And when your heralds carried the proclamation of the sacred truce of the Mysteries, the
Phocians alone in all Hellas refused to recognize the truce.  (Aeschines, On the Embassy, 133)


[The flame,] come to its youthful strength, consumed the lofty labor of the
carpenters.  Fragment 195

“With bright flashes, the torches’ might.”  Fragment 214  Scholiast on Sophocles, Oedipus
Coloneus, 1047.  

. . . anointed with unguents . . . not more than Hera . . . more arrogant . . . mighty .  . . from afar.
May There abide . . . life . . . the gods . . . among friendly . . . But may all the envious be absent,
And all unseemly rumour. We pray that Semele’s good fortune may ever steer a straight course.
For . . . this other . . . Semele . . .Cadmus . . . the all-powerful Zeus . . . marriage.  (Fragment
279:  Pfeiffer).

But I too have a seal, as a guard, upon my lips. (Aeschylus.  Fragment of an uncertain play,
Aeschylus, Volume II, Loeb Classical Library: London, 1926, p. 486.)

Practicing the holy rites of Coty...One, holding in his hands the pipe, the labor of the lathe,
blows forth his fingered tune, even the sound that wakes to frenzy.  Another, with brass-bound
cymbals, raises a clang...the twang shrills; and unseen, unknown, bull-voices mimes in answer
bellow fearfully, while the timbrel's echo, like that of subterranean thunder, rolls along inspiring
a mighty terror.( Aeschylus.  Fragment from The Edonians, Aeschylus, Volume II, Loeb Classical
Library: London, 1926, pp. 399-400.)
Lo, the house is frenzied with the god, the roof revels, Bacchant-like.( Aeschylus.  Fragment
from The Edonians, Aeschylus, Volume II, Loeb Classical Library: London, 1926, p. 400.)

Take ye stand in a ring about yon altar and a gleaming fire, and with your band grouped in a
circle offer up your prayers.  (Aeschylus.  Fragment of an uncertain play, Aeschylus, Volume II,
Loeb Classical Library: London, 1926, p. 497.)

The Assembly had met to give audience to Nicias, Lamachus, and Alcibiades, the generals
about to leave with the Sicilian expedition - in fact, Lamachus' flagship was already lying off-
shore - when suddenly Pythonicus rose before the people and cried: 'Countrymen, you are
sending forth this mighty host in all its array upon a perilous enterprise. Yet your commander,
Alcibiades, has been holding celebrations of the mysteries in a private house, and others with
him; I
will prove it, grant immunity to him whom I indicate, and a non-initiate, a slave belonging to
someone here present, shall describe the Mysteries to you. You can punish me as you will, if
that is not the truth.'  On the Mysteries 11-12


The Mystai are not intended to learn anything, but to suffer something and
thus be made worthy.  Preserved in Synesius Dion , c. 7.


When Hercules was about to depart to fetch him, he went to Eumolpus at Eleusis, wishing to be
initiated. However it was not then lawful for foreigners to be initiated: since he proposed to be
initiated as the adoptive son of Pylius. But not being able to see the mysteries because he had
not been cleansed of the slaughter of the centaurs, he was cleansed by Eumolpus and then
initiated.  (Apollodorus, The Library, II, v, 12)

When Erichthonius died and was buried in the same precinct of Athens, Pandion became king,
in whose time Demeter and Dionysus came to Attica. But Demeter was welcomed by Celeus at
Eleusis, and Dionysus by Icarius, who received from him a branch of a vine and learned the
process of making wine. (Apollodorus, The Library, III, xiv, 7)

The Hierophant is in the habit of sounding the so-called gong when Kore is being invoked by
name.  (Apollodorus, Fragment 36)


Psyche cast herself before the goddess, wetting the holy feet with tears and sweeping the
ground with her tresses. Amid a thicket of supplications she asked for the favor of Ceres:
'By your right hand of Plenty, I implore you. By your joyous Ceremonies of Harvest; by your
Mystery enclosed in Osier-baskets; by the winged Gig of your familiar Dragons; by the Furrows
of the Sicilian Glebe, the Rape of the Chariot, the Earth that yields not up its own, the Descent
into the Night of the Nuptials of Proserpine, And the Ascent into the light of the Maiden's
Restoration; by all the other Symbols which the Sanctuary of Eleusis in Attica preserves in
Silences - stand by your suppliant Psyche in the hour of her deep need. Permit me, at least
for a few days, to shelter myself among the layers of wheat until the passage of time mitigates
the raging rancor of the mighty goddess, or until an interval of rest refreshes the body that
daily stress has now exhausted.'  (Apuleius, Metamorphoses, VI, 2)


Eleusis is a shrine common to the whole earth and of all the divine things that exist among men,
it is both the most terrible and the most luminous.  At what place in the world have more
miraculous tidings been sung, where have the Dromena called forth greater emotion, where has
there been a greater rivalry between seeing and hearing?


Chorus: O Iacchus! O Iacchus! O Iacchus!
Xanthias: I have it, master: 'tis those blessed Mystics,...
Chorus: O Iacchus! Power excelling, here in stately temples dwelling.
O Iacchus! O Iacchus!
Come to tread this verdant level,
Come to dance in mystic revel,
Come whilst round thy forehead hurtles
Many a wreath of fruitful myrtles,
Come with wild and saucy paces
Mingling in our joyous dance,
Pure and holy, which embraces all the charms of all the Graces,
When the mystic choirs advance.
Xanthias: Holy And sacred queen, Demeter' s daughter,
O, what a jolly whiff of pork breathed o'er me!
Dionysus: Hist! And perchance you'll get some tripe yourself.
Chorus: Come, arise, from sleep waking, come the fiery torches shaking,
O Iacchus! 0 Iacchus!
Morning Star that shinest nightly.
Lo, the mead is blazing brightly,
Age forgets its years And sadness,
Aged knees curvet for gladness,
Lift thy flashing torches o'er us,
Marshall all thy blameless train,
Lead, O lead the way before us; lead the lovely youthful Chorus
To thy marshy flowery plain.
All evil thoughts and profane be still: far hence, far hence from our choirs depart,
Who knows not well what the Mystics tell, or is not holy And pure of heart;
Who ne'er has the noble revelry learned, or danced the dance of the Muses high;
Or shared in the Bacchic rites which old bull-eating Cratinus's words supply;
Who vulgar coarse buffoonery loves, though all untimely the jests they make;
Or lives not easy and kind with all, or kindling faction forbears to slake,
But fan the fire, from a base desire some pitiful gain for himself to reap;
Or takes, in office, his gifts and bribes, while the city is tossed on the stormy deep;
Who foe or fleet to the foe betrays; or, a vile Thorycion, ships away
Forbidden stores from Aegina's shores, to Epidaurus across the Bay
Transmitting oar-pads and sails and tar, that curst collector of five per cents;
The knave who tries to procure supplies for the enemy's armaments;
The cyclian singer who dares befoul the Lady Hecate's wayside shrine;
The public speaker who once lampooned in our Bacchic feasts would, with heart malign,
Keep nibbling away the Comedian's pay; - to these I utter my warning cry,
I charge them once, I charge them twice, I charge them thrice, that they draw not nigh
To the sacred dance of the Mystic choir. But you, my comrades, awake the song,
The night-long revels of joy and mirth whichever of right to our feast belong.
Advance, true hearts, advance!
On to the gladsome powers,
On to the sward, with flowers
Embosomed bright!
March on with jest, and jeer, and dance,
Full well ye've supped tonight.
March, chanting loud your lays,
Your hearts and voices raising,
The Savior goddess praising
Who vows she'll still
Our city save to endless days,
Whate'er Thorycion's will.
Break off the measure, and change the time; and now with chanting and hymns adorn
Demeter, goddess mighty and high, the harvest-queen, the giver of corn.
O Lady, over our rites presiding,
Preserve and succor thy coral throng,
And grant us all, in thy help confiding,
To dance and revel the whole day long;
And much in earnest, and much in jest,
Worthy thy feast, may we speak therein.
And when we have bantered and laughed our best,
The victor's wreath be it ours to win.
Call we now the youthful god, call him hither without delay,
Him who travels amongst his chorus, dancing along on the Sacred Way.
O, come with the joy of thy festival song,
O, come to the goddess, O, mix with our throng
Untired, though the journey be never so long.
O Lord of the frolic and dance, :
Iacchus, beside me advance!
For fun, and for cheapness, our dress thou hast rent,
Through thee we may dance to the top of our bent,
Reviling, and jeering, and none will resent.
O Lord of the frolic and dance,
Iacchus, beside me advance!
A sweet pretty girl I observed in the show,
Her robe had been torn in the scuffle, And lo,
There peeped through the tatters a bosom of snow.
O Lord of the frolic and dance,
Iacchus, beside me advance!...
Chorus: Now wheel your sacred dance through the glade with flowers bedight,
All ye who are partakers of the holy festal rite;
And I will with the women and the holy maidens go
Where they keep the nightly vigil, an auspicious light to show.
Now haste we to the roses,
And the meadows full of posies,
Now haste we to the meadow
In our own old way,
In choral dances blending,
In dances never ending,
Which only for the holy
The Destinies array.
O, happy mystic chorus,
The blessed sunshine o'er us
On us alone is smiling,
In its soft sweet light:
On us who strove forever
With holy, pure endeavor
Alike by friend and stranger
To guide our steps aright
(Aristophanes.  The Frogs 317-318, 323-413, 440-459)

Trygaeus: And is it so? And must I die indeed?
Hermes: You must indeed.
Trygaeus: O then, I prithee, lend me half a crown. I'll buy a pig, and get initiated first.
(Aristophanes.  The Peace 372-374)

The Greater Mysteries were Demeter's and the Lesser Persephone's.
(The Scholiast of Aristophanes :Mylonas Eleusis and the Eleusinian Mysteries p. 240)

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)


The temple at Eleusis ... should be under the superintendence of the Ceryces  and the
Eumolpidae, according to primitive custom.  (Aristotle, The Athenian Constitution 39:2)

He (Archon) also superintends sacred processions, both that in honor of Asclepius, when the
initiated keep house, and that of the great Dionysia.  (Aristotle, The Athenian Constitution 56:4)

The King in the first place superintends the Mysteries, in conjunction with the Superintendents
of Mysteries. The latter are elected in the assembly by open vote, two from the general body of
Athenians, one from the Eumolpidae, and one from the Ceryces.  (Aristotle, The Athenian
Constitution, 57:1)

But of what he is doing a man might be ignorant, as for instance people say, 'It
slipped out of their mouths as they were speaking,' or 'They did not know it was a secret,' as
Aeschylus said of the mysteries.  (Aristotle, Nicomachaean Ethics. III, I, 17)

All who use these rites experience release mixed with joy.  (Aristotle.  Poetics 1341)


The Eleusinian Mysteries, are they not the main part of your religion and the demos of Athens,
yea the whole of Greece gathers to celebrate that vanity? Is not there (in the sanctuary of
Demeter at Eleusis) the katabasion and the solemn meeting of the Hierophant and the priestess,
each with the other alone; are not the torches then extinguished and the vast crowd believes
that its salvation depends on what those two act in the darkness?  Asterios.  Engomion to the
Saintly Martyrs.  311-312


The chaste heaven loves to violate the earth, and love lays hold on earth to join in wedlock. The
rain from the streaming heaven falls down and impregnates the earth; and she brings forth her
mortals the pasturage of sheep and Demeter's sustenance; and the ripe season for the trees is
perfected by the watery union. Of all this I am the cause.  (The Deipnosophists.  XIII, 600b)

Aeschylus, too, besides inventing that comeliness and dignity of dress which Hierophants and
Dadouchoi emulate, when they put on their vestments. (Athenaeus 21e)

For the highest and dearest of the gods are come to our city. Hither, indeed, the time has
brought together Demeter and Demetrius. She comes to celebrate the solemn mysteries of the
(Athenaeus, The Deipnosophists VI, 253d)

Plemochoe is an earthen dish shaped like a top, but tolerably firm on its base;
some call it a kotyliskos, according to Pamphilus. They use it at Eleusis on the
last day of the Mysteries, a day which they call from it Plemochoai; on that day
they fill two plemochoai, and they invert them (standing up And facing the east
in the one case, the west in the other), reciting a mystical formula over them.
(Athenaeus, The Deipnosophists XI, 496a)

At the great assembly of the Eleusinia and at the festival of Poseidon, in full sight of the whole
Greek world, she removed only her cloak And let down herlong hair before stepping into the
water. (Athenaeus, The Deipnosophists XIII, 591a)

Nor did the son of Mene, Musaeus, master of the Graces, cause Antiope to go without her meed
of honor. And she, beside Eleusis's strand, expounded to the initiates the loud, sacred voice of
mystic oracles, as she duly escorted the priest through the Rarian plain to honor Demeter. And
she is known even in Hades. (Athenaeus, The Deipnosophists, 597d)

According to Himerios, a sophist who lived in Athens when Julian was Emperor of Rome (361-
363): an old law ordered the initiates to take with them handfuls of agricultural produce which
were the badges of a civilized life.  Now Semus of Delos in his work On Paeans says: "The
handfuls of barley, taken separately, they called amalai; but when these are gathered together
And many are made into a single bundle people called them ouloi or iouloi; hence also they
called Demeter sometimes Chloe, sometimes Ioulo. Hence from Demeter's gifts they call not
only the fruit, but also the hymns sung in honor of the goddess, ouloi or iouloi. There are also
Demetrouloi and kalliouloi ; and the refrain: 'Send forth a sheaf, a plenteous sheaf, a sheaf send
(Athenaeus, The Deipnosophists. XIV, 618d)

Heracleides of Syracuse in his work On Institutions says that in Syracuse, on the Day of
Consummation at the Thesmophoria, cakes of sesame and honey were molded in the shape of
the female pudenda, and called throughout the whole of Sicily mylloi and carried about in honor
of the goddesses.  (Athenaeus, The Deipnosophists XIV, 646f)

Aeschylus, too, besides inventing that comeliness and dignity of dress which Hierophants and
Dadouchoi emulate, when they put on their vestments. (Athenaeus 21e)

(We hear of a strange festival held at Eleusis known as the pelting with stones.  Athenaios
again makes Ulpian, one of his characters state:)  “I know, indeed of a festival held in my own
Eleusis which is called Pelting.  But I will not say a word about it unless I get a reward from
every one of you.”  (George E. Mylonas.  Eleusis and the Eleusinian Mysteries.   Princeton:  
Princeton University Press, 1961, p. 140)


fasting on the sacred days of the Rarian Demeter.  (Callimachus, Aetia 10)

It is a great blessing for you that you have not seen the rites of the dread goddess, or else you
would have spewed up their story too.  (Callimachus, Aetia 75)

As the basket comes, greet it, you women, saying "Demeter, greatly hail! Lady of much bounty,
of many measures of corn." As the basket comes, from the ground you shall see it, you
uninitiated, And gaze not from the roof or from aloft - child nor wife nor maid that has shed her
hair - neither then nor when we spit from parched mouths fasting. Hesperus from the clouds
marks the time of its coming: Hesperus, who alone persuaded Demeter to drink, that time she
pursued the unknown tracks of her stolen daughter.  Lady, how were your feet able to carry
you to the West, to the black men and where the golden apples are? You did not drink nor did
you eat during that time
nor did you wash. Thrice did you cross Achelous with his silver eddies and as often did you
pass over each of the ever-flowing rivers, and thrice did you seat yourself on the ground beside
the fountain Callichorus, parched and without drinking, and did not eat nor wash. Nay, nay, let
us not speak of that which brought the tear to Deo! Better to tell how she gave to cities
pleasing ordinances; better to tell how she was the first to cut straw and holy sheaves of corn-
ears and put an oxen to tread them, that time Triptolemus was taught the good craft.  
(Callimachus. To Demeter 1-24)

You sat at the well Callichoron, without news of your child.  (Callimachus: Fragment 611)


I say nothing of the holy and awe-inspiring sanctuary of Eleusis, "where tribes from earth's
remotest confines seek Initiation," and I pass over Samothrace and those "occult mysteries
which throngs of worshippers at dead of night in forest covert deep do celebrate" Lemnos,
since such mysteries when interpreted and rationalized prove to have more to do with natural
science than with theology.  (Cicero On the Nature of the Gods. I, 52)

M: Then what will become of our Iacchus and Eumolpidae and their impressive mysteries, if we
abolish nocturnal rites? For we are composing laws not for the Roman people in particular, but
for all virtuous and stable nations.
A: I take it for granted that you make an exception of those rites into which we ourselves have
been initiated.
M: I will do so indeed. For among the many excellent and indeed divine institutions which your
Athens has brought forth and contributed to human life, none, in my opinion, is better than
those mysteries. For by their means we have been brought out of our barbarous and savage
mode of life and educated and refined to a state of civilization; and as the rites are called
"initiations," so in very truth we have learned from them the beginnings of life, and have gained
the power not only to live happily, but also to die with a better hope. (Cicero Laws II, xiv, 36)


And the formula of the Eleusinian mysteries is as follows: "I fasted, I drank the draught (kykeon
); I took from the chest; having done my task, I placed in the basket, and from the basket into
the chest.  (Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks II, 18)

Demeter and Persephone have come to be the subject of a mystic drama, and Eleusis
celebrates with torches the rape of the daughter and the sorrowful wandering of the mother.  
Now it seems to me that the terms "orgy" and "mystery" must be derived, the former from the
wrath (orge) of Demeter against Zeus, and the latter from the pollution (mysos) that took place
in connection
with Dionysus.  (Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks II, 12)

It tells how Demeter, wandering through Eleusis, which is a part of Attica, in search of her
daughter the Maiden, becomes exhausted and sits down at a well in deep distress. This display
of grief is forbidden, up to the present day, to those who are initiated, lest the worshippers
should seem to imitate the goddess in her sorrow. At that time Eleusis was inhabited by
aborigines, whose
names were Baubo, Dysaules, Triptolemus, and also Eumolpus and Eubouleus.  Triptolemus
was a herdsman, Eumolpus a shepherd, and Eubouleus a swineherd. These were progenitors of
the Eumolpidae and of the Heralds, who form the priestly clan at Athens. But to continue; for I
will not forbear to tell the rest of the story. Baubo, having received Demeter as a guest, offers
her a draught of wine and meal. She declines to take it, being unwilling to drink on account of
her mourning. Baubo is deeply hurt, thinking she has been slighted, and thereupon uncovers
her secret parts and exhibits them to the goddess. Demeter is pleased at the sight, and now at
last receives the draught, - delighted with the spectacle! These are the secret mysteries of the
Athenians! These are also the subjects of Orpheus' poems. I will quote you the very lines of
Orpheus, in order that you may have the originator of the mysteries as witness of their
This said, she drew aside her robes and showed a sight of shame; child Iacchus was there, and
laughing, plunged his hand below her breasts. Then smiled the goddess, in her heart she
And drank the draught from out the glancing cup. (Clement of Alexandria, II, 16-18)

The mysteries, then, are mere custom and vain opinion, and it is a deceit of the serpent that
men worship when, with spurious piety, they turn towards these sacred initiations that are
really profanities, and solemn rites that are without sanctity. Consider, too, the contents of the
mystic chests; for I must strip bare their holy things and utter the unspeakable. Are they not
sesame cakes, pyramid and spherical cakes, cakes with many navels, also balls of salt and a  
serpent, the mystic sign of Dionysus Basareus? Are they not also pomegranates, fig branches,
fennel stalks, ivy leaves, round cakes and poppies? These are their holy things! In addition,
there are the unutterable symbols of Ge Themis, marjoram, a lamp, a sword, and a woman's
comb, which
is euphemistic expression used in the mysteries for a woman's secret parts.  (Clement of
Alexandria, II, 19)


(epigram)…Go…to Attica to see those nights of the great Mysteries of Demeter; from them you
shall get a heart free of care while you live and lighter to bear when you join the realm of the


It is worth your while, men of Athens, to consider this also - that you punished Archias, who
had been hierophant, when he was convicted in court of impiety and of offering sacrifice
contrary to the rites handed down by our fathers.  Among the charges brought against him
was, that at the feast of the harvest he sacrificed on the altar in the court at Eleusis a victim
brought by the courtesan Sinope, although it was not lawful to offer victims on that day, and
the sacrifice was not his to perform, but the priestess'! It is, then, a monstrous thing that a man
who was of the race of the Eumolpidae, born of honorable ancestors and a citizen of Athens,
should be punished for having transgressed one of your established customs; and the
pleadings of his relatives and friends did not save him, nor the public services which he and his
ancestors had rendered to the city; no, nor yet his office of hierophant; but you punished him,
because he was judged to be guilty.  (Demosthenes Against Neaera 116-117)


In Thebes, for example, a certain Alcaeus has a statue which they say is a Heracles and was
formerly so called; and among the Athenians there is an image of a boy who was an initiate in
the mysteries at Eleusis and it bears no inscription; he, too, they say, is a Heracles.  (Dio
Chrysostom XXXI, 92)

If one would bring a man, Greek or barbarian, for initiation into a mystic recess overwhelming
by its beauty and size, so that he would behold many mystic views and hear many sounds of
the kind, with darkness and light appearing in sudden changes and other innumerable things
happening, and even, as they do in the so-called enthronement ceremony – they have the
initiands sit down and they dance around them – if all of this were happening, would it be
possible that such a man should experience just nothing in his soul, that he should not come to
surmise that there is some wiser insight and plan in all that is going on, even if he came from
the utmost Barbary?   (Dio Chrysotom.  Or. 12-33.)


Once when there was a great drought, as is generally agreed, which extended over practically
all the inhabited earth except Egypt because of the peculiar character of that country, and there
followed a destruction both of crops and of men in great numbers, Erectheus, through his
racial connection with Egypt, brought from there to Athens a great supply of grain, and in
return those who had enjoyed this aid made their benefactor king.  After he had secured the
throne, he instituted the initiatory rites of Demeter in Eleusis and established the mysteries,
transferring their ritual from Egypt.  (Diodorus.  Library of History I,29)

The earth, again, they looked upon as a kind of vessel which holds all growing things and so
gave it the name "mother;" and in like manner the Greeks also call it Demeter, the word having
been slightly changed in the course of time; for in olden time they called her Ge Meter (Earth
Mother), to which Orpheus bears witness when he speaks of "Earth the Mother of all, Demeter
giver of wealth."  (Diodorus, The Library of History.  I, 12)

Furthermore, the early men have given Dionysus the name of "Dimetor" ("twice-born"),
reckoning it as a single and first birth when the plant is set in the ground and begins to grow,
and as a second birth when it becomes laden with fruit and ripens its clusters, the god,
therefore, being considered as having been born once from the earth and again from the vine.
And though the writers of myths have handed down the account of a third birth as well, at
which as they say the sons of Gaia tore to pieces the god, who was a son of Zeus and Demeter,
and boiled him, but his members were brought together again by Demeter and he experienced a
new birth as if for the first time, such accounts as this they trace back to certain causes found
in nature. For he is considered to be the son of Zeus and Demeter, they hold, by reason of the
fact that the vine gets its growth both from the earth and from rain and so bears as its fruit the
wine which is pressed out from the clusters of grapes; and the statement that he was torn to
pieces, while yet a youth, by the "earth-born" signifies the harvesting of the fruit by the
laborers, and the boiling of his members has been
worked into a myth by reason of the fact that most men boil the wine and then mix it, thereby
improving its natural aroma and quality. Again, the account of his members, which the "earth-
born" treated with despite, being brought together again and restored to their former natural
state, shows forth that the vine, which has been stripped of its fruit and pruned at the yearly
seasons, is restored by the earth to the high level of fruitfulness which it had before. For, in
general, the ancient poets and writers of myths spoke of Demeter as Ge Meter (Earth Mother).
And with these stories the teachings agree which are set forth in the Orphic poems and are
introduced into their rites, but it is not lawful to recount them in detail to the uninitiated.  
(Diodorus The Library of History.  III, 62:5-8)

The second Dionysus, the writers of myth relate, was born to Zeus by Persephone, though
some say it was Demeter. He is represented by them as the first man to have yoked oxen to the
plough, human beings before that time having prepared the ground by hand. Many other things
also, which are useful for agriculture, were skillfully devised by him, whereby the masses were
relieved of their great distress; and in return for this those whom he had benefited accorded to
him honors and sacrifices like those offered to the gods, since all men were eager, because of
the magnitude of his service to them, to accord to him immortality. And as a special symbol and
token the painters and sculptors represented him with horns, at the same time making manifest
thereby the other nature of Dionysus And also showing forth the magnitude of the service
which he had devised for the farmers by his invention of the plough. (Diodorus Library of
History. III, 64)

And in general, the myths relate that the gods who receive the greatest approval at the hands
of human beings are those who excelled in their benefactions by reason of their discovery of
good things, namely, Dionysus and Demeter, the former because he was the discoverer of the
most pleasing drink, the latter because she gave to the race of men the most excellent of the
dry foods.

Some writers of myths, however, relate that there was a second Dionysus who was much earlier
in time than the one we have just mentioned. For according to them there was born of Zeus and
Persephone a Dionysus who is called by some Sabazius and whose birth and sacrifices and
honors are celebrated at night and in secret, because of the disgrace resulting from the
intercourse of the sexes. They state also that he excelled in sagacity and was the first to
attempt the yoking of oxen and by their aid to effect the sowing of the seed, this being the
reason why they also represent him as wearing a horn.  (Diodorus, Library of History IV, 3-4)

Demeter instituted the Lesser Mysteries in honor of Heracles, that she might purify him of the
guilt he had incurred in the slaughter of the Centaurs.  (Diodorus.  The Library of History. IV, 14)

But Zeus desired that the other of his two sons might also attain to honor, and so he instructed
him in the initiatory rite of the mysteries, which had existed on the island since ancient times
but was at that time, so to speak, put in his hands; it is not lawful, however, or any but the
initiated to hear about the mysteries. And Iasion is reputed to have been the first to initiate
strangers into them and by this means to bring the initiatory rite to high esteem.... And
Demeter, becoming enamored of Iasion, presented him with the fruit of the corn.... To Iasion
and Demeter, according to the story the myths relate, was born Plutus or Wealth, but the
reference is, as a matter of fact, to the wealth of the corn, which was presented to Iasion
because of Demeter's association with him at the time of the wedding of Harmonia. Now the
details of the initiatory rite are guarded among the matters not to be divulged and are
communicated to the initiates alone; but the fame has traveled wide of how these gods appear
to mankind and bring unexpected aid to those initiates of theirs who call upon them in the midst
of perils. The claim is also made that men who have taken part in the mysteries become both
more pious and more just and better in every respect than they were before. And this is the
reason, we are told, why the most famous both of the ancient heroes and of the demi-gods
were eagerly desirous of taking part in the initiatory rite; and in fact Jason and the Dioscuri,
and Heracles and Orpheus as well, after their initiation attained success in all the campaigns
they undertook, because these gods appeared to them.
(Diodorus Siculus V, 48, 49)

And assuming that it would be to his advantage for the accomplishment of this labor, he went
to Athens and took part in the Eleusinian Mysteries, Musaeus, the son of Orpheus, being at that
time in charge of the initiatory rite.  (Diodorus.  The Library of History. IV, 25)

Again, the fact that the Rape of Kore took place in Sicily is, men say, proof most evident that
the goddesses made this island their favorite retreat because it was cherished by them before
all others. And the Rape of Kore, the myth relates, took place in the meadows in the territory of
Enna. The spot is near the city, a place of striking beauty for its violets and every other kind of
flower and worthy of the goddess. And the story is told that, because of the sweet odor of the
flowers growing there, trained hunting dogs are unable to hold the trail, because their natural
sense of smell is balked. And the meadow we have mentioned is level in the center and well-
watered throughout, but on its periphery it rises high and falls off with precipitous cliffs on
every side. And it is conceived of as lying in the very center of the island, which is the reason
why certain writers call it the navel in Sicily. Near to it also are sacred groves, surrounded by
marshy flats, to the north, and through it, the myth relates, Pluton, coming out with his chariot,
effected the rape of Kore. And the violets, we are told, and the rest of the flowers which supply
the sweet odor continue to bloom, to one's amazement, throughout the entire year, and so the
whole aspect of the place is one of flowers and delight.  (Diodorus.  The Library of History.   V,

After the Rape of Kore, the myth goes on to recount, Demeter, being unable to find her
daughter, kindled torches in the craters of Mt. Aetna and visited many parts of the inhabited
world, and upon the men who received her with the greatest favor she conferred benefactions,
rewarding them with the gift of the fruit of the wheat.  And since a more kindly welcome was
extended the goddess by the Athenians than by any other people, they were the first after the
Siceliotae to be given the fruit of the wheat; and in return for this gift the citizens of that city in
assembly honored the goddess above all others with the establishment both of most notable
sacrifices and of the mysteries of Eleusis, which, by reason of their very great antiquity and
sanctity, have come to be famous among all mankind. From the Athenians many peoples
received a portion of the gracious gift of the corn, and they in turn, sharing the gift of the seed
with their neighbors, in this way caused all the inhabited world to abound with it. And the
inhabitants of Sicily, since by reason of the intimate relationship of Demeter and Kore with them
they were the first to share in the corn after its discovery, instituted to each one of the
goddesses sacrifices and festive gatherings, which they name after them, and by the time
chosen for these made acknowledgment of the gifts which had been conferred upon them. In
the case of Kore, for instance, they established the celebration of her return at about the time
when the fruit of the corn was found to come to maturity, and they celebrate this sacrifice and
festive gathering with such strictness of observance and such zeal as we should reasonably
expect those men to show who are returning thanks for having been selected before all
mankind for the greatest possible gift; but in the case of Demeter they preferred that time for
the sacrifice when the sowing of the corn is first begun, and for a period of ten days they hold a
festive gathering which bears the name of this goddess and is most magnificent by reason of
the brilliance of their preparation for it, while in the observance of it they imitate the ancient
manner of life. And it is their custom during these days to indulge in coarse language as they
associate one with another, the reason being that by such coarseness the goddess, grieved
though she was of the Rape of Kore, burst into laughter. (Diodorus.  The Library of History. V,

That the rape of Kore took place in the manner we have described is attested by many ancient
historians and poets. Carcinus the tragic poet, for instance, who often visited in Syracuse and
witnessed the zeal which the inhabitants displayed in the sacrifices and festive gatherings for
both Demeter and Kore, has the following verses in his writings:  Demeter's daughter, her
whom none may name, by secret schemings Pluton, men say, stole, and then he dropped into
earth's depths, whose light Is darkness. Longing for the vanished girl her mother searched and
visited all lands in turn. And Sicily's land by Aetna's crags was filled with streams of fire which
no man could approach, and groaned throughout its length; in grief over the maiden now the
folk, beloved of Zeus, was perishing without the corn.  Hence honor they these goddesses e'en
now.  But we should not omit to mention the very great benefaction which Demeter conferred
upon mankind; for beside the fact that she was the discoverer of corn, she also taught mankind
how to prepare it for food and introduced laws by obedience to which men became accustomed
to the practice of justice, this being the reason, we are told, why she has been given the epithet
Thesmophoros or Lawgiver. Surely a benefaction greater than these discoveries of hers one
could not find; for they embrace both living and living honorably.  (Diodorus.  The Library of
History. V, 5)

But Zeus desired that the other of his two sons might also attain to honor, and so he instructed
him in the initiatory rite of the mysteries, which had existed on the island since ancient times
but was at that time, so to speak, put in his hands; it is not lawful, however, or any but the
initiated to hear about the mysteries. And Iasion is reputed to have been the first to initiate
strangers into them and by this means to bring the initiatory rite to high esteem.... And
Demeter, becoming enamored of Iasion, presented him with the fruit of the corn.... To Iasion
And Demeter, according to the story the myths relate, was born Plutus or Wealth, but the
reference is, as a matter of fact, to the wealth of the corn, which was presented to Iasion
because of Demeter's association with him at the time of the wedding of Harmonia. Now the
details of the initiatory rite are guarded among the matters not to be divulged and are
communicated to the initiates alone; but the fame has traveled wide of how these gods appear
to mankind and bring unexpected aid to those initiates of theirs who call upon them in the midst
of perils. The claim is also made that men who have taken part in the mysteries become both
more pious and more just and better in every respect than they were before. And this is the
reason, we are told, why the most famous both of the ancient heroes and of the demi-gods
were eagerly desirous of taking part in the initiatory rite; and in fact Jason and the Dioscuri,
and Heracles and Orpheus as well, after their initiation attained success in all the campaigns
they undertook, because these gods appeared to them. (Diodorus.  The Library of History. V,

And Demeter since the corn still grew wild together with the other plants and was still unknown
to men, was the first to gather it in, to devise how to prepare and preserve it, and to instruct
mankind how to sow it. Now she had discovered the corn before she gave birth to her daughter
Persephone, but after the birth of her daughter and the rape of her by Pluton, she burned all
the fruit of the corn, both because of her anger at Zeus and because of her grief over her
daughter. After she had found Persephone, however, she became reconciled with Zeus and
gave Triptolemus the corn to sow, instructing him both to share the gift with men everywhere
and to teach them everything concerned with the labor of sowing. And some men say that it
was she also who introduced laws, by obedience to which men have become accustomed to
deal justly one with another, and that mankind has called this goddess Thesmophoros after the
laws which she gave them. And since Demeter has been responsible for the greatest blessing to
mankind, she has been accorded the most notable honors and sacrifices, and magnificent
feasts and festivals as well, not only by the Greeks, but also by almost all barbarians who have
partaken of this kind of food. There is dispute about the discovery of the fruit of the corn on
the part of many peoples, who claim that they were the first among whom the goddess was
seen and to whom she made known both the nature and use of the corn. The Egyptians, for
example, say that Demeter and Isis are the same, and that she was first to bring the seed to
Egypt, since the river Nile waters the fields at the proper time and that land enjoys the most
temperate seasons. Also the Athenians, though they assert that the discovery of this fruit took
place in their country, are nevertheless witnesses to its having been brought to Attica from
some other region; for the place which originally received this gift they call Eleusis, from the
fact that the seed of the corn came from others and was conveyed to them. But the inhabitants
of Sicily, dwelling as they do on an island which is sacred to Demeter and Kore, say that it is
reasonable to believe that the gift of which we are speaking was made to them first, since the
land they cultivate is the one the goddess holds most dear; for it would be strange indeed, they
maintain, for the goddess to take for her on, so to speak, a land which is the most fertile known
and yet to give it, the last of all, a share in her benefaction, as though it were nothing to her,
especially since she has her dwelling There, all men agreeing that the Rape of Kore took place
on this island. Moreover, this land is the best adapted for these fruit, even as the poet also
says:  This, then, is what the myths have to say about Demeter. (Diodorus.  The Library of
History. V, 68-69)

This god (Dionysus) was born in Crete, men say, of Zeus and Persephone, and Orpheus has
handed down the tradition in the initiatory rites that he was torn in pieces by the Titans.
(Diodorus.  The Library of History. V, 75)

Such, then are the myths which the Cretans recount of the gods who they claim were born in
their land. They also assert that the honors accorded to the gods and their sacrifices and the
initiatory rites observed in connection with the mysteries were handed down from Crete to the
rest of men, and to support this they advance the following most weighty argument, as they
conceive it: the initiatory rite which is celebrated by the Athenians in Eleusis, the most famous,
one may venture, of them all, and that of Samothrace, and the one practiced in Thrace among
the Cicones, whence Orpheus came who introduced them--- these are all handed down in the
form of a mystery, whereas at Knossos in Crete it has been the custom from ancient times that
these initiatory rites should be handed down to all openly, and what is handed down among
other people as not to be divulged, this the Cretans conceal from no one who may wish to
inform himself upon such matters. Indeed, the majority of the gods, the Cretans say, had their
beginning in Crete and set out from There to visit many regions of the inhabited world,
conferring benefactions upon the races of men and distributing among each of them the
advantage which resulted from the discoveries they had made. Demeter, for example, crossed
over into Attica and then removed from there to Sicily and afterwards to Egypt; and in these
lands her choicest gift was that of the corn and instructions in the sowing of it, whereupon she
received great honors at the hands of these whom she had
benefited.  (Diodorus.  The Library of History. V, 77)

Plutus, we are told, was born in Cretan Tripolus to Demeter and Iasion, and there is a double
account of his origin. For some men say that the earth, when it was sowed once by Iasion and
given proper cultivation, brought forth such an abundance of fruits that those who saw this
bestowed a special name upon the abundance of fruits when they appear and called it plutus
(wealth); consequently it has become traditional among later generations to say that men who
have acquired more than they actually need have Plutus. But There are some who recount the
myth that a son was born to Demeter and Iasion whom they named Plutus, and that he was the
first to introduce diligence into the life of man and the acquisition and safeguarding of property,
all men up to that time having been neglectful of amassing and guarding diligently any store of
property.  (Diodorus.  The Library of History. V, 77)

48 1 After the events we have described one of the inhabitants of the island, a certain Saon,
who was a son, as some say, of Zeus and Nymphê, but, according to others, of Hermes and
Rhenê, gathered into one body the peoples who were dwelling in scattered habitations and
established laws for them; and he was given the name Saon after the island, but the multitude
of the people he distributed among five tribes which he named after his sons. 2 And while the
Samothracians were living under a government of this kind, they say that there were born in
that land to Zeus and Electra, who was one of the Atlantids, Dardanus and Iasion and Harmonia.
3 Of these children Dardanus, who was a man who entertained great designs and was the first
to make his way across to Asia in a make-shift boat, founded at the outset a city called
Dardanus, organized the kingdom which lay about the city which was called Troy at a later time,
and called the peoples Dardanians after himself. They say also that he ruled over many nations
throughout Asia and that the Dardani who dwell beyond Thrace were colonists sent forth by
him. 4 But Zeus desired that the other of his two sons might also attain to honour, and so he
instructed him in the initiatory rite of the mysteries, which had existed on the island since
ancient times but was at that time, so to speak, put in his hands; it is not lawful, however, for
any but the initiated to hear about the mysteries. 5 And Iasion is reputed to have been the first
to initiate strangers into them and by this means to bring the initiatory rite to high esteem. And
after this Cadmus, the son of Agenor, came in the course of his quest for Europê to the
Samothracians, and after participating in the initiation he married Harmonia, who was the sister
of Iasion and not, as the Greeks recount in their mythologies, the daughter of Ares. 49 1 This
wedding of Cadmus and Harmonia was the first, we are told, for which the gods provided the
marriage-feast, and Demeter, becoming enamoured of Iasion, presented him with the fruit of the
corn, Hermes gave a lyre, Athena the renowned necklace and a robe and a flute, and Electra the
sacred rites of the Great Mother of the Gods, as she is called, together with cymbals and
kettledrums and the instruments of her ritual; and Apollo played upon the lyre and the Muses
upon their flutes, and the rest of the gods spoke them fair and gave the pair their aid in the
celebration of the wedding. 2 After this Cadmus, they say, in accordance with the oracle he had
received, founded Thebes in Boeotia, while Iasion married Cybelê and begat Corybas. And after
Iasion had been removed into the circle of the gods, Dardanus and Cybelê and Corybas
conveyed to Asia the sacred rites of the Mother of the Gods and removed with them to Phrygia.
3 Thereupon Cybelê, joining herself to the first Olympus, begat Alcê and called the goddess
Cybelê after herself; and Corybas gave the name of Corybantes to all who, in celebrating the
rites of his mother, acted like men possessed, and married Thebê, the daughter of Cilix. 4 In like
manner he also transferred the flute from Samothrace to Phrygia and to Lyrnessus the lyre
which Hermes gave and which at a later time Achilles took for himself when he sacked that city.
To Iasion and Demeter, according to the story the myths relate, was born Plutus or Wealth, but
the reference is, as a matter of fact, to the wealth of the corn, which was presented to Iasion
because of Demeter’s association with him at the time of the wedding of Harmonia. 5 Now the
details of the initiatory rite are guarded among the matters not to be divulged and are
communicated to the initiates alone; but the fame has travelled wide of how these gods appear
to mankind and bring unexpected aid to those initiates of theirs who call upon them in the midst
of perils. 6 The claim is also made that men who have taken part in the mysteries become both
more pious and more just and better in every respect than they were before. And this is the
reason, we are told, why the most famous both of the ancient heroes and of the demi-gods
were eagerly desirous of taking part in the initiatory rite; and in fact Jason and the Dioscori,
and Heracles and Orpheus as well, after their initiation attained success in all the campaigns
they undertook, because these gods appeared to them.  (Diodorus Siculus.  Library of History.  
Chapter 48.)

While these events were taking place, Diagoras, who was dubbed “the Atheist,” was accused of
impiety and, fearing the people, fled from Attica; and the Athenians announced a reward of a
talent of silver to the man who should slay Diagoras.  (Siculus, Diodorus. XIII.  7)


What I say is supported by the testimony of Sophocles, the tragic poet, in his drama entitled
Triptolemus ; for he there represents Demeter as informing Triptolemus how large a tract of
land he would have to travel over while sowing it with the seeds he had given him.
(Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities I, 12)


The goddess Demeter is coming to celebrate her daughter's Mysteries.  (A fragment of Douris
the Samian Mylonas Eleusis and the Eleusinian Mysteries p. 239-240)


But no man sails from a port without having sacrificed to the Gods and invoked their help; nor
do men sow without having called on Demeter; and shall a man who has undertaken so great a
work undertake it safely without the Gods? And shall they who undertake this work come to it
with success? What else are you doing, man, than divulging the mysteries? You say, "There is
a temple at Eleusis, and one here also. There is an Hierophant at Eleusis, and I also will make
an Hierophant: There is a herald, and I will establish a herald; There is a torch-bearer at Eleusis,
and also will establish a torch-bearer; There are torches at Eleusis, and I will have torches here.
The words are the same; how do the things done here differ from those done there?" Most
impious man, is there no difference? These things are done both in due place and in due time;
and when accompanied with sacrifice and prayers, when a man is first purified, and when he is
disposed in his mind to the thought that he is going to approach sacred rites and ancient rites.
In this way the mysteries are useful, in this way we come to the notion that all these things were
established by the ancients for the instruction and correction of life. But you publish and
divulge them out of time, out of place, without sacrifices, without purity; you have not the
garments which the hierophant ought to have, nor the hair, nor the head-dress, nor the voice
nor the age; nor have you purified yourself as he has: but you have committed to memory the
words only, and you say: "Sacred are the words by themselves."  You ought to approach these
matters in another way; the thing is great, it is mystical, not common thing, nor is it given to
every man.  (Epictetus.  Discourses III, 21)


In Alexandria, there is the so-called Korion, and it is a very large temple, that is the temenos of
Kore. (The worshippers) having passed the night in vigilance with songs and flute playing,
singing to the idol... After the call of the roosters they descend with torches in hand to an
underground chamber and from it they bring up on a litter a wooden xoanon, seated, nude,
bearing on its forehead some seal of a cross, covered with gold ... And they carry this xoanon
around seven times, making a circle around the most central temple with flutes and drums and
hymns, and having sang and danced they take it down again to the underground place ... And
they say that at this hour, today the Kore, that is the Virgin, gave birth to the Aion.


That’s a long voyage.  
First you’ll come to a vast lake, quite bottomless.
Then how will I cross it?
An ancient mariner will ferry you across in a little boat no bigger than this, for a fare of two
Wow, what power those two obols have everywhere!  How did they make their way down there?
Theseus brought them.  After that, you’ll see an infinity of serpents and beasts most frightful.
Don’t try to shock or scare me off; you’ll not deter me.
Then you’ll see lots of mud and ever flowing shit; in it lies anyone who ever wronged a
stranger, or…

…and next a breath of pipes will waft about you, and there’ll be brilliant sunlight, just like our,
and myrtyl groves, happy bands of men and women, and a great clapping of hands
And who are those people?
The initiates.  (Euripides.  The Frogs)  

Teiresias: ... Two things there are, young prince, that hold first rank among men, the goddess
Demeter, that is, the earth, call her which name you please; she it is that feeds men with solid
food....(Euripides.  The Bacchantes 274)

Through wooded glen, o'er torrent's flood, and ocean's booming waves rushed the mountain
goddess, mother of the gods, in frantic haste, once long ago, yearning for her daughter lost,
whose name men dare not utter; loudly rattled the Bacchic castanets in shrill accord, what time
those maidens, swift as whirlwinds, sped forth with the goddess on her chariot yoked to wild
in quest of her that was ravished from the circling choir of virgins; here was Artemis with her
bow, And there the grim-eyed goddess, sheathed in mail, and spear in hand. But Zeus looked
down from his throne in heaven, and turned the issue overwhither. Soon as the mother ceased
from her wild wandering toil, in seeking her daughter stolen so subtly as to baffle all pursuit,
she crossed the snow-capped heights of Ida's nymphs; and in anguish cast her down amongst
the rock and brushwood deep in snow; and, denying to man all increase to his tillage from
those barren fields, she wasted the human race; nor would she let the leafy tendrils yield
luxuriant fodder for the cattle wherefore many a beast lay dying; no sacrifice was offered to the
gods and on the altars were no cake to burn; yea, and she made the dew-fed founts of crystal
water to cease their flow, in her insatiate sorrow for her child. But when for god and tribes of
men alike she made an end to festal cheer, Zeus spoke out, seeking to smooth the mother's
moody soul, "Ye stately Graces, go banish from Demeter's angry heart the grief her wanderings
bring upon her for her child, and go, ye Muses too, with tuneful choir." Thereon did Cypris,
fairest of the blessed gods, first catch up the crashing cymbals, native to that land, and the
drum with tight-stretched skin and then Demeter smiled, and in her hand did take the deep-
toned flute, well pleased with its loud note.
(Euripides, Helen 1303-1361)

Heracles: ... After my return at length from the soulless den of Hades and the maiden queen of
hell, I will not neglect to greet first of all the gods beneath my roof.
Amphitryon: Why, did you in very deed go to the house of Hades, my son?
Heracles: Aye, and brought to the light that three-headed monster.
Amphitryon: Did you worst him fight, or receive him from the goddess?
Heracles: In fair fight; for I had been lucky enough to witness the rites of the initiated.
Amphitryon: Is the monster really lodged in the house of Eurystheus?
Heracles: The grove of Demeter and the city of Hermione are his prison.
(Euripides, Herakles Mad, 602-614)

Chorus: Daughter of Demeter, goddess of highways, queen as thou art of haunting powers of
darkness,... I blush for that god of song, if this stranger is to witness the torch-dance, that
heralds in the twentieth dawn, around Callichorus' fair springs, a sleepless rotary in midnight
revels, what time the star-lit firmament of Zeus, the moon, and Nereus' fifty daughters, that trip
it lightly o'er the sea and the eternal rivers' tides, join the dance in honor of the maiden with the
crown of gold And her majestic mother; (Euripides, Ion, 1048-1049, 1079-1086)

Iphigenia: My purpose is to cleanse them first by purification.
Thoas: In fresh spring water or salt sea-spray?
Iphigenia: The sea washes away from man all that is ill.
Thoas: True, they would then be holier victims for the goddess.  (Euripides, Iphigenia Among
the Tauri 1191-1194)

O Demeter, guardian of this Eleusinian land, and you servants of the goddess who attend her
sanctuary, grant happiness to me and my son Theseus, to the city of Athens and the country of
Pittheus.... Now it chanced, that I had left my house and come to offer sacrifice on behalf of the
earth's crop at this shrine, where first the fruitful corn showed its bristling shocks above the
soil. And here at the holy altar of the twain goddesses, Demeter and her daughter, I wait,
holding these sprays of foliage, a bond that binds not, in compassion for these childless
mothers, hoary with age, and from reverence for the sacred fillets.  (Euripides. The Suppliants 1-
4, 30-35)


Taautus first attributed something of the divine nature to the serpent and the serpent tribe; in
which he was followed by the Phœnicians and Egyptians. For this animal was esteemed by him
to be the most inspirited of all the reptiles, and of a fiery nature; inasmuch as it exhibits an
incredible celerity, moving by its spirit without either hands, or feet, or any of those external
members, by which other animals effect their motion. And in its progress it assumes a variety
of forms, moving in a spiral course, and darting forward with whatever degree of swiftness it
pleases. It is moreover long-lived, and has the quality not only of putting off its old age, and
assuming a second youth, but of receiving at the same time an augmentation of its size and
strength. And when it has fulfilled the appointed measure of its existence, it consumes itself; as
Taautus has laid down in the sacred books; upon which account this animal is introduced in the
sacred rites and mysteries.  (Eusebius. Præp. Evan. lib. I. c. 10.)

It was the custom among the ancients, in times of great calamity, to prevent the ruin of all, for
the rulers of the city or nation to sacrifice to the avenging deities the most beloved of their
children as the price of redemption: they who were devoted for this purpose were offered
mystically. For Cronus, whom the Phoenicians call Il, and who after his death was deified and
instated in the planet which bears his name, when king, had by a nymph of the country called
Anobret an only son, who on that account is styled Ieoud, for so the Phoenicians still call an
only son: and when great danger from war beset the land he adorned the altar, and invested
this son with the emblems of royalty, and sacrificed him.  (Eusebius. Praep. Evan. lib. I. c. 10.)