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τὰ μυστήρια). The Mysteries, also called ὄργια. The term τελεταί is likewise employed, and the Latin equivalent is Initia (De Leg. ii. 14, 36). The Mysteries were ceremonies in the ancient religions practised in seclusion and known only to bodies of initiates. They were held at certain fixed seasons and were largely symbolical in their character, though their origin is not very satisfactorily understood. It is held by many that they were intended to strengthen men's hopes in a future life in which the good who fail of a reward here should there receive it, while punishment should be visited upon the wicked. Hence a part of the ceremonial had to do with the resurrection of the gods and heroes; and we find some remarkable passages in the Greek poets that support this view. Thus Pindar (Frag. 137): “Blessed is he who has seen them before he goes below the earth;” and the inscription (Ephem. Arch. 1883): “To the initiated, death is not an evil; it is a gain.” Cf. also Frag. 719; and Ran. 455.

The Mysteries consisted of purifications, sacrifices, processions, songs, dances, dramatic spectacles, and similar ceremonies. The formulae or liturgies (δεικνύμενα, λεγόμενα, δρώμενα) were kept profoundly secret, to be revealed only to those who had been fully initiated. The mystagogi, or priests of the Mysteries, had undoubtedly at their command an abundance of mechanical devices to produce effects most startling and convincing to the credulous worshippers. All the arts, in fact, were taxed to the utmost to astonish, dazzle, and appal. Marvels of light, sound, and colour were displayed. Mysterious harmonies stole upon the ears of the attendant throngs; sighs and whispers were audible amid the intervals of awful silence; lights gleamed in strangely beautiful colours; and dazzling figures appeared and disappeared. In the earlier times the fame of the Mysteries was very great. Herodotus speaks of some 30,000 persons attending them (viii. 65); but in later times they degenerated, the secrecy was removed, and they became orgies in the modern sense of the word, at which the most shameless indecencies were practised, until under the Romans they had to be suppressed as public nuisances.

The most important Mysteries were those of Eleusis and the Thesmophoria, both symbolizing the rape of Persephoné and the search for her by her mother Demeter (see Eleusinia; Thesmophoria); those of Cybelé and Aphrodité, referring to the mystery of procreation (see Aphrodisia; Rhea); those of Orpheus, who was regarded as the founder of all Mysteries (see Orphica); of Bacchus (see Dionysia); of Zeus in Crete; of the foreign gods Mithras (see Mithras), Sabazius (see Sabazius), the Cabeiri (see Cabeiria), and Isis (see Isis). The most famous Mysteries of Roman origin were those of the Bona Dea (see Bona Dea) and of the Arval Brethren (see Fratres Arvales).

The principal works in modern times relating to the Mysteries are those of Creuzer, Symbolik und Mythologie der alten Völker (1810-12), which regards their nature as wholly symbolical; the profoundly learned treatise of Lobeck, Aglaophamus (1829), anti-symbolistic and lacking in the religious sense; Preller, Demeter und Persephoné (1837); Lenormant, Voie Sacrée Eleusinienne (1864); Strabo,

Studien über den Bilderkreis von Eleusis (1872); Förster, Der Raub und die Rückkehr der Persephone (1874); Haggenmacher, Die eleusinischen Mysterien (1880); Stengel, Griechische Kultusalterthümer (1890), Rubensohn, Die Mysterienheiligthümer in Eleusis und Samothrake (1892); and Gardner, New Chapters in Greek History, pp. 381-402 (1892).

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