Calendar for the Eleusinian Mysteries (IV Year of the 698th Olympiad)

1470365_1519903231593289_271440946286252933_nReligious Calendar for the sacred month of Boedromion

“O Demeter, who of old found your daughter here, now it is left for You to seek your Temple. And the Mysteries are approaching, o Earth and Gods! This month of Boedromion now requires a different kind of cry, not such as when Ion ran with a battle cry to Athens. O the proclamation! O the catalogue of the sacred days and nights!”
(Eleusinian Oration, Aelius Aristides (Ael. Ar. Orat. 19)

“My full heart bids me boldly sing the horses of the ravisher from the underworld and the stars darkened by the shadow of His infernal chariot and the gloomy chambers of the queen of Hell. Come not nigh, ye unititiate. Now has divine madness driven all mortal thoughts from my breast, and my heart is filled with Phoebus’ inspiration; now see I the shrine reel and its foundations totter while the threshold glows with radiant light telling that the God is at hand. And now I hear a loud din from the depths of the earth, the temple of Cecrops re-echoes and Eleusis waves its holy torches. The hissing snakes of Triptolemus raise their scaly necks chafed by the curving collar, and, uptowering as they glide smoothly along, stretch forth their rosy crests toward the chant. See from afar rises Hecate with Her three various heads and with Her comes forth Iacchus smooth of skin, His temples crowned with ivy. There clothes him the pelt of a Parthian tiger, its gilded claws knotted together, and the Lydian thyrsus guides His drunken footsteps.

 Ye Gods, whom the numberless host of the dead serves in ghostly Avernus, into whose greedy treasury is paid all that perishes upon earth, ye whose fields the pale streams of intertwining Styx surround, while Phlegethon, his rapids tossed in spray, flows through them with steaming eddies — do you unfold for me the mysteries of your sacred story and the secrets of your world. Say with what torch the God of love overcame Dis, and tell how Proserpine was stolen away in her maiden pride to win Chaos as a dower; and how through many lands Ceres, sore troubled, pursued her anxious search; whence corn was given to man whereby he laid aside his acorn food, and the new-found ear made useless Dodona’s oaks.”

Claudianus, The rape of Proserpine, prologue

“Eleusis is a shrine common to the whole Earth, and of all divine things that exist among men, it is both the most awesome and the most luminous.”

Aelius Aristides, Orationes 19

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“Is it not true that the Mysteries of Eleusis are the essence of your religion?”
Ast. Amas. Om. 10, 9

– From the sunset of 14 September, Τρίτη Μεσοῦντος/ Τρισκαιδεκάτη/ Τρίτη ἐπὶ δέκα, XIII day- procession of the epheboi toward Eleusis

“Driantianos, archon of Eumolpidai, said:
“As we celebrate even to this day and administer the Mysteries as in the past and as established by the traditional norm and by the Eumolpidai, it is up to the people to decide, with good fortune, the modes of transport in an orderly way of the sacred objects from Eleusis to here (Eleusinion in the City ) and then from the City to Eleusis, it must be ordained to the cosmete of the epheboi to lead the youths at Eleusis in observance of the ancient customary rule on the 13th of the month Boedromion, in the usual form of the procession that accompanies the sacred objects … ”

(IG II2 1078).

 

From the sunset of 15 September,Τετάρτη Μεσοῦντος/ Τετρὰς ἐπὶ δέκα/ Τεσσαρεκαιδεκάτη, XIV day- The epheboi escort back the Hierà from Eleusis to the Eleusinion in Athens.

“…it must be ordained to the cosmete of the epheboi to lead the youths at Eleusis in observance of the ancient customary rule on the 13th of the month Boedromion, in the usual form of the procession that accompanies the sacred objects, so that on the 14th they accompany back the sacred objects up to the Eleusinion in the City, so that there are more discipline and greater surveillance over the sacred objects, when the phaiduntés of the Two Goddesses, according to the traditions of the Homeland, announces to the priestess of Athena the arrival of the sacred objects and of the escort …” (IG II2 1078)

From the sunset of 16 September, Πέμπτη Μεσοῦντος/ Πέμπτη ἐπὶ δέκα / Πεντεκαιδεκάτη, XV day, Full Moon – ‘the day of the gathering’. Agyrmós- Prorresis (formal declaration bidding depart to those not qualified): this is the first ‘official’ day of the Mysteries. The Archon Basileus calls the gathering (agyrmós) in the Stoa Poikile, in Agorà, of those already initiated into the Lesser Mysteries of Agrai. In the presence of the Hierophant and the Dadouchos, the Sacred Herald delivers the formal proclamation (prorresis).

“The leader of the mystai proclaimed to the assembly that they must be pure in hands and soul and of Hellenic speech.”

“Whoever is pure from all stain and whose soul is conscious of no sin and who has lived a good and just life.”

“Come ye all who are pure of hands and of intelligible speech.”

“If there is someone who is not initiated into the venerable initiations, or who is atheist, or who has not a pure disposition, get out from the sacred ceremonies.”

“Citizens’ Assembly … the first day of the Mysteries.”

Obligation to fast during the day: “fasting on the sacred days of the Rarian Demeter” but “because She broke Her fast at nightfall, the initiates time their meal by the appearance of the stars.”

“…to the Mother, the first-born Earth, the Kybeleian Kore said:
…of Demeter…o Zeus who see everything…
o Helios, o Fire who go across all the cities, when
to the Goddesses of victory and to the Goddesses of fate and together with the Moira which oversees all things You appeared,
You increases the brightness, shining Daimon,
with Your dominion; by You everything can be subdued, everything supported,
everything blazed; everywhere we have to endure the works of the Moira.
Lead me, O Fire, to the Mother, if I can resist fasting,
and to accomplish a fast of seven nights, or after the day.
For You I have fasted for seven days, Olympian Zeus and Helios who see everything……”
Sicilian golden tablet- Otto Kern, Orphicorum fragmenta fr. 47

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Registration of the initiates and payment of the fees that go to the various Eleusinian priests and priestesses.

(Hesychius, s.v. agyrmos ; Schol. on Aristoph. Ran. 369; Poll. viii. 90; Call. Aetia 10; Ovid Fasti 530)

From the sunset of 17 September, Ἕκτη Μεσοῦντος/ Ἕκτη ἐπὶ δέκα /Ἑκκαιδεκάτη, XVI day- ‘Elasis’ (from Halade mystai- initiates to the sea’)

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‘Halade mystai’ is the command of the Hierophant.

At dawn, the initiates, each along with his/her mystagogos, go down to the sea-shore of Phaleros or Pireos (or at the Rheitoi, or in Eleusis), to purify themselves and the piglets they have to sacrifice to Demeter on their return to Athens (Clinton argued that the piglets were carried alive to the sanctuary at Eleusis, where they were sacrificed to Demeter and thrown into megara, or pits, adjacent to the Telesterion.)

This day is associated then with purifications of all kinds (sea-water, water from the Rheitoi lakes, piglets’ blood, Dios koidion, etc…)

“So, to those that approach the Holy Celebrations of the Mysteries, there are appointed purifications and the laying aside of the garments worn before.”
(Plotinus, First Ennead VI, 7)

(See Hesychius, s.v. halade mystai;  Plutarch, Phokion 28.3, de Glor. Ath. 349; Mylonas 1961, pp. 249-50; Polyaenos 3.11.2; Etym. M. s. v.: hiera hodos; Suda s.v. Dios koidion)

From the sunset of 18 September, Ἑβδόμη Μεσοῦντος/ Ἑβδóμη ἐπὶ δέκα / Ἑπτακαιδεκάτη, XVII day- ‘Hiereia Deuro- Hither the victims’

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The day on which the Archon Basileus and the epimeletai offer the community sacrifices to the Two Goddesses at the Eleusinion in the City; at all these sacrifices the theoroi of foreign states, who have sent the aparchai, seem to have taken part.

Private sacrifices to Demeter and Kore: “To Demeter and Kore perfect female pigs”.

About the sacrifices and aparchai: “…to the Two Goddesses shall be offered the first fruits of the earth, according to the traditions of the homeland and the Oracle of Delphi to the Athenians…the Hierophant and the Dadouchos impose that the Hellenes offer, in occasion of the Mysteries, the first fruits of the earth, according to the traditions of the homeland and the Oracle of Delphi to the Athenians…to be offered in sacrifice the pelanos, as indicated by the Eumolpidai, a trittoa boarchos (triple sacrifice beginning with a bovid) with gold-plated horns for each one of the Two Goddesses, barley and wheat for Triptolemos and the God and for the Goddess and for Eubulos a perfect victim for each one of Them, and for Athena an ox with gold-plated horns; the hieropoioi and the assembly have to consacrate as votive offerings the rest of the offered barley and wheat…from this may come many good things and fertility and plenty for those who are not found guilty against the Athenians, Athens and the Two Goddesses.”

(IG II2 76, 1367; Lys. Andoc. 4; Eur. Suppl. 173)

From the sunset of 19 September, Ὀγδόη Μεσοῦντος/ Ὀγδόη ἐπὶ δέκα / Όκτωκαιδεκάτη, XVIII day- ‘Epidauria’

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Epidauria, or Asklepieia, the annual festival of Asklepios in Athens. According to Pausanias and Philostratos, Asklepios originally came to Athens on this day to be initiated into the Mysteries, and, because He was late, an extra festival day was created to accommodate him: “The Athenians say that they initiated Asklepios into their Mysteries on that day, and since that time they paid divine honors to Him.”

“It was then the day of the Epidaurian festival, at which it is customary for the Athenians to hold the initiation at a second sacrifice after both proclamation and victims have been offered; and this custom was instituted in honor of Asklepios, because they still initiated him when he arrived from Epidauros too late for the Mysteries.”

Accordingly, this extra day allows late arrivals to join the festival.

Festival linked with the establishment of the cult of Asklepios and Hygeia in Athens: “Telemachos founded the sanctuary and altar to Asklepios first, and Hygeia, the sons of Asklepios and His daughters…coming up from Zea during the Great Mysteries, Asklepios was conveyed to the Eleusinion; and having sent for servants at his own expenses, Telemachos brought Him here on a wagon, in accordance with an oracle; at the same time came Hygeia; and so the whole sanctuary was established in the archonship of Astyphilos of Kydantidai.”

First, there is a pannychis in honor of Asklepios, in the Eleusinion and in the temple of Asklepios; following a procession (from Zea to the temple of Asklepios?), there is a second major sacrifice- “The Archon Basileus organizes the procession in honor of Asklepios, when the initiates spend the night staying awake…”

A sacrifice and procession were thus established for the Epidauria, “on the day when the mystai were keeping at home.” The mystai remain at their homes in meditation, preparing themselves for the following days.

“the son of Nikokrates, of Phlya, who was priest of Asklepios and Hygieia in the year of the archonship of Timarchos, performed in fair and pious fashion the initial sacrifices of the year to Asklepios and Hygieia and the other Gods to whom it was an ancestral custom to make offerings, and whereas at the Asklepieia, the Epidauria, and the Heroa he sacrificed bulls in the Asklepios sanctuary in town and performed the night-festivals of these celebrations; moreover, having made sacrifices in behalf of the Council and the Demos and the children and the women, he reported in all cases to the Council that the sacrifices had been favourable and that they assured safety…”

Private sacrificial calendar: a perfect sacrifice to Dionysos and to all the other Gods

(Vit. Apoll. iv. 18; Pausanias 2.26.8; IG II2 974,1367, 4960 ; Herod. v. 82; Arist. Or. XXXXVII 6; Arist. Ath. Pol. 56.4)

From the sunset of 20 September, Ἐνάτη Μεσοῦντος/ Ἐνάτη ἐπὶ δέκα / Ἐννεακαιδεκάτη, XIX day- ‘Iakchos- day of the procession’

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“Let us not allow, Athenians, that the sacred voice of Iacchus is silenced and that the venerable sanctuary of the Goddesses remains closed.”
Athenaeus, V 51 213d

The procession is dated to two successive days, 19 and 20 Boedromion, since it starts from Athens during 19th day, but arrives in Eleusis after the sunset, then at the beginning of the 20th day.

The initiates, each one along with his/her mystagogos, meet at the Kerameikos, between the Dipylon and the Sacred Gate- where the Hiera Odos begins- where there is the Pompaion. The Eleusinian priests carry the Hierà from the Eleusinion to the Sacred Gate where the meeting is; the armed epheboi, organized by their kosmetes, escort back the procession.

“According to the same rules, the 19th of the month of Boedromion it has to be ordained to the cosmete of the epheboi to lead them again to Eleusis, to act as escort to the sacred objects in the same form; the cosmete in office during the year has to ensure that these rules are never overlooked and that there is never negligence in the acts of piety dedicated to the Two Goddesses; all the youths, wearing full armor, crowned with a wreath of myrtle, have to escort advancing in formation; since it has been given to the youths the order to travel this long road, it’s righteous that they take part in the sacrifices, and the libations and the choral songs that take place during the journey, so that the transport of the sacred objects is carried out with an effective supervision and with a very long procession , and the youths, following the practices of worship devoted to the deity by the City, become more pious men … ”

The great procession to Eleusis, bearing the God Iakchos in front, begins- wearing festive garments and garlands of myrtle on their heads, carrying bunches of myrtle twigs and bundles of provisions attached to the end of sticks, the mystai start the journey toward Eleusis in a joyous mood: “Life, as initiation and perfect fulfillment of these Mysteries, must be full of peace and joy” (Ar. Philosophy, fr. 14).

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“The initiates used a myrtle-crown, and not of ivy…because Demeter liked the myrtle and because it was consecrated to the Chthonian Gods.” – The device by which Dionysus induced Hades to release the soul of His Mother, Semele: it is said that Hades consented to set Her free provided that Her Son would send of His best beloved to replace Her shade in the Underworld. Now, of all the things in the world, the dearest to Dionysus were the ivy, the vine, and the myrtle; so, of these He sent the myrtle, and that is why the initiated wreathed their brows with myrtle leaves. See Scholiast on Aristoph. Frogs 330.

“The Hierophant, the Hierophantides, the Dadouchos and the other priestesses wear a myrtle-crown and for these reasons (Sophocles) attributes it as crown also to Demeter.”
FGrHist 334 F 29

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Much can be learned of this celebration from the chorus’s imitation of them in Aristophanes’ comedy, The Frogs.

Chorus: O Iacchus! O Iacchus! O Iacchus!
Xanthias: I have it, master: ’tis those blessed Mystics,…
Chorus: O Iacchus! power excelling, here in stately temples dwelling.
O Iacchus! O Iacchus!
Come to tread this verdant level,
Come to dance in mystic revel,
Come whilst round thy forehead hurtles
Many a wreath of fruitful myrtles,
Come with wild and saucy paces
Mingling in our joyous dance,
Pure and holy, which embraces all the charms of all the Graces,
When the mystic choirs advance.
Xanthias: Holy and sacred queen, Demeter’ s daughter,
O, what a jolly whiff of pork breathed o’er me!
Dionysus: Hist! and perchance you’ll get some tripe yourself.
Chorus: Come, arise, from sleep waking, come the fiery torches shaking,
O Iacchus! 0 Iacchus!
Morning Star that shinest nightly.
Lo, the mead is blazing brightly,
Age forgets its years and sadness,
Aged knees curvet for gladness,
Lift thy flashing torches o’er us,
Marshall all thy blameless train,
Lead, O lead the way before us; lead the lovely youthful Chorus
To thy marshy flowery plain.
All evil thoughts and profane be still: far hence, far hence from our choirs depart,
Who knows not well what the Mystics tell, or is not holy and pure of heart;
Who ne’er has the noble revelry learned, or danced the dance of the Muses high…
I charge them once, I charge them twice, I charge them thrice, that they draw not nigh
To the sacred dance of the Mystic choir. But you, my comrades, awake the song,
The night-long revels of joy and mirth which ever of right to our feast belong.
Advance, true hearts, advance!
On to the gladsome powers,
On to the sward, with flowers
Embosomed bright!
March on with jest, and jeer, and dance,
Full well ye’ve supped tonight.
March, chanting loud your lays,
Your hearts and voices raising,
The Savior goddess praising
Who vows she’ll still
Our city save to endless days,
Whate’er Thorycion’s will.
Break off the measure, and change the time; and now with chanting and hymns adorn
Demeter, goddess mighty and high, the harvest-queen, the giver of corn.
O Lady, over our rites presiding,
Preserve and succor thy coral throng,
And grant us all, in thy help confiding,
To dance and revel the whole day long;
And much in earnest, and much in jest,
Worthy thy feast, may we speak therein.
And when we have bantered and laughed our best,
The victor’s wreath be it ours to win.
Call we now the youthful god, call him hither without delay,
Him who travels amongst his chorus, dancing along on the Sacred Way.
O, come with the joy of thy festival song,
O, come to the goddess, O, mix with our throng
Untired, though the journey be never so long.
O Lord of the frolic and dance, :
Iacchus, beside me advance!
For fun, and for cheapness, our dress thou hast rent,
Through thee we may dance to the top of our bent,
Reviling, and jeering, and none will resent.
O Lord of the frolic and dance,
Iacchus, beside me advance!
A sweet pretty girl I observed in the show,
Her robe had been torn in the scuffle, and lo,
There peeped through the tatters a bosom of snow.
O Lord of the frolic and dance,
Iacchus, beside me advance!…
Chorus: Now wheel your sacred dance through the glade with flowers bedight,
All ye who are partakers of the holy festal rite;
And I will with the women and the holy maidens go
Where they keep the nightly vigil, an auspicious light to show.
Now haste we to the roses,
And the meadows full of posies,
Now haste we to the meadow
In our own old way,
In choral dances blending,
In dances never ending,
Which only for the holy initiates
The Destinies array.
O, happy mystic chorus,
The blessed sunshine o’er us
On us alone is smiling,
In its soft sweet light:
On us who strove forever
With holy, pure endeavor
Alike by friend and stranger
To guide our steps aright.”

“Swinging your firebrand in your hand – light in the darkness of night – you arrived in your enthusiastic frenzy in the flower-covered vale of Eleusis – euhoi, o io Bakchos, o ie Paian! There the entire Greek nation, surrounding the indigenous witnesses of the holy Mysteries, invokes you as Iakchos: you have opened for mankind a haven, relief from suffering. – Ie Paian, come o Saviour, and kindly keep this city in happy prosperity.”
Philodamos’ Paian to Dionysos

“Dionysos watching the torch dance of the eikades…”

“The light-bearing star of the nocturnal Mysteries”

“He declared that after the army of Xerxes had, in the absence of the Athenians, wasted Attica, he chanced to be with Demaratus the Lacedaemonian in the Thriasian plain, and that while there, he saw a cloud of dust advancing from Eleusis, such as a host of thirty thousand men might raise. As he and his companion were wondering who the men, from whom the dust arose, could possibly be, a sound of voices reached his ear, and he thought that he recognised the mystic hymn to Bacchus. Now Demaratus was unacquainted with the rites of Eleusis, and so he inquired of Dicaeus what the voices were saying. Dicaeus made answer- “O Demaratus! beyond a doubt some mighty calamity is about to befall the king’s army! For it is manifest, inasmuch as Attica is deserted by its inhabitants, that the sound which we have heard is an unearthly one, and is now upon its way from Eleusis to aid the Athenians and their confederates.”
(Er. VIII 65)

“At this stage of the struggle they say that a great light flamed out from Eleusis, and an echoing cry filled the Thriasian plain down to the sea, as of multitudes of men together conducting the mystic Iacchus in procession. Then out of the shouting throng a cloud seemed to lift itself slowly from the earth, pass out seawards, and settle down upon the triremes. Others fancied they saw apparitions and shapes of armed men coming from Aegina with their hands stretched out to protect the Hellenic triremes. These, they conjectured, were the Aeacidae, who had been prayerfully invoked before the battle to come to their aid.”
(Plut. – Them. 15)

Many shrines to be visited and many sacrifices to be made during the journey along the Sacred Way:

– Sanctuary of Apollo

– Temple of Aphrodite

– Rheitoi (apotropaic rites of the Krokonidai: they put on each initiate a wool band of the color of the crocus, on the right hand and left feet- to avert the evil-eye) “The mystai bind their right hand and the left foot with a piece of cloth and this is called ‘to crown with saffron’.” (Anecd. graec. P. 273, 25)

– Eleusinian Kephisos- Gephyrismoi: “Gephyristai: mockers, because at Eleusis, sitting on the parapet of the bridge, they mocked the passers-by.” “.. Gephyris.. a hooded man who, by sitting there in the course of the Mysteries of Eleusis, directed coarse jokes towards the illustrious citizens, indicating them by name.”

“For the Chthonian Demeter, for Persephone and for Klymenos the gifts are mysteric.
[…] in Eleusis, at the cry of Iacchus that leads the initiates
[…] large is the procession which receives the one who has accomplished a long fast, next to the wave of the sea…”
Philicus, 676; 680; 36-62

– Arrival to the Sanctuary by night (already Boedromion 20):

Welcome to Iakchos, dances around the Kallichoron well and kernophories

“It ‘s more or less as if it would be allowed to a man, Greek or barbarian, to be initiated in the most secret part of a mysteric sanctuary of extraordinary beauty and of exceptional dimensions, where he would have many visions of mystery and listen to many voices of this kind, while darkness and light are manifested on and off, and an infinite number of other things happens; and if he would be also as in the so-called enthronement, where the initiators have the custom to make sit the initiates and to dance around them in a circle; so you really think that this man could not feel anything in his soul? ”
Dion. Cris. Or. 12, 33

“They say that “the bringer of light” (Phosphoros) is the fire of the Mysteries”

(IG II2 1078; Arist. Ranae 324ff; Plut. Phoc. 28, Cam. 19; Esych. s.v. Gephyris, gephyristés; Tzetzes ad Arist. Ran. 330a; Eur. Ion 1076)

From the sunset of 21 September, Εἰκοστή/ Εἰκὰς/ Εἰκοσάδες, XX day- ‘Teletè’

“I beseech Thee, by thy fruit-bearing right, by the joyful ceremonies of harvest, by the unspoken secret of the mystic chests, by the winged chariots of Thy dragon-ministers, and the furrows of the Sicilian soil, and the  chariot of the Ravisher, and the dark descending ceremonies attending the marriage of Proserpina, and the ascending rites which accompanied the lighted return of thy daughter, and by other arcana which Eleusis the Attic sanctuary conceals in profound silence, relieve the sorrows of thy wretched suppliant Psyché.”

“Accessi confinium mortis; et calcato Proserpinæ limine, per omnia vectus elementa remeavi. Nocte media vidi solem candido coruscantem lumine, deos inferos, et deos superos. Accessi coram, et adoravi de proximo.”

(Apuleius)

“Corn and teletè, the two gifts of Demeter, blessings that only the mystes can fully understand.”

(Isocrates)

“The initiates first gather together and push each other in an uproar and they cry, but when are executed and show the sacred rites, then they become careful, fearful and remain silent … who came in and saw a great light, as when a sanctuary opens, behaves differently, is silent and astonished … ”

Breaking of the fast; drinking of the kykeon and taking food from the kernos…

Sacrifices to the Eleusinian deities, performed by the Archon Basileus and the epimeletai of the Mysteries.

The night of the Initiation.

“The soul in point of death has the same experiences as those who are being initiated into the Great Mysteries…at first one wanders and wearily hurries to and fro, and journeys with suspicion through the dark as one uninitiated; then come all the terrors before the final initiation, shuddering, trembling, sweating, amazement; then one is struck with a marvelous light, one is received into pure regions and meadows, with voices and dances and the majesty of holy sounds and shapes; among these, he who has fulfilled initiation,  wanders free, and released and bearing his crown, joins in the divine communion, and consorts with pure and holy men, beholding those who live here uninitiated, as unclean horde, trodden under foot of him and huddled together in filth and fog, abiding in their miseries through fear of death and mistrust of the blessings there”

(Them. from Stobaios, ‘On the soul’)

“The perfective rite [τελετη] precedes in order the initiation [μυησις], and initiation, the final initiation, epopteia.” At the same time it is proper to observe that the whole business of initiation was distributed into five parts, as we are informed by Theon of Smyrna, in Mathematica, who thus elegantly compares philosophy to these mystic rites: “Again,” says he, “philosophy may be called the initiation into true sacred ceremonies, and the instruction in genuine Mysteries; for there are five parts of initiation: the first of which is the previous purification; for neither are the Mysteries communicated to all who are willing to receive them; but there are certain persons who are prevented by the voice of the herald [κηρυξ], such as those who possess impure hands and an inarticulate voice; since it is necessary that such as are not expelled from the Mysteries should first be refined by certain purifications: but after purification, the reception of the sacred rites succeeds. The third part is denominated epopteia. And the fourth, which is the end and design of the epopteia, is the binding of the head and fixing of the crowns. The initiated is, by this means, authorized to communicate to others the sacred rites in which he has been instructed; whether after this he becomes a torch-bearer, or a Hierophant of the Mysteries, or sustains some other part of the sacerdotal office. But the fifth, which is produced from all these, is friendship and interior communion with Gods, and the enjoyment of that felicity which arises from intimate converse with divine beings…he (Plato) denominates εποπτεια, a contemplation of things which are apprehended intuitively, absolute truths, and ideas. But he considers the binding of the head, and coronation, as analogous to the authority which any one receives from his instructors, of leading others to the same contemplation. And the fifth gradation is, the most perfect felicity arising from hence, and, according to Plato, an assimilation to divinity, as far as is possible to mankind”

(Proklos, Theology of Plato IV)

(cfr. Plutarch Mor. 81d-e; Plut. fr. 178 (Sandbach); Papiro di Tebtunis 20, col. I 18; Pr. Theol. Pl. III 19, 64; EM. s.v. muesis; schol. Arist. Ran. 456a; Psell. Op. 44, 1-2; Eur. Ion 1074- 7; Proklos in RP II, p. 185, 10-2; Porph. fr. 360 F)

From the sunset of 22 September, Δεκάτη Ὑστέρα/ Δεκάτη Φθίνοντος/ Μετεικὰς/ Ἀμφιδεκάτη, XXI day – Autumnal Equinox – ‘Epopteia’

“The thought of the intelligible, pure and simple, passes through the soul like a lightning, offering, sometime for a single time, the opportunity to touch and to contemplate. Thus, Plato and Aristotle call ‘epoptic’ that part of the philosophy, because one who has really grasped the pure truth of it (of the simple and immaterial principle) think to possess, as in an initiation, the ultimate goal of philosophy.”

(Arist. Eudemus fr. 10 Ross)

oloklera dè kaì aplâ kaì atremê kaì eydaimona phasmata myoymenoi te kaì epopteyontes en aygei katharâi”, “in our mystic initiation, contemplating perfect, simple, immutable and blessed visions in a pure light”

(Plato, Phdr. 250b-c)

“Therefore we must ascend again towards the Good, the desired of every Soul. Anyone that has seen This, knows what I intend when I say that it is beautiful. Even the desire of it is to be desired as a Good. To attain it is for those that will take the upward path, who will set all their forces towards it, who will divest themselves of all that we have put on in our descent:- so, to those that approach the Holy Celebrations of the Mysteries, there are appointed purifications and the laying aside of the garments worn before, and the entry in nakedness- until, passing, on the upward way, all that is other than the God, each in the solitude of himself shall behold that solitary-dwelling Existence, the Apart, the Unmingled, the Pure, that from Which all things depend, for Which all look and live and act and know, the Source of Life and of Intellection and of Being. And one that shall know this vision- with what passion of love shall he not be seized, with what pang of desire, what longing to be molten into one with This, what wondering delight! If he that has never seen this Being must hunger for It as for all his welfare, he that has known must love and reverence It as the very Beauty; he will be flooded with awe and gladness, stricken by a salutary terror; he loves with a veritable love, with sharp desire…Beholding this Being- the Choregos of all Existence, the Self-Intent that ever gives forth and never takes- resting, rapt, in the vision and possession of so lofty a loveliness, growing to Its likeness, what Beauty can the soul yet lack? For This, the Beauty supreme, the absolute, and the primal, fashions Its lovers to Beauty and makes them also worthy of love. And for This, the sternest and the uttermost combat is set before the Souls; all our labour is for This, lest we be left without part in this noblest vision, which to attain is to be blessed in the blissful sight, which to fail of is to fail utterly.”

(Plotinus, First Ennead VI, 7)

From the sunset of 23 September, Ἐνάτη Φθίνοντος/ Ἐνάτη μετ’εἰκάδας XXII day- ‘Plemochoai’

Libation to the dead.

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“In the Eleusinian rites, the gazed up to the Heaven and cried aloud “rain”, they gazed down upon the Earth and cried “conceive”

“This is the great and ineffable mystery of the Eleusinians: rain and conceive.”

“Plemochoe, a ceramic dish like a whirling top sitting at rest, which some speak of as a little kotulos. They make use of it [ = kotyliskos] in Eleusis on the last day of the mysteries which they name from it Plemochoai, on which day, after they have filled two plemochoai, making one stand up toward the east and one toward the west, they overturn them while pronouncing a mystic formula. The author of the Peirithus, whether he is Kritias the Tyrant or Euripides, makes mention of them [= plemochoai] by saying the following: ‘That we may pour out these plemochoai into the earthy chasm with propitious speech.”

“ινα πλημοχοας τασδ’ εις χθονιον

χασμ’ευφημως προχεωμεν”

“It is a ceramic vessel not having a sharp bottom but on the contrary is sitting and stationary, which they use on the last day of the mysteries, which day they name from it Plemochoe.”

(Proklos  in Tim. 40e; Athen. XI 93; Pollux Onom. 10.73-74; Hipp. Ref. V 7,34)

From the sunset of 24 September, Ὀγδόη Φθίνοντος/ Ὀγδόη μετ’εἰκάδας, XXIII day- Epistrophè. The mystai return to their own City, in small groups and not with a procession; Strabo tells us that, on this day, ‘gephyrismoi’ took place at the passing of the Athenian Kephisos (Strabo IX, 1, 24). Meeting of the Sacred Assembly in Eleusis. (IG II2 1072, 1-3)

From the sunset of 25 September, Ἑβδόμη Φθίνοντος/ Ἑβδόμη μετ’εἰκάδας, XXIV day. Assembly in the City Eleusinion after the performance of the Mysteries.(And. 1. 111; IG II2 848)

“When we had returned from Eleusis, and the information had been presented and the King Archon had made his appearance, to deliver, as is a custom of the Prytanes, his report of what had taken place at Eleusis during the Festival, they requested that they might take him before the Senate and asked him to notify both Cephisius and me to be present at the Eleusinium. For the Senate was about to sit there, according to the law of Solon which commands them to sit in the Eleusinium upon the day after the performance of the Mysteries.”
Andocides, On the Mysteris, 1. 111

8 thoughts on “Calendar for the Eleusinian Mysteries (IV Year of the 698th Olympiad)

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