« ForrigeFortsæt »
heard Persephone's voice, but knows not who carried her off; and Demeter and Hecate together go to Helios, who informs them that Hades, with Zeus' consent, had carried off Demeter's daughter.
It was necessary that Demeter should not at first know what had become of her daughter, because the torch-rite showed that the goddess had wandered about (else her worshippers would not have done so); and she would not have wandered, if she had known where to look for her daughter. At the same time it was necessary that she should discover Zeus' complicity, else there would be no motive for that residence of the Corn-Goddess in Eleusis which was an article of firm faith with the Eleusinians. All-seeing Helios therefore is naturally introduced into the story; but Hecate is so useless for the action of the story that we may conjecture she was introduced for purely ritual reasons.
88–183. Wrathful with Zeus, Demeter forsook Olympus and descended to earth, in disguise; and no mortal who saw her knew that she was Demeter. At length she drew near to the house of Keleos, who was then lord of Eleusis ; and took her seat, in the guise of an old woman, by the Parthenian Well. There the four daughters of Keleos came to draw water, saw the Old Woman, and inquired her story. She had been carried off from her Cretan home by pirates, but had escaped from them, and would be grateful to find employment such as might befit a woman of her age, e.y. as nurse. They declared that any of the citizens (some of whose names are mentioned, honoris causa) would welcome her, but especially their own father and their mother, who had a young son to nurse. After consultation with their parents, they conduct her to the house of Keleos.
Throughout this section, for a hundred lines, the poet carefully avoids all mention of the name Demeter. The reason is that the Eleusinians originally only knew the cereal goddess as the Old Woman ; and there would be an obvious impropriety of feeling in the poet's thrusting his new doctrine * Line 94 :
ουδέ τις ανδρών
in just here, for he would naturally wish, in describing what happened at Eleusis, to adhere as closely as possible to the Eleusinian point of view. Further, the object of the poet was not to deny that the goddess dwelt as the Old Woman in the house of the head-man, but to account for the fact; nor did he wish to deny that the Eleusinians were ignorant of the identity of the Old Woman with Demeter- he only wished to show that their ignorance was natural, excusable, indeed the doing of the goddess herself, and does not afford any presumption that the Old Woman was not Demeter. The prominent part which the women, the wife and daughters of Keleos, play, and the fact that it is they who first meet the Corn-Goddess and introduce her to Eleusis, points to a tradition that it was the women of Eleusis who first cultivated corn, and, like the women of Athens in the Thesmophoria, worshipped the Corn-Goddess by themselves.
184-300. Demeter entered the house of Keleos and sat down in silence and sorrow, and smiled not, and neither ate nor drank, in her grief for her daughter, until Iambe by her drollery brought a smile to her lips. Then Metaneira, the wife of Keleos, offered her wine, but she declined it, saying it was forbidden her; but she bade meal and water be mixed and offered her. Then she nursed the young son, Demophoön, and at night would pass the child through fire, to make him immortal, but her beneficent design was frustrated by Metaneira, who once saw her, and exclaimed that she was killing her son. In her anger Demeter revealed who she was, pronounced that Demophoön, though he could not now become deathless, should become famous, and that in his day the Eleusinians should ever shed each other's blood. Then, having bidden that a shrine and altar be erected to her, she departed. All night long the women did worship to the goddess, and on the morrow the men began building the temple.
Demeter refuses to drink wine, because wine, the sur
Supra, p. 239-242.
παιδες Έλευσινίων πόλεμον και φύλοπιν αινήν
αιεν αλλήλοισι συνάξουσ’ ήματα πάντα. 3 207 :
ου γαρ θεμιτόν οι έφασκε πίνειν οίνον ερυθρόν.
rogate of blood, was excluded from the non-animal sacrifice offered to cereal deities. The incident of Demophoon is invented to account for the common practice of passing children over a fire for purification and to make them thrive. The erection of the temple marks the transition of the cult of the Corn-Goddess from the hands of the women into those of the men. The shedding of Eleusinian blood by Eleusinians is introduced so awkwardly and gratuitously that its mention must be due to ritual reasons—to the necessity of accounting for this particular way of offering the worshipper's blood to the deity, i.e. by stoning each other (the Balantus).
301 ad fin. Demeter, in her resentment against Zeus, caused a famine, no crops grew, and no sacrifices could be offered to the gods. Nor did she relax her wrath, but sat apart from the other gods in her temple at Eleusis, until Zeus sent Hermes to bid Hades allow Persephone to be seen of her mother. Hades consented, but first set forth to Persephone the honour she gained by being his wife, and the authority she exercised over the dead to punish those who in their lifetime had neglected to do her worship. She was then restored to her mother at Eleusis ; but, having been beguiled by Hades to eat, though only a pomegranate, she was still so far in his power that she would have to spend one-third of each year with him. Demeter then being reconciled with Zeus, allowed the crops once more to grow, and showed to Triptolemos, Diocles, Eumolpos, and Keleos the ritual with which they were henceforth to worship her. Then the two goddesses returned to Olympus; and blessed is the man who has seen what is to be seen in their sacred rites : wealth is his in this life and happiness in the next. Greatly blessed is the mortal whom they accept.
In the fully developed form of the Eleusinian mysteries, the last thing revealed and the highest revelation made to the worshipper was something which was visibly exhibited by the hierophant to the eyes of the worshipper. This revelation was the crown and consummation of the rites; and it was to this part of the mysteries that the taboo of silence pre-eminently applied. Herein the later mysteries did but faithfully adhere to the primitive agricultual ritual of Eleusis, for in the Homeric Hymn the same taboo of silence is solemnly
imposed as to the sights revealed to the worshipper, and it is the communion thus afforded rather than the sacramental KUKEÓV which is the crowning point of the ritual. When, then, we find that in later times an ear of corn was exhibited, we may fairly infer that it was an ear of corn which was exhibited in the primitive agricultural rites, and that it was originally the embodiment of the Corn-Goddess.
If we accept the principle of evolution as applied to religion
—and the many different forms of religion seem to be best accounted for by the theory of evolution—it seems to follow that monotheism was developed out of polytheism. The process of evolution is from the simple and homogeneous to the more complex and highly organised, from lower forms of life to the higher. The implements, the language, the science, the art, the social and political institutions of civilised man, have all been slowly evolved out of much simpler and more savage forms : our language has been traced back to the common speech out of which all Aryan tongues have been evolved; our institutions to the tribal customs of the wandering Teutons; we can see and handle the bronze and flint implements actually used by our own forefathers. Whether, therefore, we treat religion as an institution, and apply to it the same comparative method as to legal and political institutions ; or examine it as belief, in the same way as we trace the slow growth of scientific conceptions of the universe; the presumption is that, here as everywhere else, the higher forms have been evolved out of lower forms, and that monotheism has been developed out of a previous polytheism. Religion is an organism which runs through its various stages, animism, totemism, polytheism, monotheism. The law of continuity links together the highest, lowest, and intermediate forms. The form of the religious idea is ever slowly changing, the content remains the same always.
The presumption thus raised by the general process of evolution, that monotheism is developed out of polytheism,