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And Plato, always reverential of Eleusinian rites, speaks con-
temptuously of the attempts of the Orphic priests to terrorize
men's minds with threats of punishment that awaited them in the
next world, unless they performed certain mystic sacrifices in
this. If the kernel of the mysteries were what M. Foucart
supposes, the recitation of magic spells whereby to bind the
demon powers of the next world, Greek ethical philosophy
would have probably attacked them as detrimental to morality,
and their vogue would have been an ominous sign of mental
decay. But on the contrary they reached their zenith when
the Greek intellect was in the full vigour of sanity and health.
We have no reason for imputing to them a debasing supersti-
tion or to suppose that their main function was a magic
incantation : what there was of primitive thought in the
mystery, probably the belief in the close association of man's
life with the life of plants, could easily be invested with a
higher significance and serve as the stimulus of a higher hope.


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The account of the mysteries as given above is perhaps as
complete as the literary evidence at present forthcoming
allows. But does it explain the enthusiastic reverence they
awakened, and the rapturous praise that the best Greek
literature often awarded them^*^? * Happy is he,* cries
Pindar, *who has seen them before he goes beneath the
hollow earth : that man knows the true end of life and its
source divine ' : and Sophocles vies with Pindar in his tribute
of devotion ; the stately and religious Aeschylus, native of
Eleusis, acknowledges his debt to Demeter * who has nurtured
his soul * : while Isocrates in his liquid prose declares that
* for those who have shared in them their hopes are sweetened
concerning the end of life and their whole existence ' ; and
the writers of the later days of paganism, Aristides and
Libanius, speak of them with more fervent ecstasy still.

To explain satisfactorily to ourselves the fascination they
exercised over the national mind of Hellas some of us may be
inclined to have recourse to the theory put forward by
Dr. Jevons in his Introduction to the Study of Religion ; some
less important points of it have already been criticized, but
It has been convenient to reserve the consideration of its
central principle for the close of this chapter. The theory
is a theory of totemism conjoined with a certain view of the
Eleusinian sacrifice. We will now be silent about the question
of totemism, a word that is irrelevant in the discussion of the
Eleusinia ; it is his view of the sacrifice that it is fruitful to
consider. He has drawn from Professor Robertson Smith's
work on the Religion of the Semites the conception of the
gift-offering to the deity being a later and in some sense a
depraved outgrowth of an earlier and higher sacrifice, which
was of the nature of a sacramental meal whereby the wor-
shipper became of one flesh and one blood with his deity by
eating or drinking some divine substance. He goes on to
maintain that certain archaic worships in Greece, among
others the Eleusinia, had been able to retain the more primitive
and in some sense the more spiritual conception of sacrifice as
a communion, which elsewhere had been supplanted by the
more utilitarian view of it as a bribe : then that the opening

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of the great mysteries to the Greek world — an event which
he erroneously places in the period of Solon— coincided with
the revival of religious feeling in Greece, with a consciousness
of the hollowness of the gift-offering and with a yearning for
a closer religious communion through more efBcacious, sacra-
mental ritual. Now the original and well-reasoned hypothesis,
that was first put forward in Professor Robertson Smith's
article in the Encyclopaedia Britannica and developed in his
larger work, wants more careful scrutiny than it has usually
received, and the detailed examination of it must be reserved •.
When modified in certain important points the theory is, I
think, applicable to Greek as well as to Semitic sacrifice.
Sacramental meals are found in Greece, and were by no means
confined to the mysteries. Doubtless the drinking of the
KVK€(iv and the eating from the Kipxvos implied some idea of
communion with the divinity ; and an inscription tells us that
the priest of the Samothracian mysteries broke sacred bread
and poured out drink for the inystac ^ \ a savage form of
sacrament may be faintly discernible in the Arcadian Despoina-
ritual ^^^. But if we keep strictly to the evidence, as we ought
in such a case, we have no right to speak of a sacramental
common meal at Eleusis, to which, as around a communion-
table, the worshippers gathered, strengthening their mutual
, sense of religious fellowship thereby: we do not hear of the
7rap(i<nro4 of Demeter as we hear of the irapao-iroi of Heracles
and Apollo at Achamae.

As r^ards the sacrifices before the mystae reached Eleusis,
we know nothing about them except that one of them at least
was a preliminary condition of initiation. As for the xvKcciy,
for all we know, they may have drunk it separately, each by
himself or herself, or at least in pairs ® ; we have no proof here
of a sacramental common meal, although it is probable that
the votary felt in drinking it a certain fellowship with the
deity, who by the story had dnmk it before him \ Still less

• Vide my article in Hibbert Journal^ menis of Dimeter^ p. 340, showing two

1904, p. 306. mystat,

^ Arch, Epigr, Mitth, 1882, p. 8, ** There is no text or context which

no. 14. proves that the initiated at Elensis was

^ Vide the vase described in Monu- regarded as of one fiesh with the deity :

O 2

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— and this is a gjrave objection to the constructive idea of
Dr. Jevons* theory — is there any sign that the initiated believed
they were partaking through food of the divine substance of
their divinity. This conception of the sacrament, which has
played a leading part in Christian theology, appears elsewhere
sporadically in ancient Greek ritual ; we may detect it in the
Attic Buphonia, in the Dionysiac offering of the bull-calf at
Tenedos, in the story of the mad bull with golden horns, that
seems to have embodied Hekate, devoured by the Thessalian
host*; and it is salient in the Maenad-ritual of Dionysos.
But it is by no means so frequent that we could assume it in
any given case without evidence. And there is no kind of
evidence of its recognition at Eleusis: and no convincing
reason for supposing that the Greeks flocked there because
they were weary of the conventional gift-offering, and because
they believed that a profounder and more satisfying ritual of
communion-sacrifice existed there. Moreover, we have strong
grounds for doubting whether this latter ever exercised a vital
influence upon religious thought in the older Hellenism,
outside at least the pale of the private Orphic societies. It
may have been the secret of the strength of the later Cybele-
worship ; but the author of the Homeric hymn, the first
propagandist of the Eleusinia, ignores it altogether, and
presents the Eleusinian sacrifice merely as a gift-offering : it
is also ignored by the earlier Greek philosophers, and by the
later writers, such as Lucian, in his treatise ircpl Own^v, or
lamblichus in the De Mysteriis. The silence concerning it
in the latter work is all the more remarkable, as the author
carefiilly analyses the phenomena of mystic ecstasy, and
rejects as unworthy the gift-theory, rq^arding sacrifice as a
token of friendship with the divinity, but shows no recognition
of the idea of sacramental communion. In fact, a serious part
of Dr. Jevons' construction collapses through this vacuum in
the evidence, and cannot be strengthened by a priori pro-
babilities. Lastly, we come to feel another difliculty in his

those on which Professor Dieterich me to be relerant

relies in his able treatise, Eint Mithras- • PoI}ten. StrtU. 8. 4a.

lUurgU^ pp. 1 37- 1 38, do not seem to

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attempted solution of the Eleusinian problem. Whatever the
mystic sacrifice may have been, he lays a great deal more
stress upon it than the Greeks themselves did^ It is clear
that the pivot of these mysteries was the iiroirrc^ not the
Ovcria : among the five essential parts of the ftviyo-iy given by
Theon Smymacus there is no mention of sacrifice, nor in the
strange case dealt with by the late rhetorician Sopatros of the
man who was initiated by the goddesses themselves in a
dream ; they admitted him to their communion by telling
him something and showing him something ^

If we abandon then this hypothesis, are we left quite in the \
dark as to the secret of salvation that Eleusis cherished and j
imparted ? When we have weighed all the evidence and
remember the extraordinary fascination a spectacle exercised
upon the Greek temperament, the solution of the problem is
not so remote or so perplexing. The solemn fast and pre-
paration, the mystic food eaten and drunk, the moving
passion-play, the extreme sanctity of the Upa revealed, all
these influences could induce in the worshipper, not indeed
the sense of absolute union with the divine nature such as the
Christian sacrament or the hermit's reverie or the Maenad's
frenzy might give, but at least the feeling of intimacy and
friendship with the deities, and a strong current of sympathy
was established by the mystic contact. But these deities,
the mother and the daughter and the dark god in the back-
ground, were the powers that governed the world beyond the
grave: those who had won their friendship by initiation in
this life would by the simple logic of faith regard themselves
as certain to win blessing at their hands in the next. And
this, as far as we can discern, was the ground on which
flourished the Eleusinian hope.

It flourished and maintained itself and its ritual throughout
the latter days of paganism when the service of Zeus Olympios
was almost silent ; and it only succumbed to no less a religion

* Dr. JevoDS himself seems at last to «a^ which is the crowning point of the

have perceived this, for he says on ritual.* Bat this admission loosens

p. 3S1 *it is the commanion thus most of the fabric of his hypothesis,

afforded (by the revelation of the com- ^ Rhetor. Gtxuc, vol. 8, p. lai.
stalk) rather than the sacramental kv-

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than Christianity itself. With its freedom from ecstatic
extravagance and intolerant dogmatism, with its appealing
dramatic display, with the solemn beauty of its ritual touched
with melancholy but warmed with genial hope, the Eleusinian
worship bore to the end the deep impress of the best Hellenic
spirit. To Its authority and influence may be due the com-
parative immunity of Greece from the invasion of Mithraism *.
We should certainly expect that a cult of such prestige
would plant offshoots of itself injdifferent parts of Greece.
Perhaps we can find one of these in Attica itself, namely, in
the mystery of Soteira whom Aristotle vaguely mentions, and
who is probably the same as the Kore Soteira worshipped at
Korydalos near the Peiraeus-^'. It is difficult to suppose
that this Kore should be Athena, whose worship, so far as we
know, was never mystic ; and we gather from the context
of the passage in the Frogs, in which the viystac sing the
praises of Soteira, that she is none other than their own
goddess Kore-Persephone ; the mystic liturgy being prone
to substitute a reverential appellative such as 'Hagne' or

* Despoina ' for the proper name. Why was Kore called
specially the * Saviour ' ? Aristophanes seems to interpret
the name in a political sense, and this may also have been its
significance in the worship of Kore Soteira at Cyzicos and at
Erythrae ^^s.ica . 5^^ ^^ Megalopolis at least it had a 'mystic '
meaning, an inscription proving that * Soteira ' was there
identical with the Despoina of the Lykosuran mysteries "^^;
and that the cult of Kore Soteira was * mystic ' at Sparta
seems proved by its close association with the legend of
Orpheus"". It is probable that in the Attic, Arcadian, and
Laconian worships, Kore was called *the Saviour* because of
the blessings she dispensed to her mystae after death : and
we may bear in mind that the same mystic use of crcanjpCa or

* salvation ' occurred in the later Dionysiac-Attis rites. If this

* The last hieropbant before the de- fosse taurobolique * in a snbstroctare of

struction of Elensis in the inyasion of the latest period found within the sacred

Alaric appears to hare been a Mithras- precincts ; cf. ib. 559 : but according to

worshipper, Eunap. FiV. Max. p. 52 Cumont the ' tauroboUa * is not Mi-

Botsonnade. (Lenonnant, Darember^ et thraic but belongs to Cybele, Textes cf

SafiiOfP, 551, discovers traces of *une Moit.Jii;, myst. Mithra^ i, p. 334.)

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supposition is correct, the word that has become the master-
word of the Christian creed was drawn like much else of the
Christian vocabulary from the earlier nomenclature of paganism.

But outside Attica also there were cults of Demeter Eleu-
sinia that were regarded by the ancients themselves as early
scions of the mystic worship at Eleusis: and it is a historical
question of some interest whether this opinion was correct. In
Ionia, at Ephesus and Mykale, the foundation of the ' Eleu-
sinian ' goddess was associated with the legend of the Attic
foundation -^^ *» ^ and, as we have seen, the Ephesian * Basileis '
possessed the same sacred functions in regard to her rites as
the Archon Basileus at Athens. At the Arcadian city of
Pheneos the mysteries of Demeter Eleusinia presented certain
peculiar features of ritual that have already been noticed -^^ ;
certain sacred books containing the rules for the initiation were
kept in the rocky vault known as the Wrp«/Aa, and were read
aloud to the mystae at the great annual rcAcr^. The citizens
declared that the bp<ifx€va were a counterpart of the Eleusinian,
and that they were founded by a certain Naos, a near
descendant of Eumolpos.

We may surmise that Alexandria possessed some form of
Eleusinian rites, as we hear of the region called Eleusis,
situated about four miles from the city: and the Athenian
hierophant had been specially summoned from Attica by the
first Ptolemy to advise on a matter concerning the state-
religion 2^ •♦ 2^^ ; but the only m}'^ic Demeter-ceremonies that
are recorded of Alexandria are connected with the kalathos-
ritual, which shows no resemblance to the Eleusinian, so far as
the hymn of Callimachus gives us an account of it. We have
in the * Panarium • ' a late record of what at first sight appears
to be a pagan mystic cult of ' Kore ' at Alexandria : on
a certain day the worshippers met in the temple called 'Korion/
and after a religious service that lasted through the night bore
away at daybreak the idol of the maiden and escorted it with
torches to an underground chapel ; whence they then brought
up another idol of wood, naked and seated on a litter, but with
the sign of the cross on its brow : this was led seven times

• Gcogr. Reg. s,v. Africa (Alexandria) : of. my I libber t Lectures ^ pp, 34-36.

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round the temple with timbrels and flutes and hymns, and
then restored to its underground dwelling, * And they say that
on this day Kore, that is the virgin, g^ave birth to the eternal/
We have here a very striking picture of the transitional period
between paganism and Christianity, the engrafting the name
of the virgin and the imprinting the sign of the cross upon the
earlier Kore, the transmuting of a pagan ritual with the idea
of a virgin-birth*. But it would be a mockery of all criticism
to endeavour to deduce from this fantastic account any definite
view concerning the genuine Eleusinia at Alexandria : its value
is greater for the general history of European religion.

In many places where Demeter is not known to have been
worshipped by this special title of 'EAcvo-trta, we find indubit-
able traces of Eleusinian influence : for instance, at Keleae
near Phlius, where, as Pausanias tells us, the * initiation-mystery
of Demeter ' was held every four years, and a special hiero-
phant, who might be a married man, was elected for each
occasion, but the rest of the proceedings were * an imitation of
those at Eleusis ' -®"^ *» : at Lerna in Argolis, where the legend
of the abduction was indigenous and a r^X^T-q of Demeter, in
which possibly Dionysos had a share, is recorded by Pausanias,
who gives Philammon as its traditional founder ; late inscrip-
tions show that its organization was assimilated to the Eleu-
sinian, the son of an Athenian hierophant being hierophant of
the Lernaean mystery ^^* **» -*^ : at Megalopolis, where the
initiation-ceremonies that were performed in the temenos of
the 'great goddesses* were again an * imitation of those at
Eleusis * -^* ; the institution of them may belong to the
period of Epaminondas, and there is no reason that forbids
us supposing them to have been derived from Eleusis.
The McycJAat O^ai here, as at Andania 2*«, and the Arcadian
Trapezos^** are certainly Demeter and Kore, known in the
usual mystic fashion by a solemn descriptive appellation ; we
see by the Achaean decree of the latter part of the second
century B.C. that they were served by a hierophant who was
elected for life, and whom we may suppose to have usually

* klCflf is a gnoidc concept borrowed from Mithraism, vide Cumont, CulU de
Mithras^ i , p. 76.

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belonged to the sacred family of the founders of the mystery ;
but we find no rule of celibacy enforced here as at Athens.
We have good evidence that just as Asclepios made his way
into the Attic mysteries, so his Epidaurian cult became at
least in later times strongly coloured with Eleusinian in-
fluence -^^. Finally, we have reason to believe that, in later
times, mysteries were established after the fashion of the Attic
at Naples 2*2 •.

On the other hand we have record of a certain number of
cults of Demeter Eleusinia, of which no legend claiming for
them an Eleusinian origin has come down to us, and which
are not recorded as being connected with any * mysteries * at
all. At Hysiai near Cithaeron stood a temple of Demeter
'E/\€u<rtrui that is much heard of in the later accounts of the
battle of Plataea : according to Plutarch its foundation was of
great antiquity, but the only indication that might seem to
attest it was the existence of a prehistoric grave mentioned by
Pausanias as in its vidnity or precincts -^^. The same cult
existed in probably more than one district of Laconia ^^^ ; in
the south, on the slopes of Taygetos, the Eleusinion of Demeter
is mentioned, where the mother at certain seasons received her
daughter, whose statue was formally escorted thither from
Helos on the coast The temple contained a statue of Orpheus,
evidently a very archaic wooden image, as Pausanias was told
it was a ' Pelasgic dedication.' And an inscription from the
Roman period found at Messoa (Mistra) speaks of an ayfiv that
is evidently part of a festival there called the * 'EAcvSrta ' or
Eleusinia, while the ritual-formula reveals there the trio of Attic-
Eleusinian deities, Demeter, Plouton, Persephone; but with
these was grouped ' Despoina,' whose name was better known
in Arcadia, and the law of the ritual itself presents some
peculiarities, such as the exclusion of males, that prevent our
regarding it as borrowed from the Eleusinian mysteries. In
Arcadia the cult existed at Thelpusa, where the temple of
Demeter Eleusinia contained three colossal marble statues of
Demeter, 'the Daughter,' and Dionysos**^; and at Basilis,
where the legend prevailed that Kypselos, the ancient
Arcadian king, the father-in-law of Kresphontes, instituted

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the cult of Demeter Eleusinia and a festival of which 'a
contest for beauty * formed a part, prizes being given to the
most beautiful women ^*^. Finally, we have traces of the
goddess ' Eleusinia* or Eleusina in Crete and Thera-*^'**^.

Now as regards the explanation of these fiicts, there is
considerable diversity of opinion among scholars. Some*,
like Dr. Rohde, following the lead of K. O. Miiller, maintain
that Eleusis is directly and indirectly the metropolis whence
all these cults emigrated at somg time or other. But the
contrary and more paradoxical view is sometimes taken **
that outside Eleusis there is no single cult of Demeter
Eleusinia, not even that in the Athenian Eleusinion, that
should be regarded as affiliated to the Attic town : that in
fact the name of Demeter 'EIAcuo-irta, a prehistoric goddess of
wide recognition in early Hellas, is the prior fact, the name
of Eleusis secondary : that Eleusinia gave the name to Eleusis,
not Eleusis to Eleusinia. On this theory the latter word is
regarded as a variant for 'EAcvo-ia, an equivalent for Eileithyia,
so that the * Eleusinian * goddess means Demeter the * helper
m child-birth.* But against this explanation, which has been
proffered without much critical argument, there are serious
objections from the point of view of cult, and still more serious
on philological grounds. We have seen that Demeter had occa-
sionally some recognition as a travail-goddess®, and this function
may have belonged to her Aeginetan counterpart Damia, as
in fact it belonged to most Greek goddesses, and to some far
more essentially than to Demeter. What is important to note
is that nowhere in the cults of ' 'EAcuo-trwi ' is there any feature
in the ritual or legend that suggests the child-birth goddess.
The Laconian Eleusia is of course Eileithyia, the name being
slightly transformed by the known laws of the Laconian
dialect 2*®; but neither Eleusia in Laconia nor Eileithyia
elsewhere was ever, so far as our present evidence goes,

* Miiller, Kleim Schrift. 2, p. 359; of Eleusis, but that most were non-

Toepffer, Attischc GeneaJogUy p. Z02, mystic.

5fc. ; Rohde, Psyche \ Wilamowitz-Mocl- ^ e. g. by Bloch, Der A'uit und Rlyi-

lendorff, Homerische UnUrsuch, p. 209, terien von EUitsiSy 1S96 ; cC hb article

&c., believes that the mystic cults of in Roscher, Lexikon, 2, p. 1337.
D. Elensinia in Greece were 'fiiiale' ^ Vide supra, p. 81.

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associated with Demeter. If it is true, as Hesychius tells
us **^, that Artemis was called 'EXevo-twa in Sicily, the support
that this might seem to give to the theory that is being
considered is at once destroyed by his further statement that
Zeus was called 'EXtvaivios by the lonians. For Artemis was
indeed a deity of child-birth, but Zeus obviously was not ; and
they may have both merely drawn this epithet by reason of
some accidental cult-association * from the worship of Demeter
'EAfUiTtria. Again, the etymological equation 'EAev^ia = 'EAcu-
(Tivia leaves unexplained the formative suffix of the latter
word, and is based on a false supposition ; for, though the
Laconians would call 'EXddvia 'EAcvo-ta, no other Greek dialect
would, and it is absurd to suppose that all over the Greek
world people spoke of Demeter as fj 'EAevo-u'ta in order to
imitate the Laconian lisp : again, by the laws of its adjectival
formation, 'EAevo-irta can only be explained in the light of the
facts we possess as a compound word arising from *EAev<ri5
('EAcvo-tros). We can also be certain that * Eleusis,' the base-
word, whatever its root-meaning may have been, was the
name of a place. But what place ? We must reckon with
the possibility of there having been more settlements of this
name than the Attic, for many Greek place-names were apt
to recur, and a dim recollection was preserved of an Eleusia
in Boeotia on the Copaic lake -^^, and Thera named one of its
cities 'EA6v<rtr -^*. But some one of these must have been
famous enough to diffuse the name, for we have no more right
to suppose in the lack of any evidence that there was always
a local * Eleusis ' wherever there was a worship of 4 'EAcvcnrca
than to maintain that there was a local Olympos wherever
Zeus *OAv/A7rto5 was worshipped. And the only famous
Eleusis was the Attic.

But can we believe that it was so famous in early times as
to have diffused this title of Demeter through the Peloponnese,

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