Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen": THE ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES

Happy is he among men upon earth who has seen these mysteries; but he who is uninitiate and who has no part in them never has lot of like good things once he is dead, down in the darkness and gloom.

Hymn to Demeter, 480-2 (translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White, Hesiod, the Homeric Hymns, and Homerica, Loeb Classical Library [New York, 1920], P. 323)

Thrice happy are those of mortals, who having seen those rites depart for Hades; for to them alone is it granted to have true life there; to the rest all there is evil.

Sophocles, Frag. 719 (Dindorf) (translation by G. E. Mylonas, Eleusis and the Eleusinian Mysteries [Prince ton: Princeton University Press, 1961], P. 284)

Happy is he who, having seen these rites, goes below the hollow earth; for he knows the end of life and he knows its god-sent beginning.

Pindar, Frag. 102 (Oxford) (translation by Mylonas, Op.cit., P. 285)

Beautiful indeed is the Mystery given us by the blessed gods: death is for mortals no longer an evil, but a blessing.

Inscription found at Eleusis (translation by S. Angus, The Mystery Religions and Christianity [London, 19251, P. 140)

It was the common belief in Athens that whoever had been taught the Mysteries would, when he died, be deemed worthy of divine glory. Hence all were eager for initiation.

Scholiast on Aristophanes (The Frogs, 158) (translation by S. Angus, op cit., p. 140)

Pausanias avoided explanations regarding the Mysteries and refrained

from describing the buildings to be seen in the sacred precincts of
Demeter both at Eleusis and

I purposed to pursue the subject, and describe all the objects that
admit of description in the sanctuary at Athens called the Eleusinion, but I was prevented from
so doing by a vision in a dream. I will, therefore, turn to what may be lawfully told to everybody.

Pausanias, I, 14, 3 (translation by Frazer)

My dream forbade me to describe what is within the wall of the sanctuary; and surely it is dear that the uninitiated may not lawfully hear of that from the sight of which they are debarred.

Pausanias, 1, 38, 7 (translation by Frazer)

And the synthema (pass-word) of the Eleusinian mysteries is as follows: 'I fasted; I drank the kykeon; I took out of the chest; having done my task, I put again into the basket, and from the basket again into the chest.'

Clement of Alexandria, Protreptikos, II, 21. [For the interpretations of this sacred formula, cf. George E. Mylonas, Eleusis and the Eleusinian Mysteries, pp. 294-305]

The Phrygians, the Naassene says, assert that God is a fresh ear of cutwheat, and following the Phrygians the Athenians, when they initiate in the Eleusinia exhibit in silence to the epoptai the mighty and marvellous and most complete epoptic mystery, an ear of cut-wheat.

Hippolytus, Philosophoumena, V, 8

[According to Walter Otto, 'there can be no doubt of the miraculous nature of the event. The ear of wheat growing and maturing with a supernatural suddenness is just as much a part of the mysteries of Demeter as the vine growing in a few hours is part of the revels of Dionysus.' W. Otto, 'Meaning of the Eleusinian Mysteries,' P. 25, in The Mysteries (New York, 1955), PP. 14-31; see also Mylonas, op. cit. PP- 305-10-]

Aristotle maintains that it is not necessary for the initiated to learn anything, but to receive impressions and to be put in a certain frame of mind by becoming worthy candidates.

Synesius, De Dione, 10. (cf. Jeanne Groissant, Aristotle et les Mysteres, Paris, 1932)

More on Mysteries:

More on Ancient Greece:

Books by Mircea Eliade:

Man and the Sacred | Main Menu | Keyword Search