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Pagan Origin of Partialist Doctrines by Pitrat

The Hierophant uncovered the mysterious baskets


"Soon

after a roar was heard. The earth seemed to shake. Amid lightning and thunder phantoms and spectres were seen roaming in darkness. They filled the holy hall with soul-rending groans and howlings. Sufferings, cares, diseases, poverty, and death, under hideous forms, struck our gaze. The Hierophant explained these various emblems, and his vivid pictures added to our terror. However, guided by a feeble light, we were advancing towards the regions of the Tartarus, where the souls get purified before they reach the abode of bliss. Amidst sorrowful voices we heard the bitter regrets of those who had committed suicide. They are punished, the Hierophant said, because they have deserted the posts assigned to them by the gods.

"He had scarcely pronounced these words, when brass gates were thrown open before us with a frightful roar, and then we saw the horrors of the Tartarus. It resounded with the rattle of chains, and the yells of its unfortunate inmates. Learn from us, did they say, to respect the gods, and to be just and grateful. We saw the furies, armed with whips, unmercifully torturing the criminals. These frightening pictures, made more so by the sonorous and imposing voice of the Hierophant, who seemed to exercise the ministry of divine vengeance, filled our soul with terror. In fine, we were introduced in delightful thickets; in enameled meadows; fortunate abodes, image of the Elysean fields, where a pure light shone, where charming voices were

heard. We passed into the sanctuary, where we saw the statue of the goddess resplendent with brightness, and dressed in the richest attire. In this sanctuary our trials ended; there our eyes saw, and our ears heard, what we are forbidden to reveal. I will simply confess that in the delirium of a holy joy we sung hymns of joy.'

"Such was the recital of the newly-initiated. Another told me a circumstance which the other omitted. One day, during the celebrations, the Hierophant uncovered the mysterious baskets, which are carried in the procession, and which are the object of the public veneration. They contained the sacred symbols, whose sight is prohibited to those uninitiated, and which are but cakes of various forms, grains of salt, and other objects, which relate to the history of Ceres, and to the dogmas taught in the mysteries. When those initiated have taken them from a basket, and put them in another, they say that they have fasted and drank the Ciceon.

"I often met with men who were not initiated, and who freely expressed their opinions about the secret doctrines taught in the mysteries. One of the disciples of Plato said: 'It seems to be certain that the Hierophant teaches the necessity of pains and rewards beyond the grave; and that he represents to the postulants the various destinies of men here below and hereafter. Also it seems to be certain that he teaches them, that, among the great number of deities adored by the multitude, the ones are pure spirits, who, ministers of the will of the god supreme, regulate under his command the motion of the universe; and the others have been simple mortals, whose tombs are kept yet in several parts of Greece. Is it not natural to think, that, in order to give a more accurate idea of the Deity, the institutors of mysteries endeavored to maintain, and to thus perpetuate a dogma, whose vestiges are more or less visible in the opinions, and ceremonies, of nearly all nations--that of a God, who is the principal and end of all things? Such is, in my opinion, the august secret revealed to those initiated.'

"No doubt political ends encouraged the institution of this religious association. Polytheism was generally spread, and was pleasing the people, but on account of the multiplicity of the gods it was dangerous to society. It was thought wiser not to destroy this belief, but to counterbalance it by a purer religion. As the people are more restrained by the laws than by abstract principles of morals, the legislators contrived to harmonize the superstition of the people with purer religious and moral principles, which they should simultaneously teach. 'Thus,' the disciple of Plato added, 'you understand why the gods are represented on the theatre of Athens: the magistrates who do not believe the false doctrines of Polytheism are very careful not to repress a superstition and a license, which amuse the people, and whose repression would indispose them.


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