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The two mystic festivals of Demeter and her daughter Persephone (Core) celebrated in Attica. They took their name from the city of Eleusis, twelve miles distant from Athens. This was, from time immemorial, a seat of the worship Of Demeter, instituted, it was said, by the goddess herself after the disappearance of her daughter. (See DEMETER.) The worship of Dionysus was early associated with that of the two goddesses of the earth, for Dionysus was himself a god of fertility, worshipped here under the name of Iakchos, as son of Zeus and Demeter or Persephone. The ritual of the Eleusinian service was supposed to have been ordained by Eumolpus (see EUMOLPUS). The conquest of Eleusis, which took place, according to the story, under king Erechtheus, gave Athens a right to take part in the solemnity, and the lesser of the two festivals was actually celebrated in Athens. Eleusis, however, continued to be the chief seat of the worship, and the highest priesthoods were hereditary in the Eleusinian families of the Eumolpidae and Kerykes. The sanctity which shrouded the Eleusinian mysteries occasioned the foundation of Eleusinia on their model in other Greek cities. But the initiations at Eleusis were always accounted the most sacred and the most efficacious. The events celebrated in the mysteries were the descent of Persephone into the world below, and her return to light and to her mother. The former was celebrated at the greater Eleusinia between autumn and seed-time; the latter in spring at the lesser Eleusinia. The symbolical representation of both events had the same object. This was to excite and strengthen in the minds of the initiated, by means of the story of Persephone, the faith in the continuance of life, and a system of rewards and punishments after death. The right of initiation into the Eleusinian mysteries was in all probability restricted originally to inhabitants of Attica, but it was not long before it was extended to all Greeks. In later times, after their closer connexion with the Greeks, the Romans were also admitted. Barbarians were excluded, and so were all who had been guilty of murder, or any other serious offence. The neophyte was proposed for initiation by an Athenian citizen who had himself been initiated. He was admitted first to the lesser mysteries at the lesser Eleusinia. At this stage the candidates were termed Mystoe, and were allowed to take a limited part in the greater Eleusinia the next autumn. They were not initiated, however, into the greater mysteries, until the greater Eleusinia succeeding these ; and after their initiation were called epoptoe, or seers. The external arrangement of the festival was in the hands of the second archon, or Archon Basileus, who exercised a general superintendence over the whole of the public worship. He was assisted by four overseers (epimeletoe), two of whom were elected from the whole body of citizens, and two from the Eleusinian families of the Eumolpidae and Kerykes.[1] The high-priestly officials, who carried out the liturgical functions at the celebration, were also chosen from these two families. The Hierophantes, or chief priest, belonged to the house of Eumolpus. It was his duty to exhibit to the initiated the mysterious shrines, and probably to lead the performance of the hymns handed down from his ancestors. The Keryx, or herald, was of the house of the Kerykes. He summoned the initiated, in the traditional form of words, to worship, pronouncing for them the form of prayer. The Daduchos or torch-bearer, and the superintendent of the sacrifice, were also important officials. The lesser Eleusinia were celebrated in the month Anthesterion, which corresponded roughly to February. The service was performed at Agrae, a suburb of Athens on the Ilissus. in the temple of Demeter and Core, and accompanied by mystical rites, the nature of which is unknown. It was said to have been founded at the wish of Heracles, who, being a stranger, was excluded by usage from the greater Eleusinia. The great Eleusinia were celebrated in the middle of Boedromion (roughly = September), for a space probably of nine days. The first days were devoted to the preparation for the main festival, bathing in the sea, sacrifices of purification, and the like. On the sixth day, the 20th Boedromion, the immense multitude of mystae, in festal attire and crowned with myrtle, marched in procession along the sacred way to Eleusis, preceded by the image of Iokchos, who gave his name to the celebration. Much time was spent, partly in the performance of acts of devotion at the numerous holy places on the road, partly in merriment and banter; so that it was late in the evening before they arrived at the Telesterion, or house of initiation, at Eleusis. This was a magnificent temple erected by Pericles in place of the ancient temple of Demeter, which had been burnt down in the Persian War. During the following nights various celebrations took place at those spots in Eleusis and its neighbourhood which were hallowed in the story of the goddess. In these were represented the sorrowful searching of the goddess for her lost daughter, and the mother's joy at finding her. The transition from sorrow and fasting to joy and festivity was symbolized by the potion mixed of water, meal, and penny-royal, supposed to have been the first food tasted by Demeter after her reception in Eleusis. It was probably while, these celebrations were going on that the Epoptae, and the Mystae who were called totheir final initiation, took part in the mysteries proper. Mysterious rites were first, it would seem, performed in darkness, which threw the celebrants into a state of painful suspense and expectation. Then, in a dazzling light, and amid great splendour, the Hierophantes showed them certain shrines of the goddess and Iakchos, explaining their meaning; holy songs being meantime performed, partly by himself, partly by choirs with instrumental accompaniment. The climax of the whole was the sacred drama, a representation of the story of the three goddesses in the worlds above and below. The festival was brought to a close by a libation of water from two vessels in the shape of a top (plemochoe). The water was poured in the direction of east and west with mystical formulae. The ancients speak of the revelations made in the mysteries as having a beneficial influence on morality, pointing as they did to reward and punishment after death. They represent them farther as giving comfort in the trials and sufferings of life, and as opening brighter hopes after death. It is certain that there were few citizens of Athens who were not initiated; many who neglected the rite early in life were initiated in old age. For in the popular belief the initiation conferred a claim to the joys promised in the mysteries to the good after death. The Eleusinian mysteries maintained their position for a long time. Among the Romans, men of the highest rank, as, for instance, Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius, deigned to receive the initiation. When the Christian emperor Valentinian put an end to all religious celebrations by night, he excepted the Eleusinia, which continued in existence till they were abolished by Theodosius towards the end of the 4th century A.D.
DADUCHUS 100.00%
MYSTAE 75.31%
The Greek term for those who had been initiated into the mysteries of the lesser Eleusinia. (See ELEUSINIA.)
The "truce of God" (literally, "holding of hands"), observed in Greece at the great festivals which were visited by strangers; e.g. the national games, and the Eleusinia in Attica. This peace was proclaimed by heralds throughout Greece, to secure the visitors to the games freedom in passing backwards and forwards and security during the festival. In the case of the Eleusinia the truce lasted 1 1/2 months and ton days.
Literally, "an earthen vessel for water"; hence the name plemochoae given to the last day of the Eleusinian festival, when this kind of vessel was used for pouringout water. (See ELEUSINIA.)
The chief priest in the Eleusinian mysteries (see ELEUSINIA). He was always a member of the family of the Eumolpidae. It was his duty to exhibit to the initiated the sacred symbols of the mysteries, and at the same time probably to chant the liturgic hymns originally derived from his ancestor, the Thracian bard Eumolpus.
A boot of leather or felt, rising as far as the calf or above it, and fitting close to the foot. In front it was open and fastened with straps. It was specially adapted for journeys or hunting, and consequently appears often in representations of Artemis and of the Erinyes. Runners in races too, often wore it. (See ELEUSINIA, fig. 1, and ERINYS.)
Daughter of Zeus and Demeter. As the wife of Hades, she is the dread queen of the world below. Her special name in Attic cult is Core (lit. "the Maiden"). As a maiden while plucking flowers (near Enna in Sicily, according to the story common in later times), she was carried off into the lower world by Hades on his car, with the consent of her father. To appease her mother's wrath, Zeus sent Hermes to bring her back; but, since she had eaten part of a pomegranate given her by Hades (i.e. had already become his wife), she could only spend two-thirds of the year in the upper world with her mother. At the end of that time she had always to return to her husband, and rule as the dark goddess of death; whereas, while with her mother, she was regarded as the virgin daughter, and the helper of the goddess who presides over the fertility of the earth. Hence Persephone is emblematic of vegetable life, that comes and goes with the changing seasons. In spring, when the seeds sprout up from the ground, she rises to her mother; when the harvest is over, and the vegetation dies, and the seed is laid again in the dark grave of earth, she returns to her subterraneous kingdom. From this notion of the seed buried in the dark earth and again rising to light was developed that conception of the myth as an image of immortality which lies at the base of the Eleusinian mysteries. To express her rising and descending, her festivals were celebrated in spring and after the harvest. In spring she was worshipped at the lesser Eleusinia in Attica, and at her flower-festival of the anthesphoria, in the Peloponnesus, but more especially in Sicily. In autumn, there was held in Attica the great Eleusinia; i.e. the wedding-feast on her marriage with the god of the lower world. She was generally worshipped together with her mother; hence they were spoken of as "the two goddesses." In the Eleusinian mysteries she was also connected with Dionysus, who, under the mystic name Iacchus, was regarded as her son, brother, or bridegroom. In later times she was confused with other divinities, especially Hecate, as the goddess of night and of the world of spirits. She was represented either as the young and beautiful daughter of Demeter, with cornucopia, ears of corn, and a cock, the emblem of her rising in spring, or as the grim spouse of Hades, with rich adornments and the symbolic pomegranate. (See cut, and cp.DEMETER, fig.1) The Roman name Proserpina is regarded by some as an altered form of the Greek Persephone; by others as a native name only accidentally similar to the Greek, denoting a goddess who assisted in the germination (proserpere) of the seed, and, owing to the similarity of the two goddesses, transferred to Persephone after the introduction of her cult as the divinity of the lower world. (See HADES; see also LIBITINA.)
Daughter of Cronus and Rhea. Her name signifies Mother Earth, the meaning being that she was goddess of agriculture and the civilization based upon it. Her children are, by Iasion, a son Plutus, the god of riches, and by her brother Zeus, a daughter Persephone. Round Demeter and this daughter centre her worship and the fables respecting her. Hfid6s carries off Persephone, and Demeter wanders nine days over the earth seeking her, till on the tenth day she learns the trutb from the all-seeing sun. She is wrath with Zeus for permitting the act of violence, and she visits Olympus and wanders about among men in the form of an old woman under the name of Deo or the Seeker, till at length, at Elensis, in Attica, she is kindly received at the house of king Celeus, and finds comfort in tend ing his newly born son Demophoon. Surprised by his mother in the act of trying to make the child immortal by putting it in the fire, she reveals her deity, and causes a temple to he built to her, in which she gives herself up to her grief. In her wrath she makes the earth barren, so that man kind are threatened with destruction by famine, as she does not allow the fruit of the earth to spring up again until her daughter is allowed to spend two-thirds of the year with her. On her return to Olympus she leaves the gift of corn, of agriculture, and of her holy mysteries with her host, as a token of grateful recollection. She sends Triptolemus the Eleusinian round the world on her chariot, drawn by serpents, to diffuse the knowledge of agriculture and other blessings accompanying it, the settlement of fixed places of abode, civil order, and wedlock. Thus Demeter was worshipped as the goddess of agriculture and foundress of law, order, and especially of marriage, in all places where Greeks dwelt, her daughter being usually associated with her. (See THESMOPHORIA.) The most ancient seat of her worship was Athens and Eleusis, where the Rharian plain was solemnly ploughed every year in memory of the first sowing of wheat. She was also much worshipped in Sicily, which from its fertility was accounted one of her favourite places of abode (see ELEUSINIA). As the goddess of fertility, Demeter was in many regions associated with Poseidon, the god of fertilizing water. This was particularly the case in Arcadia, where Poseidon was regarded as the father of Persephone. She was also joined with Dionysus, the god of wine, and, as mother of Persephone and goddess of the earth, to which not only the seed, but the dead are committed, she is connected with the lower world under the name of Chthonia. In later times she was often confused with Gaia and Rhea, or Cybele. Besides fruit and honeycombs, the cow and the sow were offered to her, both as emblems of productivity. Her attributes are poppies and ears of corn (also a symbol of fruitfulness), a basket of fruit and a little pig. Other emblems had a mystic significance, as the torch and the serpent, as living in the earth, and as symbolizing a renewal of life by shedding its skin. The Romans identified her with their own Ceres.
The name given by the Greeks, and later also by the Romans, to various kinds of secret worships, which rested on the belief that, besides the general modes of honouring the gods, there was another, revealed only to the select few. Such religions services formed in almost all the Greek states an important part of the established worship, and were in the hands of an important body of priests appointed by the State. If any one divulged to the uninitiated the holy ceremonies and prayers, or sometimes even the names only, by which the gods were invoked, he was publicly punished for impiety. Some mysteries were exclusively managed by special priests and assistants to the exclusion of all laymen. To others a certain class of citizens was admitted; thus the Attic Thesmophoria could only be celebrated by women living in lawful wedlock with a citizen, and themselves of pure Athenian descent and of unblemished reputation. At other mysteries people of every kind and either sex were allowed to be present, if they had carried out certain preliminary conditions (especially purification), and had then been admitted and initiated. The usages connected with the native mysteries were similar to the ceremonies of Greek divine service; in the course of time, however, many other elements were borrowed from foreign modes of worship. They consisted usually in the recital of certain legends about the fortunes of the deity celebrated, which differed from the ordinary myths in many respects (e.g. the names and genealogies), and were often accompanied by a dramatic representation, with which was connected the exhibition of certain holy things, including symbols and relics. In many cases the symbols were not hidden from the public eye, but their meaning was revealed to the initiated alone. Of native mysteries those considered most holy were the Eleusinian mysteries of Demeter; we know more about the ceremonies in this case than in any other. (See ELEUSINIA.) Next to these came the Samothracian mysteries of the Cabiri (q.v.), which in cource of time appear to have become very similar to the Eleusinian. In these two mysteries, as indeed in all, no deeper meaning was originally attached to the legends, usages, and symbols. But, as time went on, these initiations were supposed to have a peculiar power of preserving men amid the dangers of this life by purification and expiation, of giving him a temporary blessedness, and above all of conferring a sure prospect of a state of bliss after death. [Isocrates, Paneg. § 28.] This change is in great part due to the influence of a sect, the Orphici (See ORPHEUS). Following Oriental, Egyptian,and also Pythagorean doctrines, they taught that expiation and sanctification were necessary for this and for a future life, and that these must be effected by means of the initiations and purifications which they pretended Orpheus had revealed to them. Those who enjoyed these revelations of Orpheus constituted a religious society which gradually extended to every Greek country. Their religious services were also called mysteries, not only because the initiated alone could take part in them, but because the representations and usages connected with them had a hidden mystic meaning. It was chiefly owing to their influence that foreign mysteries were introduced into Greece, and that thus the various systems were blended together. Among foreign mysteries must be mentioned the wild and fanatic orgies of Dionysus (or Bacchus), Sabazius, and Cybele. The first of these gained a footing in Rome and Italy under the name of Bacchanalia, and in 186 B.C. had to be firmly suppressed by the government on account of the excesses connected with them [Livy xxxix 8-19]; while the last-mentioned were most widely spread even in early imperial times. (See RHEA.) The mysteries connected with the worship of Isis and of Mithras (q.v.) were also held in high esteem by Greeks and Romans down to a late period. The whole system of mysteries endured to the very end of the pagan times, for the deeper meaning of its symbolism offered a certain satisfaction even to the religious requirements of the educated, which they failed to find in the empty forms of the ordinary worship. (Cp. ORGIES.)
HERMES 4.37%
Son of Zeus and of the Naiad Maia, daughter of Atlas. Immediately after his birth upon the Arcadian mountain of Cyllene, he gave proof of his chief characteristics, inventiveness and versatility, united with fascination, trickery, and cunning. Born in the morning, by mid-day he had invented the lyre; in the evening he stole fifty head of cattle from his brother Apollo, which he hid so skilfully in a cave that they could not be found; after these exploits he lay down quietly in his cradle. Apollo, by means of his prophetic power, discovered the thief and took the miscreant to Zeus, who ordered the cattle to be given up. However, Hermes so delighted his brother by his playing on the lyre that, in exchange for it, he allowed him to keep the cattle, resigned to him the golden staff of fortune and of riches, with the gift of prophecy in its humbler forms, and from that time forth became his best friend. Zeus made his son herald to the gods and the guide of the dead in Hades. In this myth we have allusions to several attributes of the god. In many districts of Greece, and especially in Arcadia, the old seat of his worship, Hermes was regarded as a god who bestowed the blessing of fertility on the pastures and herds, and who was happiest spending his time among shepherds and dallying with Nymphs, by whom he had numberless children, including Pan and Daphnis. In many places he was considered the god of crops; and also as the god of mining and of digging for buried treasure, His kindliness to man is also shown in his being the god of roads. At cross-roads in particular, there were raised in his honour and called by his name, not only heaps of stones, to which every passer by added a stone, but also the quadrangular pillars known as Hermae (q.v.) At Athens these last were set up in the streets and open spaces, and also before the doors. Every unexpected find on the road was called a gift of Hermes (hermaion). Together with Athene, he escorts and protects heroes in perilous enterprises, and gives them prudent counsels. He takes special delight in men's dealings with one another, in exchange and barter, in buying and selling; also in all that is won by craft or by theft. Thus he is the patron of tradespeople and thieves, and is himself the father of Autolycus (q.v.), the greatest of all thieves. He too it is who endowed Pandora, the first woman, with the faculty of lying, and with flattering discourse and a crafty spirit. On account of his nimbleness and activity he is the messenger of Zeus, and knows how to carry out his father's commands with adroitness and cunning, as in the slaying of Argos (the guard of Io), from which he derives his epithet of Argos-Slayer, or Argeiphontes. Again, as Hermes was the sacrificial herald of the gods, it was an important part of the duty of heralds to assist at sacrifices. It was on this account that the priestly race of the Kerykes claimed him as the head of their family (see ELEUSINIA). Strength of voice and excellence of memory were supposed to be derived, from him in his capacity of herald. Owing to his vigour, dexterity, and personal charm, he was deemed the god of gymnastic-skill, which makes men strong and handsome, and the especial patron of boxing, running, and throwing the discus; in this capacity the palaestrae and gymnasia were sacred to him, and particular feasts called Hermaia were dedicated to him. He was the discoverer of music (for besides the lyre he invented the shepherd's pipe), and he was also the god of wise and clever discourse. A later age made him even the inventor of letters, figures, mathematics, and astronomy. He is, besides, the god of sleep and of dreams, with one touch of his staff he can close or open the eyes of mortals; hence the custom, before going to sleep, of offering him the last libation. As he is the guide of the living on their way, so is he also the conductor of the souls of the dead in the nether-world (Psuchopompos), and he is as much loved by the gods of those regions as he is by those above. For this reason sacrifices were offered to him in the event of deaths, Hermae, were placed on the graves, and, at oracles and incantations of the dead, he was honoured as belonging to the lower world; in general, he was accounted the intermediary between the upper and lower worlds. His worship early spread through-out the whole of Greece. As he was born in the fourth month, the number four was sacred to him. In Argos the fourth month was named after him, and in Athens he was honoured with sacrifices on the fourth of every month. His altars and images (mostly simple Hermae) were in all the streets, thoroughfares, and open spaces, and also at the entrance of the palaestra. In art he is represented in the widely varying characters which be assumed, as a shepherd with a single animal from his flock, as a mischievous little thief, as the god of gain with a purse in his hand (cp. fig. 1), with a strigil as patron of the gymnasia, at other times with a lyre but oftenest of all as the messenger of the gods. He was portrayed by the greatest sculptors, such as Phidias, Polyclitus, Scopas, and Praxiteles, whose Hermes with the infant Dionysus was discovered in 1877, in the temple of Hera, at Olympia. (See PRAXITELES, and SCULPTURE, fig. 10.) In the older works of art he appears as a bearded and strong man; in the later ones he is to be seen in a graceful and charming attitude, as a slim youth with tranquil features, indicative of intellect and good will. His usual attributes are wings on his feet, a flat, broad-brimmed hat (see PETASUS), which in later times was ornamented with wings, as was also his staff. This last (Gr. kerykeion; Lat. caduceus, fig. 2) was originally an enchanter's wand, a symbol of the power that profinces wealth and prosperity, and also an emblem of influence over the living and the dead. But even in early times it was regarded as a herald's staff and an emblem of peaceful intercourse; it consisted of three shoots, one of which formed the handle, the other two being intertwined at the top in a knot. The place of the latter was afterwards taken by serpents; and thus arose our ordinary type of herald's staff. By the Romans Hermes was identified with MERCURIUS (q.v.).
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