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Mysteries

sacred, eleusinian, connected, celebrated, worship, ceremonies, athens and sanctuary

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MYSTERIES (Lat. mystcrium, from Gk. av ari)ptov, crion front /.46arns, ?flys/ ). Secret rites connected with the Greek relirion. They have been divided into two groups: ( 11 those whore the participants were a small circle of priests, otlieially connected with the sanctuary. and (2) those where the participants were onmerous. Yaturally our information on these matters is very scanty. and by no means trustworthy, and the subject has been a fertile field for ingenious speculation. For a long time the view was prevalent that the mysteries con cealed deep truths and the remnants of a primi tive revelation. too profound for the popular mind. The chief representative of this doetrine was (Tenzer in his Sy in botik uml.11ythologie der uncut Viilker (4 vols., Leipzig and Darmstadt, 1830-431. The death-blow to these theories. so far as critical scholarship was concerned, came from Lobeek. mho in his .19/nophomies berg. 1829) showed that such oceult wisdom was no part of their teaching. 'Mysteries Were numer ous in I;reeve, and were celebrated in honor of litany gods. but in only a few places did they reach a national importanee. Of these the most celebrated and reverenced were the Eleusinian mysteries. connected with the worship of De meter and Cora (or Persephone) at (q.v.) in Attiea. With these goddesses there appear in the Eleusinian cult an anonymous goll and goddess Ochs, acus, and Occi, How), Pluto, Iacehus. Triptolemus. and Enbulenss whose con nection with the worship is IT no clear. The rites and legends connected with this cult are very similar to those prevailing not long ago among the European peasants, and point clearly to a similar belief in a 'corn-spirit: which dies and is reborn yearly. So far as can be judged. the Elensinian mysteries consisted large ly in the rehearsal before the initialed (ukrat, mystai) of a sort of miracle play, in whielf the rape of Cora, the sufferings of Demeter, and the final reunion of mother and daughter. together with the bestowal of the art of agriculture on man by Demeter, were represented in dra matic form. The initiation seems to have sym bolized the redemption of the soul from the powers of the lower world and its reception by the goddess as Imre. So far as can be learned from literature and art, the candidate was puri fied by a. sacrifice, which he himself brought, and, after fasting and preparation, wandered through a series of dark and confused passages, beset by terrifying sights and sounds, but emerg ing at last into the light where he saw the goddesses. We know that candidates had to be

initiated first into the Lesser Mysteries at Agrfe, near Athens, six months before the ceremonies at Eleusis. The ystm seem to include all, while those who had been fully received are sometimes called iirairrat, cpoptai, 'those who see.' As to the public ceremonial, we are better informed. The Lesser Mysteries were celebrated in the month Anthesterion (approximately February). They were accompanied, like the Greater Mys teries, by a sacred truce. The 11-eater Mysteries were celebrated in BoOdromion (appro4imately September) at Elensis, though there was much preliminary ritual at Athens. On the 14th certain sacred relics (rd lepd, to Meru) were brought from Elensis to Athens and deposited in the Elensinia; the next day seems to have been given to the gathering of the celebrants; on tho IGth the Myslie went in procession to the beach at Phalerum for solemn purification in the salt water; the 17th and 18th were filled with offer ings and ceremonies at various sanctuaries in Athens; on the 19th, early in the day, the sacred procession escorted the image of lacchus and the sacred relics to Eleusis. At the bridge over the Cephissus jests and gibes were exchanged, and it was evening (hence the 20th in Greek reckon ing) when they arrived at the great sanctuary. The following nights and days were given up to the performance of the sacred ritual and the ceremonies of initiation, which eertainly made a strong impression on the spectators. On the 23d the ceremonies closed with a solemn pouring out of water from two earthen jars toward the east and west. It is certain that no dogmatic teaching formed part of the Eleusinian worship. The chief officials connected with this sanctuary were the Hierophant, who was always from the Eleusinian family of the Etunolpite, and from the family of the Kerykes, the Dadouchos or torch-bearer, the llierokeryx or herald, and the priest at the altar (6 Eat )4cm.4 tepees, ho epi hicreus). In connection with the celebra tion a sacred truce, extending from the full moon of the previous month to the tenth day of the following was proclaimed so that the mptat could travel in security. Initiation was open to all ages and conditions, including even slaves, provided they were Hellenes (or later Romans), and were free from any great crime. Eleusinian mysteries were celebrated on a smaller scale at Mins. Megalopolis, and elsewhere. while at An dania. in Messenia. they appear in c•outbination with the Samothracian worship of the Cabiri.

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