Page images

The first and original Mysteries, of which we have any sure account, were those of Isis and Osiris in EGYPT; from whence they were derived to the GREEKs*, under the presidency of various Godst, as the institutor thought most for his purpose : Zoroaster brought them into Persia : Cadmus and Inachus into Greece at larget; Orpheus into Thrace: Melampus

• Diod. Sic. lib. i. Eudoxus said, as Plutarch informs us, that the Egyptians invented this fable concerning Jupiter Ammon, or the Supreme God,-That his Legs being unseparated, very shame drove him into solitude; but that Isis split and divided them, and by that means set him at liberty to walk about the World. Φησί σερί τε Διός ο Εύδοξος, μυθολογείν Αίγυπλίες, ώς των σκελών συμπεφυκότων αυτώ μη δυνάμενος βαδίζειν, υπ' αισχύνης, ερημία διέτριβει. “Η δε "Ισις διατεμέσα και διασήσασα τα μέρη ταύτα τα σώματος, αρτίποδα, την πορείαν παρέσχει. De Is. & Osir. Vol. 1. pag. 67ο. Edit. Steph, 8vo. The moral of the fable is plainly this, as we shall see more plainly hereafter, That the FIRST CAUSE was kept unknown, till the Egyptian Mysteries of Isis revealed him amongst their απόρρητα; ; which Mysteries were communicated to the Greeks, and, through them, to the rest of mankind. But the Image under which the fable is conveyed, was taken from the form of the Egyptian Statues of the Gods, which the workmen made with their Legs undivided. When the Greek Artists first shewed them how to form their Gods in a walking Posture, the attitude so alarmed their Worshippers, that they bound them with Chains, lest they should desert their own Country. For the people imagined that their Gods, on the least ill humour or disgust, had a strange propensity to shew them a fair pair of heels.

+“Ότι δε των Διονυσίων, και των Παναθηναίων, και μέλος των Θεσμοφορίων, και των 'Ελευσινίων τας τελείας Ορφεύς, ανήρ 'οδρύσης, εις τας Αθήνας εκόμισιν, και εις ΑΙΓΥΠΤΩΝ αφικόμενΘ-, τα της "Ισιδώ» και το 'Οσίριδαεις τα της Δηές και το Διονύσε μέλαιέθεικεν όρια. Τheodoretus, Thera

peut. i.

f 'Εκείθεν δε αρχήν έσχε τα παρ' Ελλησι μυσήριά τε και τελείας πρότερον σαρ ΑΙΓΥΠΤΙΟΙΣ, και παρα Φρυξί, και Φοινιξί, και Βαβυλωνίοις, κακώς έπινενοημένα μελενεχθένιά τε εις "Ελληνας από της των ΑΙΓΥΠΤΙΩΝ χώρας υπό Κάδμα και αυτά τα 'Ινάκα. "Απιδο- πρότερον κληθένlΘ-, και οικοδομήσανlo, την Μέμφις" Ερiphan. adν. Ηer. lib. i. Heres. iv.



into Argis; Trophonius into Bæotia; Minos into Crete; Cinyras into Cyprus ; and Erechtheus into Athens. And as in Egypt they were to Isis and Osiris ; so in Asia they were to Mithras; in Samothrace to the Mother of the Gods; in Baotia to Bacchus; in Cyprus to Venus; in Crete to Jupiter ; in Athens to Ceres and Proserpine; in Amphissa to Castor and Pollux; in Lemnos to Vulcan, and so to others, in other places, the number of which is incredible*.

But their end, as well as nature, was the same in all; to teach the doctrine of a FUTURE STATE. In this, Origen and Celsus agrec; the two most learned writers of their several parties. The first, minding his adversary of the difference between the future life promised by the Gospel, and that taught in Paganism, bids him compare the Christian doctrine with what all the sects of Philosophy, and all the Mysteries, amongst Greeks and Barbarians, taught concerning itt: And Celsus, in his turn, endeavouring to shew that christianity had no advantage over paganism in the efficacy of stronger sanctions, expresses himself to this

purpose : “ But now, after all, just as you believe “ eternal punishments, so do the Ministers of the “ sacred rites, and those who initiate into, and preside “ in the Mysteries I."

They * Postulat quidem magnitudo materiæ, atque ipsius defensionis officium, ut similiter cæteras turpitudinum species persequainuri vel quas produnt antiquitatis bistoriæ, vel mysteria illa continent sacra, quibus initiis nomen est, & quæ non omnibus vulgo, sed paucorum taciturnitatibus tradilicet. Sed Sacrorum innumeriritus, atque affixa deformitas singulis, corporaliter prohibet universa nos exequi. Arnob. adv. Gentes, lib. y. p. 165. Edit. Plantini, 8vo, 1582.

ή –Καθ' εκάτην φιλοσόφων αίρεσιν εν "Ελλησιν ή Βάρβαροις η ΜΥΣTHPINAH. Orig. cont. els. lib. iii. p. 160. Sp. ed.

1 Μάλισα μεν, ώ βέλτισε, ώσπερ συ κολάσεις αιωνίες νομίζας ήταν και οι Für begwv ixelwwieningai terasai ta xj uusalwyoo, lib. viii. p. 408. And


They continued long in religious reverence: some were more famous and more extensive than others; to which many accidents concurred. The most noted, were the ORPHIC, the Bacchic, the ELEUSINIAN, the SAMOTHRACIAN, the CABIRIC, and the MiTHRIAC.

Euripides makes Bacchus say, in his tragedy of that name*, that the Orgies were celebrated by all foreign nations, and that he came to introduce them amongst the Greeks. And it is not improbable, but several barbarous nations might have learned them of the Egyptians long before they came into Greece. The Druids of Britain, who had, as well as the Brachmans of India, divers of their religious rites from thence, celebrated the Orgies of Bacchus, as we learn from Dionysius the African. And Strabo having quoted Artemidorus for a fabulous story, subjoins, “ But what “ he says of Ceres and Proserpine is more credible,

namely, that there is an island near Britain, where they perform the same rites to those two God" desses as are used in Samothrace t.” But, of all the MYSTERIES, those which bore that name, by way of eminence, the ELEUSINIAN, celebrated at Athens in honour of Ceres, were by far the most renowned ; and, in course of time, eclipsed, and almost swallowed up the rest. Their neighbours round about very early practised these Mysteries to the neglect of their own; in a little time all Greece - and Asia Minor were initiated into them : and at length they spread over the whole Roman empire, and even beyond the limits of it. “I insist not,” says Tully, “on those sacred " and august rites of ELEUSIS, where, from the re“ motest regions, men came to be initiated *.” And we are told in Zosimus, that "these most holy rites

in that nothing very heterodox was taught in the mysteries concerning a future state, I collect from the answer Origen makes to Celsus, who had preferred what was taught in the Mysteries of Bacchus on that point, to what the Christian Religion revealed concerning it-σερί μεν έν των Βακχικών τελειών είτε τις εσι πιθανές λόγο, είτε μηδείς τοιέτG-lib. iv. p. 167.

* Act, II.

* Περί δε της Δήμηθρών και της κόρης σιρότερα' ότι φησίν είναι νήσον προς τη Βρετανική, καθ' ην όμοια τους εν Σαμοθράκη σερί την Δήμηθραν Bej Tohv Kógnu isporcus7Ta.. Strabonis Geogr. lib. iv. p. 137. lin. 26. Edit. Casaub. The nature of these Samotbracian rites in explained afterwards.

were then so extensive, as to take in the whole

race of mankind t." Aristides calls Eleusis, the common temple of the earth And Pausanias says, the rites performed there for the promotion of piety and virtue, as much excelled all other sites, as the Gods excelled the Heroes .

How this happened, the pature and turn of the Peo: ple, who introduced these Mysteries, will account for. Athens was a city the most devoted to Religion of any upon the face of the earth. On this account their poet Sophocles calls it the sacred building of the Gods , his figure of speech alluding to its fabulous foundation. Nor was it a less compliment St. Paul intended to pay the Athenians, when he said, "Aydpes 'Αθηναίοι, κατά σάνια ως δεισιδαιμονεςέρες υμάς θεωρώ *. And Josephus tells us, that they were universally esteemed the most religious people of Greece f. Hence, in these matters, Athens became the pattern and standard to the rest of the world.

* Omitto ELEUSINAM sanctam illam & augustam : ubi initiantur. gentes orarum ultimæ. Nat. Deor. lib. i. c. 42. Edit. Ox. 4°:

T. ii. p. 432:

* Τα συνέχoλο το ανθρώπειον μένΘ- άγιώταία μυσήρια. lib. iv.

Η "Οσις και κοινόν τι της γης τίμενο την Ελευσίνα ηγείτο. Aristidis Eleusinia, in initio.

και Οι γαρ αρχαιότεροι των Ελλήνων τελετήν την Ελευσινίων σάνων όπόσα ές ευσέβειαν ήκει, τοσέτω ήγον ένθιμότεραν, όσο και τις θεές επιπροσθεν ngów. Phocica, l. x. c. 31. p. 876. In this elegant similitude he seems plainly to allude to the secret of the mysteries; which, as we shall see, consisted in an explanation of the origin of hero-worship, and the nature of the deity. | Electra, act. ii. sc. 1. ΑΘΗΝΩΝ ΤΩΝ ΘΕΟΔΜΗΤΩΝ.

foundation. * Act. Apost. xvii. 22.

In discoursing, therefore, of the MYSTERIES in general, we shall be forced to take our ideas of them chiefly from what we find practised in the Eleusinian. Nor need we fear to be mistaken; the END of all þeing the same, and all having their common ORIGINAL from Egypt.

To begin with the general purpose and design of their Institution. This will be understood, by shewing what they communicated promiscuously to all.

To support the doctrine of a PROVIDENCE, which, they taught, governed the world f, they inforced the belief of a FUTURE STATE of rewards and punishments , by every sort of contrivance. But as this did not quite clear up the intricate ways of Provi- . dence, they added the doctrine of a METEM PSYCHOSIS, or the belief of a prior state : as we learn from Cicero, and Porphyry ||; the latter of whom informs us, that it was taught in the Mysteries of the Persian Mithras.

ή –ευσεβεσάτος των Ελλήνων άπανlες λέγεσιι. Cont. Αp. lib. ii. t.11. edit. Oxon. folio, 1720. cap. 15. pag. 1373. lin. 12,

Plutarch. de Is. & Osir.
[Mysteriis] neque solum, &c.--Sed etiam cum SPE MELIORE

Tull. de Legg. lib. ii. C. 14. Edit. Ox. 4. t. III.


p. 148.

| Και γάρ δέμα σάλων επί των πρώτων, την ΜΕΤΕΜΨΥΧΩΣΙΝ είναι ο και, εμφαίνειν έοίκασιν εν τοίς τυ Μίθρα μυςηρίοις. De Abst. lib. iΥ, §. 16. Edit. Cantabr. 1655. 8vo. B 4


« EelmineJätka »