free ebooks

Pagan Origin of Partialist Doctrines by Pitrat

On the fourteenth of Boedromion


the Greeks can aspire to participate to the mysteries: an ancient law excludes the foreigners. The major mysteries are celebrated every year on the fifteenth of the month of Boedromion. The celebration of the minor mysteries is also annual, and takes place six months before. During the celebration of the major mysteries the tribunals are closed. The day following, the senate pronounces the penalty of death against those who have willfully disturbed the ceremonies. This severity is required to maintain order among the immense multitude of people. In time of war the Athenians send to their foes safe conducts to induce them to assist at the celebration.

"On the fourteenth of Boedromion, in the second year of the one hundred and ninth Olympiad, I left Athens with several of my friends. The gate through which the Athenians pass to go to Eleusis is called sacred. The space between these two cities is of about one hundred stadiums. After crossing a high hill decked with rosy laurels, we entered the territory of Eleusis; and we arrived on the banks of two small brooks consecrated, the one to Ceres, and the other to Proserpine. I mention them because the priests of the temple are the only ones who are permitted to fish in them; and because their waters are salted, and are used in the ceremonies of initiation. Farther, on the bridge of a river named Cephize, we had to bear the mockeries of a numerous populace, who stand there to criticize the comers, and

more especially the most distinguished men of the Republic. It is an old tradition that Ceres had been welcomed on this very spot by an old woman, called Yambe.

"At a short distance from the sea there is a high and long hill, at the eastern end of which the famous temple of Ceres and Proserpine has been reared. Further down is the small city of Eleusis. In the vicinity, and on the hill itself, there are chapels and altars, and rich country-seats. The temple, built under the care of Pericles, on the bare rock, is of pantelic marble; and is turned towards the Orient. It is so vast as magnificent; its enclosure at the south is of about three hundred and eighty-four feet, and at the east of three hundred and twenty-five. The most celebrated artists have adorned this temple with master-pieces of art.

"Among the numerous priests who officiate in the temple, there are four principal. The first is the Hierophant; his name designates the one who reveals the sacred things, and his main office is to initiate the postulants to the mysteries. He appears with a distinguished tunic; his forehead is decked with a diadem, and his hair is floating on his shoulders. His age must be mature enough to correspond with the gravity of his ministry, and his voice fine enough to be pleasing to the ears. His priesthood is for life; and he is obliged to keep celibacy. The second priest carries the sacred flambeau in the ceremonies, and purifies the candidates; he has also the privilege of wearing a diadem. The two others are the sacred herald, and the assistant at the altar.

"The holiness of their ministry is rendered even more respectable by their noble birth. The Hierophant is chosen in the family of the Eumolpides, one of the most ancient of Athens; the sacred herald in that of the Ceryces, which is a collateral branch of the other; the two other priests belong also to illustrious families. These four priests have under their command other ministers, such as the interpreters, the singers, and other officers, who have the direction of the processions and other ceremonies. Also there are at Eleusis priestesses consecrated to Ceres and to Proserpine. They have the privilege of initiating certain persons on particular days, and to offer sacrifices.

eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us