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Of the Mysteries of Eleusis, there were two or-. ders, the less and the greater. The less were the most essential, and consisted of three grades. The ceremony for the first grade was styled Illumination or the Tradition of the Sacred Rites; that for the second was styled Inspection, or the Looking-on; and that for the third, which was the end and design of the other two, was called the Binding of the Head, or Coronation. But according to the greater order, there were two additional ceremonies; namely, the introductory, which was called Purification and the ultimate, which was called Friendship with the Deity.
For, of those who sought to engage in these mysteries, all were not admissible; there being certain characters excluded by the voice of the crier, such as those of impure hands or inarticulate voice. So that before admission, each candidate underwent the ceremony of Purification. The two succeeding ceremonies were strictly progressive; but the Binding of the Head, or Coronation, signified the full reception of those who were thus honored, and that they could afterwards communicate' to others the sacred rites; or officiate as torch-bearers, or interpreters; or sustain any other part in the sacred offices. The fifth degree, or Friendship with the Deity, was a result reached only after many years of active service, by those who had attained the highest perfection in their respective occupations.
In the political clubs, and in the schools of philosophy, the ceremony of Purification, which in the figurative language of Empedocles, was the act of
drawing from the five fountains with an indissoluble vessel of brass, had reference to elementary training in arithmetic, geometry, stereometry, music, and astronomy. After such preparation in the schools of philosophy, came; first, Illumination, or the study. of theorems, logical, political, and philosophical; in other words, the study of abstract principles. The next stage of advancement, or as it was called, Inspection, had reference to practical studies, or what Plato calls "intelligibles, true beings, and ideas." But the last stage, or Coronation, was the closing. ceremony. of education, and imparted to the recip ient the right of leading others to the subjects of his own contemplation.*
These three essential stages of advancement answered to the three scholastic degrees in the universities of the middle ages, and to the three degrees among free-masons; with both of whom the ceremonies were in fact derived from those of the early mysteries. And, we are told by Mr. Burgess, that the Crowning, or Binding of the head, never took place before the completion of the fifth year.†
Now, to return to the Asclepiade; it is clear that the youth in the course of initiation, submitted to observances, and advanced by gradations, analogous to those of the other secret associations. For we are expressly informed by Hippocrates, in reference to his own profession, that "Things which are sacred are to be imparted only to sacred persons ;" and that
*Thos. Taylor. Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries, p. 48–52.
t In Plato. Bohn's edition, vol. iii. p. 549.
In the Law.
"it is unlawful to impart them to the profane until after their initiation into the mysteries of the science." With reference to Purification, or the training which should precede Illumination, he says,"Whoever is to acquire a competent knowledge of medicine, ought to possess the following advantages: a natural disposition, instruction, a favorable position for study, early tuition, love of labor, leisure."* And, writing to his son, the author of the Hippocratic Letters, says, "Give due attention, my son, to Geometry and Arithmetic. For such studies will not only render your life illustrious and useful to your fellow-beings; but your mind more acute and perspicacious in arriving at fruitful results in every thing pertaining to your art."+
The candidate having passed the first ordeal of preparation, and commencing the ceremonies of Illumination, was obliged to subscribe to the Oath; which was a formula analogous to that which was enjoined among the Pythagoreans, and was in the following words:
"I swear by Apollo, the physician, by Esculapius, by Hygeia, Panacea, and all the Gods and Goddesses, that according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this oath and stipulation, to reckon him who teaches me this art equally dear to me as my parents, to share my substance with him, and relieve his necessities if required; to look upon his offspring on the same footing as my own brothers,
In the Law.
Kuhn's edition, vol. iii. p. 822.
and to teach them this art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or stipulation; and that by precept, lecture, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of this art to my own sons, to those of my teachers, and to disciples bound by a stipulation and oath according to the law of medicine, but to none others. I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients; and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous; I will give no deadly medicine to any one, if asked; nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner, I will not give a woman a pessary to produce an abortion. With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my art. I will not cut persons laboring under the stone, but will leave this to be done by men who are practitioners of this work. Into whatever houses I enter, I will go into them for the benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption; and, further, from the seduction of females and males, of freemen and slaves. Whatever, in connection with my professional practice, or not in connection with it, I see or hear, I will not. divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret. While I continue to keep this oath inviolate, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of my art, respected by all men at all times! But should I trespass and violate this oath, may the reverse be my lot!"*
Adams' Hippocrates, vol. ii., p. 779.
The pupil thus admitted, proceeded next to the ordinary business of Illumination, which consisted in committing to memory certain traditionary precepts; in listening to the prelections of the instructor; in the contemplation of diseases within the temples, or at the bed-side of the sick; in combining the knowledge thus obtained with some general acquaintance with the rules of health; and where the preparatory training in the accessory sciences had not already been completed, in acquiring a knowledge of these, and of the higher philosophy of the day.*
The business of Inspection, which was next in order, and which, in philosophy, was "an occupation about intelligibles, true beings, and ideas," immediately preceded Coronation; and, as in philosophy, had relation to practical subjects, probably the treatment of disease under the immediate supervision of the instructor. The ceremony of Coronation took place at the completion of the term of study, and corresponded with the modern ceremony of Graduation. It was in evidence of the recipient's fitness for assuming the duties of his profession, it conferred upon him the privileges of fellowship, and, as a master of his art, the right of initiating others into its sacred mysteries.
It is here worthy of remark, that the ceremony of placing a wreath, cap, or crown, upon the head of those who were admitted into full fellowship at these ancient schools, was continued down to the
* Littré, Introduction, Œuvres d'Hippocrate.