« ForrigeFortsæt »
religious importance it did attain, had not the opening of the Eleusinian sanctuary to the Athenians just coincided with the first marked stirrings of the new movement in religion which spread from the Semitic area to Greece in the sixth century B.C. And though the association of the Eleusinian ritual with the doctrine of future happiness gave it the potency of great importance, the Eleusinian cult would never have exercised any influence on Greek thought and Greek religion, if admission to it had been confined, as it was at first, strictly to Attic citizens. It is to this, therefore, the next point in the history of the Eleusinian mysteries, that we must next turn.
The new movement of the sixth century spread first in the form of a belief in the possibility of closer communion with the gods than was afforded by the gift theory of sacrifice. There was a revival of the sacramental view of sacrifice and a reversion to a more primitive form of ritual. The immediate consequence was that those sanctuaries of the national gods which, like the Eleusinian, had for some reason or other adhered faithfully to an archaic form of ritual, became thronged with worshippers who had come under the influence of the new movement. These, however, were but the first ripples of the wave from the East which was speedily to invade Greece: wandering agyrtoe introduced the rites and the worship of foreign gods; religious organisations, thiasi, were formed by the agyrtoe and sanctioned by the legislation of Solon, for the worship of Iacchus, Zagreus, Sabazios, Cybele, and other deities unknown before in Greece. The spread of these new cults was facilitated first by their resemblance to that of Dionysus, and next by the Orphic mythology which sought to prove the identity of Iacchus, Sabazios, or Zagreus with Dionysus. The attitude of the tyrant Pisistratus towards the new movement was one of favour and protection. It was at his court and with his countenance that Onomacritus organised the Orphic literature which was to prove that these foreign gods were not foreign but the originals of the god known to the Greeks as Dionysus. It was by Pisistratus that tragedy, part of the ritual of Dionysus, was welcomed from the country into the town. And it was by Pisistratus that the cult of Iacchus was incorporated into the Eleusinian rites.
The consequence of this incorporation was an expansion of the cult of the Eleusinian goddesses even greater than that which followed on the union of Eleusis with Athens. The ritual was enlarged: the image of Iacchus was conveyed in procession by his worshippers from his temple in Athens, along the Sacred Way, to Eleusis, and there placed in the Eleusinion by the side of the two goddesses. This was an expression in outward act of the union of the two cults, and constituted an addition to the Eleusinia, but not a modification of them. But the introduction of Iacchus did also modify the Eleusinia : Iacchus was identified with Dionysus, and the dramatic performances which were part of the worship of Dionysus now became part of the ritual of Eleusis. The original, primitive agricultural rites were not dropped : the sacrament of the Kuke6V was still administered, and the ear of corn was still exhibited. Indeed, these were always the most sacred part of the whole ritual. But to this ritual other things were added. It was the promise of future bliss which drew worshippers to Eleusis; and this promise had no original or intimate connection with the primitive agricultural
rites of Eleusis. But it was connected with the myth which, , owing to Athenian influence, had entirely transformed the meaning and purport of the rites. It was therefore naturally the myth which was emphasised; and the requisite emphasis was given when the introduction of Iacchus enabled the principle of dramatic representation to be transferred from the worship of Dionysus to that of Demeter and Persephone. The sacred drama performed at Eleusis consisted mainly, probably entirely, of choral odes and dances, as was the case with tragedy itself in its earlier stages of development and at the time when the Dionysiac element was first introduced into the Eleusinia. The excavations on the site of Eleusis have shown “ that at Eleusis there was no provision for the production of strange stage-effects. Never at any time was there in the shallow stage of a Greek theatre any room for those elaborate effects in which modern stage-managers delight. All was simplicity and convention. But at Eleusis there was not even a stage. The people sat tier above tier all round the building, and whatever went on had to go on in their midst. If they were dazzled by strange sights, these
strange sights must have been very simply contrived. If they saw gods descending from the sky or rising from the ground, they must have been willing to spread round the very primitive machinery, by which such ascents and descents would be accomplished, an imaginative halo of their own.” 1
Whether the infant Iacchus played any part in the Eleusinian drama is matter for conjecture. The birth,
ovai, of various deities appears as the title of various lost comedies; and, according to the Orphic theology, Iacchus was the child of Persephone. It may be, therefore, that the birth of Iacchus formed the subject of some of the choral odes and dances. Persephone was made in Orphici mythology to be the mother of Iacchus, chiefly because thus the reception of the foreign god was facilitated. That the cult of Iacchus had gained a footing in Athens before it was incorporated with the Eleusinia, is shown by the fact that there was a temple of Iacchus, an Iaccheion, in Athens, in which the image of Iacchus was kept always, except for the few days when it was taken to Eleusis to take part in the Eleusinia. That the cult of Iacchus was introduced into Athens by private individuals, as a private worship, and was carried on by means of one of the ordinary private religious associations, or thiasi, may be considered as certain on the analogy of all the other Eastern cults, which without exception were introduced in this way. But this thiasus of Iacchus, like all other thiasi, would be open to all who chose to become members of it, and probably large numbers did choose to join it. When, therefore, Pisistratus ordained that the circle of the Eleusinian deities should be enlarged by the addition of Iacchus to their number, and that the statue of Iacchus should accordingly be carried in solemn procession by its worshippers from Athens to Eleusis, and there by them be placed by the side of the two goddesses, he not only enlarged the number of the Eleusinian deities, he also enlarged the circle of their worshippers. Indeed, the object of Pisistratus may have been to draw to Eleusis worshippers who might otherwise have preferred to place their hope of future blessedness in the worship of Dionysus. If his object was to increase the number of worshippers at
1 Gardner and Jevons, Greek Antiquities, 283.
the sanctuary of Eleusis, he succeeded beyond his expectation. Since this thiasus, like all other thiasi, was open to all who chose to become members of it, whether native Athenians or foreigners; and since all members of this thiasus were qualified to follow the procession of Iacchus, and present themselves at Eleusis, a foreigner who wished to see the Eleusinian rites had only first to join the thiasus of Iacchus. Thus the rites of Eleusis now for the first time came to be “mysteries " in the proper sense of the word, that is to say, they became rites which were open to all who chose to be initiated, to become mystæ—they were no longer a local cult, admission to which was confined as a birthright to citizens, they were potentially catholic; and initiation, uúnous, not civitas, was the qualification for membership. Initiation into the worship of lacchus took place at the lesser mysteries, and eventually was required of all who wished to be admitted to the greater mysteries at Eleusis; but a memory of the time when the lesser mysteries of Iacchus were peculiarly the portal by which foreigners obtained admission to the Eleusinia, still survives in the myth that the lesser mysteries were invented for the benefit of Heracles, who wished to be admitted to the Eleusinian rites, but could not be initiated because he was a foreigner; therefore the lesser mysteries were invented and thrown open to all foreigners ? (Greeks, not barbarians).
The popularity of Iacchus and of the Eleusinian mysteries was enormously increased in B.C. 480 — half a century after the expulsion of the Pisistratidæ-by the fact that the great and glorious victory over the Persians at Salamis was won on the very day appointed for the procession of Iacchus from Athens to Eleusis; and when Athens, in consequence of her self-sacrifice and devotion in the Persian wars, became the leading state in Greece, the mysteries of Eleusis grew yet more famous, and became the chief agent in the conversion of the Greek world from the Homeric view of Hades to a more hopeful belief as to man's state after death. We have therefore now to trace the several stages through which the belief passed.
* Steph. Byz. s.v. "Aypa, Nonn. Dion. xxvi. 307. : Schol. ad Aristoph. Plut. 1014.
In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, which presents us with the belief as it existed before the intrusion of Iacchus and of Orphic doctrines into the Eleusinia, both punishments and rewards await men after death; but it is not for their morally good or bad deeds that men are rewarded and punished respectively. The doctrine is not ethical, but ritual: the man who offers to Demeter and Persephone the worship which is grateful to them is rewarded with prosperity in this world 1 and happiness in the next ;2 the man who slights the goddesses in this world, and neglects the opportunity of salvation offered by the Eleusinian rites, is punished in Hades by the offended Persephone for the indignity put upon her. The punishment is purely retributive, not reformatory; and there is no attempt to describe the nature of the happy life-the man who has partaken of the sacrament of the KUKEMV and who has enjoyed the communion conferred by the sight of the mysteries is "blessed,” onßios, that is all.
It is not likely that the incorporation of the cult of Iacchus into the Eleusinia would be effected without ultimately modifying the original belief as presented in the Homeric Hymn; and one such modification can be traced with some certainty. The Orphic mysteries, which laid weight on ceremonial purification, especially cleansing by mud, as a preparation without which no one could partake of the sacramental sacrifice and the blessings which it ensured, taught that if a man failed to purify himself thus in this world he would have to be purified hereafter; and hence they represented the wicked as being plunged into mud in the next world," while the good enjoyed “everlasting "5 happiness. Thus the idea that the life after death must be eternal, which had not occurred to the writer of the Homeric Hymn, had now become established, in Orphic literature at least; and the rewards had become eternal, but the punishment purgatorial. And that this view eventually was adopted by the worshippers at Eleusis, is shown by Aristophanes' parody, in which evil-doers are represented as buried in mud.
1 H. H. v. 488.
? Ibid. 480.
3 Ibid. 365-9. * &dikovs és anXóv tiva KaTOPÚTTOVOLY ÉV Aidov, Plato, Rep. 363 C. 5 aiúvios, ibid. 6 Ar. Frogs, 145 ff. and 273 ff.