Cora was unfolded to the mystae, the first-year initiates; but the epoptae were shown a representation of what Clement calls the mysteries of the dragon, which is the story of Zeus uniting himself with Persephone in the form of a serpent, and the whole tale of Iacchus-Zagreus was probably told (Clem. Alex. Protrept.; Tatian, Or. ad Graecos, 13). There was shown to the epoptae a representation, symbolical probably of creation, in which we hear (Euseb. Praep. Evang. iii. 12) that the hierophant used to assume the part of the Creator, the daduchus that of the sun, the altar-priest that of the moon, and the hierokeryx that of Hermes. Again, the last, the most solemn, and the most wonderful act of the epopsia was shown, the ear of corn cut in perfect stillness: the blade of corn symbolised, we are told, the great and perfect ray of light issuing from the Inexpressible One (ho para tou acharakteristou phoster teleios megas, Philosophumena, p. 115), whatever that means, or rather perhaps it was the symbol of life, the cutting down being death. Lenormant points to the Barone vase, which on one side has Zeus striking down the Titans, signifying death, and on the other side the ear of corn springing up and offerings being brought to it, which signifies life. In describing these vase-paintings he points out that it was allowable to represent the scenes from the mystic ceremonies, for they had no meaning without the explanatory words, which were only known to the initiated. The general form under which the initiations are represented on the vases is that of a marriage of the votary with Eudaimonia in the other world--in one of which the votary, a youth cut off by death in his prime, is represented as deserting Ugieia, Health, and passing to the arms of Eudaimonia, Bliss.
  This picture may lead us to what is to be said in conclusion on the moral and religious: import of the mysteries. If we choose to regard them in a cold unimpassioned un-religious way, we can say that they were a somewhat melodramatic performance, splendid no doubt, full of what Lobeck calls fireworks (pyrotechnia), but a mere theatrical display. That there were connexions between the mysteries and the theatre (the hierophants are said to have borrowed costume from the dramas of Aeschylus, Athen. i., if the reverse is not rather the case) need not surprise us; and that modern archaeologists profess to find in the temple of Eleusis evidences of machinery by which the spectacle was worked is only natural; for there undoubtedly was a spectacle, a religious spectacle. But that man is not to be envied who thinks to evince his superior wisdom by laughing at and depreciating the ceremonies, as Lobeck does throughout his learned work, or talking of them as the great and illustrious humbug of ancient history, as De Quincey does (On Secret Societies, vi. 255). Anything moral or religious may be made ridiculous if one chooses to regard it from the lower plane of the intellect alone, and does not take into account the subjective condition of the moral worker or the religious worshipper. The universal voice of the great names of pagan antiquity, from the Homeric hymn down to the writers of the late Roman Empire, attest to the wonderfully soothing effect the mysteries had on the religious emotions, and what glad hopes they inspired of good fortune in the world to come (Hom. Hymn. Dem. 483 ff.; Pind. Fragm. 137; Soph. Fragm. 719; Isocr. Panegyr. 28; Cic. Leg. ii. 1. 4, 36; Paus. v. 10, 1, x. 31, 11); and as a consequence of this clearer light, this higher faith, the votaries became better men and better citizens. Neque solum, says Cicero l. c., cum laetitia vivendi rationem accepimus, sed etiam cum spe meliore moriendi. For the object aimed at was rather, as Aristotle pointed out (ap. Synesius, Orat.), not that the initiate should be taught anything, that would appeal merely to his intellect (cf. Plut. de Defect. Orac. 23 fin.), but should be moved and have his higher impulses stirred (ou mathein ti dein alla pathein kai diatethenai). The light of the sun is bright for the initiated alone, sing the chorus of mystae in the Ranae. Not but that there were many scenes and symbols of a somewhat coarse nature, phallagogiai, heeroi gamoi, such as those represented by the hierophant and hierophantis, which pourtrayed perhaps the unions of Zeus and Demeter, Zeus and Persephone, and which entered into the higher worship (cf. hupo ron paston hupeduon), hut which are probably grossly exaggerated by the Christian writers, who did not take into consideration their symbolical meaning. The truths, however, which these and other symbolical performances contained was known only to the Hierophant, and explained by him to those whom he thought fit to hear them; cf. Theodoretus (Therap.): ton heerophantikon logon ouch hapantes isasin: all ho men polus homilos ta dromena theorei, hoi de ge prosagoreuomenoi hiereis ton ton orgion epitelousi thesmon, ho de hierophantes monos oide ton gignomenon ton logon kai oi an dokimasei uenuei. Even the epoptai only knew part of the mystic secrets, gnonai ti ton aporreton (Sopatros, Distinct. Quaest.). The multitude of worshippers took it all on faith, but, as Mr. Mahaffy finely remarks, even the coarsest features were hallowed and ennobled by the spirit of the celebrants, whose reverence blinded their eyes while it lifted up their hearts.
  The Eleusinian mysteries lasted for more than five centuries after Greece became a Roman province. As late as the time of the Emperor Julian they still enjoyed a considerable portion of their primeval sanctity, and were held in the highest esteem by the Neo-Platonic philosophers. The edict of Valentinian and Valens against secret worships did not extend to the Eleusinia, the praefect of Achaea, Pretextatus, having represented that the life of the Greeks would be barren and comfort-less without the mysteries (ib. iii. p. 249). The hierophant who initiated Maximus and Eunapius in the 4th century was the last Eumolpid. Subsequently Mithraic worship got blended with the Eleusinian; but the mysteries did not finally perish till the destruction of Eleusis by Alaric in his invasion of Greece, A.D. 396.
  For further discussion on the mysteries, see Mysteria.

The principal books to consult on the Eleusinia are: St. Croix, Recherches sur les Mysteres; Creuzer, Symbolik, iv. 33 ff.; Lobeck, Aglaophlamus, especially pp. 3-228; K. O. Muller, Kleine Schriften, ii. 242-311 (a reprint of his article Eleusinia in Ersch and Gruber); Petersen in Ersch and Gruber, xxviii. 219 ff., especially 252-269, in the second volume of the article Griechenland; Guigniaut, Memoires sur les Mysteres de Ceres et de Proserpine in the Memoires de l'Academie des Inscr. xxi.; Preller in Pauly, art. Eleusinia, and Griechische Mythologie, i. 643-653; Hermann, Gottesdienstliche Alterthumer, § § 35, 55; Maury, Religions de la Grece, ii. pp. 297-381; Schomann, Griechische Alterthumer, ii. 380-402; August Mommsen, Hecrtologie der Athener, 62-75, 222-269; Baumeister, Denkmaler, s. vv. Eleusinia and Eleusis; Lenormant, Monographie de la Voie Sacree Eleusinienne, 1864, and The Eleusinian Mysteries in the Contemporary Review, xxxvii. and xxxviii. May, July, and September 1880; Ramsay in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, s. v. Mysteries.

This text is from: A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890) (eds. William Smith, LLD, William Wayte, G. E. Marindin). Cited July 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks



Iambe, a Thracian woman, daughter of Pan and Echo, and a slave of Metaneira, the wife of Hippothoon. Others call her a slave of Celeus. The extravagant hilarity displayed at the festivals of Demeter in Attica was traced to her; for it is said that, when Demeter, in her wanderings in search of her daughter, arrived in Attica, Iambe cheered the mournful goddess by her jokes (Hom. Hymn. in Cer. 202; Apollod. i. 5.1; Diod. v. 4; Phot. Bibl. Cod. 239; Schol. ad Nicand. Alexiph. 134). She was believed to have given the name to Iambic poetry; for some said that she hung herself in consequence of the cutting speeches in which she had indulged, and others that she had cheered Demeter by a dance in the Iambic metre. (Eustath. ad Hom.)


Aloa

Aloa. An Athenian festival celebrated at Eleusis in honour of Dionysus and Demeter, the inventors of the plough and protectors of the fruits of the earth.


Aloa (Haloa), an Attic harvest festival, but celebrated principally at Eleusis and Athens, in honour of Demeter and Dionysus, the inventors of the plough and protectors of the fruits of the earth. It took place every year after the harvest was over, and only fruits were offered on this occasion, partly as a grateful acknowledgment for the benefits the husbandman had received, and partly that the next harvest might be plentiful. We learn from Demosthenes (c. Neaer.), that it was unlawful to offer any bloody sacrifice on the day of this festival, and that the priestess alone had the privilege to offer the fruits. The festival was also called thalusia (Hesych. s. v.), or sunkomisteria. The exact time of its celebration, as well as its duration, cannot be determined with certainty.


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