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and everywhere to destroy the original sacramental character of the sacrificial meal, and accordingly it becomes a prominent and indeed in its consequences the most important feature of the religious revivalism of the sixth century B.C. Hitherto the only religious organisation to which a man could belong had been the kin or community into which he was born ; and now that the political disasters which threatened the very existence of the political community testified to the permanent estrangement of the gods of the community from their worshippers, men's minds were roused to look about for some other religious community in which to find shelter from the divine wrath. No such organisation was in existence, or rather those which existed were not available, for strange gods had each his own circle of worshippers closed to all outside it and open only to those born into it. But though no open circle was in existence, the unifying efficacy of the sacrificial meal made it possible to form one; and in it we have the principle of voluntary religious associations, which were (unlike that of the community) open to all, and membership in which did not depend upon birth, but was constituted by partaking in the divine life and blood of the sacred animal.
Thus in the Semitic area the characteristic features of the new movement of the sixth century B.C. were, first, a tendency to discard the gift theory of sacrifice and seek a closer communion with God; next, a more hopeful view of the life after death. The gift theory might be discarded in favour either of the sacrifice of a contrite heart, or of the mystic sacrifice of a divine animal, or of religious association constituted by the participation in the divine life of the sacred animal; but in any case the effort to draw nearer to God was accompanied and marked by the greater confidence with which man looked forward to the next world. In a word, a religious basis was henceforth provided for that belief in immortality which in its original shape had rather belonged to primitive philosophy. In that respect the new movement rose superior to the eschatology of the Egyptian and Indian religions, for the eschatology of both was not generated by the religious spirit, but was due to the incorporation of early philosophical speculations into those religions—an incorporation which eventually in Egypt led to the denial of individual immortality, and in India to the Buddha's denial of the existence of the soul at all. But though hopefulness as to the future world was now associated with and conditional on spiritual communion in this life, the attempt to bring the religious belief in the future life into relation with the central rite of religion, sacrifice, was either not made or was made prematurely. Where animal sacrifice was discarded, no external sacrificial rite was left with which the belief could be connected. Where mystic sacrifices were revived, the belief was indeed associated with the rite, but the association was premature, because the rite itself had no permanent vitality: the reversion to mystic sacrifices merely escaped from the error of the gift theory to fall into a recrudescence of barbarous ritual acts, such as those of dismembering the divine animal and drinking its blood.
The wave of religious revivalism which had its centre of diffusion in the Semitic area, was speedily propagated over the Greek cities of Asia Minor, over Hellas itself, and finally over Italy. The widespread conviction amongst the Northern Semites that divine wrath could be averted by extraordinary, piacular sacrifices, was one easily communicated and readily picked up and conveyed to Greece by individuals. And it was probably in the form of purificatory ceremonies and sacrifices that the new movement first travelled to Greece. Thus it was from Crete that the Athenians, for instance, in B.C. 596 summoned Epimenides 1 to purify their city, when they wished to cleanse themselves from the pollution caused by the murder of Cylon's followers at the altars of the gods. He ordered sheep, black and white, to be driven in all directions from the Acropolis; and when they had wandered as far as they would, they were to be sacrificed wherever they lay down; and the altars on which they were to be immolated were not to be dedicated to any known god by name, but simply to the proper deity. Hence, long after, altars might be found in various places in Attica which bore no dedication, and were therefore popularly known as the nameless altars or as altars of the unknown gods.
1 Aristotle, 'A0. Tol. c. 1. 2 Tapoońkovmi, Diog. Lært. i. 110 and 112.
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It was, however, not only cities that required purification from pollution; private individuals also might need to be reconciled with the offended gods; and ministers to their spiritual wants were forthcoming, though they have not, like Epimenides or Empedocles after him, bequeathed their names to posterity. Collectively they were known as agyrta, a Greek substantive derived from a verb, meaning to beg alms or make a collection, in order to defray the expense of the sacrifice which was an essential part of their mysteries. The agyrtes professed by means of his rites to purify men from the sins they had themselves committed, or from an ancestral curse or hereditary guilt, and so to secure to those whom he purified an exemption from the evil lot in the next world which awaited those who were not initiated. The agyrtes travelled from city to city with his apparatus—a pile of sacred books, a tame serpent, a drum, a chest, a magic mirror, etc.—laden on a donkey's back.2 Arrived at his temporary destination, he pitched his tent, which also was carried by the donkey, and in which the mysteries were to be celebrated ; and then, with attendants to carry a portable shrine, i.e. “a miniature temple on a salver or board,” 3 and to beat the drum, he proceeded to parade the streets in procession, he himself dancing ecstatically to the sound of the drum, and either carrying the sacred serpent or else gashing his legs or cutting his tongue till the blood flowed from it. Thus he succeeded in attracting a crowd, which he drew after him to his tent, where those who chose consulted him, and by the aid of his books and his magic mirror, which probably he used in the same way as it is used in Egypt at the present day, he replied to them.
But in all this there was nothing to make any such permanent change in Greek religion as did actually follow upon this invasion of Greece by Oriental rites. The calamities which befell Greek states were at this time merely casual, not catastrophic, as in the Semitic area; and there was therefore no permanent demand for the services of such men as Epimenides and Empedocles. On the other hand, the agyrtoe were itinerant, and their ministrations intermittent. In a word, to account for the permanent changes wrought in Greece by the wave of revivalism which spread from the Northern Semites over Hellas, it is obvious, first, that there must have been some more permanent motive at work upon the Greek mind than the fear inspired by casual political disasters, and next, that there must have been some more stationary and permanent organisation for the propagation of the new movement than was provided by the itinerant and intermittent agency of the agyrtce. Now the Greek with his joyous nature had no abiding sense of sin, and if he welcomed the strange sacrifices and stirring rites from the East, it was partly because there was in them the promise of a more satisfactory sacrament than the gift-sacrifices of the traditional religion provided, and partly because they opened up a brighter and more hopeful view of the life after death. It is beyond doubt that other and less worthy motives were also at work: love philtres, charms for bewitching enemies, and spells generally, were both demanded and supplied; and for the agyrtes who supplied them an itinerant life was a necessity, if only for the sake of escaping detection and exposure. But with the agyrtes who settled definitely in one place, founded a permanent religious association, and so gave a guarantee of earnestness and faith in his mission, the case is different-and it is with him that we now have to deal.
?"Ovos aywv uvotúpia, Ar. Frogs, 159. 3 Ramsay, Church in the Roman Empire,· 127. Such were the silver shrines of Diana of Acts xix. Cf. the deopópol and vabdopoc in Ignatius, Ephes. $ 9; and for a picture of them, Schreiber, Kulthist. Bilderatlas, xvii. 10.
* Lucian, Lucius, 35.
Amongst the religious associations of the Greeks there were certain societies, known variously as thiasi, erani, or orgeones, the constitution of which is fairly well known to us from inscriptions (usually votes of thanks to the officials). The inscriptions do not carry us further back than the fourth century B.C., but we have plenty of literary evidence of the existence of these associations in the fifth century, and thiasi are recognised even as early as B.C. 594, in the legislation of Solon, as legal societies, the bye-laws of which were acknowledged and enforced by the state, so far as they were not in conflict with the law of the land. These thiasi were
For what follows, see Foucart, Des Associations Religieuses chez les Grecs. * Gardner and Jevous, Greek Antiquities, 560.
voluntary associations for religious purposes, which differed from the cult of the national gods in the fact that only members of the state were admitted to the worship of the state's gods, whereas the thiasi were open to all, to women, to foreigners, to slaves, and to freed men; and all members of the society, whatever their origin, enjoyed the same rights. But though all, without distinction of sex or origin, might become members of a thiasus, there were certain conditions to be fulfilled first: there was an entry-fee to pay, and the officers of the society had to satisfy themselves that the candidate for admission was suitable. The affairs of the society were regulated by its “ law” (i.e. its articles of association) and by the decrees of the general assembly of the members. The “ law" laid down the conditions of admission into the society and the circumstances under which members might be expelled; the times at which the assembly was to hold its regular meetings; the amount of subscription to be paid by members, the means for enforcing payment, and the circumstances under which delay in payment was allowed ; the dues to be paid in money or kind by those who offered sacrifices in the society's temple; the purposes on which the society's revenues might be expended; the terms on which money might be lent to members, and the security they were to offer; the nature and value of testimonials voted to benefactors; the steps to be taken to enforce this “ law,” to carry out the decrees of the assembly, or to punish those who injured the society. The general assembly, consisting of all the members of the society, had absolute control over the affairs of the society, and met once a month for the transaction of business. It elected annually the officers of the society, who took an oath of obedience to it on entering office, and on quitting office were again accountable to it. Where the “law” of the society prescribed the duties of an officer, he had only to obey it; when cases arose not foreseen by the law, he had to seek instructions from the assembly. The officers included, besides a secretary and a treasurer, a president, who represented the society when
1 Foucart, 13. The Greek terms are vbuos, yndlowata, and a yopá.
2 άρχιθιασίτης at Delos, αρχερανιστής at Rhodes and at the Peiraeus, ápxépavos at Amorgos ; Foucart, 27.