Now Aeacus was the most pious of men.  Therefore, when
Greece suffered from infertility on account of Pelops, because
in a war with Stymphalus, king of the Arcadians, being unable
to conquer Arcadia, he slew the king under a pretense of
friendship, And scattered his mangled limbs, oracles of the
gods declared that Greece would be rid of its present
calamities if Aeacus would offer prayers on its behalf.  So
Aeacus did offer prayers, And Greece was delivered from the
death.  Even after his death Aeacus is honored in the abode of
Pluto, And keeps the keys of Hades.

And so the envoys came with a request to Aeacus from each
city.  By sacrifice And prayer to Zeus, God of all the Greeks, he
caused rain to fall upon the earth, And the Aeginetans made
these likenesses of those who came to him.  Within the
enclosure are olive trees that have grown there from of old
and there is an altar which is raised but a little from the
ground.  That this altar is also the tomb of Aeacus is told as a
holy secret.   


In the fifth century, Aeschylus improved the costumes used in
the performances of tragedies at the festival of Dionysus.
According to Athenaeus this influenced the Eleusinian

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

Athenaeus gives us a beautiful fragment from a non-extant
play of Aeschylus, showing Love to be the essential factor
behind Demeter's nurturing:
Again, the most august Aeschylus, in his Danaids, introduces
Aphrodite herself saying: "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
(The Deipnosophists XIII, 600b)

Perseus was at the fine point of youth and exultant over his
discovery of the discus which he was showing off to
everyone, but Akrisios by a daemonic accident fell under the
blow of the discus.  The prophecy of the god was fulfilled for
Akrisios, nor could his contrivances turn aside the destiny of
his daughter and his daughter’s son.  When Perseus returned
to Argos...I have heard too that it happened he was thirst and
pulled up a mykes (a mushroom) from the ground, and drank
the water that rushed out, and that, liking it, he called the place
Mycenae.   (In a footnote, Levi says: Akrisios was warned his
daughter Danae=s son would be the death of him: he locked
her in a tower but Zeus came to her in a shower of gold.  
Akrisios sent mother and child to sea in a chest.  One of
Simonides  longest fragments is from a wonderful poem about
this, and the fragments of Aeschylus'  satyr play the
Diktyoulkoi are about the box being fished up.)

But a man may be ignorant of what he is doing, as for instance
when people say it slipped out while they were speaking  or
they were not aware that the matter was a secret  as
Aeschylus said of the Mysteries.   

Aeschylus was accused before the Areopagus of having
divulged the Mysteries of Demeter in certain of his tragedies,
but was acquitted.  A phrase of his, it came to my mouth
became proverbial and he may have used it on this occasion.   

For the soul takes with it to the other world nothing but its
education and nurture, and these are said to benefit or injure
the departed greatly from the very beginning of his journey
thither.  And so it is said that after death, the tutelary genius of
each person, to whom he had been allotted in life, leads him to
a place where the dead are gathered together; then they are
judged and depart to the other world with the guide whose
task it is to conduct thither those who come from this world;
and when they have there received their due and remained
through the time appointed, another guide brings them back
after many long periods of time.  And the journey is not as
Telephus says in the play of Aeschylus; for he says a simple
path leads to the lower world, but I think the path is neither
simple nor single, for if it were, there would be no need of
guides, since no one could miss the way to any place if there
were only one road.  But really there seem to be many forks of
the road and many windings; this I infer from the rites and
ceremonies practiced here on earth.  Now the orderly and wise
soul follows its guide and understands its circumstances, bur
the soul that is desirous of the body, as I said before, flits
about it, and in the visible world for a long time.   

Since I am stressing the importance of the visual element in
the Greek theater, Aeschylus may seem the obvious choice for
special attention, since, as every handbook and introduction
tells us, he was particularly lavish with his special effects.  The
word may prevaricate in sense between what is seen on the
one hand and outward show on the other; and the word
spectacle to some extent translates this range of meaning.  
One of my chief theses is that the use of xxx in the superficial
sense has been overplayed with reference to Aeschylus and
that his use of spectacle in the less blatant much more
important sense has been neglected.

Aeschylus was by far the most spectacular dramatist.  
Aeschylus is supposed to have astounded his spectators with
exotic crowds and to have stunned them with huge and
complex machines.

The most influential of all the testimonia for the super-
spectacular Aeschylus is the anonymous Life, which, while it
does not seem to depend on Aristotle himself, does probably
go back to a later Peripatetic source.  Paragraph seven seems
to imply that instead of enthralling his audience (like the best
kind of dramatis) Aeschylus just horrified them out of their wits.
The story (with suspiciously picturesque embroidery) of
Aeschylus' trial before the Areopagus for betraying secrets of
the Mysteries is definitely ascribed to the first book of
Heracliedes Ponticus' work On Homer.

The Eleusinians told the same story as Euripides' Suppliants.  
According to Plutarch, the difference between the two
versions consisted in that in Euripides, Thesus had to fight the
Thebans to effect the surrender of the corpses of the Seven,
which in Aeschylus this was achieved by Aby persuasion and
under a truce.

(Ghost of Clytemnestra)  Truly, you have lapped up many of
my offerings - wineless libations, a sober appeasement; and I
have sacrificed banquets in the solemn night upon a hearth of
fire at an hour unshared by any god.  I see all this trampled
under foot.  But he has escaped and is gone, like a fawn;
lightly indeed, from the middle of snares, he has rushed away
mocking at you.  Hear me, since I plead for my life, awake to
consciousness, goddesses of the underworld!  For in a dream
I, Clytemnestra, now invoke you.

Yet, if she will not, we, a dark, sun-burned race, with suppliant
boughs will invoke the underworld Zeus, Zeus, the great host
of the dead.

Hor. Carm. I. iii is the first mention of (Prometheus) adding fire
(i.e., soul) to the clay.  (To create man.  Fire is soul.)

Aeschylus was the first to make tragedy more grand by means
of nobler emotions.  He decked out the stage and stunned his
audience with brilliant visual effects, with paintings and
machines, with stage props such as altars and tombs, with
trumpets, ghosts and Furies.

Aeschylus was accused, says the Scholiast to Aristotle, or
revealing the mysteries in the Toxotides, the Priestess,
Sisyphus Petrokylistes, Iphigenia and Oedipus: that is, in five
different plays.  (The Toxotides, or Archer Maidens, dealt with
the sparagmos of the Dionysiac hero Actaeon; of the
Priestess nothing more is known; Sisyphus Rolling the Stone
is so called to distinguish it from Sisyphus the Runaway,
which was a satyr-play about the deceiving of death.  We
cannot tell whether it was a satyr-play also or a tragedy.  The
Iphigenia and the Oedipus were tragedies dealing with the well-
known sagas.

It was proposed at the beginning of this book to show how
Aeschylus became the creator of tragedy by three main
achievements: he made tragedy Semnon, a thing of majesty:
he was a pioneer in stage technique, making experiments too
bold for the more classic writers who followed him; and lastly,
he was a poet of great ideas, who found in the saga not merely
the material for ingenious or exciting or moving stories but for
great problems of the sort which can perhaps never be solved,
and must be contemplated by emotion as much as by

We know that tragedy arose from the dithyramb, that is from
one form of the simple communal dance upon a circular
dancing-ground or threshing-floor.

It is largely through this passionate interest in the problems of
the world or of human life that (Aeschylus) is able to achieve
what is here called the creation of tragedy.  In each of the
myths or legends that he treats he sees a conflict, and in each
conflict he deepens the issues till it becomes one of the
eternal problems of life.

In Arcadia, the oldest center of her worship, Artemis was
closely associated in cult with Demeter and Persephone.  
Herodotus says that Aeschylus actually called Artemis the
daughter of Demeter, thus identifying her with Persephone,
the corn-goddess.

This is the story that the Egyptians tell to explain why the
island moves: that on this island that did not move before,
Leto, one of the eight gods who first came to be, who was
living at Buto where this oracle of hers is, taking charge of
Apollo form Isis, hid him for safety in this island which is now
said to float, when Typhon came hunting through the world,
keen to find the son of Osiris.  Apollo and Artemis were (they
say) children of Dionysus and Isis, and Leto was made their
nurse and preserver; in Egyptian, Apollo is Horus, Demeter
Isis, Artemis Bubastis.  It was from this legend and no other
that Aeschylus son of Euphorion took a notion which is in no
poet before him: that Artemis was the daughter of Demeter.  
For this reason the island was made to float.  So they say.

This devotion to Apollo, and aversion from Dionysus, finds
early illustration in the plot of Aeschylus' lost play the
Bassarids.  In this play, we are told, Orpheus worshiped the
sun, whom he identified with Apollo, and, living in Thrace, he
used to ascend its mountain Pangaion each morning in order
to greet him at his rising.  This angered Dionysus, who sent
the Bassarids, at troop of maenads, to tear him to pieces.

Sitting in her place, touching the bathron with both feet, Apollo
reveals the idea and implication of the oracle, its connection
with the upper and lower worlds.  What lay below was the
sphere of the subterranean Dionysus, from which Apollo
derived his revelations.  It was called a tomb, but there was no
actual tomb; rather, the steps were said to be the tomb of
Dionysus, and it was hinted that perhaps he made his way to
the underworld through the kettle.  The report of an inscription
saying Here since his death lies Dionysus, son of Semele, is
an invention, unless such an inscription was added at a late
date.  Even without it the connection between Apollo and
Dionysus was known.  It was stated by the tragic poets of
Athens, by Aeschylus as well as by Euripides in whose lifetime
the relief my have been cut.  In the Lykourgos tetralogy of
Aeschylus, (fragment 86) the cry Ivy-Apollo, Bakchios, the
soothsayer rings out.

Aeschylus said that when he was a boy he was asleep in the
country looking after a vineyard, and Dionysus met him and
told him to write tragedies.  When day broke he wanted not to
disobey, so he tried, and composed with the greatest ease.
Kleon who was one of the Magnesians on the Hermos, used to
say that human beings who have not encountered
indescribable marvels in their own lives are skeptical about
anything marvelous.

For the soul takes with it to the other world nothing but its
education and nurture, and these are said to benefit or injure
the departed greatly from the very beginning of his journey
thither.  And so it is said that after death, the tutelary genius of
each person, to whom he had been allotted in life, leads him to
a place where the dead are gathered together; then they are
judged and depart to the other world with the guide whose
task it is to conduct thither those who come from this world;
and when they have there received their due and remained
through the time appointed, another guide brings them back
after many long periods of time.  And the journey is not as
Telephus says in the play of Aeschylus; for he says a simple
path leads to the lower world, but I think the path is neither
simple nor single, for if it were, there would be no need of
guides, since no one could miss the way to any place if there
were only one road.  But really there seem to be many forks of
the road and many windings; this I infer from the rites and
ceremonies practiced here on earth.  Now the orderly and wise
soul follows its guide and understands its circumstances, bur
the soul that is desirous of the body, as I said before, flits
about it, and in the visible world for a long time.

Aeschylus, a good authority on matters Eleusinian, regarded
her as Persephone, and this view was accepted by the
lexicographers.  The name itself might mean either ‘the
knowing one’ – perhaps, then, the goddess of mystic lore – or
‘the burning one’ with allusion to the torches used in her

The Marathonian ritual does not disprove the original identity
of Persephone and Daeira.

The second argument is the weightier.  If we believe in this
hostility of the cults as a really primitive fact we must assign
Daeira, who is evidently a chthonian goddess to a different era
of religious belief from that to which Demeter with Kore
belongs, or at least regard the rival cults as of different local
origin.  At any rate here would appear traces of a
‘Gotterkampf’, perhaps the supplanting of an older by a
younger or of an aboriginal by an alien worship.  Now
instances of the imprint of such religious rivalry on ritual in
Greece are exceedingly rare, the only other that I can call to
mind being the antagonism between the Hera and Dionysios
cults at Athens.  And we may well doubt whether it existed
between Demeter and Daeira at Eleusis at all.  Ex hypothesi
the latter was an ancient form of the earth goddess; Demeter
was generally recognized in Greece as one herself.  We have
traced already the pluralizing process which from an original
Gaia throws off the figures Demeter, Persephone-Kore,
Themis, Erinys, Aglauros, and between these no hostility is
anywhere expressed or hinted in legend or cult.  It is strange
that it should have existed at Eleusis; still stranger, if it did
exist, that Aeschylus should have nevertheless permitted
himself to identify the hostile Daeira with the beloved


Writing about the Egyptians in his Isis and Osiris, Plutarch
describes the feelings behind primitive farming and how they
could easily lead to an analogy with death.
The season of the year also gives us a suspicion that this
gloominess is brought about because of the disappearance
from our sight of the crops and fruits that people in days of old
did not regard as gods, but as necessary and important
contributions of the gods toward the avoidance of a savage
and a bestial life. At the time of year when they saw some of
the fruit vanishing and disappearing completely from the tree,
while they themselves were sowing others in a mean and
poverty-stricken fashion still, scraping away the earth with
their hands and again replacing it, committing the seed to the
ground with uncertain expectation of their ever appearing
again or coming to fruition they did many things like persons
at a funeral in mourning for their dead.
(Isis and Osiris 70)

Frazer describes how the anxieties of the ancient Greek farmer
in regard to whether were released through a festival of
supplication to Demeter. The festival called Proeroia sends the
first fruits of the harvest to Athens to avoid famine. (Spirits of
the Corn Vol. 1, p. 51)

Hesiod in his Works and Days of the ninth century BC
indicates how much the blessings of Demeter meant to the
farmer of those ancient times.

Little concern has he with quarrels and courts who has not a
year's victuals laid up betimes, even that which the earth
bears, Demeter's grain.
(Hesiod Works and Days 31)

But do you at any rate, always remembering my charge, work,
high-born Perses, that Hunger may hate you, and venerable
Demeter richly crowned may love you and fill your barn with
(Ibid. 328-331)

Pray to Zeus of the Earth and to pure Demeter to make
Demeter's holy grain sound and heavy, when first you begin
ploughing, when you hold in your hand the end of the plough-
tail and bring down your stock on the backs of the oxen as
they draw on the pole-bar by the yoke-straps.
(Ibid. 465-469)

In the same ancient work, Hesiod gives instructions on how to
consult the stars to determine when to plow and harvest.
When the Pleiades, daughters of Atlas, are rising, begin your
harvest, and your ploughing when they are going to set. Forty
nights and days they are hidden and appear again as the year
moves round, when first you sharpen your sickle. This is the
law of the plains, and of those who live near the sea, and who
inhabit rich country, the glens and dingles far from the tossing
sea,---strip to sow and strip to plough and strip to reap, if you
wish to get in all Demeter's fruits in due season, and that each
kind may grow in its season.
(Ibid. 383-393)

Set your slaves to winnow Demeter's holy grain, when strong
Orion first appears, on a smooth threshing-floor in an airy
(Ibid. 597-599)

But when the Pleiades and Hyades and strong Orion begin to
set, then remember to plough in season: and so the
completed year will fitly pass beneath the earth.
(Ibid. 614-617)

The Pleiades are near the end of Taurus, and Orion covers the
end of Taurus and the beginning of Gemini. Thus the sun
passed through them in Hesiod's time during May. While the
sun was passing their portion of the zodiac they would not be
visible, but shortly thereafter they would be seen just before
sunrise. In this way the Pleiades would indicate harvest and
Orion threshing. They would be setting just before sunrise at
the opposite time of the year in November, the time for plowing
in the Aegean climate.

Euripides' extant tragedy The Suppliants is set at Eleusis and
begins with these supplications of Aethra:
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.
(The Suppliants 1-4, 30-35)

Finally he gives us the sentiment of kind gods.
Good Ceres is content with little, if that little be but pure.
(Fasti IV 407-408)

First of all there is a pre-ploughing festival, Proerosia, which is
announced at Eleusis on the 5th of Pyanopsion by the
hierophant and the herald.  The epheboi raise up the oxen for
the great sacrifice; the women assemble in Piraeus.  There is a
special kind of pre-ploughing barley, perhaps a part of the
seed corn, but we do not know what it was used for.  There is
also a first, symbolic, sacred ploughing.  Shortly afterwards
the women celebrate the Thesmophoria festival at which those
decayed remains that are to be mixed with the seed corn are
fetched up.  At the sowing itself one should, as Hesiod
advises, pray to the chthonic Zeus and to the pure Demeter,
but at the same time a slave should cover the seed corn with
his mattock so that the birds do not eat it.  Hesiod's further
prescription:to sow, to plough and to reap naked (Erga, 391 ff)
may have some sacral significance, but this is not explained.

The first millennium was the Age of Gold...the innocent earth
learned neither spade nor plow; she gave her riches as fruit
hangs from the tree: grapes dropping from the vine, cherry,
strawberry ripened in silver shadows of the mountain, and in
the shade of Jove's miraculous tree, the falling acorn.

After old Saturn fell to Death's dark country, straitly Jove ruled
the world with silver charm, less radiant than gold, less false
than brass.  And it was then that Jove split up the year in shifty
Autumn, wild Winter, and short Spring, Summer that glared
with heat: the winter wind gleamed white with ice that
streamed on field and river.  Then men built walls against both
sun and wind - their elder shelters had been caves or boughs.  
Now grain was planted and the plough pierced earth, the
driven ox whimpered beneath the yoke.

After the Age of Bronze, Jove destroyed mankind by flood:
Amermaids drifting with new-opened eyes gazed into the
cities that were walked by men...and almost every being that
breathed on earth drowned as it met the flood; those who
survived died of starvation on the shores of mountains.  

Ovid's version of the famine:
She did not know as yet where her child was; still she
reproached all lands, calling them ungrateful and unworthy of
the gift of corn; but Sicily above all other lands, where she had
found traces of her loss. So there with angry hand she broke
in pieces the plows that turn the glebe, and in her rage she
gave to destruction farmers and cattle alike, and bade the
plowed fields to betray their trust, and blighted the seed. The
fertility of this land, famous throughout the world, lay false to
its good name: the crops died in early blade, now too much
heat, now too much rain destroying them, Stars and winds
were baleful, and greedy birds ate up the seed as soon as it
was sown; tares and thorns and stubborn grasses choked the
(Metamorphoses V, 474-486)

The chorus of Euripides' Helen sings the tale and solves it
with music.
Through wooded glen, o'er torrent's flood, and ocean's
booming waves rushed the mountain goddess, mother of the
gods, in frantic hate, 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 creatures 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)

Alcibiades (See "Violators" - P-Z)

Anthesteria Festival

The swamp, first of all, is a clear indication of what Socrates
actually is said to have been doing.  The place is not in some
remote exotic land, for it is but one in a series of similar
parodies in this section of the Birds, and like the others, it can
be located nowhere else but in Athens itself.  It can be none
other than the one swamp in Athens of which we have
knowledge, the sacred Swamp near the base of the Acropolis,
the so-called Swamp of Dionysus.  It is precisely there that one
could expect to summon up spirits, as, in fact, another
comedian, the poet Eupolis, appears to have done in a play
produced about this same time, the Demes, which involved
the resurrection of the departed localities of parishes of an
earlier Athens (cf. Emond's reconstruction, fr. 90-135.)  This
Swamp was the Athenian entrance to Hades, for such
noisome places suggested to the folk imagination the
putrefaction that lay beyond the grave.  The god Dionysus
himself was shown in a later comedy of Aristophanes, the
Frogs, rowing across this very place to get to the other world,
where he is met by a chorus of initiates from the Eleusinian
Mysteries.  One might well expect to find them there, for this
Swamp was also the scene for a secret annual event that
apparently was part of the Eleusinian rituals.  There was a
temple in this Swamp of Dionysus that was opened just
twenty-four hours each year, form the evening of the second
day of the Anthesteria Festival until the evening of the third
and final day, at which time the spirits of the city's dead
departed, who had returned to visit their families, were lovingly
re-escorted back to their proper abode in the otherworld.  
These spirits had wandered abroad through the city for the
three days of the festival, resurrected to celebrate a drunken
revel with the living, who had summoned them at the start of
the feast by drinking the intoxicating spirit of the new wine that
had at last completed its subterranean fermentation.   There
was just one event that occurred in this temple in the Swamp
of Dionysus during the Anthesteria.  The so-called Queen of
Athens, who was the wife of the king archon or inheritor of the
sacra functions of kingship that went back to more ancient
times before the secularization of the Athenian government,
was prepared in this temple for her ritual union with the god
Dionysus in an annual reenactment of the ritual sacred
marriage that magically reassured the yearly refounding of the
city and reaffirmation of its fertile accord with the sources of
life stemming from the other world (pseudo-Demosthenes

This sacred marriage had some relation to the so-called
Lesser Eleusinian Mystery, a ceremony that was a preliminary
to the Greater Mystery that would be performed in the autumn
of the year at the neighboring village of Eleusis.  Socrates' rite
of necromancy, therefore, in this Swamp with a person like
Peisander and at this particular date would seem somehow
involved in the great scandal of the day, the profanation of the
Mysteries.   (See The Dramatic Festivals at Athens, revised by
J. Gould and D. Lewis. (Oxford, 1968.)


This is how they say the human sacrifices to Artemis came to
an end: Delphi had already sent a prophecy that a foreign king
would come to their country with a foreign divinity, and stop
the ritual of sacrifice to Triklarian Artemis.  When Troy fell and
the Greeks divided the spoils, Eurypylos son of Euaimon
received a chest with a statue of Dionysus in it; they say it was
made by Hephaitos and the gift of Zeus to Dardanos.  There
are two other legends about it, one that when Aeneas was
running away he left this behind, the other that Kassandra put
a curse on any Greek who found it.  So Eurypylos opened the
chest and saw the stature, and as soon as he saw it he went
out of his mind:  that is, he was usually raving mad, but now
and then he came to himself.  Being in this condition he did
not make the voyage to Thessaly, but to the gulf of Kirra, and
he went up to Delphi to ask about his illness.  They say the
oracle told him that when he found the people offering a
foreign sacrifice, he should install the chest for worship and
should live there.  The wind carried Eurypylos' ships to the
coast near Aroe, he landed there, and came on a boy and a
virgin girl being taken to the altar of Triklarian Artemis.  He
could easily see this was the sacrifice, and the people of the
district remembered this oracle, seeing a king they had never
seen before and suspecting that he might have a god inside
the chest.  So Eurypylos got rid of his illness and the people
got rid of their sacrifice, and the river got its modern name,

The title of the god inside the chest is the Overlord; his chief
worshipers are nine men chosen freely by the people for their
personal prestige, with the same number of women.   

Ascalaphus (the rock)

But when Zeus ordered Pluto to send up the Maid, Pluto gave
her a seed of a pomegranate to eat, in order that she might not
tarry long with her mother.  Not foreseeing the consequence,
she swallowed it; and because Ascalaphus, son of Acheron
and Gorgyra bore witness against her, Demeter laid a heavy
rock on him in Hades.  But Persephone was compelled to
remain a third of every year with Pluto and the rest of the time
with the gods.


(Ophiuchus) This is the figure standing close to the Scorpion,
and holding a snake with both hands.  It is said to be
Asclepius, whom Zeus placed among the stars to oblige
Apollo.  For Asclepius had used his healing art to raise the
dead -   most recently, Hippolytus, the son of Theseus.  The
gods were annoyed that the honors paid them might diminish
because of the feat of Asclepius.  It is said that Zeus grew
angry and struck Asclepius’ house with lightning but later
placed him among the stars because of Apollo.  The
constellation covers a large area, being above the brightest of
all the constellations, the Scorpion, and is easily distinguished.
Pseudo-Eratosthenes, The Constellations, 6.

Ophiuchus, who is called Anguitenens (“serpent holder”) by
our rites is located above Scorpio; in his hands he holds a
serpent which winds around his body.  Many say this is the
king of the Getae who live in Thrace, Carnabon by name, who
came to power at the time when grain was first introduced to
mankind.  Now Ceres, when she bestowed her gifts on men,
ordered Triptolemus (who was said to have been the first to
use the wheel so as not to be delayed in his course) whose
nurse she had been, to mount the dragon chariot and to travel
about distributing grain to the fields of all nations, so that they
and their posterity might more easily be distinguished from the
wild beasts by their diet.

When Triptolemus came to the aforementioned king of the
Getae, he was first greeted as a guest, but later, as a most
cruel enemy – not as a harmless bestower of benefits – such
that he was captured by treachery, and he who was prepared
to prolong the lives of others almost lost his own life.  For
Carnabon ordered one of the dragons to be killed, so that
Triptolemus might not hope to find escape in his chariot when
he discovered that a plot was in the making.  But Ceres came
and took the chariot away hitched another dragon to it, and
gave it back to the boy.  The king was greatly punished for his
attempted misdeed.  Hegesianax says that Ceres, as a
reminder to mankind, placed Carnabon among the stars with a
dragon in his hands that he appears to be strangling.  
Carnabon lived so wretchedly that he incurred a most
welcome death…Some say this is Triopas, king of the
Thessalians, who destroyed an ancient temple of Ceres when
he was constructing a roof for his own house.  For that
reason, Ceres brought upon him a hunger which could never
be satisfied with any food.  Later, toward the end of his life, he
suffered great ills when a serpent was set upon him by Ceres,
and earning death, he was placed among the stars by wish of
Ceres,   And to this day the serpent, strangling him, appears to
be inciting the punishment he deserved….

Many astronomers, however, think this is Asclepius…some
say that Asclepius holds a snake for  the following reason.  
When he was ordered to heal Glaucus and was imprisoned in
a secret place, Asclepius sat considering what to do, staff in
hand, and a snake crept up his staff.  Asclepius, alarmed, killed
the snake with many strokes of his staff as it attempted to flee.  
Later, another snake carrying an herb in its mouth and placed
the herb on the head of the dead snake, whereupon both
snakes fled.  And so Asclepius used the same herb and
brought Glaucus back to life.  Thus the snake was placed
under Asclepius' safekeeping and also among the stars.
Hyginus, Poetic Astronomy2.14 ff


No one has been able to discover the secret of who Attis was,
but Hermesianax who composed the elegiac poems has
written that he was the son of Kalaos the Phyrgian, and
impotent from birth.  When he grew up he went to live in Lydia
(so Hermesianax's legend goes), and celebrated the
mysterious rites of the Mother for the Lydians, and came to be
so honored by her that Zeus was angry and sent a wild boar
into the Lydian farm-land.  Attis himself was among the
Lydians who were killed by the boar.  The Gauls at Pessinous
have some rite that follows this story, and refuse to touch
swine   They do not however have the same beliefs about
Attis, but they have a local legend about him, of how Zeus
dropped his seed on the soil in his sleep, and in the course of
time the soul sent up a daemonic creature with both female
and male private parts, whom they call Agdistis.  The gods
were frightened of Agdistis and chopped off his male organs:
and an almond tree grew out of them with the nuts already
ripe.  They say a daughter of the river Sangarios took some of
the nuts and put them in a fold of her dress: at once the
almonds disappeared and she was pregnant, and, when she
abandoned the son she bore, a he-goat looked after him.  This
boy grew up more beautiful than the form of man is capable of
being, and Agdistis fell in love with his son.  When the boy was
fully grown his family sent him away to Pessinous to marry the
king's daughter; the wedding song was being sung when
Agdistis appeared and Attis went mad and chopped of his
private parts, and the bride's father did the same.  Agdistis was
obsessed by remorse for what he did to Attis, and got Zeus to
grant that Attis' body should never corrupt or wither in the
least degree.  That is the best-known legend about Attis.  


The priestess of Demeter lived in the sacred House at Eleusis
and acted the role of Demeter and Kore in the sacred pageant.
Demosthenes told how a Hierophant was severely punished
for performing the sacrifice due this priestess. The priestesses
Panageis were all-holy and had the privilege of "touching the
Hiera." They lived together and were called melissai (bees)
because they had no communion with men. The Dadouchos,
or torchbearer was from the family of the Kerykes and held
office for life.... He alone could use the 'Fleece of Zeus' for the
purification of those tainted with blood. (Mylonas Eleusis p.

Bee and butterfly belong together as images of the Great
Goddess of Regeneration.  It was a very ancient belief that
bees arose out of the dead carcass of a bull, and the
association of bee and bull is made as early as the Neolithic in
the image of the bee goddess incised on the head of a bull.  In
the third century AD the Greek traveler Porphyry talks of these
latter goddesses of Greece in the same imagery:
The ancients gave the name of Melissae (bees) to the priestess
of Demeter who were initiates of the chthonian goddess; the
name Melitodes to Kore herself; the moon (Artemis) too,
whose province it was to bring to the birth, they called Melissa,
because the moon being a bull and its ascension the bull,
bees are begotten of bulls.  And souls that pass to the earth
are bull begotten.

These holy bee-maidens, with their gift of prophecy, were to
be Apollo's gift to Hermes, the god who alone could lead the
souls of the dead out of life and sometimes back again.  The
etymology of the word  fate in Greek offers a fascinating
example of how the genius of the Minoan vision entered the
Greek language, often invisibly, as well as informing its stories
of goddesses and gods.  The Greek word for >fate,= >death,=
and >goddess of death,= is e ker (feminine); the word for heart
and>breast is to ker (neuter); which the word for honeycomb
is to kerion (neuter.)  The common root ker links the ideas of
the honeycomb, goddess, death, fate and the human heart, a
nexus of meanings that is illumined if we know that the
goddess was once imagined as a bee.  
The latter intoxicant involves the symbolism of the bee, who
like the herb gathering maenadic women in the wilds, goes
from flower to flower, extracting their essence, which is a drug
related to the venom of serpents, but is beneficial antithesis,
instead of a poison. Such a ritual is apparently depicted on a
gold signet ring from a tomb near Knossos, now in the Iraklion
Museum:  women with the heads of insects are seen dancing
amidst flowers as they experience the mystical apotheosis of a

In Porphyry’s Cave of the Nymphys, (De Antr. Nymph. 13) bees
are the souls of the mystai at the end of their voyage through
the planetary spheres.


Ceres mated with Iasion, the son of Electra; and many,
including Homer, say that because of that union Iasion was
struck by lightening.  From that union, as the historian
Petellides of Cnossus recounts, two sons were born,
Philomelus and Plutus, who were said to be at odds with one
another, because Plutus, who was wealthier, gave none of his
wealth to his brother.  Pressed by circumstances, Philomelus
took all he had and bought two oxen, then invented the
plough.  And thus, by ploughing and cultivating the fields, he
was able to feed himself.  His mother, marveling at his
invention, placed him among the stars as a ploughman, and
called him Bootes.
Hyginus, Poetic Astronomy, 2.4ff

Chest (Kiste)

In view of the ascertained character of Dionysos Eleutherus, I
should conjecture with some confidence that these baskets
contained phalloi covered with seen or the like, and the temple
was opened once a year for the performance of a phallic rite.

In the same way we may be sure that the likeness of a corpse
which, as it is exhibited to them, is carried around in a chest, is
not a reminder of what happened to Osiris, as some assume:
but it is to urge them, as they contemplate it, to use and to
enjoy the present, since all very soon must be what it is now
and this is their purpose in introducing it into the midst of

For the reason they call the first of the Muses at Hermopolis
Isis as well as Justice: for she is wise, as I have said, and
discloses the divine mysteries to those who truly and justly
have the name of bearers of the sacred vessels and wearers of
the sacred robes.  These are they who within their own soul,
as though within a casket, bear the sacred writings about the
gods clear of all superstition and pedantry; and they cloak
them with secrecy, thus giving intimations, some dark and
shadowy, some clear and bright, of their concepts about the
gods, intimations of the same sort as are clearly evidenced in
the wearing of the sacred garb.  

(There is another tale current among the Egyptians that
Apopis, brother of the Sun, made ware upon Zeus, and that
because Osiris espoused Zeus' cause and helped him to
overcome his enemy, Zeus adopted Osiris as his son and gave
him the name of Dionysus(Plutarch, 365)...The story told of the
shutting up of Osiris in the chest seems to mean nothing else
than the vanishing and disappearance of water.

On the nineteenth day they go down to the sea at nighttime;
and the keepers of the robes and the priests bring forth the
sacred chest containing a small golden coffer, into which they
pour some potable water which they have taken up, and a
great shout arises from the company for joy that Osiris is
found.  Then they knead some fertile soil with the water and
mix in spices and incense of a very costly sort, and fashion
therefrom a crescent shaped figure, which they close and
adorn, thus indicating that they regard these gods as the
substance of Earth and Water.

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
Bassareus?  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 a euphemistic expression used in
the mysteries for a woman=s secret parts.

Clement believes that the sacred symbols to be found in the
kistai are various sorts of cakes, a serpent, pomegranates,
leaves and stalks, poppies and a model of a woman's
genitals.  (Exhortation to the Greeks, 2.22)  

The Greek writer Theophrastus alludes to the idea that corn-
grinding tools were held to be sacred, so it may have been a
mortal and pestle that were hidden in the basket, the means of
preparing the kykeon, the barley drink.

Althaea had also a son Meleager, by Oeneus, though they say
that he was begotten by Ares.  It is said that, when he was
seven days old, the Fates came and declared the Meleager
should die when the brand burning on the hearth was burnt
out.  On hearing that, Althea snatched up the brand and
deposited it in a chest.  Meleager grew up to be an
invulnerable and gallant man, but came by his end in the
following way.  In sacrificing the first fruits of the annual crops
of the country to all the gods Oeneus forgot Artemis alone.  
But she in her wrath sent a boar of extraordinary size and
strength, which prevent the land from being sown and
destroyed the cattle and the people that fell in with it.

Athena came to Hephaestus, desirous of fashioning arms.  But
he, being forsaken by Aphrodite, fell in love with Athena, and
began to pursue her.  But she fled.  When he got near her with
much ado (for he was lame), he attempted to embrace her, but
she, being a chaste virgin, would not submit to him, and he
dropped his seed on the leg of the goddess.  In disgust, she
wiped off the seed with wool and threw it on the ground; and
as she fled and the seed fell on the ground, Erichthonius was
produced.  Him Athena brought up unknown to other gods,
wishing to make him immoral; and having put him in a chest,
she committed it to Pandrosus, daughter of Cecrops,
forbidding her to open the chest.  But the sisters of Pandrosus
opened it out of curiosity, and beheld a serpent coiled about
the  babe; and, as some say, they were destroyed by the
serpent, but according to others they were driven mad by
reason of the anger of Athena and threw themselves down
from the acropolis. Having been brought up by Athena herself
in the precinct, Erichthonius expelled Amphictyon and
became king of Athens; and he set up the wooden image of
Athena in the acropolis, and instituted the festival of the
Panathenaea, and married Praxithea, a Naiad nymph, by
whom he had a son Pandion.  

And Adonis, while still a boy, was wounded and killed in
hunting by a boar through the anger of Artemis.  Hesiod,
however, affirms that he was a son of Phoenix and
Alphesiboea; and Panyasis says that he was a son of Thias,
King of Assyria, who had a daughter Smyrna.  In consequence
of the wrath of Aphrodite, for she did not honor the goddess,
this Smyrna conceived a passion for her father, and with the
complicity of her nurse she shared her father's bed without his
knowledge for twelve nights.  But when he was aware of it, he
drew his sword and pursued her, and being overtaken she
prayed to the gods that she might be invisible; so the gods in
compassion turned her into the tree which they call Smyrna
(myrrh.)  Ten months afterwards the tree burst and Adonis, as
he is called, was born, whom for the sake of his beauty, while
he was still an infant, Aphrodite hid in a chest unknown to the
gods and entrusted to Persephone..  But when Persephone
beheld him, she would not give him back.  The case being
tried before Zeus, the year was divided into three parts, and
the god ordained that Adonis should stay by himself for one
part of the year, with Persephone for one part, and with
Aphrodite for the remained.  However, Adonis made over to
Aphrodite his own share in addition; but afterwards in hunting
he was gored and killed by a boar.

The Daughters of Phorcys was part of the trilogy containing
the Net Draggers and Polydectes.  In the first of these plays,
fisher folk of Seriphus rescued Danae and her infant son
Perseus, who had been placed in a chest and cast into the sea
by her father Acrisius.

Above the sanctuary of the Dioscuri is a sacred enclosure of
Aglaurus.  It was to Aglaurus and her sisters, Herse and
Pandrosus, that they say Athena gave Erichthonius, whom
she had hidden in a chest, forbidding them to pry curiously
into what was entrusted to their charge.  Pandrosus, they say,
obeyed, but the other two (for they opened the chest) went
mad when they say Erichthonius, and threw themselves down
the steepest part of the Acropolis.

Now I come to the second space on the chest, and in going
round it I had better begin from the left. There is a figure of a
woman holding on her right arm a white child asleep, and on
her left she has a black child like one who is asleep.  Each has
his feet turned different ways.  The inscriptions declare, as one
could infer without inscriptions, that the figures are Death and
Sleep, with Night the nurse of both.

They say that the oracle given him was to the effect that where
he should come across a people offering a strange sacrifice,
there he was to set down the chest and make his home.  Now
the ships of Eurypylos were carried down by the wind to the
sea off Aroe.  On landing he cam across a youth and a maiden
who had been brought to the altar of Triclaria.  So Eurypylos
found it easy to understand about the sacrifice, while the
people of the place remembered their oracle seeing a king
whom they had never seen before, they also suspected that
the chest had some god inside it.  

The image of Fury holds what is called the chest, and in her
right hand a torch.  Demeter, they say, had by Poseidon a
daughter, whose name they are not wont to divulge to the
uninitiated, and a horse called Areion.  For this reason they
say that they were the first Arcadians to call Poseidon Horse.

The image which epitomizes the mysteries is the basket
closed with a lid, the cista mystica: only the initiate knows
what this kiste conceals; the snake which curls around the
kiste or protrudes from under the lid points to unspeakable

There is an allusion in Theophrastus to the tools of working, of
grinding corn, that early men consigned to secrecy and
encountered as something sacred, evidently in Demeter
mysteries.  This indicates that mortar and pestle were hidden
in the basket, the instruments, in fact, for preparing the kykeon.

But Isis wandered everywhere to her wits end; no one whom
she approached did she fail to address, and even when she
met some little children she asked them about the chest.  As it
happened, they had seen it, and they told her the mouth of the
river through which the friends of Typhon had launched the
coffin into the sea.  Wherefore the Egyptians think that little
children possess the power of prophecy, and they try to divine
the future from the portents which they find in children's
words, especially when children are playing about in holy
places and crying out whatever chances to come into their

At Patrai there was a cult of Dionysus Aisymnetes in which a
sacred chest was carried out of the temple at night by his
priest.  The story attached to it was that after the sack of Troy
the hero Eurypylos received as his share of the booty a chest
containing an image of Dionysus.  He was himself a
Thessalian, but in obedience to an oracle heard at Delphi he
let the winds take his ship and was brought over the sea to
Patrai, where as a result the natives substituted the cult of
Dionysus for that of Artemis, whom they had hitherto
worships with barbarous rites of human sacrifice.

What was carried about - whether in a cista mystica or in a
liknon - could not, however, be kept entirely secret.  It was not
a heart but a phallus.  This is evident from the Orphic books
themselves. In a text about which we shall have more to say
later, the object that the goddess Hipta took from Zeus and
carried on her head in a liknon was called the Kradiaios
Dionysus.  Kradiaios can have two meanings, and this is the
key to the secret.  It can be derived either from Kradia (heart)
or from krade (fig tree): in the latter case, it means an object
made from a fig branch or fig wood.  According to one myth,
Dionysus himself fashioned a phallus from fig wood for use in
a mystic rite connected with his return from the underworld.  
The soft wood was suitable for the Dionysian utensil, which
was referred to by the euphemism heart.  According to the
sources the object that was preserved by Pallas Athena was
the sacrificed he-goat's male organ, which was neither boiled
nor roasted nor burned, but set aside and hidden.  The action
was symbolic and it is very likely that in place of the dried
members, or along with it, a phallus of fig wood was used the
following year in the ceremony serving to awaken Liknites, the
god lying in the liknon.


Ancient literature contains a single explicit mention of Crete in
conjunction with the Eleusinian Mysteries.  A learned historian
of the first century, BC, Diodorus of Sicily, tells us that the
Cretans laid claim to these Mysteries, as well as to the Orphic
Mysteries and those of Samothrace.  Claims of this kind were
frequently raised in antiquity without justification.  Diodorus
does not name his authority.  It was probably a historian from
Crete.  His proof of the Cretan origin of the Mysteries, cited in
Diodorus (V 77 3) is of interest: elsewhere, these are the exact
words, - such rites are communicated in secret, but in Crete, in
Knossos, it has been the custom since time immemorial to
speak of these ceremonies quite openly to all, and, if anyone
wished to learn of them, to conceal none of the things which
elsewhere were imparted to the initiate under the vow of

Not only was Demeter's grief well known, but her love for, and
union with, the Cretan hunter Iasios or Iasion in the furrow of
the thrice-plowed field.

Hesiod (Theogony, 969 ff.) tells us that it was on Crete that
Demeter united with Iasion in a thrice-ploughed corn field and
thereafter gave birth to Plutos, wealth in corn.  Here, perhaps
from ancient Neolithic tradition, we find the association
between ploughing/sowing and procreation, and between
harvest and birth.

Demeter, bright goddess, was joined in sweet love with the
hero Iasion in a thrice-ploughed fallow in the rich land of Crete,
and bore Plutus, a kindly god who goes everywhere over land
and the sea's wide back, and he makes rich the man who finds
him and into whose hands he comes, bestowing great wealth
upon him.

The story of Zeus' childhood is further elaborated in a post-
Hesiodic, Cretan Theogony, which tells how a band of
youthful warriors, the Kouretes, danced with swirling shields
around the Zeus child to prevent his cries from being heard.  
Mirrored here are Cretan initiation rituals as found in the Ida
mysteries: here Zeus was born every year in the glow of a
great is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the
infamous Grave of Zeus on Crete, where the Kouretes bury
Zeus, is a polar counterpart to the birth of Zeus, even though
the local traditions cannot easily be linked.

In Crete...The Goddess is sculpted with serpents entwined
around her body or rising from her arms, or she is drawn
holding the double ax in her hands.  Sometimes she has
doves or poppies on her head.  On seals she is engraved
raising in the shape of a bee, or standing upon her mountain
with lions, or raising her arms as the wings of the bird
goddess, or sitting beneath the tree of life offering the fruits to
her priestesses.  She is worshiped as the Great Mother of Life,
Death and Regeneration, the Goddess of the Animals, and the
Mistress of the Sea and the Fruits of the Earth.

According to the Greek version, Rhea, mother of the gods, put
'role corresponded to the genealogy that made Dionysus the
son not of Semele but of Persephone, here the daughter of
Rhea rather than of Demeter.  According to Diodorus Siculus,
this genealogy originated with the Cretans.  The motif of the
search for the parts of Dionysus' body also occurs in variants
of the Dionysian myth...Diodorus makes no mention of Rhea in
his story of the dismembered Dionysus, whom he calls the
son of Demeter - which was compatible with the mythology of
the Orphics as well as the Cretan.  He relates how Demeter
gathered the parts of her son Dionysus= body, and he offers
the explanation of the physiologists:  when the vine has been
heavily pruned after the wine harvest, the earth restores it in
order that it may bear fruit again in due season.  

The Cretans declared that Zeus was a prince, who had been
ripped up by a wild boar and buried in Crete – an assertion
which is supposed to have earned for them their traditional
reputation as liars.

Dead, The

Dreams about the dead refer to the food one has eaten, Afor
from the dead come nourishment and growth and seed.
(From the Hippocratic treatise On Regimen.)

It is in sleep, says Xenophon, that the soul (psyche) best
shows its divine nature; it is in sleep that it enjoys a certain
insight into the future; and this is, apparently, because it is
freest in sleep.  Then he goes on to argue that in death we may
expect the psyche to be even freer; for sleep in the nearest
approach to death in living experience.

From the company of the pure I come, pure Queen of those
below - thus the soul speaks to Persephone in the poem of the
gold plates.  Purity, rather than justice, has become the
cardinal means to salvation.

The altar for the gods is built up from stones; for the dead
there is a ground-level hearth, eschara, or a pit, bothos, which
points into the depths.

The explanation has been found in the Mycenaean texts of the
Pylos clay tablets.  Here the souls of the dead are called
dipsioi, the thirsty ones.  They were thirsty not for water, but,
in the year when Dionysus dwelt emasculated among them,
for wine.  


Certain primitive peoples of today still preserve a tradition -
which is symbolically acted at regular festivals - that a mythical
women had to die in order that the grain might spring from her
dead limbs; and that only by initiation into her death can man
become potent and life be renewed.

This, then, is the core of the Myth of Persephone, to which the
Eleusinian Mysteries attach.  Man receives the fertility which is
indispensable to him from the hand of death.  He must appeal
to the Queen of the Dead.

Simply but emphatically the same message is repeated on the
funeral inscription of a hierophant of the Imperial Age: he had
show to the mystai: that death is not an evil but something

For it appears to me that among the many exceptional and
divine things your Athens has produced and contributed to
human life, nothing is better than those mysteries.  For by
means of them we have been transformed from a rough and
savage way of life to the state of humanity, and have been
civilized.  Just as they are called initiations, so in actual fact we
have learned from them the fundamentals of life, and have
grasped the basis not only for living with joy but also for dying
with a better hope.(Marcus)

For the gates of shadow as well as the bulwarks of life were
under the Goddess' control; and the act of initiation had been
compared to a voluntary death with a slight chance of

This ascription of a life-giving virtue to the figure of Death is
put beyond a doubt by the custom, observed in some places,
of taking pieces of the straw effigy of Death and placing them
in the fields to make the crops grow, or in the manger to make
the cattle thrive.

At the approach of Easter, Sicilian women sow wheat, lentils,
and canary-seed in plates, which are kept in the dark and
watered every two days.  The plants soon shoot up; the stalks
are tied together with red ribbons, and the plates containing
them are placed on the sepulchers which, with effigies of the
dead Christ, are made up in Roman Catholic and Greek
churches on Good Friday, just as the gardens of Adonis were
placed on the grave of the dead Adonis.

Deiknymena (The sacred objects that were shown)

Revelation of the Mystic Grain
The Deiknymena (objects shown) were the sacred things
(hiera) displayed by the Hierophant while standing in front of
the Anaktoron in radiant light at the climactic moment. Clement
of Alexandria refers to the mystic kistai (baskets) which
contained the Hiera.
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.
(Exhortation to the Greeks II, 18)
We learned of these baskets from Callimachus.
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.
(To Demeter 1-5)
Athenaeus gives us Polemon's account of the rites using a
tray (kernos).
Moreover Polemon, in the treatise On the Sacred Fleece, says:
"After these preliminaries (the priest) proceeds to the
celebration of the mystic rites; he takes out the contents of the
shrine and distributes them to all who have brought round
their tray (kernos ). The latter is an earthenware vessel,
holding within it a large number of small cups cemented
together, and in them are sage, white poppy-seeds, grains of
wheat and barley, peas, vetches, okra-seeds, lentils, beans,
rice-wheat, oats, compressed fruit, honey, oil, wine, milk, and
sheep's wool unwashed The man who carries it, resembling
the bearer of the sacred winnowing-fan, tastes these articles."
(The Deipnosophists XI, 478d)

Pausanias in discussing Cyamites of bean fame clearly
implies that beans are not to be associated with Demeter.
I cannot say with certainty whether he was the first who
sowed beans (kuamoi ), or whether they made up the name of
a bean-hero because the discovery of beans cannot be
attributed to Demeter. Any one who has seen the mysteries at
Eleusis, or has read what are called the works of Orpheus,
knows what I mean.
(I, 37:3)

Pollux refers to a dance involving these trays (kerna) and
crowning torches.
In regard to the dance in which kerna were carried, I know that
they carried lights or small hearths on their heads.
(Pollux IV, 103)

Hippolytus wrote down the account of the Eleusinian
Mysteries told to him by a Naasene.
The Phrygians, however assert, he says, that he is likewise "a
green ear of corn reaped." And after the Phrygians, the
Athenians, while initiating people into the Eleusinian rites,
likewise display to those who are being admitted to the
highest grade at these mysteries, the might, and marvelous,
and most perfect secret suitable for one initiated into the
highest mystic truths: (I allude to) an ear of corn in silence
reaped. But this ear of corn is also (considered) among the
Athenians to constitute the perfect enormous illumination (that
has descended) from the unportrayable one, just as the
Hierophant himself (declares); not, indeed, emasculated like
Attis, but made a eunuch by means of hemlock, and despising
all carnal generation. (Now) by night in Eleusis, beneath a
huge fire, (the Celebrant,) enacting the great and secret
mysteries, vociferates and cries aloud, saying, "August Brimo
has brought forth a consecrated son, Brimus;" that is, a
potent (mother has been delivered of) a potent child. But
revered, he says, is the generation that is spiritual, heavenly,
from above, and potent is he that is so born. For the mystery is
called "Eleusin" and "Anactorium." "Eleusin," because, he
says, we who are spiritual come flowing down from Adam
above; for the word "eleusesthai" is, he says, of the same
import with the expression "to come." But "Anactorium" is of
the same import with the expression "to ascend upward."
This, he says, is what they affirm who have been initiated in
the mysteries of the Eleusinians. It is, however, a regulation of
law, that those who have been admitted into the lesser should
again be initiated into the Great Mysteries. For greater
destinies obtain greater portions. But the inferior mysteries, he
says are those of Proserpine below; in regard of which
mysteries, and the path which leads there, which is wide and
spacious, and conducts those that are perishing to
Proserpine, the poet likewise says: -
"But under her a fearful path extends,
Hollow, miry, yet best guide to
Highly-honored Aphrodite's lovely grove."
These, he says, are the inferior mysteries those appertaining
to carnal generation. Now, those men who are initiated into
these inferior (mysteries) ought to pause, and (then) be
admitted into the great (and) heavenly (ones). For they, he
says, who obtain their shares (in this mystery), receive greater
portions. For this, he says, is the gate of heaven; and this a
house of God, where the Good Deity dwells alone. And into
this (gate), he says, no unclean person shall enter, nor one
that is natural or carnal; but it is reserved for the spiritual only.
(Hippolytus The Refutation of All Heresies V, 3)

Ears of wheat were represented on the architrave of the
Lesser Propylaea in the decoration of the kiste supported by
the Caryatids. 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.
These probably included ears of wheat, for on the relief of
Lakratides the priest, his sons have handfuls of wheat.
(Mylonas Eleusis p. 275)

Athenaeus has gathered more material on the original "barley
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 forth.'"
(The Deipnosophists XIV, 618d)

In Proclus' commentary on the Timaios 293c, he offers another
In the Eleusinian rites they gazed up to the heaven and cried
aloud "rain," they gazed down upon the earth and cried
On the edge of a well by the Dipylon gate of Athens where the
procession to Eleusis began, an inscription reads:
O Pan, O Men, be of good cheer, beautiful Nymphs, rain,
conceive, overflow.
(Mylonas Eleusis p. 270)

•        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
Bassareus?  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 a euphemistic expression used in the
mysteries for a woman's secret parts.

The Eleusinians have a shrine of Triptolemos, and one of
Artemis of the Entrance and Father Poseidon, and a well called
Kallichoros, where the Eleusinian women first danced and
came to the goddess.  They say the Rarian meadow was the
first place ever sown or cropped; hence the tradition of using
barley-grains from there, and making sweet cakes for the
sacrifices.  Here they show you Triptolemos' threshing-floor
and altar.  The dream forbids me to write what lies inside the
sanctuary wall, and what the uninitiated are not allowed to see
they obviously ought not to know about.

The Greek writer Theophrastus alludes to the idea that corn-
grinding tools were held to be sacred, so it may have been a
mortal and pestle that were hidden in the basket, the means of
preparing the kykeon, the barley drink.

At Patrai there was a cult of Dionysus Aisymnetes in which a
sacred chest was carried out of the temple at night by his
priest.  The story attached to it was that after the sack of Troy
the hero Eurypylos received as his share of the booty a chest
containing an image of Dionysus.  He was himself a
Thessalian, but in obedience to an oracle heard at Delphi he
let the winds take his ship and was brought over the sea to
Patrai, where as a result the natives substituted the cult of
Dionysus for that of Artemis, whom they had hitherto
worships with barbarous rites of human sacrifice.

Ludwig Deubner suspected that we are dealing not with any
simple natural act, but with a miracle. Hippolytus tells us not
only that an ear was displayed but that it was cut, that it had
previously been harvested in silence and then was shown.  
Both context and grammar required us to understand
Hippolytus' words in this sense.  And we must indeed
conclude that a mysterious act, a kind of magic, was
performed.  Deubner believes that a magic formula was
uttered: And behold in this season when no grain grows - for it
is autumn - an ear of grain has grown....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...The
ear of wheat suddenly grown, silently harvested and displayed
to the mystai is then really a revelation and pledge of the
goddess, who first gave this fruit to mankind through the
Eleusinians.  More than that:  it is an epiphany of Persephone
herself, her mythical first recurrence in the shape of the grain,
after her descent to the realm of the dead.  We need not ask
what thoughts and hopes the mystes associated with an
epiphany of this sort, It transported him into the realm of
miracles, in the presence of the great goddesses themselves,
in the moment when they bestowed the ear of grain upon men.


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)

Ceres was the first to turn the glebe with the hooked plow-
share; she first gave laws. All things are the gift of Ceres; she
must be the subject of my song.
(Ovid Metamorphoses V, 341-344)

To Ceres
O universal mother, Ceres fam'd,
August, the source of wealth, and various nam'd:
Great nurse, all-bounteous, blessed and divine,
Who joy'st in peace; to nourish corn is thine.
Goddess of seed, of fruits abundant, fair,
Harvest and threshing are thy constant care.
Lovely delightful queen, by all desir'd,
Who dwell'st in Eleusina's holy vales retired.
Nurse of all mortals, whose benignant mind
First ploughing oxen to the yoke confin'd;
And gave to men what nature's wants require,
With plenteous means of bliss, which all desire.
In verdure flourishing, in glory bright,
Assessor of great Bacchus, bearing light:
Rejoicing in the reapers' sickles, kind,
Whose nature lucid, earthly, pure, we find.
Prolific, venerable, nurse divine,
Thy daughter loving, holy Proserpine.
A car with dragons yok'd 'tis thine to guide,
And, orgies singing, round thy throne to ride.
only-begotten, much-producing queen,
All flowers are thine, and fruits of lovely green.
Bright Goddess, come, with summer's rich increase
Swelling and pregnant , leading smiling Peace;
Come with fair Concord and imperial Health,
And join with these a needful store of wealth.
(Taylor Mystical Hymns of Orpheus)

Diodorus gives this general account of Demeter and the
bestowal of agriculture:
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:
But all these things grow there for them unsown
And e'en untilled, both wheat and barley.
(Odyssey IX, 1O9)

This, then, is what the myths have to say about Demeter.
(Diodorus Siculus V, 68-69)

Zeus entered also into the bed of fruitful Demeter, who bore
him Persephone of the white arms, she that Aidoneus
ravished away from her mother and Zeus of the counsels
granted it.
(Theogony 912-914)

Demeter, shining among goddesses, after the embraces of the
hero Iasion in the sweetness of love, brought forth Ploutos in
a thrice-plowed field there in the fertile countryside of Crete, a
good son, who walks over earth and the sea's wide ridges
everywhere, and he who meets him with the giving of hands
between them is made a prosperous man, to whom great
wealth is granted.
(Theogony 969-974)

Crete was also the locale for this version from Homer's
Odyssey :
So again when Demeter fell in love with Iasion, and yielded to
him in a thrice-ploughed fallow field, Zeus came to hear of it
before so very long and killed Iasion with his thunderbolts.
(V, 125)

The snake of Cychreus: Hesiod says that it was brought up by
Cychreus, and was driven out by Eurylochus as defiling the
island, but that Demeter received it into Eleusis, and that it
became her attendant.
(Hesiod Catalogues of Women and Eoiae 77)

Modern retelling of Myth and Mysteries of Demeter found in  
(Similarly, Demeter changed her sex, but retained her sanctity
in the cult of Saint Demetrios.  And footnote 1 ff. )  

“A central element in the Hymn, Demeter’s immersion of
Demophon in fire, can only be related to the cult by the
application of force majeure.  Indeed, the most important
eleusinian event in the Hymn has not basis:  no reason is
given for making Demeter go to Eleusis in the first place.  It
rather looks as though the poet told a general story known to
all about the rape of Persephone in the mythical Plain of Nysa,
but decided, in honor of the great Eleusinian sanctuary, to
have Demeter end her quest there, and he finished his story
with the establishment of the famous cult.”

For so the gods have spun the thread for pitiful humanity, that
the life of Man should be sorrow, while themselves are exempt
from care.

When you are inside the city you come to a building for the
arrangement of sacred processions (both the annual ones and
those that take place at longer intervals).  The Temple of
Demeter is close to this; its images are Demeter and the Child,
and Iacchos holding a torch:

There is also a sanctuary of Boy-breeding Earth, and of Green
Demeter.  You can find out all about these names by
discussing them with the priests.

...Demeter, that fire-bearing goddess...
They said that later this king (Rhampsinitus) went down alive
to what the Greeks call Hades and there played dice with
Demeter, and after winning some and losing some, came back
with a gift from her of a golden hand towel.  From the descent
of Rhampsinitus, when he came back, they said that the
Egyptians celebrate a festival, which I know that they celebrate
to this day, but whether this is why they celebrate, I cannot say.

On the day of the festival, the priests weave a cloth and bind it
as a headband on the eyes of one of their number so that they
cannot see where they are going,  Even the greatest eyesight
wouldn't help those with the cloth around their eyes to see
where they were heading.  The priests then lead the
blindfolded member, wearing the cloth, into a road that goes to
the temple of Demeter, they themselves go back, but this
priest with his eyes bandaged is guided (they say) by two
wolves to Demeter's temple, a distance of three miles from the
city, and led back again from the temple by the wolves to the
same place.

The Egyptian stories are for the benefit of whoever believes
such tales: my rule in this history is that I record what is said
by all as I have heard it.  The Egyptians say that Demeter and
Dionysus are the rulers of the lower world.
The Egyptians were the first who maintained the following
doctrine, too, that the human soul is immortal, and at the death
of the body enters into some other living thing then coming to
birth; and after passing through all creatures of land, sea, and
air, it enters once more into a human body at birth, a cycle
which it completes in three thousand years.
Demeter, bright goddess, was joined in sweet love with the
hero Iasion in a thrice-plowed fallow in the rich land of Crete,
and bore Plutus, a kindly god who goes over land and the
sea's wide back, and he makes rich the man who finds him
and into whose hands he comes, bestowing great wealth
upon him.

The image, they say, was made after this fashion.  It was
seated on a rock, like to a woman in all respects save the
head.  She had the head and hair of a horse, and there grew
out of her head images of serpents and other beasts.  Her
tunic reached right to her feet; on one of her hands was a
dolphin, on the other a dove.  Now why they had the image
made after this fashion is plain to any intelligent man who is
learned in traditions.  They say they named her Black because
the goddess has black apparel.

Socrates:        Demeter appears to have been called Demeter,
because like a mother (mh/thr) she gives the gift of food.   

Demeter's name was once thought to mean Mother Earth, from
Da or Ge, an alternative for Gaia, Earth, and Meter, Mother; but
it is more likely comes from the Cretan word for barley grains -

Brimo (Aangry one@) was a title of Demeter=s and Brimos a
synonym for Plutos: but his celebrants knew him best as
Iacchus - from the riotous hymn, the Iacchus, which was sung
on the sixth day of the Mysteries during a torchlight
procession from Demeter=s temple.  
For the gods it is easy to endure in life; accordingly, they are
known as the rheia zoontes, Athose who live easily.@

At Stiris is a Sanctuary of Demeter of Stiris: the sanctuary is
unbaked brick, the statue is Pentelic stone, the goddess is
holding torches.  Beside her is another ancient statue tied up
in ribbons, the kind that belongs to the cult of Demeter.

After Thelpusa the Ladon descends to the sanctuary of
Demeter in Onceum. The Thelpusians call the goddess Fury,
and with them agrees Antimachus, the poet who celebrated
the expedition of the Argives against Thebes. His verse runs
thus: -

They say that there is a seat of Demeter Fury in that place.
Oncius, according to common fame, was a son of Apollo, and
he reigned at Onceum in the land of Thelpusa. The goddess
received the surname of Fury on this wise. When Demeter was
seeking her daughter, they say that in her wanderings she
was followed by Poseidon, who desired to gain her favors. So
she turned herself into a mare, and grazed with the mares of
Oncius; but Poseidon, detecting the deception, likewise took
the form of a horse, and so enjoyed Demeter. They say that at
first Demeter was wroth, but that in time she relented, and was
fain to bathe in the Ladon. Hence the goddess received two
surnames: that of fury (Erinus) on account of her wrath,
because the Arcadians call a fit of anger erinuein ; and that of
Lusia, because she bathed (lousasthai) in the Ladon. The
images in the temple are of wood, but the faces, hands, feet,
are of Parian marble. The image of the Fury holds the so-called
cista (sacred basket), and in her right hand a torch: the height
of the image we guessed to be nine feet. The Lusia appeared
to be six feet high. Some think that the image represents
Themis, and not Demeter Lusia; but this is an idle fancy, and
so I would have them know. They say that Demeter had by
Poseidon a daughter, whose name they are not wont to
divulge to uninitiated persons, and that he also gave birth to
the horse Arion; it was for this reason, they say, that they gave
Poseidon the surname of Hippius ('of horses'), and they were
first of the Arcadians who did so.
(Pausanias VIII, 25:4-7)
The horse imagery has some collaboration in the words of
... and with befitting counsel, while he tends, not only the
worship of Demeter with the ruddy feet, and the festival of her
daughter with her white horses,
(Olympian Odes VI, 95)
Another example from Arcadia places Poseidon in the
mythology and relies heavily upon secrecy. The significance
of the pomegranate is parallel with Eleusis.
The Arcadians bring into the sanctuary the fruits of all
cultivated trees except the pomegranate. On the right as you
leave the temple there is a mirror fitted into the wall. Anyone
who looks into this mirror will see himself either very dimly or
not at all, but the images of the gods and the throne are clearly
visible. Beside the temple of the mistress a little higher up on
the right is what is called the Hall. Here the Arcadians perform
mysteries, and sacrifice victims to the Mistress in great
abundance. Each man sacrifices what he has got. They do not
cut the throats of the victims as in the other sacrifices, but
each man lops off a limb of the victim, it matters not which.
This Mistress is worshipped by the Arcadians above all the
gods and they say she is a daughter of Poseidon and
Demeter. Mistress is her popular surname, just as the
daughter of Demeter by Zeus is surnamed the Maid. The real
name of the Maid is Proserpine, as it occurs in the poetry of
Homer and of Pamphos before him; but the true name of the
Mistress I fear to communicate to the uninitiated.
(Pausanias VIII, 37:7-9)
The temple of this cult is described also by Pausanias:
In front of the temple is an altar to Demeter, and another to the
Mistress, and after it one to the Great Mother. The images of
the goddesses, namely, the mistress and Demeter, as well as
the throne on which they sit and the footstool under their feet,
are all made of a single block of stone. None of the drapery or
work about the throne is made of a different stone, attached
with iron clamps or cement: all is of one block, This block was
not fetched from outside: they say that, following directions
given in a dream, they found it by digging within the
enclosure. The size of each of the two images is about that of
the image of the Mother at Athens. They are also works of
Damophon. Demeter carries a torch in her right hand, the
other hand is laid on the Mistress. The Mistress has a scepter,
and the basket, as it is called, on her knees: she holds the
basket with her right hand.
(Pausanias VIII, 37:2-4)
We find instructions given in a dream in the story of another
Arcadian cult:
The other mountain, Mount Elaius, is about thirty furlongs
from Phigalia: there is a cave there sacred to Demeter
surnamed the Black. All that the people of Thelpusa say
touching the loves of Poseidon and Demeter is believed by the
Phigalians; but the Phigalians say that Demeter gave birth not
to a horse, but to her whom the Arcadians name the Mistress,
and they say that afterwards Demeter, wroth with Poseidon,
and mourning the rape of Proserpine, put on black raiment,
and entering this grotto tarried there in seclusion a long while.
But when all the fruits of the earth were wasting away, and the
race of man was perishing still more of hunger, none of the
other gods, it would seem, knew where Demeter was hid; but
Pan, roving over Arcadia, and hunting now on one mountain,
now on another, came at last to Mount Elaius, and spied
Demeter, and saw the plight she was in, and the garb she
wore. So Zeus learnt of his from Pan, and sent the Fates to
Demeter, and she hearkened to the Fates, and swallowed her
wrath, and abated even from her grief.

For that reason the Phigalians say that they accounted the
grotto sacred to Demeter, and set up in it an image of wood.
The image, they say, was made thus: it was seated on a rock,
and was in the likeness of a woman, all but the head; the head
and the hair were those of a horse, and attached to the head
were figures of serpents and other wild beasts; she was clad
in a tunic that reached even to her feet; on one of her hands
was a dolphin, and on the other a dove. Why they made the
image thus is plain to any man of ordinary sagacity who is
versed in legendary lore. They say they surnamed her Black,
because the garb the goddess wore was black. They do not
remember who made this wooden image, nor how it caught
fire. When the old image disappeared the Phigalians did not
give the goddess another in its stead, and as to the festivals
and sacrifices, why they neglected most of them, until a dearth
came upon the land; then they besought the god, and the
Pythian priestess answered them as follows: -

Arcadians, Azanians, acorn-eaters, who inhabit Phigalia, the
cave where the Horse-mother Deo lay hid,
You come to learn a riddance of grievous famine,
You who alone have been nomads twice, and twice tasted the
berries wild.
'Twas Deo stopped your pasturing, and 'twas Deo caused you
To go without the cakes of herdsmen who drag the ripe ears
Because she was robbed of privileges that men of old
bestowed on her and of her ancient honors,
And soon shall she make you to eat each other, and to feast
on your children,
If you appease not her wrath with libations offered of the
whole people,
And if you adorn not the nook of the tunnel with honors divine.

When the oracle was reported to them, the Phigalians held
Demeter in higher honor than before, and in particular they
induced Onatas, the Aeginetan, son of Micon, to make them an
image of Demeter for so much. There is a bronze Apollo at
Pergamus by this Onatus, which is one of the greatest marvels
both for size and workmanship. So he made a bronze image
for the Phigalians guided by a painting or a copy which he
discovered of the ancient wooden image; but he relied mainly,
it is said, on directions received in dreams.
(Pausanias VIII, 42:1-7, 11)
The next example implies that the mysteries of the Cabiri were
derived from Eleusis.
However that may be, the first who reigned in this country
were Polycaon, son of Lelex, and his wife Messene. It was to
this Messene that Caucon, son of Celaenus, son of Phylus,
brought the orgies of the Great Goddesses from Eleusis. The
Athenians say that Phylus himself was a son of Earth, and
they are supported by the hymn which Musaeus composed on
Demeter for Lycomids. But many years after the time of
Caucon the mysteries of the Great Goddesses were raised to
higher honor by Lycus, son of Pandion; and the place where
he purified the initiated is still named the oak-coppice of
Lycus.... And that this Lycus was the son of Pandion is shown
by the verses inscribed on the statue of Methapus. For
Methapus also made some changes in the mode of celebrating
the mysteries. Methapus was an Athenian by descent, and he
was a devisor of Mysteries and all sorts of orgies It was he
who instituted the mysteries of the Cabiri for the Thebans; and
he also set up in the chapel of the Lycomids a statue inscribed
with an epigram, which contains a passage confirming what I
have said: -

And I purified houses of Hermes ... and paths
Of Demeter and of the first-born Maid, where they say
That Messene instituted for the Great Goddesses a rite
Which she learned from Caucon, illustrious scion of Phylus.
And I marveled how Lycus, son of Pandion,
Established all the sacred rites of Atthis in dear Andania.
(Pausanias IV, 1:5-8)
The following Arcadian cult implies the mythology of the
Homeric Hymn.
At the other or western end of the colonnade there is an
enclosure sacred to the Great Goddesses. The Great
Goddesses are Demeter and the Maid, as I have already
shown in my account of Messenia. The Maid is called Savior
by the Arcadians.... With regard to the image of the Great
Goddesses, that of Demeter is of stone throughout, but the
drapery of the Savior is of wood. The height of each is about
fifteen feet. The images ... and before them he made small
images of girls in tunics reaching to their ankles: each of the
two girls bears on her head a basket full of flowers: they are
said to be the daughters of Damophon. But those who put a
religious interpretation on them think that they are Athena and
Artemis gathering flowers with Proserpine.
(Pausanias VIII, 31:1-2)
In his section on Boeotia Pausanias describes another
Cabirian mystery cult with origin from Demeter.
Five-and-twenty furlongs from here you come to a grove of
Cabirian Demeter and the Maid: the initiated are allowed to
enter it. About seven furlongs from this grove is the sanctuary
of the Cabiri. I must crave pardon of the curious if I preserve
silence as to who the Cabiri are, and what rites are performed
in honor of them and their mother. There is, however, nothing
to prevent me disclosing the account which the Thebans give
of the origin of the rites. They say that in this place there was
once a city, the men of which were named Cabiri; and that
Demeter made the acquaintance of Prometheus, one of the
Cabiri, and of his son Aetnaeus, and entrusted something to
their care; but what it was he entrusted to them and what
happened to it, I thought it wrong to set down. At all events,
the mysteries are a gift of Demeter to the Cabiri.
(Pausanias IX, 25:5-6)
He adds this extraordinary occurrence:
Once more, when Alexander after his victory gave Thebes and
all the land of Thebes to the flames, some Macedonians who
entered the sanctuary of the Cabiri because it was in the
enemy's country, were destroyed by thunderbolts and
lightening from heaven. So holy has this sanctuary been from
the beginning.
(Pausanias IX, 25:10)
Here is another example of divine punishment and reward:
But the most remarkable object of all is a sanctuary of Demeter
on Mount Pron. The Hermionians say that the founders of this
sanctuary were Clymenus, son of Phoroneus, and his sister
Chthonia. But the Argive story is this. When Demeter came to
Argolis she was hospitably received by Athera and Mysius.
However, Colontas neither opened his house to the goddess
nor paid her any other mark of respect. But this churlish
behavior was not to the mind of his daughter Chthonia. They
each had their reward: the house of Colontas was burnt down
and he in it; but Chthonia was brought by Demeter to Hermion
and founded the sanctuary. However that may have been, the
goddess herself is certainly called Chthonia ('subterranean'),
and they celebrate a festival called Chthonia every year in
(Pausanias II, 35:4-5)
Another set of mysteries in Arcadia taken from Eleusis:
The Pheneatians have also a sanctuary of Demeter surnamed
Eleusinian, and they celebrate mysteries in her honor, alleging
that rites identical with those performed at Eleusis were
instituted in their land; for Naus, they say, a grandson of
Eumolpus, came to their country in obedience to an oracle
from Delphi. Beside the sanctuary of the Eleusinian goddess
is what is called the Petroma, two great stones fitted to each
other. Every second year, when they are celebrating what they
call the Greater Mysteries they open these stones, and taking
out of them certain writings which bear on the mysteries, they
read them in the hearing of the initiated, and put them back in
their place that same night. I know, too, that on the weightiest
matters most of the Pheneatians swear by the Petroma. There
is a round top on it, which contains a mask of Demeter
Cidaria: this mask the priest puts on his face at the Greater
Mysteries, and smites the Underground Folk with rods. I
suppose there is some legend to account for the custom. The
Pheneatians have a legend that Demeter came hither on her
wanderings even before Naus; and that to those of the
Pheneatians who welcomed her hospitably she gave all the
different kinds of pulse except beans. They have a sacred
story about the bean to show why they think it an unclean
kind of pulse. The men who received the goddess, according
to the Pheneatian legend, were Trisaules and Damithales:
They built a temple of Demeter Thesmia ('goddess of laws')
under Mount Cyllene, and instituted in her honor the mysteries
which they still celebrate.
(Pausanias VIII, 15:1-4)
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."
(I, 12)
Socrates terms her:
Demeter is who gives food like a mother;
(Plato Cratylus 404c)
In his Golden Bough James George Frazer has emphasized
the nature aspects of the deities. He has collected the
following epithets for Demeter which he found in relation to
her agricultural function: "Wheat-lover," "She of the Corn,"
"Sheaf-bearer," "She of the Threshing-floor," "She of the
Winnowing-fan," "Nurse of the Corn-ears," "Crowned with :
Ears of Corn," "She of the Seed," "She of the Green Fruits,"
"Heavy with Summer fruits," "Fruit-bearer," "She of the Great
Loaf," and "She of the Great Barley Loaf." (Spirits of the Corn
Vol. 1, p. 110-117) Porphyry explained kore (maiden) as being
the feminine form of koros (sprout).

Athenaeus describes the arrival of the hero Demetrius during
the celebration of the Greater Mysteries this way:
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 Daughter.
(The Deipnosophists VI, 253d)


But as for us, let us not listen to any who say that there are
some oracles not divinely inspired, or religious ceremonies
and mystic rites which are disregarded by the gods; and on
the other hand let us not imagine that the god goes in and out
and is present at these ceremonies and helps in conducting
them; but let us commit these matters to those ministers of the
gods to whom it is right to commit them, as to servants and
clerks, and let us believe that demigods are guardians of
sacred rites of the gods and prompters in the Mysteries, while
others go about as avengers of arrogant and grievous cases
of injustice.

Regarding the rites of the Mysteries, in which it is possible to
gain the clearest reflections and adumbrations of the truth
about the demigods, Alet my lips be piously sealed,@ as
Herodotus says; but as for festivals and sacrifices, which may
be compared with ill-omened and gloomy days, in which occur
the eating of raw flesh, rending of victims, fasting, and beating
of breasts, and again in many places scurrilous language at
the shrines and
frenzy and shouting of throngs in excitement with tumultuous
tossing of heads in the air
I should say that these acts are not performed for any god, but
are soothing and appeasing rites for the averting of evil spirits.
(Todd, are Demeter and Persephone demigods - note
Plutarch=s other remarks under Dromena.)


(From the constellation Hydra, Crater – the Crow)  Concerning
the Crater, Phylarchus tells this story.  In the Cheronesus,
which is located near Troy, where the tomb of Protesilaus lies,
there is a city called Eleusa.  During the reign of a certain,
Demiphon, widespread devastation and an unexpected
plague befell the city.  Demiphon, greatly perturbed, sent to the
oracle of Apollo to inquire how the devastation might be
halted.  The response of the oracle was that a maiden of noble
birth must be sacrificed each year on the altar of the city’s
gods.  Demiphon, choosing the maidens by lottery, sacrificed
all other daughters save his own, until one of the well-born
citizens complained of the practice to Demiphon.  This man
said he would not allow his daughter to be part of the lottery
unless the daughters of the king were part of it as well.  The
king was angered and, selecting that man’s daughter without
a lottery, put her to death.  The maiden’s father, Mastusius by
name, pretended at the time that he would not be angry since
the deed was done on behalf of their country, for the lot might
have fallen to her later, and she might have perished
nonetheless.  After a few days, the father of the maiden lulled
the king into forgetfulness, then, when hi had shown himself
to be most kindly disposed toward the king, claimed that he
was preparing a solemn sacrifice and invited the king and his
daughters.  The king, not suspecting that anything untoward
was about to happen, sent his daughters ahead, as he was
occupied with matters of state and planned to come later.  
When what Mastusius had greatly hoped for happened, he
slew the king’s daughters and, mixing their blood with the
wine in the wine jar, ordered that it be offered to the king to
drink as he approached.  When the king looked for his
daughters and discovered what happened to them, he ordered
that Mastusius be thrown into the sea, along with the wine jar.  
For that reason, the sea into which he was thrown was called
Mastusian in him memory, and the port to this day called
Crater (wine jar).  The ancient astronomers configured it
among the stars so that men might be reminded that no one
can profit from an evil deed, and that evil deeds cannot be

Hyginus, Poetic Astronomy,2.40 ff

(Parker’s) notion that the Demophon episode affords a
theological connection the subsequent foundation of the
Mysteries, in that it implies that the failed attempt at immortality
(“Demophon stands for us all”) leaves open no other
possibility for “our prospects in the afterlife” is rather forced
(he refers to it very generously as “not quite explicit in the
poem.”)  In fact, extraordinary immortalization of the sort that
Demeter attempted on the boy does not reflect well the hopes
of the initiates, as the very end of the Hymn demonstrates.  
The ordinary initiate does not seek to become, like Demophon,
explicitly so (though some may have been so presumptuous):  
he was content with a more modest condition, that is “good
things” in the afterlife (as the Hymn says.)  The immortalization
of Demophon is an extraordinary event, attempted for a boy
who happened to be in the right place at the right time:  it is
not presented as even a possible option for mankind in
general.  Immortalization by fire is a folktale motif, which here
serves to highlight Demeter’s extraordinary power as nurse.”

But Metanira, wife of Celus, had a child and Demeter received
it to nurse, and wishing to make it immortal she set the babe of
nights on the fire and stripped off its mortal flesh.  But as
Demophon - for that was the child=s name - grew marvelously
by day, Praxithea watched, and discovering him buried in the
fire she cried out; wherefore the babe was consumed by the
fire and the goddess revealed herself.
But for Triptolemos, the elder of Metanira=s children, she
made a chariot of winged dragons, and gave him wheat, with
which, wafted through the sky, he sowed the whole inhabited
earth.  But Panyasis affirms that Triptolemos was a son of
Eleusis, for he says that Demeter came to him.  Pherecydes,
however, says that he was a son of Ocean and Earth.

Demophon with a few ships put in to the land of the Thracian
Bisaltians, and there Phyllis, the king=s daughter, falling in
love with him, was given him in marriage by her father with the
kingdom for her dowry.  But he wished to depart to his own
country, and after many entreaties and swearing to return, he
did depart.  And Phyllis accompanied him as far as what are
called the Nine Roads , and she gave him a casket, telling him
that it contained a sacrament of Mother Rhea, and that he was
not to open it until he should have abandoned all hope of
returning to her.
And Demophon went to Cyprus and dwelt there.  And when
the appointed time was past, Phyllis called down curses on
Demophon and killed herself, and Demophon opened the
casket, and, being
struck with fear, he mounted his horse and galloping wildly
met his end; for, the horse stumbling, he was thrown and fell
on his sword.  But his people settled in Cyprus.


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 III, 62:5-8)
Diodorus has more on the agricultural deities Demeter and the
second of three Dionysuses he distinguishes in his Library of
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 IV, 3-4)

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
(Diodorus III, 64)

It is said that the Athenians at first thought scorn of the god
(Dionysos) and that thereupon they were visited by a phallic
disorder, which could not be cured till, both privately and
publicly, they made phalloi in his honor.

One version of the story told by Firmicus Maternus (De errore
profanarum religionum, 6) represented Dionysus as a son of
Demeter, averred that his mother pieced together his mangled
limbs and made him young again (Diodorus, iii, 62).

The Cretans celebrated a biennial festival at which the
sufferings and death of Dionysus were represented in every
detail.  Where the resurrection formed part of the myth, it also
was enacted at the rites, and it even appears that a general
doctrine of resurrection, or at least of immortality, was
inculcated on the worships, for Plutarch, writing to console his
wife on the death of their infant daughter, comforts her with
the thought of the immortality of the soul as taught by tradition
and revealed in the mysteries of Dionysus.  (Consol. Ad uxor.,

The Hymn to Amphietes tells us that Dionysus lays the trieric
period to sleep and that he himself passes this period of sleep
in the holy palace of Persephone.

The second year of the trieteris was a contrast to the first.  
Now Dionysus was no longer the subterranean, the absent
one, called publicly by loud instruments and by the women
among themselves.  They awakened him by being awakened
by him.  The god was now present.  Whatever form his
presence assumed, it was a parousia of zoe.  Men were not
wholly excluded from the parousia.  On the contrary, if the
attested visionary power of the Bacchantes did not suffice to
make them see the god himself physically embodied in their
midst or at the head of their throng, someone could take his
place, either at the moment of the epiphany provoked by the
exertions of the first year, or more likely in the maenadic frenzy
that sometimes led to abnormal acts including human
sacrifice. Not only a sacrificial animal but also a man could be
equated with Dionysus in this state, in which the Bacchantes
became mainades just as their god was mainomenos.  A frank
admission of this occurs in the Bacchae of Euripides (115)
He who leads the throngs becomes Dionysus.   

In Dionysus, Otto saw Acreative madness,@ the irrational
ground of the world.  
Among existing forms of religion, the best hope of a solution
seemed to be offered by the Dionysiac, in which by means of
ecstasy and frenzy the puny, individual soul felt itself lifted out
of its loneliness so that at the height of its passionate
experience it could call itself Bacchos, one with the god by
whom it was inspired.

The mother of Zeus= son Dionysus is variously named: some
say that she was Demeter, or Io; some name her Dione; some,
Persephone, with whom Zeus coupled in the likeness of a
serpent; and some, Lethe.

Dionysus began, probably, as a type of sacred king whom the
goddess ritually killed with a thunderbolt in the seventh month
from the winter solstice, and whom her priestesses devoured.  
This explains his mothers: Dione, the Oak-Goddess; Io and
Demeter, Corn goddesses; and Persephone, Death goddess.  
Plutarch, when calling him ADionysus, a son of Lethe@
(forgetfulness), refers to his later aspect as God of the Vine.

The worshipers of Dionysus acknowledged his presence in
the raw flesh of wild beasts as well as the goblet of wine, in the
phallus concealed in the liknon ( a winnowing basket that may
be used as a cradle for a baby), and also (among the Orphics)
in the immortal human soul.   

Oeneus was the first who received a vine plant from Dionysus.

Althaea had also a son Meleager, by Oeneus, though they say
that he was begotten by Ares.  It is said that, when he was
seven days old, the Fates came and declared the Meleager
should die when the brand burning on the heart was burnt
out.  On hearing that, Althea snatched up the brand and
deposited it in a chest.  Meleager grew up to be an
invulnerable and gallant man, but came by his end in the
following way.  In sacrificing the first fruits of the annual crops
of the country to all the gods Oeneus forgot Artemis alone.  
But she in her wrath sent a boar of extraordinary size and
strength, which prevent the land from being sown and
destroyed the cattle and the people that fell in with it.

But Zeus loved Semele and bedded with her unknown to
Hera.  Now Zeus had agreed to do for her whatever she asked,
and deceived by Hera she asked that he would come to her as
he came when he was wooing Hera.  Unable to refuse, Zeus
came to her bridal chamber in a chariot, with lightening and
thunderings, and launched a thunderbolt.  But Semele expired
of fright, and Zeus, snatching the sixth-month abortive child
from the fire, sewed it in his thigh.  On the death of Semele, the
other daughters of Cadmus spread a report that Semele had
bedded with a mortal man, and had falsely accused Zeus, and
that therefore she had been blasted by thunder.  But at the
proper time Zeus undid the stitches and gave birth to
Dionysus, and entrusted him to Hermes.  And he conveyed
him to Ino and Athamas, and persuaded them to rear him as a
girl.  But Hera indignantly drove them mad, and Athamas
hunted his elder son Learchus as a deer and killed him, and
Ino threw Melicertes into a boiling cauldron, then carrying it
with the dead child she sprang into the deep...But Zeus eluded
the wrath of Hera by turning Dionysus into a kid, a Hermes
took him and brought him to the nymphs who dwelt at Nysa in
Asia, who Zeus afterwards changed into stars and named
them the Hyades.

Dionysus discovered the vine, and being driven made by Hera
he roamed about Egypt and Syria. At first he was received by
Proteus, king of Egypt, but afterwards he arrived at Cybela in
Phrygia.  And there, after he had been purified by Rhea and
learned the rites of initiation, he received from her the costume
and hastened through Thrace against the Indians.  But
Lycurgus, son of Dryas, was king of the Edonians, who dwell
beside the river Strymon, and he was the first who insulted
and expelled him.  Dionysus took refuge in the sea with Thetis,
daughter of Nereus, and the Bacchanals were taken prisoners
together with the multitude of Satyrs that attended him.  But
afterwards the Bacchanals were suddenly released, and
Dionysus drove Lycurgus mad.  And in his madness he struck
his son Dryas dead with an axe, imagining that he was lopping
a branch of a vine, and when he had cut off his son=s
extremities, he recovered his senses.  But the land remaining
barren, the god declared oracularly that it would bear fruit if
Lycurgus were put to death.  On hearing that, the Edonians led
him to Mount Pangaeum and bound him, and there by the will
of Dionysus he dies, destroyed by horses.

And having shown the Thebans that he was a god, Dionysus
came to Argos, and there again, because they did not honor
him, he drove the women mad, and they on the mountains
devoured the flesh of the infants whom they carried at their

And wishing to be ferried across from Icaria to Naxos he hired
a pirate ship of Tyrrhenians.  But when they had put him on
board, they sailed past Naxos and made for Asia, intending to
sell him. Howbeit, he turned the mast and oars into snakes,
and filled the vessel with ivy and the sound of flutes.  And the
pirates went mad, and leaped into the sea and were turned
into dolphins.  Thus men perceived that he was a god and
honored him; and having brought up him mother from Hades
and named her Thyone, he ascended up with her to heaven.   

Dionysus:        I have come to this Hellene city first, having
already set those other lands to dance and established my
mysteries there, so that I might be a deity manifest among
men.  In this land of Hellas, I have first excited Thebes to my
cry, fitting a fawn-skin to my body and taking a thyrros in my
hand, a weapon of ivy.

Chorus:        Blessed is he who, being fortunate and knowing
the rites of the gods, keeps his life pure and has his soul
initiated into the Bacchic revels, dancing in inspired frenzy
over the mountains with holy purification, and who, revering
the mysteries of great mother Kybele, brandishing the thyrros,
garlanded with ivy, serves Dionysus.
Go, Bacchae, go, Bacchae, escorting the god Bromius, child
of a god, from the Phrygian mountains to the broad streets of

In the marketplace of Troezen . . .In this temple are altars to the
gods said to rule under the earth. It is here that they say
Semele was brought out of Hell by Dionysus and that Herakles
dragged up the Hound of Hell.  But I cannot bring myself to
believe even that Semele died at all, seeing that she was the
wife of Zeus; while, as for the so-called Hound of Hell, I will
give my views in another place.  

Of the gods, the Eleans worship Dionysus with the greatest
reverence, and they assert that the god attends their festival,
the Thyia.  The place where they hold the festival they have the
Thyia is about eight stades from the city.  Three pots are
brought into the building by the priests and set down empty in
the presence of the citizens and of any strangers who may
chance to be in the country.  The  doors of the building are
sealed by the priests themselves and by any others who may
be so inclined. On the morrow, they are allowed to examine the
seals, and on going into the building they find the pots filled
with wine.  I did not myself arrive at the time of the festival, but
the most respected Elean  citizens, and with them strangers
also swore that what I have said is the truth.  The Andrians too
assert that every other year at their feast of Dionysus wines
flows of its own accord from the sanctuary.

Finally, having established his worship throughout the world,
Dionysus ascended to Heaven, and now sits at the right hand
of Zeus as one of the Twelve Great Ones.  The self-effacing
goddess Hestia resigned her seat at the high table in his favor;
glad of any excuse to escape the jealous wrangling of her
family, and knowing that she could always count on a quiet
welcome in any Greek city which it might please her to visit.  
Dionysus then descended, by way of Lerna, to Tartarus where
he bribed Persephone with a gift of myrtle to release his dead
mother, Semele.  She ascended with him into Artemis= temple
at Troezen; but, lest other ghosts should be jealous and
aggrieved, he changed her name and introduced her to his
fellow Olympians at Thyone.  Zeus placed an apartment at her
disposal, and Hera preserved an angry but resigned silence.

Bacchus is summoned in the words:
Thou that leadest the dance of the fiery stars, watcher over the
nocturnal cry, Zeus-born child, appear, Lord, with thine
attendant Thyiads, who all night long in frenzied ecstasy
dance thy dance, Iacchos our Master.   (Todd look up quote
and rewrite.)

Another short text from Pylos speaks of one AEleuther, son of
Zeus@ to whom oxen were sacrificed. AEleuther@ or
AEleutheros@ corresponding to the Liber pater of the
Romans, can only be Dionysos, especially as he is expressly
termed the son of Zeus.  This text, originating on the Greek
mainland in the thirteenth century BC when the palace of
Nestor was in its heyday, already bears witness to the
Dionysian religion and to the well-known lineage of the god.

Through Dionysos this fire was transformed into the Apure
light of high summer.@  In the person of the son of the god of
heaven, it was received as the Alight of Zeus.@  Hesychios
defines the Greek word iachron - an adjective know to us only
from his lexicon - as Abathed in a soft Zeus light.@  Such light
was placed, quite concretely, in the hand of a divine figure
regarded as a double of Dionysos. This figure=s name, which
comes from the same root as the two Minoan proper names
cited above, probably took its definitive form Iakcos from the
insistent cry with which is was repeated in the processions.  
There can be no question of a deification of the cry alone.  For
the Greeks, Iakcos had two characteristics: his name was
called loudly in endless repetition, and he was a torchbearer.  
In the figure of Iakcos, Dionysos= connection with light and
fire was preserved.  AFire is a Dionysian weapon,@ says
Lucian.  The Bacchantes were capable of carrying fire in their
hair.  In the Antigone of Sophocles the chorus calls on
Dionysos, Awho leads the round of the fire-spraying stars@ to
cure the sick city of Thebes.  It might have invoked a true star
in the sky in such terms, but it invokes him as AIakcos, keeper
of treasures@ - keeper of the annual Dionysian treasures,
which he confers.
Kindles the flaming torches, brandishing one in each hand,
Iakchos, O Iakchos, The light-bringing star of the nocturnal

Behind the theater is a shrine of Dionysos: the god is ivory
and gold but the Bacchae with him are white stone.  They say
these women are holy and raving mad for Dionysos.  Sikyon
has other statues which are secret.  On one night in each year
they bring them to the Dionysion from the so-called adorning
place: and they bring them with blazing torches and local

Now most of the Greeks assigned to Dionysus, Apollo, Hecate,
the Muses, and above all to Demeter, everything of an
orgiastic or Bacchic or choral nature, as well as the mystic
element in initiations; and they give the name "Iacchus" not
only to Dionysus but also to the leader-in-chief of the
mysteries, who is the genius of Demeter. And branch-bearing,
choral dancing, and initiations are common elements in the
worship of these gods. As for the Muses and Apollo, the
Muses preside over the choruses, whereas Apollo presides
both over these and the rites of divination. But all educated
men, and especially the musician, are ministers of the Muses;
and both these and those who have to do with divination are
ministers of Apollo; and the initiated and torch-bearers and
hierophants, of Demeter; and the Sileni and Satyri and
Bacchae, and also the Lenae and Thyiae and Mimallones and
Naides and Nymphae and the beings called Tityri, of Dionysus.
(Strabo Geography X, 3:10)
Pindar indicates the introduction of Dionysus to Demeter in
relation to music or perhaps his well known function of
Was it haply, when you did bring into being Dionysus of the
flowing locks, who is enthroned beside Demeter of the
clashing cymbals?
(Isthmian VII, 3-5)
In Sophocles' Antigone, the chorus calls upon Dionysus as he
who welcomes the initiates to Eleusis.
O you of many names, glory of the Cadmeian bride, offspring
of loud-thundering Zeus! you who watches over famed Italia,
and reigns, where all guests are welcomed, in the sheltered
plain of Eleusinian Deo! O Bacchus,
Pausanias gives this description:
Hard by is a temple of Demeter with images of the goddess,
her daughter, and Iacchus, who is holding a torch. An
inscription in Attic letters on the wall declares that they are
works of Praxiteles.
(I, 2:4)
Diodorus relates the original Dionysus as the son of
Persephone herself.
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.
(V, 75)
Many references to Iacchos, the divine child, will be found
throughout the essay.


Near the town hall (in Megara) is a rock.  They name it
Anaclethris (Recall) because Demeter (if the story be credible)
here too called her daughter back when she was wandering in
search of her.  Even in our day the Megarian women hold a
performance that is a mimic representation of the legend.

Clement of Alexandria also states that those initiated into the
mysteries of Demeter and Persephone took part in another
kind of activity: a drama mystikon that was illumined with the
fiery light of torches and that commemorated the rape of Kore
and the sad wanderings of Demeter.

The drama of the death and rebirth of Osiris was enacted
every year in the Mystery plays at Abydos, so the story may
have been handed down, in the manner of an art or a skill,
from one generation to another.  The most sequential and
composite story comes from Plutarch.

Dromena (that which is done - ritual)

Initiation: Dromena (Things Acted)
There were three degrees of initiation: the Lesser Mysteries
which were a preliminary requirement, the Greater Mysteries or
telete which means "to make perfect," and the additional and
highest degree, the epopteia. The telete initiation can be
divided into the dromena : things acted, the legomena : things
said, and the deiknymena : things shown. Theo Smyrnaios
has his own particular stages of mystical initiation related to
his five-step understanding of philosophy. They are 1) initial
purification, 2) mystic communion or communication, 3)
epopteia : revelation of the holy objects and transmission of
the telete, 4) crowning with garlands as the badge of initiation
into the mysteries, and 5) the happiness resulting from
communion with God. According to inscriptions the crowning
of initiates occurred at the beginning of the ceremonies
described as the second and third stages. Their names were
recorded on wooden tablets by the priests, and their myrtle
wreaths were replaced by wreathes with ribbons, the emblem
of their consecration to the goddesses. (Mylonas Eleusis p.

The seventh day, Boedromion 21, was the second day at
Eleusis and was probably spent resting and preparing for the
final ceremony (orgia) in the Telesterion that night. Proclus
to those entering the temenos (sacred precinct) of Eleusis the
program was stated, not to advance inside the adytum.
(Ibid. p. 261)
In the dromena the initiates may have imitated in ritual fashion
the actions and feelings of Demeter in the original time. These
could have included the abduction of Persephone, the
wanderings of Demeter, her arrival at Eleusis, her sorrow while
staying with Celeus and Metaneira, the rejoicing at reunion
with her daughter, and finally her divine gifts of grain and
mystic knowledge. Tertullian complains of a ritual discrepancy.
Why is the priestess of Demeter carried off, unless Demeter
herself had suffered the same sort of thing?
(To the Nations 30)
Lactantius says:
In the Mysteries of Demeter all night long with torches kindled
they seek for Persephone and when she is found, the whole
ritual closes with thanksgiving and the tossing of torches.
(Mylonas Eleusis p. 215)
Many literary sources and especially the art show us the
dominant importance of the torches in the rites. Ovid gives this
account of the original action of Demeter:
There the goddess kindled two pine-trees to serve her as a
light; hence to this day a torch is given out at the rites of Ceres.
(Fasti IV, 492-494)
A quote from Apollodoros indicates sound effects.
The Hierophant is in the habit of sounding the so-called gong
when Kore is being invoked by name.
(Fragment 36)
This gong was used in the Greek theater to imitate thunder,
which was believed to come from the underworld. (Kerenyi
Eleusis p. 84)

Plutarch describes the serious reverence on the final night as
being analogous to the deepest calm of the enlightened
Just as persons who are being initiated into the Mysteries
throng together at the outset amid tumult and shouting, and
jostle against one another but when the holy rites are being
performed and disclosed the people are immediately attentive
in awe and silence, so too at the beginning of philosophy:
about its portals also you will see great tumult and talking and
boldness, as some boorishly and violently try to jostle their
way towards the repute it bestows; but he who has
succeeded in getting inside, and has seen a great light, as
though a shrine were opened, adopts another bearing of
silence and amazement, and "humble and orderly attends
upon" reason as upon a god.
(Progress in Virtue 81e)
Aristeides describes the range of emotions experienced.
Within this hall, the mystics were made to experience the most
bloodcurdling sensations of horror and the most enthusiastic
ecstasy of joy.
He says the Eleusinian initiates were to receive "impressions,
and not information," and the aim was that they be put into a
certain attitude of mind, provided they were prepared for it.
(Casavis The Greek Origins of Freemasonry p. 111)

The following account by Synesius indicates that Aristotle
took the same position:
But their procedure is like Bacchic frenzy - like the leap of a
man mad, or possessed - the attainment of a goal without
running the race, a passing beyond reason without the
previous exercise of reasoning. For the sacred matter
(contemplation) is not like attention belonging to knowledge,
or an outlet of mind, nor is it like one thing in one place and
another in another. On the contrary - to compare small and
greater - it is like Aristotle's view that men being initiated have
not a lesson to learn, but an experience to undergo and a
condition into which they must be brought, while they are
becoming fit (for revelation).
(Synesius Dio 1133)
Themistius says of the initiate:
Entering now into the secret dome, he is filled with horror and
astonishment. He is seized with loneliness and total
perplexity; he is unable to move a step forward, and at a loss
to find the entrance to the way that leads to where he aspires
to, till the prophet or conductor lays open the anteroom of the
(Themistius Orat. in Patrem. 50)
Stobaeus speaks of:
a rude and fearful march through night and darkness.
(Casavis The Greek Origins of Freemasonry p. 111)
Proclus says:
In the most sacred Mysteries before the scene of the mystic
visions, there is terror infused over the minds of the initiated.
(Ibid. p. 111)
Porphyry tell how a boy's part in the ritual helps the
relationship between god and man.
For, in your mysteries, what the boy who attends the altar
accomplishes, by performing accurately what he is
commanded to do, in order to render the gods propitious to all
those who have been initiated, as far as to muesis, that, in
nations and cities, priests are able to effect, by sacrificing for
all the people, and through piety inducing the Gods to be
attentive to the welfare of those that belong to them.
(On Abstinence From Animal Food )
According to Hermias, those initiates who closed the eyes,
which muesis signifies, no longer received by sense those
divine mysteries, but with the pure soul itself.

The following passage from Plutarch's essay On the Soul
survives today only because it was quoted by Stobaeus
(Florigelium 120). So significant are its ideas and perhaps
others in the same essay, that it may have been censored from
his collected works by some ruthless dogmatists. It does more
than describe the emotions experienced in initiation as it goes
to the core of its meaning.
Thus death and initiation closely correspond; even the words
(teleutan and teleisthai) correspond, and so do the things. At
first there are wanderings, and toilsome running about in
circles and journeys through the dark over uncertain roads
and culs de sac ; then, just before the end, there are all kinds
of terrors, with shivering, trembling, sweating, and utter
amazement. After this, a strange and wonderful light meets the
wanderer; he is admitted into clean and verdant meadows,
where he discerns gentle voices, and choric dances, and the
majesty of holy sounds and sacred visions. Here the now fully
initiated is free, and walks at liberty like a crowned and
dedicated victim, joining in the revelry; he is the companion of
pure and holy men, and looks down upon the uninitiated and
unpurified crowd here below in the mud and fog, trampling
itself down and crowded together, though of death remaining
still sunk in its evils, unable to believe in the blessings that lie
beyond. That the wedding and close union of the soul with the
body is a thing really contrary to nature may clearly be seen
from all this.
(Grant, F. C. Hellenistic Religions p. 148)
See Clinton, Myth and Cult, pps 85-9.

Better, therefore, is the judgement of those who hold that the
stories about Typhon, Osiris, and Isis, are records of
experiences of neither gods nor men, but of demigods, who
Plato and Pythagoras and Xenocrates and Chrysippus,
following the lead of early writers on sacred subjects, allege to
have been stronger than men and, in their might, greatly
surpassing our nature, yet not possessing the divine quality
unmixed and uncontaminated, but with a share also in the
nature of the soul and in the perceptive faculties of the body,
and with a susceptibility to pleasure and pain and to
whatsoever other experience is incident to these mutations,
and is the source of much disquiet in some and of less in
others.  For in demigods, as in men, there are diverse degrees
of virtue and of vice.  The exploits of the Giants and Titans
celebrated among the Greeks, the lawless deeds of a Cronus,
the stubborn resistance of Python against Apollo, the flights of
Dionysus, and the wanderings of Demeter, do not fall at all
short of the exploits of Osiris and Typhon and other exploits
which anyone may hear freely repeated in traditional story.  
So, too, all the things which are kept always away from the
ears and eyes of the multitude by being concealed behind
mystic rites and ceremonies have a similar explanation.

The fact is that nothing of man=s usual possessions is more
divine than reasoning, especially reasoning about the gods;
and nothing has a greater influence toward happiness.  For
this reason we give instructions to everyone who comes
down to the oracle here to think holy thoughts and to speak
words of good omen.  But the mass of mankind act
ridiculously in their processions and festivals in that they
proclaim at the outset the use of words of good omen, but
later they both say and think the most unhallowed thoughts
about the very gods (68)...At Athens the women fast at the
Thesmophoria sitting upon the ground; and the Boeotians
move the halls of the Goddess of Sorrow and name that
festival the Festival of Sorrow, since Demeter is in sorrow
because of her Daughter=s descent to Pluto=s realm This
month, in the season of the Pleiades, is the month of seeding
which the Egyptians call Athyr, the Athenians Pyanepsion,
and the Boeotians Damatrius.  (ed. note, the Month sacred to
Demeter.)  Theopompus records that the people who live
toward the west believe that the winter is Cronus, the summer
Aprhodite, and the spring Persephone, and that they call them
by these names and believe that from Cronus and Aphrodite
all things have their origin.  The Phrygians assert that in the
winter he is bound fast and imprisoned, but that in the spring
he bestirs himself and sets himself free again.

If, then, you listen to the stories about the gods in this way,
accepting them from those who interpret the story reverently
and philosophically, and if you always perform and observe
the established rites of worship, and believe that no sacrifice
that you can offer, no deed that you may do will be more likely
to find favor with the gods than your belief in their true nature,
you may avoid superstition which is no less an evil than
What is ritual?  All will agree that ritual is something people do,
dromena in the term of Plutarch and Pausanias adopted by
Jane Harrison.

Ritual is action redirected for demonstration.  Characteristic
features of ritual in this perspective are the stereotyped
patterns of action, independent of the actual situation and
emotion; repetition and exaggeration to make up a kind of
theatrical effect; and the function of communication.

AAwe@ has been called the fundamental religious feeling.  
Any omission or alteration of religious ritual is liable to
provoke grievous anxiety.  At the same time many religious
rituals seem intentionally, and artificially, to produce the
atmosphere of awe, using all the registers of darkness, fire,
blood and death.

Ritual is preferred because it is older, because it takes one
beneath the Greek achievement of clear thought and classic
art to see the dark soil from which it sprang and the humbler
but necessary forms of life which pullulate there.

It is not ritual that absorbs me, it is the state of mind of the
people that performed the ritual.

Hesiod=s further prescription >to sow, to plough and to reap
naked= (Erga, 391 ff) may have some sacral significance, but
this is not explained.

Also resembling these rites are the Cotytian and the
Bendideian rites practices among the Thracians, among
whom the Orphic rites had their beginning.  Now the Cotys
who is worships among the Edonians, and also the
instruments used in her rites, are mentioned by Aeschylus; for
he says:
O adorable Cotys among the Edonians, and ye who hold
mountain-ranging instruments.
And he mentions immediately afterwards the attendants of
one, holding in his hands the bombyces, toilsome work of the
turner=s chisel, fills full the fingered melody, the call that
brings on frenzy, while another causes to resound the bronze-
bound cotylae
And again
stringed instruments raise their shrill cry, and frightful
mimickers from some place unseen bellow like bulls, and the
semblance of drums, as of subterranean thunder, rolls along,
a terrifying sound; for these rites resemble the Phrygian rites,
and it is at least not unlikely that just as the Phrygians
themselves were colonists from Thrace, so also their sacred
rites were borrowed from there.  Also when they identify
Dionysus and the Edonian Lycurgus, they hint at the
homogeneity of their sacred rites.

For the soul takes with it to the other world nothing but its
education and nurture, and these are said to benefit or injure
the departed greatly from the very beginning of his journey
thither.  And so it is said that after death, the tutelary genius of
each person, to whom he had been allotted in life, leads him to
a place where the dead are gathered together; then they are
judged and depart to the other world with the guide whose
task it is to conduct thither those who come from this world;
and when they have there received their due and remained
through the time appointed, another guide brings them back
after many long periods of time.  And the journey is not as
Telephus says in the play of Aeschylus; for he says a simple
path leads to the lower world, but I think the path is neither
simple nor single, for if it were, there would be no need of
guides, since no one could miss the way to any place if there
were only one road.  But really there seem to be many forks of
the road and many windings; this I infer from the rites and
ceremonies practiced here on earth.  Now the orderly and wise
soul follows its guide and understands its circumstances, bur
the soul that is desirous of the body, as I said before, flits
about it, and in the visible world for a long time.   

Also of Cretan origin was the act in Onomakritos= dramatic
composition that preceded the slaying and dismembering of
the scarcely born Divine Child.  In this act, according to the
Orphic conception, Dionysos appeared whole for the last time
as the ruler of our age of the world.

At the heart of this act is a scene corresponding to a rite of
initiation known to us in other contexts: the thronosis or
thronismos, the enthronement.  In late antiquity Crete was still
said to be threskeuousa thronosin, practicing the rite of
enthronement as a cult.  Homer characterizes Minos, in his
function of judge of the dead, as seated and holding his
scepter in his hand while the others most uncharacteristically
sit or stand.  The throne itself is not of particular importance to
the Greek poet, but in the centuries that had passed since the
Minoan culture no one had forgotten the motif of the king
sitting on his throne.  The prominent part in the throne room
where the ceremonial sitting occurred is known to us from the
palaces of Knossos and Pylos.  The worship of gods in the
cult of thronosis mean more than the offering of a chair or
throne, which often occurred in Greek temples as a sign of
hospitality to the god.  The thronosis was a special festive act
in which the god or his representative was paled on a chair
standing by itself.  If one looks closely at the painting on a
calyx krater of the Classical period, one sees that precisely
this is being done with a frail human figure in the role of
Dionysos.  The thronosis is explicitly said to be the first act of
what happened to the myoumenoi, the participants in an
initiation.   Todd: how would this relate to Aboy of the hearth.
There is a rock near the Prytaneion which they call the Calling
rock, because when she was wandering in search of her
daughter, Demeter, as you can believe if you wish, called to
her from here.  Even today the Megarian women still re-enact
the story.

...of how the came as virgins from Crete, when the whole city
was in political upheaval, and how they were stoned to death
by the opposite party.  They hold a festival for them they call
the Stoning.   (In a footnote, Levi says: The Troizenian story is
a fabrication to explain the stoning and the Cretan origin of
these daemonic goddesses.  The real significance of the
stoning was more primitive; it occurs also at Eleusis.)


The mysteries at Eleusis were celebrated annually. The
Hierophants were chosen from the Eumolpid family; other
officials were selected from the Kerykes. Aristotle relates their
The temple at Eleusis ... should be under the superintendence
of the Ceryces and the Eumolpidae, according to primitive
(The Athenian Constitution 39:2)
Pausanias gives the legendary material.
They say that this Eumolpus came from Thrace, and that he
was a son of Poseidon and Chione, who is said to have been a
daughter of the North Wind and Orithyia. Homer says nothing
of the lineage of Eumolpus, but in his verses calls him 'manly.'
In a battle between the Eleusinians and the Athenians, there
fell Erechtheus, king of Athens, and Immaradus, son of
Eumolpus; and peace was made on these terms: the
Eleusinians were to perform the mysteries by themselves, but
were in all other respects to be subject to the Athenians. The
sacred rites of the two goddesses were celebrated by
Eumolpus and he daughters of Celeus: Pamphos and Homer
agree in calling these damsels Diogenia, Pammerope, and
Saesara. On Eumolpus' death, Ceryx, the younger of his sons,
was left. But the Ceryces themselves say that Ceryx was a son
of Hermes by Aglaurus, daughter of Cecrops, and not a son of
(I, 38:3)
Plutarch also says he came from Thrace.
What glory remains to Eleusis, if we are to be ashamed of
Eumolpus, who, a migrant from Thrace, initiated and still
initiates the Greeks into the mysteries?
(On Exile 607b)
Scholars have inferred from such evidence, a Thracian origin
to the Eleusinian Mysteries, which, of course, is possible.

At Eleusis flows a Cephisus which is more violent than the
Cephisus I mentioned above, and by the side of it is the place
they call Erineus, saying that Pluto descended there to the
lower world after carrying off the Maid.  
The Eleusinians have a temple of Triptolemos, of Artemis of
the Portal, and of Poseidon Father, and a well called
Callichorum (Lovely dance), where first the women of the
Eleusinians danced and sang in praise of the goddess.  They
say that the plain called Rharium was the first to be sown and
the first to grow crops, and for this reason it is the custom to
use sacrificial barley and to make cakes for the sacrifices from
its produce.  Here there is shown a threshing-floor called that
of Triptolemos and an altar.
(In the battle against Xerxes) At this stage of the struggle they
say that a great light flamed out from Eleusis, and an echoing
cry filled the Thriasian plain down to the sea, as of multitudes
of men together conducting the mystic Iaccus in procession.  
Then out of the shouting throng a cloud seemed to lift itself
slowly from the earth, pass out seawards, and settle down
upon the triremes.  Others fancied they saw apparitions and
shapes of armed men coming from Aegina with their hands
stretched out to protect the Hellenic triremes.  These, they
conjectured, were the Aeacidae, who had been prayerfully
invoked before the battle to come to their aid.  

AEleusis is a shrine common to the whole earth,@ said
Aristides in his discourse on Eleusis, in the second century
AD, Aand 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 had
the dromena called forth greater emotion, where has there
been a greater rivalry between seeing and hearing...?@  And
he speaks of the @ineffable visions@ which, as he says,
Amany generations of fortunate men and women@ have been
privileged to behold.
Eileithyia, the birth goddess, worshiped already in Mycenaean
times in the cave at Amnisos, is indispensable in every family.  
Her name is probably a corruption of the verbal form of
eleuthyia, the Coming: the cry of pain and fear calls on her
until she comes and with her the child.  

The Council and the People have decreed: Democrates, son
of Sunieus of Colonus, proposed the motion: Whereas, the
chosen stewards of the mysteries for the year of the archon
Diocles have offered to Demeter and Kore and the other gods,
as is customary, for the Council and the People and the
children and wives, all the offerings which are appropriately to
be made during the year, and also the preliminary offering...;
and have further provided, at their own cost, the conveyance
for the use of the sanctuaries, and have voluntarily turned
over to the Council the amount set aside for their use as the
expense of the conveyances, and have also provided for the
procession to the sea and for the reception of Iacchos in
Eleusis, and similarly for the mysteries before Agra, which
took place twice in this year, during the celebration of the
Eleusinian games; and have moreover sent a steer as sacrifice
for the Eleusinian games, giving the six hundred and fifty
members of the Council their share of the flesh; and beyond
all this have delivered the accounts to the office of the treasury
and the metroion (the Athenian state archives in the temple of
Cybele), and have rendered their account before the court, in
accordance with the laws; and out of their own funds have
provided for everything else connected with the sacrifice, in
order to show themselves agreeably disposed toward the
Council and the People, thus setting an example for those
who are ready to sacrifice themselves for the public welfare
and showing that they can count upon the proper gratitude,
by good fortune.

Let the Council decree that the presiding offices who are to
preside at the next assembly of the people shall place this
matter on the agenda and present the decree of the Council to
the People, that the Council has agreed to honor the stewards
of the mysteries in the year of the archon Diocles, Thrasykles
(son of ...) of Auridae, and Nicetes, son of Nicetes of Pergase,
and to crown them both with myrtle because of their piety
toward the gods and their unselfishness toward the council
and the People; and to set before them other popular honors
in the future, if they show themselves to be worthy of them;
finally, that the secretary for the Prytany is to have this decree
inscribed upon two columns of stone and set them up, one in
the court of the sanctuary at Eleusis, the other on the
Acropolis. For the (cost of) inscribing ...
(Grant, F. C. Hellenistic Religions p. 15-16)


It is natural that a new discipline, as it works out is course,
should find occasion to coin words for new meanings,
creating neologisms.  Some of us formed a committee under
the Chairmanship of Carl Ruck to devise a new word for the
potions that held Antiquity in awe.  After trying out a number of
words he came up with entheogen Agod generated within@,
which his committee unanimously adopted, not to replace the
AMystery@ of the ancients, but to designate those plant
substances that were are at the very core of the Mysteries.

The evidence, summarized in my What Food the Centaurs Ate,
suggests that Satyrs (goat totem tribesmen), Centaurs (horse
totem tribesmen), and their Maenad womenfolk, used these
brews to wash down mouthfuls of a far stronger drug: namely
a raw mushroom, amanita muscaria, which induces
hallucinations, senseless rioting, prophetic sight, erotic
energy, and remarkable physical strength.  Some hours of this
ecstasy are followed by complete inertia; a phenomenon that
would account the story of how Lycurgus, armed only with an
ox-goad, routed Dionysus=s drunken army of Maenads and
Satyrs after its victorious return from India.
On an Etruscan mirror the amanita muscaria is engraved at
Ixion=s feet; he was a Thessalian hero who feasted on
ambrosia among the gods...I now believe that Aambrosia@
and Anectar@ were intoxicant mushrooms: certainly the
amanita muscaria; but perhaps others, too, especially a small,
slender dung mushroom named panaeolus papilionaceus,
which induces harmless and most enjoyable hallucinations...
King Tantalus= crime was that he broke the taboo by inviting
commoners to share his ambrosia...
Sacred queenships and kingships lapsed in Greece; ambrosia
then became, it seems, the secret element of the Eleusinian,
Orphic and other Mysteries associated with Dionysus.  At all
events, the participants swore to keep silence about what they
ate or drank, saw unforgettable visions, and were promised
immortality.  The Aambrosia@ awarded to winners of the
Olympic footrace when victory no longer conferred the sacred
kingship on them was clearly a substitute: a mixture of foods
the initial letters of which, as I show in What Food the
Centaurs Ate, spelled out the Greek word Amushroom.@  
Recipes quoted by Classical authors for nectar, and for
cecyon, the mint-flavored drink taken by Demeter at Eleusis,
likewise spell out Amushroom.@...
...Thus I wholeheartedly agree with R. Gordon Wasson, the
American discoverer of this ancient rite, that European ideas
of heaven and hell may well have derived from similar
mysteries...The Maenads= savage custom of tearing off their
victim=s heads may refer allegorically to tearing off the sacred
mushroom=s head...  

Of wine it may indeed be said that little would be needed, in
combination with the other elements, to produce the final state
of ekstasis (standing outside oneself) and enthusiasmos
(possession by the god) to which all that had hitherto taken
place was preliminary.  In this state the worshipers saw
visions, and nothing was impossible to them.  The ground
flowed with milk, wine and honey.  (On Dionysiac worship)

It is worth pausing to note how thoroughly at home in Anatolia
is the most characteristic part of the Dionysiac orgia, namely
the stimulation of music and the vertiginous dance leading to
ecstasy, to the sense of union with the divine, and the power
of seeing visions, and how often it has erupted through the
ages in that particular region.  Dionysiac ritual has often been
compared with the dancing of the Mevlevi Dervishes, whose
order was founded in the thirteenth century AD

Epopteia (Visions)

Epopteia: The Holy Light of the Holy Night
Those initiated (mystai ) could return a year later for the higher
degree of initiation attained by the epoptai during the second
night in the Sanctuary of Demeter. The most sacred objects
were revealed to them.

We remember from Aristophanes the mention of the holy light.
And I will with the women and the holy maidens go
Where they keep the nightly vigil, an auspicious light to show.
(The Frogs 442-443)
"Psellus says that when the initiate was raised to the Sublime
Degree of the Epoptae, he beheld the divine light." (Casavis
The Greek Origin of Freemasonry p. 113)

We may also recall Heracles' words on a papyrus.
I was initiated long ago. Lock up Eleusis, and put the fire out,
Dadouchos. Deny me the holy night! I have already been
initiated into more authentic mysteries.... (I have beheld) the
fire, whence (... and) I have seen the Kore.
(Kerenyi Eleusis p. 84)
Kerenyi describes a painted marble votive relief of the fifth
century BC, found in the excavation of the Telesterion that
was dedicated to Demeter by Eukrates. Over the inscription is
carved the face and head of the goddess surrounded by red
rays. (Ibid. p. 97) Schuré quotes Proclus and interprets the
word "gods" in this instance as "all orders of spirits."
In all the initiations and Mysteries the gods manifest
themselves in many forms, assuming a great variety of guises;
sometimes they appear in a formless light, again in quite
different form.
(The Great Initiates p. 407)
Orpheus in his hymn "To Protogonus" sings of the
appearance of these holy spirits in the mystic rites.
Ericapaeus, celebrated pow'r,
Ineffable, occult, all-shining flow'r.
'Tis thine from darksome mists to purge the sight,
All-spreading splendor, pure and holy light;
Hence, Phanes, call'd the glory of the sky,
On waving pinions thro' the world you fly.
Priapus, dark-ey'd splendor, thee I sing,
Genial, all-prudent, ever blessed king.
With joyful aspect on these rites divine
And holy Telite propitious shine.
(Taylor Mystical Hymns of Orpheus )
In his hymn "To Melinoe," an ineffable spirit of life and death,
Orpheus prays that men remove their needless fear of death
and sights invisible.
When, under Pluto's semblance, Jove divine
Deceiv'd with guileful arts dark Proserpine.
Hence, partly black thy limbs and partly white,
From Pluto dark, from Jove ethereal bright
Thy color'd member, men by night inspire
When seen in spectred forms, with terrors dire;
Now darkly visible involved in night,
Perspicuous now they meet the fearful sight.
Terrestrial queen, expel wherever found
The soul's mad fears to earth's remotest bound;
With holy aspect on our incense shine,
And bless thy mystics, and rites divine.
Finally we offer Socrates' mystic vision of initiation from
Plato's Phaedrus.
There was a time when with the rest of the happy band they
saw beauty shining in brightness, - we philosophers following
in the train of Zeus, others in company with other gods; and
then we beheld the beatific vision and were initiated into a
mystery which may be truly called most bleed, celebrated by
us in our state of innocence before we had any experience of
evils to come, when we were admitted to the sight of
apparitions innocent and simple and calm and happy, which
we beheld shining in pure light.
The eighth day of the celebrations was the initiates' last day at
Eleusis and was devoted mainly to libations and rites for the
dead. Athenaeus tells us of a ritual performed which gave this
day the name Plemochoai.
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.
(The Deipnosophists XI, 496a)
This rite was probably followed by celebrations of singing and
dancing and other festivities. The initiates returned to Athens
on the ninth day, Boedromion 23. This was not an organized
procession, and everyone did not have to go back to Athens
but could go directly home if they wished. On Boedromion 24
the Council of the Five Hundred assembled at the Eleusinion
in Athens to hear the Archon-Basileus's report and to handle
any problems that may have occurred. This law was
established by Solon in the sixth century BC. Mylonas points
out that the initiates were under no obligation to the Sanctuary
or the Goddess in regard to worship or rules of conduct. They
were free to return to their lives enriched by their experience.
(Mylonas Eleusis p. 280)

Heliodorus Aeth. 9 9 5  In connection with the secret rites of
Isis and Osiris  in Egypt, it is stated that a certain amount of
lore is transmitted to the initiates in the form of myth, but in a
higher degree of initiation, there is a vision…

“At the Mysteries the dancing at the Callichoron is for the
benefit of Demeter sitting on the nearby rock in happy
anticipation of the return of Kore; the initiates evidently hope
that their joy upon their arrival may sooth her sorrow.  But id
does not.  The next day when they enter the sanctuary in the
darkness they experience the terrors of the initiation. The first
of these terrifying moments surely felt as the passed by the
Rock.  When the door of its peribolos is open, the passer-by
has a good view of the Rock.  So the initiates may have had a
glimpse of Demeter sitting in sorrow as they pushed forward
in the darkness to the Anaktoron.  Heroic initiates who actually
sat on the Rock, like theses, gained from it the x they needed
to make the journey to hades.  To human initiates the whole
experience in the rite provided ‘sweeter hopes for the end of
life’ that is to say a rather similar result: encouragement for the
journey to hades, finding Kore, and enjoy8ing the special
favors of her protection.  At the beginning of this experience,
by the Well and the Rock, the initiate passed from a state of joy
upon arrival to experiencing upon entering the shrine Demeter’
s sorrow, and the initiate’s sorrow was no doubt sharpened in
coming so soon as it did upon the singing and dancing by the

In accounts of ancient religions too little attention has been
paid to the visionary faculty.  Visionary power does not seem
to have been equally distributed among men; it was more
abundant in ancient times and has steadily become rarer.

But the robes of Isis they use many times over; for in use
those things that are perceptible and ready at hand afford
many disclosures of themselves and opportunities to view
them as they are changed about in various ways.  But the
apperception of the conceptual, the pure, and the simple,
shining through the soul like a flash of lightening, affords an
opportunity to touch and see it but once.  for this reason Plato
(Letters,vii,344) and Aristotle call this part of philosophy the
epoptic or mystic part, inasmuch as those who have passed
beyond these conjectural and confused matters of all sorts by
means of Reason proceed by leaps and bounds to that
primary, simple, and immaterial principle; and when they have
somehow attained contact with the pure truth abiding about it,
they think that they have the whole of philosophy completely,
as it were, within their grasp.
The idea at the present time the priests intimate with great
circumspection in acquitting themselves of this religious
secret and in trying to conceal it; that this god Osiris is the
ruler and king of the dead, nor is he any other than the god
that among the Greeks is called Hades and Pluto.  But since it
is not understood in what manner this is true, it greatly
disturbs the majority of people who suspect that the holy and
sacred Osiris truly dwells in the earth and beneath the earth,
where are hidden away the bodies of those that are believed to
have reached their end.  But he himself is far removed from the
earth, uncontaminated and unpolluted and pure from all mater
that is subject to destruction and death; but for the souls of
men here, which are compassed about by bodies and
emotions, there is no association with this god except in so far
as they may attain to a dim vision of his presence by means of
the apperception which philosophy affords.  But when these
souls are set free and migrate into the realm of the invisible
and the unseen, the dispassionate and the pure, then this god
becomes their leader and king, since it is on him that they are
bound to be dependent in their insatiate contemplation and
yearning for that beauty which is for men unutterable and
indescribable.  With this beauty Isis, as the ancient story
declares, is for ever enamored and purses it and consorts with
it and fills our earth here with all things fair and good that
partake of generation.

Vision and myth, epiphany and mythology, influence and
engendered one another and gave rise to cult images.  But in
man=s relation to the gods, epiphany has a priority grounded
in the immediacy of every true vision.  

But if there is any point on which all witnesses agree, it is that
the climax of the Eleusinian Mysteries was not a ritual, or
anything which the mystes did or physically experienced, but
a vision.          The supreme rite is called epopteia.  All the
beatitudes refer to it and to it alone.  AHappy is he who has
seen it!@ says the Homeric Hymn, directly relating the vision
to the assurance of a favored lot in the other world.  As all
witnesses agree, everything was a preparation for this vision.

Aristotle (fragment 15) says expressly that the mystai were not
meant to learn anything, but to suffer an experience and to be

Iamblichus (Myst. 3.2) regards the state between sleeping and
waking as particularly favorable to the reception of divine

The mystery character of the women=s ceremonies, the true
trieteric rites, is shown by the fact that the public was offered
dramas in Thebes and wine miracles in Elis.  This was not so
at the start, however; the need for dramas and miracles arose
in a later day.

On the contrary, if the attested visionary power of the
Bacchantes did not suffice to make them see the god himself
physically embodied in their midst or at the head of their
throng, someone could take his place, either at the moment of
the epiphany provoked by the exertions of the first year, or
more likely in the maenadic frenzy that sometimes led to
abnormal acts including human sacrifice.  Not only a sacrificial
animal but also a man could be equated with Dionysos in this
state, in which the Bacchantes became mainades just as their
god was mainomenos.  A frank admission of this occurs in the
Bacchae of Euripides (115)
He who leads the throngs becomes Dionysos.   

Where Dionysos rules, life manifests itself as boundless and


The importance of Eubouleus in the Mysteries has largely
gone unnoticed.  He is a major god.  He does not of course
have as central a role as Demeter and Kore, but he is
nevertheless extremely important; he appears in may respects
to be the equal of Triptolemos.  A fifth-century law which calls
for sacrifices to Demeter and Kore, Triptolemos, The God, the
Goddess, and Eubouleus illustrates this equality… In a myth
that was associated with the Thesmophoria, we learn that
Eubouleus and the pigs he was herding were swallowed up in
the chasm that opened in the earth as Hades carried off Kore.  
This aetiological myth reflects the ritual at the megara, the pits
into which piglets were thrown.  The megara of the
thesmophoria have now been identified at Eleusis and we
know that they apparently played an important role at the
Mysteries as well; it is one more indication that Eubouleus
should also have a mythic link with the Mysteries.  

This association with agrarian Ploutos is consistent with the
impression from other sources that Eubouleus is a fertility god.

The equivalency of Eubouleus (spelled Euboulos) to Plouton
is manifest in an Orphic Hymn (18,12) though here Plouton is
actually Hades, abductor of Persephone, as in a grave
epigram on Syros, where Eubouleus appears as husband of
Persephone in the Underworld.  

Historically, the critical step toward this linking of the worlds
probably occurred earlier, before the genesis of the Eleusinian
Mysteries at the time when Plouton and Kore coalesced with
the gods known generally as Hades and Persephone.  
Although this coalesce probably occurred prior to the
Mysteries, the Mysteries took major advantage of it, and at the
same time, the Mysteries continued to keep the upper and
underworld pairs distinct:  as Plouton and Kore, Theos and

The episode of Eubouleus and the Return of Kore does not
appear in our literary sources, ad so has eluded modern
scholars.  There is apparently, an echo of it in an Orphic Hymn
which relates that Demeter went down to hades in search of
her daughter and took with her Eubouleus as a guide.  
Eubouleus’ deed may be one of the benefactions to which
Isocrates referred as known only to the initiates.

Fire (Light)

I will not deny that the Tantalos who married Klytaimnestra
before Agamemnon, the son of Thycstes or Broteas (since
both are spoken of), was buried here: but I know the grave of
the legendary son of Zeus and Pluto is in Sipylos, because I
saw it there, and it was worth seeing.  Anyway, there was no
necessity for him to run away from there, as Pelops had to
when Ilos of Phrygia brought an army against him.
Enough of this inquiry.  They say that what is done at the pit
near by was instituted by a local man, Nikostratos.  Even to
this day they still drop burning lights into the pit to the Maiden
daughter of Demeter.

When the Greeks returned to their cities after the Battle of
Plataea, they had to purify the sacred places which had been
polluted by the Persians, and to do this they put out all the
fires in the country and had them relit from the sacred heath at
Delphi.  (Plutarch.  Aristides, 20, Numa 9.)
Todd, is it possible that the fire of Eleusis held this type of
function as well?

Lactantius (Epitome Institutionum Divanarum, 23) because he
compares the Egyptian representations of the lament of Isis
for her lost Osiris with the Mysteries of Demeter, declares
explicitly that Persephone was sought at night with torches
and found again at the end amid rejoicing and a blaze of light.

When Thetis had got a babe by Peleus, she wished to make it
immoral, and unknown to Peleus she used to hide it in the fire
by night in order to destroy the moral element which the child
inherited from its father, but by day she anointed him with
ambrosia.  But Peleus watched her, and, seeing the child
writhing on the fire, he cried out; and Thetis thus prevented
from accomplishing her purpose, forsook her infant son and
departed to the Nereids.  Peleus brought the child to Chiron,
who received him and fed him on the inwards of lions and wild
swine and the marrows of bears, and named him Achilles,
because he had not put his lips to the breast, but before that
time his name was Ligyron.  

The ritual performed at the pit hard by (Todd, I think by the
grave of Tantalus near Mount Sipylus) they say was instituted
by Nicostratus, a native.  Even at the present day they throw
into the pit burning torches in honor of the Maid who is the
daughter of Demeter.

There is another marvel I know of, having seen it in Lydia; it is
different from the horse of Phormis, but like it not innocent of
the magic art.  The Lydians surnamed Persian have
sanctuaries in the city named Hierocaesareia and at Hypaepa.  
In each sanctuary is a chamber, and in the chamber are ashes
upon an altar.  But the color of these ashes is not the usual
color of ashes.
Entering the chamber a magician piles dry wood upon the
altar; he first places a tiara upon his head and them sings to
some god or other an invocation in a foreign tongue
unintelligible to Greeks reciting the invocation from a book.  
So it is without fire that the wood must catch, and bright
flames dart from it.  

The luminous apparitions go back to the Chaldean Oracles,
which promised that by pronouncing certain spells the
operator should see Afire shaped like a boy,@ or Aan
unshaped fire with a voice proceeding from it,@ or various
other things.

The passages about the divine fire recall the Arecipe for
immortality@ in PGM iv.475ff, which is in many ways the
closes analogue to the Chaldean Oracles.

The god of Delphi, asked who was the most pious, did not
name the rich man who brought his hecatombs, but a simple
peasant who used to throw a handful of barley corns into the
flames on his hearth.

I approached the confines of death.  I trod the threshold of
Proserpine; and borne through the elements I returned.  At
midnight I saw the Sun shining in all his glory.  I approached
the gods below and the gods above, and I stood beside them,
and I worshiped them.   (The initiation of Lucius within the
Holy of Holies in the temple of Isis.)
(From a curse:) I consign to Demeter and Kore the man who
has affirmed against me that I make deadly poisons for my
husband.  To Demeter let him go consumed with fire, and in
the presence of all his relatives confess his slander; and may
he find no favor with Demeter and Kore, nor with the gods in
Demeter=s company.  But for me may it be lawful and
permitted to share a roof or have converse as I will.  I consign
also the man who has accused me in writing or ordered my
accusation. May he not find favor with Demeter and Kore nor
with the gods in Demeter=s company; but may he go before
Demeter consumed with fire, and all his family with him.   
Through Dionysos this fire was transformed into the Apure
light of high summer.@  In the person of the son of the god of
heaven, it was received as the Alight of Zeus.@  Hesychios
defines the Greek word iachron - an adjective know to us only
from his lexicon - as Abathed in a soft Zeus light.@  Such light
was placed, quite concretely, in the hand of a divine figure
regarded as a double of Dionysos.  This figure=s name, which
comes from the same root as the two Minoan proper names
cited above, probably took its definitive form Iakcos from the
insistent cry with which is was repeated in the processions.  
There can be no question of a deification of the cry alone.  For
the Greeks, Iakcos had two characteristics: his name was
called loudly in endless repetition, and he was a torchbearer.  
In the figure of Iakcos, Dionysos= connection with light and
fire was preserved.  AFire is a Dionysian weapon,@ says
Lucian.  The Bacchantes were capable of carrying fire in their
hair.  In the Antigone of Sophocles the chorus calls on
Dionysos, Awho leads the round of the fire-spraying stars@ to
cure the sick city of Thebes.  It might have invoked a true star
in the sky in such terms, but it invokes him as AIakcos, keeper
of treasures@ - keeper of the annual Dionysian treasures,
which he confers.
...Demeter, that fire-bearing goddess...

Flowers, Fruits and Grains

Sacrificial cakes at Eleusis made of barley grown in Rarian


A small shrine built along the road is called the shrine of the
Bean man.  I am not sure whether he was the first to grow
beans, or they simple named a hero like that because the
discovery of beans  cannot be traced to Demeter.  Those who
know the Mystery at Eleusis and those who have read
Orpheus will know what I am talking about.   

The taboo on the planting of beans by men seems to have
survived later than that on grain, because of the close
connection between beans and ghosts.  In Rome beans were
thrown to ghosts at the All Souls= festival, and if a plant grew
from one of these, and a woman ate its beans, she would be
impregnated by a ghost.  Hence the Pythagoreans abstained
from beans lest they might deny an ancestor his chance at

To those Pheneatians who received her with hospitality into
their homes the goddess gave all sorts of pulse save the bean
only.  There is a sacred story to explain why the bean in their
eyes is an impure kind of pulse.  

The Kore myth accounts for the winter burial of a female corn-
puppet, which was uncovered in the early spring and found to
be sprouting; this pre-Hellenic custom survived in the
countryside in Classical times, and is illustrated by vase-
painting of men freeing Kore from a mound of earth with
mattocks, or breaking open Mother Earth=s head with axes.


Here is the memorial of Nikokles of Tarentum, who was the
most famous of all harp-singers.  There is also an altar of
Zephyros and a sanctuary of Demeter and her daughter;
Athene and Poseidon are honored with them.  In this place
they say Phytalus took Demeter into his house, and the
goddess gave him the fig tree as a reward.  What I say is
confirmed by the inscription on the grave of Phytalus:  Here
Phytalus, Hero and King, received Terrible Demeter, revelation
of the first fruit of autumn: humanity named it the sacred fig.  
The honors of the race of Phytalus will not grown old.   (In his
footnote, Pete Levi says: Nor is anything known about
Nikokles.  The original fig-tree seems to have been pointed out
to visitors and to have had a roof over it, either here or at

Fruits of Autumn
On the way to the coast of Mycalessus is a sanctuary of
Mycalessian Demeter.  They say that each night it is shut up
and opened again by Herakles and that Herakles is one of
what are called the Idaean Dactyls.  Here is shown the
following marvel.  Before the feet of the image they place all
the fruits of autumn, and these remain fresh throughout the

The Eleusinian Mysteries added greatly to the prestige of
Athens. Isocrates states how the Delphic oracle supported
Athens' claims to the first-fruits of other cities.
For most of the Hellenic cities, in memory of our ancient
services, send us each year the first-fruits of the harvest, and
those who neglect to do so have often been admonished by
the Pythian priestess to pay us our due portion of their crops
and to observe in relation to our city the customs of their
(Panegyricus 31)

Now among the rites of Ceres, those Eleusinian rites are much
famed which were in the high highest repute among the
Athenians, of which Varro offers no interpretation except with
respect to corn, which Ceres discovered, and with respect to
Proserpine, whom Ceres lost, Orcus having carried her away.  
And this Proserpine herself, he says, signifies the fecundity of
seeds.  But as this fecundity departed at a certain season,
whilst the earth wore an aspect of sorrow through the
consequent sterility, there arose an opinion that the daughter
of Ceres, that is, fecundity itself, who was called Proserpine,
from proserpere (to creep forth, to spring), had been carried
away by Orcus, and detained among the inhabitants of the
nether world; which circumstance was celebrated with public
mourning.  But since the same fecundity again returned, there
arose joy because Proserpine had been given back by Orcus,
and thus these rites were instituted.  Then Varro adds, that
many things are taught in the mysteries of Ceres which only
refer to the discovery of fruits.
Augustine of Hippo, City of God, Book VII, Chapter 20:  
Concerning the Rites of the Eleusinian Ceres.


The plant that Persephone gathered was also reputed to be a
drug, for the flower that she picked was the narkissos, like
kissos, another loan-word in Greek from a non-Indo-European
language, but a plant that was thought in classical times to
have been so named because of the >narcotic= stupor that it
induced (Plutarch 2.67b; Dioscorides 4.161.)  

She was gathering flowers throughout the luxuriant meadow -
roses, saffron, violets, iris, hyacinth, and a narcissus which
was a trap planted for the blossoming maiden by Earth (Gaia)
in accord with Zeus= plans, a favor to Hades the receiver of
many guests; it was radiantly wonderful, inspiring awe in all
who saw it, whether immortal god or mortal man; a hundred
stems grew from its root; and the whole wide heaven above,
the whole earth, and the salt surge of the sea smiled for joy at
its fragrance.  

Persephone's eating of the pomegranate may be seen as
symbolic of sex and death. It is bright red and somewhat
unusual in that the seeds are the edible fruit. Pausanias
describes a pomegranate tree growing over a burial place.
On the tomb of Menoeceus there grows a pomegranate-tree: if
you break the outer husk of the ripe fruit, you will find the
inside like blood. This pomegranate-tree is living.
(IX, 25:1)
Kerenyi describes a terra-cotta statuette from the end of the
classical period showing a pomegranate cut in two revealing a
maiden in a short dress, tucked up around the waist
disclosing herself as befits an epiphany. (Kerenyi Eleusis p.

Erich Neumann interprets the redness of the pomegranate as
the woman's womb and the seeds as fertility. Having been
raped by Hades Persephone is persuaded to taste the sweet
morsel, symbolizing the consummation of her marriage and
sojourn in the underworld part of the year. (The Great Mother
p. 308)

(Attis=) tree origin is further attested by the story that he was
born of a virgin, who conceived by putting in her bosom a ripe
almond or pomegranate.

The statue of Hera is seated on a throne; it is huge, made of
gold and ivory, and is a work of Polycleitus.  She is wearing a
crown with Graces and Seasons worked upon it, and in one
had she carries a pomegranate and in the other a scepter.  
About the pomegranate I must say nothing, for its story is
somewhat of a holy mystery.

Polyneices, the son of Oedipus, has fallen on his knee, and
Eteocles, the other son of Oedipus, is rushing on him.  Behind
Polyneices stands a woman with teeth as cruel as those of a
beast, and here fingernails are bent like talons.  An inscription
by her calls her Doom implying that Polyneices has been
carried off by fate, and that Eteocles fully deserved his end.  
Dionysus is lying down in a cave, a bearded figure holding a
golden cup, and clad in a tunic reaching to the feet.  Around
him are vines, apple-trees and pomegranate trees.
A primitive taboo rested on red-colored food, which might be
offered to the dead only; and the pomegranate was supposed
to have sprung - like the eight-petalled scarlet anemone - from
the blood of Adonis, or Tammuz.  The seven pomegranate
seeds represent, perhaps, the seven phases of the moon
during which farmers wait for the green shoots to appear.  But
Persephone eating the pomegranate is originally Sheol, the
Goddess of Hell, devouring Tammuz; while Ishtar (Sheol
herself in a different guise) weeps to placate his ghost.  Hera,
as a former death goddess, also held a pomegranate.  
Black poplars were sacred to the Death-goddess and white
poplars, or aspens, either to Persephone as Goddess of
Regeneration, or to Herakles because he harrowed Hell.  
Golden head-dresses of aspen leaves have been found in
Mesopotamian burials of the fourth millennium BC  The Orphic
tablets do not name the tree by the pool of Memory; it is
probably the white poplar into which Leuce was transformed,
but possibly a nut-tree, the emblem of Wisdom.  White-cypress
wood, regarded as anti-corruptive, was used for household
chests and coffins.

Aphrodite ... is made of gold and ivory, with the sacred hat on
her head and a poppy in one hand and an apple in the other.  
Her sacrifices are the thighs of all sacred animals except for
swine; they incinerate most of the meat with logs of juniper,
but with the burning thighs they consecrate the leaves of
lad=s love.   (In his footnote, Levi says Athe statue is
interesting in many ways: the poppy and the Aapple@ (which
could as easily be a pomegranate) raise a legitimate suspicion
that Aphrodite in Sikyon has something to do with Demeter;
Sikyon was once called Mekone and there was a story that at
Mekone Demeter had invented the poppy (mekon.)  But
Demeter would not refuse a sacrifice of swine.  The cave at
Pitsa belonged to the nymphs and Dionysos, but there also
seems to have been a connection with Demeter.)

For the Greeks Demeter was still a poppy goddess, bearing
sheaves and poppies in both hands.
It seems probable that the Great Mother Goddess, who bore
the names Rhea and Demeter, brought the poppy with her
from her Cretan cult to Eleusis, and it is certain that in the
Cretan cult sphere, opium was prepared from poppies.
The making of opium from poppies requires a special
procedure.  A pharmacobotanist discovered that the poppies
on the head of the goddess figurine found in Gazi reveal
incisions which the artist colored more deeply than the rest of
the flower to make them plainly visible.  This is a most
significant discovery, because opium is obtained through
such incisions.

In the history of religions, periods of Astrong medicine@
usually occur when the simpler methods no longer suffice.   
(Todd, with the increase of the cult, would pharmaceuticals be

A temple of no great size in the Doric style they have called
down to the present day Metroum, keeping its ancient name.  
No image lies in it of the Mother of the gods, but there stand in
it statues of Roman emperors.  The Metroum is within the Altis
and so is a round building called the Philippeum.  On the roof
of the Philippeum is a bronze poppy which binds the beams

Other pre-viticultural magical plants are also associated with
Dionysus as his primordial avatar.  Amongst these are to be
counted the opium poppy whose role in Minoan religion is
attested by the female >sleeping= idol from Isopta in the
Iraklion Museum, who wears a diadem of the plant=s seed
capsules, each painted with the slit that would be cut to
extract the drug.  Dionysus himself is seen wearing such a
crown on a volute krater in the National Archeological
Museum of Taranto: he is depicted as a youthful hunter amidst
ecstatic maenads, one of whom holds the thrysos.  In a similar
manner, Dionysus imitated the role of honey and its ferment,
mean, from the Minoan culture.  The latter intoxicant involves
the symbolism of the bee, who like the herb gathering
maenadic women in the wilds, goes from flower to flower,
extracting their essence, which is a drug related to the venom
of serpents, but is beneficial antithesis, instead of a poison.
Such a ritual is apparently depicted on a gold signet ring from
a tomb near Knossos, now in the Iraklion Museum:  women
with the heads of insects are seen dancing amidst flowers as
they experience the mystical apotheosis of a deity.   

The Goddess is seated beneath the Tree of Life, which, as in
Mesopotamia and Egypt, signifies her nurturing power as food
giver, emphasized by her left hand offering her breast.  She
welcomes two priestesses with snake like headdresses similar
to her own, holding out to them in her hand three poppy pods
full of seeds, the fruit of transformation.

Returning to the image of the >daughter,= or the young
goddess, rising up from the earth, there is another seal that
suggests that the myth of spring as the return of the goddess
originated in Crete. Here, the goddess is coming up from the
earth between two sprouting shoots of vegetation, clasping
those same poppy pods that, as the seated goddess amid the
full bloom of the tree, she also holds in her hands in Figure 11.  

The seed pod of the poppy is often held in the hands of the
goddess or her priestess, as in Figure 11. The poppy was
grown in great quantities in Crete and was undoubtedly used
in the shrines and temples of the goddess to elicit visionary
experience, later re-emerging in the cult of Demeter, which
was taken from Crete to Eleusis.

“A marble seat on wheels in the Vatican, decorated with
poppies and ears of grain, Schwarz suggests, belonged with a
free-standing statue of Triptolemos.”
The flowers which, according to Ovid, Kore was picking were
poppies.  An image of a goddess with poppy-heads in her
headdress was found at Gazi in Crete; another goddess on a
mold from Palaiokastro holds poppies in her hand; and on the
gold ring from the Acropolis treasure at Mycenae, a seated
Demeter gives three poppy heads to a standing Kore.  Poppy
seeds were used as a condiment on bread, and poppies are
naturally associated with Demeter, since they grow in
cornfields; but Kore picks or accepts poppies because of the
soporific qualities, and because of their scarlet color which
promises resurrection after death.  She is about to retire for
her annual sleep.

Or even from the branch of olive one might infer her fiery
nature, and from the poppy her productiveness, and the
multitude of souls who find an abode in her as in a city, for the
poppy is an emblem of a city.  She bears a bow, like Artemis,
because of the sharpness of the pangs of labor.


According to the original myth, the grieving Demeter may have
withered trees, grass, and flowers, - but not the grain, for
before the disappearance of Persephone, there was no grain.  
The form of the myth preserved in the Hymn, which minimizes
the agrarian element, has quite obscured the context of this
crucial point.  The most important literary and pictorial version,
tell us plainly that seed and harvest were given to men only
after Persephone=s descent into the Underworld.  
Accordingly, all who regard Persephone as a symbol of the
grain start from a totally false assumption.

Ludwig Deubner suspected that we are dealing not with any
simple natural act, but with a miracle. Hippolytus tells us not
only that an ear was displayed but that it was cut, that it had
previously been harvested Ain silence@ and then was
shown.  Both context and grammar required us to understand
Hippolytus= words in this sense.  And we must indeed
conclude that a mysterious act, a kind of magic, was
performed.  Deubner believes that a magic formula was
uttered: AAnd behold in this season when no grain grows@ -
for it is autumn - Aan ear of grain has grown.@...The ear of
whet 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...The
ear of wheat suddenly grown, silently harvested and displayed
to the mystai is then really a revelation and pledge of the
goddess, who first gave this fruit to mankind through the
Eleusinians.  More than that:  it is an epiphany of Persephone
herself, her mythical first recurrence in the shape of the grain,
after her descent to the realm of the dead.  We need not ask
what thoughts and hopes the mystes associated with an
epiphany of this sort, It transported him into the realm of
miracles, in the presence of the great goddesses themselves,
in the moment when they bestowed the ear of grain upon men.

Look about you very carefully and throw out Demeter's holy
grain upon the well-rolled threshing floor on the seventh of the
(Hesiod Works and Days 805-807)

As the breezes sport with the chaff upon some goodly
threshing floor, when men are winnowing - while yellow
Demeter blows with the wind to sift the chaff from the grain,
and the chaff-heaps grow whiter and whiter -
(Homer Iliad V, 499-502)