Page images

ties of the States presided in them; and, so long, they were safe from notorious abuses. But in aftertimes it would happen, that a little priest, who had borne an inferior share in these rites, would leave his society and country, and set up for himself; and in a clandestine manner, without the allowance or knowledge of the Magistrate, institute and celebrate the Mysteries in private Conventicles. From rites so managed it is easy to believe, many enormities would arise. This was the original of those horrid iinpieties coinmitted in the Mysteries of Bacchus at Rome; of which the historian Livy has given so circumstantial an account: for, in the beginning of his story, he tells us, the mischief was occasioned by one of these priests bringing the Mysteries into Etruria, on his own head, uncommissioned by his superiors in Greece, from whom he learnt them; and unauthorized by the State, into which he had introduced them. The words of Livy shew that the Mysteries were, in their own nature, a very different affair; and invented for the improvement of Knowledge and Virtue. “A Greek " of mean extraction (says he *) a little priest and



OF MIND AND BODY t." It is farther observable, that this

priest * Græcus ignobilis in Etruriam primum venit, NULLA CUM ARTE EARUM, QUAS MULTAS AD

NOBIS ERUDITISSIMA OMNIUM GÉNS INVEXIT, sed sacrificulus & vates. Hist. lib. xxxix.

† What Livy means by the culture of the body, will be seen hereafter, when we come to speak of the probationary and toila










priest brought the Mysteries pure with him out of Greece, and that they received their corruption in Italy; for, as Hispala tells the story to the Consul, at first WOMEN only celebrated the Rites; till Paculla Minia Campana became priestess; who, on a sudden, as by order of the Gods, made a total alteration in the Ceremonies, and initiated her sons; which gave occasion to all the debaucheries that followed* The consequence of this discovery was the abolition of the Rites of Bacchus throughout Italy, by a decree of the Senate t.

However, it is very true, that in Greece itself the Mysteries became abominably abused I: a proof of


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

some trials undergone by those aspirants to the Alysteries, called the soldiers of MITHRAS.

Hispala's confession will fully instruct the reader in the nature and degree of these corruptions.-—“Tum Hispala originem

sacrorum expromit. Primo sacrarium id fæminarum fuisse, nec

quemquam virum eo admitti solitum.-Pacullam sacerdotem " omnia, tanquam Deùm monitis, immutâsse : nam & viros eam

primam suos filios initiasse : & nocturnum sacrum ex diurno, &

pro tribus in anno diebus quinos singulis mensibus dies initiorum “ fecisse. Ex quo in promiscuo sacra sint, & permisti viri fæmi“ nis, & noctis licentia accesserit; nihil ibi facinoris, nibil fagitii

prætermissum; plura virorum inter sese, quam fæminarum esse

stupra. Si qui minus patientes de decoris sint, & pigriores ad “ facinus, pro victimis immolari: nihil nefus ducere. Hanc

summam inter eos religionem esse; viros velut mente capta cuni “ jactatione fanatica corporis vaticinari --Raptos a Diis homines “ dici, quos machinæ illigatos ex conspectu in abditos specus “ abripiant; eos esse, qui aut conjurare, aut sociari facinoribus, “ aut stuprum pati noluerint Multitudinem ingentem, alterum jam

prope populum esse : in his nobiles quosdam viros, fæminasque. " Biennio proximo institutum esse, ne quis major viginti annis * initiaretur ; çaptari ætatis & erroris & stupri patientes."

+ See note (N) at the end of this Book.
1 See Clemens Alexandrinus, in his Admonitio ad Gentes

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

which we have even in the conduct of their Comic writers, whọ frequently lay the action of the Drama (such as the rape of a young girl, and the like) at the celebration of a religious Mystery; and from that Mystery denominate the Piece * So that, in the time of Cicero, the terms mysteries and abominations were almost synonymous. The Academic having said they had secrets and Mysteries, Lucullus replies, " Quæ

sunt tandem ista MYSTERIA ? aut cur celatis, quasi

TURPE aliquid, vestram sententiam t?” However, in spite of all occasions and opportunities, some of these Mysteries, as the ELEUSINIAN particularly, continued for many ages pure and undefiled. The two capital corruptions of the Mysteries were magic and IMPURITIES. Yet, so late as the age of Apollonius Tyan; the Eleusinian kept so clear of the first imputation, that the hierophant refused to initiate that impostor, because he was suspected to be a Magician And, indeed, their long-continued immunity, both from one and the other corruption, will not appear extraordinary, if we consider, that, by a law of Solon, the senate was always to meet the day after the celebration of these Mysteries, to see that nothing had been done amiss during the performances. So that these were

* See Fabricius's Notitia comicorum deperditorum, in his first volume of the Bibl. Græc. lib. ii. cap. 22.

† Acad. Quæst. lib.i. · : ο δε Ιεροφάντης έκ έβέλειο παρέχει» τα τερά, μη γαρ άν σοθε μνήσαι γόηλα, μη δε την Ελευσίνα ανοίξαι ανθρώπω μη καθαρά τα dasjóna, Philost. lib. iv. cap. 18.

και η γαρ βελή έκεϊ καθεδείσθαι έμελλε, κατά τον Σόλωνον νόμον, δς κελεύει, τη υπεραία, των μυστηρίων έδραν ποιείν εν τω Ελευσινίων. Andoc. Οrat. VOL. II.



the very last that submitted to the common fate of aly human institutions *.

It is true, if uncertain report were to be believed, the Mysteries were corrupted very early: for Orpheus himself is said to have abused them ti But this was a figment which the debauched Mystæ of later times invented to varnish over their enormities; as the detestable Pæderasts of after-ages scandalized the blameless Socrates. Besides, the story is so ill laid, that it is detected by the surest records of Antiquity : for, in consequence of the crime which they fabled Orpheus committed in the Mysteries, they preterrded, that he was torn in pieces by the women: whereas it appeared from the inscription on his monument at Dium in Macedonia, that he was struck dead with lightning, the envied death of the reputed favourites of the Gods I.

And here the christian FATHERS will hardly escape the censure of those who will not allow high provocation to be an excuse for an unfair representation of an adversary. I say, they will hardly escape censure, for accustoming themselves to speak of the Mysteries as gross impieties and inınoralities in tlreir very original g. Clemens Alexandrinus, in a heat of zeal, breaks out, " Let him be accursed, who first infected the world

with these impostures, whether it was Dardanus--or

-BC. These I make no scruple to call wicked " authors of impious fables; the fathers of an exe“ crable superstition, who, by this Institution, sowed

* See note (O) at the end of this Buok.
+ See Diog. Laert. Proæmium, Segm. 5.

Idem, ibid.
Sce note [P] at the end of this Book.

166 in were,

[ocr errors]

“ in human life the seeds of vice and corruption *." But the wisest and best of the pagan world invariably hold, that the Mysteries were instituted pure; and proposed the noblest end, hy the worthiest means. And even though the express testimony of these writers, supported by the reason of the thing, should be deemed insufficient, yet the character and quality of their Institutor must put the matter out of all doubt. This Institutor, as will be seen presently, was no other , than the Lawgiver, or CIVIL MAGISTRATE himself. Wherever the Mysteries found public admittance, it was by his introduction; and as oft as ever they were celebrated, it was under his inspection. Now virtue is as essential to the preservation, and vice to the destruction of that Society, over which he presides, as obedience and disobedience are to his office and authority. So that to conceive him disposed to bring in, and to encourage, immoral practices under the mask of Religion, is the same thing as to suspect the Physician of mixing Poisons with his antidotes.

The truth of the matter was this: the Fathers bore a secret grudge to the Mysteries for their injurious treatment of Christianity on its first appearance in the world. We are to observe, that ATHEISM, by which was meant a contempt of the Gods, was reckoned, in the Mysteries, amongst the greatest crimes. So, in the sixth book of the Aneis (of which more hereafter) the hottest seats in Tartarus are allotted to the Atheist, such as Salmoneus, Tityus, and the Titans, &c. Now the Christians, for their contempt of the national Gods,

• "Ολλοίλο όν ο τήσδε άρξας απάτης ανθρώπους είτε ο ΔάρδανGότι -τύτως εγώ, αν αρχικακές φήσαιμι μύθον αθέων, και δεισιδαιμονίας όλεθρία σαλέρας, σπέρμα κακίας και φθοράς έγκαίαφυλεύσανlας τω βίω τα pusagitt. Admonitio ad Gentes, pag. 8. A. B. Edit. Sylburg.

F 2

« EelmineJätka »