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ELEUSINIA (Ἐλευσίνια). 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, vol. i p. 259, ed. Jebb).

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 (κυκεών) 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 [p. 1.716]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 (Paus. 1.38, 3; Lobeck, Aglaoph. 206 ff.), who are helped by one Eumolpus, a Thracian, son of Poseidon (Apoll. 3.14, 4), and founder of the mysteries (Lucian, Demon, 34). The difficulties connected with the exact birthplace and genealogical position of Eumolpus (see Lobeck, op. cit. 212; Roscher, Lexikon der Mythol. s.v. Eumolpus)--even Pausanias (1.38, 7) is perplexed with Eleusinian genealogies--we may pass over, remembering that he is, according to this legend, a foreigner (Plut. de Exsilio, p. 607, 10). 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 (ἱεροφαντία) 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 (Paus. 1.38, 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, 1.42). 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 (Preller, Griech. Myth. 1.643), 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 (cf. Hermann, Gottesd. Alterth. § 32; K. O. Müller in Ersch and Grüber, s. v. Eleusinia,). The religions of previous inhabitants sometimes continued in this form: e. g. the Thesmophoria in the Peloponnesus, after its conquest by the Dorians (Hdt. 2.171). 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, 1.304) 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 Schömann (Griech. Alt. 2.381) 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 (5.77). 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. Müller, 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 [ORPMICA], about the 7th and 6th centuries B.C. One of their tales related (Lobeck, op. cit. 547 ff.) 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. 3.1). Along with the Orphic theology came also the Orphic life (Plat. Leg. 6.782), and the need it inculcated of religious purifications and various kinds of asceticism, e.q. abstinence from animal food (Hdt. 2.81; Eur. Hipp. 967; Cretes, fragm. 20). Lenormant (Contemporary Review, 37.859) thinks that [p. 1.717]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 (see below, § 5), 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 (Hdt. 2.42, 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” (ἱεροὶ λόγοι), 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. [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 (3.71) has proved that this incorporation took place much later than is generally supposed, as it occurred only a short time before Solon (cf. Hdt. 1.30, about Tellus the Athenian), and the list of Athenian-Eleusinian priests does not reach higher (A. Mommsen, Heortologie der Athener, 63). 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. 1.323), 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 (Mommsen, op. cit. 52 ff., 62 ff.).

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. p.649), the Pherrephattia at Cyzicus (Plut. Luc. 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 ἀρχὴ τοῦ Κανωβισμοῦ (Strabo xvii. p.800), 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 (Hdt. 7.153; Grote, 5.62), and elsewhere (Diod. 5.77)--we find special evidence that the Eleusinian Demeter was worshipped in Boeotia, at Plataea where she had a temple (Hdt. 9.62, 65, 101), at Celeae near Phlius (Paus. 2.14, 1), and in many places in Arcadia, Pheneus (ib. 8.15, 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 (πέτρωμα) 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 (τοὺς ὑποχθονίους, Paus. l.c.). For further, see Mr. Andrew Lang (Nineteenth Century, April 1887, p. 565). 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. 4.1, 5; 2, 6 ;--Curtius, Hist. 4.433). At this place was found a most important inscription of 91 B.C. relating to the mysteries (see Sauppe, Die Mysterieninschrift von Andania). But even this worship was inferior in solemnity and importance to the Attic Eleusinia (Paus. 4.33, 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 (τὰ ἐν Ἄγραις).

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, 50.20). The exact date cannot be fixed, but Mommsen's suggestion is most probable (op. cit. 374), 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. Pl. 845, ἔστι τὰ μικρὰ ὥσπερ προκάθαρσις καὶ προάγνευσις τῶν μεγάλων), 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 (Mommsen, p. 377). The mysteries at Agrae [p. 1.718]consisted probably to a large extent of purifications, for which the water of the Ilissus was much used (Polyaen. 5.17). They were held more especially in honour of Persephone, called Pherrephatta here, than of Demeter (Schol. on Aristoph. Pl. 845, yet cf. Bekk. Anecd. 326). 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 (μίμημα τῶν περὶ τὸν Διόνυσον, Steph. Byz. s. v. Ἄγραι). The death of Dionysus-Zagreus took place on the 13th of Anthesterion, the day on which the festival of the Chytrae was held [DIONYSIA]: so perhaps on the ninth day after, the 21st (for funeral rites on the ninth day after death, the ἔνατα, see Aeschin. Ctesiph. § 225), the funeral ceremony may have been held and his violent death related in a drama (Mommsen, p. 378). 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 (Schol. on Aristoph. Pl. 845, 1013). A representation of the initiation of Heracles on a vase found at Panticapaeum is given in Baumeister's Denkmäler, p. 475. For the appearance of Aphrodite, cf. Themist. Or. xx. p. 288, Dind. There is a very similar one on a Pourtalès vase in the British Museum, which Baumeister also alludes to (cf. Wieseler, 2.112).

4. The Course of the Festival at Eleusis.

Two days are fixed by definite evidence; viz. the 16th Boedromion for the Ἅλαδε μύσται (Polyaen. 3.11, 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 σπονδοφόροι (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 μυσταγωγός (see below). He notified to the hierophant. the fitness of the applicant and introduced him, this proceeding being apparently called σύστασις. A not uncommon form of purification was the Διὸς κώδιον (Suidas, s. v.), which the daduchus used to cover the sinner's feet with (see Lenormant, Contemp. Rev. 38.137). 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. 4.535; Preller in Pauly, 3.99); and votaries generally appear to have abstained from domestic birds, fish, pomegranates, apples, and beans (Porphyr. Abst. 4.16). Ramsay (Encycl. Britannica, s. v. Mysteries) 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 (ἀγυρμός Hesych. sub voce) 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 πρόρρησις or Ἅλαδε μύσται. These are to be identified in point of time, else Philostratus ( Vit. Apoll. 4.18) in an important passage would omit the striking ceremony of Ἅλαδε μύσται. The passage is this: τὰ δὲ Ἐπιδαύρια μετὰ πρόρρησίν τε καὶ ἱερεῖα δεῦρο μυεῖν Ἀθηναίοις πάτριον ἐπὶ θυσία δευτέρᾳ ( “as a secondary sacrifice” ), τουτὶ δ᾽ ἐνόμισαν Ἀθκληπιοῦ ἕνεκα, ὅτι δὴ ἐμύησαν αὐτὸν ἥκοντα, Ἐπιδαυρόθεν ὀψὲ μυστηρίων. A proclamation was made by the Archon Basileus (Poll. 8.90) and by the Hierophant and Daduchus in the Stoa Poecile (Schol. Aristoph. Frogs 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 Π̔ειτοί, 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 (Paus. 1.38, 1; Hesych. sub voce cf. Etym. M. s. v.: ἱερὰ ὁδός: εἰς Ἐλευσῖνα ἄγουσα ἥν ἀπίασιν οἱ μύσται ἅλαδε). The next day, the 17th, sacrifices (ἱερεῖα) were offered for the safety of the state (Rangabé, Inscr. 795) by the Archon Basileus and the ἐπιμεληταὶ (see § 6) in the Eleusinium at Athens ([Lys.] in Andoc. § 4; Mommsen, p. 249); and at all these sacrifices the θεωροὶ 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 (Mommsen, p. 253) in the temple of Aesculapius, S.W. of the Acropolis, or in the laccheum (Boeckh on C. I. G. 481), also called the temple of Demeter. It was just where the road from Piraeus entered Athens (Paus. 1.2, 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 (Mommsen, pp. 95, 225, 226). 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 (Hdt. 5.82). Meanwhile there were [p. 1.719]being brought from Eleusis certain religious objects,--playthings, it was said, of the child Iacchus,--bone (ἀστράγαλος), top (στρόβιλος), ball (σφαῖρα), apples (μῆλα), tambourine (ρόμβος), looking-glass (ἔσοπτρον), woolly fleece (πὄκος), fan (λίκνον), and such like, as we learn from Clement of Alexandria (Protrept. p. 15, ed. Potter; cf. Lobeck, Aglaoph. 701, 702). Phalli were perhaps also carried among these mystical objects (Lyd. de Mensibus, 4.38, p. 82); 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 (Mommsen, p. 253). The Athenian Ephebi met this convoy at the temple of Echo (evidence from inscriptions in Mommsen, p. 252), which was probably the same as the ἱερὰ συκῆ, where the story ran that Phytalus met the wandering Demeter (Brunck, Anal. iii. p. 187, No. 183; Ath. 74d : Philostr. Vit. Soph. 2.20 fin.), and the bridge over the Cephissus, and was so called from the cymbals (ἠχεῖα) used in the Eleusinian ceremony (Schol. Theocr. 2.36), and conveyed them to Athens by nightfall. This is Mommsen's view as to the date: but Lenormant (Contemp. Rev. xxxviii. p. 138) 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 (p. 227), 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 Ῥειτοὶ joining it on their return home. In the early morning of the 19th, there were occasionally decrees passed (Mommsen, p. 225). In the forenoon (Plut. Alc. 34; cf. Hdt. 8.65) 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. 1.2, 4); and then passing through the Ceramicus (Schol. Aristoph. Frogs 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. Pl. 1014). The statue of Iacchus was probably that cf a fair child crowned with myrtle and holding a torch, hence called φωσφόρος ἀστὴηρ in Aristophanes (Aristoph. Frogs 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. Alc. 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 (Ἀχέα) Demeter, and to Cora, with whose worship that of Athena and Poseidon was joined (Paus. 1.37, 2). Here according to Preller (Diss. de via sacra, p. 125, ed. Köhler) lay the sacra gentilitia of the Gephyraei (cf. Hdt. 5.61) at the sacred fig-tree (cf. Lenormant, Voie Sacrée Éleusinienne, pp. 245, 254 ff.). 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. κροκοῦν), which was considered as a protection from the evil eye. The other priestly families had probably particular ceremonies to perform at particular places. For a further account of the Sacred Way, see Fr. Lenormant, op. cit. Occasionally during the procession the majority of those who took part in it indulged in flouts and gibes at one another, a proceeding called γεφυρισμός, the origin of which title is unknown, but is generally associated with the bridge over the Cephissus (Strabo, 9.400). It was similar to the τὰ ἐξ ἁμαξῶν of the Dionysia, or the στήνια of the Thesmophoria. We must remember, however, that Lenormant (Voie Sacrée, p. 282; Contemp. Rev. 38.141) supposes this γεφυρισμὸς 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. Frogs 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 (Rangabé, 813, 4), consisting probably in part of swine, to Demeter (Schol. to Aristoph. Peace 374). An inscription in Mommsen, p. 257, orders sacrifices to be made by the ἱεροποιοὶ 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. 50.70), besides others, a sheep to Proserpina and a sow to Demeter. (For the offering of swine to the Earth Goddess, which offering was of a magical import, and how it was believed that to mix the flesh of swine with the seed-corn added to its fertility, see the Scholion on Lucian, Dial. Meretr. ii., quoted by Mr. Andrew Lang, “Demeter and the Pig,” in the Nineteenth Century, April 1887, p. 562, and his references to analogous practices among the Khonds and Pawnees.) 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. 2.35, 5); hence perhaps the origin of the bull-fights alluded to by Artemidorus (Oneirocr. 1.8) as occurring at the Eleusinia.

The 22nd and 23rd were the μυστηριώτιδες ἡμέραι (Rang. 813, 9), and the ceremonies celebrated thereon were παννυχίδες. During the evening of the 22nd was probably what was called λαμπρ́δων ἡμέρα (cf. Fulg. 1.10), which consisted in a symbolical search after Cora with torches (Lactant. Inst. 1.21: cf. Stat. Silv. 4.8, 50; Juv. 15.149), performed principally by and for the less highly initiated, [p. 1.720]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 κυκεών 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 παράδοσις τῶν ἱερῶν (Suidas, s. v.): certain relics and amulets were given to the votary to touch or kiss or even taste (Maury, Rel. des Grecs, ii. p. 335), the votary repeating, as the priest tendered him the objects with a regular question ( “quae rogati in sacrorum acceptionibus respondeant,” Arnob. Adv. Gentes, 5.26), this formula (σύνθημα), as given by Clement of Alexandria (Protrept. p. 18): ἐνήστευσα, ἔπιον τὸν κυκεῶνα, ἔλαβον ἐκ κίστης ἐγγευσάμενος, ἀπεθέμην ἐις κάλαθον καὶ ἐκ καλάθου εἰς κίστην. 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. p. 140). The actual ἱερὰ themselves were kept in a chest (τελέτης ἐγκύμονα μνστίδα κίστην, Nonnus, Dionys. 9.127) 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. p. 19): the uninitiated were not allowed to see these “even from the housetop” (Callim. Hymn to Ceres, 4): cf. Grote, 5.63, and Lenormant on the Cista Mystica in D. and S. 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 ἐπόπται, that the ceremonies of the 23rd were held, and they were the highest and greatest (see below, § 7). Here, too, was probably a παράδοσις τῶν ἱερῶν, the sacramental words used in receiving which being ἐκ τυμπάνου ἔφαγον, ἐκ κυμβάλου ἔπιον, ἐκερνοφόρησα, ὑπὸ τὸν παστ̀ον ὑπέδυον. All this undoubtedly points to the Phrygian worship of Sabazius (cf. Jul. Firm. Maternus, De error. profan. relig. 18, ed. Halm), 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 πλημοχόαι (Ath. x. p. 496) or πλημοχόη (Poll. 10.74), a sacrifice to the dead. The πλημοχόη 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 (ὕε κύε) were spoken. This sacrifice formed a fitting conclusion to the mysteries in the special sense, the μυστηριώτιδες ἡμέραι: for that is the way we are to understand Athenaeus (l.c.), not that it was the end of the whole festival. It was like the ζημία of the Thesmophoria: and it ended with a χαίρετε to the dead, which conclusion was called προχαιρητήρια (Harpocr. 161, 9; cf. Mommsen, p. 230). It must be noticed, however, that Lenormant (Contemp. Rev. 38.149) supposes the πλημοχόη 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 ὕε κύε ὑπερκύε found engraved on the kerbstone of a well near that spot. The next morning, 24th, occurred perhaps the βαλλητύς (Ath. 406; Hesych. sub voce), also called τύπται (Hesych. sub voce), a sort of sham fight, enjoined, it seems, in the Homeric hymn (v. 267 ff.). There was a similar contest, called λιθοβολία, at the festival of Damia and Auxesia at Troezen (cf. Paus. 2.32, 2). Lenormant in D. and S., s. v. Balletys, sees a connexion with the herb balis, symbol of resurrection and immortality (Etym. M. s. v.; Plin. Nat. 25.14). On this same morning and afternoon were the ἀγῶνες σταδιακοί, alluded to in Rangabé, 813. They were called Eleusinia or Demetria, and the prize was some barley grown on the Rarian plain (Schol. on Pind. O. 9.150, 166). Euripides was crowned at these Eleusinian games (Gel. 15.20, 3). There is no reason to suppose that these games were not annual (see Hermann, Gottesd. Alterth. § 55, 39); for the Eleusinian πεντετηρὶς referred to by Pollux, 8.107, is a different and second-rate festival, as may be seen from its being mentioned last in the list (Mommsen,p. 243). In early times these games probably lasted two days; but in later times on the 25th the theatrical representations of the Διονύσου τεχνῖται 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 (Rangabé, 813, 6), held perhaps for the purpose of keeping the visitors in the country. According to a decree in Mommsen, p. 232, 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 (Mommsen, p. 231); and that there were some business days in Boedromion free after the mysteries is proved by Demosthenes (Ol. 3.5). 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 γεφυρισμὸς and the πλημοχόη 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 Hierophant (Ἱεροφάντης

The most important priest was the Hierophant (Ἱεροφάντης). In lists of the Eleusinian priests he is put first (Dio Chrys. xxxi. p. 386, ed. Dind. ; C. I. G. 184, 190). He was nominated for life (Paus. 2.14, 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 (στολή) and a turban (στρόφιον), 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. [p. 1.721]Plut. Alc. 22; Epictet. 3.21.16; C. I. G. 401).

b. The Daduchus (δᾳδοῦχος) or torchbearer

The Daduchus (δᾳδοῦχος) 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. 6.3, 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 (see Boeckh on C. I. G. i. p. 441 f.). We have seen above, p. 717 a, 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. 9.31, 6, compared with Philostr. Vit. Soph. 2.20), taking part in certain purifications (Suid. s. v. Διὸς κῴδιον), in the πρόρρησις (Schol. Aristoph. Frogs 369), and even in the exhibition of the mysteries (Suid. s. v. δᾳδουχεῖ). For these two priests, the Hierophant and the Daduchus, who had to be men of tried sanctity (νόμος τὸν μέλλοντα δᾳδουχεῖν δοκιμάζεσθαι, quoted by Mayor on Juv. 15.140), there was a regular consecration on their entering office. It was the τέλος τῆς ἐποπτείας, and was called ἀνάδεσις καὶ στεμμάτων ἐπίθεσις, 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 (Lenormant, Contemp. Rev. 38.414).

c. The
(κῆρυξ, ἱεροκῆρυξ).

The Keryx or Hierokeryx (κῆρυξ, ἱεροκῆρυξ). 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 (1.38, 3), Pandrosos according to Pollux (8.103). Mommsen (p. 234) supposes they were an Athenian family which ousted or absorbed an Eleusinian family, perhaps the Eudanemi (Hesych. sub voce). His duties were chiefly to proclaim silence at the sacrifices (Poll. 4.91).

d. The
( ἐπὶ βωμῷ).

In early times he was certainly a priest (τὸν ἐπὶ τῷ βωμῷ ἱερέα, 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. 3.21, 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 ἀείσιτοι, as they were called (C. I. G. 183 ff.).

e. The Hierophantis (ἱερόφαντις).

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, καὶ τὸν ἱεροφάντην δὲ καὶ ρὰς ἱεροφαντδας καὶ τὸν δᾳδοῦχον καὶ τὰς ἄλλας ἱερείας μυρρίνης ἔχειν στέφανον. They lived a life of perfect chastity during their tenure of office, though they might have been married previously (Mommsen, p. 237). 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 (1.14) appears to call these priestesses προφάντιδες, and perhaps they were also called μέλισσαι (Hesych. sub voce).


Female torch-bearer, δᾳδουχήσασα (C. I. G. 1535; cf. Lucian, Cataplus, 22).

g. Priestess (ἱέρεια).

She was not hieronymous, but eponymous (cf. C. I. G. 386, ἐπὶ ἱερείας Φλαοΰιας Αοδαμίας). 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 (σπονδοφόροι) 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. sub voce Εὐδάνεμος). Mommsen (p. 244) thinks that a Eudanemos went from Eleusis and a Keryx from Athens at the same time.

i. Minor offices:

Though not strictly a priest, yet as exercising an important function in the mysteries, (j) the mystagogi (μυσταγωγοὶ) 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 (Sauppe, Mysterieninschrift, p. 37). 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 σύστασις (Lenormant, Cont. Rev. xxxviii. p. 135). If a mystagogue could not say what purificatory sacrifices were required for a special candidate, recourse was had to (k) an Exegetes (ἐξηγήτης), who appears to have been elected by the people from the Eumolpidae or Kerykes [p. 1.722](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 (cf. Lenormant, Cont. Rev. 37.871) 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 πάτρια which Cicero asks Atticus (1.9, 2) for--but also perhaps the allegorical and symbolical interpretations of some of the myths: cf. Galen, 8.181, ed. Kuhn; Lobeck, Aglaoph. 194.

The priests of the mysteries, especially the Eumolpidae, appear to have had a special ecclesiastical court (ἱερὰ γερουσία, 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 δικάζεσθθι πρὸς Εὐμολπίδας. 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 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 ἀπαγωγή, ἀσεβείαι γραφή, ἔνδειξις, προβολή, εἰσαγγελία: see Wayte's note on Dem. Androt. p. 601.27) in cases of 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. 6.61 fin.) or banishment (Andoc. § 15), with confiscation of goods (C. I. A. 1.277), for profanation of the mysteries. The accuser, if he did not get the fifth part of the votes, suffered a kind of ἀτιμία (Andoc. § 33), i. e. was deprived of the right to enter the temples and fined the usual 1000 drachmas (Caillemer, l.c.). 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 φράζειν πρὸς τὸν βασιλέα (Dem. Androt. l.c.).

A vase representation from a hydria of Cumae of the Eleusinian goddesses and their priests is given by Baumeister, Denkmäler, p. 474, with full explanations. The pictures are instructive as regards the dress of the priests.

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 ἐπιμεληταί, elected by the people, two from the people generally and one each from the families of the Eumolpidae and Kerykes (Aristot. ap. Harpocr. p. 118). The Archon generally appears to have appointed an assistant (πάρεδρος), 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. p. 1372.81). 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 ἐπιμεληταὶ 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, ἱεροποιοὶ had the administration of them. Midias was elected one of these. They were three in number (Dem. Mid. p. 522.115), 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. Hdt. 8.65) 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. 7.238) implies. This Lobeck (Aglaoph. 17-20) proves elaborately. Women (Aristid. Eleus. vol. i. p. 257, Jebb), and even perhaps slaves (Theophilus, Fr. i., vol. ii. p. 473, Kock), 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. 4.5). That boy or girl (for boys, see C. I. G. 393, 400; for girls, 443-445, 448) was said μυηθῆναι ἀφ̓ ἑστίας, and was called (or ) ἀφ̓ ἑστίας. He or she had to be an Athenian of high birth (Bekk. Anecd. 204), 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. p. 165, ἀλλ̓ ἐχρῆν ὡς ἔοικε τὸν μυσταγωγόν μοι γενέσθαι τῆς ἐρωτικῆς τελετῆς οὐ πορρωθεν τῶν παιδικῶν οὐδὲ ὄθνειον ἀλλ̓ ἐγγύθεν καὶ ἀφ̓ ἑστίας.) The parents of the child had to make extensive offerings and pay a large fee. For more concerning initiation ἀφ̓ ἑοτίας, 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 (Lenormant, Contemp. Rev. xxxviii. p. 123).

The ordinary proceeding was for the initiate to receive his first introduction as a child and afterwards the higher grades as a man--παῖς μύστης καὶ ἐπόπτης ἀνήρ, as Himerius says (Or. 22.1; cf. C. I. G. i. p. 445). 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. [p. 1.723]26; cf. Schol. on Aristoph. Frogs 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 ( § 8), 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 μύσται were those who had received any degree of initiation, the ἐπόπται or ἔφοροι the second-year votaries. Suidas (s. v. ἐπόπται) says so explicitly--cf. Harpocr. s. v. ἐπωπτευκότων, and Plut. Demetr. 26; not to mention such passages as Plut. de Iside et Osiride, 100.78, 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 μύησις, the ἐπόπτεια or ἐποψία could only be seen by those who got a ticket from the δᾳδοῦχος. A ticket of that kind has been discovered marked ΔΑΔ and ΕΡΟΨ, with the symbols of an ear of corn and a poppy (see Lenormant, 38.145). 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 (Hdt. 2.156; Paus. 8.37, 6), and :in other matters (Arist. Nic. Eth. 3.1, 17 ; and Lobeck's discussion, Aglaoph. pp. 77 ff.), and to have only barely escaped death. Diagoras of Melos (Diod. 13.6 ; [Lys.] in 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. 3.2.26). 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 (ὄπαιον) in the middle for the light (Plut. Per. 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 ἀγέλαστος πέτρα, 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. (See his elaborate description, Contemp. Rev. 38.125 ff.; and Baumeister's Denkmäler, art. Eleusis, with the plan he gives. For fuller details, compare the Ρρακτικὰ τῆς Ἀρχαιολογικῆς ἑταιρίας for 1883, and M. Blavette in Bulletin de Correspondance helleńique, viii. (1884), pp. 254 ff.) 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 ἀγέλαστος πέτρα, exactly on the spot where the Homeric hymn (5.273) orders it to be built. The great temple of Ictinus was called by the ancients μυστικὸς σηκός (Strabo, 9.395), and the inner portion τελεστήριον or ἀνάκτορον or μέγαρον (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. 100.21), a view to which the terms ἱεροφάντης and ἐπόπτης 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 (Gr. Myth. 1.653), “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. 1.256) asks, “Where else do the recitals of the narratives chant forth greater marvels, or does the ceremonial (τὰ δρώμενα) involve a greater affrightment (ἔκπληξιν), or does the spectacle match more fully what the ear hears?” The [p. 1.724]drama consisted of δρώμενα and λεγόμενα, the former being much the more important, for the ancient religious worship addressed itself, as Grote points out (5.63), more to the eye than to the ear. There were hymns and chants (Paus. 9.27, 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 (ῥήσεις, παραγγέλματα), recitals of myths (μύθων φῆμαι. Aristid. l.c.), wailings for the loss of Persephone (Proclus on Plat. Politic. p. 384). There were kinds of dancing or rhythmical movements by those performing the ceremony (Lucian, de Salt. 15), clashing of cymbals (Schol. on Theocr. 2.36; Vell. 1.4, 1), sudden changes from light to darkness (σκότους τε καὶ φωτὸς ἐναλλὰξ γενομένων, Dio Chrys. 12.387), “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 yonder” (Themist. in Stob. Serm. 120.26). For somewhat similar descriptions of the mingled terror and comfort in the spectacle, see Dio Chrys. 12.202; Plut. Frag. de Anim. 6.2, p. 270; de Facie lunae, 100.28; 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 (de Rapt. Proserp. init.) is sufficiently terrible; and amidst that rhetoric Lenormant (Contemp. Rev. 38.421) fancies he can infer that the votaries, waiting anxiously outside the building, saw the glimmer of the lighted interior through the ὄπαιον ( “et claram dispergere culmina lucem,” 5.8); 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--εὐδαίμονα φάσματα, as Plato (Phaedr. p. 250 C) calls them, which flitted noiselessly (ἀψοφητί, Themist. Or. 16.224, 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 ὁλόκληρα, ἁπλᾶ, ἀτρεμῆ, nor ἐν αὐγῇ καθαρᾷ, like the Platonic Ideas--as we may infer with Lenormant (p. 417) from Plato (l.c.). Galen, too (see Lobeck, p. 64), says the representations were αμυδρά. At Andania, too (Inscr. 50.24), provision is made for ὅσα δεῖ διασκευάζεσθαι εἰς θεῶν διάθεσιν. 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 (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 (Clem. Alex. Protrept. pp. 13-15; Tatian, Or. ad Graecos, 13 (9 ed. Migne); and Lenormant, p. 426). There was shown to the epoptae a representation, symbolical probably of creation, in which we hear (Euseb. Praep. Evang. 3.12) 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 ἐποψία” 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 ( παρὰ τοῦ ἀχαρακτηρίστου φωστὴρ τέλειος μέγας, Philosophumena, p. 115), whatever that means, or rather perhaps it was the symbol of life, the cutting down being death. Lenormant (p. 428) 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 Ὑγίεια, Health, and passing to the arms of Εὐδαιμονία, Bliss (Lenormant, pp. 431-433).

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 (p. 107) 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. 1.22, 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 (Preller in Pauly, 3.89; Lenormant, p. 415) 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, 6.255). 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 [p. 1.725]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, Bergk; Soph. Fragm. 719, Dind.; Isocr. Panegyr. § 28; Cic. Leg. 2.1. 4, 36; Crinagoras in Jacobs' Anthol. ii. p. 332, No. 42; Paus. 5.10, 1, 10.31, 11); and “as a consequence of this clearer light, this higher faith, the votaries became better men and better citizens” (Mahaffy, Rambles and Studies in Greece, p. 184). “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. p. 48), 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 (οὐ μαθεῖν τι δεῖν ἀλλὰ παθεῖν καὶ διατεθῆναι). “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, φαλλαγωγίαι, ἑεροὶ γάμοι, 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. ὑπὸ ρὸν παστὸν ὑπέδυον), hut which are probably grossly exaggerated by the Christian writers (cf. Hermann, Gottesd. Alterth. § 55, 28; Lobeck, 196 ff.; Lenormant, p. 427), who did not take into consideration their symbolical meaning (cf. Lenormant, Voie Sacrée, p. 89). 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. p. 49, Gaisf.): τὸν ἑεροφαντικὸν λόγον οὐχ ἅπαντες ἴσασιν: ἀλλ̓ μὲν πολὺς ὅμιλος τὰ δρώμενα θεωρεὶ, οἱ δέ γε προσαγορευόμενοι ἱερεῖς τὸν τῶν ὀργίων ἐπιτελοῦσι θεσμόν, δὲ ἱεροφάντης μόνος οἶδε τῶν γιγνομένων τὸν λόγον καὶ οἷ ἄν δοκίμασῃ υηνύει. Even the ἐπόπται only knew part of the mystic secrets, γνῶναί τι τῶν ἀπορρήτων (Sopatros, Distinct. Quaest. p. 121, quoted by Lenormant, p. 414). The multitude of worshippers took it all on faith, but, as Mr. Mahaffy (op. cit. p. 184) 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 (Gibbon, iii. p. 132, ed. Smith), 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 (Gibbon, l.c. with Dr. Smith's note; Lenormant, Contemp. Rev. 37.862).

For further discussion on the mysteries, see MYSTERIA The principal books to consult on the Eleusinia are: St. Croix, Récherches sur les Mystères; Creuzer, Symbolik, 4.33 ff.; Lobeck, Aglaophamus, especially pp. 3-228; K. O. Müller, Kleine Schriften, 2.242-311 (a reprint of his article Eleusinia in Ersch and Grüber); Petersen in Ersch and Grüber, 28.219 ff., especially 252-269, in the second volume of the article Griechenland; Guigniaut, Mémoires sur les Mystères de Ceres et de Proserpine in the Mèmoires de l'Acadèmie des Inscr. xxi.; Preller in Pauly, art. Eleusinia, and Griechische Mythologie, 1.643-653; Hermann, Gottesdienstliche Alterthümer, § § 35, 55; Maury, Religions de la Grèce, ii. pp. 297-381; Schömann, Griechische Alterthümer, 2.380-402; August Mommsen, Hecrtologie der Athener, 62-75, 222-269; Baumeister, Denkmäler, s. vv. Eleusinia and Eleusis; Lenormant, Monographie de la Voie Sacrée Éleusinienne, 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.


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