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under the influence of the priesthood; the free and the virtuous they introduced to the mystic halls of Eleusis, which were to the many what the colonnades of the Stoa and the groves of Academus were to the few. If there were no political considerations involved in the introduction of the mysteries into Europe from their source on the banks of old Nilea soil so fruitful in mysteries of all kinds -- there seems no reason why they should not have been free to all who were desirous of being initiated, or, at anyrate, to all possessing the moral qualification required; but it was not so. At first only Athenian citizens were initiated; but when the liberties of Greece were menaced by Persia, and the necessity of uniting against the common enemy taught the Greeks to regard themselves as one people, the Eleusinian mysteries were opened to all who spoke the Greek language. Authors, ancient as well as modern, have been at a loss to account for the reason of even this restriction, and the learned Casaubon ridiculed it as implying that the institutors of the mysteries imagined that speaking Greek was a proof of piety, and contributed to its advancement. Lucian relates that his friend Devanax once inquired of the Athenians the reason of their exclusion of aliens from the mysteries of Eleusis, when they were instituted by Eumolpus, a Thracian; but he has not recorded the answer which the philosopher received, and advances no conjecture of his own upon the subject. We have, therefore, only such evidence as can be found in the nature of the mysteries themselves; and from the fact of their being introduced by legislators, from the circumstance of their being under the direction of the state, from the antagonism of the secrets revealed in them to the popular creed, and from the support which they received from philosophers who rejected that creed--the conclusion seems unavoidable that their founders had a political as well as a moral end in view, and that they contemplated, in their institution, the creation of a counterpoise to the priests, and the classes upon whom the state had the least hold.


The abuses and corruptions of the pagan mysteries, and the causes which led to their suppression, must nowebe described, and we shall then have placed before the reader the substance of all that is known upon the subject. We learn from Cicero that their nocturnal celebration had led to abuses so early as his time, and indirect evidence to the same effect may be found in comedies of the same period, in which scenes of intrigue and illicit indulgence of the passions are frequently introduced in the celebration of the mysteries of Isis or Ceres. “What it is that displeases me in nocturnal rites,' says the philosopher, 'the comic poets will shew you. Had such liberty of celebration been permitted at Rome, what wickedness might not have been attempted by him who came with a premeditated design to gratify his lasciviousness to a sacrifice where even the imprudent indulgence of the eye was highly criminal!' The individual here hinted at is supposed to have been his political opponent Clodius, of whom he speaks in similar terms in one of his orations. The mysteries of Ceres had been introduced at Rome very early, as appears from Cicero's oration for Balbus,


and from a passage in his second book on the · Nature of the Gods;' and we learn from Suetonius, and other later Roman writers, that they were incorporated into the national worship, and regulated anew by a decree of the Emperor Adrian. The mysteries of Isis, and also those of Bacchus, had likewise been introduced into Italy from Egypt and Greece; and these appear to have become corrupted long before those of Ceres. Warburton was of opinion that, ' notwithstanding all occasions and opportunities of corruption, some of the mysteries, as particularly the Eleusinian, continued for very many ages pure and undefiled ;' and that these were the last that submitted to the common fate of all human institutions. Le Clerc contends that the mysteries were never corrupted at all; but the united testimonies of many writers of the early ages of our era, pagan as well as Christian, prove him to have been in error. The objection of Cicero does not apply to the mysteries themselves, but to their nocturnal celebration ; and he expressly excepts those of Ceres from his general condemnation of rites performed by night. The means which had been adopted in the original institution of the mysteries to increase their efficiency to accomplish the end for which they were established, by throwing around them a veil of solemnity and awe, proved ultimately one of the most potent causes of their corruption and degeneracy. When, with the decay of Grecian independence the standard of morality became lowered, and less precaution was shewn in the admission of aspirants to the mysteries, men and women of immoral character availed themselves of the opportunities afforded by the periods of solemn darkness to give a loose to their passions; and the inviolable engagement to which all were bound, not to reveal aught that they saw or heard in the mysteries, not only allowed them to do so with impunity, but concealed those abuses from the magistrates until they became so enormous and extensive as to render reform impossible. Abuses of this kind appear to have been the first to creep into the mysteries both in Greece and Italy, “the clearest proof of which is,' says Warburton, that their comic writers very frequently laid the scene of their subject, such as the violation of a young girl, and the like, at the celebration of a religious mystery; and from that mystery denominated the comedy.' That such immoralities should have occurred is not much to be wondered at if we reflect that, even in the first ages of Christianity, similar abuses existed in the church, and sprang from the same cause--the nocturnal celebration of religious rites. The early Christians introduced a custom of celebrating vigils in the night, perhaps in imitation of the secret rites of paganism; and though these nocturnal devotions were at first performed with the utmost decorum, they soon became occasions of licentious abuse, and it was found necessary to abolish the custom.

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If such abuses could creep into the Christian church in the primitive ages, there is nothing that should surprise us in the fact of their coming at length to corrupt the mysteries under the assumed patronage of the pagan deities, who were supposed to inspire irregular passions, and whose public rites were occasions of the grossest indecency and profligacy. The mysteries of Venus, of Cupid, and of Bacchus, were among the first that became perverted; for it was not unnatural for their worshippers to introduce into them the indecencies that were enacted in the public rites of those deities,

and to suppose the deities pleased by them. The hidden doctrines conveyed in the spectacles and the secrets revealed by the hierophanti to the initiated came too late to remedy the evil. That inviolable secrecy which was deemed the safeguard of the mysteries then became the means of veiling the most dreadful enormities, and accelerating the ruin of an institution contrived for the wisest and best purposes, and which for so many centuries continued to serve in purity the end for which it was designed. The mysteries of Bacchus were abolished for their corruption long before those of Ceres, for their suppression in Greece by Diagondas is mentioned by Cicero, in whose time, and long afterwards, the Eleusinian mysteries were celebrated in their original purity. Another cause, in addition to those which have been noticed, operated in the case of the Bacchic mysteries to open the way to abuses and corruptions, and gradually to bring them into disrepute. They were introduced into Etruria by a Greek priest and soothsayer of lowly extraction, who, having borne a subordinate part in the celebration of these mysteries in his own country, established them clandestinely, uncommissioned by the civil authorities at Athens, and without the knowledge of those of Italy. The withdrawal of the mysteries from the secular administration prepared the way


every abuse. Livy says that the priest by whom they were thus introduced possessed no skill or wisdom in mystic rites; but it appears that they were brought pure into Italy, and received their corruption there. From the extraordinary confession of Hispala before the Roman consul, it seems that only women were at first admitted to these mysteries, as in Greece; but when Paculla became the presiding priestess, she initiated her sons, and introduced such other innovations in the manner of celebrating the mysteries as soon led to the most shocking enormities. The detection of the hidden scene of immoral indulgence which the veil of secrecy and the mantle of night had long covered, led to the abolition of the mysteries of Bacchus throughout Italy by a decree of the senate; but the other sacred rites remained much longer undisturbed.

All the pagan mysteries, with the exception of the Eleusinian, had become corrupt by the time of Severus, when Apuleius undertook the defence of them, as before noticed, with the view of vindicating paganism, as displayed in the mysteries and works of the Platonist philosophers, against the assaults of the Christian writers, who were increasing in numbers, influence, and boldness. The mysteries were falling into disrepute, and the zeal and ability with which Apuleius executed his task were ineffectual to restore them to their former influence and credit. To the abuses arising from the facilities which they afforded for the gratification of impure passions was now added the corruption of magic. Three kinds of the black art are mentioned as being practised in the mysteries in the days of their degeneracy: incantation or necromancy, transformation or metamorphosis, and theürgy or divine communion. The first sort probably had its origin in the invocation of the Olympian divinities in the spectacles, and the second was evidently an imposture in imitation of the metamorphoses of the gods, when they took refuge in Egypt from the wrath of Typhon, assuming the forms of various animals, or when they similarly transformed themselves on various after-occasions for the gratification of their depraved passions. • The abomination of the two first sorts,' says Warburton,

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frankly confessed by all; but the espousal of the latter by the later Platonists and Pythagoreans kept it in some credit; so that, as Heliodorus tells us, the Egyptian priests affected to distinguish between the magic of necromancy and the magic of theürgy, accounting the first infamous and wicked, but the last very commendable. Whether the mysteries had at this time degenerated so much from the end for which they were originally established, that those who presided in them made use of the jugglery which they were intended to expose, or were falsely charged with this corruption by their Christian opponents, is difficult of decision. There seems most grounds for the first supposition in the case of the Egyptian mysteries; but the charge is by no means clearly established against the rest, particularly those of Eleusis, of which most is known. On the other hand, the testimony of the ancient philosophers and historians proves that the Christian fathers overstepped the limits of truth in representing the pagan mysteries as grossly corrupt and immoral in their original institution, some of them asserting that women conducted themselves in the mysteries as they did in the public rites of Anaitis and Venus. • Be he accursed,' says Clemens Alexandrinus, 'who first infected the world with these impostures! These I make no scruple to call wicked authors of impious fables; the fathers of an execrable superstition, who, by this institution, sowed in humanity the seeds of vice and corruption.' Had this condemnation been pronounced by the zealous father upon the priests of the prevailing polytheistic worship, less violence would have been done to truth; but levelled at the founders of an institution designed to counteract the arts of the priests and the demoralising' tendencies of their teachings, it deserves the censure passed upon it by two of the most erudite men of their time-Warburton and Le Clerc. The wisest and best men in the pagan world,' says the former, are unanimous in this—that the mysteries were instituted pure, and proposed the noblest ends by the worthiest ‘means.' That they did ultimately become so corrupt as to render their suppression a public benefit is undoubtedly true, but what institution has not experienced the same fate, or deserved it ? And how few have endured for so long a period as eighteen centuries, as was the case with the mysteries of Eleusis ?


The Emperor Valentinian, when he set about reforming the Roman laws and institutions, determined upon forbidding the celebration of the mysteries, and of all nocturnal rites and sacrifices, with the view of preventing the immoralities which seemed to have become inseparable from them; but when orders to that effect were sent to the proconsuls, Prætextatus, who then governed Greece in that capacity, and whom Zosimus describes as a man adorned with every virtue of public and private life,' represented to the emperor that the Eleusinian mysteries were then extended to all mankind, and that if they were included in the provisions of the edict the Greeks would be driven to despair, and great disorders would be the result. The abolition of an institution so ancient, so holy, and so comprehensive, he said, would cause the Greeks henceforth to lead a comfortless, lifeless life'-a remarkable expression, and tending greatly to support the view taken of the mysteries in this Paper. In consequence of these representations, the emperor excepted the mysteries of Ceres froin his edict, on condition that those who regulated and presided over their celebration should engage that the abuses and corruptions which had crept into them in the course of centuries should be reformed, and everything reduced to the purity and order with which they were originally celebrated. The Eleusinian mysteries were now the only secret rites, as they had always been the most important and most widely diffused; but the difficulty of preserving them from the abuses and corruptions to which they were liable caused the reprieve which they had obtained to be only temporary, and in the reign of the elder Theodosius they shared the fate which had long before overtaken all the rest, and were formally abolished by an imperial edict.

Having noticed the attacks of early Christian writers upon the pagan mysteries, it will not be out of place to notice the manner in which the fathers of the church subsequently sought to turn to their own advantage the veneration in which the secret rites of Eleusis were held by the people. The custom which was introduced of nocturnal vigils being celebrated by both sexes in the churches has been already noticed, and likewise the licentiousness which resulted from it; it is less generally known, perhaps, that very much was done by the fathers at this time to destroy the purity and simplicity of primitive Christianity by the introduction into the church of the language, formularies, rites, and practices of the secret mysteries of paganism. “The fact,' says Warburton, 'is notorious, and the effects are but too visible.' A full account of this very remarkable corruption of our religion is given by the learned Casaubon, but it is too long for translation ; for the satisfaction of those who may have an opportunity of consulting the original, it may be stated that the account will be found in the author's Sixteenth Exercise against the Annals of Baronius. In proportion as the pagan mythology lost its hold upon the minds of the people, Christianity became corrupted by the transference of pagan rites to the new creed, which was thus sought to be rendered more acceptable to the masses. Christianity lost by the converts who were made by these artifices, but the priests of the new creed were gainers.


It is a circumstance which goes far to support the view which has here been taken of the moral tendencies of the mysteries of Eleusis, and the superiority of the secret doctrines delivered in them, to the theology based upon the fables of Hesiod and Homer that, even when, after the lapse of so long a period as eighteen hundred years, these mysteries had much degenerated, they were not abolished, like those of Serapis, of Isis, and of Bacchus, because of the immoralities which they veiled, but because they were regarded as a part of the religious system which Theodosius had resolved to entirely abolish. The other mysteries were abolished in the name of morality and social order; these in the name of the new religion. It was paganism in general which, in this case, was condemned, and not, as in preceding cases, the secret rites in particular. Paganism, in its exoteric form, was dead; in its last struggle with Christianity it was in its exoteric phase, as seen in the mysteries, that the Platonist and other philosophers defended it. No one dreamed of vindicating the absurd fables of the poets; and when none but philosophers, opposed as much to the exploded mythology as to the new religion, could be found to engage in controversy with the professors of the latter, no prophet was required to predict the speedy extinction of the worn-out faith. Christianity had been

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