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• Vide note, p. 278.

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Eleusis, IS a hydria found in Rhodes of Attic work, now in the
Museum of Constantinople (PI. XXI b). When a few years ago
it was first noticed and described % it aroused excitement and
hope, for it was given out that Brimos, the holy infant, had
been found at last, whose Eleusinian significance and very
existence had hitherto hung by a thread attached to a very
late and suspicious literary record. And no one of those who
have dealt hitherto with the vase has been able to avoid
quoting the gnostic formula of Hijpolytus. Looking without
prepossession at the picture, we see the figure of the earth-
goddess rising up out of the ground as she was ^ont and
lifting a horn of plenty, on the top of which sits a male infant
turning and stretching out his hands to a goddess who, though
she wears neither aegis nor helmet, is now known to be Athena,
as she certainly bears a lance in her right hand ^ ; on the left
of the central drama are two figures characterized just suffi-
ciently to be recognized as Kore and Demeter, on the right is
a dadouchos starting away in surprise : just above the centre
is Triptolemos in his car, and before him a goddess or priestess
with what may be a temple-key indicated above her shoulder :
if we like we may call her Artemis TlpoiroKaia. The half-clad
female on the left and the youth in the attitude of * Jason ' on
the right may as well remain nameless, for in vase-painting
such accessory figures may have had a purely decorative value,
and we cannot be sure that the vase-painter intended to name
them himself. But where is there any * mystery ' in all this ?
Where is the holy babe Brimos or lacchos or a mystic birth ?
The baby fe plainly Ploutos, the incarnation of the cornucopia,
no more a * mystic * figure here than in the Munich group of
Kephisodotos ; and the art-langxiage is more than usually
simple and articulate, proclaiming that through Demeter's gift
of com to Triptolemos wealth is brought to Athens, and that

* Reinacb, Rev.Archdol, 1901, p. 87: tu the very revelation of the mystery,*

cf. Miss Harrison, ProUgom. p. 526, op. cit. p. 387.

Fig. 153 : the former rightly refuses to ^ Dr. Fredrich of Posen, who kindly

regard the rase as giving the key to the sent me a minute description of the

Eleusinian mysteries; while according vase from Constantinople, describes il

to Svoronos, who thinks that the child as ' a staff ending in a point at the top.*

Ploutos here — KoD/K>f Bpiftot, ' it gives It is, therefore, not a sceptre.

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if one wished for more esoteric information he might apply to
that priestess with the key.

There was nothing to oflfend the religious conscience in this,
and the vase-painter seems to have been a prudent man.

In fact we are not likely to find what we seek down this
road. What was the actual revelation or what were the Upa
shown, what were the elements of the passion-play and the
forms of the mystic drama, concerning these questions we may
conjecture and may theorize on the fragments of evidence that
we can collect But the art of the age of belief would not dare
to reveal them, and when the world ceased to believe art fell
silent or took to other themes. Nevertheless, Greek art con-
tributes much to our knowledge and appreciation of the Eleu-
sinia ; to our knowledge not merely of certain antiquarian
details, but of all the preliminaries of initiation that might be
safely depicted, the K€pxyo<l>opCa, the purification, and even the
sacrament ; to our appreciation, for the art speaks as plainly
as the literature concerning the deep impression that these
mj'steries exercised upon the religious imagination of Athens
and the Greek world ; and it is the artist rather than the poet
who has shown us with what stately and beautiful forms the
Eleusinian goddesses presented themselves to the mind's eye of
the worshipper.

Finally, we may believe that the influence of the mysteries,
the Eleusinian combining with the Dionysiac in filling men's
minds with milder and brighter thoughts about death, may
have helped to modify certain forms of art and to suggest new
themes. The inner force working in Greek art from the sixth
century onward, making for the creation of more spiritual and
brighter types for the embodiment of the powers and the life
of the other world, may have been a spontaneous movement
due to the artistic temperament of the Greek ; but no doubt
it drew strength from the mystery-cults, of which the influence
grew ever wider from this age onwards. The ruler of the
lower world is no longer the god of the stem and inexor-
able face: his countenance becomes dreamy like that of
Dionysos, or benignly thoughtful as that of Asclepios, or of
that god whom Plato imagined to * hold the souls captive in


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his realm by the spell of wise speech.* And after the fifth
century vase-painting came to people the lower world with
happy groups of united lovers, idealized perhaps under heroic
forms : Demeter sits in peaceful converse by the side of her
daughter in Hades, and love is about and around them '. Even
the old anger of the mother against the ravisher of her child
seems to be put aside when, as in the tenderly depicted scene
on the Hope vase ^ we see Demeter peacefully taking leave of
her daughter, who turns to embrace]|her before she goes down
to her appointed place for a season, while the bridegroom gazes
sympathetically at the pair. And on the well-known Eleu-
sinian relief of Lysimachides, the mother and the daughter, the
one pouring a libation to the other *^, are seated together in
hospitable communion by the side of the wedded couple, * the
god ' and ' the goddess ' (PL I).

' Vide relief at Gythion, p. 226, PI.

^ Baumeister, Denkmdler^ Bnd. I,
p. 422, Taf: 7.

« Eph. Arch, 1886, mV. 3, no. i :
the goddesses are hard to distinguish.
Philios in first publishing the relief
niaintained that the goddess on the

right with the long curls is Demeter,
who greets her daughter with a libation ;
certainly this is the more matronal
figure, but she holds, not the sceptre as
Philios thought, but two torches; and
these more frequently indicate Kore,
who in other representations ofTers a
libation to her mother.

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The ideal of Demeter is presented us in a few monuments
only, but is among the most interesting products of Greek
art, a late blossom of the soil of Attica ; for it was especially
the Attic religion and art that spiritualized and purified men's
imagination of her. The archaic period was, unable to con-
tribute much to its development, and it was long before the
mother could be distinguished from the daughter by any organic
difference of form or by any expressive trait of countenance.
On the more ancient vases and terracottas they appear rather
as twin-sisters, almost as if the inarticulate artist were aware
of their original identity of substance. And even among the
monuments of the transitional period it is difficult to find any
representation of the goddesses in characters at once clear and
impressive. We miss this even in the beautiful vase of Hieron
in the British Museum *, where the divine pair are seen with
Triptolemos: the style is delicate and stately, and there is
a certain impression of inner tranquil life in the g^up, but
without the aid of the inscriptions the mother would not be
known from the daughter. A large bust or mask, probably
of sepulchral significance, in the British Museum from Tanagra,
which may belong to the beginning of the fifth century, shows
us an interesting type of the chthonian goddess wearing a
stephane with long hair parted over a very low forehead and
falling in masses over her shoulders and with delicate maidenly
features (PL XXII) : in spite of the absence of expression the
work has something of the same charm that we find in early
Italian images of the Madonna: we may venture, without
wishing to be too precise, to name her Demeter-Kore.

* Vide supra, p. 236.
S 2

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Nor was there even a conventional type of costume generally
regfarded as distinctive of the one and the other. The sombre
expression which is characteristic of some of the sculpture oi
the generation before Pheidias would be consonant with the
character of the chthonian powers ; but as it was an art -con-
vention of that age, it docs not subserve the expression of
individual character ; and we cannot for instance distinguish
a Demeter from a Hera by means of this merely, any more
than by the veil and the matronal ^rms. Yet one monument
of the pre-Pheidian epoch has already been mentioned, which
is of some significance for the higher development of religious
sculpture % the terracotta bust found in the necropolis of
Thebes. And another^, of a slightly earlier date, deserves
mention here (PI. XXIII), a marble relief found at Eleusis,
showing the mother enthroned, holding sceptre and corn-stalks
and crowned with a low kalathos, and the daughter^ stand-
ing reverentially before her holding torches. The work has
certainly an impress of the solemnity that hieratic sculpture
demands ; yet there is a delicate charm in it also : Demeter's
glance is tranquil and bright, and there is the shadow of a
smile on the lips. The flowing unbound hair of the mother
is a noticeable trait ; we might have expected to find it as
a characteristic of the daughter, but Kore's hair is carefully
pressed in a coif. But the sculptor imagines the elder goddess
as the poet of the Homeric hymn imagined her \ and on the
great Eleusinian relief we find the same trait once again*.
We note also that in this earlier relief it is the mother that
wears the richer costume, while in the later art it is usually
Kore, who here is draped in a fashion of archaic simplicity
that disappears soon after this date. The work is immature

* \*ide snpra, p. 227. have intended this, bat msy merely

^ Ath. Mitth, 1895, PI* 5- l^ve followed the law of * isokephalia/

^ There is no real reason for doubting so as to bring the two heads into the

that this figure is Kore : Rnhland, Die same alignment.

Eltus, Gottinmn^ p. 60, supposes her to ' L 379, vide Philios, Atk, MiUh.

be a priestess only on the ground of her 1895, p. 35a.

shorter stature; certainly if this Demeter * For similar treatment cf. Romnn

stood up, she would be far taUer than coin, Overbeck, A'. M, 3, Aftinz-Taf.

the other person, but the artist need not S. 9.

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like the other works of this period ; yet it is one of the first
examples of a cult-type prevalent at Eleusis that is inherited,
as we shall see, by the more developed schools.

Looking at the products of the great Athenian circle of
Pheidias and his contemporaries and pupils, we are struck with
the absence of any mention of the Eleusinian deities in the
copious list of their works ; unless indeed we admit the
phantom-figure of an elder Praxiteles into that great company
and attribute to him the group of Demeter, Kore, and lacchos
in the Eleusinion at Athens*. This silence of the record is
probably no mere accident : it may be that the mysteries
were already provided with their monuments of worship, of
defective style, perhaps, but archaic holiness; or it may be
that the great masters were commissioned to embellish the
Eleusinian shrines, but that their statues being included among
the Upa or mystic objects escaped record. Nevertheless the

* Pheidian ' hand has left evidence of itself on the Eleusinian

We ought first to consider whether we can discover the
forms of the goddesses and their attendant figures amidst
the surviving remains of the Parthenon sculpture. The con-
troversy concerning many of the divine personages in the
pediment and on the frieze has continued long and still con-
tinues ; but one result of archaeological criticism is beginning
to be accepted, that in the two seated goddesses near the

* Dionysos ' of the east gable ** we have the mother and
daughter of Eleusis. Yet we should rather call them the
twin-sisters, for in bodily forms and drapery they are strangely
alike ; and it would seem that just in this maintenance of an
ancient tradition of their unity as an identity, Pheidias did not
care to break away from archaic art. Only their countenances,
where the individuality of the personal nature might have
been masterfully displayed, are unfortunately lost. The

* Vide Kalkmann, Arch, Ansei^, whom he regards as a Triptolemos : it

1S97, p. 136, who believes in the is impossible to discuss this complex

'elder Praxiteles' and tries to recon- hypothesis here,

struct the group from the Berlin and *» Michaelis, Parthenon, Taf. 6, E, F:

Cherchel * Demcters/ the * Kore' of the Brunn-Bruckmann, no. 188.
Villa Albani, the * Eros' of St. Petersburg

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fragments have a priceless value for the history of sculpture ;
but for the religious ideal we gather merely an impression of
the loving tie that binds them together. The arm of one
embraces the shoulder of the other ; they do not appear dis-
turbed by the dramatic action in the centre, but to be engaged
in conversation. As regards the west gable, Demeter Korc
and lacchos may be there, but we cannot clearly discern
them •. But amidst the company of the deities on the frieze
we may with the highest degreg of probability recognize
Demeter in the goddess who sits by the side of the question-
able deity that is nursing his knee (PI. XXIV). Her form has
ampleness and breadth, and she alone of all the divinities bears
a torch, and it is far more likely that that symbol designates
here the Eleusinian goddess than Artemis or any other divinity
likely to be present in such a group ^ We may note also,
though such arguments are in themselves inconclusive, that in
drapery and partly in the gesture of the right arm the figure
resembles an undoubted Demeter in an Eleusinian reliefs.
There is certainly some individual character in the forms and
some significance in the pose of the arms, a certain meditative
dignity, but unhappily the countenance is lost. An original
Pheidian Demeter, then, is not wholly preser\'ed in the
Parthenon sculpture- work \
But we are fortunate in possessing a series of reliefs, most of

* The group in the left comer of the
seated god with the serpent and the
iemale figure nestling into his side has
been interpreted as Hades and Perse-
phone by Bloch in Roscher*s Lexikon^
2, 1369, because an undoubted copy of
this group has been found at Eleusis
in 1889; but vide Philios in £pA,
ArcJu 1900 (Il/y. 12) who rightly refuses
to draw any conclusions from the pro-
venanct of the copy ; it was found outside
the holy precincts, not fax from the
Propylaea : it is very unlikely that this
genial and Tery ge^ire couple are the
god and goddess of the lower world.
As regards lacchos he may possibly be
the naked figure seated in the lap of

the goddess towards the right comer,
preserved in Carrey's drawing : it used
to be called Aphrodite because of its
nudity, but it is probably nude (Tide
Loeschke, Dorpaitr Programm^ 1884) :
if so, there were three boys in this
gable, and one of them may weU ha\'e
been lacchos : more cannot be said at

^ That Kore is absent is no fatal
objection; the economy that governs
the frieze-composiuon would account
for this.

« Vide PI. XIV, p. 265.

^ Vide infra, pp. 265-266 for Demeter
and Kore in Carrey's drawings of the

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them found on Eleusinian soil, that show us how the Eleusinian
pair were commonly imagined by the contemporaries of
Pheidias. The most celebrated of these is the great relief
found at Eleusis and now preserved in the Central Museum at
Athens (PL XXV). It may be fairly regarded as one of the
greatest monuments of religious art that has come down to us
from antiquity, a noble example of the high style in hieratic
sculpture. A solemn stillness pervades the group, and a
certain tranquil air of the divine life and world. The formal
beauty of the chiselling can only be felt in the presence of the
original. The lines are still wonderfully clear beneath the
dusky and partially defaced surface, and the contours of
the features are very delicately raised s^ainst the background.
The eyes of the goddesses are deeply set under the lids, and
this imparts a spiritual and earnest expression to the face :
the cheeks are not quite so broad nor the chins so long as on
the Parthenon frieze. A touch of the more ancient style
seems here and there to survive ; for though the organic forms
are largely and fluently treated, some of the lines are rather
hard, and something of the earlier exaggeration may be faintly
discerned in the contours of the boy's limbs, and the lips are
slightly turned downwards as we still find on vases of the
middle of the fifth century. As regards the composition of
the figures, we discern an architectural symmetry combined
with a perfect freedom, for in the inclination of the heads, the
pose of hands and feet, in the disposition of the drapery and
the system of its folds there is a studied and a finely conceived
variety. The work need not be earlier than the date of the
Parthenon frieze, and there is nothing to suggest that it is

Who then are these figures and what are they doing ? The
goddess on the left with the imbound hair and the simpler
drapery used to be often taken for the daughter ; but a com-
parison with other monuments sets it beyond doubt that this
is Demeter, and that the goddess on the right with the more
elaborate drapery, the peplos drawn over the chiton across the
body and falling in a fold on the left shoulder, the hair
bound with a chaplet, is Kore. The boy is more probably

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264 . . GREEK RELIGION ' [ch.\p.

Triptolemos than lacchos; and only on this assumption can
we explain the action : the now current view is probably right
that Demeter is giving him corn-stalks, indicated by painting,
while Kore is placing a crown on his head. Yet the drama
has nothing of the air of a mythological scene ; it is rather
a mystic or hieratic pageant.

We may regard this relief then as a striking monument
of that religious style in which the Pheidian circle achieved so
much, and with some probability ys itself inspired by some
free group which a master of that school wrought for the
service of Eleusis. There are other reliefs that are related to
this as the other free copies of the same original and that have
assisted in establishing the identity of the goddesses. The
first* (PI. XXVI a) was found some years ago in the excavations
of the Acropolis and is now in the Acropolis Museum. The
work belongs to the close of the fifth century ; the chiseUing
of the marble is wonderfully warm and genial, and the dignity
of the Pheidian manner is combined with a subtle Attic grace
and ease. We know the goddess on the left in the simple
sleeveless Doric chiton of wool to be Demeter, for the last
letters of her name are preserved at the top of the slab : there-
fore the other goddess is Kore, draped more elaborately, as
often happens at this epoch, in two garments of finer texture
arranged about her limbs as on the larger relief. Demeter's
left hand, raised behind her daughter's shoulder, was resting
on a sceptre, while her right hand was extended towards
Triptolemos, of whom the only sign that remains is the coil of
his familiar serpent The other relief (PL XXVI b) was found at
Rhamnus and is now in Munich ^. The group reflects, though
with variations, the same original : the drapery is virtually the
same, and, in many essentiab, the pose of the figures ; only
here it is the daughter who raises her hand to her mother's
shoulder, while Demeter's hands are lowered, the missing right
holding out perhaps a libation-cup to the worshipper towards
whom her head is benignantly inclined ; or perhaps it is again
Triptolemos to whom she intends to give a libation. The

• Eph, Arch, 1893, Tliv. 8. p. 36. Furtwangler, HwuUrt Tafthi nach den

^ Vide Eph, Arch. 1893, p. 38 ; Bildw, d, GiypMh, no. 27.

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surface of the relief has greatly suffered, and it has lost much
of Its charm, but it belongs probably to the same j^e as
the last.

Probably of somewhat earlier period than these is the relief
mentioned already*, showing Athena greeting the goddesses of
Eleusis and inscribed with a decree concerning the bridging of
the Pheitoi on the sacred way, which we can date at 421 B.C.
(PI. XIV). As in the Acropolis relief, Kore's hands are lowered,
and the torches which are to be imagined there are seen here,
and again Demeter raises her left hand, but now merely to lift
up a lappet of her mantle : and again we see the same drapery
and the same disposition of the folds. Another monument of
the Eleusinian worship that ranges itself with these, a relief
from Eleusis now in the Louvre**, shows us the goddesses
receiving a swine-offering, Demeter wearing a kalathos and
holding out a libation-cup and turning her head benignantly
to the worshippers, while Kore holds two torches in her right
hand and ears of corn in her left (PL XXVII a). The long curls
of Demeter are a noticeable feature in this work, while in the
other smaller reliefs we find the shorter hair that is more in
accordance with the * Pheidian ' taste as shown in the Parthenon

A reminiscence of the type to which these figures conform
reappears in an interesting relief, of which a part was found in
the Plutonion at Eleusis (PI. XXVII b), and which we may
approximately date at 400 B. C. ^ It is no myth that is here
represented, but a cult-drama : Triptolemos is not starting on
his mission in his serpent-car; for his seat is not a chariot but
a throne, and he sits receivmg worship from the mortals who
approach. In front of him stands Demeter, with her left arm
raised as in PI. XIV, and wearing the same drapery ; while
behind him is Kore, again holding the torches and wearing
chiton and peplos disposed about her body as before.

Finally, in Carrey's drawing of one of the south metopes of

• Vide supra, p. 237. PI. 6 ; but the right interpretation was

'' Overbeck, Allas^ 14. 2. first given by Rubcnsohn, Arch, Anz,

•^ Published in its complete form by 1896, pp. ioo>io2.

Philios in Ath. Mitt/i, 1895, p. 255,

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the Parthenon*, we mky detect the same group of the two
goddesses, the dress of both appearing to conform to this now
well-established type, and Demeter raising her left hand some-
what as in three of the examples we have noted, though witli
a different intention.

The archaeological evidence then enables us to figure in
our imagination some famous and impressive group of sculpture
that stood on sacred ground, probably at Eleusis, but certainly
not in the Telesterion or the Hol>l of Holies, else we should
never have received even a distant copy of it * ; and it seems
to reveal the handiwork of the Pheidian school. But none of
the surviving copies, not even the great Eleusinian relief, pre-
sents us with such a countenance of Demeter or Kore as could
satisfy us and could ser\e as a standard. Nor do we find it
among those free statues surviving in our museums which on
the insufficient ground of a similar treatment of the drapery
have been derived from this original Eleusinian group of the
fifth century ®. There was another and independent group of

• Michaells, Parthetum^ 3. 19 z vide
article by Pemice in Jahrb, d, d. Inst,
1S95 (Taf. 3), who regards these Bgures
as priestesses.

^ The attempt made by recent
archaeologists— e.g. by R. von Schneider
in Album der Aniiken'SammlunglVitn^
Taf. 26, Kern in A(h, MittJu 189a,
p. 138—10 discover the forms of the
chief idols of the mysteries seems to
me useless: for if anything in the
m}'steries was likely to be sacred and
tabooed it would be these; and the
ateliers would hardly dare to nuke
copies for public trade.

^ I regret to have found little profit
in the elaborate attempts made by
distinguished archaeologists such as
von Schneider and Furtwangler and
more recently by Ruhland to discover
copies of this group in the Cherchel
'Demeter,' the <Demeteis* of Berlin

Online LibraryLewis Richard FarnellThe cults of the Greek states → online text (page 26 of 40)