The Eleusinian Mysteries Of Ancient Greece

1690 WordsAug 19, 20167 Pages
The Eleusinian Mysteries Religion is interwoven in the social, cultural and economic life of all civilisations and Ancient Greece was no exception. Typically, most religion in Ancient Greece was civic in nature, however, in the fifth century B.C., mystery religions began to gain popularity. Shrouded in secrecy, the mystery religions provided a more personal approach to religion, fascinating initiates and capturing the imagination of the Greek populace. The most popular of these mystery cults was the cult of Demeter, a veneration established in Eleusis around 1500 B.C. The Eleusinian mysteries were the earliest and most celebrated mysteries in classical antiquity (Karoglou, 2013). These, through their appeal to initiates, played a pivotal…show more content…
The Homeric Hymn to Demeter, coupled with the surviving evidence, allows modern historians to paint a consistent portrait of the Eleusinian mysteries. The Hymn to Demeter was composed in Attica no later than the 7th century B.C. and served for centuries thereafter as the canonical hymn of the Eleusinian Mysteries (Nilsson, 2016). The anonymously transcribed source tells the tale of Persephone’s abduction by Hades, God of the underworld (Sailors, 2007). The Hymn reveals the significance of seasonal elements within the Mystery cult. The fact that the Persephone, upon negotiation with Hades, dwells two thirds of the year in the upper world is manifestly connected to vegetation (Nilsson, 2016). This too is connected to the annual festival which takes place in the middle of the Greek month Boedromion (October), a winter month. In the 6th century B.C., Herodotus, the father of Greek history, wrote: “Every year the Athenians celebrate the festival in honour of the Mother and the Maid, and anyone who wishes, from all of Athens or elsewhere, may be initiated into the Mysteries” (Keller, 2009). Therefore, it is revealed that the great procession from Athens to Eleusis, along the sacred way, was held in order to appease Demeter for a prosperous summer (Burkert, 1985). Except for the date of this procession, little is known of the rites of

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