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Bacchus, and others. And this way of speaking continued even after the Mysteries were introduced into Greece, as appears by the Fables of Hercules's, Castor and Pollux's, and Theseus's descent into Hell. But the allegory generally carried something with it that discovered the truth conveyed under it. So Orpheus is said to get to Hell by the power of his harp:
“ Threïcia fretus cithara, fidibusque canoris:" Which plainly declares it to be in quality of Legislator: the Harp being the known symbol of his Laws, by which he humanized a rude and barbarous people. Again, in the lives of Hercules and Bacchus, we have the true History, and the Fable founded on it, recorded together. For we are told, that they were in fact initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries ; : and that it was just before their Descent into Hell, as an aid and security in that desperate attempt". Which, in plain speech, was no more than that they could not safely see the Shews till they were initiated. Again, near Eleusis there was a well called Callichorus; and, adjoining to that, a Stone, on which, as the tradition went, Ceres sat down, sad and weary, on her coming to Eleusis. Hence the Stone was named Age: lastus, the Melancholy Stone o: so Ovid,
“ Hic primum sedit gelido moestissima Saxo,
“ Illud Cecropidae nunc quoque triste vocant.” On which account it was unlawful for the initiated to sit upon that Stone. “ For Ceres,” says Clemens, “ wandering about “ in search of her daughter Proserpine, when she came to “ Eleusis, grew weary, and sat down melancholy on the side : “ of a well. On which account, to this very day, it is un“ lawful for the initiated to sit down there, lést they who are. “ now become perfect should seem to imitate her in her deso“ late condition P.” Now let us see what they tell us concerning Theseus's Descent into Hell." There is also a Stone,” says the scholiast on Aristophanes, “ called by the Athenians, “ Agelastus; on which, they say, Theseus sat. when he was “ meditating his Descent into Hell. Hence the Stone had its " name. Or perhaps because Ceres sat there weeping when “ she sought Proserpine 9.” This Tradition, methinks, plainly
η – Και τους περί “Ηρακλέα τε και Διόνυσον, καιόνας εις άδου, πρότερος λόγος ενθάδε μυηOmvan, xaà Tò Jágoos ons excīrs wropsias wapà rãs 'Easvoivías švaboccia. Auctor Axiochi.
o 'Agéacsos al paci
Ρ 'Αλωμένη γαρ η Δηώ καηα ζήτησιν της θυγατρός της κόρης, σερί την Ελευσίνα αποκάμνει, και φρέατι επικαθίζει λυπoυμένη. Τούτο τοϊς μεμνημένοις απαγορευέται εισέξι νυν, En ce print doxočev tetssouévor peopesão bei tūv odugopéyny. Clemens Protrep:
4 'Εςι δε και 'Αγέλαφος σίτρα καλουμένη παρά τους Αθηναίοις, όπου καθίσαι φασι θησία μέλλοντα καταβαίνειν εις άδου. όθεν και τούνομα τη σέντρα. και ότι εκεί εκάθισεν η Δημήτηρ xnzioura, órar útso ohne zág v. Schol. Equit. Aristoph, 1.782.
intimates that the descent of Theseus was his entrance into the Eleusinian Mysteries ; and that this entrance was a fraudulent unlawful intrusion, as we shall shew hereafter it indeed was.
Both Euripides and Aristophanes seem to confirm our interpretation of this Descent into Hell. Euripides, in his Hercules Furens, brings the Hero, just come from Hell to succour his family, and destroy the tyrant Lycus. In revenge of this, Juno persecutes him with the Furies; and, in his rage, he kills his wife and children, mistaking them for enemies. When he comes to himself, he is consolated by his friend Theseus ; who would excuse him by the criminal examples of the Gods: a thing, which as I have observed above, mightily encouraged the people in their irregularities; and was therefore provided against in the Mysteries, by the detection of the errors of Polytheism. Now Euripides seems plainly enough to have told us what he thought of the fabulous Descents into Hell, by making Hercules reply like one just come from the Celebration of the Mysteries, and intrusted with the atóponla. “ The Examples,” says he," which you bring of the Gods, " are nothing to the purpose. I cannot think them guilty of “ the crimes imputed to them. I cannot apprehend how one “ God can be the sovereign of another God.--A God, who is “ truly so, stands in need of no one. Reject we then these " ridiculous fables, which the Poets teach concerning them.” The comic Poet, in his Frogs, hath shewn us plainly what he understood by the ancient Hero's Descent into Hell, in the equipage he gives Bacchus, when he brings him inquiring the way of Hercules. We are to observe then, that it was the custom, as we are told by the Scholiast on the place, at the celebration of the Elensinian Mysteries, to have what was wanted in those rites, carried on asses. Hence the proverb, “ Asinus portat Mysteria :” accordingly, the Poet introduces Bacchus, followed by his buffoon servant Xanthius bearing a bundle in like manner, and riding on an ass. And lest the meaning of this should be mistaken, on Hercules's telling Bacchus that the inhabitants of Elysium were the initiated, Xanthius puts in, and says, “ and I am the Ass carrying Myste“ ries.”
Here then, as was the case in many other of the antient fables, the pompousness of the expression betrayed willing posterity into the miraculous. But why need we wonder at it, in the genius of ancient times, which delighted to tell the commonest things in a highly figurative and uncommon manner; when a writer of so late an age as Apuleius, either in imitation of antiquity, or rather, according to the received phraseology of the Mysteries, describes his initiation in this manner : “ Ac“ cessi confinium mortis ; et calcato Proserpinae limine, per “ omnia vectus elementa remeavi: nocte media vidi solem can“ dido coruscantem lumine, Deos inferos et Deos súperos. 6 Accessi coram, et adoravi de proximo r.” Aeneas could not have described his night's journey after he had been let out of the Ivory Gate, to his companions in other terms, had it been indeed a journey into Hell.
We see then, Virgil was obliged to have his hero initiated ; and that he had the authority of fabulous antiquity to call this initiation a Descent into Hell. And surely he made use of his advantage with great judgment; for this fiction animates the relation, that, delivered without an allegory, had been too cold and flat for the Epic Poem.
We see, from the Hero's urging the example of those Heroes and Lawgivers, who we have shewn had been initiated before him, that his request was only for an initiation.
6. Si potuit manis arcessere conjugis Orpheus,
“ Quid memorem Alciden? et mi genus ab Jove summo.” It is to be observed, that Theseus is the only one of these antient heroes not recorded in History to have been initiated, though we have shewn so evidently that his Descent into Hell was, like that of the rest, only a participation of the Mys. teries. The reason is, because his entrance was a violent intrusion.
But an old Poem, under the name of Orpheus, entitled, “ A Descent into Hell,” had it been now existing, would, perhaps, have shewn us that no more was meant than Orpheus's initiation; and that the idea of this sixth Book was taken from thence. Further, that it was customary for the Poets of this age to exercise themselves on the subject of the Mysteries appears from Tully, who desires Atticus, then at Athens and initiated, to send Chilius, a Poet of eminence ®, an account of the Eleusinian Mysteries ; in order, as it would seem, to insert into some Poem he was then writing. - Chilius te rogat et “ ego ejus rogatu 'EYMOANIANN NIATPIAt.” On which
" est in antiquis, habent: ut intelligat ritus patrios et institu« tiones illius sacrae familiae, et augusta Mysteria, ut inquit “ Cicero 2. de Legibus.” Thus it appears that both the antient and modern Poets afforded him a pattern for his undertaking.
However this be, Servius saw thus far into Virgil's design,
! L. 11. Prope fipem.
See Lib. I. Ep. 16. ad Atticum.
as to say, “ that many things were here delivered in the pro“ found learning of the Aegyptian theology u.” . And we have shewn that the doctrines taught in the Mysteries, were invented by that people. But though I say this was our Poet's general design, I would not be supposed to think he followed no other guidės. Several of the Episodes are borrowed from Homer ; and several of the philosophic notions from Plato: some of which will be taken notice of in their place.
The great agent in this affair is the Sibyl; and, as a virgin, she sustains two principal and distinct parts: that of the in-, spired Priestess, to pronounce the Oracle ; (whose connexion with the Mysteries is spoken of above) and that of Hierophant, to conduct the initiated through the whole celebration. Her first part begins,
- Ventum erat ad limen, cum Virgo, poscere fata
“ O tandem magnis pelagi defuncte periclis,” etc. and ends,
“ Ut primum cessit furor, et rabida ora quierunt.” Her second part begins at,
- Sate sanguine Divûm,
6 Tros Anchisiade,” etc. and continues through the whole book.
We have observed, that the initiated had a guide or conductor, called 'Iego partns, Musayaròs, ‘legɛùs, indifferently of either sex , who was to instruct him in the preparatory ceremonies, and lead him to, and explain the Shews and Spectacles. Accordingly, Virgil hath given Aeneas the Sibyl ; whom he calls Vates, magna Sacerdos, et docta Comes, words of equivalent signification. And as the She Mystagogue was devoted to a single life y, so was the Cumaean Sibyl, whom he calls Casta Sibylla. The reason why a Priestess is given to conduct him, is because Proserpine presides in this whole affair. And the name of the Priestess in the Eleusinian Mysteries shows that she properly belonged to Proserpine ; though she was also called the Priestess of Ceres. “ The Ancients," says Porphyrius, ".called the Priestesses of Ceres Mémocul, as being the “ Ministers or Hierophants of the subterraneous Goddess, and
4. Multa per altam Scientiam Theologicorum Aegyptiorum.
* Tàs ispsías [Ahunileos] Meaíorus é ránowy os tontás. Schol. Eurip. Hippol. Ms. aíorus xugíws Tès ons Ahunteos iggsíces Onos Schol. Pind. Pythion,
y Hierophanta apud Athenas eviratur virum, et aeterna debilitate fit castus. Hieron. ad Geron. de Monogamia. Kai Gòv 'IEPOMANTHN raì ràs 'IEPOĐANTIAAL, και τον δαδούχον, και τας άλλας Ιερείας μυρρίνης έχειν σέφανον. δί α και τη Δήμητρα προGO'éoban cáūtnu onoí. Schol. Sophocl. Oedip. Col. v. 673.- to Botas ó conūros co wapa
.“ Proserpine herself Meritúens z." And Aeneas addresses her, as an aspirant to the Mysteries would address the Hierophant,
“ Potes namque omnia : nec te “ Nequidquam lucis Hecate præfecit Avernis.” And she answers much in the language of those sacred ministers,
" Quod si tantus amor, etc.
et Insano juvat indulgere labori;
Accipe quae peragenda prius.”For insanus is the same as žybsolusixòs, and this, as we are told by-Strabo, was an inseparable circumstance of the Mysteries.
The first instruction the Prophetess gives Aeneas, is to search for the Golden Bough, sacred to Proserpine,
“ Aureus et foliis et lento vimine ramus, ..
“ Junoni infernae sacer.” Servius can make nothing of this circumstance. He supposes it might possibly allude to a tree in the middle of the sacred grove of Diana's temple in Greece: where, if a fugitive came for sanctuary, and could get off a branch from this tree, which was carefully guarded by the priests, he had the honour to go to handy-cuffs with one of them, and, if he overcame him, to take his place. Though nothing can be more foreign to the point in question than this rambling stuff, yet the Abbé Banier, the best interpreter of the Fables of the Ancients, is forced, for want of a better, to take up with this solution", after Servius. Now we say, that under this branch is obumbrated the Wreath of Myrtle, with which the initiated were crowned at the celebration of the Mysteries C. 1. Because the Golden Bough is said to be sacred to Proserpine, and so we see was the Myrtle : Proserpine only without Ceres is mentioned all the way through
carefully with one of nothing costuff, yet ihts, is forceer vius
παίειν δόξειεν αν, δέον παιδοποιείσθαι, και απολαύειν του γάμου, καλαμαραίνων ευπρόσωπον ούτω και πέρασαν κόρην, ΚΑΘΑΠΕΡ ΙΕΡΕΙΑΝ ΤΗΣ ΘΕΣΜΟΦΟΡΩι τρέφων δια παντός του βιου. Lucian. in Τimone--ουκούν ανέρασος συ μενείς δια τούτο, και σωφρονήσεις, ΚΑΘΑΠΕΡ ουχ įtaiga, tòy dè OEXMO•OPONIEPEIA Tis ollou Idem in Dialog. Matris et Musarii. It was for this reason that these female Hierophants were called Méaccoul, as is well observed by the Schol. on Pind. in Pyth. the Bee being, among the ancients, the symbol of Chastity;
“ Quod nec concubitu indulgent, nec corpora segnes
“ In Venerem solvunt " 2 De antro Nymph. 4 Τη Δήμητρι νή Δία το “OPΓIAΣTIKON τσαν, και το Βακχικόν, και το χορικών, και TÒ Grigi Tès TEETès peusıxóv. · 1. 10. bExplicat. Histor. des Fables, vol. 2. p. 133. Ed. 1715.
Mugrions copávou isspevouslo di paspunuévou. Schol. Aristoph. Ranis.