Es gibt keine Wahrheit, nur Erkennen.
Hymne an DemeterPindarDiogenes von SinopeApollodorMarcus Tullius Cicero: De legibusMarcus Tullius Cicero: De natura deorumMarcus Terentius Varro: De lingua latinaPublius Ovidius Naso: MetamorphosesPublius Ovidius Naso: FastiLucius Annaeus Seneca: Quaestiones NaturalesEpictetus: DiskursePausanias: Beschreibung GriechenlandsLukian von Samosata: Die ÜberfahrtFlavius Philostratus: Vita ApolloniiPhilosophumenaAurelius Augustinus: De civitate deiClaudius Claudianus: De raptu ProserpinaeWilliam Shakespeare: The TempestJohn Milton: Paradise LostDonatien Alphonse François de Sade: JulietteAlgernon Charles Swinburne: Hymn to ProserpineEleusis-KomplexThomas Taylor: The Eleusinian and Bacchic MysteriesAlbert de Jong: Secrecy I: AntiquityHarold R. Willoughby: Pagan RegenerationN. Belayche & F. Massa: Mystery Cults and Visual LanguageJohn Maddox Roberts: Saturnalia
Platon: PhaidonPlutarchLucius Apuleius: MetamorphosesPlotin: Enneaden
Demetrius Phalereus: On Style
Varrese-Maler: Demeter und Metaneira, apulische Hydria, um 340 v.u.Z. Berlin, Altes Museum.
Δήμητϱ᾽ ἠύϰομον, σεμνὴν ϑεόν, ἄϱχομ᾽ ἀείδειν,
αὐτὴν ἠδὲ ϑύγατϱα τανύσφυϱον, ἣν Ἀιδωνεὺς
ἥϱπαξεν, δῶϰεν δὲ βαϱύϰτυπος εὐϱύοπα Ζεύς,
νόσφιν Δήμητϱος χϱυσαόϱου, ἀγλαοϰάϱπου,
5παίζουσαν ϰούϱῃσι σὺν Ὠϰεανοῦ βαϑυϰόλποις
ἄνϑεά τ᾽ αἰνυμένην, ῥόδα ϰαὶ ϰϱόϰον ἠδ᾽ ἴα ϰαλὰ
λειμῶν᾽ ἂμ μαλαϰὸν ϰαὶ ἀγαλλίδας ἠδ᾽ ὑάϰινϑον
νάϱϰισσόν ϑ᾽, ὃν φῦσε δόλον ϰαλυϰώπιδι ϰούϱῃ
Γαῖα Διὸς βουλῇσι χαϱιζομένη Πολυδέϰτῃ,
10ϑαυμαστὸν γανόωντα: σέβας τό γε πᾶσιν ἰδέσϑαι
ἀϑανάτοις τε ϑεοῖς ἠδὲ ϑνητοῖς ἀνϑϱώποις:
τοῦ ϰαὶ ἀπὸ ῥίζης ἑϰατὸν ϰάϱα ἐξεπεφύϰει:
ϰὦζ᾽ ἥδιστ᾽ ὀδμή, πᾶς τ᾽ οὐϱανὸς εὐϱὺς ὕπεϱϑεν
γαῖά τε πᾶσ᾽ ἐγελάσσε ϰαὶ ἁλμυϱὸν οἶδμα ϑαλάσσης.
15ἣ δ᾽ ἄϱα ϑαμβήσασ᾽ ὠϱέξατο χεϱσὶν ἅμ᾽ ἄμφω
ϰαλὸν ἄϑυϱμα λαβεῖν: χάνε δὲ χϑὼν εὐϱυάγυια
Νύσιον ἂμ πεδίον, τῇ ὄϱουσεν ἄναξ Πολυδέγμων
ἵπποις ἀϑανάτοισι, Κϱόνου πολυώνυμος υἱός.
ἁϱπάξας δ᾽ ἀέϰουσαν ἐπὶ χϱυσέοισιν ὄχοισιν
20ἦγ᾽ ὀλοφυϱομένην: ἰάχησε δ᾽ ἄϱ᾽ ὄϱϑια φωνῇ,
ϰεϰλομένη πατέϱα Κϱονίδην ὕπατον ϰαὶ ἄϱιστον.
οὐδέ τις ἀϑανάτων οὐδὲ ϑνητῶν ἀνϑϱώπων
ἤϰουσεν φωνῆς, οὐδ᾽ ἀγλαόϰαϱποι ἐλαῖαι†
εἰ μὴ Πεϱσαίου ϑυγάτηϱ ἀταλὰ φϱονέουσα
25ἄιεν ἐξ ἄντϱου, Ἑϰάτη λιπαϱοϰϱήδεμνος,
Ἠέλιός τε ἄναξ, Ὑπεϱίονος ἀγλαὸς υἱός,
ϰούϱης ϰεϰλομένης πατέϱα Κϱονίδην: ὃ δὲ νόσφιν
ἧστο ϑεῶν ἀπάνευϑε πολυλλίστῳ ἐνὶ νηῷ,
δέγμενος ἱεϱὰ ϰαλὰ παϱὰ ϑνητῶν ἀνϑϱώπων.
30τὴν δ᾽ ἀεϰαζομένην ἦγεν Διὸς ἐννεσίῃσι
πατϱοϰασίγνητος, Πολυσημάντωϱ Πολυδέγμων,
ἵπποις ἀϑανάτοισι, Κϱόνου πολυώνυμος υἱός.
ὄφϱα μὲν οὖν γαῖάν τε ϰαὶ οὐϱανὸν ἀστεϱόεντα
λεῦσσε ϑεὰ ϰαὶ πόντον ἀγάϱϱοον ἰχϑυόεντα
35αὐγάς τ᾽ ἠελίου, ἔτι δ᾽ ἤλπετο μητέϱα ϰεδνὴν
ὄψεσϑαι ϰαὶ φῦλα ϑεῶν αἰειγενετάων,
τόφϱα οἱ ἐλπὶς ἔϑελγε μέγαν νόον ἀχνυμένης πεϱ:
... ἤχησαν δ᾽ ὀϱέων ϰοϱυφαὶ ϰαὶ βένϑεα πόντου
φωνῇ ὑπ᾽ ἀϑανάτῃ: τῆς δ᾽ ἔϰλυε πότνια μήτηϱ.
40ὀξὺ δέ μιν ϰϱαδίην ἄχος ἔλλαβεν, ἀμφὶ δὲ χαίταις
ἀμβϱοσίαις ϰϱήδεμνα δαΐζετο χεϱσὶ φίλῃσι,
ϰυάνεον δὲ ϰάλυμμα ϰατ᾽ ἀμφοτέϱων βάλετ᾽ ὤμων,
σεύατο δ᾽ ὥστ᾽ οἰωνός, ἐπὶ τϱαφεϱήν τε ϰαὶ ὑγϱὴν
μαιομένη: τῇ δ᾽ οὔτις ἐτήτυμα μυϑήσασϑαι
45ἤϑελεν οὔτε ϑεῶν οὔτε ϑνητῶν ἀνϑϱώπων,
οὔτ᾽ οἰωνῶν τις τῇ ἐτήτυμος ἄγγελος ἦλϑεν.
ἐννῆμαϱ μὲν ἔπειτα ϰατὰ χϑόνα πότνια Δηὼ
στϱωφᾶτ᾽ αἰϑομένας δαΐδας μετὰ χεϱσὶν ἔχουσα,
οὐδέ ποτ᾽ ἀμβϱοσίης ϰαὶ νέϰταϱος ἡδυπότοιο
50πάσσατ᾽ ἀϰηχεμένη, οὐδὲ χϱόα βάλλετο λουτϱοῖς.
ἀλλ᾽ ὅτε δὴ δεϰάτη οἱ ἐπήλυϑε φαινολὶς ἠώς,
ἤντετό οἱ Ἑϰάτη, σέλας ἐν χείϱεσσιν ἔχουσα
ϰαί ῥά οἱ ἀγγελέουσα ἔπος φάτο φώνησέν τε:
πότνια Δημήτηϱ, ὡϱηφόϱε, ἀγλαόδωϱε,
55τίς ϑεῶν οὐϱανίων ἠὲ ϑνητῶν ἀνϑϱώπων
ἥϱπασε Πεϱσεφόνηνϰαὶ σὸν φίλον ἤϰαχε ϑυμόν;
φωνῆς γὰϱ ἤϰουσ᾽, ἀτὰϱ οὐϰ ἴδον ὀφϑαλμοῖσιν,
ὅστις ἔην: σοὶ δ᾽ ὦϰα λέγω νημεϱτέα πάντα.
ὣς ἄϱ᾽ ἔφη Ἑϰάτη: τὴν δ᾽ οὐϰ ἠμείβετο μύϑῳ
60Ῥείης ἠυϰόμου ϑυγάτηϱ, ἀλλ᾽ ὦϰα σὺν αὐτῇ
ἤιξ᾽ αἰϑομένας δαΐδας μετὰ χεϱσὶν ἔχουσα.
Ἠέλιον δ᾽ ἵϰοντο, ϑεῶν σϰοπὸν ἠδὲ ϰαὶ ἀνδϱῶν,
στὰν δ᾽ ἵππων πϱοπάϱοιϑε ϰαὶ εἴϱετο δῖα ϑεάων:
ἠέλι᾽, αἴδεσσαί με ϑεὰν σύ πεϱ, εἴ ποτε δή σευ
65ἢ ἔπει ἢ ἔϱγῳ ϰϱαδίην ϰαὶ ϑυμὸν ἴηνα:
ϰούϱην τὴν ἔτεϰον, γλυϰεϱὸν ϑάλος, εἴδεϊ ϰυδϱήν,
τῆς ἀδινὴν ὄπ᾽ ἄϰουσα δι᾽ αἰϑέϱος ἀτϱυγέτοιο
ὥστε βιαζομένης, ἀτὰϱ οὐϰ ἴδον ὀφϑαλμοῖσιν.
ἀλλά, σὺ γὰϱ δὴ πᾶσαν ἐπὶ χϑόνα ϰαὶ ϰατὰ πόντον
70αἰϑέϱος ἐϰ δίης ϰαταδέϱϰεαι ἀϰτίνεσσι,
νημεϱτέως μοι ἔνισπε φίλον τέϰος, εἴ που ὄπωπας,
ὅστις νόσφιν ἐμεῖο λαβὼν ἀέϰουσαν ἀνάγϰῃ
οἴχεται ἠὲ ϑεῶν ἢ ϰαὶ ϑνητῶν ἀνϑϱώπων.
ὣς φάτο: τὴν δ᾽ Ὑπεϱιονίδης ἠμείβετο μύϑῳ:
75Ῥείης ἠυϰόμου ϑύγατεϱ, Δήμητεϱ ἄνασσα,
εἰδήσεις: δὴ γὰϱ μέγα σ᾽ ἅζομαι ἠδ᾽ ἐλεαίϱω
ἀχνυμένην πεϱὶ παιδὶ τανυσφύϱῳ: οὐδέ τις ἄλλος
αἴτιος ἀϑανάτων, εἰ μὴ νεφεληγεϱέτα Ζεύς,
ὅς μιν ἔδωϰ᾽ Ἀίδῃ ϑαλεϱὴν ϰεϰλῆσϑαι ἄϰοιτιν
80αὐτοϰασιγνήτῳ: ὃ δ᾽ ὑπὸ ζόφον ἠεϱόεντα
ἁϱπάξας ἵπποισιν ἄγεν μεγάλα ἰάχουσαν.
ἀλλά, ϑεά, ϰατάπαυε μέγαν γόον: οὐδέ τί σε χϱὴ
μὰψ αὔτως ἄπλητον ἔχειν χόλον: οὔ τοι ἀειϰὴς
γαμβϱὸς ἐν ἀϑανάτοις Πολυσημάντωϱ Ἀιδωνεύς,
85αὐτοϰασίγνητος ϰαὶ ὁμόσποϱος: ἀμφὶ δὲ τιμὴν
ἔλλαχεν ὡς τὰ πϱῶτα διάτϱιχα δασμὸς ἐτύχϑη,
τοῖς μεταναιετάειν, τῶν ἔλλαχε ϰοίϱανος εἶναι.
ὣς εἰπὼν ἵπποισιν ἐϰέϰλετο: τοὶ δ᾽ ὑπ᾽ ὀμοϰλῆς
ῥίμφα φέϱον ϑοὸν ἅϱμα τανύπτεϱοι ὥστ᾽ οἰωνοί.
90Τὴν δ᾽ ἄχος αἰνότεϱον ϰαὶ ϰύντεϱον ἵϰετο ϑυμόν:
χωσαμένη δὴ ἔπειτα ϰελαινεφέι Κϱονίωνι
νοσφισϑεῖσα ϑεῶν ἀγοϱὴν ϰαὶ μαϰϱὸν Ὄλυμπον
ᾤχετ᾽ ἐπ᾽ ἀνϑϱώπων πόλιας ϰαὶ πίονα ἔϱγα
εἶδος ἀμαλδύνουσα πολὺν χϱόνον: οὐδέ τις ἀνδϱῶν
95εἰσοϱόων γίγνωσϰε βαϑυζώνων τε γυναιϰῶν,
πϱίν γ᾽ ὅτε δὴ Κελεοῖο δαΐφϱονος ἵϰετο δῶμα,
ὃς τότ᾽ Ἐλευσῖνος ϑυοέσσης ϰοίϱανος ἦεν.
ἕζετο δ᾽ ἐγγὺς ὁδοῖο φίλον τετιημένη ἦτοϱ,
Παϱϑενίῳ φϱέατι, ὅϑεν ὑδϱεύοντο πολῖται,
100ἐν σϰιῇ, αὐτὰϱ ὕπεϱϑε πεφύϰει ϑάμνος ἐλαίης,
γϱηὶ παλαιγενέι ἐναλίγϰιος, ἥτε τόϰοιο
εἴϱγηται δώϱων τε φιλοστεφάνου Ἀφϱοδίτης,
οἷαί τε τϱοφοί εἰσι ϑεμιστοπόλων βασιλήων
παίδων ϰαὶ ταμίαι ϰατὰ δώματα ἠχήεντα.
105τὴν δὲ ἴδον Κελεοῖο Ἐλευσινίδαο ϑύγατϱες
ἐϱχόμεναι μεϑ᾽ ὕδωϱ εὐήϱυτον, ὄφϱα φέϱοιεν
ϰάλπισι χαλϰείῃσι φίλα πϱὸς δώματα πατϱός,
τέσσαϱες, ὥστε ϑεαί, ϰουϱήιον ἄνϑος ἔχουσαι,
Καλλιδίϰη ϰαὶ Κλεισιδίϰη Δημώ τ᾽ ἐϱόεσσα
110Καλλιϑόη ϑ᾽, ἣ τῶν πϱογενεστάτη ἦεν ἁπασῶν:
οὐδ᾽ ἔγνον: χαλεποὶ δὲ ϑεοὶ ϑνητοῖσιν ὁϱᾶσϑαι.
ἀγχοῦ δ᾽ ἱστάμεναι ἔπεα πτεϱόεντα πϱοσηύδων:
τίς πόϑεν ἐσσί, γϱῆυ, παλαιγενέων ἀνϑϱώπων;
τίπτε δὲ νόσφι πόληος ἀπέστιχες, οὐδὲ δόμοισι
115πίλνασαι; ἔνϑα γυναῖϰες ἀνὰ μέγαϱα σϰιόεντα
τηλίϰαι, ὡς σύ πεϱ ὧδε ϰαὶ ὁπλότεϱαι γεγάασιν,
αἵ ϰέ σε φίλωνται ἠμὲν ἔπει ἠδὲ ϰαὶ ἔϱγῳ.
ὣς ἔφαν: ἣ δ᾽ ἐπέεσσιν ἀμείβετο πότνα ϑεάων:
τέϰνα φίλ᾽, αἵ τινές ἐστε γυναιϰῶν ϑηλυτεϱάων,
120χαίϱετ᾽: ἐγὼ δ᾽ ὑμῖν μυϑήσομαι: οὔ τοι ἀειϰὲς
ὑμῖν εἰϱομένῃσιν ἀληϑέα μυϑήσασϑαι.
Δωσὼ ἐμοί γ᾽ ὄνομ᾽ ἐστί: τὸ γὰϱ ϑέτο πότνια μήτηϱ.
νῦν αὖτε Κϱήτηϑεν ἐπ᾽ εὐϱέα νῶτα ϑαλάσσης
ἤλυϑον οὐϰ ἐϑέλουσα, βίῃ δ᾽ ἀέϰουσαν ἀνάγϰῃ
125ἄνδϱες ληιστῆϱες ἀπήγαγον. οἳ μὲν ἔπειτα
νηὶ ϑοῇ Θόϱιϰόνδε ϰατέσχεϑον, ἔνϑα γυναῖϰες
ἠπείϱου ἐπέβησαν ἀολλέες ἠδὲ ϰαὶ αὐτοί,
δεῖπνόν τ᾽ ἐπηϱτύνοντο παϱὰ πϱυμνήσια νηός:
ἀλλ᾽ ἐμοὶ οὐ δόϱποιο μελίφϱονος ἤϱατο ϑυμός:
130λάϑϱη δ᾽ ὁϱμηϑεῖσα δι᾽ ἠπείϱοιο μελαίνης
φεύγου ὑπεϱφιάλους σημάντοϱας, ὄφϱα ϰε μή με
ἀπϱιάτην πεϱάσαντες ἐμῆς ἀποναίατο τιμῆς.
οὕτω δεῦϱ᾽ ἱϰόμην ἀλαλημένη, οὐδέ τι οἶδα,
ἥ τις δὴ γαῖ᾽ ἐστι ϰαὶ οἵ τινες ἐγγεγάασιν.
135ἀλλ᾽ ὑμῖν μὲν πάντες Ὀλύμπια δώματ᾽ ἔχοντες
δοῖεν ϰουϱιδίους ἄνδϱας, ϰαὶ τέϰνα τεϰέσϑαι,
ὡς ἐϑέλουσι τοϰῆες: ἐμὲ δ᾽ αὖτ᾽ οἰϰτείϱατε, ϰοῦϱαι.
[τοῦτο δέ μοι σαφέως ὑποϑήϰατε, ὄφϱα πύϑωμαι,]
πϱοφϱονέως, φίλα τέϰνα, τέων πϱὸς δώμαϑ᾽ ἵϰωμαι
ἀνέϱος ἠδὲ γυναιϰός, ἵνα σφίσιν ἐϱγάζωμαι
140πϱόφϱων, οἷα γυναιϰὸς ἀφήλιϰος ἔϱγα τέτυϰται:
ϰαὶ ϰεν παῖδα νεογνὸν ἐν ἀγϰοίνῃσιν ἔχουσα
ϰαλὰ τιϑηνοίμην ϰαὶ δώματα τηϱήσαιμι
ϰαί ϰε λέχος στοϱέσαιμι μυχῷ ϑαλάμων εὐπήϰτων
δεσπόσυνον ϰαί ϰ᾽ ἔϱγα διδασϰήσαιμι γυναῖϰας.
145φῆ ῥα ϑεά: τὴν δ᾽ αὐτίϰ᾽ ἀμείβετο παϱϑένος ἀδμής,
Καλλιδίϰη, Κελεοῖο ϑυγατϱῶν εἶδος ἀϱίστη:
μαῖα, ϑεῶν μὲν δῶϱα ϰαὶ ἀχνύμενοί πεϱ ἀνάγϰῃ
τέτλαμεν ἄνϑϱωποι: δὴ γὰϱ πολὺ φέϱτεϱοί εἰσι.
ταῦτα δέ τοι σαφέως ὑποϑήσομαι ἠδ᾽ ὀνομήνω
150ἀνέϱας οἷσιν ἔπεστι μέγα ϰϱάτος ἐνϑάδε τιμῆς
δήμου τε πϱοὔχουσιν ἰδὲ ϰϱήδεμνα πόληος
εἰϱύαται βουλῇσι ϰαὶ ἰϑείῃσι δίϰῃσιν:
ἠμὲν Τϱιπτολέμου πυϰιμήδεος ἠδὲ Διόϰλου
ἠδὲ Πολυξείνου ϰαὶ ἀμύμονος Εὐμόλποιο
155ϰαὶ Δολίχου ϰαὶ πατϱὸς ἀγήνοϱος ἡμετέϱοιο,
τῶν πάντων ἄλοχοι ϰατὰ δώματα ποϱσαίνουσι:
τάων οὐϰ ἄν τίς σε ϰατὰ πϱώτιστον ὀπωπὴν
εἶδος ἀτιμήσασα δόμων ἀπονοσφίσσειεν,
ἀλλά σε δέξονται: δὴ γὰϱ ϑεοείϰελός ἐσσι.
160εἰ δ᾽ ἐϑέλεις, ἐπίμεινον, ἵνα πϱὸς δώματα πατϱὸς
ἔλϑωμεν ϰαὶ μητϱὶ βαϑυζώνῳ Μετανείϱῃ
εἴπωμεν τάδε πάντα διαμπεϱές, αἴ ϰέ σ᾽ ἀνώγῃ
ἡμέτεϱόνδ᾽ ἰέναι μηδ᾽ ἄλλων δώματ᾽ ἐϱευνᾶν.
τηλύγετος δέ οἱ υἱὸς ἐνὶ μεγάϱῳ εὐπήϰτῳ
165ὀψίγονος τϱέφεται, πολυεύχετος ἀσπάσιός τε.
εἰ τόν γ᾽ ἐϰϑϱέψαιο ϰαὶ ἥβης μέτϱον ἵϰοιτο,
ῥεῖά ϰέ τίς σε ἰδοῦσα γυναιϰῶν ϑηλυτεϱάων
ζηλώσαι: τόσα ϰέν τοι ἀπὸ ϑϱεπτήϱια δοίη.
ὣς ἔφαϑ᾽: ἣ δ᾽ ἐπένευσε ϰαϱήατι: ταὶ δὲ φαεινὰ
170πλησάμεναι ὕδατος φέϱον ἄγγεα ϰυδιάουσαι.
ῥίμφα δὲ πατϱὸς ἵϰοντο μέγαν δόμον, ὦϰα δὲ μητϱὶ
ἔννεπον, ὡς εἶδόν τε ϰαὶ ἔϰλυον. ἣ δὲ μάλ᾽ ὦϰα
ἐλϑούσας ἐϰέλευε ϰαλεῖν ἐπ᾽ ἀπείϱονι μισϑῷ.
αἳ δ᾽ ὥστ᾽ ἢ ἔλαφοι ἢ πόϱτιες εἴαϱος ὥϱῃ
175ἅλλοντ᾽ ἂν λειμῶνα ϰοϱεσσάμεναι φϱένα φοϱβῇ,
ὣς αἳ ἐπισχόμεναι ἑανῶν πτύχας ἱμεϱοέντων
ἤιξαν ϰοίλην ϰατ᾽ ἀμαξιτόν: ἀμφὶ δὲ χαῖται
ὤμοις ἀίσσοντο ϰϱοϰηίῳ ἄνϑει ὁμοῖαι.
τέτμον δ᾽ ἐγγὺς ὁδοῦ ϰυδϱὴν ϑεόν, ἔνϑα πάϱος πεϱ
180ϰάλλιπον: αὐτὰϱ ἔπειτα φίλου πϱὸς δώματα πατϱὸς
ἡγεῦνϑ᾽: ἣ δ᾽ ἄϱ᾽ ὄπισϑε φίλον τετιημένη ἦτοϱ
στεῖχε ϰατὰ ϰϱῆϑεν ϰεϰαλυμμένη: ἀμφὶ δὲ πέπλος
ϰυάνεος ῥαδινοῖσι ϑεᾶς ἐλελίζετο ποσσίν.
αἶψα δὲ δώμαϑ᾽ ἵϰοντο διοτϱεφέος Κελεοῖο,
185βὰν δὲ δι᾽ αἰϑούσης, ἔνϑα σφίσι πότνια μήτηϱ
ἧστο παϱὰ σταϑμὸν τέγεος πύϰα ποιητοῖο
παῖδ᾽ ὑπὸ ϰόλπῳ ἔχουσα, νέον ϑάλος: αἳ δὲ πὰϱ αὐτὴν
ἔδϱαμον: ἣ δ᾽ ἄϱ᾽ ἐπ᾽ οὐδὸν ἔβη ποσὶ ϰαὶ ῥα μελάϑϱου
ϰῦϱε ϰάϱη, πλῆσεν δὲ ϑύϱας σέλαος ϑείοιο.
190τὴν δ᾽ αἰδώς τε σέβας τε ἰδὲ χλωϱὸν δέος εἷλεν:
εἶξε δέ οἱ ϰλισμοῖο ϰαὶ ἑδϱιάασϑαι ἄνωγεν.
ἀλλ᾽ οὐ Δημήτηϱ ὡϱηφόϱος, ἀγλαόδωϱος,
ἤϑελεν ἑδϱιάασϑαι ἐπὶ ϰλισμοῖο φαεινοῦ,
ἀλλ᾽ ἀϰέουσ᾽ ἀνέμιμνε ϰατ᾽ ὄμματα ϰαλὰ βαλοῦσα,
195πϱίν γ᾽ ὅτε δή οἱ ἔϑηϰεν Ἰάμβη ϰέδν᾽ εἰδυῖα
πηϰτὸν ἕδος, ϰαϑύπεϱϑε δ᾽ ἐπ᾽ ἀϱγύφεον βάλε ϰῶας.
ἔνϑα ϰαϑεζομένη πϱοϰατέσχετο χεϱσὶ ϰαλύπτϱην:
δηϱὸν δ᾽ ἄφϑογγος τετιημένη ἧστ᾽ ἐπὶ δίφϱου,
οὐδέ τιν᾽ οὔτ᾽ ἔπεϊ πϱοσπτύσσετο οὔτε τι ἔϱγῳ,
200ἀλλ᾽ ἀγέλαστος, ἄπαστος ἐδητύος ἠδὲ ποτῆτος
ἧστο πόϑῳ μινύϑουσα βαϑυζώνοιο ϑυγατϱός,
πϱίν γ᾽ ὅτε δὴ χλεύῃς μιν Ἰάμβη ϰέδν᾽ εἰδυῖα
πολλὰ παϱασϰώπτουσ᾽ ἐτϱέψατο πότνιαν ἁγνήν,
μειδῆσαι γελάσαι τε ϰαὶ ἵλαον σχεῖν ϑυμόν:
205ἣ δή οἱ ϰαὶ ἔπειτα μεϑύστεϱον εὔαδεν ὀϱγαῖς.
τῇ δὲ δέπας Μετάνειϱα δίδου μελιηδέος οἴνου
πλήσασ᾽: ἣ δ᾽ ἀνένευσ᾽: οὐ γὰϱ ϑεμιτόν οἱ ἔφασϰε
πίνειν οἶνον ἐϱυϑϱόν: ἄνωγε δ᾽ ἄϱ᾽ ἄλφι ϰαὶ ὕδωϱ
δοῦναι μίξασαν πιέμεν γλήχωνι τεϱείνῃ.
210ἣ δὲ ϰυϰεῶ τεύξασα ϑεᾷ πόϱεν, ὡς ἐϰέλευε:
δεξαμένη δ᾽ ὁσίης ἕνεϰεν πολυπότνια Δηώ
... τῇσι δὲ μύϑων ἦϱχεν ἐύζωνος Μετάνειϱα:
χαῖϱε, γύναι, ἐπεὶ οὔ σε ϰαϰῶν ἄπ᾽ ἔολπα τοϰήων
ἔμμεναι, ἀλλ᾽ ἀγαϑῶν: ἐπί τοι πϱέπει ὄμμασιν αἰδὼς
215ϰαὶ χάϱις, ὡς εἴ πέϱ τε ϑεμιστοπόλων βασιλήων.
ἀλλὰ ϑεῶν μὲν δῶϱα ϰαὶ ἀχνύμενοί πεϱ ἀνάγϰῃ
τέτλαμεν ἄνϑϱωποι: ἐπὶ γὰϱ ζυγὸς αὐχένι ϰεῖται.
νῦν δ᾽, ἐπεὶ ἵϰεο δεῦϱο, παϱέσσεται ὅσσα τ᾽ ἐμοί πεϱ.
παῖδα δέ μοι τϱέφε τόνδε, τὸν ὀψίγονον ϰαὶ ἄελπτον
220ὤπασαν ἀϑάνατοι, πολυάϱητος δέ μοί ἐστιν.
εἰ τόν γε ϑϱέψαιο ϰαὶ ἥβης μέτϱον ἵϰοιτο,
ῥεῖά ϰέ τίς σε ἰδοῦσα γυναιϰῶν ϑηλυτεϱάων
ζηλώσαι: τόσα ϰέν τοι ἀπὸ ϑϱεπτήϱια δοίην.
τὴν δ᾽ αὖτε πϱοσέειπεν ἐυστέφανος Δημήτηϱ:
225ϰαὶ σύ, γύναι, μάλα χαῖϱε, ϑεοὶ δέ τοι ἐσϑλὰ πόϱοιεν:
παῖδα δέ τοι πϱόφϱων ὑποδέξομαι, ὥς με ϰελεύεις,
ϑϱέψω ϰοὔ μιν, ἔολπα, ϰαϰοφϱαδίῃσι τιϑήνης
οὔτ᾽ ἄϱ᾽ ἐπηλυσίη δηλήσεται οὔϑ᾽ ὑποτάμνον:
οἶδα γὰϱ ἀντίτομον μέγα φέϱτεϱον ὑλοτόμοιο,
230οἶδα δ᾽ ἐπηλυσίης πολυπήμονος ἐσϑλὸν ἐϱυσμόν.
ὣς ἄϱα φωνήσασα ϑυώδεϊ δέξατο ϰόλπῳ
χείϱεσσ᾽ ἀϑανάτῃσι: γεγήϑει δὲ φϱένα μήτηϱ.
ὣς ἣ μὲν Κελεοῖο δαΐφϱονος ἀγλαὸν υἱὸν
Δημοφόωνϑ᾽, ὃν ἔτιϰτεν ἐύζωνος Μετάνειϱα,
235ἔτϱεφεν ἐν μεγάϱοις: ὃ δ᾽ ἀέξετο δαίμονι ἶσος,
οὔτ᾽ οὖν σῖτον ἔδων, οὐ ϑησάμενος [γάλα μητϱὸς
ἠματίη μὲν γὰϱ ϰαλλιστέφανος] Δημήτηϱ
χϱίεσϰ᾽ ἀμβϱοσίῃ ὡσεὶ ϑεοῦ ἐϰγεγαῶτα
ἡδὺ ϰαταπνείουσα ϰαὶ ἐν ϰόλποισιν ἔχουσα:
νύϰτας δὲ ϰϱύπτεσϰε πυϱὸς μένει ἠύτε δαλὸν
240λάϑϱα φίλων γονέων: τοῖς δὲ μέγα ϑαῦμ᾽ ἐτέτυϰτο,
ὡς πϱοϑαλὴς τελέϑεσϰε: ϑεοῖσι γὰϱ ἄντα ἐῴϰει.
ϰαί ϰέν μιν ποίησεν ἀγήϱων τ᾽ ἀϑάνατόν τε,
εἰ μὴ ἄϱ᾽ ἀφϱαδίῃσιν ἐύζωνος Μετάνειϱα
νύϰτ᾽ ἐπιτηϱήσασα ϑυώδεος ἐϰ ϑαλάμοιο
245σϰέψατο: ϰώϰυσεν δὲ ϰαὶ ἄμφω πλήξατο μηϱὼ
δείσασ᾽ ᾧ πεϱὶ παιδὶ ϰαὶ ἀάσϑη μέγα ϑυμῷ
ϰαί ῥ᾽ ὀλοφυϱομένη ἔπεα πτεϱόεντα πϱοσηύδα:
τέϰνον Δημοφόων, ξείνη σε πυϱὶ ἔνι πολλῷ
ϰϱύπτει, ἐμοὶ δὲ γόον ϰαὶ ϰήδεα λυγϱὰ τίϑησιν.
250ὣς φάτ᾽ ὀδυϱομένη: τῆς δ᾽ ἄιε δῖα ϑεάων.
τῇ δὲ χολωσαμένη ϰαλλιστέφανος Δημήτηϱ
παῖδα φίλον, τὸν ἄελπτον ἐνὶ μεγάϱοισιν ἔτιϰτε,
χείϱεσσ᾽ ἀϑανάτῃσιν ἀπὸ ἕϑεν ἧϰε πέδονδε,
ἐξανελοῦσα πυϱός, ϑυμῷ ϰοτέσασα μάλ᾽ αἰνῶς,
255ϰαί ῥ᾽ ἄμυδις πϱοσέειπεν ἐύζωνον Μετάνειϱαν:
νήιδες ἄνϑϱωποι ϰαὶ ἀφϱάδμονες οὔτ᾽ ἀγαϑοῖο
αἶσαν ἐπεϱχομένου πϱογνώμεναι οὔτε ϰαϰοῖο:
ϰαὶ σὺ γὰϱ ἀφϱαδίῃσι τεῇς νήϰεστον ἀάσϑης.
ἴστω γὰϱ ϑεῶν ὅϱϰος, ἀμείλιϰτον Στυγὸς ὕδωϱ,
260ἀϑάνατόν ϰέν τοι ϰαὶ ἀγήϱαον ἤματα πάντα
παῖδα φίλον ποίησα ϰαὶ ἄφϑιτον ὤπασα τιμήν:
νῦν δ᾽ οὐϰ ἔσϑ᾽ ὥς ϰεν ϑάνατον ϰαὶ ϰῆϱας ἀλύξαι:
τιμὴ δ᾽ ἄφϑιτος αἰὲν ἐπέσσεται, οὕνεϰα γούνων
ἡμετέϱων ἐπέβη ϰαὶ ἐν ἀγϰοίνῃσιν ἴαυσεν.
265ὥϱῃσιν δ᾽ ἄϱα τῷ γε πεϱιπλομένων ἐνιαυτῶν
παῖδες Ἐλευσινίων πόλεμον ϰαὶ φύλοπιν αἰνὴν
αἰὲν ἐν ἀλλήλοισιν συνάξουσ᾽ ἤματα πάντα.
εἰμὶ δὲ Δημήτηϱ τιμάοχος, ἥτε μέγιστον
ἀϑανάτοις ϑνητοῖς τ᾽ ὄνεαϱ ϰαὶ χάϱμα τέτυϰται.
270ἀλλ᾽ ἄγε μοι νηόν τε μέγαν ϰαὶ βωμὸν ὑπ᾽ αὐτῷ
τευχόντων πᾶς δῆμος ὑπαὶ πόλιν αἰπύ τε τεῖχος
Καλλιχόϱου ϰαϑύπεϱϑεν ἐπὶ πϱοὔχοντι ϰολωνῷ.
ὄϱγια δ᾽ αὐτὴ ἐγὼν ὑποϑήσομαι, ὡς ἂν ἔπειτα
εὐαγέως ἔϱδοντες ἐμὸν νόον ἱλάσϰοισϑε.
275ὣς εἰποῦσα ϑεὰ μέγεϑος ϰαὶ εἶδος ἄμειψε
γῆϱας ἀπωσαμένη: πεϱί τ᾽ ἀμφί τε ϰάλλος ἄητο:
ὀδμὴ δ᾽ ἱμεϱόεσσα ϑυηέντων ἀπὸ πέπλων
σϰίδνατο, τῆλε δὲ φέγγος ἀπὸ χϱοὸς ἀϑανάτοιο
λάμπε ϑεᾶς, ξανϑαὶ δὲ ϰόμαι ϰατενήνοϑεν ὤμους,
280αὐγῆς δ᾽ ἐπλήσϑη πυϰινὸς δόμος ἀστεϱοπῆς ὥς:
βῆ δὲ διὲϰ μεγάϱων: τῆς δ᾽ αὐτίϰα γούνατ᾽ ἔλυντο,
δηϱὸν δ᾽ ἄφϑογγος γένετο χϱόνον, οὐδέ τι παιδὸς
μνήσατο τηλυγέτοιο ἀπὸ δαπέδου ἀνελέσϑαι.
τοῦ δὲ ϰασίγνηται φωνὴν ἐσάϰουσαν ἐλεινήν,
285ϰὰδ δ᾽ ἄϱ᾽ ἀπ᾽ εὐστϱώτων λεχέων ϑόϱον: ἣ μὲν ἔπειτα
παῖδ᾽ ἀνὰ χεϱσὶν ἑλοῦσα ἑῷ ἐγϰάτϑετο ϰόλπῳ:
ἣ δ᾽ ἄϱα πῦϱ ἀνέϰαι᾽: ἣ δ᾽ ἔσσυτο πόσσ᾽ ἁπαλοῖσι
μητέϱ᾽ ἀναστήσουσα ϑυώδεος ἐϰ ϑαλάμοιο.
ἀγϱόμεναι δέ μιν ἀμφὶς ἐλούεον ἀσπαίϱοντα
290ἀμφαγαπαζόμεναι: τοῦ δ᾽ οὐ μειλίσσετο ϑυμός:
χειϱότεϱαι γὰϱ δή μιν ἔχον τϱοφοὶ ἠδὲ τιϑῆναι.
αἳ μὲν παννύχιαι ϰυδϱὴν ϑεὸν ἱλάσϰοντο
δείματι παλλόμεναι, ἅμα δ᾽ ἠοῖ φαινομένηφιν
εὐϱυβίῃ Κελεῷ νημεϱτέα μυϑήσαντο,
295ὡς ἐπέτελλε ϑεά, ϰαλλιστέφανος Δημήτηϱ.
αὐτὰϱ ὅ γ᾽ εἰς ἀγοϱὴν ϰαλέσας πολυπείϱονα λαὸν
ἤνωγ᾽ ἠυϰόμῳ Δημήτεϱι πίονα νηὸν
ποιῆσαι ϰαὶ βωμὸν ἐπὶ πϱοὔχοντι ϰολωνῷ.
οἳ δὲ μάλ᾽ αἶψ᾽ ἐπίϑοντο ϰαὶ ἔϰλυον αὐδήσαντος,
300τεῦχον δ᾽, ὡς ἐπέτελλ᾽. ὃ δ᾽ ἀέξετο δαίμονι ἶσος.
αὐτὰϱ ἐπεὶ τέλεσαν ϰαὶ ἐϱώησαν ϰαμάτοιο,
βάν ῥ᾽ ἴμεν οἴϰαδ᾽ ἕϰαστος: ἀτὰϱ ξανϑὴ Δημήτηϱ
ἔνϑα ϰαϑεζομένη μαϰάϱων ἀπὸ νόσφιν ἁπάντων
μίμνε πόϑῳ μινύϑουσα βαϑυζώνοιο ϑυγατϱός.
305αἰνότατον δ᾽ ἐνιαυτὸν ἐπὶ χϑόνα πουλυβότειϱαν
ποίησ᾽ ἀνϑϱώποις ϰαὶ ϰύντατον: οὐδέ τι γαῖα
σπέϱμ᾽ ἀνίει, ϰϱύπτεν γὰϱ ἐυστέφανος Δημήτηϱ:
πολλὰ δὲ ϰαμπύλ᾽ ἄϱοτϱα μάτην βόες εἷλϰον ἀϱούϱαις:
πολλὸν δὲ ϰϱῖ λευϰὸν ἐτώσιον ἔμπεσε γαίῃ:
310ϰαί νύ ϰε πάμπαν ὄλεσσε γένος μεϱόπων ἀνϑϱώπων
λιμοῦ ὑπ᾽ ἀϱγαλέης, γεϱάων τ᾽ ἐϱιϰυδέα τιμὴν
ϰαὶ ϑυσιῶν ἤμεϱσεν Ὀλύμπια δώματ᾽ ἔχοντας,
εἰ μὴ Ζεὺς ἐνόησεν ἑῷ τ᾽ ἐφϱάσσατο ϑυμῷ.
Ἶϱιν δὲ πϱῶτον χϱυσόπτεϱον ὦϱσε ϰαλέσσαι
315Δήμητϱ᾽ ἠύϰομον, πολυήϱατον εἶδος ἔχουσαν.
ὣς ἔφαϑ᾽: ἣ δὲ Ζηνὶ ϰελαινεφέι Κϱονίωνι
πείϑετο ϰαὶ τὸ μεσηγὺ διέδϱαμεν ὦϰα πόδεσσιν.
ἵϰετο δὲ πτολίεϑϱον Ἐλευσῖνος ϑυοέσσης,
εὗϱεν δ᾽ ἐν νηῷ Δημήτεϱα ϰυανόπεπλον
320ϰαί μιν φωνήσασ᾽ ἔπεα πτεϱόεντα πϱοσηύδα:
Δήμητεϱ, ϰαλέει σε πατὴϱ Ζεὺς ἄφϑιτα εἰδὼς
ἐλϑέμεναι μετὰ φῦλα ϑεῶν αἰειγενετάων.
ἄλλ᾽ ἴϑι, μηδ᾽ ἀτέλεστον ἐμὸν ἔπος ἐϰ Διὸς ἔστω.
ὣς φάτο λισσομένη: τῇ δ᾽ οὐϰ ἐπεπείϑετο ϑυμός.
325αὖτις ἔπειτα πατὴϱ μάϰαϱας ϑεοὺς αἰὲν ἐόντας
πάντας ἐπιπϱοΐαλλεν: ἀμοιβηδὶς δὲ ϰιόντες
ϰίϰλησϰον ϰαὶ πολλὰ δίδον πεϱιϰαλλέα δῶϱα
τιμάς ϑ᾽, †ἅς ϰ᾽ ἐϑέλοιτο† μετ᾽ ἀϑανάτοισιν ἑλέσϑαι.
ἀλλ᾽ οὔτις πεῖσαι δύνατο φϱένας οὐδὲ νόημα
330ϑυμῷ χωομένης: στεϱεῶς δ᾽ ἠναίνετο μύϑους.
οὐ μὲν γάϱ ποτ᾽ ἔφασϰε ϑυώδεος Οὐλύμποιο
πϱίν γ᾽ ἐπιβήσεσϑαι, οὐ πϱὶν γῆς ϰαϱπὸν ἀνήσειν,
πϱὶν ἴδοι ὀφϑαλμοῖσιν ἑὴν εὐώπιδα ϰούϱην.
αὐτὰϱ ἐπεὶ τό γ᾽ ἄϰουσε βαϱύϰτυπος εὐϱύοπα Ζεύς,
335εἰς Ἔϱεβος πέμψε χϱυσόϱϱαπιν Ἀϱγειφόντην,
ὄφϱ᾽ Ἀίδην μαλαϰοῖσι παϱαιφάμενος ἐπέεσσιν
ἁγνὴν Πεϱσεφόνειαν ὑπὸ ζόφου ἠεϱόεντος
ἐς φάος ἐξαγάγοι μετὰ δαίμονας, ὄφϱα ἑ μήτηϱ
ὀφϑαλμοῖσιν ἰδοῦσα μεταλήξειε χόλοιο.
340Ἑϱμῆς δ᾽ οὐϰ ἀπίϑησεν, ἄφαϱ δ᾽ ὑπὸ ϰεύϑεα γαίης
ἐσσυμένως ϰατόϱουσε λιπὼν ἕδος Οὐλύμποιο.
τέτμε δὲ τόν γε ἄναϰτα δόμων ἔντοσϑεν ἐόντα,
ἥμενον ἐν λεχέεσσι σὺν αἰδοίῃ παϱαϰοίτι,
πόλλ᾽ ἀεϰαζομένῃ μητϱὸς πόϑῳ: ἣ δ᾽ ἀποτηλοῦ
345ἔϱγοις ϑεῶν μαϰάϱων [δεινὴν] μητίσετο βουλήν.
ἀγχοῦ δ᾽ ἱστάμενος πϱοσέφη ϰϱατὺς Ἀϱγειφόντης:
Ἅιδη ϰυανοχαῖτα, ϰαταφϑιμένοισιν ἀνάσσων,
Ζεύς με πατὴϱ ἤνωγεν ἀγαυὴν Πεϱσεφόνειαν
ἐξαγαγεῖν Ἐϱέβευσφι μετὰ σφέας, ὄφϱα ἑ μήτηϱ
350ὀφϑαλμοῖσιν ἰδοῦσα χόλου ϰαὶ μήνιος αἰνῆς
ἀϑανάτοις λήξειεν: ἐπεὶ μέγα μήδεται ἔϱγον,
φϑῖσαι φῦλ᾽ ἀμενηνὰ χαμαιγενέων ἀνϑϱώπων,
σπέϱμ᾽ ὑπὸ γῆς ϰϱύπτουσα, ϰαταφϑινύϑουσα δὲ τιμὰς
ἀϑανάτων: ἣ δ᾽ αἰνὸν ἔχει χόλον, οὐδὲ ϑεοῖσι
355μίσγεται, ἀλλ᾽ ἀπάνευϑε ϑυώδεος ἔνδοϑι νηοῦ
ἧσται Ἐλευσῖνος ϰϱαναὸν πτολίεϑϱον ἔχουσα.
ὣς φάτο: μείδησεν δὲ ἄναξ ἐνέϱων Ἀιδωνεὺς
ὀφϱύσιν, οὐδ᾽ ἀπίϑησε Διὸς βασιλῆος ἐφετμῇς:
ἐσσυμένως δ᾽ ἐϰέλευσε δαΐφϱονι Πεϱσεφονείῃ:
360ἔϱχεο, Πεϱσεφόνη, παϱὰ μητέϱα ϰυανόπεπλον
ἤπιον ἐν στήϑεσσι μένος ϰαὶ ϑυμὸν ἔχουσα,
μηδέ τι δυσϑύμαινε λίην πεϱιώσιον ἄλλων:
οὔ τοι ἐν ἀϑανάτοισιν ἀειϰὴς ἔσσομ᾽ ἀϰοίτης,
αὐτοϰασίγνητος πατϱὸς Διός: ἔνϑα δ᾽ ἐοῦσα
365δεσπόσσεις πάντων ὁπόσα ζώει τε ϰαὶ ἕϱπει,
τιμὰς δὲ σχήσησϑα μετ᾽ ἀϑανάτοισι μεγίστας.
τῶν δ᾽ ἀδιϰησάντων τίσις ἔσσεται ἤματα πάντα,
οἵ ϰεν μὴ ϑυσίῃσι τεὸν μένος ἱλάσϰωνται
εὐαγέως ἔϱδοντες, ἐναίσιμα δῶϱα τελοῦντες.
370ὣς φάτο: γήϑησεν δὲ πεϱίφϱων Πεϱσεφόνεια,
ϰαϱπαλίμως δ᾽ ἀνόϱουσ᾽ ὑπὸ χάϱματος: αὐτὰϱ ὅ γ᾽ αὐτὸς
ῥοιῆς ϰόϰϰον ἔδωϰε φαγεῖν μελιηδέα λάϑϱῃ,
ἀμφὶ ἓ νωμήσας, ἵνα μὴ μένοι ἤματα πάντα
αὖϑι παϱ᾽ αἰδοίῃ Δημήτεϱι ϰυανοπέπλῳ.
375ἵππους δὲ πϱοπάϱοιϑεν ὑπὸ χϱυσέοισιν ὄχεσφιν
ἔντυεν ἀϑανάτους Πολυσημάντωϱ Ἀιδωνευς.
ἣ δ᾽ ὀχέων ἐπέβη, πάϱα δὲ ϰϱατὺς Ἀϱγειφόντης
ἡνία ϰαὶ μάστιγα λαβὼν μετὰ χεϱσὶ φίλῃσι
σεῦε διὲϰ μεγάϱων: τὼ δ᾽ οὐϰ ἀέϰοντε πετέσϑην.
380ῥίμφα δὲ μαϰϱὰ ϰέλευϑα διήνυσαν: οὐδὲ ϑάλασσα
οὔϑ᾽ ὕδωϱ ποταμῶν οὔτ᾽ ἄγϰεα ποιήεντα
ἵππων ἀϑανάτων οὔτ᾽ ἄϰϱιες ἔσχεϑον ὁϱμήν,
ἀλλ᾽ ὑπὲϱ αὐτάων βαϑὺν ἠέϱα τέμνον ἰόντες.
στῆσε δ᾽ ἄγων, ὅϑι μίμνεν ἐυστέφανος Δημήτηϱ,
385νηοῖο πϱοπάϱοιϑε ϑυώδεος: ἣ δὲ ἰδοῦσα
ἤιξ᾽, ἠύτε μαινὰς ὄϱος ϰάτα δάσϰιον ὕλῃ.
Πεϱσεφόνη δ᾽ ἑτέϱ[ωϑεν ἐπεὶ ἴδεν ὄμματα ϰαλὰ]
μητϱὸς ἑῆς ϰατ᾽ [ἄϱ᾽ ἥ γ᾽ ὄχεα πϱολιποῦσα ϰαὶ ἵππους]
ἆλτο ϑέει[ν, δειϱῇ δέ οἱ ἔμπεσε ἀμφιχυϑεῖσα:]
390τῇ δὲ [φίλην ἔτι παῖδα ἑῇς μετὰ χεϱσὶν ἐχούσῃ]
α[ἶψα δόλον ϑυμός τιν᾽ ὀίσατο, τϱέσσε δ᾽ ἄϱ᾽ αἰνῶς]
παυομ[ένη φιλότητος, ἄφαϱ δ᾽ ἐϱεείνετο μύϑῳ:]
τέϰνον, μή ῥά τι μοι σ[ύ γε πάσσαο νέϱϑεν ἐοῦσα]
βϱώμης; ἐξαύδα, μ[ὴ ϰεῦϑ᾽, ἵνα εἴδομεν ἄμφω:]
395ὣς μὲν γάϱ ϰεν ἐοῦσα π[αϱὰ στυγεϱοῦ Ἀίδαο]
ϰαὶ παϱ᾽ ἐμοὶ ϰαὶ πατϱὶ ϰελ[αινεφέϊ Κϱονίωνι]
ναιετάοις πάντεσσι τετιμ[ένη ἀϑανάτοι]σιν.
εἰ δ᾽ ἐπάσω, πάλιν αὖτις ἰοῦσ᾽ ὑπ[ὸ ϰεύϑεσι γαίης]
οἰϰήσεις ὡϱέων τϱίτατον μέϱ[ος εἰς ἐνιαυτόν,]
400τὰς δὲ δύω παϱ᾽ ἐμοί τε ϰαὶ [ἄλλοις ἀϑανά]τοισιν.
ὁππότε δ᾽ ἄνϑεσι γαῖ᾽ εὐώδε[σιν] εἰαϱινο[ῖσι]
παντοδαποῖς ϑάλλῃ, τόϑ᾽ ὑπὸ ζόφου ἠεϱόεντος
αὖτις ἄνει μέγα ϑαῦμα ϑεοῖς ϑνητοῖς τ᾽ ἀνϑϱώποις.
[εἶπε δὲ πῶς σ᾽ ἥϱπαξεν ὑπὸ ζόφον ἠεϱόεντα]
ϰαὶ τίνι σ᾽ ἐξαπάτησε δόλῳ ϰϱατεϱὸς Πολυδέγμων;
405τὴν δ᾽ αὖ Πεϱσεφόνη πεϱιϰαλλὴς ἀντίον ηὔδα:
τοιγὰϱ ἐγώ τοι, μῆτεϱ, ἐϱέω νημεϱτέα πάντα:
εὖτέ μοι Ἑϱμῆς ἦλϑ᾽ ἐϱιούνιος ἄγγελος ὠϰὺς
πὰϱ πατέϱος Κϱονιδαο ϰαὶ ἄλλων Οὐϱανιώνων,
ἐλϑεῖν ἐξ Ἐϱέβευς, ἵνα ὀφϑαλμοῖσιν ἰδοῦσα
410λήξαις ἀϑανάτοισι χόλου ϰαὶ μήνιος αἰνῆς,
αὐτίϰ᾽ ἐγὼν ἀνόϱουσ᾽ ὑπὸ χάϱματος: αὐτὰϱ ὃ λάϑϱῃ
ἔμβαλέ μοι ῥοιῆς ϰόϰϰον, μελιηδέ᾽ ἐδωδήν,
ἄϰουσαν δὲ βίῃ με πϱοσηνάγϰασσε πάσασϑαι.
ὡς δέ μ᾽ ἀναϱπάξας Κϱονίδεω πυϰινὴν διὰ μῆτιν
415ᾤχετο πατϱὸς ἐμοῖο, φέϱων ὑπὸ ϰεύϑεα γαίης,
ἐξεϱέω, ϰαὶ πάντα διίξομαι, ὡς ἐϱεείνεις.
ἡμεῖς μὲν μάλα πᾶσαι ἀν᾽ ἱμεϱτὸν λειμῶνα,
Λευϰίππη Φαινώ τε ϰαὶ Ἠλέϰτϱη ϰαὶ Ἰάνϑη
ϰαὶ Μελίτη Ἰάχη τε Ῥόδειά τε Καλλιϱόη τε
420Μηλόβοσίς τε Τύχη τε ϰαὶ Ὠϰυϱόη ϰαλυϰῶπις
Χϱυσηίς τ᾽ Ἰάνειϱά τ᾽ Ἀϰάστη τ᾽ Ἀδμήτη τε
ϰαὶ Ῥοδόπη Πλουτώ τε ϰαὶ ἱμεϱόεσσα Καλυψὼ
ϰαὶ Στὺξ Οὐϱανίη τε Γαλαξαύϱη τ᾽ ἐϱατεινὴ
Παλλάς τ᾽ ἐγϱεμάχη ϰαὶ Ἄϱτεμις ἰοχέαιϱα,
425παίζομεν ἠδ᾽ ἄνϑεα δϱέπομεν χείϱεσσ᾽ ἐϱόεντα,
μίγδα ϰϱόϰον τ᾽ ἀγανὸν ϰαὶ ἀγαλλίδας ἠδ᾽ ὑάϰινϑον
ϰαὶ ῥοδέας ϰάλυϰας ϰαὶ λείϱια, ϑαῦμα ἰδέσϑαι,
νάϱϰισσόν ϑ᾽, ὃν ἔφυσ᾽ ὥς πεϱ ϰϱόϰον εὐϱεῖα χϑών.
αὐτὰϱ ἐγὼ δϱεπόμην πεϱὶ χάϱματι: γαῖα δ᾽ ἔνεϱϑε
430χώϱησεν: τῇ δ᾽ ἔϰϑοϱ᾽ ἄναξ ϰϱατεϱὸς Πολυδέγμων:
βῆ δὲ φέϱων ὑπὸ γαῖαν ἐν ἅϱμασι χϱυσείοισι
πόλλ᾽ ἀεϰαζομένην: ἐβόησα δ᾽ ἄϱ᾽ ὄϱϑια φωνῇ.
ταῦτά τοι ἀχνυμένη πεϱ ἀληϑέα πάντ᾽ ἀγοϱεύω.
ὣς τότε μὲν πϱόπαν ἦμαϱ ὁμόφϱονα ϑυμὸν ἔχουσαι
435πολλὰ μάλ᾽ ἀλλήλων ϰϱαδίην ϰαὶ ϑυμὸν ἴαινον
ἀμφαγαπαζόμεναι: ἀχέων δ᾽ ἀπεπαύετο ϑυμός.
γηϑοσύνας δ᾽ ἐδέχοντο παϱ᾽ ἀλλήλων ἔδιδόν τε.
τῇσιν δ᾽ ἐγγύϑεν ἦλϑ᾽ Ἑϰάτη λιπαϱοϰϱήδεμνος:
πολλὰ δ᾽ ἄϱ᾽ ἀμφαγάπησε ϰόϱην Δημήτεϱος ἁγνήν:
440ἐϰ τοῦ οἱ πϱόπολος ϰαὶ ὀπάων ἔπλετ᾽ ἄνασσα.
ταῖς δὲ μέτ᾽ ἄγγελον ἧϰε βαϱύϰτυπος εὐϱύοπα Ζεὺς
Ῥείην ἠύϰομον, Δημήτεϱα ϰυανόπεπλον
ἀξέμεναι μετὰ φῦλα ϑεῶν, ὑπέδεϰτο δὲ τιμὰς
δωσέμεν, ἅς ϰεν ἕλοιτο μετ᾽ ἀϑανάτοισι ϑεοῖσι:
445νεῦσε δέ οἱ ϰούϱην ἔτεος πεϱιτελλομένοιο
τὴν τϱιτάτην μὲν μοῖϱαν ὑπὸ ζόφον ἠεϱόεντα,
τὰς δὲ δύω παϱὰ μητϱὶ ϰαὶ ἄλλοις ἀϑανάτοισιν.
ὣς ἔφατ᾽: οὐδ᾽ ἀπίϑησε ϑεὰ Διὸς ἀγγελιάων.
ἐσσυμένως δ᾽ ἤιξε ϰατ᾽ Οὐλύμποιο ϰαϱήνων,
450ἐς δ᾽ ἄϱα Ῥάϱιον ἷξε, φεϱέσβιον οὖϑαϱ ἀϱούϱης
τὸ πϱίν, ἀτὰϱ τότε γ᾽ οὔτι φεϱέσβιον, ἀλλὰ ἕϰηλον
ἑστήϰει πανάφυλλον: ἔϰευϑε δ᾽ ἄϱα ϰϱῖ λευϰὸν
μήδεσι Δήμητϱος ϰαλλισφύϱου: αὐτὰϱ ἔπειτα
μέλλεν ἄφαϱ ταναοῖσι ϰομήσειν ἀσταχύεσσιν
455ἦϱος ἀεξομένοιο, πέδῳ δ᾽ ἄϱα πίονες ὄγμοι
βϱισέμεν ἀσταχύων, τὰ δ᾽ ἐν ἐλλεδανοῖσι δεδέσϑαι.
ἔνϑ᾽ ἐπέβη πϱώτιστον ἀπ᾽ αἰϑέϱος ἀτϱυγέτοιο:
ἀσπασίως δ᾽ ἴδον ἀλλήλας, ϰεχάϱηντο δὲ ϑυμῷ.
τὴν δ᾽ ὧδε πϱοσέειπε Ῥέη λιπαϱοϰϱήδεμνος:
460δεῦϱο τέϰος, ϰαλέει σε βαϱύϰτυπος εὐϱύοπα Ζεὺς
ἐλϑέμεναι μετὰ φῦλα ϑεῶν, ὑπέδεϰτο δὲ τιμὰς
[δωσέμεν, ἅς ϰ᾽ ἐϑέλῃσϑα] μετ᾽ ἀϑανάτοισι ϑεοῖσι.
[νεῦσε δέ σοι ϰούϱην ἔτεος π]εϱιτελλομένοιο
[τὴν τϱιτάτην μὲν μοῖϱαν ὑπὸ ζόφον ἠ]εϱόεντα,
465[τὰς δὲ δύω παϱὰ σοί τε ϰαὶ ἄλλοις] ἀϑανάτοισιν.
[ὣς ἄϱ᾽ ἔφη τελέ]εσϑαι: ἑῷ δ᾽ ἐπένευσε ϰάϱητι.
[ἀλλ᾽ ἴϑι, τέϰνον] ἐμόν, ϰαὶ πείϑεο, μηδέ τι λίην
ἀ[ζηχὲς μεν]έαινε ϰελαινεφέι Κϱονίωνι.
α[ἶψα δὲ ϰα]ϱπὸν ἄεξε φεϱέσβιον ἀνϑϱώποισιν.
470ὣς ἔφατ᾽. οὐδ᾽ ἀπίϑησεν ἐυστέφανος Δημήτηϱ:
αἶψα δὲ ϰαϱπὸν ἀνῆϰεν ἀϱουϱάων ἐϱιβώλων:
πᾶσα δὲ φύλλοισίν τε ϰαὶ ἄνϑεσιν εὐϱεῖα χϑὼν
ἔβϱισ᾽: ἣ δὲ ϰιοῦσα ϑεμιστοπόλοις βασιλεῦσι
δεῖξεν Τϱιπτολέμῳ τε Διοϰλεῖ τε πληξίππῳ
475Εὐμόλπου τε βίῃ Κελεῷ ϑ᾽ ἡγήτοϱι λαῶν
δϱησμοσύνην ϑ᾽ ἱεϱῶν ϰαὶ ἐπέφϱαδεν ὄϱγια πᾶσι,
Τϱιπτολέμῳ τε Πολυξείνῳ, ἐπὶ τοῖς δὲ Διοϰλεῖ
σεμνά, τά τ᾽ οὔπως ἔστι παϱεξίμεν οὔτε πυϑέσϑαι
οὔτ᾽ ἀχέειν: μέγα γάϱ τι ϑεῶν σέβας ἰσχάνει αὐδήν.
480ὄλβιος, ὃς τάδ᾽ ὄπωπεν ἐπιχϑονίων ἀνϑϱώπων:
ὃς δ᾽ ἀτελὴς ἱεϱῶν ὅς τ᾽ ἄμμοϱος, οὔποϑ᾽ ὁμοίων
αἶσαν ἔχει φϑίμενός πεϱ ὑπὸ ζόφῳ ἠεϱόεντι.
αὐτὰϱ ἐπειδὴ πάνϑ᾽ ὑπεϑήϰατο δῖα ϑεάων,
βάν ῥ᾽ ἴμεν Οὔλυμπόνδε ϑεῶν μεϑ᾽ ὁμήγυϱιν ἄλλων.
485ἔνϑα δὲ ναιετάουσι παϱαὶ Διὶ τεϱπιϰεϱαύνῳ
σεμναί τ᾽ αἰδοῖαι τε: μέγ᾽ ὄλβιος, ὅν τιν᾽ ἐϰεῖναι
πϱοφϱονέως φίλωνται ἐπιχϑονίων ἀνϑϱώπων:
αἶψα δέ οἱ πέμπουσιν ἐφέστιον ἐς μέγα δῶμα
Πλοῦτον, ὃς ἀνϑϱώποις ἄφενος ϑνητοῖσι δίδωσιν.
490ἀλλ᾽ ἄγ᾽ Ἐλευσῖνος ϑυοέσσης δῆμον ἔχουσα
ϰαὶ Πάϱον ἀμφιϱύτην Ἀντϱῶνά τε πετϱήεντα,
πότνια, ἀγλαόδωϱ᾽, ὡϱηφόϱε, Δηοῖ ἄνασσα,
αὐτὴ ϰαὶ ϰούϱη πεϱιϰαλλὴς Πεϱσεφόνεια:
πϱόφϱονες ἀντ᾽ ᾠδῆς βίοτον ϑυμήϱε᾽ ὄπαζε.
495αὐτὰϱ ἐγὼ ϰαὶ σεῖο ϰαὶ ἄλλης μνήσομ᾽ ἀοιδῆς.
Singen will ich die lockige, hocherhabne Demeter,
Sie und zugleich die leichthinwandelnde Tochter, die Aides
Raubt’, ihm geschenkt von Zeus, dem waltenden Donnergebieter.
Weit von der Mutter, der goldenen, segensreichen Demeter,
Spielte das Kind mit Okeanos langgeschleierten Töchtern,
Blumen pflückend auf wasiger Au, Violen und Krokos,
Rosen und Hyakinthen und auch die schöne Agallis,
Auch die Narkisse, die jene zum Trug für das rosige Mägdlein
Baia sproßte, gehorchend dem Zeus, doch zu Gunst dem Aidoneus.
Herrlich prangte nun dies’ auf der Flur, ein Wunder zn schauen
Allen unsterblichen Göttern, zugleich den sterblichen Menschen:
Hundert farbige Kelch’ entwuchsen der nämlichen Wurzel,
Und ihr duftiger Hauch durchwürzte den ganzen Olympos
Rings und die Erd’ und die weiten Flächen des Meeres.
Diese staunte nun an die herrliche Persephoneia,
Streckend die Lilienhände, das schöne Wunder zu pflücken:
Sieh, da erhebt’ und erklaffte die Erd’ in der Nysischen Ebne,
Und aus dem Schlunde fuhr auf mit unsterblichen Rossen Aidoneus,
Kronos gepriesener Sohn; der entriß das schreiende Mägdlein
Rasch auf den goldenen Wagen; doch jene wehklagete lautauf,
Rufend zum Vater Zeus, dem hocherhabnen und besten.
Aber nicht einer der Götter, nicht einer der sterblichen Menschen
Höret’ ihr Rufen, auch nicht bie schönbekränzten Gespielen;
Hekate nur, des Perses feinumschleierte Tochter,
Hörte mit zärtlichem Sinn sie fern aus dem hohlen Geklüfte.
Helios auch, Hyperions Sohn, der strahlende Herrscher,
Hörte des Kindes Geschrey zu dem Vater Kronion; doch dieser
Saß, von den Göttern getrennt, in dem vielumsteheten Tempel,
Nehmend des süßen Opfergedüfts von den sterblichen Menschen.
Aber nicht ohne Genehm des überwaltenden Vaters
Fuhr mit unsterblichen Rossen hinweg das klagende Mägdlein
Selber der Ohm, der allesentraffende, große Kronide.
Weil die Göttinn noch sah des Himmels Sternengewölbe,
Erde noch sah und das hochauffluthende Meeresgewässer
Und die strahlende Sonne; so lange sie immer noch wähnte,
Bald nun die Mutter zu schaun und der ewigen Götter Versammlung:
Hielt noch Hoffnung empor das Herz voll jammernder Klage. -
* Aber als weiter hinab nun flogen die eiligen Rosse,
* Himmel und Sonne nun schwand, & enger sich senkte der Nachtschlund:
* Fürchterlich schauerte da, und entsetzte das rosige Kind sich;
* Riß sich und wand mit Gewalt sich und streckte die Lilienarme,
* Lautaufschreiend in Grimm und in trostlos wimmernder Klage.
Klagend erschollen die Berg’ und- die tiefen Gründe des Meeres,
Von der unsterblichen Stimme; da hörte von fern es die Mutter.
Schneidender Schmerz durchfuhr ihr die Seele; sie riß mit den Händen
Weg von ambrosischen Haar sich den feinen, glänzenden Schleier;
Hüllte die Schultern sich ein in schwarze Trauergewande;
Rasch dann irrte sie hin, wie ein Vogel, durch Sand und Gewässer,
Suchend ihr Kind. Doch keiner der sterblichen Menschen auf Erden
Wußte zu geben Bescheid der Fragenden, keiner der Götter;
Kein weissagender Vogel erschien, ein Verkünder der Wahrheit.
Also wandelte nun neun Tag’ auf Erden die Göttinn,
Rechts sich wendend und links, in der Hand hellleuchtende Fackeln,
Nicht der Ambrosia, nicht des herzerfreuenden Nektars
Nahm die Beklommen’, enthielt vom labenden Bade die Glieder.
Doch als zum zehntemal ihr erschien der rosige Morgen:
Kam ihr Hekate her, in der Hand hellleuchtende Strahlen.
Diese redete so, die erste Kunde gewährend:
Segensreiche Demeter, Walterinn goldener Zeiten!
Wer der Hinmlischen hat dir, oder der Menschen auf Erden
Persephoneia geraubt, und solchen Jammer bereitet?
Wohl vernahm ich von fern das Schreien, doch konnt’ ich nicht sehen
Wer der Entführer war; doch also verhält sich die Sache:
“Auf dem Nysischen Feld an des Stromes Silbergewirbel
* Spielte dein Kind mit Okeanos langgeschleierten Töchtern.
* Ich saß einsam indeß in der kühlgewölbeten Grotte
* Unweit in dem Gebirg‘, und beschaute die goldene Spindel,
* So mir Häphästos jüngst, der sinnige Künstler, gefertigt.
* Da mit einmal erscholl Persephone’s jammernder Nothruf.
* Zitternd fuhr ich vom Stuhl, und sprang durchs hohe Gebüsche
* Hin in’s Freye, zu schaun; doch nirgend war Persephoneia.
* Auch die Okeaniden wußten nicht Kunde zu geben;
* Aber Hyperion’s Sohn, der strahlenherrliche Phöbos,
* Hielt just mit dem Gespann hoch über der Nysischen Ebne;
* Dieser kann dir vielleicht der Wahrheit Kunde berichten.“
Hekate sprachs; kein Wort versetzte dagegen Demeter,
Rheia’s Tschter, der schöngelockten; doch eilig mit jener
Stieg in die Lüfte sie auf, in der Hand hellleuchtende Fackeln.
Als sie Helins nahten, der Götter schauet und Menschen;
Traten sie vor das Gespann, und also fragte die Göttinn:
Helios! ehrst du mich doch als Göttinn; — wenn ich dir jemals
Habe die Seele vergnügt mit Worten oder mit Werken:
Sage: mein Kind, die liebliche Blume, gepriesenen Wuchses,
Ach, deß Janımergeschrey, als wäre Gewalt ihm geschehen,
Ich durch die Lüfte vernahm, — nicht sah ich es selber mit Augen;
Aber du, der strahlend aus hohem Aether hinabschaut
Auf die Länder umher und weit auf alle Gemässer,
Sage die Wahrheit mir: hast du mein Kind nicht gesehen?
Wer hat es ferne von mir bewältiget, und mir entführet?
Wer der unsterblichen Götter, oder der sterblichen Menschen?
Ihr antwortend darauf begann der Hyperionide:
Tochter der schöngelocketen Rheia, hohe Demeter!
Nicht verhehl’ ich es dir, denn ich ehre Dich sehr, und mich dauert
Deiner Klag’ um das leichthinwandelnde Mägdlein: doch keiner
Trägt der Götter die Schuld, als selbst der Wolkenversammler,
Zeus, der dem Aides sie gab, dem Bruder, zur blühenden Gattinn.
Dieser hat sie entrafft, das jämmerlich schreiende Mägdlein,
Und mit den Rossen entführt in’s neb’lige Dunkel der Todten.
Aber du, hemme die Klagen, o Göttinn; nicht ziemt es dir also,
Fruchtlos unendlichen Gram zu nähren; mit nichten wird unwerth
Dir bey den Göttern ein Eidam seyn der Herrscher Aidoneus,
Ist er verwandt dir ja und dein eigener Bruder, und ward ihm
Doch das herrliche Loos, als einst das Reich ward getheilet,
Herrschergewalt zu üben auf alle, die neben ihm wohnen.
Sprachs, und hetzte voran das Gespann; es entflog mit dem Wagen
Rasch und behende daher, wie breitgeflügelte Vögel,
Aber noch schwärzerer Gram umfing die Seele der Göttinn:
Zürnend hinfort auf den Herrscher, den schwarzumwölkten Kronion,
Mied sie der Götter Saal und den hochgethürmten Olympos,
Und besuchte die Städt’ und die scholligen Felder der Menschen;
Dämpfend der Gottheit heiligen Glanz, daß keiner sie kannte,
Weder der Männer noch auch der schöngegürteten Weiber.
Also kam sie auch hin zum Pallaste des muthigen Keleus,
Der in Eleusis herrschte, der Stadt voll lieblicher Düfte,
Allda saß sie, das Herz sich im Busen versehrend, am Wege
Neben dem Jungfrauborn, wo das Wasser sich hohlten die Bürger,
Kühl beschattet vom Grün des hoch sich wölbenden Oelbaums;
Aehnlich der alternden Wittwe, die längstentfremdet den Wehen,
Und dem holden Geschenk der schöngekröneten Kypris;
Oder der alten Amm’ im Pallaste des richtenden Königs,
Oder der Schaffnerinn gleich, die alle Gemächer durchtrippelt.
Allda sahn sie die Töchter des Eleusinischen Königs,
Kommend zum schönumbordeten Quell, um Wasser zu hohlen
Nach des Vaters Pallast in blanken, ehernen Eimern,
Viere, wie Göttinnen schön, im blühenden Reize der Jugend.
Kallidike’ und Kleisidike’ und die lächelnde Demo,
Und Kallithoe auch, die älteste Schwester von allen.
Nicht erkannten sie Deo, denn schwer sind Götter. zu kennen.
Und sie traten heran, und sprachen die fliegenden Worte:
Mütterchen, sage, wer bist du? von welchen Menschen der Vorwelt?
Warum so weit von der Stadt, und gehst nicht hin zu den Häusern,
Wo der Weiber so viele doch wohnen in schönen Gemächern,
Alte, wie du, zugleich auch andre von jüngeren Jahren,
Die dich bewirtheten wohl mit freundlichen Worten und Werken?
Also sagten die Mädchen, dagegen versetzte die Göttinn:
Freud’ euch, wer ihr auch seyd, ihr zartaufblühenden Jungfraun!
Gerne will ich es euch, wonach ihr fraget, erzählen;
Alles der Wahrheit gemäß; unziemlich ja wär’ es, zu lügen.
Dos ist mein Nanıe, den einst nıir gab die würdige Mutter.
Aber nun komm’ ich daher auf dem breiten Rücken des Meeres
Fern von Kreta; nicht willig, mich führten feindliche Männer,
Die mit Gewalt mich entrafften, hinweg; doch an Thorikos landend
Stand das Schiff, und es stiegen an’s Land aus dem Schiffe die Weiber;
Jene bereiteten sich das Mahl am Ufer des Meeres.
Aber nicht mir gelüstete da nach des Mahles Erquickung;
Heimlich stahl ich mich weg am buschbewachs’nen Gestade;
Floh von den übermüthigen Räubern, damit sie nicht etwa
Mich, die Geraubte, verkaufend solches Gewinnes sich freuten.
Also komm ich nun irrend hieher, und weiß noch bis jetzt nicht,
Welches Land ich hier seh, und welcherley Menschen hier wohnen.
Euch nun mögen die Götter, des hohen Olympos Bewohner,
Jugendlichschöne Gemahle verleihn und blühende Kinder,
Wie sie Vermählte sich wünschen; doch, Mädchen, erbarmet euch meiner,
Huld mir gewährend, o theure Kinder, bis irgend ein Mensch mich
Nehm’ in sein Haus als Dienerinn; gerne ja will ich mich mühen,
Jegliches Werk, so mir alten Frau nur möglich, verrichten.
Wohl vermöcht’ ich annoch ein lallendes Kindchen zu warten,
Sanft in den Arinen es wiegend, dabey das Haus zu bewahren,
Auch für die Herrschaft das Bett’ zu machen in schattiger Kanımer,
Und die jüngeren Mägde zu lehren weibliche Arbeit.
Also die Göttinn; es sprach dagegen die blühende Jungfrau
Kallidike’, von Keleus Töchtern die schönste von Ansehn:
Mutter! der Götter Geschick muß tragen der Sterblichen jeder,
Drück’ es auch noch so hart; denn mächtiger sind ja die Götter.
Doch, wonach du gefragt, das alles will ich dir sagen;
Will dir nennen die Männer, die hier vor Andern geehrt sind,
Weit vorragen im Volk, und der hochummauerten Stadt hier
Walten durch weisen Rath und des Rechtes heilige Pflege.
Siehe das Haus des schlanen Triptolemos, dort des Diokles,
Hier des Polyrenos, auch des unbescholtnen Eumolpus;
Da wohnt Dorikos; hier wohnt unser erhabene Vater,
Und in allen den Häusern walten verständige Frauen;
Deren wird keine wohl dir, auch nicht beym ersten Erblicken,
Deinem Gesicht’ abhold, des Hauses Thüre verschließen;
Sondern sie nehmen dich auf; denn traun! du hast Göttergestalt ja,
Willst du nun warten dahier: so laufen wir hin zu des Vaters
Haus; und melden der schöngegürteten Metaneira,
Unserer Mutter, dieß alled; ob etwa nicht sie dich schon heiße,
Einzukehren bey uns, und nicht mehr weiter zu suchen.
Spät im Alter ist ihr im Gemach ein Sohn noch geworden,
Lang erfleht von den Göttern, ein gar anmuthiges Kindlein.
Würdest du diesen erziehn bis zur Fülle der blühenden Jugend?
Leicht dann würde mit Neid-in unserem Hause dich schauen
Manches Weib; denn so viel gäbe des Lohnes die Mutter.
Sprach es, und lächelnd nickte die Göttinn: da füllten mit Wasser
Jene die blinkenden Eimer, und gingen in prangender Hoheit.
Eilig kamen sie hin zum Pallaste des Vaters, und sagten,
Was sie gehört und gesehn, der würdigen Mutter zu Hause, -
Aber die Mutter befahl zu gehn und zu hohlen die Alte.
Froh und geschwind, wie Hindinnen oder wie Färsen im Frühling,
Ueppig im Grase genährt, hinspringen über die Matten,
Also sprangen die Mädchen daher in dem staubigen- Fahrweg,
Hebend das wallende Kleid mit der Hand; es flogen die Loeken,
Golden wie Safranblüthe, zurück um die glänzenden Schultern,
Aber sie fanden annoch am Wege die herrliche Göttinn,
Wo sie vorhin sie verließen, und führten sie freundlich nach Hause.
Langsam folgte sie nach, das Herz sich im Busen versehrend;
Ging mit umschleiertem Haupt; es schlugen des schwarzen Gewandes
Hangende Falten zuriick um die zarten Füße der Göttinn.
Und sie kamen zum Haus des Göttergenähreten Keleus,
Gingen hinein durch die vordere Halle zum innern Gemache,
Wo sie saß, die Mutter, am Pfeiler des schönen Gedeckes,
Haltend ihr Kind, den zarten Sproß, auf dem Schooß; und es liefen
Zu ihr die Mädchen; es trat auf die Schwelle die Göttinn, da ragte
Hoch ihr Haupt bis zur Decke; doch himmlisch erhellt ward die Kammer.
Staunen und Ehrfurcht faßte die Mutter und bleichender Schauer:
Eilig erhub sie vom Stuhl sich, und nöthigte jene zum Sitzen;
Doch nicht setzte sich bin auf den schönen, glänzenden Sessel
Des, die Segensreiche, die Walterinn goldener Zeiten;
Schweigend stand sie und niederwerfend die göttlichen Augen,
Doch als Jambe, die wohlverständ’ge, den künstlishen Sessel
Vor sie setzt’, und drüber warf das silberne Schafsvließ:
Ließ sich nieder die Göttinn, und hielt den Schleier zusammen
Vor sich, und saß, sprachlos und das Herz voll tiefer Betrübniß.
Keinen beachtend mit Worten oder mit einer Geberde,
Traurig und in sich gekehrt, und nahm nicht Essen noch Trinken;
Saß in einem dahin, um die schöne Tochter sich härmend.
Aber als nicht sie gewähren ließ die launige Jambe,
Mancherley Scherze begann, und neckte die heilige Göttinn:
Nicht so düster zu feyn und fröhlichen Muthes zu lachen:
(Auch nachher noch gefiel der Göttinn die Laune der Janıbe)
* Da erheiterte sich allmählig ihr trauriges Auge.
Jetzo reichte den Becher des lieblichen Weins Metaneira;
Aber sie nahm ihn nicht an: nicht dürfe sie, sagte die Göttinn,
Trinken des funkelnden Weins; nur Mehlschleim bat sie zum Trank sich;
Angerühret mit Wasser und kleingeriebener Würze,
Gerne bereitete, wie sie verlangte, den Trank Metaneira;
Und sie nahm und begann das Heil’ge, die hehre Demeter,
Drauf hub an das Gespräch Metaneira mit glänzendem Leibgurt:
Freude dir, edele Frau! denn nicht von unedelen Aeltern
Scheinst du ein Kind; weil Anstand hold dir erglänzet im Auge,
Liebliche Anmuth zugleich, rechtswaltenden Königen ähnlich.
Doch der Götter Geschick muß tragen der Sterblichen jeder;
Drück’ es auch noch so schwer; denn das Joch ja liegt auf dem Nacken.
Nun weil uns du genaht; soll nichts, was ich habe, dir mangeln:
Warte mir dieses Kind, so unverhoffet im Alter
Spät mir die Götter gewährt, das herzlichgeliebete Söhnlein.
Wirst du mir diesen erzichn bis zur Fülle der blühenden Jugend;
Leicht dann möchte mit Neid in unserem Hause dich schauen
Manches Weib, denn so viel gab’ ich des herrlichen Lohnes.
Ihr antwortete drauf Die schöngekrönte Demeter:
Freude Dir wieder, o Frau! und die Götter mögen dich segnen!
Gerne nehm ich das Kind, so wie du gebietest, zur Wartung;
Werd’ es erziehen mit Acht; nicht soll durch der Wärterinn Einfalt,
Hoff’ ich, ihm Schade geschehn, nicht durch Zauber oder Beschwörung:
Sind mir doch Mittel bekannt zu heben den mächtigen Zauber,
Kenn’ ich doch der Beschwörung kräftige Gegenbeschwörung.
Sprachs und empfing und legte das Kind an den duftenden Busen
Mit den unsterblichen Händen; es freute sich aber die Mutter.
Also erzog nun jene den Sohn des muthigen Keleus,
Demophoon, den gebar Meraneira mit glänzendem Leibgurt,
Hegend ihn in dem Gemach; und er wuchs wie ein göttliches Kind auf.
Aber nicht aß er auch Brod, nicht sog er die Brust; denn Demeter
Wusch mit Aınbrosia ihn, wie ein Kind, das Götter gezeuget,
Süß ihn anathmend und stäts ihn tragend im Busengewande.
Aber zur Nachtzeit nahm sie das Kind, und steckt’ es in’s Feuer,
Wohl es verhehlend den Aeltern; doch diesen war es ein Wunder,
Wie so blühend der Sohn wuchs, gleich den unsterblichen Göttern.
And sie hätt’ ihn unsterblich gemacht und von ewiger Jugend;
Hätte durch Thorheit selbst Metaneira nicht solches verdorben.
Diese erspähte das Werk, herlauernd aus duftender Kammer
Nachts, und schrie und schlug sich mit beyden Händen die Lenden,
Fürchtend ob ihrem Kind, und tobt‘in unendlichem Unsinn,
Lautauf jammernd durchs Haus, und rief die geflügelten Worte:
Theuerster Demophoon, dich steckt ja in’s Feuer die Fremde!
Wehe mir, welch ein Elend wird mir im Hause bereitet!
Also schrie sie jammernd; es hörte die heilige Göttinn,
Faßte darauf das Kind, das spät geborene Söhnlein
Mit den unsterblichen Händen, und setzt’ es dahin auf die Erde,
Wohl es enthebend dem Feu’r; duch heftig ergrimmte das Herz ihr,
Scheltend auf Metaneira, die schöngegürtete, rief sie:
Unglückselige Menschen! ach, immer in thörichtem Wahne!
Nimmer erkennend eur Glück und nimmer eur kommendes Unglück!
Du nun wieder durch Unsinn verscherzest die herrliche Gabe!
Wahrlich beym Styx, dem grausigen Zeugen des Schwures der Götter,
Unverwelklich in ewig blühender Tugend, unsterblich
Hätt’ ich geschaffen dein Kind, und unendliche Ehr’ ihm gegeben!
Doch nun kann er dem Tod und dem Schieksal nimmer entrinnen!
Aber unsterblicher Ruhm soll ihm werden, dieweil er auf meinem
Schooße gesessen als Kind, und in meinen Armen geschlafen,
Wächst er als Jüngling heran in rollender Jahre Vollendung
Einst; dann erregen Krieg und entsetzliche Schlachtengetümmel,
Gegen einander empört, Eleusis tapfere Söhne.
* Nun wird er strahlen voran, und ewigen Ruhm sich gewinnen,
Ich bin Demeter; die Ehrengekrönte, die Göttern und Menschen
Goldenen Segen verleiht und des Lebens seligste Freuden. —
Aber-wohlan, nun soll mire das ganze Volk von Eleusis
Einen erhabenen Tempel und Altar baun an der Stadtmaur,
Hier an Kallichoros Flut auf dem hochvorragenden Hügel.
Selber lehr’ ich euch dann der Orgien Feier, damit ihr
Meine Gottheit hinfort durch heilige Sühnung erflehet.
Sprachs und änderte schnell die Gestalt und das irdische Wesen;
Sacht’ entfank ihr das Alter, und Anmuth umhauchte die Glieder;
Selige Wohlgerüch’ entflossen dem duft’gen Gewande
Rings; dem ambrosischen Haupt entleuchteten himmlische Strahlen
Weithin; es wallten die goldenen Locken herab auf die Schultern.
Sanft erhellt ward der hohe Pallast, wie von Blitzen durchleuchtet.
Also wandelt‘hinaus die Göttinn; doch jener entschwanden
Sinn’ und Kräfte vor Angst; und sprachlos lag sie; des Kindes,
Ach, des geliebten dachte sie nicht, es vom Boden zu heben.
Doch sein Winselgeschrey erschreckt’ aus dem Schlafe die Schwestern,
Hastig sprangen sie auf von dem schöngespreiteten Betten:
Diese ergriff das Kind und herzt’ es am Busen; doch jene
Suchte nah Feu’r; es lief mit den nackten Füßen die andre
Eilig daher in das schöne Gemach, um der Mutter zu helfen.
Alle nun hegten zugleich den Kleinen, der zappelt und schreiet;
Küßten und kos’ten herum; doch nicht war jener zu stillen,
Denn es waren um ihn, fürwahr! nun schlechtere Ammen.
Jene die ganze Nacht nun flehten zur heiligen Göttinn,
Zitternd in Angstund Graun; doch gleich mit dem hellenden Morgen
Sagten sie alles heraus den weitgebietenden Keleus,
Wie es die Göttinn gebot, die schöngekrönte Demeter.
Jener berief alsbald die weitumwohnenden Männer
Alle zusammen und rieth, der schöngelockten Demeter
Hier auf dem Hügel zu baun den herrlichen Tempel und Altar,
Jenen gefiel des Redenden Wort und Rath; und sie bauten,
Wie er befahl; doch es sticg das Gebäude durch göttliches Wirken.
Als sie vollendet das Werk, und nun abließen vom Bauen:
Ging ein jeder zu Haus; doch die goldengelockte Demeter
Ließ sich nieder daselbst, entfernt von den Seligen allen;
Saß und härmte sich ab um die schöngegürtete Tochter.
Aber ein darbendes Jahr, voll traurigen Wehes den Menschen,
Führte die Zürnende her auf der vielernährenden Erde,
Denn kein Saamen gedieh, ihn hemmte die goldne Demeter;
Ochsen zogen umsonst im Feld die gebogeten Pflüge;
Ach, und man streuet’ in’s Land umsonst die gelbliche Gerste,
Und sie hätte vertilgt das Geschlecht der redenden Menschen
In hindarbender Noth, und hätte um Opfer und Ehre
Selbst die Götter gebracht, die hoch den Olympos bewohnen:
Hätte nicht Zeus es bemerkt, und wohl es erwogen im Herzen,
Anfangs sendet’ er ab die goldene Iris, zu rufen
Deo, die schöngelockte, die Göttinn erhabenen Wuchses.
Willig gehorchend dem Wort des schwarzumwölkten Kronion,
Lief auf der luftigen Bahn mit hurtigen Füßen die Bötinn.
Bald nun kam sie zur Stadt voll Wohlgerüchen, Eleusis;
Fand in dem Tempel Demeter, gehüllt in schwarze Gewande;
Und sie begann, anredend, zu ihr die geflügelten Worte:
Höre, Demeter, es rufe dich Zens voll ewiger Weisheit,
Heimzukehren anitzt zu der seligen Götter Versammlung;
Komm doch, laß nicht umsonst das Wort von Zeus mich verkünden.
Also bat sie; doch nicht ward jener beredet die Seele,
Da erregte nun Zeus, der Vater, die seligen Götter
Allezumal, und sie gingen und kamen der Ein’ um den Andern;
Luden Demeter zurück, und boten ihr herrliche Gaben,
Ehre, wie selber ihr Herz sie nur wünscht’ in dem hohen Olympos.
Aber nicht einer bewog ihr des Busens Sinn und Empfindung;
Zürnend saß sie dahin, und verschmähete jeglichen Antrag:
Nimmer, sagte sie, kehre sie heim zum schönen Olympos,
Nimmer werde sie wieder verleihn die Früchte des Feldes;
Eh und bevor sie mit Augen erblickt ihr reizendes Mägdlein.
Aber als solches vernahm der donnergewalt’ge Kronion;
Sandt’ er zum Erebos hin den Boten mit goldenem Machtstab,
Hermes, daß er, beredend mit lieblichen Worten den Aides,
Bring’ aus dem düstern Gebiet die keusche Persephoneia
Her an’s Licht zu den Göttern, damit die zürnende Mutter
Schaue mit Augen ihr Kind, und so ablasse vom Unmuth.
Hermes gehorcht’ und eilet’ hinab in die tiefen Geklüfte
Stürmenden Laufs, verlassend den Saal des hohen Olympos;
Und er fand den Gebieter daheim in seinem Pallaste,
Sitzend auf hochgepolstertem Bett mit der züchtigen Gattinn,
Die noch immer sich sträubte, zur lieben Mutter sich sehnend,
Welche mit harrendem Groll nun trotzte den Werken der Götter,
Nah hintretend begann der rüstige Argoswürger:
Finstergelockter Aidoneus, aller Todten Gebieter!
Zeus, der Vater, befiehlt mir, die herrliche Persephoneia
Her aus des Erebos Nacht zu hohlen, damit doch die Mutter
Schaue mit Augen ihr Kind, und so ablasse vom Zorne
Gegen die Götter; denn, traun! sie beginnt entsetzliche Werke:
Ganz zu vertilgen das schwache Geschlecht der Menschen auf Erden,
Hemmt sie des Saamens Keim, und beraubet der Ehrengeschenke
Selbst die Unsterblichen, fürchterlich zürnend; zu keinem der Götter
Nahet sie; sondern entfernt im süßumdufteten Tempel
Sitzt sie allein, und zürnt, auf den felsigen Höhn von Eleusis.
Sprachs, da lächelte sanft mit den schmarzen Brauen Aidoneus;
Aller Todten Gebieter; und nicht verschmähend den Rathschluß
Zeus, des Herischers , begann er zur sinnigen Persephoneia:
Seh, Persephone, hin zur dunkelumschleierten Mutter.
Aber erweiche den Sinn und stille den traurigen Unmuth,
Zürne nicht immer hinfort in so unermeßlichem Grame;
Nicht ja bin ich wohl dir ein schlechter Gemahl bey ben Göttern,
Bruder des waltenden Zeus; doch du, nun wiedergekehret,
Sollst mir Herrscherinn seyn ob allem, was lebet und wehet;
Bey den Unsterblichen auch die herrliche Ehre genießen,
Wer dich mißachtete, traun! der sollte mir ewig es büßen;
Wer nicht deine Gewalt demüthig mit Opfern verehrte,
Nicht die Feier beging, und die rechtlichen Gaben dir brächte.
Sprachs; da freute sich sehr die sinnige Persephoneia;
Rasch entsprang sie vor Freude dem Bett; doch der Herrscher Aidoneus
Gab ihr zu essen geheim den Kern des süßen Granates,
Fester sie schmiegend an sich, damit sie nicht bliebe für immer
Oben im Licht bey der schwarzumschleierten, hehren Demeter,
Drauf an den goldenen Wagen schirrte die stampfenden Rosse
Aidoneus, der vielgebietendende Herrscher der Todten.
Jene bestieg den Wagen; der rüstige Argoswürger
Setzte sich neben sie hin, und ergriff die Geißel und Zügel;
Lenkte dann aus dem Pallast, und hurtig entflogen die Rosse.
Unermeßliche Strecken des Wegs durchflogen sie eilig;
Weder das Meer noch der Ströme Flut, nicht Thal und Gebirge
Hemmten den stürmenden Flug der schnellen, unsterblichen Rosse;
Ueber alles hinweg durchschnitten sie saufend die Lüfte,
Bald nun kamen sie an vor Demeters duftigem Tempel,
Wo die herrliche saß. Doch als sie-die Tochter erschaute;
Sprang sie daher, wie auf waldigen Höhn des Gebirge die Mänade,
* Aber Persephoneia erhub die Lilienhände
* Ihrer Mutter entgegen, und schrie in jauchzender Freunde;
* Sprang vom Wagen herab in der theuren Mutter Umarmung.
* Beyden entsank der Gram, und es flossen die Thränen der Freude;
* Und sie wandelten beyd’ in des Tempels duftige Hallen;
* Drauf mit ernsterem Blick begann die hehre Demeter:
Kind, du hast doch wohl nicht in des Aides dunkler Behausung -
Speise genommen! doch sag’ es heraus; denn ist es nicht also:
Siehe, so kehrest du heim zu den luftigen Höhn des Olympos;
Magst dort bleiben bey mir und dem donnergebietenden Vater;
Und bist ewig geehrt bey allen unsterblichen Göttern,
Aber hast du gespeis’t: nun wohl, so mußt du dort unten
Wohnen ein Drittel des Jahrs in der Erde dunklem Geklüfte;
Doch zwey Drittel verbleibst du bey mir und den anderen Göttern.
Immer, so oft im Lenz die Erde mit duftenden Blumen
Mancherley Art erblüht; dann gleich von den dunkelen Schatten
Steigst dir herauf; ein Wunder den Göttern und sterblichen Menschen:
* Aber sag es mir an, ob etwa du unten gegessen,
Und dich mit Ränken umstrickt der allesverschlingende König.
Ihr antwortete drauf die herrliche Persephoneia:
Mutter, ich sag es dir gern und alles nach lauterer Wahrheit.
Als mir Hermes erschien , der verschlagene, rüstige Bote,
Hergesendet vom Vater Zeus und den anderen Göttern,
Mich zu enthohlen dem Erebos, daß du mit Augen mich schauend,
Nun abließest vom Zorn, dem entsetzlichen, gegen die Götter:
Kasch da sprang ich empor vor Freude; doch jener verstohlen
Legte mir schnell in den Mund den Kern des süßen Granates;
Aber er zwang mit Gewalt mich gegen mein Wollen zu essen. —
Wie er mich aber geraubt auf den listigen Rath des Kroniden,
Meines Vaters, und schnell in der Erde Geklüft mich entführet;
Will ich dir sagen, und alles, so wie du verlangest, bedeuten,
Alle waren wir da auf der blühenden Wiese beysammen,
Phains, Leykippe, Elektra auch und J’anthe,
Melite, J’ache und Kallirhoe mit der Rhodeia,
Tyche, Melobosis, und Okyrhoe rosiger Wangen,
Chriseis und Admete, Akaste und J’aneira,
Pluto und Rodope und die reizendschöne Kalypso,
Styx und Urania auch, und die artige Galaxaura,
(Pallas, die Kriegerinn, auch, und Artemis froh des Geschosses).
Alle nun spielten wir da, und pflücketen liebliche Blumen,
Krokos und Hyakinthen zugleich und die schöne Agallis, -
Lilien und Rosenkelch‘, ein Wunder dem Auge zu schauen,
Und die Narkisse, die schön wie Krokos da wuchs auf der Wiese.
Und ich pflückte mit Lust; da klaffete unten der Boden
Weit, und es sprang heraus der mächtige Herrscher Aidoneus;
Und mich unter die Erd’ entführt’ er auf goldenem Wagen;
Schrie ich gleich überlaut, und wehrte mit aller Gewalt mich, —
So nun red’ ich, wohl innig betrübt, doch in allem die Wahrheit.
Jene den ganzen Tag in der Herzen süßem Vereine
Saßen, und lindeten sich des Gemüthes bittre Empörung,
Sanft um einander geschlungen; es schwand der traurige Kummer;
Seliges Wonnegefühl ergoß sich in wechselnder Wallung,
Ihnen gesellete sich nun Hekate feinen Gewandes,
Brünstig drückend an’s Herz Demeters züchtiges Mägdlein,
Weil ihr die herrliche ward Genossinn im Reiche der Schatten,
Ihnen sendete Zeus, der waltende Donnergebieter,
Rheia, die schöngelockte, Demeter im schwarzen Gewande
Auf den Olympos heim zu den seligen Göttern zu führen,
Ehre versprechend, wie selbst ihr Herz es nur immer verlangte,
Aber dem Finde gewährt‘er, nur des kreisenden Jahres
Dritten Theil dort unten zu seyn in dem schattigen Dunkel,
Doch zwey Drittel im Licht bey der Mutter und allen Glücksel’gen,
Also Zeus, und willig gehorchte die herrliche Rheia:
Rasch entsprang sie dem Haupt des hochgethürmten Olympos,
Kam in’s Rharische Feld, den üppigsprossenden Boden
Vormals, aber anitzt nicht üppigsprossend, denn öde
Lag es und saatenlos; es hemmt’ in der Erde den Saamen
Deo, die schönhinwandelnde; aber es sollte nun wieder
Bald im steigenden Lenz mit hochaufwallenden Halmen
Keimen das Feld; es sollt’ auf den scholligen Furchen nun wieder
Brausen die üppige Saat, in mächtigen Bunden zu erndten.
Dorthin kam sie uuerst aus des Aethers unendlichen Räumen,
Herzlich begrüßten die Göttinnen sich und mit jauchzender Freude;
Aber zu jener begann die feinumschleierte Rheia:
Komm, o Tochter! es ruft dich Zeus, der Donnergebieter,
Auf den Olympos heim zu den seligen Göttern zu kehren,
Ehre versprechend, wie selbst dein Herz es nur immer verlanget.
Aber dem Kinde gewährt er, nur des kreisenden Jahres
Dritten Theil dort unten zu seyn in dem schattigen Dunkel,
Doch zwey Drittel im Licht bey dir und den anderen Göttern.
So hat Zeus es bestimmt und zugewinkt mit dem Hanpte.
Also wohlan! mein Töchterchen! laß dich erbitten; nicht hege
Unaufhörlichen Groll auf den schwarzumwölkten Kronion;
Bald nun wieder verleih die nährenden Früchte den Menschen.
Rheia sprachs; es gehorchte die schöngekrönte Demeter;
Gleich nun Iös’te den Keim sie wieder im scholligen Acker,
Weithin wogte das Land mit Blumen und üppigen Saaten,
Jene wandelt‘anitzt zu den rechtsverwaltenden Herrschern,
Zu des Eumolpos Macht, zu dem Pferdetummler Diokles,
Und dem Triptolemos und dem völkergebietenden Keleus.
Diesen zeigte zuerst sie der Orgien heilige Feier;
Hehres Geheim, das keiner verrathen darf, noch erfragen,
Noch beklagen; ein heiliger Schauer ja bindet die Sprache.
Glücklich jedoch, wer es sah von den erdebewohnenden Menschen!
Denn wer die Weihen empfing, und wem das Heilige fremd blieb;
Nicht doch haben sie gleiches Geschiek in dem Reiche der Todten.
Aber nachdem nun alles bestellt die herrliche Göttinn:
Gingen sie heim zum Olymp zu der übrigen Götter Versammlung,
Allda wohnen sie nun bey Zeus, dem Donnererhabnen,
Beyde, die Holden und Seligen: überglücklich, den jene
Mit vorliebender Huld ansehn hier unter den Menschen!
Ihm bestellen sie bald zum täglichen Hüter des Hauses
Plutos, welcher verleiht des Reichthums Fülle den Menschen.
Aber, o Du, die Eleusis beherrscht voll lieblicher Düfte,
Und die umfluthete Paros, zugleich die felsige Antron,
Herrscherinn, Segensreiche, Walterinn goldener Zeiten!
Deo, mit deinem Kind, der herrlichen Persephoneia,
O, ob diesem Gesang verleih mir holdseliges Leben!
Wiederum werd’ ich alsdann in anderen Liedern dich singen.
Homers Hymne an Demeter, aus dem Griechischen übersetzt von Hermann Ludwig Nadermann. Münster: Friedrich Theissing, 1818.
„Die mit * bezeichneten Verse sind von mir eingeschoben, weil daselbst im Originale eine Lücke zu seyn scheint.“
Clem. Alex. strom 3.3.17 (2.203 Stählin) Πίνδαϱος πεϱὶ τῶν ἐν Ἐλευσῖνι μυστηϱίων λέγων ἐπιφέϱει· ὄλβιος ὅστις ἰδὼν ϰεῖν᾿ εἶσ᾿ ὑπὸ χϑόν᾿· οἶδε μὲν βίου τελευτάν, οἶδεν δὲ διόσδοτον ἀϱχάν
Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies. “In speaking of the Eleusinian mysteries, Pindar adds”: Blessed is he who sees them and goes beneath the earth; he knows the end of life and knows its Zeus-given beginning.
Ἀξιούντων Ἀϑηναίων μυηϑῆναι αὐτὸν ϰαὶ λεγόντων ὡς ἐν ᾄδου πϱοεδϱίας οἱ μεμυημένοι τυγχάνουσι, „γελοῖον,“ ἔφη, „εἰ Ἀγησίλαος μὲν ϰαὶ Ἐπαμεινώνδας ἐν τῷ βοϱβόϱῳ διάξουσιν, εὐτελεῖς δέ τινες μεμυημένοι ἐν ταῖς μαϰάϱων νήσοις ἔσονται.“
— Βίοι ϰαὶ γνῶμαι τῶν ἐν φιλοσοφίᾳ εὐδοϰιμησάντων, Ε, Κεφ. β᾽. 39.
The Athenians urged him to become initiated, and told him that in the other world those who have been initiated enjoy a special privilege. “It would be ludicrous,” quoth he, “if Agesilaus and Epaminondas are to dwell in the mire, while certain folk of no account will live in the Isles of the Blest because they have been initiated.”
— Translated by Robert Drew Hicks.
Πλούτων δὲ Πεϱσεφόνης ἐϱασϑεὶς Διὸς συνεϱγοῦντος ἥϱπασεν αὐτὴν ϰϱύφα. Δημήτηϱ δὲ μετὰ λαμπάδων νυϰτός τε ϰαὶ ἡμέϱας ϰατὰ πᾶσαν τὴν γῆν ζητοῦσα πεϱιῄει· μαϑοῦσα δὲ παϱ’ Ἑϱμιονέων ὅτι Πλούτων αὐτὴν ἥϱπασεν, ὀϱγιζομένη ϑεοῖς ϰατέλιπεν οὐϱανόν, εἰϰασϑεῖσα δὲ γυναιϰὶ ἧϰεν εἰς Ἐλευσῖνα. ϰαὶ πϱῶτον μὲν ἐπὶ τὴν ἀπ’ ἐϰείνης ϰληϑεῖσαν Ἀγέλαστον ἐϰάϑισε πέτϱαν παϱὰ τὸ Καλλίχοϱον φϱέαϱ ϰαλούμενον. ἔπειτα πϱὸς Κελεὸν ἐλϑοῦσα τὸν βασιλεύοντα τότε Ἐλευσινίων, ἔνδον οὐσῶν γυναιϰῶν, ϰαὶ λεγουσῶν τούτων παϱ’ αὑτὰς ϰαϑέζεσϑαι, γϱαῖά τις Ἰάμβη σϰώψασα τὴν ϑεὸν ἐποίησε μειδιᾶσαι. διὰ τοῦτο ἐν τοῖς ϑεσμοφοϱίοις τὰς γυναῖϰας σϰώπτειν λέγουσιν. ὄντος δὲ τῇ τοῦ Κελεοῦ γυναιϰὶ Μετανείϱᾳ παιδίου, τοῦτο ἔτϱεφεν ἡ Δημήτηϱ παϱαλαβοῦσα· βουλομένη δὲ αὐτὸ ἀϑάνατον ποιῆσαι, τὰς νύϰτας εἰς πῦϱ ϰατετίϑει τὸ βϱέφος ϰαὶ πεϱιῄϱει τὰς ϑνητὰς σάϱϰας αὐτοῦ. ϰαϑ’ ἡμέϱαν δὲ παϱαδόξως αὐξανομένου τοῦ Δημοφῶντος (τοῦτο γὰϱ ἦν ὄνομα τῷ παιδί) ἐπετήϱησεν ἡ Μετάνειϱα (Πϱαξιϑέα), ϰαὶ ϰαταλαβοῦσα εἰς πῦϱ ἐγϰεϰϱυμμένον ἀνεβόησε· διόπεϱ τὸ μὲν βϱέφος ὑπὸ τοῦ πυϱὸς ἀνηλώϑη, ἡ ϑεὰ δὲ αὑτὴν ἐξέφηνε. Τϱιπτολέμῳ δὲ τῷ πϱεσβυτέϱῳ τῶν Μετανείϱας παίδων δίφϱον ϰατασϰευάσασα πτηνῶν δϱαϰόντων τὸν πυϱὸν ἔδωϰεν, ᾧ τὴν ὅλην οἰϰουμένην δι’ οὐϱανοῦ αἰϱόμενος ϰατέσπειϱε. Πανύασις δὲ Τϱιπτόλεμον Ἐλευσῖνος λέγει· φησὶ γὰϱ Δήμητϱα πϱὸς αὐτὸν ἐλϑεῖν. Φεϱεϰύδης δέ φησιν αὐτὸν Ὠϰεανοῦ ϰαὶ Γῆς. Διὸς δὲ Πλούτωνι τὴν Κόϱην ἀναπέμψαι ϰελεύσαντος, ὁ Πλούτων, ἵνα μὴ πολὺν χϱόνον παϱὰ τῇ μητϱὶ ϰαταμείνῃ, ῥοιᾶς ἔδωϰεν αὐτῇ φαγεῖν ϰόϰϰον. ἡ δὲ οὐ πϱοιδομένη τὸ συμβησόμενον ϰατηνάλωσεν αὐτόν. ϰαταμαϱτυϱήσαντος δὲ αὐτῆς Ἀσϰαλάφου τοῦ Ἀχέϱοντος ϰαὶ Γοϱγύϱας, τούτῳ μὲν Δημήτηϱ ἐν Ἅιδου βαϱεῖαν ἐπέϑηϰε πέτϱαν, Πεϱσεφόνη δὲ ϰαϑ’ ἕϰαστον ἐνιαυτὸν τὸ μὲν τϱίτον μετὰ Πλούτωνος ἠναγϰάσϑη μένειν, τὸ δὲ λοιπὸν παϱὰ τοῖς ϑεοῖς.
— 1,5,1,1 - 1,5,3,1.
Pluton verliebte sich in Persephone und entführte sie heimlich, wobei ihm Zeus behilflich war. Demeter irrte Tag und Nacht mit Fackeln über die ganze Erde und suchte sie. Als sie von den Hermionen erfuhr, daß Pluton sie entführt hatte, verließ sie im Zorn auf die Götter den Himmel. (1,30) In Gestalt einer Frau kam sie nach Eleusis. Zuerst setzte sie sich auf den nach ihr benannten Felsen Agelastos („Nichtlach“) neben dem Brunnen mit dem Namen Kallichoros („Schöntanz“, Nr.8). Dann ging sie zu Keleos, der damals in Eleusis König war. Drinnen waren Frauen, die sagten, sie solle sich zu ihnen setzen. Eine alte Frau namens Iambe brachte die Göttin mit ihrem Spott dazu zu lächeln. Deshalb treiben die Frauen, wie man sagt, bei den Thesmophorien ihren Spott. Metaneira, des Keleos Frau, hatte ein kleines Kind. Dies übernahm Demeter und zog es auf. Weil sie es unsterblich machen wollte, hielt sie nachts das Neugeborene ins Feuer und schälte sein sterbliches Fleisch ab. Weil aber Demophon (denn so hieß das Kind) tags über überraschend wuchs, paßte Metaneira (Praxithea) auf und schrie laut auf, als sie bemerkte, daß das Kind in das Feuer eingetaucht war. Deshalb wurde das Neugeborene von den Flammen verzehrt, die Göttin (1,32) aber gab sich zu erkennen. Triptolemos, dem älteren Kind der Metaneira, verschaffte sie einen Wagen mit geflügelten Drachen und gab ihm den Weizen, den er, indem er hoch über den Himmel fuhr, auf der gesamten bewohnten Erde einsäte. Panyasis nennt Triptolemos ein Kind des Eleusis; denn er sagt, daß Demeter zu ihm gekommen sei. Pherekydes aber sagt, er sei Kind des Okeanos und der Ge. Als Zeus Pluton aufforderte, Kore hinaufzuschicken, gab ihr Pluton, damit sie nicht lange bei ihrer Mutter blieb, vom Granatapfel einen Kern zu essen. Weil sie die Folgen nicht voraussah, verzehrte sie ihn. Weil Askalaphos, Acherons und Gorgyras Sohn, dies gegen sie bezeugten, legte Demeter auf diesen im Hades einen schweren Felsen. Persephone aber mußte jedes Jahr ein Drittel bei Pluton bleiben, den Rest bei den Götten.
— Übersetzt von Felix Jacoby.
Marcus: Quid ergo aget Iacchus Eumolpidæque vostri et augusta illa mysteria, si quidem sacra nocturna tollimus? Non enim populo Romano sed omnibus bonis firmisque populis leges damus.
Atticus: Excipis credo illa quibus ipsi initiati sumus.
Marcus: Ego vero excipiam. Nam mihi cum multa eximia divinaque videntur Athenæ tuæ peperisse atque in vitam hominum attulisse, tum nihil meilus illis mysteriis, quibus ex agresti immanique vita exculti ad humanitatem et mitigati sumus, initiaque ut appellantur ita re vera principia vitæ cognovimus, neque solum cum lætitia vivendi rationem accepimus, sed etiam cum spe meliore moriendi. Quid autem mihi displiceat in nocturnis, poetæ indicant comici. Qua licentia Romæ data quidnam egisset ille qui in særificium cogitatam libidinem intulit, quo ne inprudentiam quidem oculorum adici fas fuit?
Markus. Was wird aber aus eurem Jacchus-Liede, und aus dem Feste der Eumolpiden, wie auch aus den hochheiligen Geheimnissen, wenn wir die nächtlichen Gottesdienste abschaffen? Denn ich bestimme meine Gesetze nicht vor das Römische Volk allein, sondern vor alle gute und wohlgeordnete Völker.
Attikus. Doch nimmst du die vermutlich aus, zu welchen wir selbst eingeweihet sind?
Markus. Die sollte ich ausnehmen? Dein Athen hat, meines Bedünkens, allerdings sehr viel Gutes und Vortrefliches hervorgebracht, und ins menschliche Leben eingeführet; doch geht nichts über die Geheimnisse, durch die wir von dem wilden thierischen Leben zur rechten Menschlichkeit gewöhnt, und, so zu reden, gebändigt sind: ja, diese Weihe, wie sie heisset, ist uns wirklich ein wahrer Anfang des Lebens geworden, und wir haben mit ihr nicht nur die Kunst froh zu leben, sondern auch mit besserer Hofnung zu sterben, erhalten. Was mir übrigens an den nächtlichen Gottesdiensten misfalle, das ist aus den komischen Dichtern bekannt. Wäre zu Rom eine so unbeschränkte Freyheit gestattet, was würde der gethan haben, welcher mit dem unzüchtigen Vorsatze zu dem (bekannten) Opfer kam, wohin auch nur unversehens zu blicken schon eine Todsünde war?
— Übersetzt von Johann Michael Heinze. Göttingen: Vandenhoek und Ruprecht, 1788.
Quid, qui aut fortis aut claros aut potentis viros tradunt post mortem ad deos pervenisse eosque esse ipsos, quos nos colere, precari venerarique soleamus, nonne expertes sunt religionum omnium? Quæ ratio maxime tractata ab Euhemero est, quem noster et interpretatus est et secutus præter ceteros Ennius; ab Euhemero autem et mortes et sepulturæ demonstrantur deorum; utrum igitur hic confirmasse videtur religionem an penitus totam sustulisse? Omitto Eleusinem sanctam illam et augustam, „Ubi initiantur gentes orarum ultimæ“ *, prætereo Samothraciam eaque, quæ Lemni „Nocturno aditu occulta coluntur silvestribus sæpibus densa“ **; quibus explicatis ad rationemque revocatis rerum magis natura cognoscitur quam deorum.
* ? — ** Lucius Accius (170 – um 86 v.u.Z.): Philocteta.
Endlich gibt es diejenigen, die behaupten, daß tapfere, berühmte oder mächtige Männer nach ihrem Tode zu den Göttern aufgestiegen und daß dies diejenigen seien, denen wir uns zuzuwenden, zu denen wir zu beten und die wir zu verehren pflegen; derlei hat mit dem Götterglauben nichts gemein. Eine solche Theorie ist vor allem von Euhemeros aufgestellt worden, und ihn hat vor allen anderen unser Ennius übersetzt und sich zu ihm bekannt. Dabei legt Euhemeros sogar die Todesarten und Begräbnisstätten der Götter dar. Soll man nun meinen, daß er den Götterglauben gestärkt oder ihn nicht vielmehr gänzlich zerstört hat? Ich unterlasse es, von jenem heiligen und erhabenen Eleusis zu reden, „wo die Völker von den äußersten Gegenden der Erde eingeweiht werden“; ich rede auch nicht von Samothrake und von jenen Kulten, die in Lemnos „geheim und in nächtlichen Begehungen dicht umschlossen von Waldesrändern gefeiert werden“. Wenn man diese Dinge interpretiert und auf ihren wahren Sinn zurückführt, so zeigt sich, daß sie eher mit der Erkenntnis der Natur als jener der Götter zu tun haben.
Hinc Epicharmus Ennii Proserpinam quoque appellat, quod solet esse sub terris. Dicta Proserpina, quod hæc ut serpens modo in dexteram modo in sinisteram partem late movetur. Serpere et proserpere idem dicebant, ut Plautus* quod scribit: Quasi proserpens bestia.
* Stichus, V,iv,724.
From the fact that the Moon is wont to be under the lands as well as over them, Ennius’s Epicharmus calls her Proserpina. Proserpina received her name because she, like a serpens ‘creeper’, moves widely now to the right, now to the left. Serpere ‘to creep’ and proserpere ‘to creep forward’ meant the same thing, as Plautus means in what he writes: Like a forward-creeping beast.
— Translated by Roland G. Kent.
Prima Ceres unco glæbam dimovit aratro,
prima dedit fruges alimentaque mitia terris,
prima dedit leges: Cereris sunt omnia munus.
Illa canenda mihi est. Utinam modo dicere possem
345carmina digna dea: certe dea carmine digna est.
Vasta giganteis ingesta est insula membris
Trinacris et magnis subiectum molibus urget
ætherias ausum sperare Typhoea sedes.
Nititur ille quidem pugnatque resurgere sæpe,
350dextra sed Ausonio manus est subiecta Peloro,
læva, Pachyne, tibi, Lilybæo crura premuntur,
degravat Ætna caput: sub qua resupinus harenas
eiectat flammamque ferox vomit ore Typhoeus.
Sæpe remoliri luctatur pondera terræ
355oppidaque et magnos devolvere corpore montes.
Inde tremit tellus, et rex pavet ipse silentum,
ne pateat latoque solum retegatur hiatu
inmissusque dies trepidantes terreat umbras.
Hanc metuens cladem tenebrosa sede tyrannus
360exierat, curruque atrorum vectus equorum
ambibat Siculæ cautus fundamina terræ.
Postquam exploratum satis est loca nulla labare,
depositoque metu, videt hunc Erycina vagantem
monte suo residens, natumque amplexa volucrem
365“arma manusque meæ, mea, nate, potentia”, dixit,
“illa, quibus superas omnes, cape tela, Cupido,
inque dei pectus celeres molire sagittas,
cui triplicis cessit fortuna novissima regni.
Tu superos ipsumque Iovem tu numina ponti
370victa domas ipsumque, regit qui numina ponti.
Tartara quid cessant? cur non matrisque tuumque
imperium profers? agitur pars tertia mundi.
Et tamen in cælo, quæ iam patientia nostra est,
spernimur, acmecum vires minuuntur Amoris.
375Pallada nonne vides iaculatricemque Dianam
abscessisse mihi? Cereris quoque filia virgo,
si patiemur, erit: nam spes adfectat easdem.
At tu, pro socio, siqua est ea gratia, regno
iunge deam patruo.” Dixit Venus. Ille pharetram
380solvit et arbitrio matris de mille sagittis
unam seposuit, sed qua nec acutior ulla
nec minus incerta est nec quæ magis audiat arcus,
oppositoque genu curvavit flexile cornum
inque cor hamata percussit harundine Ditem.
385Haud procul Hennæis lacus est a moenibus altæ,
nomine Pergus, aquæ. Non illo plura Caystros
carmina cycnorum labentibus audit in undis.
Silva coronat aquas cingens latus omne, suisque
frondibus ut velo Phoebeos submovet ictus.
390Frigora dant rami, tyrios humus umida flores:
perpetuum ver est. Quo dum Proserpina luco
ludit et aut violas aut candida lilia carpit,
dumque puellari studio calathosque sinumque
implet et æquales certat superare legendo,
395pæne simul visa est dilectaque raptaque Diti:
usque adeo est properatus amor. Dea territa mæsto
et matrem et comites, sed matrem sæpius, ore
clamat; et, ut summa vestem laniarat ab ora,
conlecti flores tunicis cecidere remissis.
400Tantaque simplicitas puerilibus adfuit annis,
hæc quoque virgineum movit iactura dolorem.
Raptor agit currus et nomine quemque vocando
exhortatur equos, quorum per colla iubasque
excutit obscura tinctas ferrugine habenas,
405perque lacus altos et olentia sulphure fertur
stagna Palicorum, rupta fervenu terra,
et qua Bacchiadæ, bimari gens orta Corintho,
inter inæquales posuerunt moenia portus.
Est medium Cyanes et Pisææ Arethusæ,
410quod coit angustis inclusum cornibus æquor.
Hic fuit, a cuius stagnum quoque nomine dictum est,
inter Sicelidas Cyane celeberrima nymphas.
Gurgite quæ medio summa tenus exstitit alvo
agnovitque deam. “Nec longius ibitis!” inquit,
415“non potes invitæ Cereris gener esse: roganda,
non rapienda fuit. Quodsi componere magnis
parva mihi fas est, et me dilexit Anapis:
exorata tamen, nec, ut hæc, exterrita nupsi.”
Dixit et in partes diversas bracchia tendens
420obstitit. Haud ultra tenuit Saturnius iram,
terribilesque hortatus equos in gurgitis ima
contortum valido sceptrum regale lacerto
condidit. Icta viam tellus in Tartara fecit
et pronos currus medio cratere recepit.
425At Cyane, raptamque deam contemptaque fontis
iura sui mærens, inconsolabile vulnus
mente gerit tacita lacrimisque absumitur omnis,
et quarum fuerat magnum modo numen, in illas
ossa pati flexus, ungues posuisse rigorem;
430extenuatur aquas. Molliri membra videres,
primaque de tota tenuissima quæque liquescunt,
cærulei crines digitique et crura pedesque:
nam brevis in gelidas membris exilibus undas
transitus est: post hæc umeri tergusque latusque
435pectoraque in tenues abeunt evanida rivos.
Denique pro vivo vitiatas sanguine venas
lympha subit, restatque nihil, quod prendere possis.
Interea pavidæ nequiquam filia matri
omnibus est terris, omni quæsita profundo.
440Illam non udis veniens Aurora capillis
cessantem vidit, non Hesperus. Illa duabus
flammiferas pinus manibus succendit ab Ætna
perque pruinosas tulit inrequieta tenebras.
Rursus ubi alma dies hebetarat sidera, natam
445solis ab occasu solis quærebat ad ortus.
Fessa labore sitim conlegerat oraque nulli
colluerant fontes; cum tectam stramine vidit
forte casam parvasque fores pulsavit: at inde
prodit anus divamque videt, lymphamque roganti
450dulce dedit, tosta quod texerat ante polenta.
Dum bibit illa datum, duri puer oris et audax
constitit ante deam risitque avidamque vocavit.
Offensa est neque adhuc epota parte loquentem
cum liquido mixta perfudit diva polenta.
455Combibit os maculas, et quæ modo bracchia gessit,
crura gerit; cauda est mutatis addita membris;
inque brevem formam, ne sit vis magna nocendi,
contrahitur, parvaque minor mensura lacerta est.
Mirantem flentemque et tangere monstra parantem
460fugit anum latebramque petit; aptumque colori
nomen habet, variis stellatus corpora guttis.
Quas dea per terras et quas erraverit undas,
dicere longa mora est: quærenti defuit orbis.
Sicaniam repetit; dumque omnia lustrat eundo,
465venit et ad Cyanen. Ea ni mutata fuisset,
omnia narrasset: sed et os et lingua volenti
dicere non aderant, nec quo loqueretur habebat.
Signa tamen manifesta dedit notamque parenti,
illo forte loco delapsam in gurgite sacro,
470Persephones zonam summis ostendit in undis.
Quam simul agnovit, tamquam tunc denique raptam
scisset, inornatos laniavit diva capillos
et repetita suis percussit pectora palmis.
Nescit adhuc, ubi sit: terras tamen increpat omnes
475ingratasque vocat nec frugum munere dignas,
Trinacriam ante alias, in qua vestigia damni
repperit. Ergo illic sæva vertentia glæbas
fregit aratra manu, parilique irata colonos
ruricolasque boves leto dedit arvaque iussit
480fallere depositum vitiataque semina fecit.
Fertilitas terræ latum vulgata per orbem
falsa iacet: primis segetes moriuntur in herbis,
et modo sol nimius, nimius modo corripit imber
sideraque ventique nocent, avidæque volucres
485semina iacta legunt; lolium tribulique fatigant
triticeas messes et inexpugnabile gramen.
Tum caput Eleis Alpheias extulit undis
rorantesque comas a fronte removit ad aures
atque ait: “O toto quæsitæ virginis orbe
490et frugum genetrix, inmensos siste labores
neve tibi fidæ violenta irascere terræ.
Terra nihil meruit patuitque invita rapinæ.
Nec sum pro patria supplex: huc hospita veni;
Pisa mihi patria est et ab Elide ducimus ortus;
495Sicaniam peregrina colo, sed gratior omni
hæc mihi terra solo est: hos nunc Arethusa penates,
hanc habeo sedem: quam tu, mitissima, serva.
Mota loco cur sim tantique per æquoris undas
advehar Ortygiam, veniet narratibus hora
500tempestiva meis, cum tu curaque levata
et vultus melioris eris. Mihi pervia tellus
præbet iter, subterque imas ablata cavernas
hic caput attollo desuetaque sidera cerno.
Ergo dum Stygio sub terris gurgite labor,
505visa tua est oculis illic Proserpina nostris:
illa quidem tristis neque adhuc interrita vultu,
sed regina tamen, sed opaci maxima mundi,
sed tamen inferni pollens matrona tyranni.”
Mater ad auditas stupuit ceu saxea voces
510attonitæque diu similis fuit. Utque dolore
pulsa gravi gravis est amentia, curribus oras
exit in ætherias. Ibi toto nubila vultu
ante Iovem passis stetit invidiosa capillis
“pro” que “meo veni supplex tibi, Iuppiter” inquit,
515“sanguine proque tuo. Si nulla est gratia matris,
nata patrem moveat, neu sit tibi cura, precamur,
vilior illius, quod nostro est edita partu.
En quæsita diu tandem mihi nata reperta est,
si reperire vocas amittere certius, aut si
520scire, ubi sit, reperire vocas. Quod rapta, feremus,
dummodo reddat eam: neque enim prædone marito
filia digna tua est, si iam mea filia non est.”
Iuppiter excepit: “Commune est pignus onusque
nata mihi tecum. Sed si modo nomina rebus
525addere vera placet, non hoc iniuria factum,
verum amor est; neque erit nobis gener ille pudori,
tu modo, diva, velis. Ut desint cetera, quantum est
esse Iovis fratrem! — Quid quod non cetera desunt
nec cedit nisi sorte mihi? sed tanta cupido
530si tibi discidii est, repetet Proserpina cælum,
lege tamen certa, si nullos contigit illic
ore cibos; nam sic Parcarum foedere cautum est.”
Dixerat. At Cereri certum est educere natam.
Non ita fata sinunt, quoniam ieiunia virgo
535solverat et, cultis dum simplex errat in hortis,
Poeniceum curva decerpserat arbore pomum
sumptaque pallenti septem de cortice grana
presserat ore suo. Solusque ex omnibus illud
Ascalaphus vidit, quem quondam dicitur Orphne,
540inter Avernales haud ignotissima nymphas,
ex Acheronte suo silvis peperisse sub atris:
vidit et indicio reditum crudelis ademit.
Ingemuit regina Erebi testemque profanam
fecit avem, sparsumque caput Phlegethontide lympha
545in rostrum et plumas et grandia lumina vertit.
Ille sibi ablatus fulvis amicitur in alis,
inque caput crescit, longosque reflectitur ungues
vixque movet natas per inertia bracchia pennas:
foedaque fit volucris, venturi nuntia luctus,
550ignavus bubo, dirum mortalibus omen.
Hic tamen indicio poenam linguaque videri
commeruisse potest: vobis, Acheloides, unde
pluma pedesque avium, cum virginis ora geratis?
an quia, cum legeret vernos Proserpina flores,
555in comitum numero, doctæ Sirenes, eratis?
Quam postquam toto frustra quæsistis in orbe,
protinus, ut vestram sentirent æquora curam,
posse super fluctus alarum insistere remis
optastis, facilesque deos habuistis et artus
560vidistis vestros subitis flavescere pennis.
Ne tamen ille canor mulcendas natus ad aures
tantaque dos oris linguæ deperderet usum,
virginei vultus et vox humana remansit.
At medius fratrisque sui mæstæque sororis
565Iuppiter ex æquo volventem dividit annum.
Nunc dea, regnorum numen commune duorum,
cum matre est totidem, totidem cum coniuge menses.
Vertitur extemplo facies et mentis et oris:
nam modo quæ poterat Diti quoque mæsta videri,
570læta deæ frons est, ut sol, qui tectus aquosis
nubibus ante fuit, victis e nubibus exit.
Ceres teilte zuerst mit gebogenem Pfluge die Schollen,
Gab Feldfrüchte den Ländern zuerst und mildere Nahrung,
Ordnete Sitten zuerst; ja, alles ist Gabe der Ceres.
Ceres gebührt mein Sang. O, dass ich vermöchte der Göttin
Würdig zu singen ein Lied. Sie ist sicher würdig des Liedes.
Auf den gigantischen Leib ist getürmt die trinakrische Insel
Weit sich dehnend und hält mit gewaltiger Wucht den Typhoeus
Niedergedrückt, der gewagt zu erhoffen himmlischen Wohnsitz.
Oft zwar stemmt er sich an und kämpft, in die Höhe zu kommen;
Aber die Rechte bedeckt der ausonische Felsen Peloros,
Du, Pachynos, die Link’, und die Schenkel beschwert Lilybaion.
Aitna belastet das Haupt, wo rücklings liegend Typhoeus
Sand ausschleudert und Glut ausspeit aus dem greulichen Schlunde.
Oftmals ringt er, hinweg zu drängen das zwängende Erdreich
Und sich zu wälzen vom Leib die Städt’ und mächtigen Berge.
Davon bebet das Land, und es fürchtet der Schweigenden König,
Dass aufbreche der Grund und in gähnendem Spalt sich eröffne
Und der eindringende Tag erschrecke die zitternden Schatten.
Bang vor solchem Verderb stieg Dis aus dem finsteren Reiche
Jetzto herauf und fuhr, vom Gespann der Rappen gezogen,
Um des siculischen Lands Grundfesten mit spähender Vorsicht.
Als er genügend erforscht, dass nichts dort wankend geworden,
Und sich entschlagen der Furcht, sah jenen die Göttin von Eryx
Schweifen vom heiligen Berg, und umarmend den Sohn mit den Flügeln,
Sagte sie: „Du mein Schild, o Sohn, mein Arm und Vermögen,
Nimm das Geschoss, Cupido, womit du alle bezwingest,
Und mit schwirrendem Pfeil durchbohre den Busen des Gottes,
Dem vom dreifachen Reich das letzte der Lose gefallen.
Götter der Höhe und Iupiter selbst und die Mächte des Meeres
Bändigest du und ihn, der beherrscht die Mächte des Meeres.
Was soll Tartaros ruhn? Warum nicht dehnest du weiter
Dein und der Mutter Gebiet? Hier gilt’s ein Drittel des Weltalls.
Achten sie uns doch schon – dank unsrer Geduld – in dem Himmel
Beide gering, und mit mir wird Amors Stärke verringert.
Siehst du es nicht, wie Pallas bereits und Diana die Schützin
Ab von mir sich gewandt? Und Jungfrau, wenn wir es dulden,
Bleibt Proserpina auch, denn sie heget die selbige Hoffnung.
Auf denn, wenn du mich liebst! Für unsre gemeinsame Herrschaft
Eine die Göttin dem Ohm.“ So redete Venus. Der Knabe
Löste den Köcher und nahm heraus von den tausend Geschossen
Eins, das die Mutter gewählt. Dem gleicht kein andres an Schärfe,
Keins trifft weniger fehl und ist mehr dem Strange gehorsam.
Drauf anstemmt’ er das Knie und krümmte die biegsamen Hörner
Und traf mitten ins Herz den Dis mit dem hakigen Rohre.
Mit tiefgehender Flut liegt nahe den Mauern von Henna,
Pergus genannt, ein See. Mehr Sänge von Schwänen als dieser
Hört selbst nicht in dem Strom hingleitender Wellen Kaystros.
Rings das Ufer entlang kränzt Wald die Gewässer und wehret
Phoibos’ glühendem Stich mit dem Laub wie mit schützendem Vorhang.
Kühlung beut das Gezweig, und die Au nährt purpurne Blumen.
Ständiger Frühling herrscht. Wie Proserpina dort in dem Haine
Spielt’ und Violen sich bald, bald silberne Lilien pflückte,
Und sich in kindlicher Lust anfüllte den Korb und den Busen
Und es im Sammeln zuvortun wollte den anderen Mädchen,
Schaut und begehrt und entführt sie Dis, fast alles auf einmal.
So ist die Liebe beeilt. Bang ruft die erschrockene Göttin
Mutter und Freundinnen an um Schutz, doch öfter die Mutter;
Und wie sie klagend das Kleid von dem oberen Saume zerrissen,
Fielen herab aus dem losen Gewand die gesammelten Blumen,
Und so zeigte sich noch in dem kindlichen Alter die Einfalt;
Dieser Verlust auch füllte mit Schmerz die Seele der Jungfrau.
Rasch hin jagte der Dieb, und jegliches rufend mit Namen
Trieb er die Rosse zur Hast und schüttelte kräftig die Zügel
Dunkel wie Eisen gefärbt auf Hälsen und Mähnen der Renner.
Durch tiefgründende Seen hin eilt er und durch der Paliken
Schwefeldünstigen Pfuhl, der kocht aus geborstenem Boden,
Und wo Bacchis’ Geschlecht, von der doppelumwogten Corinthus.
Stammend, erbaute die Stadt in der Mitt unähnlicher Häfen.
Zwischen Cyane liegt und Pisas Quell Arethusa,
Eine geschlossene Bucht, die ragende Hörner verengen.
Dort war jene, von der den Namen empfangen der Weiher,
Kyane, hochberühmt vor allen sizilischen Nymphen.
Die, aus der Mitte der Flut sich bis an die Hüften erhebend,
Hatte die Göttin erkannt und rief: „Nicht weiter des Weges!
Darfst du Ceres zum Trotz ihr Eidam werden? Nur Bitten
Standen dir zu, nicht Raub. Wofern mit Großem Geringes
Mir zu vergleichen vergönnt: um mich auch freiet’ Anapis;
Aber ich folgt’ ihm gebeten und nicht, wie diese, geängstigt.“
Kyane sprach’s, und die Arme gestreckt nach verschiedener Seite
Sperrt sie den Weg. Da hielt der Saturnier länger den Zorn nicht,
Sondern er trieb sein grauses Gespann, und das Königsszepter
Schwang er mit kräftigem Arm und schleudert’ es tief in den Strudel.
Siehe, zum Tartaros öffnete sich die getroffene Erde
Und gab mitten im Schlund Aufnahme dem stürzenden Wagen.
Kyane nun trug Leid um der Göttin Raub und der Quelle
So missachtetes Recht, und sie trägt untröstliche Wunde
Still in verschwiegener Brust und verzehrt sich völlig in Zähren,
Und in die rinnende Flut, darinnen sie eben als Gottheit
Waltete, wird sie verdünnt. Man sah, wie der Leib sich erweichte,
Biegsam ward das Gebein, und die Nägel die Härte verloren;
Und von der ganzen Gestalt wird flüssig zuerst, was am dünnsten,
Erst ihr bläuliches Haar, dann Finger und Schenkel und Füße –
Gliedern von schmächtiger Art ist ja leicht, in kaltes Gewässer
Uberzugehn. Die Schultern darauf und Rücken und Seite
Schwinden hinweg und die Brust zu rieselnden Bächen geschmolzen.
Endlich ersetzt das lebendige Blut im versehrten Geäder
Wasser, und übrig ist nichts, was wäre mit Händen zu greifen.
Rings in jeglichem Land inzwischen und jeglicher Tiefe
Wurde vergeblich gesucht von der ängstlichen Mutter die Tochter.
Niemals sah, mit befeuchtetem Haar aufsteigend, Aurora,
Dass sie gerastet vom Weg, nie Hesperos. Leuchtende Fichten
Nahm sie in jegliche Hand, an den Gluten des Aitna entzündet,
Und trug ohne zu ruhn sie hin durch die tauenden Nachte.
Wenn vor dem heiteren Tag hinwieder verblichen die Sterne,
Suchte vom Morgen sie an bis spät zum Abend die Tochter.
Matt nun war sie vom Weg und lechzte vor Durst, und die Lippen
Hatte genetzt kein Quell; da sieht sie ein niedriges Häuschen
Strohbedeckt und klopft an die Tür. Ein Mütterchen zeigt sich
Öffnend und sieht die Göttin und reicht ihr, um Wasser gebeten,
Süßes Getränk, das sie hatte bestreut mit gerösteter Gerste.
Während sie schlürfte den Trank, trat hin vor die Göttin ein Bube
Dreisten Gesichts und frech und lachte und nannte sie gierig.
Zorn ist Ceres erregt, und sie gießt, da Neige geblieben,
Über den Sprechenden aus das Klare gemischt mit der Hefe.
Flecken beziehn das Gesicht; was eben als Arm er bewegte,
Regt er als Bein; anfügt sich ein Schwanz den gewandelten Gliedern,
Und zu kleiner Gestalt, dass Macht zum Schaden gebreche,
Schrumpft er ein, noch kleiner im Maß wie die winzige Echse.
Während das Mütterchen staunt und weint und greift nach dem Tierchen,
Nimmt er die Flucht und sucht ein Versteck, und entsprechend dem Aussehn
Wird er genannt, am Leibe besternt mit gesprenkelten Tropfen.
Was für Lande durchirrt und was für Gewässer die Göttin,
Wäre zu sagen zu lang. Nichts blieb zu durchsuchen auf Erden.
Nach Sikanien kehrt sie, und ringsum forschend im Gehen
Kam sie zu Kyane auch. Wenn die nicht wäre gewandelt,
Hätte sie alles erzählt; doch Mund und Zunge gebrachen,
Wenn sie zu reden gedacht, und es war kein Mittel zum Sprechen.
Aber sie ließ ein Zeichen sich zeigen: Proserpinas Gürtel,
Der an der Stätte gerad’ in den heiligen Weiher gefallen,
Wohl der Mutter bekannt, ließ oben im Wasser sie schwimmen.
Wie ihn die Göttin erkannt, da rauft sie, als wüsste sie nun erst,
Dass ihr die Tochtergeraubt, das kunstlos hangende Haupthaar
Und schlägt wieder und wieder die Brust mit offenen Händen.
Fremd ist die Gegend ihr noch; doch alle die Länder verwünscht sie,
Nennt sie undankbar, unwürdig der Gabe der Feldfrucht,
Und das trinakrische Land vor anderen, wo sie die Spuren
Fand vom Verlust. Drum brach sie die schollumkehrendenden Pflüge
Dort mit zerstörender Hand und gab im Zorne den Landmann
Samt dem bestellenden Stier in den Tod und ließ die Gefilde
Vorenthalten das Gut und machte verdorben den Samen.
All der Segen der Flur, des Ruhm ging über den Erdkreis,
Bleibt nun aus. Es erstirbt in den sprießenden Halmen die Aussaat.
Bald rafft heftige Glut sie hinweg, bald heftiger Regen;
Sterne zugleich sind schädlich und Wind, und die gierigen Vögel
Picken gestreute Saat, und wuchernd umdrängen den Weizen
Lolch und Disteln im Feld und nicht zu vertilgendes Unkraut.
Da aus der elischen Flut hob sich die alpheische Nymphe,
Und von der Stirn zum Ohr hinstreichend die triefenden Haare,
Sagte sie: „Mutter der rings auf Erden gesuchten Jungfrau
Und der ernährenden Frucht, stell ab die unendliche Drangsal
Und nicht zürne so hart der treu dir ergebenen Erde.
Sie ja verschuldete nichts, und dem Raub erschloss sie sich ungern.
Nicht für die Heimat fleh’ ich: von fern her bin ich gekommen.
Pisa ist Heimat mir, und ich leite von Elis den Ursprung.
Übergesiedelt bewohn’ ich Sikanien, aber vor allen
Halt’ ich wert dies Land. Hier hat Arethusa Penaten,
Hier jetzt häuslichen Sitz. Den schone, du gütigste Göttin!
Aber warum ich von dort durch die Wogen des Meers mich entfernte
Und mich begab weit weg nach Ortygia, dies zu erzählen
Kommt wohl schickliche Zeit, wenn du erstwieder von Sorge
Frei sein wirst und erheitert dein Blick. Mir bietet die Erde
Durchgang unten im Grund, und entführt durch dunkle Höhlen
Heb’ ich allhier mein Haupt und schau’ die entbehrten Gestirne.
Als ich im stygischen Schlund so hinfloss unter der Erde,
Sah ich Proserpina dort, dein Kind, mit eigenen Augen.
Zwar ist traurig sie noch und von Angst nicht frei in den Zügen,
Aber doch Königin jetzt, die höchste des finsteren Reiches,
Aber die waltende Frau doch jetzt bei dem Totenbeherrscher.“
Wie sie die Kunde vernahm, stand da wie versteinert die Mutter
Und war lang wie vom Donner gerührt. Doch die Macht der Betäubung
Wich vor der Macht des Schmerzes zuletzt, und sie stieg mit dem Wagen
In die aitherische Luft. Dort ganz in Wolken das Antlitz
Trat sie vor Iupiter hin mit fliegenden Haaren im Unmut:
„Für mein Blut und zugleich für das deinige, Iupiter“, sprach sie,
„Komm’ ich dich anzuflehn. Wenn nichts du achtest die Mutter,
Rühre den Vater das Kind, und nicht sei minder um jene
Darum etwa besorgt, weil ich sie getragen im Schoße.
Siehe, die Tochter, die lang ich gesucht, ist endlich gefunden,
Wenn ja finden du nennst nur sicherer noch zu verlieren
Oder zu wissen den Ort, wo sie ist. Die Entführung verzeih’ ich,
Gibt er sie nur mir zurück. Denn Iupiters Tochter geziemet
Doch kein Räuber zum Mann, wenn auch er geziemet der meinen.“
Drauf hob Iupiter an: „Pfand ist und Beschwerde gemeinsam
Mir die Tochter wie dir. Doch wenn wir mit richtigem Namen
Wollen benennen die Tat, so war’s mitnichten Beschimpfung,
Liebe vielmehr. Auch haben wir nicht uns zu schämen des Eidams,
Wolltest du, Göttin, ihn nur. Lass anderes fehlen: wie viel schon,
Iupiters Bruder zu sein! Doch auch das andere fehlt nicht;
Denn in dem Los nur steht er mir nach. Doch wenn du nach Scheidung
Also verlangst, so soll Proserpina kehren zum Himmel,
Nur mit dem festen Beding, wenn nichts anrührte von Speise
Drunten ihr Mund. Denn so ist’s verhängt im Rate der Parzen.“
Iupiter sprach’s. Doch Ceres entschließt sich, die Tochter zu holen.
Nicht so will’s das Geschick, weil nicht mehr drunten die Jungfrau
Fastete. Während sie ging ohn’ Arg im gewarteten Garten,
Hatte vom hangenden Baum sie gepflückt den rotwangigen Apfel;
Sieben Kerne sodann, entnommen der gelben Umhüllung,
Hatte zerdrückt ihr Mund, und allein zugegen von allen
Nahm es Askalaphos wahr, den weiland – sagen sie – Orphne,
Nicht die geringste an Ruf von der Schar der avernischen Nymphen,
Unter dem schwarzen Geklüft aus Acherons Liebe geboren.
Dieser erblickt’s und benahm durch Verrat ihr schnöde die Rückkehr.
Erebos’ Königin seufzt und gibt dem gehässigen Zeugen
Vogelgestalt, und das Haupt, das Phlegethons Wellen bespritzen,
Bildet zum Schnabel sie um, zu Federn und glotzenden Augen.
Er, sich selber entrückt, wird braun mit Flügeln bekleidet
Und wird dicker am Kopf und krümmt weitgreifende Krallen,
Und das Gefieder bewegt er kaum an den lässigen Armen.
Also ein hässlich Geschöpf, annahende Trauer verkündend,
Hockt er als Uhu nun, für die Menschen ein grausiges Schreckbild.
Doch der hatte gleichwohl für seine verratende Zunge
Strafe verdient. Woher habt ihr, acheloische Mädchen,
Füße wie Vögel und Flaum, da ihr tragt ein jungfräuliches Antlitz?
Wohl, weil da, als Blumen im Lenz Proserpina pflückte,
In der Gefährtinnen Zahl ihr wäret, sangreiche Sirenen?
Als ihr die Lande gesamt umsonst durchsucht nach der Göttin,
Wünschtet ihr auch alsbald, dass euere Sorge den Meeren
Kund sei, über der Flut zu stehn mit dem Ruder der Flügel.
Götter vernahmen den Wunsch willfährig, und euere Glieder
Saht ihr plötzlich gefärbt von gelbumhüllenden Federn.
Doch dass jener Gesang, die köstliche Gabe des Mundes,
Lockend das Ohr zu fesseln bestimmt, nicht misse die Zunge,
Ist jungfräulich Gesicht und menschliche Stimme geblieben.
Zwischen dem Bruder geteilt im Wunsch und der trauernden Schwester
Gibt von dem rollenden Jahr nun Iupiter jedem die Hälfte.
Jene verweilt, zwei Reichen gesellt als gemeinsame Gottheit,
Bei dem Gemahl fortan sechs Monde und sechs bei der Mutter.
Umgewandelt sogleich ist ihr das Gemüt und das Antlitz;
Die selbst konnte dem Dis jüngst traurig erscheinen, der Göttin
Stirn ist heiter und frei, wie die Sonne, die wässrige Wolken
Vorher hatten verdeckt, siegreich aus den Wolken hervortritt.
— Übersetzt von Reinhard Suchier. Stuttgart: Hoffmann, 1858.
Exigit ipse locus, raptus ut virginis edam:
plura recognosces, pauca docendus eris.
terra tribus scopulis vastum procurrit in æquor
420Trinacris, a positu nomen adepta loci,
grata domus Cereri, multas ea possidet urbes,
in quibus est culto fertilis Henna solo.
frigida cælestum matres Arethusa vocarat:
venerat ad sacras et dea flava dapes.
425filia, consuetis ut erat comitata puellis,
errabat nudo per sua prata pede.
valle sub umbrosa locus est aspergine multa
uvidus ex alto desilientis aquæ.
tot fuerant illic, quot habet natura, colores,
430pictaque dissimili flore nitebat humus.
quam simul aspexit, ‘comites, accedite’ dixit
‘et mecum plenos flore referte sinus.’
præda puellares animos prolectat inanis,
et non sentitur sedulitate labor.
435hæc implet lento calathos e vimine nexos,
hæc gremium, laxos degravat illa sinus:
illa legit calthas, huic sunt violaria curæ,
illa papavereas subsecat ungue comas:
has, hyacinthe, tenes; illas, amarante, moraris:
440pars thyma, pars rorem, pars meliloton amat.
plurima lecta rosa est, sunt et sine nomine flores;
ipsa crocos tenues liliaque alba legit,
carpendi studio paulatim longius itur,
et dominam casu nulla secuta comes.
445hanc videt et visam patruus velociter aufert
regnaque cæruleis in sua portat equis,
illa quidem clamabat ‘io, carissima mater,
auferor!’ ipsa suos abscideratque sinus:
panditur interea Diti via, namque diurnum
450lumen inadsueti vix patiuntur equi.
at chorus æqualis, cumulatis flore canistris,
‘Persephone,’ clamant ‘ad tua dona veni!’
ut clamata silet, montes ululatibus implent
et feriunt mæsta pectora nuda manu.
455attonita est plangore Ceres (modo venerat Hennam)
nec mora, ‘me miseram! filia,’ dixit ‘ubi es?’
mentis inops rapitur, quales audire solemus
Threicias fusis mænadas ire comis,
ut vitulo mugit sua mater ab ubere rapto
460et quærit fetus per nemus omne suos:
sic dea nec retinet gemitus et concita cursu
fertur et a campis incipit, Henna, tuis.
inde puellaris nacta est vestigia plantæ
et pressam noto pondere vidit humum;
465forsitan illa dies erroris summa fuisset,
si non turbassent signa reperta sues.
iamque Leontinos Amenanaque flumina cursu
præterit et ripas, herbifer Aci, tuas;
præterit et Cyanen et fontes lenis Anapi
470et te, verticibus non adeunde Gela.
liquerat Ortygien Megareaque Pantagienque,
quaque Symætheas accipit æquor aquas,
antraque Cyclopum positis exusta caminis,
quique locus curvæ nomina falcis habet,
475Himeraque et Didymen Acragantaque Tauromenumque
sacrarumque Melan pascua læta boum.
hinc Camerinan adit Thapsonque et Heloria Tempe.
quaque iacet Zephyro semper apertus Eryx.
iamque Peloriadem Lilybæaque, iamque Pachynon
480lustrarat, terræ cornua trina suæ.
quacumque ingreditur, miseris loca cuncta querellis
implet, ut amissum cum gemit ales Ityn,
perque vices modo ‘Persephone!’ modo ‘filia!’ clamat,
clamat et alternis nomen utrumque ciet.
485sed neque Persephone Cererem nec filia matrem
audit, et alternis nomen utrumque perit;
unaque, pastorem vidisset an arva colentem,
vox erat ‘hac gressus ecqua puella tufit?’
iam color unus inest rebus, tenebrisque teguntur
490omnia, iam vigiles conticuere canes:
alta iacet vasti super ora Typhoeos Ætne,
cuius anhelatis ignibus ardet humus;
illic accendit geminas pro lampade pinus:
hinc Cereris sacris nunc quoque tæda datur.
495est specus exesi structura pumicis asper,
non homini regio, non adeunda feræ:
quo simul ac venit, frenatos curribus angues
iungit et æquoreas sicca pererrat aquas,
effugit et Syrtes et te, Zanclæa Charybdis,
500et vos, Nisæi, naufraga monstra, canes,
Hadriacumque patens late bimaremque Corinthum:
sic venit ad portus, Attica terra, tuos.
hic primum sedit gelido mæstissima saxo:
illud Cecropidæ nunc quoque triste vocant.
505sub Iove duravit multis inmota diebus,
et lunæ patiens et pluvialis aquæ,
fors sua cuique loco est: quod nunc Cerialis Eleusin
dicitur, hoc Celei rura fuere senis.
ille domum glandes excussaque mora rubetis
510portat et arsuris arida ligna focis.
filia parva duas redigebat monte capellas,
et tener in cunis filius æger erat.
‘mater!’ ait virgo (mota est dea nomine matris)
‘quid facis in solis incomitata locis?’
515restitit et senior, quamvis onus urget, et orat,
tecta suæ subeat quantulacumque casæ.
illa negat, simularat anum mitraque capillos
presserat. instanti talia dicta refert:
‘sospes eas semperque parens! mihi filia rapta est.
520heu, melior quanto sors tua sorte mea est!’
dixit, et ut lacrimæ (neque enim lacrimare deorum est)
decidit in tepidos lucida gutta sinus,
flent pariter molles animis virgoque senexque;
e quibus hæc iusti verba fuere senis:
525‘sic tibi, quam raptam quæris, sit filia sospes,
surge nec exiguæ despice tecta casæ.’
cui dea ‘duc!’ inquit ‘scisti, qua cogere posses,’
seque levat saxo subsequiturque senem,
dux comiti narrat, quam sit sibi filius æger
530nec capiat somnos invigiletque malis.
illa soporiferum, parvos initura penates,
colligit agresti lene papaver humo;
dum legit, oblito fertur gustasse palato
longamque imprudens exsoluisse famem.
535quæ quia principio posuit ieiunia noctis,
tempus habent mystæ sidera visa cibi.
limen ut intravit, luctus videt omnia plena:
iam spes in puero nulla salutis erat.
matre salutata (mater Metanira vocatur)
540iungere dignata est os puerile suo.
pallor abit, subitasque vident in corpore vires:
tantus cælesti venit ab ore vigor.
tota domus læta est, hoc est materque paterque
nataque: tres illi tota fuere domus.
545mox epulas ponunt, liquefacta coagula lacte
pomaque et in ceris aurea mella suis.
abstinet alma Ceres somnique papavera causas
dat tibi cum tepido lacte bibenda, puer.
noctis erat medium placidique silentia somni:
550Triptolemum gremio sustulit illa suo
terque manu permulsit eum, tria carmina dixit,
carmina mortali non referenda sono,
inque foco corpus pueri vivente favilla
obruit, humanum purget ut ignis onus.
555excutitur somno stulte pia mater et amens
‘quid facis?’ exclamat membraque ab igne rapit.
cui dea ‘dum non es’ dixit ‘scelerata, fuisti:
inrita materno sunt mea dona metu.
iste quidem mortalis erit, sed primus arabit
560et seret et culta præmia tollet humo.’
dixit et egrediens nubem trahit inque dracones
transit et alifero tollitur axe Ceres.
Sunion expositum Piræaque tuta recessu
linquit et in dextrum quæ iacet ora latus.
565hinc init Ægæum, quo Cycladas aspicit omnes,
Ioniumque rapax Icariumque legit,
perque urbes Asiæ longum petit Hellespontum,
diversumque locis alta pererrat iter.
nam modo turilegos Arabas, modo despicit Indos,
570hinc Libys, hinc Meroe siccaque terra subest;
nunc adit Hesperios Rhenum Rhodanumque Padumque
teque, future parens, Thybri, potentis aquæ,
quo feror? inmensum est erratas dicere terras:
præteritus Cereri nullus in orbe locus.
575errat et in cælo liquidique inmunia ponti
adloquitur gelido proxima signa polo:
‘Parrhasides stellæ (namque omnia nosse potestis,
æquoreas numquam cum subeatis aquas),
Persephonen natam miseræ monstrate parenti!’
580dixerat, huic Helice talia verba refert:
‘crimine nox vacua est; Solem de virgine rapta
consule, qui late facta diurna videt.’
Sol aditus ‘quam quæris,’ ait ‘ne vana labores,
nupta Iovis fratri tertia regna tenet.’
585questa diu secum, sic est adfata Tonantem,
maximaque in voltu signa dolentis erant:
‘si memor es, de quo mihi sit Proserpina nata,
dimidium curæ debet habere tuæ.
orbe pererrato sola est iniuria facti
590cognita: commissi præmia raptor habet.
at neque Persephone digna est prædone marito,
nec gener hoc nobis more parandus erat.
quid gravius victore Gyge captiva tulissem,
quam nunc te cæli sceptra tenente tuli?
595verum impune ferat, nos hæc patiemur inultæ;
reddat et emendet facta priora novis.’
Iuppiter hanc lenit factumque excusat amore,
‘nec gener est nobis ille pudendus’ ait.
‘non ego nobilior: posita est mihi regia cælo,
600possidet alter aquas, alter inane chaos,
sed si forte tibi non est mutabile pectus,
statque semel iuncti rumpere vincla tori,
hoc quoque temptemus, siquidem ieiuna remansit;
si minus, inferni coniugis uxor erit.’
605Tartara iussus adit sumptis Caducifer alis
speque redit citius visaque certa refert:
‘rapta tribus’ dixit ‘solvit ieiunia granis,
Punica quæ lento cortice poma tegunt.’
non secus indoluit, quam si modo rapta fuisset,
610mæsta parens, longa vixque refecta mora est,
atque ita ‘nec nobis cælum est habitabile’ dixit;
‘Tænaria recipi me quoque valle iube.’
et factura fuit, pactus nisi Iuppiter esset,
bis tribus ut cælo mensibus illa foret.
615tum demum voltumque Ceres animumque recepit
imposuitque suæ spicea serta comæ;
largaque provenit cessatis messis in arvis,
et vix congestas area cepit opes.
alba decent Cererem: vestis Cerialibus albas
620sumite; nunc pulli velleris usus abest.
Now, this part requires me to tell of a virgin’s rape:
You’ll recognise much you know, but part is new.
The Trinacrian land took its name from its shape:
It runs out in three rocky capes to the vast ocean.
It’s a place dear to Ceres. She owns, there, many cities,
Among them fertile Enna, with its well-ploughed soul.
Cool Arethusa gathered together the mothers of the gods:
And the yellow-haired goddess came to the sacred feast.
Her daughter, Persephone, attended by girls, as ever,
Wandered barefoot through Enna’s meadows.
In a shadow-filled valley there’s a place,
Wet by the copious spray from a high fall.
All the colours of nature were displayed there,
And the earth was bright with hues of various flowers.
On seeing it she cried: ‘Come here to me, my friends,
And each carry back, with me, a lapful of flowers.’
The foolish prize enticed their girlish spirits,
And they were too busy to feel weary.
One filled baskets woven from supple willow,
Another her lap, the next loose folds of her robe:
One picked marigolds: another loved violets,
And one nipped the poppy-heads with her nails:
Some you tempt, hyacinth: others, amaranth, you delay:
Others desire thyme, cornflowers or clover.
Many a rose was taken, and flowers without name:
Proserpine herself plucked fragile crocuses and white lilies.
Intent on gathering them, she gradually strayed,
And none of her friends chanced to follow their lady.
Dis, her uncle saw her, and swiftly carried her off,
And bore her on shadowy horses to his realm.
She called out: ‘Oh, dearest Mother, I’m being
Carried away!’ and tore at the breast of her robe:
Meanwhile a path opened for Dis, since his horses
Can scarcely endure the unaccustomed daylight.
When her crowd of friends had gathered their flowers,
They shouted: ‘Persephone, come for your gifts!’
But silence met their call: they filled the hills with their cries,
And sadly beat their naked breasts with their hands.
Ceres was startled by their grief (she’d just now come from Enna),
And cried instantly ‘Ah me! Daughter, where are you?’
She rushed about, distracted, as we’ve heard
The Thracian Maenads run with flowing hair.
As a cow bellows, when her calf’s torn from her udder,
And goes searching for her child, through the woods,
So the goddess groaned freely, and ran quickly,
As she made her way, Enna, from your plains.
There she found marks of the girlish feet, and saw
Where her familiar form had printed the ground:
Perhaps her wandering would have ended that day,
If wild pigs hadn’t muddied the trail she found.
She’d already passed Leontini, the river Amenanas,
And your grassy banks, Acis, on her way:
She’d passed Cyane, the founts of slow Anapus,
And you, Gelas, with whirlpools to be shunned.
She’d left Ortygia, Megara and the Pantagias,
And the place where the sea receives Symaethus’ waves,
And the caves of Cyclopes, scorched by their forges,
And the place who’s name’s derived from a curving sickle,
And Himera, Didyme, Acragas and Tauromenium,
And the Mylae, that rich pasture for sacred cattle.
Next she reached Camerina, Thapsus, and Helorus’ Tempe,
And where Eryx stands, ever open to the Western winds.
She’d crossed Pelorias, Lilybaeum and Pachynum,
Those three projecting horns of her land.
Wherever she set foot, she filled the place with sad cries,
Like the bird mourning for her lost Itys.
Alternately she cried: ‘Persephone!’ and ‘My daughter’,
Calling and shouting both the names in turn,
But Persephone heard not Ceres, nor the daughter
Her mother, and both names by turns died away:
If she spied a shepherd or farmer at work,
Her cry was: ‘Has a girl passed this way?’
Now the colours faded, and the darkness hid
Everything. Now the wakeful dogs fell silent.
High Etna stands above vast Typhoeus’ mouth,
Who scorches the earth with his fiery breath:
There the goddess lit twin pine branches as torches:
And since then there are torches handed out at her rites.
There’s a cave, its interior carved from sharp pumice,
A place not to be approached by man or beast:
Reaching it she yoked serpents to her chariot,
And roamed the ocean waves above the spray.
She shunned the Syrtes and Zanclaean Charybdis,
And you, hounds of Scylla, wrecking monsters,
Shunned the wide Adriatic, and Corinth between two seas:
And so came to your harbour, country of Attica.
Here she sat for the first time, mournfully, on cold stone:
That stone the Athenians named the Sorrowful.
She lingered many days under the open sky,
Enduring both the moonlight and the rain.
Every place has its destiny: What’s now called
Ceres’ Eleusis was then old Celeus’ farm.
He was bringing acorns home, and berries he’d picked
From the briars, and dry wood for the blazing hearth.
His little daughter was driving two she-goats from the hill,
While confined in his cradle was a sickly son.
‘Mother!’ the girl said (the goddess was moved
By that word mother) ‘Why are you alone in the wilderness?’
The old man stopped too, despite his heavy load,
And begged her to shelter under his insignificant roof.
She refused. She was disguised as an old woman, her hair
Covered with a cap. When he urged her she replied:
‘Be happy, and always a father! My daughter’s been
Stolen from me. Ah, how much better your fate than mine!’
She spoke, and a crystal drop (though goddesses cannot weep),
Like a tear, fell on her warm breast. Those tender hearts,
The old man and the virgin girl, wept with her:
And these were the righteous old man’s words:
‘Rise, and don’t scorn the shelter of my humble hut,
And may the lost daughter you mourn be safe and sound.’
The goddess said: ‘Lead on! You’ve found what could persuade me’
And she rose from the stone and followed the old man.
Leading, he told his follower, how his son was sick
Lying there sleepless, kept awake by his illness.
About to enter the humble house, she plucked
A tender, sleep-inducing, poppy from the bare ground:
And as she picked it, they say, unthinkingly, she tasted it,
And so, unwittingly, eased her long starvation.
And because she first broke her fast at nightfall,
Her priests of the Mysteries eat once the stars appear.
When she crossed the threshold, she saw all were grieving:
Since they’d lost hope of the child’s recovery.
Greeting the mother (who was called Metanira)
The goddess deigned to join her lips to the child’s.
His pallor fled, his body suddenly seemed healthier:
Such power flowed out of the goddess’ mouth.
There was joy in the house, in the father, mother
And daughter: those three were the whole house.
They soon set out a meal, curds in whey,
Apples, and golden honey on the comb.
Kind Ceres abstained, and gave to the boy
Poppy seeds in warm milk to make him sleep.
It was midnight: silent in peaceful slumber,
The goddess took Triptolemus on her lap,
Caressed him with her hand three times, and spoke
Three spells, not to be sounded by mortal tongue,
And she covered the boy’s body with live embers
On the hearth, so the fire would purge his mortal burden.
His good, fond, foolish mother, waking from sleep,
Crying: ‘What are you doing?’ snatched him from the coals,
To her the goddess said: ‘Though sinless, you’ve sinned:
My gift’s been thwarted by a mother’s fear.
He will still be mortal, but first to plough,
And sow, and reap a harvest from the soil.’
Ceres spoke, and left the house, trailing mist, and crossed
To her dragons, and was carried away in her winged chariot.
She left Sunium’s exposed cape behind, and Piraeus’ safe harbour,
And all that coast that lies towards the west.
From there she crossed the Ægean, saw all the Cyclades,
Skimmed the wild Ionian, and the Icarian Sea,
And, passing through Asia’s cities, sought the long Hellespont,
And wandered her course, on high, among diverse regions.
Now she gazed at incense-gathering Arabs, now Ethiopians,
Beneath her Libya now, now Meroe and the desert lands:
Then she saw the western rivers, Rhine, Rhone, Po,
And you, Tiber, parent of a stream full of future power.
Where, now? Too long to tell of the lands she wandered:
No place on earth remained unvisited by Ceres.
She wandered the sky too, and spoke to the constellations
Those near the chilly pole, free of the ocean waves:
‘You Arcadian stars (since you can see all things,
Never plunging beneath the watery wastes)
Show this wretched mother, her daughter, Proserpine!’
She spoke, and Helice answered her in this way:
‘Night’s free of blame: Ask the Light about your
Stolen daughter: the Sun views, widely, things done by day.’
The Sun, asked, said: ‘To save you grief, she whom you seek
Is married to Jupiter’s brother, and rules the third realm.’
After grieving a while, she addressed the Thunderer:
And there were deep marks of sorrow in her face:
‘If you remember by whom I conceived Persephone,
Half of the care she ought to be shown is yours.
Wandering the world I’ve learnt only of her wrong:
While her ravisher is rewarded for his crime.
But Persephone didn’t deserve a thief as husband:
It’s not right to have found a son-in-law this way.
How could I have suffered more, as captive to a conquering
Gyges, than now, while you hold the sceptre of the heavens?
Well, let him escape unpunished, I’ll suffer it, un-avenged,
If he returns her, amending his old actions by the new.’
Jupiter soothed her, excusing it as an act of love,
‘He’s not a son-in-law who’ll shames us,’ he said,
‘I’m no nobler than him: my kingdom’s in the sky,
Another owns the waters, another the empty void.
But if your mind is really so set against alteration,
And you’re determined to break firm marriage bonds,
Let’s make the attempt, but only if she’s kept her fast:
If not, she’ll remain the wife of her infernal spouse.’
The Messenger God had his orders, and took flight for Tartarus,
And, back sooner than expected, told what he’d clearly seen:
‘The ravished girl,’ he said ‘broke her fast with three seeds
Concealed in the tough rind of a pomegranate.’
Her gloomy mother grieved, no less than if her daughter
Had just been taken, and was a long time recovering even a little.
Then she said: ‘Heaven’s no place for me to be, either:
Order that I too may be received by the Taenarian vale.’
And so it would have been, if Jupiter hadn’t promised,
That Persephone should spend six months each year in heaven.
Then, at last, Ceres recovered her countenance and spirits,
And set garlands, woven from ears of corn, on her hair:
And the tardy fields delivered a copious harvest,
And the threshing-floor barely held the heaped sheaves.
White is fitting for Ceres: dress in white clothes for Ceres’
Festival: on this day no one wears dark-coloured thread.
— Translated by A. S. Kline.
Non semel quædam sacra traduntur: Eleusin seruat quod ostendat reuisentibus. Rerum natura sacra sua non semel tradit; initiatos nos credimus: in uestibulo eius hæremus; illa arcana non promiscue nec omnibus patent: reducta et interiore sacrario clausa sunt, ex quibus aliud hæc ætas, aliud quæ post nos subibit aspiciet.
Some of the sacred rites are not revealed to worshippers all at once. Eleusis retains some of its mysteries to show to votaries on their second visit. Nature does not reveal all her secrets at once. We imagine we are initiated in her mysteries: we are, as yet, but hanging around her outer courts. Those secrets of hers are not opened to all indiscriminately. They are withdrawn and shut up in the inner shrine. Of one of them this age will catch a glimpse, of another, the age that will come after.
— Translated by John Clarke.
Τί ἄλλο ποιεῖς, ἄνϑϱωπε, ἢ τὰ μυστήϱια ἐξοϱχῇ ϰαὶ λέγεις ‘οἴϰημά ἐστι ϰαὶ ἐν Ἐλευσῖνι, ἰδοὺ ϰαὶ ἐνϑάδε. ἐϰεῖ ἱεϱοφάντης: ϰαὶ ἐγὼ ποιήσω ἱεϱοφάντην. ἐϰεῖ ϰήϱυξ: ϰἀγὼ ϰήϱυϰα ϰαταστήσω. ἐϰεῖ δᾳδοῦχος: ϰἀγὼ δᾳδοῦχον. ἐϰεῖ δᾷδες: ϰαὶ ἐνϑάδε. αἱ φωναὶ αἱ αὐταί: τὰ γινόμενα τί διαφέϱει ταῦτα ἐϰείνων;’ ἀσεβέστατε ἄνϑϱωπε, οὐδὲν διαφέϱει; ϰαὶ παϱὰ τόπον ταῦτα ὠφελεῖ ϰαὶ παϱὰ ϰαιϱόν: ϰαὶ μετὰ ϑυσίας δὲ ϰαὶ μετ᾽ εὐχῶν ϰαὶ πϱοηγνευϰότα ϰαὶ πϱοδιαϰείμενον τῇ γνώμῃ, ὅτι ἱεϱοῖς πϱοσελεύσεται ϰαὶ ἱεϱοῖς παλαιοῖς. οὕτως ὠφέλιμα γίνεται τὰ μυστήϱια, οὕτως εἰς φαντασίαν ἐϱχόμεϑα, ὅτι ἐπὶ παιδείᾳ ϰαὶ ἐπανοϱϑώσει τοῦ βίου ϰατεστάϑη πάντα ταῦτα ὑπὸ τῶν παλαιῶν. σὺ δ᾽ ἐξαγγέλλεις αὐτὰ ϰαὶ ἐξοϱχῇ παϱὰ ϰαιϱόν, παϱὰ τόπον, ἄνευ ϑυμάτων, ἄνευ ἁγνείας: οὐϰ ἐσϑῆτα ἔχεις ἣν δεῖ τὸν ἱεϱοφάντην, οὐ ϰόμην, οὐ στϱόφιον οἷον δεῖ, οὐ φωνήν, οὐχ ἡλιϰίαν, οὐχ ἥγνευϰας ὡς ἐϰεῖνος, ἀλλ᾽ αὐτὰς μόνας τὰς φωνὰς ἀνειληφὼς λέγεις. ἱεϱαί εἰσιν αἱ φωναὶ αὐταὶ ϰαϑ᾽ αὑτάς; ἄλλον τϱόπον δεῖ ἐπὶ ταῦτα ἐλϑεῖν: μέγα ἐστὶ τὸ πϱᾶγμα, μυστιϰόν ἐστιν, οὐχ ὡς ἔτυχεν οὐδὲ τῷ τυχόντι δεδομένον. ἀλλ᾽ οὐδὲ σοφὸν εἶναι τυχὸν ἐξαϱϰεῖ πϱὸς τὸ ἐπιμεληϑῆναι νέων: δεῖ δὲ ϰαὶ πϱοχειϱότητά τινα εἶναι ϰαὶ ἐπιτηδειότητα πϱὸς τοῦτο, νὴ τὸν Δία, ϰαὶ σῶμα ποιὸν ϰαὶ πϱὸ πάντων τὸν ϑεὸν συμβουλεύειν ταύτην τὴν χώϱαν ϰατασχεῖν, ὡς Σωϰϱάτει συνεβούλευεν τὴν ἐλεγϰτιϰὴν χώϱαν ἔχειν, ὡς Διογένει τὴν βασιλιϰὴν ϰαὶ ἐπιπληϰτιϰήν, ὡς Ζήνωνι τὴν διδασϰαλιϰὴν ϰαὶ δογματιϰήν. σὺ δ᾽ ἰατϱεῖον ἀνοίγεις ἄλλο οὐδὲν ἔχων ἢ φάϱμαϰα, ποῦ δὲ ἢ πῶς ἐπιτίϑεται ταῦτα, μήτε εἰδὼς μήτε πολυπϱαγμονήσας. ‘ἰδοὺ ἐϰεῖνος ταῦτα, ϰολλύϱια: ϰἀγὼ ἔχω.’ μή τι οὖν ϰαὶ τὴν δύναμιν τὴν χϱηστιϰὴν αὐτοῖς; μή τι οἶδας ϰαὶ πότε ϰαὶ πῶς ὠφελήσει ϰαὶ τίνα; τί οὖν ϰυβεύεις ἐν τοῖς μεγίστοις, τί ῥᾳδιουϱγεῖς, τί ἐπιχειϱεῖς πϱάγματι μηδέν σοι πϱοσήϰοντι; ἄφες αὐτὸ τοῖς δυναμένοις, τοῖς ϰοσμοῦσι. μὴ πϱοστϱίβου ϰαὶ αὐτὸς αἶσχος φιλοσοφίᾳ διὰ σαυτοῦ, μηδὲ γίνου μέϱος τῶν διαβαλλόντων τὸ ἔϱγον. ἀλλὰ εἴ σε ψυχαγωγεῖ τὰ ϑεωϱήματα, ϰαϑήμενος αὐτὰ στϱέφε αὐτὸς ἐπὶ σεαυτοῦ: φιλόσοφον δὲ μηδέποτ᾽ εἴπῃς σεαυτὸν μηδ᾽ ἄλλου ἀνάσχῃ λέγοντος, ἀλλὰ λέγε ‘πεπλάνηται: ἐγὼ γὰϱ οὔτ᾽ ὀϱέγομαι ἄλλως ἢ πϱότεϱον οὐδ᾽ ὁϱμῶ ἐπ᾽ ἄλλα οὐδὲ συγϰατατίϑεμαι ἄλλοις οὐδ᾽ ὅλως ἐν χϱήσει φαντασιῶν παϱήλλαχά τι ἀπὸ τῆς πϱότεϱον ϰαταστάσεως.’ ταῦτα φϱόνει ϰαὶ λέγε πεϱὶ σεαυτοῦ, εἰ ϑέλεις τὰ ϰατ᾽ ἀξίαν φϱονεῖν: εἰ δὲ μή, ϰύβευε ϰαὶ ποίει ἃ ποιεῖς. ταῦτα γάϱ σοι πϱέπει.
What are you doing else, man, but divulging the mysteries? As if you said, “There is a temple at Eleusis, and here is one too; there is a priest, and I will make a priest here; there is a herald, and I will appoint a herald too; there is a torch-bearer, and I will have a torch-bearer; there are torches, and so shall there be here. The words said, the things done, are the same. Where is the difference betwixt one and the other?” Most impious man! is there no difference? Are these things of use, out of place and out of time? A man should come with sacrifices and prayers, previously purified, and his mind affected by the knowledge that he is approaching sacred and ancient rites. Thus the mysteries become useful; thus we come to have an idea that all these things were appointed by the ancients for the instruction and correction of life. But you divulge and publish them without regard to time and place, without sacrifices, without purity; you have not the garment that is necessary for a priest, nor the fitting hair nor girdle, nor the voice, nor the age, nor have you purified yourself like him. But when you have got the words by heart, you say, "The mere words are sacred of themselves." These things are to be approached in another manner. It is a great, it is a mystical affair; not given by chance, or to every one indifferently. Nay, mere wisdom, perhaps, is not a sufficient qualification for the care of youth. There ought to be likewise a certain readiness and aptitude for this, and indeed a particular physical temperament, and, above all, a counsel from God to undertake this office, as he counselled Socrates to undertake the office of confutation; Diogenes, that of authoritative reproof; Zeno, that of dogmatical instruction. But you set up for a physician, provided with nothing but medicines, and without knowing, or having studied, where or how they are to be applied. “Why, such a one had medicines for the eyes, and I have the same.” Have you also, then, a faculty of making use of them? Do you at all know when and how and to whom they will be of service? Why then do you act at hazard? Why are you careless in things of the greatest importance? Why do you attempt a matter unsuitable to you? Leave it to those who can perform it and do it honor. Do not you too bring a scandal upon philosophy by your means; nor be one of those who cause the thing itself to be calumniated. But if mere theorems delight you, sit quietly and turn them over by yourself; but never call yourself a philosopher, nor suffer another to call you so; but say, He is mistaken; for my desires are not different from what they were; nor my pursuits directed to other objects; nor my assents otherwise given; nor have I at all made any change from my former condition in the use of things as they appear. Think and speak thus of yourself, if you would think as you ought; if not, act at random, and do as you do; for it is appropriate to you.
— Translated by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, 1890.
Ῥεῖ δὲ Κηφισὸς πϱὸς Ἐλευσῖνι βιαιότεϱον παϱεχόμενος τοῦ πϱοτέϱου ῥεῦμα: ϰαὶ παϱ᾽ αὐτῷ ϰαλοῦσιν Ἐϱινεόν, λέγοντες τὸν Πλούτωνα ὅτε ἥϱπασε τὴν Κόϱην ϰαταβῆναι ταύτῃ. πϱὸς τούτῳ τῷ Κηφισῷ λῃστὴν Πολυπήμονα ὄνομα, Πϱοϰϱούστην δὲ ἐπίϰλησιν, Θησεὺς ἀπέϰτεινεν. Ἐλευσινίοις δὲ ἔστι μὲν Τϱιπτολέμου ναός, ἔστι δὲ Πϱοπυλαίας Ἀϱτέμιδος ϰαὶ Ποσειδῶνος Πατϱός, φϱέαϱ τε ϰαλούμενον Καλλίχοϱον, ἔνϑα πϱῶτον Ἐλευσινίων αἱ γυναῖϰες χοϱὸν ἔστησαν ϰαὶ ᾖσαν ἐς τὴν ϑεόν. τὸ δὲ πεδίον τὸ Ῥάϱιον σπαϱῆναι πϱῶτον λέγουσι ϰαὶ πϱῶτον αὐξῆσαι ϰαϱπούς, ϰαὶ διὰ τοῦτο οὐλαῖς ἐξ αὐτοῦ χϱῆσϑαί σφισι ϰαὶ ποιεῖσϑαι πέμματα ἐς τὰς ϑυσίας ϰαϑέστηϰεν. ἐνταῦϑα ἅλως ϰαλουμένη Τϱιπτολέμου ϰαὶ βωμὸς δείϰνυται· τὰ δὲ ἐντὸς τοῦ τείχους τοῦ ἱεϱοῦ τό τε ὄνειϱον ἀπεῖπε γϱάφειν, ϰαὶ τοῖς οὐ τελεσϑεῖσιν, ὁπόσων ϑέας εἴϱγονται, δῆλα δήπου μηδὲ πυϑέσϑαι μετεῖναί σφισιν. Ἐλευσῖνα δὲ ἥϱωα, ἀφ᾽ οὗ τὴν πόλιν ὀνομάζουσιν, οἱ μὲν Ἑϱμοῦ παῖδα εἶναι ϰαὶ Δαείϱας Ὠϰεανοῦ ϑυγατϱὸς λέγουσι, τοῖς δέ ἐστι πεποιημένα Ὤγυγον εἶναι πατέϱα Ἐλευσῖνι· οἱ γὰϱ ἀϱχαῖοι τῶν λόγων ἅτε οὐ πϱοσόντων σφίσιν ἐπῶν ἄλλα τε πλάσασϑαι δεδώϰασι <ϰαὶ> μάλιστα ἐς τὰ γένη τῶν ἡϱώων.
οἱ γὰϱ ἀϱχαιότεϱοι τῶν Ἑλλήνων τελετὴν τὴν Ἐλευσινίαν πάντων ὁπόσα ἐς εὐσέβειαν ἥϰει τοσούτῳ ἦγον ἐντιμότεϱον ὅσῳ ϰαὶ ϑεοὺς ἐπίπϱοσϑεν ἡϱώων.
Bei Eleusis fließt der Kephisos mit stärkerer Strömung als der früher genannte, und an ihm nennen sie einen Platz Erineos und behaupten, daß Pluton, als er Kore geraubt hatte, dort niedergestiegen sei. An diesem Kephisos tötete Theseus einen Räuber mit Namen Polypemon und dem Beinamen Prokrustes. In Eleusis ist ein Tempel des Triptolemos und einer der Artemis Propyleia und des Poseidon Pater und der Kallichoron genannte Brunnen, wo die eleusinischen Frauen zuerst zu Ehren der Göttin tanzten und sangen. Das rarische Feld soll zuerst besät worden sein und zuerst Frucht hervorgebracht haben, und deshalb ist es bei ihnen Brauch, von dort die Gerste zu nehmen und daraus Kuchen für die Opfer zu machen. Hier wird auch die sogenannte Tenne des Triptolemos gezeigt und ein Altar. Was innerhalb der Mauer des Heiligtums ist, zu beschreiben, hat der Traum mir verboten, und den Nichteingeweihten, die vom Zuschauen ausgeschlossen sind, ist also nicht einmal das zu erfahren gestattet. Von dem Heros Eleusis, nach dem man die Stadt nennt, behaupten die einen, er sei ein Sohn des Hermes und der Daeira, der Tocher des Okeanos, andere haben gedichet, Ogygos sei der Vater des Eleusis. Denn die alten Legenden haben, da ihnen keine Epen zur Seite traten, in Bezug auf die Abstammung der Heroen Stoff zu verschiedensten Erfindungen gegeben.
Die älteren Griechen hielten nämlich die Feier in Eleusis um so viel höher in Ehren als alles, was sonst zur Frömmigkeit gehört, wie Götter über Heroen.
— Übersetzt von Ernst Meyer. Zürich: Artemis, 1952. I, p. 97.
ΜΙΚΥΛΛΟΣ Ηϱαϰλή μου, τί πυϰνό σϰοτάδι! Πού είναι τώϱα ο ωϱαίος Μέγιλλος; Ή πώς ϑα διαϰϱίνει ϰανείς εδώ αν είναι ωϱαιότεϱη από τη Φϱύνη η Σιμίχη; Όλα είναι ίσα ϰαι ομοιόχϱωμα, ϰαι τίποτε δεν είναι ούτε ωϱαίο ούτε ωϱαιότεϱο, αλλά ήδη ϰαι το τϱιμμένο πανωφόϱι μου, που πϱωτύτεϱα μου φαινόταν άσχημο, τώϱα έγινε ισάξιο με το ποϱφυϱό ένδυμα του βασιλιά· γιατί ϰαι τα δύο είναι δυσδιάϰϱιτα ϰαι βυϑισμένα στο ίδιο σϰοτάδι. Κι εσύ, Κυνίσϰε, πού στο ϰαλό βϱίσϰεσαι;
ΚΥΝΙΣΚΟΣ Εδώ λέω πως είμαι, Μίϰυλλε. Αν ϑέλεις, ας πεϱπατήσουμε παϱέα.
ΜΙΚΥΛΛΟΣ Καλά λες· δώσε μου το χέϱι σου. Γιά πες μου —ασφαλώς ϑα έχεις μυηϑεί, Κυνίσϰε, στα Ελευσίνια—, δεν σου φαίνονται αυτά εδωπέϱα όμοια με εϰείνα;
ΚΥΝΙΣΚΟΣ Καλά λες. Νά λοιπόν που πλησιάζει ϰάποια ϰϱατώντας δάδα, ϰαι μας ϰοιτάζει με ένα βλέμμα τϱομαϰτιϰό ϰαι απειλητιϰό. Λες τάχα να είναι ϰαμιά Εϱινύα;
Micyllus. Herkules, wie finster! Nun zeige mir Einer den schönen Megyllus, oder entscheide hier, ob Symmiche oder Phryne schöner ist. Alles ist ja gleich und einfarbig, und kein Unterschied zwischen schön und häßlich. Selbst der abgeschabene grobe Kittel da, der sonst eine so erbärmliche Figur machte, gilt jetzt so viel als jenes Königes Purpurgewand. In einer und derselben Finsterniß begraben ist Dieses so unscheinbar als Jenes. He, Cyniskus, wo bist denn du?
Cyniskus. Hier, Micyll. Gehen wir zusammen?
Micyllus. Schön, aber reiche mir die Hand. Hör’ einmal – du hast doch wohl die Weihe, Cyniskus? – findest du nicht, daß es hier gerade so ist wie in den Eleusinien?
Cyniskus. Du hast Recht: da kommt uns wirklich eine Fackelträgerin entgegen. Aber wie fürchterlich und drohend sie blickt: gewiß ist sie eine der Furien.
— Übersetzt von August Friedrich Pauly. Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler, 1828.
Τοιαῦτα μὲν τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς νεώς, ἐς δὲ τὸν Πειϱαιᾶ ἐσπλεύσας πεϱὶ μυστηϱίων ὥϱαν, ὅτε Ἀϑηναῖοι πολυανϑϱωπότατα Ἑλλήνων πϱάττουσιν, ἀνῄει ξυντείνας ἀπὸ τῆς νεὼς ἐς τὸ ἄστυ, πϱοιὼν δὲ πολλοῖς τῶν φιλοσοφούντων ἐνετύγχανε Φάληϱάδε ϰατιοῦσιν, ὧν οἱ μὲν γυμνοὶ ἐϑέϱοντο, ϰαὶ γὰϱ τὸ μετόπωϱον εὐήλιον τοῖς Ἀϑηναίοις, οἱ δὲ ἐϰ βιβλίων ἐσπούδαζον, οἱ δ᾽ ἀπὸ στόματος ἠσϰοῦντο, οἱ δὲ ἤϱιζον. παϱῄει δὲ οὐδεὶς αὐτόν, ἀλλὰ τεϰμηϱάμενοι πάντες, ὡς εἴη Ἀπολλώνιος, ξυνανεστϱέφοντό τε ϰαὶ ἠσπάζοντο χαίϱοντες, νεανίσϰοι δὲ ὁμοῦ δέϰα πεϱιτυχόντες αὐτῷ ‘νὴ τὴν Ἀϑηνᾶν ἐϰείνην,’ ἔφασαν ἀνατείναντες τὰς χεῖϱας ἐς τὴν ἀϰϱόπολιν, ‘ἡμεῖς ἄϱτι ἐς Πειϱαιᾶ ἐβαδίζομεν πλευσόμενοι ἐς Ἰωνίαν παϱὰ σέ.’ ὁ δὲ ἀπεδέχετο αὐτῶν ϰαὶ ξυγχαίϱειν ἔφη φιλοσοφοῦσιν. ἦν μὲν δὴ Ἐπιδαυϱίων ἡμέϱα. τὰ δὲ Ἐπιδαύϱια μετὰ πϱόϱϱησίν τε ϰαὶ ἱεϱεῖα δεῦϱο μυεῖν Ἀϑηναίοις πάτϱιον ἐπὶ ϑυσίᾳ δευτέϱᾳ, τουτὶ δὲ ἐνόμισαν Ἀσϰληπιοῦ ἕνεϰα, ὅτι δὴ ἐμύησαν αὐτὸν ἥϰοντα Ἐπιδαυϱόϑεν ὀψὲ μυστηϱίων. ἀμελήσαντες δὲ οἱ πολλοὶ τοῦ μυεῖσϑαι πεϱὶ τὸν Ἀπολλώνιον εἶχον ϰαὶ τοῦτ᾽ ἐσπούδαζον μᾶλλον ἢ τὸ ἀπελϑεῖν τετελεσμένοι, ὁ δὲ ξυνέσεσϑαι μὲν αὐτοῖς αὖϑις ἔλεγεν, ἐϰέλευσε δὲ πϱὸς τοῖς ἱεϱοῖς τότε γίγνεσϑαι, ϰαὶ γὰϱ αὐτὸς μυεῖσϑαι. ὁ δὲ ἱεϱοφάντης οὐϰ ἐβούλετο παϱέχειν τὰ ἱεϱά, μὴ γὰϱ ἄν ποτε μυῆσαι γόητα, μηδὲ τὴν Ἐλευσῖνα ἀνοῖξαι ἀνϑϱώπῳ μὴ ϰαϑαϱῷ τὰ δαιμόνια. ὁ δὲ Ἀπολλώνιος οὐδὲν ὑπὸ τούτων ἥττων αὑτοῦ γενόμενος ‘οὔπω’ ἔφη ‘τὸ μέγιστον, ὧν ἐγὼ ἐγϰληϑείην ἄν, εἴϱηϰας, ὅτι πεϱὶ τῆς τελετῆς πλείω ἢ σὺ γιγνώσϰων ἐγὼ δὲ ὡς παϱὰ σοφώτεϱον ἐμαυτοῦ μυησόμενος ἦλϑον.’ ἐπαινεσάντων δὲ τῶν παϱόντων, ὡς ἐϱϱωμένως ϰαὶ παϱαπλησίως αὑτῷ ἀπεϰϱίνατο, ὁ μὲν ἱεϱοφάντης, ἐπειδὴ ἐξείϱγων αὐτὸν οὐ φίλα τοῖς πολλοῖς ἐδόϰει πϱάττειν, μετέβαλε τοῦ τόνου ϰαὶ ‘μυοῦ’, ἔφη ‘σοφὸς γάϱ τις ἥϰειν ἔοιϰας’, ὁ δὲ Ἀπολλώνιος ‘μυήσομαι’ ἔφη ‘αὖϑις, μυήσει δέ με ὁ δεῖνα’ πϱογνώσει χϱώμενος ἐς τὸν μετ᾽ ἐϰεῖνον ἱεϱοφάντην, ὃς μετὰ τέτταϱα ἔτη τοῦ ἱεϱοῦ πϱοὔστη.
Arriving at Pireaus about the season of the mysteries, when Athens is more crowded than any place in Greece, he lost no time in going up to the city from his ship. As he went he met many of the learned making their way down to Piraeus. Some were basking naked — the autumn is fine and sunny at Athens — others were deep in discussions upon a text, some practicing recitations, some disputing. None of them passed him by, but all guessing that this was Apollonius, turned back with him and hailed him with enthusiasm. A party of ten youths fell in with him, who stretched out their hands towards the Acropolis and swore “by yonder Athena, they were just setting out for Piraeus to take ship for Ionia and find him there.” He welcomed them, and said he congratulated them on their desire for learning. It was the day of the Epidauria; and at the Epidauria the Athenian usage, after the preface and the sacrifice, is to initiate aspirants for a second sacrifice. This tradition represents Asclepius’ experience, because he came from Epidaurus, late in the Mysteries, and they initiated him. Heedless of the initiation service, the multitude hung round Apollonius, more concerned with this than to secure admission to the Elect. He said he would be with them anon, and encouraged them to attend the service for the meanwhile, as he himself intended to be initiated. But the hierophant refused him access to the holy things, saying that he would never admit a charlatan, nor open Eleusis to a man of impure theology. Apollonius was equal to himself on this occasion, and said, “You have not yet mentioned the greatest charge that might be brought against me, which is that I know more than you about this rite, although I came to you as to a man better skilled than myself.” The bystanders applauded this vigorous and characteristic rebuke; and the hierophant, seeing that the excommunication was unpopular, changed his tune and said, “You shall be admitted, for you seem to be a person of doctrine.” Apollonius answered, “I will be admitted at another time; the ceremony will be performed by so-and-so” — prophetically naming the next occupant of the hierophancy, who succeeded to his sacred office four years later.
Λέγουσι δὲ αὐτὸν, φησὶ, Φϱύγες ϰαὶ χλοεϱὸν στάχυν τεϑεϱισμένον· ϰαὶ μετὰ τοὺς Φϱυγας Ἀϑηναῖοι μυοῦντες Ἐλευσίνια, ϰαὶ ἐπιδειϰνύντες τοῖς ἐποπτεύουσι τὸ μέγα ϰαὶ ϑαυμαστὸν ϰαὶ τελειότατον ἐποπτιϰὸν ἐϰεῖ μυστήϱιον, ἐν σιωπῇ τεϑεϱισμένον στάχυν. Ὁ δὲ στάχυς οὗτος ἐστι ϰαὶ παϱὰ Ἀϑηναίοις ὁ παϱὰ τοῦ ἀχαϱαϰτηϱίστου φωστὴϱ τέλειος μέγας, ϰαϑάπεϱ αὑτὸς ὁ ἱεϱοφάντης, οὐϰ ἀποϰεϰομμένος μὲν, ὡς ὁ Ἄττις, εὐνουχισμένος δὲ διὰ ϰωνείου, ϰαὶ πᾶσαν ἀπηϱτισμένος τὴν σαϱϰίνην γένεσιν, νυϰτὸς ἐν Ἐλευσῖνι ὑπὸ πολλῷ πυϱὶ τελῶν τὰ μεγάλα ϰαὶ ἄϱϱητα μυστήϱια βοᾷ ϰαὶ ϰέϰϱαγε λέγων, „ἱεϱὸν ἔτεϰε πότνια ϰοῦϱον Βϱιμὼ βϱιμὴ,“ τουτέστιν ἰσχυϱὰ ἰσχυϱόν. Πότνια δέ ἐστι, φησὶν, ἡ γένεσις ἡ πνευματιϰὴ, ἡ ἐπουϱάνιος, ἡ ἄνω· ἰσχυϱὸς δέ ἐστιν ὁ οὕτω γεννώμενος. Ἔστι γὰϱ τὸ λεγόμενον μυστήϱιον Ἐλευσὶν ϰαὶ ἀναϰτόϱειον. Ἐλευσὶν, ὅτι ἤλϑομεν, φησὶν, οἱ πνευματιϰοὶ ἄνωϑεν ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀδαμαντος ῥυέντες ϰάτω ἐλεύσεσϑαι γὰϱ, φησὶν, ἐστὶν ἐλϑεῖν. Τὸ δὲ ἀναϰτόϱειον τὸ ἀνελϑεῖν ἄνω. Τοῦτο, φησὶν, ἐστὶν ὃ λέγουσιν οἱ ϰατωϱγιασμένοι τῶν Ἐλευσινίων τὰ μυστήϱια. Θέμιον δέ ἐστι τὰ μιϰϱὰ μεμνημένους αὖϑις τὰ μεγάλα μυεῖσϑαι. Μόϱοι γὰϱ μείζονες, μείζονας μοίϱας λαγχάνουσι. Μιϰϱὰ, φησὶν, ἐστὶ τὰ μυστήϱια τὰ τῆς Πεϱσεφόνης ϰάτω, πεϱὶ ὧν μυστηϱίων ϰαὶ τῆς ὁδοῦ τῆς ἀγούσης ἐϰεῖ, οὔσης πλατείας ϰαὶ εὐϱυχώϱου ϰαὶ φεϱούσης τοὺς ἀπολλυμένους ἐπὶ τὴν Πεϱσεφόνην, ϰαὶ ποιητὴς δέ φησιν·
Αὐτὰϱ ὑπ’ αὐτήν ἐστιν ἀταϱπιτὸς ὀϰϱυόεσσα,
ϰοίλη, πηλώδης ἥτ’ ἡγήσασϑαι ἀϱίστη
ἄλσος ἐς ἱμεϱόεν πολυτιμήτον Ἀφϱοδίτης.*
Ταῦτ’ ἐστὶ, φησὶ, τὰ μιϰϱὰ μυστήϱια τὰ τῆς σαϱϰιϰῆς γενέσεως, ἃ μυηϑέντες οἱ ἄνϑϱωποι μιϰϱὰ παύσασϑαι ὀφείλουσι ϰαὶ μυεῖσϑαι τὰ μεγάλα τὰ ἐπουϱάνια. Οἱ γὰϱ τοὺς ἐϰεῖ, φησὶ, λαχόντες μόϱους, μείζονας μοίϱας λαμβάνουσιν. Αὕτη γὰϱ, φησὶν, ἐστὶν, ἡ πύλη τοῦ οὐϱανοῦ, ϰαὶ οὗτος οἶϰος ϑεοῦ, ὅπου ὁ ἀγαϑὸς ϑεὸς ϰατοιϰεῖ μόνος, εἰς ὃν οὐϰ εἰσελεύσεται, φησὶν, ἀϰάϑαϱτος οὐδεὶς, οὐ ψυχιϰὸς, οὐ σαϱϰιϰὸς, ἀλλὰ τηϱεῖται πνευματιϰοῖς μόνοις, ὅπου δεῖ γενομένους λαβεῖν τὰ ἐνδύματα ϰαὶ πάντας γενέσϑαι νυμφίους ἀπηϱσενωμένους διὰ τοῦ παϱϑενιϰοῦ πνεύματος. Αὕτη γάϱ ἐστιν ἡ παϱϑένος ἡ ἐν γαστϱὶ ἔχουσα ϰαὶ συλλαμβάνουσα ϰαὶ τίϰτουσα υἱὸν, οὐ ψυχιϰὸν, οὐ σωματιϰὸν, ἀλλὰ μαϰάϱιον αἰῶνα αἰώνων. Πεϱὶ τούτων, φησὶ, διαϱϱήδην εἴϱηϰεν ὁ Σωτὴϱ ὅτι „στενὴ ϰαὶ τεϑλιμμένη ἐστὶν ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ζωὴν, ϰαὶ ὀλίγοι εἰσὶν οἱ εἰσεϱχόμενοι εἰς αὐτὴν, πλατεῖα δὲ ϰαὶ εὐϱύχωϱος ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ἀπώλειαν, ϰαὶ πολλοί εἰσιν οἱ διεϱχόμενοι δι’ αὐτῆς.“
Ωϱιγένους φιλοσοφούμενα, ή, Κατα πάσων αιϱέσεων έλεγχος. Origenis philosophumena sive omnium hæresium refutatio. E codice Parisino nunc primum edidit Emmanuel Miller. Oxford: Typ. Academico, 1851.
* Parmenides. Diels: Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, I, p. 125, n° 20.
The Phrygians, however, assert, he says, that he is likewise “a green ear of grain reaped.” And after the Phrygians, the Athenians, while initiating people into the Eleusinian rites, likewise display to those who are being admitted to the highest grade at these mysteries, the mighty, and marvellous, and most perfect secret suitable for one initiated into the highest mystic truths: (I allude to) an ear of grain in silence reaped. But this ear of grain is also (considered) among the Athenians to constitute the perfect enormous illumination (that has descended) from the unportrayable one, just as the Hierophant himself (declares); not, indeed, emasculated like Attis, but made a eunuch by means of hemlock, and despising all carnal generation. (Now) by night in Eleusis, beneath a huge fire, (the Celebrant) enacting the great and secret mysteries, vociferates and cries aloud, saying, “August Brimo has brought forth a consecrated son, Brimus”; that is, a potent (mother has been delivered of) a potent child. But revered, he says, is the generation that is spiritual, heavenly, from above, and potent is he that is so born. For the mystery is called “Eleusin” and “Anactorium”. “Eleusin”, because, he says, we who are spiritual come flowing down from Adam above; for the word “eleusesthai” (ἐλεύσεσϑαι) is, he says, of the same import with the expression “to come”. But “Anactorium” is of the same import with the expression “to ascend upwards”. This, he says, is what they affirm who have been initiated in the mysteries of the Eleusinians. It is, however, a regulation of law, that those who have been admitted into the lesser should again be initiated into the Great Mysteries. For greater destinies obtain greater portions. But the inferior mysteries, he says, are those of Proserpine below; in regard of which mysteries, and the path which leads there, which is wide and spacious, and conducts those that are perishing to Proserpine, the poet likewise says:
But under her a fearful path extends,
Hollow miry, yet best guide to
Highly-honoured Aphrodite’s lovely grove.
These, he says, are the inferior mysteries, those appertaining to carnal generation. Now, those men who are initiated into these inferior (mysteries) ought to pause, and (then) be admitted into the great (and) heavenly (ones). For they, he says, who obtain their shares (in this mystery), receive greater portions. For this, he says, is the gate of heaven; and this a house of God, where the Good Deity dwells alone. And into this (gate), he says, no unclean person shall enter, nor one that is natural or carnal; but it is reserved for the spiritual only. And those who come hither ought to cast off their garments, and become all of them bridegrooms, emasculated through the virginal spirit. For this is the virgin who carries in her womb and conceives and brings forth a son, not animal, not corporeal, but blessed for evermore. Concerning these, it is said, the Saviour has expressly declared that “straight and narrow is the way that leads unto life, and few there are that enter upon it; whereas broad and spacious is the way that leads unto destruction, and many there are that pass through it”.
Translated by J. H. MacMahon: Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 5. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886.
In Cereris autem sacris prædicantur illa Eleusinia, quæ apud Athenienses nobilissima fuerunt. de quibus iste nihil interpretatur, nisi quod adtinet ad frumentum, quod Ceres inuenit, et ad Proserpinam, quam rapiente Orco perdidit; et hanc ipsam dicit significare fecunditatem seminum; quæ cum defuisset quodam tempore eademque sterilitate terra mæreret, exortam esse opinionem, quod filiam Cereris, id est ipsam fecunditatem, quæ a proserpendo** Proserpina dicta esset, Orcus abstulerat et apud inferos detinuerat; quæ res cum fuisset luctu publico celebrata, quia rursus eadem fecunditas rediit, Proserpina reddita exortam esse lætitiam et ex hoc sollemnia constituta. dicit deinde multa in mysteriis eius tradi, quæ nisi ad frugum inuentionem non pertineant.
** Cf. Marcus Terentius Varro: De lingua Latina, V,68.
Unter den Ceresfeiern werden die bekannten eleusinischen Feste hervorgehoben, die bei den Athenern sehr berühmt waren. Varro gibt keine Auslegung davon, außer was den Getreidebau betrifft, den Ceres erfand, und was Proserpina betrifft, die Orcus der Ceres geraubt hat; Proserpina, sagt er, bedeute die Fruchtbarkeit der Samen; als diese einmal ausblieb und die Erde über diese Unfruchtbarkeit trauerte, sei die Meinung entstanden, daß Orcus die Tochter der Ceres, eben die Fruchtbarkeit, die vom Hervorsprossen [proserpendo] Proserpina benannt worden sei, entführt habe und in der Unterwelt festhalte; darüber sei öffentliche Trauer veranstaltet worden; und weil sich nun die Fruchtbarkeit wieder einstellte, so habe man sich über die Herausgabe der Proserpina gefreut und infolgedessen die Festfeier eingeführt. Er erwähnt dann noch, daß bei ihren Mysterien vieles überliefert werde, was sich nur auf den Getreidebau beziehe.
— Übersetzt von Alfred Schröder. Kempten, München, 1911.
Inventa secuit primus qui nave profundum
et rudibus remis sollicitavit aquas,
qui dubiis ausus committere flatibus alnum
quas natura negat præbuit arte vias:
tranquillis primum trepidus se credidit undis
litora securo tramite summa legens;
mox longos temptare sinus et linquere terras
et leni coepit pandere vela Noto.
ast ubi paulatim præceps audacia crevit
cordaque languentem dedidicere metum,
iam vagus inrumpit pelagus cælumque secutus
Ægæas hiemes Ioniumque domat.
He who first made a ship and clave therewith the deep, troubling the waters with roughly hewn oars, who first dared trust his alder-bark to the uncertain winds and who by his skill devised a way forbidden of nature, fearfully at the first essayed smooth seas, hugging the shore in an unadventurous course. But soon he began to attempt the crossing of the broad bays, to leave the land and spread his canvas to the gentle south wind; and, as little by little his growing courage led him on, and as his heart forgot numbing fear, sailing now at large, he burst upon the open sea and, with the signs of heaven to guide him, passed triumphant through the storms of the Aegean and the Ionian main.
Inferni raptoris equos adflataque curru
sidera Tænario caligantesque profundæ
Iunonis thalamos audaci promere cantu
mens congesta iubet. gressus removete profani.
5iam furor humanos nostro de pectore sensus
expulit et totum spirant præcordia Phoebum;
iam mihi cernuntur trepidis delubra moveri
sedibus et claram dispergere limina lucem
adventum testata dei; iam magnus ab imis
10auditur fremitus terris templumque remugit
Cecropium sanctasque faces extollit Eleusis.
angues Triptolemi strident et squamea curvis
colla levant attrita iugis lapsuque sereno
erecti roseas tendunt ad carmina cristas,
15ecce procul ternis Hecate variata figuris
exoritur, levisque simul procedit Iacchus
crinali florens hedera, quem Parthica velat
tigris et auratos in nodum colligit ungues:
ebria Mæonius firmat vestigia thyrsus.
20Di, quibus innumerum vacui famulatur Averni
vulgus iners, opibus quorum donatur avaris
quidquid in orbe perit, quos Styx liventibus ambit
interfusa vadis et quos fumantia torquens
æquora gurgitibus Phlegethon perlustrat anhelisvos
25mihi sacrarum penetralia pandite rerum
et vestri secreta poli: qua lampade Ditem
flexit Amor; quo ducta ferox Proserpina raptu
possedit dotale Chaos quantasque per oras
sollicito genetrix erraverit anxia cursu;
30unde datæ populis fruges et glande relicta
cesserit inventis Dodonia quercus aristis.
Dux Erebi quondam tumidas exarsit in iras
proelia moturus superis, quod solus egeret
conubiis sterilesque diu consumeret annos
35impatiens nescire torum nullasque mariti
inlecebras nec dulce patris cognoscere nomen.
iam quæcumque latent ferali monstra barathro
in turmas aciemque ruunt contraque Tonantem
coniurant Furiæ, crinitaque sontibus hydris
40Tesiphone quatiens infausto lumine pinum
armatos ad castra vocat pallentia Manes,
pæne reluctatis iterum pugnantia rebus
rupissent elementa fidem penitusque revulso
carcere laxatis pubes Titania vinclis
45vidisset cæleste iubar rursusque cruentus
Ægæon positis aucto de corpore nodis
obvia centeno vexasset fulmina motu.
Sed Parcæ vetuere minas orbique timentes
ante pedes soliumque ducis fudere severam
50canitiem genibusque suas cum supplice fletu
admovere manus, quarum sub iure tenentur
omnia, quæ seriem fatorum pollice ducunt
longaque ferratis evolvunt sæcula fusis.
prima fero Lachesis clamabat talia regi
55incultas dispersa comas:
‘O maxime noctis
arbiter umbrarumque potens, cui nostra laborant
stamina, qui finem cunctis et semina præbes
nascendique vices alterna morte rependis,
qui vitam letumque regis (nam quidquid ubique
60gignit materies, hoc te donante creatur
debeturque tibi certisque ambagibus ævi
rursus corporeos animæ mittuntur in artus):
ne pete firmatas pacis dissolvere leges,
quas dedimus nevitque colus, neu foedera fratrum
65civili converte tuba, cur impia tollis
signa? quid incestis aperis Titanibus auras?
posce Iovem; dabitur coniunx.’
Vix illa 1: pepercit
erubuitque preces, animusque relanguit atrox
quamvis indocilis flecti: ceu turbine rauco
70cum gravis armatur Boreas glacieque nivali
hispidus et Getica concretus grandine pennas
disrumpit pelagus, silvas camposque sonoro
flamine rapturus; si forte adversus ænos
Æolus obiecit postes, vanescit inanis
75impetus et fractæ redeunt in claustra procellæ.
Tunc Maia genitum, qui fervida dicta reportet,
imperat acciri. Cyllenius adstitit ales
somniferam quatiens virgam tectusque galero.
ipse rudi fultus solio nigraque verendus
80maiestate sedet: squalent inmania foedo
sceptra situ; sublime caput mæstissima nubes
asperat et diræ riget inclementia formæ;
terrorem dolor augebat. tunc talia celso
ore tonat (tremefacta silent dicente tyranno
85atria; latratum triplicem compescuit ingens
ianitor et presso lacrimarum fonte resedit
Cocytos tacitisque Acheron obmutuit undis
et Phlegethonteæ requierunt murmura ripæ):
‘Atlantis Tegeæe nepos, commune profundis
90et superis numen, qui fas per limen utrumque
solus habes geminoque facis commercia mundo,
i celer et proscinde Notos et iussa superbo
redde Iovi; ’tantumne tibi, sævissime frater,
in me iuris erit? sic nobis noxia vires
95cum cælo Fortuna tulit? num robur et arma
perdidimus, si rapta dies? an forte iacentes
ignavosque putas, quod non Cyclopia tela
stringimus aut vanas tonitru deludimus auras?
nonne satis visum, grati quod luminis expers
100tertia supremæ patior dispendia sortis
informesque plagas, cum te lætissimus ornet
Signifer et vario cingant splendore Triones;
sed thalamis etiam prohibes? Nereia glauco
Neptunum gremio complectitur Amphitrite;
105te consanguineo recipit post fulmina fessum
Iuno sinu. quid enim narrem Latonia furta,
quid Cererem magnamque Themin? tibi tanta creandi
copia; te felix natorum turba coronat.
ast ego deserta mærens inglorius aula
110implacidas nullo solabor pignore curas?
non adeo toleranda quies. primordia testor
noctis et horrendæ stagna intemerata paludis:
si dicto parere negas, patefacta ciebo
Tartara, Saturni veteres laxabo catenas,
115obducam tenebris solem, compage soluta
lucidus umbroso miscebitur axis Averno.’
Vix ea fatus erat, iam nuntius astra tenebat.
audierat mandata Pater secumque volutat
diversos ducens animos, quæ tale sequatur
120coniugium Stygiosque velit pro sole recessus.
certa requirenti tandem sententia sedit.
Hennææ Cereri proles optata virebat
unica, nec tribuit subolem Lucina secundam
fessaque post primos hæserunt viscera partus
125infecunda quidem; sed cunctis altior extat
matribus et numeri damnum Proserpina pensat.
hanc fovet, hanc sequitur: vitulam non blandius ambit
torva parens, pedibus quæ nondum proterit arva
nec nova lunatæ curvavit germina frontis.
130iam matura toro plenis adoleverat annis
virginitas, tenerum iam pronuba flamma pudorem
sollicitat mixtaque tremit formidine votum.
personat aula procis: pariter pro virgine certant
Mars clipeo melior, Phoebus præstantior arcu;
135Mars donat Rhodopen, Phoebus largitur Amyclas
et Delon Clariosque lares; hinc æmula Iuno,
hinc poscit Latona nurum. despexit utrumque
flava Ceres raptusque timens (heu cæca futuri!)
commendat Siculis furtim sua gaudia terris
140infidis Laribus natam commisit alendam,
æthera deseruit Siculasque relegat in oras
ingenio confisa loci.
Italiæ pars iuncta fuit; sed pontus et æstus
mutavere situm. rupit confinia Nereus
145victor et abscissos interluit æquore montes,
parvaque cognatas prohibent discrimina terras.
nunc illam socia ruptam tellure trisulcam
opposuit Natura mari: caput inde Pachyni
respuit Ionias prætentis rupibus iras;
150hinc latrat Gætula Thetis Lilybæaque pulsat
brachia consurgens; hinc indignata teneri
concutit obiectum rabies Tyrrhena Pelorum.
in medio scopulis se porrigit Ætna perustis,
Ætna Giganteos numquam tacitura triumphos,
155Enceladi bustum, qui saucia terga revinctus
spirat inexhaustum flagranti vulnere sulphur
et, quotiens detractat onus cervice rebelli
in lævum dextrumque latus, tunc insula fundo
vellitur et dubiæ nutant cum moenibus urbes.
160Ætnæos apices solo cognoscere visu,
non aditu temptare licet, pars cetera frondet
arboribus; teritur nullo cultore cacumen.
nunc movet indigenas nimbos piceaque gravatum
foedat nube diem, nunc motibus astra lacessit
165terrificis damnisque suis incendia nutrit.
sed quamvis nimio fervens exuberet æstu,
scit nivibus servare fidem pariterque favillis
durescit glacies tanti secura vaporis,
arcano defensa gelu, fumoque fideli
170lambit contiguas innoxia flamma pruinas.
quæ scopulos tormenta rotant? quæ tanta cavernas
vis glomerat? quo fonte ruit Vulcanius amnis?
sive quod obicibus discurrens ventus opertis
offenso rimosa furit per saxa meatu,
175dum scrutatur iter, libertatemque reposcens
putria multivagis populatur flatibus antra;
seu mare sulphurei ductum per viscera montis
oppressis ignescit aquis et pondera librat.
Hic ubi servandum mater fidissima pignus
180abdidit, ad Phrygios tendit secura penates
turrigeramque petit Cybelen sinuosa draconum
membra regens, volucri qui pervia nubila tractu
signant et placidis umectant frena venenis:
frontem crista tegit; pingunt maculosa virentes
185terga notæ; rutilum squamis intermicat aurum.
nunc spiris Zephyros tranant; nunc arva volatu
inferiore secant, cano rota pulvere labens
sulcatam fecundat humum: flavescit aristis
orbita; surgentes condunt vestigia fruges;
190vestit iter comitata seges.
Iam linquitur Ætna
totaque decrescit refugo Trinacria visu.
heu quotiens præsaga mali violavit oborto
rore genas! quotiens oculos ad tecta retorsit
talia voce movens: ‘salve, gratissima tellus,
195quam nos prætulimus cælo, tibi gaudia nostri
sanguinis et caros uteri commendo labores.
præmia digna manent: nullos patiere ligones
et nullo rigidi versabere vomeris ictu.
sponte tuus florebit ager; cessante iuvenco
200ditior oblatas mirabitur incola messes.
’sic ait et fulvis tetigit serpentibus Idam.
Hic sedes augusta deæ templique colendi
relligiosa silex, densis quam pinus obumbrat
frondibus et nulla lucos agitante procella
205stridula coniferis modulatur carmina ramis.
terribiles intus thiasi vesanaque mixto
concentu delubra gemunt; ululatibus Ide
bacchatur; timidas inclinant Gargara silvas.
postquam visa Ceres, mugitum tympana frenant;
210conticuere chori; Corybas non impulit ensem;
non buxus, non æra sonant blandasque leones
summisere iubas. adytis gavisa Cybebe
exilit et pronas intendit ad oscula turres.
Viderat hæc dudum summa speculatus ab arce
215Iuppiter ac Veneri mentis penetralia pandit:
‘curarum, Cytherea, tibi secreta fatebor.
Candida Tartareo nuptum Proserpina regi
iam pridem decreta dari: sic Atropos urget;
sic cecinit longæva Themis, nunc matre remota
220rem peragi tempus. fines invade Sicanos
et Cereris prolem patulis inludere campis,
crastina puniceos cum lux detexerit ortus,
coge tuis armata dolis, quibus urere cuncta,
me quoque, sæpe soles, cur ultima regna quiescunt?
225nulla sit inmunis regio nullumque sub umbris
pectus inaccensum Veneri. iam tristis Erinys
sentiat ardores; Acheron Ditisque severi
ferrea lascivis mollescant corda sagittis.’
Accelerat præcepta Venus; iussuque parentis
230Pallas et inflexo quæ terret Mænala cornu
addunt se comites. divino semita gressu
claruit, augurium qualis laturus iniquum
præpes sanguineo dilabitur igne cometes
prodigiale rubens: non illum navita tuto,
235non impune vident populi, sed crine minaci
nuntiat aut ratibus ventos aut urbibus hostes.
devenere locum, Cereris quo tecta nitebant
Cyclopum firmata manu: stant ardua ferro
moenia, ferrati postes, inmensaque nectit
240claustra chalybs. nullum tanto sudore Pyragmon
nec Steropes construxit opus: non talibus umquam
spiravere Notis animæ nec flumine tanto
incoctum maduit lassa cervice metallum.
atria cingit ebur; trabibus solidatur ænis
245culmen et in celsas surgunt electra columnas.
Ipsa domum tenero mulcens Proserpina cantu
inrita texebat redituræ munera matri.
hic elementorum seriem sedesque paternas
insignibat acu, veterem qua lege tumultum
250discrevit Natura parens et semina iustis
discessere locis: quidquid leve, fertur in altum;
in medium graviora cadunt; incanduit ær;
legit flamma polum; fluxit mare; terra pependit.
nec color unus erat: Stellas accendit in auro,
255ostro fundit aquas. attollit litora gemmis
filaque mentitos iamiam cælantia fluctus
arte tument: credas inlidi cautibus algam
et raucum bibulis inserpere murmur harenis.
addit quinque plagas: mediam subtegmine rubro
260obsessam fervore notat; squalebat inustus
limes et adsiduo sitiebant stamina sole,
vitales utrimque duas, quas mitis oberrat
temperies habitanda viris; in fine supremo
torpentes traxit geminas brumaque perenni
265foedat et æterno contristat frigore telas.
nec non et patrui pingit sacraria Ditis
fatalesque sibi Manes; nec defuit omen,
præscia nam subitis maduerunt fletibus ora.
Coeperat et vitreis summo iam margine texti
270Oceanum sinuare vadis; sed cardine verso
cernit adesse deas imperfectumque laborem
deserit et niveos infecit purpura vultus
per liquidas succensa genas castæque pudoris
inluxere faces: non sic decus ardet eburnum,
275Lydia Sidonio quod femina tinxerit ostro.
Merserat unda diem; sparso nox umida somno
languida cæruleis invexerat otia bigis,
iamque viam Pluto superas molitur ad auras
germani monitu. torvos invisa iugales
280Allecto temone ligat, qui pascua mandunt
Cocyti pratisque Erebi nigrantibus errant
stagnaque tranquillæ potantes marcida Lethes
ægra soporatis spumant oblivia linguis:
Orphnæus crudele micans Æthonque sagitta
285ocior et Stygii sublimis gloria Nycteus
armenti Ditisque nota signatus Alastor.
stabant ante fores iuncti sævumque fremebant
crastina venturæ spectantes gaudia prædæ.
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 uninitiate. 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.
Once on a time the lord of Erebus blazed forth in swelling anger, threatening war upon the gods, because he alone was unwed and had long wasted the years in childless state, brooking no longer to lack the joys of wedlock and a husband’s happiness nor ever to know the dear name of father. Now all the monsters that lurk in Hell’s abyss rush together in warlike bands, and the Furies bind themselves with an oath against the Thunderer. Tisiphone, the bloody snakes clustering on her head, shakes the lurid pine-torch and summons to the ghostly camp the armèd shades. Almost had the elements, once more at war with reluctant nature, broken their bond; the Titan brood, their deep prison-house thrown open and their fetters cast off, had again seen heaven’s light; and once more bloody Aegaeon, bursting the knotted ropes that bound his huge form, had warred against the thunderbolts of Jove with hundred-handed blows.
But the dread Fates brought these threats to naught, and, fearing for the world, gravely laid their hoary locks before the feet and throne of the lord of Hell, and with suppliant tears touched his knees with their hands — those hands beneath whose rule all things are set, whose thumbs twist the thread of fate and spin the long ages with their iron spindles. First Lachesis, her hair unkempt and disordered, thus called out upon the cruel king: "Great lord of night, ruler over the shades, thou at whose command our threads are spun, who appointest the end and origin of all things and ordainest the alternation of birth and destruction; arbiter thou of life and death — for whatsoever thing comes anywhere into being it is by thy gift that it is created and owes its life to thee, and after a fixed cycle of years thou sendest souls once more into mortal bodies — seek not to break the stablished treaty of peace which our distaffs have spun and given thee, and overturn not in civil war the compact fixed ’twixt thee and thy two brothers. Why raisest thou unrighteous standards of war? Why freest the foul band of Titans to the open air? Ask of Jove; he will give thee a wife."
Scarce had she spoken when Pluto stopped, shamed by her prayer, and his grim spirit grew mild though little wont to be curbed: even so great Boreas, armed with strident blasts and tempestuous with congealed snow, his wings all frozen with Getic hail as he seeks battle, threatens to overwhelm the sea, the woods, and the fields with sounding storm; but should Aeolus chance to bar against him the brazen doors idly his fury dies away and his storms retire baulked to their prison-house.
Then he bids summon Mercury, the son of Maia, that he may carry these flaming words to Jove. Straightway the wingèd god of Cyllene stands at his side shaking his sleepy wand, his herald cap upon his head. Pluto himself sits propped on his rugged throne, awful in funereal majesty; foul with age-long dust is his mighty sceptre; boding clouds make grim his lofty head; unpitying is the stiffness of his dread shape; rage heightened the terror of his aspect. Then with uplifted head he thunders forth these words, while, as the tyrant speaks, his halls tremble and are still; the massy hound, guardian of the gate, restrains the barking of his triple head, and Cocytus sinks back repressing his fount of tears; Acheron is dumb with silent wave, and the banks of Phlegethon cease their murmuring. "Grandchild of Atlas, Arcadian-born, deity that sharest hell and heaven, thou who alone hast the right to cross either threshold, and art the intermediary between the two words, go swiftly, cleave the winds, and bear these my behests to proud Jove. “Hast thou, cruel brother, such complete authority over me? Did injurious fortune rob me at once of power and light? Because day was reft from me, lost I therefore strength and weapons? Thinkest thou me humble and cowed because I hurl not bolts forged by the Cyclops and fool not the empty air with thunder? Is it not enough that deprived of the pleasant light of day I submit to the ill-fortune of the third and final choice and these hideous realms, whilst thee the starry heavens adorn and the Wain surrounds with twinkling brilliance — must thou also forbid our marriage? Amphitrite, daughter of Nereus, holds Neptune in her sea-grey embrace; Juno, they sister and they wife, takes thee to her bosom when wearied thou layest aside thy thunderbolts. What need to tell of thy secret love for Lato or Ceres or great Themis? How manifold a hope of offspring was thine! Now a crowd of happy children surrounds thee. And shall I in this empty palace, sans joy, sans fame, know no child’s love to still instant care? I will not brook so dull a life. I swear by elemental night and the unexplored shallows of the Stygian lake, if thou refuse to hearken to my word I will throw open Hell and call forth her monsters, will break Saturn’s old chains and shroud the sun in darkness. The framework of the world shall be loosened and the shining heavens mingle with Avernus’ shades.”
Scarce had he spoken when his messenger trod the stars. The Father heard the message and, communing with himself, debated long who would dare such a marriage, who would wish to exchange the sun for the caves of Styx. He would fain decide and at length his fixed purpose grew.
Ceres, whose temple is at Henna, had but one youthful daughter, a child long prayed for; for the goddess of birth granted no second offspring, and her womb, exhausted by that first labour, became unfruitful. Yet prouder is the mother above all mothers, and Proserpine such as to take the place of many. Her mother’s care and darling is she; not more lovingly does the fierce mother cow tend her calf that cannot as yet scamper over the fields and whose growing horns curve not yet moonwise over her forehead. As the years were fulfilled she had grown a maiden ripe for marriage, and thoughts of the torch of wedlock stir her girlish modesty, but while she longs for a husband she yet fears to plight troth. The voice of suitors is heard throughout the palace; two gods woo the maiden, Mars, more skilled with the shield, and Phoebus, the mightier bowman. Mars offers Rhodope, Phoebus would give Amyclae, and Delos and his temple at Claros; in rivalry Juno and Latona claim her for a son’s wife. But golden-haired Ceres disdains both, and fearing lest her daughter should be stolen away (how blind to the future!) secretly entrusts her jewel to the land of Sicily, confident in the safe nature of this hiding-place.
Trinacria was once a part of Italy but sea and tide changed the face of the land. Victorious Nereus brake his bounds and interflowed the cleft mountains with his waves whereby a narrow channel now separates these kindred lands. Nature now thrusts out into the sea the three-cornered island, cut off from the mainland to which it once belonged. At one extremity the promontory of Pachynum hurls back with jutting crags the furious waves of the Ionian main, round another roars the African sea that rises and beats upon the curving harbour of Lilybaeum, at the third the raging Tyrrhenian flood, impatient of restraint, shakes the obstacle of Cape Pelorus. In the midst of the island rise the charred cliffs of Aetna, eloquent monument of Jove’s victory over the Giants, the tomb of Enceladus, whose bound and bruisèd body breathes forth endless sulphur clouds from its burning wounds. Whene’er his rebellious shoulders shift their burden to the right or left, the island is shaken from its foundations and the walls of tottering cities sway this way and that.
The peaks of Aetna thou must know by sight alone; to them no foot may approach. The rest is clothed with foliage but the summit no husbandman tills. Now it sends forth native smoke and with pitch-black cloud darkens and oppresses the day, now with awful stirrings it threatens the stars and feeds its flame with the dread fruit of its own body. But though it boils and bursts forth with such great heat yet it knows how to observe a truce with the snow, and together with glowing ashes the ice grows hard, protected from the great heat and secured by indwelling cold, so that the harmless flame licks the neighbouring frost with breath that keeps its compact. What huge engine hurls those rocks; what vast force piles rock on rock? Whence flows forth that fiery stream? Whether it be that the wind, forcing its way past hidden barriers, rages amid the fissured rocks that seek to bar its passage and, seeking a way of escape, sweeps the crumbling caverns with its wandering blasts in its bid for freedom, or that the sea, flowing in through the bowels of the sulphurous mountain, bursts into flame when its waters are compressed and casts up great rocks, I know not.
When the loving mother had entrusted her charge to the secret keeping of Henna she went freed from care to visit tower-crowned Cybele in her Phrygian home, driving a car drawn by twining serpents which cleave the pervious clouds on their wingèd course and fleck the bit with harmless poison. Their heads are crested and spots of green mottle their backs while sparkling gold glints amid their scales. Now they swim circling through the air, now they skim the fields with low-driven course. The passing wheels sow the plough-land with golden grain and their track grows yellow with corn. Sprouting stalks cover their traces and attendant crops clothe the path of the goddess.
Now is left behind Aetna, and all Sicily sinks lessening into the distance. Ah, how often, foreknowing of coming ill, did she mar her cheek with welling tears; how often look back upon her home with words like these: "Be happy, dear land, dearer than heaven to me, into thy safe keeping I commend my daughter, my sole joy, loved fruit of my labour. No despicable reward shall be thine, for thou shalt suffer no hoe nor shall the cruel iron of the ploughshare know thy soil. Untilled thy fields shall bear fruit, and though thine oxen plough not, a richer husbandman shall view with wonder the self-sown harvest." So spake she and reached Mount Ida, drawn by her yellow serpents.
Here is the queenly seat of the goddess and in her holy temple the sacred statue, o’ershadowed by the thick leaves of the pine wood which, though no storm wind shakes the grove, gives forth creakings with its cone-bearing branches. Within are the dread bands of the initiate with whose wild chantings the shrine rings; Ida is loud with howlings and Gargarus bends his woods in fear. As soon as Ceres appears the drums restrain their rattle; the choirs are silent and the Corybantes stay the flourish of their knives. Pipes and cymbals are still, and the lions sink their manes in greeting. Cybele1 rejoicing runs forth from the shrine and bends her towered head to kiss her guest.
Long had Jove seen this, watching from his lofty seat, and to Venus he thus enfolded the secrets of his heart: “Goddess of Cythera, I will impart to thee my hidden troubles; long ago I decided that fair Proserpine should be given in marriage to the lord of Hell; such is Atropos’ bidding, such old Themis’ prophecy. Now that her mother has left her is the time for action. Do thou visit the confines of Sicily, and armed with thy wiles, lead Ceres’ daughter to sport in the level meads what time to-morrow’s light has unfolded the rosy dawn; employ those arts with which thou art wont to inflame all things, often even myself. Why should the nether kingdoms know not love? Let no land be free and no breast even amid the shades unfired by Venus. At last let the gloomy Fury feel the sting of passion and Acheron and the steely heart of stern Dis grow tender with love’s arrows.”
Venus hastes to do his bidding; and at their sire’s behest there join her Pallas and Diana whose bent bow affrights all Maenalus’ slopes. Neath her divine feet the path shone bright, even as a comet, fraught with augury of ill, falls headlong, a glowing portent of blood-red fire; no sailor may look on it and live, no people view it but to their destruction; the message of its threatening tail is storm to ships and enemy’s attack to cities. They reached the place where shone Ceres’ palace, firm-built by the Cyclopes’ hands; up tower the iron walls, iron stand the gates, and steel bars secure the massy doors. Neither Pyragmon nor Steropes e’er builded a work with toil so great as that, nor ever did bellows breathe forth such blasts nor the molten mass of metal flow in a stream so deep that the very furnaces were weary of heating it. The hall was walled with ivory; the roof strengthened with beams of bronze and supported by lofty columns of electron.
Proserpine herself, soothing the house with sweet song, was sewing all in vain a gift against her mother’s return. In this cloth she embroidered with her needle the concourse of atoms and the dwelling of the Father of the gods and pictured how mother Nature ordered elemental chaos, and how the first principles of things sprang apart, each to his proper place — those that were light being born aloft, the heavier ones falling to the centre. The air grew bright and fire chose the pole as its seat. Here flowed the sea; there hung the earth suspended. Many were the colours she employed, tricking the stars with gold and flowing the sea with purple. The shore she embossed with precious stones and cunningly employed raised threadwork to imitate the swelling billows. You might have thought you saw the seaweed dashed against the rocks and heard the murmur of the hissing waves flooding up the thirsty sands. Five zones she added; indicating it with red yarn: its desert confines are parched and the thread she used was dried by the sun’s unfailing heat. On either side lay the two habitable zones, blessed with mild climate fit for the life of man. At the top and bottom she set the two frozen zones, portraying eternal winter’s horror in her weaving and the gloom of never-ceasing cold. Further she embroidered the accursèd seat of her uncle, Dis, and the nether gods, her destined fellows. Nor did the omen pass unmarked, for prophetic of the future her cheeks grew wet with sudden tears.
Next she began to trace Ocean’s glassy shallows at the tapestry’s farthest edge, but at that moment the doors opened, she saw the goddesses enter, and left her work unfinished. A glowing blush that mantled to her clear cheeks suffused her fair countenance and lit the torches of stainless purity. Not so beautiful even the glow of ivory which a Lydian maid has stained with Sidon’s scarlet dye.
Now the sun was dipped in Ocean, and misty Night scattering sleep had brought for mortals ease and leisure in her black two-horsed chariot; when Pluto, warned by his brother, made his way to the upper air. The dread fury Allecto yokes to the chariot-pole the two fierce pairs of steeds that graze Cocytus’ banks and roam the dark meads of Erebus, and, drinking the rotting pools of sluggish Lethe, let dark oblivion drip from their slumbrous lips — Orphnaeus, savage and fleet, Aethon, swifter than an arrow, great Nycteus, proud glory of Hell’s steeds, and Alastor, branded with the mark of Dis. These stood harnessed before the door and savagely champed the bit all eager for the morrow’s enjoyment of their destined booty.
Otia sopitis ageret cum cantibus Orpheus
neglectumque diu deposuisset opus,
lugebant erepta sibi solacia Nymphæ,
quærebant dulces flumina mæsta modos.
5sæva feris natura redit metuensque leonem
implorat citharæ vacca tacentis opem.
illius et duri flevere silentia montes
silvaque Bistoniam sæpe secuta chelyn.
Sed postquam Inachiis Alcides missus ab Argis
10Thracia pacifero contigit arva pede
diraque sanguinei vertit præsæpia regis
et Diomedeos gramine pavit equos,
tunc patriæ festo lætatus tempore vates
desuetæ repetit fila canora lyræ
15et resides levi modulatus pectine nervos
pollice festivo nobile duxit ebur.
vix auditus erat: venti frenantur et undæ,
pigrior adstrictis torpuit Hebrus aquis,
porrexit Rhodope sitientes carmina rupes,
20excussit gelidas pronior Ossa nives;
ardua nudato descendit populus Hæmo
et comitem quercum pinus amica trahit,
Cirrhæasque dei quamvis despexerit artes,
Orpheis laurus vocibus acta venit.
25securum blandi leporem fovere Molossi
vicinumque lupo præbuit agna latus.
concordes varia ludunt cum tigride dammæ;
Massylam cervi non timuere iubam.
Ille novercales stimulos actusque canebat
30Herculis et forti monstra subacta manu,
quod timidæ matri pressos ostenderit angues
intrepidusque fero riserit ore puer:
‘te neque Dictæas quatiens mugitibus urbes
taurus nec Stygii terruit ira canis,
35non leo sidereos cæli rediturus ad axes,
non Erymanthei gloria montis aper.
solvis Amazonios cinctus, Stymphalidas arcu
adpetis, occiduo ducis ab orbe greges
tergeminique ducis numerosos deicis artus
40et totiens uno victor ab hoste redis.
non cadere Antæo, non crescere profuit hydræ;
nec cervam volucres eripuere pedes.
Caci flamma perit; rubuit Busiride Nilus;
prostratis maduit nubigenis Pholoe.
45te Libyci stupuere sinus, te maxima Tethys
horruit, imposito cum premerere polo:
firmior Herculea mundus cervice pependit;
lustrarunt umeros Phoebus et astra tuos.’
Thracius hæc vates. sed tu Tirynthius alter,
50Florentine, mihi: tu mea plectra moves
antraque Musarum longo torpentia somno
excutis et placidos ducis in orbe chores.
When Orpheus sought repose and, lulling his song to sleep, had long laid aside his neglected task, the Nymphs complained that their joy had been reft from them and the sad rivers mourned the loss of his tuneful lays. Nature’s savagery returned and the heifer in terror of the lion looked in vain for help from the now voiceless lyre. The rugged mountains lamented his silence and the woods that had so often followed his Thracian lute.
But after that Hercules, setting forth from Inachian Argos, reached the plains of Thrace on his mission of salvation, and destroying the stables of Diomede, fed the horses of the bloody tyrant on grass, then it was that the poet, o’erjoyed at his country’s happy fate, took up at once more the tuneful strings of his flute long laid aside, and touching its idle chords with the smooth quill, plied the famed ivory with festal fingers. Scarce had they heard him when the winds and waves were stilled; Hebrus flowed more sluggishly with reluctant stream, Rhodope stretched out her rocks all eager for the song, and Ossa, his summit less exalted, shook off his coat of snow. The tall poplar and the pine, accompanied by the oak, left the slopes of treeless Haemus, and even the laurel came, allured by the voice of Orpheus, though erstwhile it had despised Apollo’s art. Molossian dogs fawned playfully on fearless hares, and the lamb made room for the wolf by her side. Does sported in amity with the striped tiger and hinds had no fear of the lion’s mane.
He sang the stings of a step-dame’s ire1 and the deeds of Hercules, the monsters overcome by his strong right arm; how while yet a child he had shown the strangled snakes to his terrified mother, and had laughed, fearlessly scorning such dangers. "Thee nor the bull that shook with his bellowing the cities of Crete alarmed, nor the savagery of the hound of Hell; thee not the lion, soon to become a constellation in the heavens, nor the wild boar that brought renown to Erymanthus’ height. Thou hast stripped the Amazons of their girdles, shot with thy bow the birds of Stymphalus, and driven home the cattle of the western clime. Thou hast o’erthrown the many limbs of the triple-headed monster and returned thrice victorious from a single foe. Vain the falls of Antaeus, vain the sprouting of the Hydra’s new heads. Its winged feet availed not to save Diana’s deer from thy hand. Cacus’ flames were quenched and Nile ran rich with Busiris’ blood. Pholoë’s slopes reeked with the slaughter of the cloud-born Centaurs. Thee the curving shoe of Libya held in awe; thee the mighty Ocean gazed at in amaze when thou laidst the world’s bulk on thy back; on the neck of Hercules the heaven was poised more surely; the sun and stars coursed over thy shoulders."
So sang the Thracian bard. But thou, Florentinus, art a second Hercules to me. ’Tis thou causest my quill to stir, ’tis thou disturbest the Muses’ cavern long plunged in sleep and leadest their gentle bands in the dance.
Impulit Ionios præmisso lumine fluctus
nondum pura dies; tremulis vibratur in undis
ardor et errantes ludunt per cærula flammæ.
iamque audax animi fidæque oblita parentis
5fraude Dionæa riguos Proserpina saltus
(sic Parcæ iussere) petit, ter cardine verso
præsagum cecinere fores; ter conscia fati
flebile terrificis gemuit mugitibus Ætna,
nullis ilia tamen monstris nulloque tenetur
10prodigio. comites gressum iunxere sorores.
Prima dolo gaudens et tanto concita voto
it Venus et raptus metitur corde futuros,
iam dirum flexura chaos, iam Dite subacto
ingenti famulos Manes ductura triumpho.
15illi multifidos crinis sinuatur in orbes
Idalia divisus acu; sudata marito
fibula purpureos gemma suspendit amictus.
Candida Parrhasii post hanc regina Lycæi
et Pandionias quæ cuspide protegit arces,
20utraque virgo, ruunt: hæc tristibus aspera bellis.
hæc metuenda feris. Tritonia casside fulva
cælatum Typhona gerit, qui summa peremptus
ima parte viget, moriens et parte superstes;
hastaque terribili surgens per nubila ferro
25instar habet silvæ; tantum stridentia colla
Gorgonis obtentu pallæ fulgentis inumbrat.
at Triviæ lenis species et multus in ore
frater erat, Phoebique genas et lumina Phoebi
esse putes, solusque dabat discrimina sexus.
30brachia nuda nitent; levibus proiecerat auris
indociles errare comas, arcuque remisso
otia nervus agit; pendent post terga sagittæ.
crispatur gemino vestis Gortynia cinctu
poplite fusa tenus, motoque in stamine Delos
35errat et aurato trahitur circumflua ponto.
Quas inter Cereris proles, nunc gloria matris,
mox dolor, æquali tendit per gramina passu
nec membris nec honore minor potuitque videri
Pallas, si clipeum ferret, si spicula, Phoebe,
40collectæ tereti nodantur iaspide vestes.
pectinis ingenio numquam felicior artis
contigit eventus; nulli sic consona telæ
fila nec in tantum veri duxere figuras.
hic Hyperionio Solem de semine nasci
45fecerat et pariter, forma sed dispare, Lunam,
auroræ noctisque duces; cunabula Tethys
præbet et infantes gremio solatur anhelos
cæruleusque sinus roseis radiatur alumnis.
invalidum dextro portat Titana lacerto
50nondum luce gravem nec pubescentibus alte
cristatum radiis: primo clementior ævo
fingitur et tenerum vagitu despuit ignem.
læva parte soror vitrei libamina potat
uberis et parvo signatur tempora cornu.
55Tali luxuriat cultu. comitantur euntem
Naides et socia stipant utrimque caterva,
quæ fontes, Crinise, tuos et saxa rotantem
Pantagiam nomenque Gelam qui præbuit urbi
concelebrant, quas pigra vado Camerina palustri,
60quas Arethusæi latices, quas advena nutrit
Alpheus; Cyane totum supereminet agmen:
qualis Amazonidum peltis exultat aduncis
pulchra cohors, quotiens Arcton populata virago
Hippolyte niveas ducit post proelia turmas,
65seu flavos stravere Getas seu forte rigentem
Thermodontiaca Tanaim fregere securi;
aut quales referunt Baccho sollemnia Nymphæ
Mæoniæ, quas Hermus alit, ripasque paternas
percurrunt auro madidæ: lætatur in antro
70amnis et undantem declinat prodigus urnam.
Viderat herboso sacrum de vertice vulgus
Henna parens florum curvaque in valle sedentem
compellat Zephyrum: ‘pater o gratissime veris,
qui mea lascivo regnas per prata meatu
75semper et adsiduis inroras flatibus annum,
respice Nympharum coetus et celsa Tonantis
germina per nostros dignantia ludere campos.
nunc adsis faveasque, precor; nunc omnia fetu
pubescant virgulta velis, ut fertilis Hybla
80invideat vincique suos non abnuat hortos.
quidquid turiferis spirat Panchaia silvis,
quidquid odoratus longe blanditur Hydaspes,
quidquid ab extremis ales longæva colonis
colligit optato repetens exordia leto,
85in venas disperge meas et flamine largo
rura fove. merear divino pollice carpi
et nostris cupiant ornari numina sertis.’
Dixerat; ille novo madidantes nectare pennas
concutit et glæbas fecundo rore maritat,
90quaque volat vernus sequitur rubor; omnis in herbas
turget humus medioque patent convexa sereno.
sanguineo splendore rosas, vaccinia nigro
imbuit et dulci violas ferrugine pingit.
Parthica quæ tantis variantur cingula gemmis
95regales vinctura sinus? quæ vellera tantum
ditibus Assyrii spumis fucantur æni?
non tales volucer pandit Iunonius alas,
nec sic innumeros arcu mutante colores
incipiens redimitur hiems, cum tramite flexo
100semita discretis interviret umida nimbis.
Forma loci superat flores: curvata tumore
parvo planities et mollibus edita clivis
creverat in collem; vivo de pumice fontes
roscida mobilibus lambebant gramina rivis,
105silvaque torrentes ramorum frigore soles
temperat et medio brumam sibi vindicat æstu:
apta fretis abies, bellis accommoda cornus,
quercus amica Iovi, tumulos tectura cupressus,
ilex plena favis, venturi præscia laurus;
110fluctuat hic denso crispata cacumine buxus,
hic hederæ serpunt, hic pampinus induit ulmos.
haud procul inde lacus (Pergum dixere Sicani)
panditur et nemorum frondoso margine cinctus
vicinis pallescit aquis: admittit in altum
115cernentes oculos et late pervius umor
ducit inoffensos liquido sub flumine visus
imaque perspicui prodit secreta profundi,
huc elapsa cohors gaudet per florida rura.
Hortatur Cytherea legant. ‘nunc ite, sorores.
120dum matutinis præsudat solibus ær,
dum meus umectat flaventes Lucifer agros
roranti prævectus equo.’ sic fata doloris
carpit signa sui. varios tum cetera saltus
invasere cohors: credas examina fundi
125Hyblæum raptura thymum, cum cerea reges
castra movent fagique cava dimissus ab alvo
mellifer electis exercitus obstrepit herbis.
pratorum spoliatur honos: hæc lilia fuscis
intexit violis; hanc mollis amaracus ornat;
130hæc graditur stellata rosis, hæc alba ligustris.
te quoque, flebilibus mærens Hyacinthe figuris,
Narcissumque metunt, nunc inclita germina veris,
præstantes olim pueros: tu natus Amyclis,
hunc Helicon genuit; disci te perculit error,
135hunc fontis decepit amor; te fronte retusa
Delius, hunc fracta Cephisus harundine luget.
Æstuat ante alias avido fervore legendi
frugiferæ spes una deæ: nunc vimine texto
ridentes calathos spoliis agrestibus implet;
140nunc sociat flores seseque ignara coronat,
augurium fatale tori, quin ipsa tubarum
armorumque potens dextram, qua fortia turbat
agmina, qua stabiles portas et moenia vellit,
iam levibus laxat studiis hastamque reponit
145insuetisque docet galeam mitescere sertis;
ferratus lascivit apex horrorque recessit
Martius et cristæ pacato fulgure vernant.
nec, quæ Parthenium canibus scrutatur odorem,
aspernata choros libertatemque comarum
150iniecta voluit tantum frenare corona.
Talia virgineo passim dum more geruntur,
ecce repens mugire fragor, confligere turres
pronaque vibratis radicibus oppida verti.
causa latet; dubios agnovit sola tumultus
155diva Paphi mixtoque metu perterrita gaudet.
iamque per anfractus animarum rector opacos
sub terris quærebat iter gravibusque gementem
Enceladum calcabat equis: inmania findunt
membra rotæ pressaque Gigas cervice laborat
160Sicaniam cum Dite ferens temptatque moveri
debilis et fessis serpentibus impedit axem:
fumida sulphureo prælabitur orbita dorso.
ac velut occultus securum pergit in hostem
miles et effossi subter fundamina campi
165transilit inclusos arcano limite muros
turbaque deceptas victrix erumpit in arces
terrigenas imitata viros: sic tertius heres
Saturni latebrosa vagis rimatur habenis
devia, fraternum cupiens exire sub orbem.
170ianua nulla patet; prohibebant undique rupes
oppositæ duraque deum compage tenebant:
non tulit ille moras indignatusque trabali
saxa ferit sceptro. Siculæ sonuere cavernæ;
turbatur Lipare; stupuit fornace relicta
175Mulciber et trepidus deiecit fulmina Cyclops.
audiit et si quem glacies Alpina coercet
et qui te, Latiis nondum præcincte tropæis
Thybri, natat missamque Pado qui remigat alnum.
Sic, cum Thessaliam scopulis inclusa teneret
180Peneo stagnante palus et mersa negaret
arva coli, trifida Neptunus cuspide montes
impulit adversos: tunc forti saucius ictu
dissiluit gelido vertex Ossæus Olympo;
carceribus laxantur aquæ factoque meatu
185redduntur fluviusque mari tellusque colonis,
Postquam victa manu duros Trinacria nexus
solvit et inmenso late discessit hiatu,
adparet subitus cælo timor; astra viarum
mutavere fidem; vetito se proluit Arctos
190æquore; præcipitat pigrum formido Booten;
horruit Orion, audito palluit Atlas
hinnitu: rutilos obseurat anhelitus axes
discolor et longa solitos caligine pasci
terruit orbis equos; pressis hæsere lupatis
195attoniti meliore polo rursusque verendum
in chaos obliquo certant temone reverti.
mox ubi pulsato senserunt verbera tergo
et solem didicere pati, torrentius amne
hiberno tortaque ruunt pernicius hasta:
200quantum non iaculum Parthi, non impetus Austri,
non leve sollicitæ mentis discurrit acumen.
sanguine frena calent; corrumpit spiritus auras
letifer; infectæ spumis vitiantur harenæ.
Diffugiunt Nymphæ: rapitur Proserpina curru
205imploratque deas. iam Gorgonis ora revelat
Pallas et intento festinat Delia telo
nec patruo cedunt; stimulat communis in arma
virginitas crimenque feri raptoris acerbat.
ille velut stabuli decus armentique iuvencam
210cum leo possedit nudataque viscera fodit
unguibus et rabiem totos exegit in armos:
stat crassa turpis sanie nodosque iubarum
excutit et viles pastorum despicit iras.
‘Ignavi domitor vulgi, deterrime fratrum,’
215Pallas ait ‘quæ te stimulis facibusque profanis
Eumenides movere? tua cur sede relicta
audes Tartareis cælum incestare quadrigis?
sunt tibi deformes Diræ, sunt altera Lethes
numina, sunt tristes Furiæ, te coniuge dignæ.
220fratris linque domos, alienam desere sortem;
nocte tua contentus abi. quid viva sepultis
admisces? nostrum quid proteris advena mundum?’
Talia vociferans avidos transire minaci
cornipedes umbone ferit clipeique retardat
225obice Gorgoneisque premens adsibilat hydris
prætentaque operit crista; libratur in ictum
fraxinus et nigros inluminat obvia currus
missaque pæne foret, ni Iuppiter æthere summo
pacificas rubri torsisset fulminis alas
230confessus socerum: nimbis hymenæus hiulcis
intonat et testes firmant conubia flammæ.
Invitæ cessere deæ. compescuit arcum
cum gemitu talesque dedit Latonia voces:
‘Sis memor o longumque vale, reverentiapatris
235obstitit auxilio, nec nos defendere contra
possumus: imperio vinci maiore fatemur.
in te coniurat genitor populoque silenti
traderis, heu! cupidas non adspectura sorores
æqualemque chorum. quæ te fortuna supernis
240abstulit et tanto damnavit sidera luctu?
iam neque Partheniis innectere retia lustris
nec pharetram gestare libet: securus ubique
spumet aper sævique fremant impune leones.
te iuga Taygeti, posito te Mænala flebunt
245venatu mæstoque diu lugebere Cyntho.
Delphica quin etiam fratris delubra tacebunt.’
Interea volucri fertur Proserpina curru
cæsariem diffusa Noto planctuque lacertos
verberat et questus ad nubila tendit inanes:
250‘Cur non torsisti manibus fabricata Cyclopum
in nos tela, pater? sic me crudelibus umbris
tradere, sic toto placuit depellere mundo?
nullane te flectit pietas nihilumque paternæ
mentis inest? tantas quo crimine movimus iras?
255non ego, cum rapido sæviret Phlegra tumultu,
signa deis adversa tuli; non robore nostro
Ossa pruinosum vexit glacialis Olympum.
quod conata nefas aut cuius conscia culpæ
exul ad inmanes Erebi detrudor hiatus?
260o fortunatas alii quascumque tulere
raptores! saltem communi sole fruuntur.
sed mihi virginitas pariter cælumque negatur,
eripitur cum luce pudor, terrisque relictis
servitum Stygio ducor captiva tyranno.
265o male dilecti flores despectaque matris
consilia! o Veneris deprensæ serius artes!
mater, io! seu te Phrygiis in vallibus Idæ
Mygdonio buxus circumsonat horrida cantu,
seu tu sanguineis ululantia Dindyma Gallis
270incolis et strictos Curetum respicis enses:
exitio succurre meo! compesce furentem!
comprime ferales torvi prædonis habenas!’
Talibus ille ferox dictis fletuque decoro
vincitur et primi suspiria sensit amoris.
275tunc ferrugineo lacrimas deterget amictu
et placida mæstum solatur voce dolorem:
‘Desine funestis animum, Proserpina, curis
et vano vexare metu. maiora dabuntur
sceptra nec indigni tædas patiere mariti.
280ille ego Saturni proles, cui machina rerum
servit et inmensum tendit per inane potestas.
amissum ne crede diem: sunt altera nobis
sidera, sunt orbes alii, lumenque videbis
purius Elysiumque magis mirabere solem
285cultoresque pios; illic pretiosior ætas,
aurea progenies habitat, semperque tenemus
quod superi meruere semel. nec mollia desunt
prata tibi; Zephyris illic melioribus halant
perpetui flores, quos nec tua protulit Henna,
290est etiam lucis arbor prædives opacis
fulgentes viridi ramos curvata metallo:
hæc tibi sacra datur fortunatumque tenebis
autumnum et fulvis semper ditabere pomis.
parva loquor: quidquid liquidus complectitur ær,
295quidquid alit tellus, quidquid maris æquora verrunt,
quod fluvii volvunt, quod nutrivere paludes,
cuncta tuis pariter cedent animalia regnis
lunari subiecta globo, qui septimus auras
ambit et æternis mortalia separat astris.
300sub tua purpurei venient vestigia reges
deposito luxu turba cum paupere mixti
(omnia mors æquat); tu damnatura nocentes,
tu requiem latura piis; te iudice sontes
improba cogentur vitæ commissa fateri.
305accipe Lethæo famulas cum gurgite Parcas,
sitque ratum quodcumque voles.’
Hæc fatus ovantes
exhortatur equos et Tartara mitior intrat.
conveniunt animæ, quantas violentior Auster
decutit arboribus frondes aut nubibus imbres
310colligit aut frangit fluctus aut torquet harenas;
cunctaque præcipiti stipantur sæcula cursu
insignem visura nurum. mox ipse serenus
ingreditur facili passus mollescere risu
dissimilisque sui. dominis intrantibus ingens
315adsurgit Phlegethon: flagrantibus hispida rivis
barba madet totoque fluunt incendia vultu.
Occurrunt properi lecta de plebe ministri:
pars altos revocant currus frenisque solutis
vertunt emeritos ad pascua nota iugales;
320pars aulæa tenent; alii prætexere ramis
limina et in thalamum cultas extollere vestes.
reginam casto cinxerunt agmine matres
Elysiæ teneroque levant sermone timores
et sparsos religant crines et vultibus addunt
325flammea sollicitum pudorem.
Pallida lætatur regio gentesque sepultæ
luxuriant epulisque vacant genialibus umbræ.
grata coronati peragunt convivia Manes;
rumpunt insoliti tenebrosa silentia cantus;
330sedantur gemitus. Erebi se sponte relaxat
squalor et æternam patitur rarescere noctem,
urna nec incertas versat Minoia sortes.
verbera nulla sonant nulloque frementia luctu
impia dilatis respirant Tartara poenis:
335non rota suspensum præceps Ixiona torquet;
non aqua Tantaleis subducitur invida labris.
solvitur Ixion et Tantalus invenit undas
et Tityos tandem spatiosos erigit artus
squalentisque novem detexit iugera campi
340(tantus erat), laterisque piger sulcator opaci
invitus trahitur lasso de pectore vultur
abreptasque dolet iam non sibi crescere fibras.
Oblitæ scelerum formidatique furoris
Eumenides cratera parant et vina feroci
345crine bibunt flexisque minis iam lene canentes
extendunt socios ad pocula plena cerastas
et festas alio succendunt lumine tædas.
tunc et pestiferi pacatum flumen Averni
innocuæ transistis, aves, flatumque repressit
350Amsanctus: fixo tacuit torrente vorago.
tunc Acheronteos mutato gurgite fontes
lacte novo tumuisse ferunt, hederisque virentem
Cocyton dulci perhibent undasse Lyæo.
stamina nec rumpit Lachesis; nec turbida sacris
355obstrepitant lamenta choris. mors nulla vagatur
in terris, nullique rogum planxere parentes.
navita non moritur fluctu, non cuspide miles;
oppida funerei pollent inmunia leti,
impexamque senex velavit harundine frontem
360portitor et vacuos egit cum carmine remos.
Iam suus inferno processerat Hesperus orbi:
ducitur in thalamum virgo. stat pronuba iuxta
stellantes Nox picta sinus tangensque cubile
omina perpetuo genitalia foedere sancit;
365exultant cum voce pii Ditisque sub aula
talia pervigili sumunt exordia plausu:
‘Nostra potens Iuno tuque o germane Tonantis
et gener, unanimi consortia discite somni
mutuaque alternis innectite vota lacertis.
370iam felix oritur proles; iam læta futuros
expectat Natura deos. nova numina rebus
addite et optatos Cereri proferte nepotes.’
Not yet had bright day with herald beams struck the waves of the Ionian main; the light of dawn shimmered on the waters and the straying brilliance flickered over the deep blue sea. And now bold Proserpine, forgetful of her mother’s jealous care and tempted by the wiles of Venus, seeks the stream-fed vale. Such was the Fates’ decree. Thrice did the doors sound a warning note as the hinges turned; thrice did prophetic Aetna rumble mournfully with awful thunders. But her can no portent, no omen detain. The sister goddesses bore her company.
First goes Venus exulting in her trickery and inspired by her great mission. In her heart she takes account of the coming rape; soon she will rule dread Chaos, soon, Dis once subdued, she will lead the subject ghosts. Her hair, parted into many locks, is braided round her head and secured by a Cyprian pin, and a brooch cunningly fabricated by her spouse Vulcan supports her cloak thick studded with purple jewels.
Behind her hasten Diana, fair queen of Arcadian Lycaeus, and Pallas who, with her spear, protects the citadel of Athens — virgins both; Pallas, cruel goddess of war, Diana, bane of wild creatures. On her burnished helmet the Triton-born goddess wore a carved figure of Typhon, the upper part of his body lifeless, the lower limbs yet writhing, part dead, part quick. Her terrible spear, piercing the clouds as she brandished it, resembled a tree; only the Gorgon’s hissing neck she hid in the spread of her glittering cloak. But mild was Diana’s gaze and very like her brother looked she; Phoebus’ own one had thought her cheeks and eyes, her sex alone disclosed the difference. Her shining arms were bare, her straying locks fluttered in the gentle breeze, and the chord of her unstrung bow hung idle, her arrows slung behind her back. Her Cretan tunic, gathered with girdles twain, flows down to her knees, and on her waving dress Delos wanders and stretches surrounded by a golden sea.
Between the two Ceres’ child, now her mother’s pride, so soon to be her sorrow, treads the grass with equal pace, their equal, too, in stature and beauty; Pallas you might have thought her, had she carried a shield, Diana, if a javelin. A brooch of polished jasper secured her girded dress. Never did art give happier issue to the shuttle’s skill; never was cloth so beautifully made nor embroidery so life-like. In it she had worked the birth of the sun from the seed of Hyperion, the birth, too, of the Moon, though diverse was her shape — of sun and moon that bring the dawning and the night. Tethys affords them a cradle and soothes in her bosom their infant sobs; the rosy light of her foster-children irradiates her dark blue plains. On her right shoulder she carried the infant Titan, too young as yet to vex with his light, and his encircling beams not grown; he is pictured as more gentle in those tender years, and from his mouth issues a soft flame that accompanies his infant cries. The Moon, his sister carried on Tethys’ left shoulder, sucks the milk of that bright breast, her forehead marked with a little horn.
Such is the wonder of Proserpine’s dress. The Naiads bear her company and on either side crowd around her, those who haunt thy streams, Crinisus, and Pantagia’s rocky torrent and Gela’s who gives his name to the city; those whom Camerina, the unmoved, nurtures in her shallow marshes, whose home is Arethusa’s flood or the stream of Alpheus, her foreign lover; tallest of their company is Cyane. So move they as the beauteous band of Amazons, brandishing their moon-shaped shields what time the maiden warrior Hippolyte, after laying waste the regions of the north, leads home her fair army after battle, whether they have o’erthrown the yellow-haired Getae or cloven frozen Tanais with the axe of their native Thermodon; or as the Lydian Nymphs celebrate the festivals of Bacchus — the Nymphs whose sire was Hermus along whose banks they course, splashed with his golden waters: the river-god rejoices in his cavern home and pours forth the flooding urn with generous hand.
Henna, mother of blossoms, had espied the goddess’ company from her grassy summit and thus addressed Zephyrus, lurking in the winding vale: "Gracious father of the spring, thou who ever rulest over my meads with errant breeze and bringest rain upon the summer lands with thine unceasing breath, behold this company of Nymphs and Jove’s tall daughters who deign to sport them in my meadows. Be present to bless, I pray. Grant that now all the trees be thick with newly-grown fruit, that fertile Hybla may be jealous and admit her paradise surpassed. All the sweet airs of Panchaea’s incense-bearing woods, all the honied odours of Hydaspes’ distant stream, all the spices which from the furthest fields the long-lived Phoenix gathers, seeking new birth from wished for death — spread thou all these through my veins and with generous breath refresh my country. May I be worthy to be plundered by divine fingers and goddesses seek to be decked with my garlands."
So spake she, and Zephyrus shook his wings adrip with fresh nectar and drenches the ground with their life-giving dew. Wheresoe’er he flies spring’s brilliance follows. The fields grow lush with verdure and heaven’s dome shines cloudless above them. He paints the bright roses red, the hyacinths blue and the sweet violets purple. What girdles of Babylon, meet cincture of a royal breast, are adorned with such varied jewels? What fleece so dyed in the rich juice of the murex where stand the brazen towers of Tyre? Not the wings of Juno’s own bird display such colouring. Not thus do the many-changing hues of the rainbow span young winter’s sky when in curved arch its rainy path glows green amid the parting clouds.
Even more lovely than the flowers is the country. The plain, with gentle swell and gradual slopes, rose into a hill; issuing from the living rock gushing streams bedewed their grassy banks. With the shade of its branches a wood tempers the sun’s fierce heat and at summer’s height makes for itself the cold of winter. There grows the pine, useful for seafaring, the cornel-tree for weapons of war, the oak, friendly to Jove, the cypress, sentinel of graves, the holm filled with honeycombs, and the laurel foreknowing of the future; here the box-tree waves its thick crown of leaves, here creeps the ivy, here the vine clothes the elm. Not far from here lies a lake called by the Sicani Pergus, girt with a cincture of leafy woods close around its pallid waters. Deep down therein the eye of whoso would can see, and the everywhere transparent water invites an untrammeled gaze into its oozy depths and betrays the uttermost secrets of its pellucid gulfs. Hither came their company well pleased with the flowery climb.
Venus bids them gather flowers. “Come, sisters, while yet the morning sun shines through the moist air, and while Lucifer, my harbinger of dawn, yet drives his dewy steeds and waters the bright field.” So spake she and gathered the flower that testified to her own woe. Her companions ranged the various vales. You could have believed a swarm of bees was on the wing, eager to gather its sweetness from Hyblaean thyme, where the king bees lead out their wax-housed armies and the honey-bearing host, issuing from the beech-tree’s hollow bole, buzzes around its favourite flowers. The meadows are despoiled of their glory; this goddess weaves lilies with dark violets, another decks herself with pliant marjoram, a third steps forth rose-crowned, another wreathed with white privet. Thee also, Hyacinthus, they gather, thy flower inscribed with woe, and Narcissus too — once lovely boys, now the pride of flowering spring. Thou, Hyacinthus, wert born at Amyclae, Narcissus was Helicon’s child; thee the errant discus slew; him love of his stream-reflected face beguiled; for thee weeps Delos’ god with sorrow-weighted brow; for him Cephisus with his broken reeds.
But beyond her fellows she, the one hope of the corn-bearing goddess, burned with a fierce desire to gather flowers. Now she fills with the spoil of the fields her laughing baskets, osier-woven; now she twines a wreath of flowers and crowns herself therewith, little seeing in this a foreshadowing of the marriage fate holds in store for her. E’en Pallas herself, goddess of the trumpets and of the weapons of war, devotes to gentler pursuits the hand wherewith she o’erwhelms the host of battle and throws down stout gates and city walls. She lays aside her spear and wreaths her helmet with soft flowers — strange aureole! The iron peak is gay, o’ershadowed the fierce martial glint, and the plumes, erstwhile levin bolts, now nod with blossoms. Nor does Diana, who scours Mount Parthenius with her keen-scented hounds, disdain this company but would fain bind her free-flowing tresses with a flowery crown.
But while the maidens so disport themselves, wandering through the fields, a sudden roar is heard, towers crash and towns, shaken to their foundations, totter and fall. None knows whence comes the tumult; Paphus’ goddess alone recognized the sound that set her companions in amaze, and fear mixed with joy fills her heart. For now the king of souls was pricking his way through the dim labyrinth of the underworld and crushing Enceladus, groaning beneath the weight of his massy steeds. His chariot-wheels severed the monstrous limbs, and the giant struggles, bearing Sicily along with Pluto on his burdened neck, and feebly essays to move and entangle the wheels with his weary serpents; still o’er his blazing back passes the smoking chariot. And as sappers seek to issue forth upon their unsuspecting enemy and, following a minèd path beneath the foundations of the tunnelled field, pass unmarked beyond the foe-infested walls of the city to break out, a victorious party, into the citadel of the outwitted enemy, seeming sprung from earth, even so Saturn’s third son scours the devious darkness whithersoever his team hurries him, all eager to come forth beneath his brother’s sky. No door lies open for him; rocks bar his egress on every side and detain the god in their escapeless prison. He brooked not the delay but wrathfully smote the crags with his beam-like staff. Sicily’s caverns thundered, Lipare’s isle was confounded, Vulcan left his forge in amaze and the Cyclops let drop their thunderbolts in fear. The pent-up denizens of the frozen Alps heard the uproar and he who then swam thy wave, father Tiber, thy brows not as yet graced with the crown of Italy’s triumphs; there heard it he who rows his bark down Padus’ stream.
So when the rock-encircled lake, ere Peneus’ wave rolled seaward, covered all Thessaly and allowed not its submerged fields to be tilled, Neptune smote the imprisoning mountain with his trident. Then did the peak of Ossa, riven with the mighty flow, spring apart from snowy Olympus; a passage was made and the waters were released, whereby the sea won back her feeding streams and the husbandman his fields.
When Trinacria beneath Pluto’s stroke loosed her rocky bonds and yawned wide with cavernous cleft, sudden fear seized upon the sky. The stars deserted their accustomed courses; the Bear bathed him in forbidden Ocean; terror hurried sluggish Boötes to his setting; Orion trembled. Atlas paled as he heard the neighing coursers; their smoky breath obscures the bright heavens and the sun’s orb affrighted them, so long fed on darkness. They stood biting the curb astonied at the brighter air, and struggle to turn the chariot and hurry back to dread Chaos. But soon, when they felt the lash on their backs and learned to bear the sun’s brightness, they gallop on more rapidly than a winter torrent and more fleet than the hurtling spear; swifter than the Parthian’s dart, the south wind’s fury or nimble thought of anxious mind. Their bits are warm with blood, their death-bringing breath infects the air, the polluted dust is poisoned with their foam.
The Nymphs fly away in all directions; Proserpine is hurried away in the chariot, imploring aid of the goddesses. Now Pallas unveils the Gorgon’s head, Diana strings her bow and hastes to help. Neither yields to her uncle’s violence; a common virginity compels them to fight and engages them at the crime of the fierce ravisher. Pluto is like a lion when he has seized upon a heifer, the pride of the stall and the herd, and has torn with his claws the defenceless flesh and has sated his fury on all its limbs, and so stands all befouled with clotted blood and shakes his tangled mane and scorns the shepherds’ feeble rage.
"Lord of the strengthless dead," cries Pallas, "wickedest of thy brothers, what Furies have stirred thee with their goads and accursed torches? Why hast thou left thy seat and how darest thou pollute the upper world with thy hellish team? Thou hast the hideous Curses, the other deities of Hell, the dread Furies — any of them would be a worthy spouse for thee. Quit thy brother’s realm, begone from the kingdom allotted to another. Get thee hence; let thine own night suffice thee. Why mix the quick with the dead? Why treadest thou our world, an unwelcome visitant?"
So exclaiming she smote with her threatening shield the horses who sought to advance and barred their way with the bulk of her targe, thrusting them back with the hissing snake-hair of Medusa’s head and o’ershadowing them with its outstretched plumes. She poised for throwing her shaft of ash whose radiance met and illumed Pluto’s black chariot. Almost had she cast it had not Jove from heaven’s height hurled his red thunderbolt on peaceful wings, acknowledging his new son; mid the riven clouds thunders the marriage-paean and attesting fires confirm the union.
All unwilling the goddesses yielded, and weeping Diana laid aside her weapons and thus spake: "Fare well, a long farewell; forget us not. Reverence for our sire forbade our help, and against his will we cannot defend thee. We acknowledge defeat by a power greater than our own. The Father hath conspired against thee and betrayed thee to the realms of silence, no more, alas! to behold the sisters and companions who crave sight of thee. What fate hath reft thee from the upper air and condemned the heavens to so deep mourning? Now no more can we rejoice to set Parthenius’ steep with nets nor wear the quiver; at large as he lists let the wild boar raven and the lion roar savagely with none to say him nay. Thee, Taygetus’ crest, thee Maenalus’ height shall weep, their hunting laid aside. Long shalt thou be food for weeping on sorrowing Cynthus’ slopes. E’en my brother’s shrine at Delphi shall speak no more."
Meanwhile Proserpine is borne away in the winged car, her hair streaming before the wind, beating her arms in lamentation and calling in vain remonstrance to the clouds: “Why hast thou not hurled at me, father, bolts forged by the Cyclopes’ hands? Was this thy will to deliver thy daughter to the cruel shades and drive her for ever from this world? Does love move thee not at all? Hast thou nothing of a father’s feeling? What ill deed of mine has stirred such anger in thee? When Phlegra raged with war’s madness I bore no standard against the gods; ’twas through no strength of mine that ice-bound Ossa supported frozen Olympus. For attempt of what crime, for complicity with what guilt, am I thrust down in banishment to the bottomless pit of Hell? Happy girls whom other ravishers have stolen; they at least enjoy the general light of day, while I, together with my virginity, lose the air of heaven; stolen from me alike is innocence and daylight. Needs must I quit this world and be led a captive bride to serve Hell’s tyrant. Ye flowers that I loved in so evil an hour, oh, why did I scorn my mother’s warning? Too late did I detect the wiles of Venus. Mother, my mother, whether in the vales of Phrygian Ida the dread pipe sounds about thine ears with Lydian strains, or thou hauntest mount Dindymus, ahowl with self-mutilated Galli, and beholdest the naked swords of the Curetes, aid me in my bitter need; frustrate Pluto’s mad lust and stay the funereal reins of my fierce ravisher.”
Her words and those becoming tears mastered e’en that rude heart as Pluto first learned to feel love’s longings. The tears he wiped away with his murky cloak, quieting her sad grief with these soothing words: “Cease, Proserpine, to vex thy heart with gloomy cares and causeless fear. A prouder sceptre shall be thine, nor shalt thou face marriage with a husband unworthy of thee. I am that scion of Saturn whose will the framework of the world obeys, whose power stretches through the limitless void. Think not thou hast lost the light of day; other stars are mine and other courses; a purer light shalt thou see and wonder rather at Elysium’s sun and blessed habitants. There a richer age, a golden race has its home, and we possess for ever what men win but once. Soft meads shall fail thee not, and ever-blooming flowers, such as thy Henna ne’er produced, breathe to gentle zephyrs. There is, moreover, a precious tree in the leafy groves whose curving branches gleam with living ore — a tree consecrate to thee. Thou shalt be queen of blessed autumn and ever enriched with golden fruit. Nay more; whatsoe’er the limpid air embraces, whatever earth nourishes, the salt seas sweep, the rivers roll, or the marsh-lands feed, all living things alike shall yield them to thy sway, all, I say, that dwell beneath the orb of the moon that is the seventh of the planets and in its ethereal journey separates things mortal from the deathless stars. To thy feet shall come purple-clothed kings, stripped of their pomp, and mingling with the unmoneyed throng; for death renders all equal. Thou shalt give doom to the guilty and rest to the virtuous. Before thy judgement-throne the wicked must confess the crimes of their evil lives. Lethe’s stream shall obey thee and the Fates be thy handmaidens. Be thy will done.”
So speaking he urges on his triumphant steeds and enters Tartarus in gentler wise. The shades assemble, thick as the leaves the stormy south wind shakes down from the trees, dense as the rain-clouds it masses, countless as the billows it curls or the sand it scatters. The dead of every age throng with hastening foot to see so illustrious a bride. Soon Pluto himself enters with joyful mien submitting him to the softening influence of pleasant laughter, all unlike his former self. At the incoming of his lord and mistress huge Phlegethon rises; his bristly beard is wet with burning streams and flames dart all o’er his countenance.
There hasten to greet the pair slaves chosen from out the number. Some put away the lofty chariot, take the bits from the mouths of the toil-freed horses and turn them to graze in their accustomed pastures. Some hold back the curtains, others decorate the doorway with branches and fasten broidered hangings in the bridal chamber. In chaste bands the matrons of Elysium throng their queen, and with sweet converse banish her fear; they gather and braid her disheveled hair and place the wedding-veil upon her head to hide her troubled blushes.
Joy fills that grey land, the buried throng holds high festival, and the ghosts sport them at the nuptial feast. The flower-crowned Manes sit at a joyous banquet and unwonted song breaks the gloomy silence; wailing is hushed. Hell’s murk gladly disperses and suffers the darkness of age-long night to grow less impenetrable. Minos’ urn of judgement throws no ambiguous lots; the sound of blows is still, for punishments are intermitted. No longer is Ixion tortured by the ever-turning wheel to which he is bound; from Tantalus’ lips no more is the flying water withdrawn. Ixion is freed, Tantalus reaches the stream, and Tityus at length straightens out his huge limbs and uncovers nine acresa of foul ground (such was his large size), and the vulture, that burrows lazily into the dark side, is dragged off from his wearied breast sore against its will, lamenting that no longer is the devoured flesh renewed for it.
The Furies, forgetful of crimes and dread wrath, make ready the wine-bowl and drink therefrom for all their snaky hair. Nay, with gentle song, their threatenings are laid aside, they stretch out their snakes to the full cups and kindle the festal torches with unusual flame. Then, too, the birds flew unhurt over the now appeasèd stream of poisonous Avernus, and Lake Amsanctus checked his deadly exhalations; the stream was stayed and the whirlpool grew still. They say that then the springs of Acheron were changed and welled up with new milk, while Cocytus, enwreathed with ivy, flowed along in streams of sweet wine. Lachesis slit not the thread of life nor did funeral dirge sound in challenge to the holy chant. Death walked not on earth and no parents wept beside the funeral pyre. The wave brought not destruction to the sailor nor the spear to the warrior. Cities flourished and knew not Death, the destroyer. Charon crowned his uncombed locks with sedge and singing plied his weightless oars.
And now its own evening-star had shone upon the underworld. The maiden is led into the bridal chamber. Night, clad in starry raiment, stands by her as her brideswoman; she touches the couch and blesses the union of marriage with a bond that cannot be broken. The blessed shades raise their voices and beneath the palace roof of Dis thus being their song with sleepless acclaim: "Proserpine, queen of our realm, and thou, Pluto, at once the brother and the son-in‑law of Jove, the Thunderer, be it yours to know the alliance of conjoined sleep; pledge mutual troth as ye hold each other in intertwining arms. Happy offspring shall be yours; joyous Nature awaits gods yet to be born. Give the world a new divinity and Ceres the grandchildren she longs for."
Iuppiter interea cinctam Thaumantida nimbis
ire iubet totoque deos arcessere mundo.
ilia colorato Zephyros illapsa volatu
numina conclamat pelagi Nymphasque morantes
5increpat et Fluvios umentibus evocat antris.
ancipites trepidique ruunt, quæ causa quietos
excierit, tanto quæ res agitanda tumultu.
ut patuit stellata domus, considere iussi,
nec confusus honor: cælestibus ordine sedes
10prima datur; tractum proceres tenuere secundum
æquorei, placidus Nereus reverendaque Phorci
canities; Glaucum series extrema biformem
accipit et certo mansurum Protea vultu.
nec non et senibus Fluviis concessa sedendi
15gloria; plebeio stat cetera more iuventus,
mille Amnes. liquidis incumbunt patribus udæ
Naides et taciti mirantur sidera Fauni.
Tum gravis ex alto genitor sic orsus Olympo:
‘abduxere meas iterum mortalia curas
20iam pridem neglecta mihi, Saturnia postquam
otia et ignavi senium cognovimus ævi;
sopitosque diu populos torpore paterno
sollicitæ placuit stimulis impellere vitæ,
incultis ne sponte seges grandesceret arvis,
25undaret neu silva favis, neu vina tumerent
fontibus et totæ fremerent in pocula ripæ
(haud equidem invideo — neque enim livescere fas est
vel nocuisse deos — sed, quod dissuasor honesti
luxus et humanas oblimat copia mentes),
30provocet ut segnes animos rerumque remotas
ingeniosa vias paulatim exploret egestas
utque artes pariat sollertia, nutriat usus.
Nunc mihi cum magnis instat Natura querellis
humanum relevare genus, durumque tyrannu
35inmitemque vocat regnataque sæcula patri
commemorat parcumque Iovem se divite clamat,
qui campos horrere situ dumisque repleri
rura velim, nullis exornem fructibus annum.
se iam, quæ genetrix mortalibus ante fuisset,
40in diræ subito mores transisse novercæ;
‘quid mentem traxisse polo, quid profuit altum
erexisse caput, pecudum si more pererrant
avia, si frangunt communia pabula glandes?
hæcine vita iuvat silvestribus abdita 1 lustris,
45indiscreta feris?’ tales cum sæpe parentis
pertulerim questus, tandem clementior orbi
Chaonio statui gentes avertere victu:
atque adeo Cererem, quæ nunc ignara malorum
verberat Idæos torva cum matre leones,
50per mare, per terras avido discurrere luctu
decretum, natæ donec lætata repertæ
indicio tribuat fruges, currusque feratur
nubibus ignotas populis sparsurus aristas
et iuga cærulei subeant Actæa dracones.
55quodsi quis Cereri raptorem prodere divum
audeat, imperii molem pacemque profundam
obtestor rerum, natus licet ille sororve
vel coniunx fuerit natarumve agminis una,
se licet ilia meo conceptam vertice iactet:
60sentiet iratum procul ægide, sentiet ictum
fulminis et genitum divina sorte pigebit
optabitque mori: tunc vulnere saucius ipsi
tradetur genero, passurus prodita regna,
et sciet an propriæ conspirent Tartara causæ.
65hoc sanctum; mansura fluant hoc ordine fata.’
dixit et horrendo concussit sidera motu.
At procul armisoni Cererem sub rupibus antri
securam placidamque diu iam certa peracti
terrebant simulacra mali, noctesque timorem
70ingeminant omnique perit Proserpina somno.
namque modo adversis invadi viscera telis,
nunc sibi mutatas horret nigrescere vestes,
nunc steriles mediis frondere penatibus ornos.
stabat præterea luco dilectior omni
75laurus, virgineos quondam quæ fronde pudica
umbrabat thalamos: hanc imo stipite cæsam
vidit et incomptos focdari pulvere ramos
quæsivitque nefas. Dryades dixere gementes
Tartarea Furias debellavisse bipenni.
80Sed tunc ipsa sui iam non ambagibus ullis
nuntia materno facies ingesta sopori:
namque videbatur tenebroso obtecta recessu
carceris et sævis Proserpina vincta catenis,
non qualem Siculis olim mandaverat arvis
85nec qualem roseis nuper convallibus Ætnæ
suspexere deæ: squalebat pulchrior auro
cæsaries et nox oculorum infecerat ignes
exhaustusque gelu pallet rubor, ille superbi
flammeus oris honos, et non cessura pruinis
90membra colorantur picei caligine regni.
ergo hanc ut dubio vix tandem agnoscere visu
evaluit: ‘cuius tot poenæ criminis?’ inquit
‘unde hæc informis macies? cui tanta potestas
in me sævitiæ? rigidi cur vincula ferri
95vix aptanda feris molles meruere lacerti?
tu mea, tu proles? an vana fallimur umbra?’
Ilia refert: ‘heu dira parens natæque peremptæ
immemor! heu fulvas animo transgressa leænas!
tantane te nostri tenuere oblivia? tantum
100unica despicior? certe Proserpina nomen
dulce tibi, tali quæ nunc, ut cernis, hiatu
suppliciis inclusa teror! tu sæva choreis
indulges? Phrygias vel nunc interstrepis urbes?
quodsi non omnem pepulisti pectore matrem,
105si tua nata, Ceres, et non me Caspia tigris
edidit, his, oro, miseram defende cavernis
inque superna refer, prohibent si fata reverti,
vel tantum visura veni.’
Sic fata trementes
tendere conatur palmas. vis improba ferri
110impedit et motæ somnum solvere catenæ.
obriguit visis; gaudet non vera fuisse;
complexu caruisse dolet. penetralibus amens
prosilit et tali compellat voce Cybeben:
‘lam non ulterius Phrygia tellure morabor,
115sancta parens: revocat tandem custodia cari
pignoris et cunctis obiecti fraudibus anni,
nec mihi Cyelopum quamvis extructa caminis
culmina fida satis, timeo ne fama latebras
prodiderit leviusque meum Trinacria celet
120depositum. terret nimium vulgata locorum
nobilitas. aliis sedes obscurior oris
exquirenda mihi; gemitu flammisque propinquis
Enceladi nequeunt umbracula nostra taceri.
somnia quin etiam variis infausta figuris
125sæpe monent, nullusque dies non triste minatur
augurium. quotiens flaventia serta comarum
sponte cadunt! quotiens exundat ab ubere sanguis!
larga vel invito prorumpunt flumina vultu
iniussæque manus mirantia pectora tundunt.
130si buxus inflare velim, ferale gemiscunt;
tympana si quatiam, planctus mihi tympana reddunt.
ah vereor, ne quid portendant omina veri!
hæ longæ nocuere moræ ’
‘Procul inrita venti
dicta ferant " subicit Cybele; " nec tanta Tonanti
135segnities, ut non pro pignore fulmina mittat.
i tamen et nullo turbata revertere casu.’
Hæc ubi, digreditur templis. sed nulla ruenti
mobilitas: tardos queritur non ire dracones
inmeritasque movens alterno verbere pennas
140Sicaniam quærit, cum necdum absconderit Idam.
cuncta pavet speratque nihil, sic æstuat ales,
quæ teneros humili fetus commiserit orno
adlatura cibos, et plurima cogitat absens:
ne gracilem ventus decusserit arbore nidum,
145ne furtum pateant homini, ne præda colubris.
Ut domus excubiis incustodita remotis
et resupinati neglecto cardine postes
flebilis et tacitæ species adparuit aulæ,
non expectato respectu cladis amictus
150conscidit et fractas cum crine avellit aristas.
hæserunt lacrimæ; nec vox aut spiritus oris
redditur, atque imis vibrat tremor ossa medullis;
succidui titubant gressus; foribusque reclusis,
dum vacuas sedes et desolata pererrat
155atria, semirutas confuso stamine telas
atque interceptas agnoscit pectinis artes.
divinus perit ille labor, spatiumque relictum
audax sacrilego supplebat aranea textu.
Nee deflet plangitve malum; tantum oscula telæ
160figit et abrumpit mutas in fila querellas:
attritosque manu radios proiectaque pensa
cunctaque virgineo sparsa oblectamina ludo
ceu natam pressat gremio; castumque cubile
desertosque toros et, sicubi sederat olim,
165perlegit: attonitus stabulo ceu pastor inani,
cui pecus aut rabies Poenorum inopina leonum
aut populatrices infestavere catervæ;
serus at ille redit vastataque pascua lustrans
non responsuros ciet imploratque iuvencos.
170Atque ibi secreta tectorum in parte iacentem
conspicit Electram, natæ quæ sedula nutrix
Oceani priscas inter notissima Nymphas.
par Cereri pietas; hæc post cunabula dulci
ferre sinu summoque Iovi deducere parvam
175sueverat et genibus ludentem aptare paternis.
hæc comes, hæc custos, hæc proxima mater haberi.
tunc laceras effusa comas et pulvere cano
sordida sidereæ raptus lugebat alumnæ.
Hanc adgressa Ceres, postquam suspiria tandem
180laxavit frenosque dolor: ‘quod cernimus’ inquit
‘excidium? cui præda feror? regnatne maritus
an cælum Titanes habent? quæ talia vivo
ausa Tonante manus? rupitne Typhoia cervix
Inarimen? fractane iugi compage Vesevi
185Alcyoneus Tyrrhena pedes per stagna cucurrit?
an vicina mihi quassatis faucibus Ætna
protulit Enceladum? nostros an forte penates
adpetiit centum Briareia turba lacertis?
heu, ubi nunc es, nata, mihi? quo, mille ministræ,
190quo, Cyane? volucres quæ vis Sirenas abegit?
hæcine vestra fides? sic fas aliena tueri
Contremuit nutrix, mærorque pudori
cedit, et adspectus miseræ non ferre parentis
emptum morte velit longumque inmota moratur
195auctorem dubium certumque expromere funus.
vix tamen hæc:
‘Acies utinam vesana Gigantum
hanc dederit cladem! levius communia tangunt.
sed divæ, multoque minus quod rere, sorores
in nostras (nimium!) coniuravere ruinas.
200insidias superum, cognatæ vulnera cernis
invidiæ. Phlegra nobis infensior æther.
Florebat tranquilla domus; nec limina virgo
linquere nec virides audebat visere saltus
præceptis obstricta tuis. telæ labor illi;
205Sirenes requies. sermonum gratia mecum,
mecum somnus erat cautique per atria ludi:
cum subito (dubium quonam monstrante latebras
rescierit) Cytherea venit suspectaque nobis
ne foret, hinc Phoeben comites, hinc Pallada iunxit.
210protinus effuso lætam se fingere risu
nec semel amplecti nomenque iterare sororis
et dura de matre queri, quæ tale recessu
maluerit damnare decus vetitamque dearum
colloquio patriis procul amandaverit astris.
215nostra rudis gaudere malis et nectare largo
instaurare dapes. nunc arma habitumque Dianæ
induitur digitisque attemptat mollibus arcum,
nunc crinita iubis galeam, laudante Minerva,
implet et ingentem clipeum gestare laborat.
220Prima Venus campos Ætnæaque rura maligno
ingerit adflatu. vicinos callida flores
ingeminat meritumque loci velut inscia quærit
nec credit, quod bruma rosas innoxia servet,
quod gelidi rubeant alieno germine menses
225verna nec iratum timeant virgulta Booten.
dum loca miratur, studio dum flagrat eundi,
persuadet; teneris heu lubrica moribus ætas!
quos ego nequidquam planctus, quas inrita fudi
ore preces! ruit ilia tamen confisa sororum
230præsidio; famulæ longo post ordine Nymphæ.
Itur in æterno vestitos gramine colles
et prima sub luce legunt, cum rore serenus
albet ager sparsosque bibunt violaria sucos.
sed postquam medio sol altior institit axi,
235ecce polum nox foeda rapit tremefactaque nutat
insula cornipedum pulsu strepituque rotarum.
nosse nec aurigam licuit: seu mortifer ille
seu Mors ipsa fuit. livor permanat in herbas;
deficiunt rivi; squalent rubigine prata
240et nihil adflatura vivit: pallere ligustra,
expirare rosas, decrescere lilia vidi.
ut rauco reduces tractu detorsit habenas,
nox sua prosequitur currum, lux redditur orbi.
Persephone nusquam. voto rediere peracto
245nec mansere deæ. mediis invenimus arvis
exanimem Cyanen: cervix redimita iacebat
et caligantes marcebant fronte coronæ.
adgredimur subito et casus scitamur eriles
(nam propior cladi steterat): quis vultus equorum?
250quis regat? ilia nihil, tacito sed læsa veneno
solvitur in laticem: subrepit crinibus umor;
liquitur in roremque pedes et brachia manant
nostraque mox lambit vestigia perspicuus fons.
discedunt aliæ. rapidis Acheloides alis
255sublatæ Siculi latus obsedere Pelori
accensæque malo iam non impune canoras
in pestem vertere lyras: vox blanda carinas
adligat; audito frenantur carmine remi.
sola domi luctu senium tractura relinquor.’
260Hæret adhuc suspensa Ceres et singula demens
ceu nondum transacta timet; mox lumina torquens
vultu ad cælicolas furiato pectore fertur.
arduus Hyrcana quatitur sic matre Niphates,
cuius Achæmenio regi ludibria natos
265advexit tremebundus eques: fremit ilia marito
mobilior Zephyro totamque virentibus iram
dispergit maculis timidumque hausura profundo
ore virum vitreæ tardatur imagine formæ.
Haud aliter toto genetrix bacchatur Olympo
270‘reddite "vociferans." non me vagus edidit amnis;
non Dryadum de plebe sumus. turrita Cybebe
me quoque Saturno genuit. quo iura deorum,
quo leges cecidere poli? quid vivere recte
proderit? en audet noti Cytherea pudoris
275ostentare suos post Lemnia vincula vultus!
hos animos bonus ille sopor castumque cubile
præbuit! amplexus hoc promeruere pudici!
nec mirum, si turpe nihil post talia ducit.
quid vos expertes thalami? tantumne relictus
280virginitatis honos? tantum mutata voluntas?
iam Veneri iunctæ, sociis raptoribus, itis?
o templis Scythiæ atque hominem sitientibus aris
utraque digna coli! tanti quæ causa furoris?
quam mea vel tenui dicto Proserpina læsit?
285scilicet aut caris pepulit te, Delia, silvis
aut tibi commissas rapuit, Tritonia, pugnas.
an gravis eloquio? vestros an forte petebat
importuna choros? atqui Trinacria longe,
esset ne vobis oneri, deserta colebat.
290quid latuisse iuvat? rabiem livoris acerbi
nulla potest placare quies.’
His increpat omnes
vocibus. ast illæ (prohibet sententia patris)
aut reticent aut nosse negant responsaque matri
dant lacrimas. quid agat? rursus se victa remittit
295inque humiles devecta preces:
‘Ignoscite, si quid
intumuit pietas, si quid flagrantius actum
quam miseros decuit. supplex miserandaque vestris
advolvor genibus: liceat cognoscere sortem:
hoc tantum liceat — certos habuisse dolores.
300scire peto, quæ forma mali; quamcumque dedistis
fortunam, sit nota: feram fatumque putabo,
non scelus. adspectum, precor, indulgete parenti;
non repetam. quæsita manu securus habeto
quisquis es; adfirmo prædam; desiste vereri.
305quodsi nos aliquo prævenit foedere raptor,
tu certe, Latona, refer; confessa Diana
forte tibi. nosti quid sit Lucina, quis horror
pro genitis et quantus amor, partusque tulisti
tu geminos: hæc una mihi. sic crine fruaris
310semper Apollineo, sic me felicior ævum mater agas.’
Largis tunc imbribus ora madescunt.
‘quid? tantum dignum fieri dignumque taceri?
hei mihi, discedunt omnes. quid vana moraris
ulterius? non bella palam cælestia sentis?
315quin potius natam pelago terrisque requiris?
accingar lustrare diem, per devia rerum
indefessa ferar. nulla cessabitur hora,
non requies, non somnus erit, dum pignus ademptum
inveniam, gremio quamvis mergatur Hiberæ
320Tethyos et Rubro iaceat vallata profundo.
non Rheni glacies, non me Riphæa tenebunt
frigora; non dubio Syrtis cunctabitur æstu.
stat finem penetrare Noti Boreæque nivalem
vestigare domum; primo calcabitur Atlas
325occasu facibusque meis lucebit Hydaspes.
impius errantem videat per rura, per urbes
luppiter; extincta satietur pælice Iuno.
insultate mihi, cælo regnate superbi,
ducite præclarum Cereris de stirpe triumphum!’
330Hæc fatur notæque iugis inlabitur Ætnæ
noctivago tædas informatura labori.
Lucus erat prope flumen Acin, quod Candida præfert
sæpe mari pulchroque secat Galatea natatu,
densus et innexis Ætnæa cacumina ramis
335qua licet usque tegens. illic posuisse cruentam
acgida captivamque pater post proelia prædam
advexisse datur. Phlegræis silva superbit
exuviis totumque nemus victoria vestit.
hic patuli rietus et prodigiosa Gigantum
340tergora dependent, et adhuc crudele minantur
adfixæ truncis facies, inmaniaque ossa
serpentum passim cumulis exanguibus albent,
et rigidæ multo suspirant fulmine pelles;
nullaque non magni iactat se nominis arbor:
345hæc centumgemini strictos Ægæonis enses
curvata vix fronde levat; liventibus ilia
exultat Coei spoliis; hæc arma Mimantis
sustinet; hos onerat ramos exutus Ophion.
altior at cunctis abies umbrosaque late
350ipsius Enceladi fumantia gestat opima,
summi terrigenum regis, caderetque gravata
pondere, ni lassam fulciret proxima quercus.
inde timor numenque loco, nemorisque senectæ
parcitur, ætheriisque nefas nocuisse tropæis.
355pascere nullus oves nec robora lædere Cyclops
audet et ipse fugit sacra Polyphemus ab umbra.
Non tamen hoc tardata Ceres, accenditur ultro
relligione loci vibratque infesta securim
ipsum etiam feritura Iovem: succidere pinus
360aut magis enodes dubitat prosternere cedros
exploratque habiles truncos rectique tenorem
stipitis et certo pertemptat brachia nisu.
sic, qui vecturus longinqua per æquora merces
molitur tellure ratem vitamque procellis
365obiectare parat, fagos metitur et alnos
et varium rudibus silvis accommodat usum:
quæ longa est, tumidis præbebit cornua velis;
quæ fortis, clavo potior; quæ lenta, favebit
remigio; stagni patiens aptanda carinæ.
370Tollebant geminæ capita inviolata cupressus
cæspite vicino: quales non rupibus Idæ
miratur Simois, quales non divite ripa
lambit Apollinei nemoris nutritor Orontes.
germanas adeo credas; sic frontibus æquis
375adstant et socio despectant vertice lucum.
hæ placuere faces, pernix invadit utramque
cincta sinus, exerta manus, armata bipenni
alternasque ferit totisque obnixa trementes
viribus impellit. pariter traxere ruinam
380et pariter posuere comas campoque recumbunt,
Faunorum Dryadumque dolor, complectitur ambas,
sicut erant, alteque levat retroque solutis
crinibus ascendit fastigia montis anheli
exuperatque æstus et nulli pervia saxa
385atque indignantes vestigia calcat harenas:
qualis pestiferas animare ad crimina taxos
torva Megæra ruit, Cadmi seu moenia poscat
sive Thyesteis properet sævire Mycenis:
dant tenebræ manesque locum plantisque resultant
390Tartara ferratis, donec Phlegethontis ad undam
constitit et plenos excepit lampade fluctus.
Postquam perventum scopuli flagrantis in ora,
protinus arsuras aversa fronte cupressus
faucibus iniecit mediis lateque cavernas
395texit et undantem flammarum obstruxit hiatum.
compresso mons igne tonat claususque laborat
Mulciber: obducti nequeunt exire vapores.
coniferi micuere apices crevitque favillis
Ætna no vis: strident admisso sulphure rami.
400tum, ne deficerent tantis erroribus, ignes
semper inocciduos insopitosque manere
iussit et arcano perfudit robora suco,
quo Phæthon inrorat equos, quo Luna iuvencos.
Iamque soporiferas nocturna silentia terris
405explicuere vices: laniato pectore longas
incohat ilia vias et sic ingressa profatur:
‘Non tales gestare tibi, Proserpina, tædas
sperabam; sed vota mihi communia matrum
et thalami festæque faces cæloque canendus
410ante oculos hymenæus erat. sic numina fatis
volvimur et nullo Lachesis discrimine sævit?
quam nuper sublimis eram quantisque procorum
cingebar studiis! quæ non mihi pignus ob unum
cedebat numerosa parens! tu prima voluptas,
415tu postrema mihi; per te fecunda ferebar.
o decus, o requies, o grata superbia matris,
qua gessi florente deam, qua sospite numquam
inferior Iunone fui: nunc squalida, vilis.
hoc placitum patri. cur autem adscribimus illum
420his lacrimis? ego te, fateor, crudelis ademi,
quæ te deserui solamque instantibus ultro
hostibus exposui. raucis secura fruebar
nimirum thiasis et læta sonantibus armis
iungebam Phrygios, cum tu raperere, leones,
425accipe quas merui poenas. en ora fatiscunt
vulneribus grandesque rubent in pectore sulci,
immemor en uterus crebro contunditur ictu.
Qua te parte poli, quo te sub cardine quæram?
quis monstrator erit? quæ me vestigia ducent?
430qui currus? ferus ipse quis est? terræne, marisne
incola? quæ volucrum deprendam signa rotarum?
ibo, ibo quocumque pedes, quocumque iubebit
casus; sic Venerem quærat deserta Dione.
Efficietne labor? rursus te, nata, licebit
435amplecti? manet ille decor, manet ille genarum
fulgor? an infelix talem fortasse videbo,
qualis nocte venis, qualem per somnia vidi?
’Sic ait et prima gressus molitur ab Ætna
exitiique reos flores ipsumque rapinæ
440detestata locum sequitur dispersa viarum
indicia et pleno rimatur lumine campos
inclinatque faces, omnis madet orbita fletu;
omnibus admugit, quocumque it in æquore, sulcis.
adnatat umbra fretis extremaque lucis imago
445Italiam Libyamque ferit: clarescit Etruscum
litus et accenso resplendent æquore Syrtes.
antra procul Scyllæa petit canibusque reductis
pars stupefacta silet, pars nondum exterrita latrat.
Meanwhile Jove bids cloud-girt Iris go gather the gods from the whole universe. She, outstripping the breezes in her rainbow flight, calls to the sea-deities, chides the Nymphs for their delay, and summons forth the river-gods from their moist caverns. Out they haste in doubt and fear what this disturbance of their peace may signify or what has caused so great an upheaval. The starry heaven is thrown open and the gods are bidden take their seats as merit, not chance, dictates. The first places are accorded to the heavenly powers, next come the ocean-deities, calm Nereus and grey-haired Phorcus, last twiform Glaucus and Proteus, for once of unvarying shape. The agèd river-gods, too, are privileged to take their seats; the other rivers, a thousand strong, stand as stands the youth of an earthly assembly. Dripping water-nymphs lean on their moist sires and Fauns in silence marvel at the stars.
Then the grave Father from his seat on high Olympus thus began: "Once more the affairs of men have won care from me, affairs long neglected since I looked upon the repose of Saturn’s reign and knew the torpor of that stagnant age, when I had fain urged the race of man, long sunk in lethargy by reason of my sire’s sluggish rule, with the goads of anxious life, whereby their crops should no more grow to maturity of their own accord in the untilled fields nor yet the forest trees drip with honey nor wine flow from springs nor every stream course sounding into cups. ’Twas not that I grudged their blessings — gods may not envy nor hurt — but because luxury is a foe to a godly life, and plenty dulls the minds of men; therefore I bade necessity, invention’s mother, provoke their sluggish spirits and little by little search out the hidden tracks of things; bade industry give birth to civilization and practice nourish it.
"Nature now with ceaseless complaint bids me succour the race of man, calls me cruel and implacable tyrant, calls to mind the centuries of my sire’s empery and dubs me miser of her riches, for that I would have the world a wilderness and the land covered with scrub and would beautify the year with no fruits. She complained that she, who was erstwhile the mother of living things, had suddenly taken upon her the hated guise of a stepmother. ’Of what avail that man derived his intelligence from above, that he has held up his head to heaven, if he wander like the beasts through trackless places, if with them he crushes acorns for food? Can such a life as this bring him happiness, hid in the forest glades, indistinguishable from the life of animals?’ Since I bore so often such complaints from the lips of mother Nature, at length I took pity on the world and decided to make man to cease from his oak-tree food; wherefore I have decreed that Ceres, who now, ignorant of her loss, lashes the lions of Mount Ida, accompanying her dread mother, should wander over sea and land in anxious grief, until, in her joy at finding the traces of her lost daughter, she grant man the gift of cornº and her chariot is borne aloft through the clouds to scatter among the peoples ears before unknown and the steel-blue serpents submit them to the Attic yoke.1 But if any of the gods dare inform Ceres who is the ravisher, I swear by the immensity of mine empire, by the firm-established peace of the world, be he son or sister, spouse or one of my band of daughters, vaunting her birth as from mine own head, that one shall feel afar the wrath of mine arms, the thunderbolt’s blow, and be sorry he was born a god and pray for death. Then, sore wounded, he shall be handed over to my son-in‑law, Pluto himself, for punishment in those regions he had fain betray. There he shall learn whether Hell is true to her own monarch’s cause. Such is my will; thus let the unchangeable fates fulfil my decree." He spake and shook the stars with his dread nod.
But, far from Sicily, no uncertain suspicions of the loss she had suffered alarmed Ceres, where long she had dwelt peaceful and secure beneath the rocky roof of the cave resounding with arms. Dreams doubled her dread and a vision of Proserpine lost troubled her every sleep. Now she dreams that an enemy’s spear is piercing her body, now (oh horror!) that her raiment is changed and is become black, now that the infecund ash is budding in the midst of her house. Moreover, there stood a laurel, loved above all the grove, that used with maiden leaf to o’ershadow the virgin bower of Proserpine. This she saw hewn down to the roots, its straggling branches fouled with dust, and when she asked the cause of this disaster the weeping Dryads told her that the Furies had destroyed it with an axe of Hell.
Next her very image appeared in the mother’s dreams, announcing her fate in no uncertain manner. She saw Proserpine shut in the dark confines of a prison-house and bound with cruel chains. Yet not so had she entrusted her to the fields of Sicily, not so had the wondering goddesses beheld her in Etna’s flowery meadows. Foul was now that hair, more beauteous erstwhile than gold; night had dimmed the fire of her eyes and frost banished the roses from her pale cheeks. The gracious flush of her skin and those limbs whose whiteness matched the hoar-frost are alike turned to hell-tinctured grain. When, therefore, she was at last able to recognize her daughter, albeit with doubtful gaze, she cried: "What crime hath merited these many punishments? Whence comes this dreadful wasting away? Who hath power to wreak such cruelty upon me? How have thy soft arms deserved fetters of stubborn iron, scarce fitted for beasts? Art thou my daughter or does a vain shadow deceive me?"
Thus she answered: "Cruel mother, forgetful of thy daughter’s fate, more hard of heart than the tawny lioness! Could’st thou be so heedless of me? Didst thou hold me cheap for that I am thy sole daughter? Dear indeed to thee must be the name of Proserpine who now, shut in this vast cavern, as thou seest, am plagued by torment! Hast thou heart to dance, cruel mother? Canst thou revel through the cities of Phrygia? If thou hast not banished the mother from thy breast, if thou, Ceres, art really my mother and ’twas no Hyrcanian tiger gave me birth, save me, I pray thee, from this prison and restore me to the upper world. If the fates forbid my return come thou down at least and visit me."
So spake she and strove to hold out her trembling hands. The iron’s ruthless strength forbade it, and the clangour of the chains awoke her sleeping mother. Ceres lay stiff with terror at the vision, rejoices that it was not true, but grieves that she cannot embrace her daughter. Maddened with fear she rushes out of the cavern and thus addresses Cybele: “No longer now will I tarry in the land of Phrygia, holy mother; the duty of protecting my dear daughter calls me back after so long an absence, for she is of an age that is exposed to many dangers. I put not complete trust in my palace, though built with iron from the Cyclopes’ furnace. I fear lest rumour disclose her hiding-place and Sicily too lightly guard my trust. The fame of that place too widely bruited abroad alarms me; needs must I find elsewhere some obscurer abode. Our retreat must be on all men’s tongues by reason of the groanings of Enceladus and the neighbour flames. Ill-omened dreams, too, with diverse visions often give me pause, and no day passes but brings some inauspicious hap. How often has my crown of golden ears fallen of itself! How often blood flowed from my breast! In mine own despite streams of tears course down my cheeks and unbidden my hands beat my astonished breast. Would I blow up the flute, funereal is the note; do I shake the cymbals, the cymbals echo a sound of mourning. Alas! I fear there is some trouble in these portents. This long sojourn has wrought me woe.”
“May the wind carry far away thy vain words,” replies Cybele; “not such the Thunderer’s want of care that he would not hurl his bolt in his daughter’s defence. Yet go and return, dismayed by no evil hap.”
This said, Ceres left the temple; but no speed is enough for her haste; she complains that her sluggish dragons scarce move, and, lashing the wings now of this one and now of that (though little they deserved it), she hopes to reach Sicily e’er yet out of sight of Ida. She fears everything and hopes nothing, anxious as the bird that has entrusted its unfledged brood to a low-growing ash and while absent gathering food has many fears lest perchance the wind has blown the fragile nest from the tree, lest her young ones be exposed to the theft of man or the greed of snakes.
When she saw the gate-keepers fled, the house unguarded, the rusted hinges, the overthrown doorposts, and the miserable state of the silent halls, pausing not to look again at the disaster, she rent her garment and tore away the shattered corn-ears along with her hair. She could not weep nor speak nor breathe and a trembling shook the very marrow of her bones; her faltering steps tottered. She flung open the doors and wandering through the empty rooms and deserted halls, recognized the half-ruined warp with its disordered threads and the work of the loom broken off. The goddess’ labours had come to naught, and what remained to be done, that the bold spider was finishing with her sacrilegious web.
She weeps not nor bewails the ill; only kisses the loom and stifles her dumb complaints amid the threads, clasping to her bosom, as though it had been her child, the spindles her child’s hand had touched, the wool she had cast aside, and all the toys scattered in maiden sport. She scans the virgin bed, the deserted couch, and the chair where Proserpine had sat: even as a herd, whose drove the unexpected fury of an African lion or bands of marauding beasts have attacked, gazes in amaze at the vacant stall, and, too late returned, wanders through the emptied pastures, sadly calling to the unreplying steers.
And there, lying in the innermost parts of the house, she saw Electra, loving nurse of Proserpine, best known among the old Nymphs of Ocean; she who loved Proserpine as did Ceres. ’Twas she who, when Proserpine had left her cradle, would bear her in her loving bosom and bring the little girl to mighty Jove and set her to play on her father’s knee. She was her companion, her guardian, and could be deemed her second mother. There, with torn and disheveled hair, all foul with grey dust, she was lamenting the rape of her divine foster-child.
Ceres approached her, and when at length her grief allowed her sighs free rein: “What ruin is here?” she said. “Of what enemy am I become the victim? Does my husband yet rule or do the Titans hold heaven? What hand hath dared this, if the Thunderer be still alive? Have Typhon’s shoulders forced up Inarime or does Alcyoneus course on foot through the Etruscan Sea, having burst the bonds of imprisoning Vesuvius? Or has the neighbouring Etna oped her jaws and expelled Enceladus? Perchance Briareus with his hundred arms has attacked my house? Ah, my daughter, where art thou now? Whither are fled my thousand servants, whither Cyane? What violence has driven away the winged Sirens? Is this your faith? Is this the way to guard another’s treasure?”
The nurse trembled and her sorrow gave place to shame; fain would she have died could she so escape the gaze of that unhappy mother, and long stayed she motionless, hesitating to disclose the suspected criminal and the all too certain death. Scarce could she thus speak: "Would that the raging band of Giants had wrought this ruin! Easier to bear is a common lot. ’Tis the goddesses, and, though thou wilt scarce credit it, her own sisters, who have conspired to our undoing. Thou seest the devices of gods and wounds inflicted by sisters’ jealousy. Heaven is a more cruel enemy than Hell.
“All quiet was the house, the maiden dared not o’erstep the threshold nor visit the grassy pastures, close bound by thy commands. The loom gave her work, the Sirens with their song relaxation — with me she held pleasant converse, with me she slept; safe delights were hers within the halls. Then suddenly Cytherea came (who showed her the way to our hid abode I know not), and, that she might not rouse our suspicions, she brought with her Diana and Minerva, attending her on either side. Straightway with beaming smiles she put on a pretence of joy, kissed Proserpine many a time, and repeated the name of sister, complaining of that hard-hearted mother who chose to condemn such beauty to imprisonment and complaining that by forbidding her intercourse with the goddesses she had removed her far from her father’s heaven. My unwitting charge rejoiced in these evil words and bade a feast be spread with plentiful nectar. Now she dons Diana’s arms and dress and tries her bow with her soft fingers. Now crowned with horse-hair plumes she puts on the helmet, Minerva commending her, and strives to carry her huge shield.
“Venus was the first with guileful suggestion to mention fields and the vale of Henna. Cunningly she harps upon the nearness of the flowery mead, and as though she knew it not, asks what merits the place boasts, pretending not to believe that a harmless winter allows the roses to bloom, that the cold months are bright with flowers not rightly theirs, and that the spring thickets fear not there Boötes’ wrath. So with her wonderment, her passion to see the spot, she persuades Proserpine. Alas! how easily does youth err with its weak ways! What tears did I not shed to no purpose, what vain entreaties did my lips not utter! Away she flew, trusting to the sisters’ protection; the scattered company of attendant Nymphs followed after her.
“They went to the hills clothed with undying grass and gather flowers ’neath the twilight of dawn, when the quiet meads are white with dew and violets drink the scattered moisture. But when the sun had mounted to higher air at noon, behold! murky night hid the sky and the island trembled and shook beneath the beat of horses’ hoofs and the rumble of wheels. Who the charioteer was none might tell — whether he was the harbinger of death or it was Death himself. Gloom spread through the meadows, the rivers stayed their courses, the fields were blighted, nor did aught live, once touched by those horses’ breath. I saw the bryony pale, the roses fade, the lilies wither. When in his roaring course the driver turned back his steeds the night it brought accompanied the chariot and light was restored to the world. Proserpine was nowhere to be seen. Their vows fulfilled, the goddesses had returned and tarried not. We found Cyane half dead amid the fields; there she lay, a garland round her neck and the blackened wreaths faded upon her forehead. At once we approached her and inquired after her mistress’s fortune, for she had been a witness of the disaster. What, we asked, was the aspect of the horses; who their driver? Naught said she, but corrupted with some hidden venom, dissolved into water. Water crept amid her hair; legs and arms melted and flowed away, and soon a clear stream washed our feet. The rest are gone; the Sirens, Achelous’ daughters, rising on rapid wing, have occupied the coast of Sicilian Pelorus, and in wrath at this crime now turned their lyres to man’s destruction, tuneful now for ill. Their sweet voices stay ships, but once that song is heard the oars can move no more. I alone am left in the house to drag out an old age of mourning.”
Ceres is still a prey to anxiety; half distraught she fears everything as though all were not yet accomplished. Anon she turns her head and eyes to heaven and with raging breast inveighs against its denizens; even as lofty Niphates shakes to the roaring of the Hyrcan tigress whose cubs the terrified horseman has carried off to be the playthings of Persia’s king. Speedier than the west wind that is her paramour rushes the tigress, anger blazing from her stripes, but just as she is about to engulf the terrified hunter in her capacious maw, she is checked by the mirrored image of her own form: so the mother of Proserpine rages over all Olympus crying: “Give her back; no wandering stream gave me birth; I spring not from the Dryad rabble. Towered Cybele bare me also to Saturn. Where are the ordinances of the gods, where the laws of heaven? What boots it to live a good life? See, Cytherea dares show her face (modest goddess!) even after her Lemnian4 bondage! ’Tis that chaste sleep and a loverless couch have given her this courage! This is, I suppose, the reward of those maidenly embraces! Small wonder that after such infamy she account nothing disgraceful. Ye goddesses that have known not marriage, is it thus that ye neglect the honour due to virginity? Have ye so changed your counsel? Do ye now go allied with Venus and her accomplice ravishers? Worthy each of you to be worshipped in Scythian temples and at altars that lust after human blood. What hath caused such great anger? Which of you has my Proserpine wronged even in her slightest word? Doubtless she drove thee, Delian goddess, from thy loved woods, or deprived thee, Triton-born, of some battle thou hadst joined. Did she plague you with talk? Break rudely upon your dances? Nay, that she might be no burden to you, she dwelt far away in the solitudes of Sicily. What good hath her retirement done her? No peace can still the madness of bitter jealousy.”
Thus she upbraids them all. But they, obedient to the Father’s word, keep silence or say they know nothing, and make tears their answer to the mother’s questionings. What can she do? She ceases, beaten, and in turn descends to humble entreaty. “If a mother’s love swelled too high or if I have done aught more boldly than befitted misery, oh forgive! A suppliant and wretched I fling me at your feet; grant me to learn my doom; grant me at least this much — sure knowledge of my woes. Fain would I know the manner of this ill; whatsoever fortune ye have visited upon me that will I bear and account it fate, not injustice. Grant a parent the sight of her child; I ask her not back. Whosoever thou art, possess in peace what thine hand has taken. The prey is thine, fear not. But if the ravisher has thwarted me, binding you by some oath, yet do thou, at least, Latona, tell me his name; to thee mayhap Diana hath confessed her knowledge. Thou hast known childbirth, the anxiety and love for children; to offspring twain hast thou given birth; this was mine only child. So mayest thou ever enjoy Apollo’s locks, so mayest thou live a happier mother than I.”
Plenteous tears then bedewed her cheeks. She continued: “Why these tears? why this silence? Woe is me; all desert me. Why tarriest thou yet to no purpose? Seest thou not ’tis open war with heaven? were it not better to seek again thy daughter by sea and land? I will gird myself and scour the world, unwearied I will penetrate every corner, nor ever stay my earth, nor rest nor sleep till I find my reft treasure, though she lie whelmed in the Spanish Ocean bed or hedged around in the depths of the Red Sea. Neither ice-bound Rhine nor Alpine frosts shall stay me; the treacherous tides of Syrtes shall not give me pause. My purpose holds to penetrate the fastnesses of the South and to tread the snowy home of Boreas. I will climb Atlas on the brink of the sunset and illumine Hydaspes’ stream with my torches. Let wicked Jove behold me wandering through towns and country, and Juno’s jealousy be sated with her rival’s ruin. Have your sport with me, triumph in heaven, proud gods, celebrate your illustrious victory o’er Ceres’ conquered daughter.”
So spake she and glides down upon Etna’s familiar slopes, there to fashion torches to aid her night-wandering labours.
There was a wood, hard by the stream of Acis, which fair Galatea oft chooses in preference to Ocean and cleaves in swimming with her snowy breast — a wood dense with foliage that closed in Etna’s summit on all sides with interwoven branches. ’Tis there that Jove is said to have laid down his bloody shield and set his captured spoil after the battle. The grove glories in trophies from the plain of Phlegra and signs of victory clothe its every tree. Here hang the gaping jaws and monstrous skins of the Giants; affixed to trees their faces still threaten horribly, and heaped up on all sides bleach the huge bones of slaughtered serpents. Their stiffening sloughs smoke with the blow of many a thunderbolt, and every tree boasts some illustrious name. This one scarce supports on its down-bended branches the naked swords of hundred-handed Aegaeon; that glories in the murky trophies of Coeus; this bears up the arms of Mimas; spoiled Ophion weighs down those branches. But higher than all the other trees towers a pine, its shady branches spread wide, and bears the reeking arms of Enceladus himself, all powerful king of the Earth-born giants; it would have fallen beneath the heavy burden did not a neighbouring oak-tree support its wearied weight. Therefore the spot wins awe and sanctity; none touches the aged grove, and ’tis accounted a crime to violate the trophies of the gods. No Cyclops dares pasture there his flock nor hew down the trees, Polyphemus himself flies from the hallowed shade.
Not for that did Ceres stay her steps; the very sanctity of the place inflames her wrath; with angry hand she brandishes her axe, ready to strike Jove himself. She hesitates whether to cut down pines or lay low knotless cedars, scans likely trunks and lofty trees and shakes their branches with vigorous hand. Even so when a man, fain to carry merchandise over distant seas, builds a ship on dry land and makes ready to expose his life to tempest, he hews down beech and alder and marks the diverse utility of the yet growing forest; the lofty tree he selects as yard-arms for the swelling sail; the strong he prefers as a helm; the pliant will make good oars; the water-proof is suitable for the keel.
Two cypresses in the grass hard by raised their inviolate heads to heaven; Simois looks not on such in amaze amid the crags of Ida, nor does Orontes water their like, Orontes that feeds Apollo’s grove and harbours rich cities on his banks. You would know them for sisters for they tower equal in height and look down upon the wood with twin tops. These she would have as her torches; she attacks each with vigorous blows, her gown girt back, her arms bared and armed with the axe. First one she strikes, then the other, and rains blows upon their trembling trunks with might and main. Together they crash to the ground, lay their foliage in the dust and lie upon the plain, wept of Fauns and wood-nymphs. She seizes both just as they are, uplifts them and, with hair out-streaming behind her, climbs panting the slopes of the mountain, passes beyond the flames and inaccessible precipices, and treads the lava that brooks no mortal footstep: even as the grim Megaera hastens to kindle yew-trees to light her to crime, speeding her journey to the walls of Cadmus’ city or meaning to work her devilment in Thyestean Mycenae; darkness and the shades give her passage, and Hell rings to her iron tread, till she halts beside Phlegethon’s wave and fires her torch from its brimming waves.
When she had climbed to the mouth of the burning rock, straightway, turning aside her head, she thrust the kindling cypresses into its inmost depths, thus closing in the cavern on all sides and stopping up the blazing exit of the flames. The mountain thunders with repressed fire and Vulcan is shut in a grievous prison; the enclosed smoke cannot escape. The cone-bearing tops of the cypresses blaze and Etna grows with new ashes; the branches crackle, kindled with sulphur. Then, lest their long journey should cause them to fail, she bids the flames never die nor sleep and drenches the wood with that secret drug5 wherewith Phaëthon bedews his steeds and the Moon her bulls.
Silent night had now in her turn visited upon the world her gift of sleep. Ceres, with her wounded breast, starts on her long journey, and, as she sets out, speaks as follows: “Little thought I, Proserpine, to carry for thee such torches as these. I had hoped what every mother hopes; marriage and festal torches and a wedding-song to be sung in heaven — such was my expectation. Are we divinities thus the sport of fate? does Lachesis vent her spleen on us as on mankind? How lofty was but now mine estate, surrounded with suitors innumerable for my daughter’s hand! What mother of many children but would have owned her my inferior by reason of my only daughter! Thou wast my first joy and my last; I was called prolific for that I bare thee. Thou wert my glory, my comfort, dear object of a mother’s pride; with thee alive I was goddess indeed, with thee safe I was Juno’s equal. Now am I an outcast, beggared. ’Tis the Father’s will. Yet why make Jove answerable for my tears? ’Twas I who so cruelly undid thee, I confess it, for I deserted thee and heedlessly exposed thee to threatening foes. Too deeply was I enmeshed in careless enjoyment of shrill-voiced revel, and, happy amid the din of arms, I was yoking Phrygian lions whilst thou wast being carried off. Yet see the punishment visited upon me. My face is seared with wounds and long gashes furrow my bloody breast. My womb, forgetful that it gave thee birth, is beaten with continual blows.
“Where under heaven shall I find thee? Beneath what quarter of the sky? Who shall point the way, what path shall lead me? What chariot was it? Who was that cruel ravisher? A denizen of earth or sea? What traces of his wingèd wheels can I discover? Whithersoever my steps lead me or chance direct, thither will I go. Even so may Dione be deserted and seek for Venus!
“Will my labours be successful? Shall I ever again be blest with thine embrace, my daughter? Art thou still fair; still glows the brightness of thy cheeks? Or shall I perchance see thee as thou cam’st in my nightly vision; as I saw thee in my dreams?”
So spake she and from Etna first she drags her steps, and, cursing its guilty flowers and the spot whence Proserpine was ravaged, she follows the straying tracks of the chariot wheels and examines the fields in the full light of her lowered torch. Every rut is wet with her tears; she weeps at each trace she espies in her wanderings over the plain. She glides a shadow o’er the sea and the farthest ray of her torches’ gleam strikes the coasts of Italy and Libya. The Tuscan shore grows bright and the Syrtes gleam with kindled wave. The light reaches the distant cave of Scylla, of whose dogs some shrink back and are still in dumb amaze, others, not yet horrified into silence, continue to bark.
— Translated by Maurice Platnauer. Loeb Classical Library, Volumes 135 & 136. Cambridge, MA.: Harvard Univserity Press, 1922.
Earth’s increase, foison plenty,
Barns and gamers never empty;
Vines with clust’ring bunches growing;
Plants with goodly burden bowing;
Spring come to you at the farthest,
In the very end of harvest!
Scarcity and want shall shun you;
Ceres’ blessing so is on you.
Not that faire field
Of Enna, where Proserpin gathering flours
Her self a fairer Floure by gloomie Dis
Was gatherd, which cost Ceres all that pain
To seek her through the world; ...
Prés de là se voit l’ancien Achéron: allons visiter l’enfer, me dit Clairwil, en voyant ces eaux : allons tourmenter ceux qui y sont, ou nous amuser de leurs supplices ... j’aimerais les
I have lived long enough, having seen one thing, that love hath an end;
Goddess and maiden and queen, be near me now and befriend.
Thou art more than the day or the morrow, the seasons that laugh or that weep;
For these give joy and sorrow; but thou, Proserpina, sleep.
Sweet is the treading of wine, and sweet the feet of the dove;
But a goodlier gift is thine than foam of the grapes or love.
Yea, is not even Apollo, with hair and harpstring of gold,
A bitter God to follow, a beautiful God to behold?
I am sick of singing; the bays burn deep and chafe: I am fain
To rest a little from praise and grievous pleasure and pain.
For the Gods we know not of, who give us our daily breath,
We know they are cruel as love or life, and lovely as death.
O Gods dethroned and deceased, cast forth, wiped out in a day!
From your wrath is the world released, redeemed from your chains, men say.
New Gods are crowned in the city; their flowers have broken your rods;
They are merciful, clothed with pity, the young compassionate Gods.
But for me their new device is barren, the days are bare;
Things long past over suffice, and men forgotten that were.
Time and the Gods are at strife; ye dwell in the midst thereof,
Draining a little life from the barren breasts of love.
I say to you, cease, take rest; yea, I say to you all, be at peace,
Till the bitter milk of her breast and the barren bosom shall cease.
Wilt thou take all, Galilean? but these thou shalt not take,
The laurel, the palms and the paean, the breasts of the nymphs in the brake;
Breasts more soft than a dove’s, that tremble with tenderer breath;
And all the wings of the Loves, and all the joy before death;
All the feet of the hours that sound as a single lyre,
Dropped and deep in the flowers, with strings that flicker like fire.
More than these wilt thou give, things fairer than all these things?
Nay, for a little we live, and life hath mutable wings.
A little while and we die; shall life not thrive as it may?
For no man under the sky lives twice, outliving his day.
And grief is a grievous thing, and a man hath enough of his tears:
Why should he labour, and bring fresh grief to blacken his years?
Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean; the world has grown grey from thy breath;
We have drunken of things Lethean, and fed on the fullness of death.
Laurel is green for a season, and love is sweet for a day;
But love grows bitter with treason, and laurel outlives not May.
Sleep, shall we sleep after all? for the world is not sweet in the end;
For the old faiths loosen and fall, the new years ruin and rend.
Fate is a sea without shore, and the soul is a rock that abides;
But her ears are vexed with the roar and her face with the foam of the tides.
O lips that the live blood faints in, the leavings of racks and rods!
O ghastly glories of saints, dead limbs of gibbeted Gods!
Though all men abase them before you in spirit, and all knees bend,
I kneel not neither adore you, but standing, look to the end.
All delicate days and pleasant, all spirits and sorrows are cast
Far out with the foam of the present that sweeps to the surf of the past:
Where beyond the extreme sea-wall, and between the remote sea-gates,
Waste water washes, and tall ships founder, and deep death waits:
Where, mighty with deepening sides, clad about with the seas as with wings,
And impelled of invisible tides, and fulfilled of unspeakable things,
White-eyed and poisonous-finned, shark-toothed and serpentine-curled,
Rolls, under the whitening wind of the future, the wave of the world.
The depths stand naked in sunder behind it, the storms flee away;
In the hollow before it the thunder is taken and snared as a prey;
In its sides is the north-wind bound; and its salt is of all men’s tears;
With light of ruin, and sound of changes, and pulse of years:
With travail of day after day, and with trouble of hour upon hour;
And bitter as blood is the spray; and the crests are as fangs that devour:
And its vapour and storm of its steam as the sighing of spirits to be;
And its noise as the noise in a dream; and its depth as the roots of the sea:
And the height of its heads as the height of the utmost stars of the air:
And the ends of the earth at the might thereof tremble, and time is made bare.
Will ye bridle the deep sea with reins, will ye chasten the high sea with rods?
Will ye take her to chain her with chains, who is older than all ye Gods?
All ye as a wind shall go by, as a fire shall ye pass and be past;
Ye are Gods, and behold, ye shall die, and the waves be upon you at last.
In the darkness of time, in the deeps of the years, in the changes of things,
Ye shall sleep as a slain man sleeps, and the world shall forget you for kings.
Though the feet of thine high priests tread where thy lords and our forefathers trod,
Though these that were Gods are dead, and thou being dead art a God,
Though before thee the throned Cytherean be fallen, and hidden her head,
Yet thy kingdom shall pass, Galilean, thy dead shall go down to thee dead.
Of the maiden thy mother men sing as a goddess with grace clad around;
Thou art throned where another was king; where another was queen she is crowned.
Yea, once we had sight of another: but now she is queen, say these.
Not as thine, not as thine was our mother, a blossom of flowering seas,
Clothed round with the world’s desire as with raiment, and fair as the foam,
And fleeter than kindled fire, and a goddess, and mother of Rome.
For thine came pale and a maiden, and sister to sorrow; but ours,
Her deep hair heavily laden with odour and colour of flowers,
White rose of the rose-white water, a silver splendour, a flame,
Bent down unto us that besought her, and earth grew sweet with her name.
For thine came weeping, a slave among slaves, and rejected; but she
Came flushed from the full-flushed wave, and imperial, her foot on the sea.
And the wonderful waters knew her, the winds and the viewless ways,
And the roses grew rosier, and bluer the sea-blue stream of the bays.
Ye are fallen, our lords, by what token? we wise that ye should not fall.
Ye were all so fair that are broken; and one more fair than ye all.
But I turn to her still, having seen she shall surely abide in the end;
Goddess and maiden and queen, be near me now and befriend.
O daughter of earth, of my mother, her crown and blossom of birth,
I am also, I also, thy brother; I go as I came unto earth.
In the night where thine eyes are as moons are in heaven, the night where thou art,
Where the silence is more than all tunes, where sleep overflows from the heart,
Where the poppies are sweet as the rose in our world, and the red rose is white,
And the wind falls faint as it blows with the fume of the flowers of the night,
And the murmur of spirits that sleep in the shadow of Gods from afar
Grows dim in thine ears and deep as the deep dim soul of a star,
In the sweet low light of thy face, under heavens untrod by the sun,
Let my soul with their souls find place, and forget what is done and undone.
Thou art more than the Gods who number the days of our temporal breath;
Let these give labour and slumber; but thou, Proserpina, death.
Therefore now at thy feet I abide for a season in silence. I know
I shall die as my fathers died, and sleep as they sleep, even so.
For the glass of the years is brittle wherein we gaze for a span;
A little soul for a little bears up this corpse which is man.
So long I endure, no longer; and laugh not again, neither weep.
For there is no God found stronger than death; and death is a sleep.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, Cambridge: University Press, 1910. Vol. IX, p. 262.
Dr. Warburton, in his Divine Legation of Moses, has ingeniously proved, that the sixth book of Virgil’s Æneid represents some of the dramatic exhibitions of the Eleusinian Mysteries; but, at the same time, has utterly failed in attempting to unfold their latent meaning, and obscure though important end. By the assistance, however, of the Platonic philosophy, I have been enabled to correct his errors, and to vindicate the wisdomof antiquity from his aspersions by a genuine account of this sublime institution; of which the following observations are designed as a comprehensive view.
In the first place, then, I shall present the reader with two superior authorities, who perfectly demonstrate that a part of the shows (or dramas) consisted in a representation of the infernal regions; authorities which, though of the last consequence, were unknown to Dr. Warburton himself. The first of these is no less a person than the immortal Pindar, in a fragment preserved by Clemens Alexandrinus: “Ἀλλα ϰαι Πινδαϱος πεϱι των εν Ελευσινι μυστηϱιων λεγων επιφεϱει. Ολβιος, οστις ιδων εϰεινα, ϰοινα εις ὑποχϑονια, οιδεν μεν βιον τελευταν, οιδεν δε διος δοτον αϱχαν.”i. e. “But Pindar, speaking of the Eleusinian Mysteries, says: Blessed is he who, having seen those common concerns in the underworld, knows both the end of life and its divine origin from Jupiter.” The other of these is from Proclus in his Commentary on Plato’s Politicus, who, speaking concerning the sacerdotal and symbolical mythology, observes, that from this mythology Plato himself establishes many of his own peculiar doctrines, “since in the Phædo he venerates, with a becoming silence, the assertion delivered in the arcane discourses, that men are placed in the body as in a prison, secured by a guard, and testifies, according to the mystic ceremonies, the different allotments of purified and unpurified souls in Hades, their severed conditions, and the three-forked path from the peculiar places where they were; and this was shown according to traditionary institutions; every part of which is full of a symbolical representation, as in a dream, and of a description which treated of the ascending and descending ways, of the tragedies of Dionysus (Bacchus or Zagreus), the crimes of the Titans, the three ways in Hades, and the wandering of everything of a similar kind.” — “Δηλοι δε εν Φαιδωνι τον τε εν απϱῥοητοις λεγομενον, ὡς εντινι φϱουϱᾳ εσμεν ὁι ανϑϱωποι, σιγῃ τῃ τϱεπουση σεβων, ϰαι τας τελετας (lege ϰαι ϰατα τας τελετα) μαϱτυϱομενος των διαφοϱων ληξεων της ψυχης ϰεϰαϑαϱμενης τε ϰαι αϰαϑαϱτου εις ᾁδου απιουσης, ϰαι τας τε σχεσεις αυ, ϰαι τας τϱιοδους απο των ουσιων ϰαι των (lege ϰαί ϰατα των), πατϱιϰων ϑεσμων τεϰμαιϱομενος. α δη της συμβολιϰης ἁπαντα ϑεωϱιας εστι μεστα, ϰαι των παϱα τοις ποιηταις ϑϱυλλουμενων ανοδων τε ϰαι ϰαϑοδων, των τε διονυσιαϰων συνϑηματων, ϰαι των τιτανιϰων ἁμαϱτηματων λεγομενων, ϰαι των εν ᾁδου τϱιοδων, ϰαι της πλανης, ϰαι των τοιουτων ἁπαντων.”
Having premised thus much, I now proceed to prove that the dramatic spectacles of the Lesser Mysterieswere designed by the ancient theologists, their founders, to signify occultly the condition of the unpurified soul invested with an earthly body, and enveloped in a material and physical nature; or, in other words, to signify that such a soul in the present life might be said to die, as far as it is possible for a soul to die, and that on the dissolution of the present body, while in this state of impurity, it would experience a death still more permanent and profound. That the soul, indeed, till purified by philosophy,suffers death through its union with the body was obvious to the philologist Macrobius, who, not penetrating the secret meaning of the ancients, concluded from hence that they signified nothing more than the present body, by their descriptions of the infernal abodes. But this is manifestly absurd; since it is universally agreed, that all the ancient theological poets and philosophers inculcated the doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments in the most full and decisive terms; at the same time occultly intimating that the death of the soul was nothing more than a profound union with the ruinous bonds of the body. Indeed, if these wise men believed in a future state of retribution, and at the same time considered a connection with the body as death of the soul, it necessarily follows, that the soul’s punishment and existence hereafter are nothing more than a continuation of its state at present, and a transmigration, as it were, from sleep to sleep, and from dream to dream. But let us attend to the assertions of these divine men concerning the soul’s union with a material nature. And to begin with the obscure and profound Heracleitus, speaking of souls unembodied: “We live their death, and we die their life.” Ζωμεν τον εϰεινων ϑανατον, τεϑνηϰαμεν δε τον εϰεινων βιον. And Empedocles, deprecating the condition termed “generation,” beautifully says of her:
The aspect changing with destruction dread,
She makes the living pass into the dead.
Εϰ μεν γαϱ ζωων ετιϑει νεϰϱα ειδε αμειβων.
And again, lamenting his connection with this corporeal world, he pathetically exclaims:
For this I weep, for this indulge my woe,
That e’er my soul such novel realms should know.
Κλαυσα τε ϰαι ϰωϰυσα, ῶων ασυνηϑεα χωϱον.
Plato, too, it is well known, considered the body as the sepulchre of the soul, and in the Cratylus concurs with the doctrine of Orpheus, that the soul is punished through its union with body. This was likewise the opinion of the celebrated Pythagorean, Philolaus, as is evident from the following remarkable passage in the Doric dialect, preserved by Clemens Alexandrinus in Stromat. book iii. “Μαϱτυϱεοντα δε ϰαι οι παλαιοι ϑεολογοι τε ϰαι μαντιες, ὡς δια τινας τιμωϱιας, ἁ ψυχα τῳ σωματι συνεζευϰται, ϰαι ϰαϑαπεϱ εν σωματι τομτῳ τεϑαπται.” i. e. “The ancient theologists and priestsalso testify that the soul is united with the body as if for the sake of punishment;and so is buried in body as in a sepulchre.” And, lastly, Pythagoras himself confirms the above sentiments, when he beautifully observes, according to Clemens in the same book, “that whatever we see when awake is death; and when asleep, a dream.” ϑανατος εστιν, οϰοσα εγεϱϑεντες οϱεομεν· οϰοσα δε ευδοντες, ὑπνος.
But that the mysteries occultly signified this sublime truth, that the soul by being merged in matter resides among the dead both here and hereafter, though it follows by a necessary sequence from the preceding observations, yet it is indisputably confirmed, by the testimony of the great and truly divine Plotinus, in Ennead I., book viii. “When the soul,” says he, “has descended into generation (from its first divine condition) she partakes of evil, and is carried a great way into a state the opposite of her first purity and integrity, to be entirely merged in which, is nothing more than to fall into dark mire.” And again, soon after: “The soul therefore dies as much as it is possible for the soul to die: and the death to her is while baptized or immersed in the present body, to descend into matter,and be wholly subjected by it; and after departing thence to lie there till it shall arise and turn its face away from the abhorrent filth. This is what is meant by the falling asleep in Hades, of those who have come there."Γινομενῳ δε ἡ μεταληψις αυτου. Γιψνεται γαϱ πανταπασιν εν τῳ της ανομοιοτητος τοπῳ, ενϑα δυς εις αυτην εις βοϱβοϱον σϰοτεινον εσται πεσων.—Αποϑνησϰει ουν, ως ψυχη αν ϑανοι· ϰαι ὁ ϑανατος αυτῃ, ϰαι ετι εν τω σωματι βεβαπτισμενη, εν ὑλῃ εστι ϰαταδυναι, ϰαι πλησϑηναι αυτης. Και εξελϑουσης εϰει ϰεισϑαι, εως αναδϱαμῃ ϰαι αφελῃ πως την οψιν εϰ του βοϱβοϱου. Και τουτο εστι το εν ᾁδου ελϑοντα επιϰατα δαϱϑειν. Here the reader may observe that the obscure doctrine of the Mysteries mentioned by Plato in the Phædo, that the unpurified soul in a future state lies immerged in mire, is beautifully explained; at the same time that our assertion concerning their secret meaning is not less substantially confirmed.In a similar manner the same divine philosopher, in his book on the Beautiful, Ennead, I., book vi., explains the fable of Narcissus as an emblem of one who rushes to the contemplation of sensible (phenomenal) forms as if they were perfect realities, when at the same time they are nothing more than like beautiful images appearing in water, fallacious and vain. “Hence,” says he, “as Narcissus, by catching at the shadow, plunged himself in the stream and disappeared, so he who is captivated by beautiful bodies, and does not depart from their embrace, is precipitated, not with his body, but with his soul, into a darkness profound and repugnant to intellect (the higher soul),through which, remaining blind both here and in Hades, he associates with shadows.” Τον αυτον δη τϱοπον ὁ εχομενος των ϰαλων σωμα των, ϰαι μη αφιεις, ου τῳ σωματι, τῃ δε ψυχῃ ϰαταδυσεται, εις σϰοτεινα ϰαι ατεϱπη τῳ νῳ βαϑη, ενϑα τυφλος εν ᾁδου μενων, ϰαι ενταυϑα ϰᾳϰει σϰιαις συνεστι. And what still farther confirms our exposition is that matter was considered by the Egyptians as a certain mire or mud. “The Egyptians,” says Simplicius, “called matter, which they symbolically denominated water, the dregs or sediment of the first life; matter being, as it were, a certain mire or mud.Διο ϰαι Αιγυπτιοι την της πϱωτης ζωης, ἡν ὑδωϱ συμβολιϰως εϰαλουν, ὑποσταϑμην την ὑλην ελεγον, ὁιον ιλον τινα ουσαν. So that from all that has been said we may safely conclude with Ficinus, whose words are as express to our purpose as possible. “Lastly,” says he, “that I may comprehend the opinion of the ancient theologists, on the state of the soul after death, in a few words: they considered, as we have elsewhere asserted, things divine as the only realities, and that all others were only the images and shadows of truth. Hence they asserted that prudent men, who earnestly employed themselves in divine concerns, were above all others in a vigilant state. But that imprudent [i. e. without foresight] men, who pursued objects of a different nature, being laid asleep, as it were, were only engaged in the delusions of dreams; and that if they happened to die in this sleep, before they were roused, they would be afflicted with similar and still more dazzling visions in a future state. And that as he who in this life pursued realities, would, after death, enjoy the highest truth, so he who pursued deceptions would hereafter be tormented with fallacies and delusions in the extreme: as the one would be delighted with true objects of enjoyment, so the other would be tormented with delusive semblances of reality.” — Denique ut priscorum theologorum sententiam de statu animæ post mortem paucis comprehendam: sola divina (ut alias diximus) arbitrantur res veras existere, reliqua esse rerum verarum imagines atque umbras. Ideo prudentes homines, qui divinis incumbunt, præ ceteris vigilare. Imprudentes autem, qui sectantur alia, insomniis omnino quasi dormientes illudi, ac si in hoc somno priusquam expergefacti fuerint moriantur similibus post discessum et acrioribus visionibus angi. Et sicut eum qui in vita veris incubuit, post mortem summa veritate potiri, sic eum qui falsa sectatus est, fallacia extrema torqueri, ut ille rebus veris oblectetur, hic falsis vexetur simulachris.”But notwithstanding this important truth was obscurely hinted by the Lesser Mysteries, we must not suppose that it was generally known even to the initiated persons themselves: for as individuals of almost all descriptions were admitted to these rites, it would have been a ridiculous prostitution to disclose to the multitude a theory so abstracted and sublime.It was sufficient to instruct these in the doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments, and in the means of returning to the principles from which they originally fell: for this last piece of information was, according to Plato in the Phædo, the ultimate design of the Mysteries; and the former is necessarily inferred from the present discourse. Hence the reason why it was obvious to none but the Pythagorean and Platonic philosophers, who derived their theology from Orpheus himself,the original founder of these sacred institutions; and why we meet with no information in this particular in any writer prior to Plotinus; as he was the first who, having penetrated the profound interior wisdom of antiquity, delivered it to posterity without the concealments of mystic symbols and fabulous narratives.
Hence too, I think, we may infer, with the greatest probability, that this recondite meaning of the Mysteries was not known even to Virgil himself, who has so elegantly described their external form; for notwithstanding the traces of Platonism which are to be found in the Æneid, nothing of any great depth occurs throughout the whole, except what a superficial reading of Plato and the dramas of the Mysteries might easily afford. But this is not perceived by modern readers, who, entirely unskilled themselves in Platonism, and fascinated by the charms of his poetry, imagine him to be deeply knowing in a subject with which he was most likely but slightly acquainted. This opinion is still farther strengthened by considering that the doctrine delivered in his Eclogues is perfectly Epicurean, which was the fashionable philosophy of the Augustan age; and that there is no trace of Platonism in any other part of his works but the present book, which, containing a representation of the Mysteries, was necessarily obliged to display some of the principal tenets of this philosophy, so far as they illustrated and made a part of these mystic exhibitions. However, on the supposition that this book presents us with a faithful view of some part of these sacred rites, and this accompanied with the utmost elegance, harmony, and purity of versification, it ought to be considered as an invaluable relic of antiquity, and a precious monument of venerable mysticism, recondite wisdom, and theological information.This will be sufficiently evident from what has been already delivered, by considering some of the beautiful descriptions of this book in their natural order; at the same time that the descriptions themselves will corroborate the present elucidations. In the first place, then, when he says,
facilis descensus Averno.
Noctes atque dies patet atra janua ditis:
Sed revocare gradum, superasque evadere ad auras,
Hoc opus, hic labor est. Pauci quos æquus amavit
Jupiter, aut ardens evexit ad æthera virtus,
Dis geniti potuere. Tenent media omnia silvæ,
Cocytusque sinu labens, circumvenit atro
[Davidson’s Translation: “Easy is the path that leads down to hell; grim Pluto’s gate stands open night and day: but to retrace one’s steps, and escape to the upper regions, this is a work, this is a task. Some few, whom favoring Jove loved, or illustrious virtue advanced to heaven, the sons of the gods, have effected it. Woods cover all the intervening space, and Cocytus, gliding with his black, winding flood, surrounds it.”]
is it not obvious, from the preceding explanation, that by Avernus, in this place, and the dark gates of Pluto, we must understand a corporeal or external nature, the descent into which is, indeed, at all times obvious and easy, but to recall our steps, and ascend into the upper regions, or, in other words, to separate the soul from the body by the purifying discipline, is indeed a mighty work, and a laborious task? For a few only, the favorites of heaven, that is, born with the true philosophic genius,and whom ardent virtue has elevated to a disposition and capacity for divine contemplation, have been enabled to accomplish the arduous design. But when he says that all the middle regions are covered with woods, this likewise plainly intimates a material nature; the word silva, as is well known, being used by ancient writers to signify matter, and implies nothing more than that the passage leading to the barathrum [abyss] of body, i. e. into profound darkness and oblivion, is through the medium of a material nature; and this medium is surrounded by the black bosom of Cocytus,that is, by bitter weeping and lamentations, the necessary consequence of the soul’s union with a nature entirely foreign to her own. So that the poet in this particular perfectly corresponds with Empedocles in the line we have cited above, where he exclaims, alluding to this union,
For this I weep, for this indulge my woe,
That e’er my soul such novel realms should know.
In the next place, he thus describes the cave, through which Æneas descended to the infernal regions:
Spelunca alta fuit, vastoque immanis hiatu,
Scrupea, tuta lacu nigro, memorumque tenebris:
Quam super hand ullæ poterant impune volantes
Tendere iter pennis: talis sese halitus atris
Faucicus effundens supera ad convexa ferebat:
Unde locum Graii dixerunt nomine Aornum
Does it not afford a beautiful representation of a corporeal nature, of which a cave, defended with a black lake, and dark woods, is an obvious emblem? For it occultly reminds us of the ever-flowing and obscure condition of such a nature, which may be said
To roll incessant with impetuous speed,
Like some dark river, into Matter’s sea.
Nor is it with less propriety denominated Aornus, i. e. destitute of birds, or a winged nature; for on account of its native sluggishness and inactivity, and its merged condition, being situated in the outmost extremity of things, it is perfectly debile and languid, incapable of ascending into the regions of reality, and exchanging its obscure and degraded station for one every way splendid and divine. The propriety too of sacrificing, previous to his entrance, to Night and Earth, is obvious, as both these are emblems of a corporeal nature. In the verses which immediately follow,
Ecce autem, primi sub limina solis et ortus,
Sub pedibus mugire solum, et juga cæpta movere
Silvarum, visaque canes ululare per umbram,
[“So, now, at the first beams and rising of the sun, the earth under the feet begins to rumble, the wooded hills to quake, and dogs were seen howling through the shade, as the goddess came hither──”]
we may perceive an evident allusion to the earthquakes, etc., attending the descent of the soul into body, mentioned by Plato in the tenth book of his Republic;since the lapse of the soul, as we shall see more fully hereafter, was one of the important truths which these Mysteries were intended to reveal. And the howling dogs are symbols of materialdemons, who are thus denominated by the Magian Oracles of Zoroaster, on account of their ferocious and malevolent dispositions, ever baneful to the felicity of the human soul. And hence Matter herself is represented by Synesius in his first Hymn, with great propriety and beauty, as barking at the soul with devouring rage: for thus he sings, addressing himself to the Deity:
Μαϰαϱ ὁς τις βοϱον ὑλας
Πϱοφυγων ὑλαγμα, ϰαι γας
Αναδυς, ἁλματι ϰουφῳ
Ιχνος ες ϑεον τιταινει.
Which may be thus paraphrased:
Blessed! thrice blessed! who, with wingéd speed,
From Hylé’sdread voracious barking flies,
And, leaving Earth’s obscurity behind,
By a light leap, directs his steps to thee.
And that material demons actually appeared to the initiated previous to the lucid visions of the gods themselves, is evident from the following passage of Proclus in his manuscript Commentary on the first Alcibiades: εν ταις ἁγιοταταις των τελετων τϱο της ϑεου παϱουσιας δαιμονων χϑονιων εϰβολαι πϱοφαινονται, ϰαι απο των αχϱαντων αγαϑων εις την ὑλην πϱοϰαλουμεναι. I. e. “In the most interior sanctities of the Mysteries, before the presence of the god, the rushing forms of earthly demons appear, and call the attention from the immaculate good to matter.” And Pletho (on the Oracles), expressly asserts, that these spectres appeared in the shape of dogs. After this, Æneas is described as proceeding to the infernal regions, through profound night and darkness:
Ibant obscuri sola sub nocte per umbram.
Perque domos Ditis vacuas, et inania regna.
Quale per incertam lunam sub luce maligna
Est iter in silvis: ubi cælum condidit umbra
Jupiter, et rebus nox abstulit atra colorem.
[“They went along, amid the gloom under the solitary night, through the shade, and through the desolate halls, and empty realms of Dis [Pluto or Hades]. Such is a journey in the woods beneath the unsteady moon with her niggard light, when Jupiter has enveloped the sky in shade, and the black Night has taken from all objects their color.”]
And this with the greatest propriety; for the Mysteries, as is well known, were celebrated by night; and in the Republic of Plato, as cited above, souls are described as falling into the estate of generation at midnight; this period being peculiarly accommodated to the darkness and oblivion of a corporeal nature; and to this circumstance the nocturnal celebration of the Mysteries doubtless alluded. In the next place, the following vivid description presents itself to our view:
Vestibulum ante ipsum, primisque in faucibus Orci
Luctus, et ultrices posuere cubilia Curæ:
Pallentesque habitant morbi, tristisque senectus,
Et Metus, et mala suada Fames, ac turpis egestas;
Terribiles visu formæ; Lethumque Laborque;
Tum consanguineus Lethi Sopor et mala mentis
Gaudia, mortiferumque adverso in limine bellum
Ferreique Eumenidum thalami et Discordia demens,
Vipereum crinem vittis innexa cruentis.
In medio ramos annosaque brachia pandit
Ulmus opaca ingens: quam sedem somnia vulgo
Vana tenere ferunt, foliisque sub omnibus hærent.
Multaque præterea variarum monstra ferarum:
Centauri in foribus stabulant, Scyllæque biformes,
Et centumgeminus Briareus, ac bellua Lernæ,
Horrendum stridens, flammisque armata Chimæra,
Gorgones Harpyiæque, et formo tricorporis umbræ.
[“Before the entrance itself, and in the first jaws of Hell, Grief and vengeful Cares have placed their couches; pale Diseases inhabit there, and sad Old Age, and Fear, and Want, evil goddess of persuasion, and unsightly Poverty—forms terrible to contemplate! and there, too, are Death and Toil; then Sleep, akin to Death, and evil Delights of mind; and upon the opposite threshold are seen death-bringing War, and the iron marriage-couches of the Furies, and raving Discord, with her viper-hair bound with gory wreaths. In the midst, an Elm dark and huge expands its boughs and aged limbs; making an abode which vain Dreams are said to haunt, and under whose every leaf they dwell. Besides all these, are many monstrous apparitions of various wild beasts. The Centaurs harbor at the gates, and double-formed Scyllas, the hundred-fold Briareus, the Snake of Lerna, hissing dreadfully, and Chimæra armed with flames, the Gorgons and the Harpies, and the shades of three-bodied form.”]
And surely it is impossible to draw a more lively picture of the maladies with which a material nature is connected; of the soul’s dormant condition through its union with body; and of the various mental diseases to which, through such a conjunction, it becomes unavoidably subject; for this description contains a threefold division; representing, in the first place, the external evil with which this material region is replete; in the second place, intimating that the life of the soul when merged in the body is nothing but a dream; and, in the third place, under the disguise of multiform and terrific monsters, exhibiting the various vices of our irrational and sensuous part. Hence Empedocles, in perfect conformity with the first part of this description, calls this material abode, or the realms of generation, — ατεϱπεα χωϱον,a “joyless region.”
“Where slaughter, rage, and countless ills reside;
Ενϑα φονος τε ϰοτος τε ϰαι αλλων εϑνεα ϰηϱων
and into which those who fall,
“Through Até’s meads and dreadful darkness stray.”
──ανα λειμωνα τε ϰαι σϰοτος ηλασϰουσιν.
And hence he justly says to such a soul, that
“She flies from deity and heav’nly light,
To serve mad Discord in the realms of night.”
────φυγας ϑεοϑεν, ϰαι αλητης,
Νειϰεϊ μαινομενῳ πισυνος.───
Where too we may observe that the Discordia demens of Virgil is an exact translation of the Νειϰεϊ μαινομενῳ of Empedocles. In the lines, too, which immediately succeed, the sorrows and mournful miseries attending the soul’s union with a material nature, are beautifully described.
Hinc via, Tartarei quæ fert Acherontis ad undas;
Turbidus hic cæno vastaque voragine gurges
Æstuat, atque omnem Cocyto eructat arenam.
[“Here is the way which leads to the surging billows of Hell [Acheron]; here an abyss turbid boils up with loathsome mud and vast whirlpools; and vomits all its quicksand into Cocytus.”]
And when Charon calls out to Æneas to desist from entering any farther, and tells him,
“Here to reside delusive shades delight;
“For nought dwells here but sleep and drowsy night.”
Umbrarum hic locus est, Somni Noctisque soporæ
nothing can more aptly express the condition of the dark regions of body, into which the soul, when descending, meets with nothing but shadows and drowsy night: and by persisting in her course, is at length lulled into profound sleep, and becomes a true inhabitant of the phantom-abodes of the dead. Æneas having now passed over the Stygian lake, meets with the three-headed monster Cerberus,the guardian of these infernal abodes:
Tandem trans fluvium incolumis vatemque virumque
Informi limo glaucaque exponit in ulva.
Tandem trans fluvium incolumis vatemque virumque
Informi limo glaucaque exponit in ulva.
[“At length across the river safe, the prophetess and the man, he lands upon the slimy strand, upon the blue sedge. Huge Cerberus makes these realms [of death] resound with barking from his threefold throat, as he lies stretched at prodigious length in the opposite cave.”]
By Cerberus we must understand the discriminative part of the soul, of which a dog, on account of its sagacity, is an emblem; and the three heads signify the triple distinction of this part, into the intellective [or intuitional], cogitative [or rational], and opinionative powers.—With respectto the three kinds of persons described as situated on the borders of the infernal realms, the poet doubtless intended by this enumeration to represent to us the three most remarkable characters, who, though not apparently deserving of punishment, are yet each of them similarly immerged in matter, and consequently require a similar degree of purification. The persons described are, as is well known, first, the souls of infants snatched away by untimely ends; secondly, such as are condemned to death unjustly; and, thirdly, those who, weary of their lives, become guilty of suicide. And with respect to the first of these, or infants, their connection with a material nature is obvious. The second sort, too, who are condemned to death unjustly, must be supposed to represent the souls of men who, though innocent of one crime for which they were wrongfully punished, have, notwithstanding, been guilty of many crimes, for which they are receiving proper chastisement in Hades, i. e. through a profound union with a material nature.And the third sort, or suicides, though apparently separated from the body, have only exchanged one place for another of similar nature; since conduct of this kind, according to the arcana of divine philosophy, instead of separating the soul from its body, only restores it to a condition perfectly correspondent to its former inclinations and habits, lamentations and woes. But if we examine this affair more profoundly, we shall find that these three characters are justly placed in the same situation, because the reason of punishment is in each equally obscure. For is it not a just matter of doubt why the souls of infants should be punished? And is it not equally dubious and wonderful why those who have been unjustly condemned to death in one period of existence should be punished in another? And as to suicides, Plato in his Phædo says that the prohibition of this crime in the αποϱῥητα (aporrheta)is a profound doctrine, and not easy to be understood.Indeed, the true cause why the two first of these characters are in Hades, can only be ascertained from the fact of a prior state of existence, in surveying which, the latent justice of punishment will be manifestly revealed; the apparent inconsistencies in the administration of Providence fully reconciled; and the doubts concerning the wisdom of its proceedings entirely dissolved. And as to the last of these, or suicides, since the reason of their punishment, and why an action of this kind is in general highly atrocious, is extremely mystical and obscure, the following solution of this difficulty will, no doubt, be gratefully received by the Platonic reader, as the whole of it is no where else to be found but in manuscript. Olympiodorus, then, a most learned and excellent commentator on Plato, in his commentary on that part of the Phædo where Plato speaks of the prohibition of suicide in the aporrheta, observes as follows: “The argument which Plato employs in this place against suicide is derived from the Orphic mythology, in which four kingdoms are celebrated; the first of Uranus [Ouranos] (Heaven), whom Kronos or Saturn assaulted, cutting off the genitals of his father.But after Saturn, Zeus or Jupiter succeeded to the government of the world, having hurled his father into Tartarus. And after Jupiter, Dionysus or Bacchus rose to light, who, according to report, was, through the insidious treachery of Hera or Juno, torn in pieces by the Titans, by whom he was surrounded, and who afterwards tasted his flesh: but Jupiter, enraged at the deed, hurled his thunder at the guilty offenders and consumed them to ashes. Hence a certain matter being formed from the ashes or sooty vapor of the smoke ascending from their burning bodies, out of this mankind were produced. It is unlawful, therefore, to destroy ourselves, not as the words of Plato seem to import, because we are in the body, as in prison, secured by a guard (for this is evident, and Plato would not have called such an assertion arcane), but because our body is Dionysiacal,or of the nature of Bacchus: for we are a part of him, since we are composed from the ashes, or sooty vapor of the Titans who tasted his flesh. Socrates, therefore, as if fearful of disclosing the arcane part of this narration, relates nothing more of the fable than that we are placed as in a prison secured by a guard: but the interpreters relate the fable openly.” Και εςτι το μυϑιϰον επιχειϱημα τοιουτον. Παϱα τῳ Οϱφει τεσσαϱες βασιλειαι παϱαδιδονται. Πϱωτη μεν, ἡ του Ουϱανου, ἡν ὁ Κϱονος διεδεξατο, εϰτεμων τα αιδοια του πατϱος. Μετα δη τον Κϱονον, ὁ Ζευς εβασιλευσεν ϰαταταϱταϱώσας τὸν πατεϱα. Ειτα τον Δια διεδεξατο ὁ Διονυσος, ὁν φασι ϰατ’ επιβουλην της Ἥϱας τους πεϱι αυτου Τιτανας σπαϱαττειν, ϰαι των σαϱϰων αυτου απογευεσϑαι. Και τουτους οϱγισϑεις ὁ Ζευς εϰεϱαυνωσε, ϰαι εϰ της αιϑαλης των ατμων των αναδοϑεντων εξ αυτων, ὑλης γενομενης γενεσϑαι τους ανϑϱωπους. Ου δει ουν εξαγαγειν ἡμας εαυτους, ουχ οτι ως δοϰει λεγειν ἡ λεξις, διοτι εν τινι δεςμῳ εσμεν τῳ σωματι· τουτο γαϱ δηλον εςτι, ϰαι ουϰ αν τουτο αποϱῥμτον ελεγε, αλλ’ οτι ου δει εξαγαγειν ἡμας ἑαυτους ως του σωματος ἡμων διονυσιαϰου οντος· μεϱος γαϱ αυτου εσμεν, ειγε εϰ της αιϑαλης των Τιτανων συγϰειμεϑα γευσαμενων των σαϱϰων τουτου. Ὁ μεν ουν Σωϰϱατης εϱγῳ το αποϱῥητον δειϰνος, του μυϑου ουδεν πλεον πϱοστιϑμσι του ως εν τινι φϱουϱα εσμεν. Ὁι δε εξηγηται τον μυϑον πϱοστιϑεασιν εξωϑεν. After this he beautifully observes, “That these four governments signify the different gradations of virtues, according to which our soul contains the symbols of all the qualities, both contemplative and purifying, social and ethical; for it either operates according to the theoretic or contemplative virtues, the model of which is the government of Uranus or Heaven, that we may begin from on high; and on this account Uranus (Heaven) is so called παϱα του τα ανω ὁϱᾳν, from beholding the things above: Or it lives purely, the exemplar of which is the Kronian or Saturnian kingdom; and on this account Kronos is named as Koro-nous, one who perceives through himself. Hence he is said to devour his own offspring, signifying the conversion of himself into his own substance:—or it operates according to the social virtues, the symbol of which is the government of Jupiter. Hence, Jupiter is styled the Demiurgus, as operating about secondary things:—or it operates according to both the ethical and physical virtues, the symbol of which is the kingdom of Bacchus; and on this account is fabled to be torn in pieces by the Titans, because the virtues are not cut off by each other.” Αινυττονται (lege αινιττονται) δε τους διαφεϱους βαϑμους των αϱετων ϰαϑ’ ας ἡ ἡμετεϱα ψυχη συμβολα εχουσα πασων των αϱετων, των τε ϑεωϱητιϰων, ϰαι ϰαϑαϱτιϰων, ϰαι πολιτιϰων, ϰαι ηϑιϰων. Ἡ γαϱ ϰατα τας ϑεωϱητιϰας ενεϱγει ὡν παϱα δειγμα ἡ του ουϱανου βασιλεια, ινα ανωϑεν αϱξαμεϑα, διο ϰαι ουϱανος ειϱηται παϱα του τα ανω οϱᾳν. Ἡ ϰαϑαϱτιϰως ζη, ἡς παϱα δειγμα ἡ Κϱονεια βασιλεια, διο ϰαι Κϱονος ειϱηται οιον ὁ ϰοϱονους τις ων δια το εαυτον ὁϱαν. Διο ϰαι ϰαταπινειν τα οιϰεια γεννηματα λεγεται, ως αυτος πϱος εαυτον επιστεφων. Ἡ ϰατα τας πολιτιϰας ὡν συμβολον, ἡ του Διος βασιλεια, διο ϰαι δημιουϱγος ὁ Ζευς, ως πεϱι τα δευτεϱα ενεϱγων. Ἡ ϰατα τας ηϑιϰας ϰαι φυσιϰας αϱετας, ὡν συνβολον, ἡ του Διονυσου βασιλεια, διο ϰαι σπαϱαττεται, διοτι ουϰ ανταϰολουϑουσιν αλληλαις αἱ αϱεται. And thus far Olympiodorus; in which passages it is necessary to observe, that as the Titans are the artificers of things, and stand next in order to their creations, men are said to be composed from their fragments, because the human soul has a partial life capable of proceeding to the most extreme division united with its proper nature. And while the soul is in a state of servitude to the body, she lives confined, as it were, in bonds, through the dominion of this Titanical life. We may observe farther concerning these dramatic shows of the Lesser Mysteries, that as they were intended to represent the condition of the soul while subservient to the body, we shall find that a liberation from this servitude, through the purifying disciplines, potencies that separate from evil, was what the wisdom of the ancients intended to signify by the descent of Hercules, Ulysses, etc., into Hades, and their speedy return from its dark abodes. “Hence,” says Proclus, “Hercules being purified by sacred initiations, obtained at length a perfect establishment among the gods:”that is, well knowing the dreadful condition of his soul while in captivity to a corporeal nature, and purifying himself by practice of the cleansing virtues, of which certain purifications in the mystic ceremonies were symbolical, he at length was freed from the bondage of matter, and ascended beyond her reach. On this account, it is said of him, that
“He dragg’d the three-mouth’d dog to upper day;”
intimating that by temperance, continence, and the other virtues, he drew upwards the intuitional, rational, and opinionative part of the soul. And as to Theseus, who is represented as suffering eternal punishment in Hades, we must consider him too as an allegorical character, of which Proclus, in the above-cited admirable work, gives the following beautiful explanation: “Theseus and Pirithous,” says he, “are fabled to have abducted Helen, and descended to the infernal regions, i. e. they were lovers both of mental and visible beauty. Afterward one of these (Theseus), on account of his magnanimity, was liberated by Hercules from Hades; but the other (Pirithous) remained there, because he could not attain the difficult height of divine contemplation.” This account, indeed, of Theseus can by no means be reconciled with Virgil’s:
sedet, æternumque sedebit,
[“There sits, and forever shall sit, the unhappy Theseus.”]
Nor do I see how Virgil can be reconciled with himself, who, a little before this, represents him as liberated from Hades. The conjecture, therefore, of Hyginus is most probable, that Virgil in this particular committed an oversight, which, had he lived, he would doubtless have detected, and amended. This is at least much more probable than the opinion of Dr. Warburton, that Theseus was a living character, who once entered into the Eleusinian Mysteries by force, for which he was imprisoned upon earth, and afterward punished in the infernal realms. For if this was the case, why is not Hercules also represented as in punishment? and this with much greater reason, since he actually dragged Cerberus from Hades; whereas the fabulous descent of Theseus was attended with no real, but only intentional, mischief. Not to mention that Virgil appears to be the only writer of antiquity who condemns this hero to an eternity of pain.
Nor is the secret meaning of the fables concerning the punishment of impure souls less impressive and profound, as the following extract from the manuscript commentary of Olympiodorus on the Gorgias of Plato will abundantly affirm: — “Ulysses,” says he, “descending into Hades, saw, among others, Sisyphus, and Tityus, and Tantalus. Tityus he saw lying on the earth, and a vulture devouring his liver; the liver signifying that he lived solely according to the principle of cupidity in his nature, and through this was indeed internally prudent; but the earth signifies that his disposition was sordid. But Sisyphus, living under the dominion of ambition and anger, was employed in continually rolling a stone up an eminence, because it perpetually descended again; its descent implying the vicious government of himself; and his rolling the stone, the hard, refractory, and, as it were, rebounding condition of his life. And, lastly, he saw Tantalus extended by the side of a lake, and that there was a tree before him, with abundance of fruit on its branches, which he desired to gather, but it vanished from his view; and this indeed indicates, that he lived under the dominion of phantasy; but his hanging over the lake, and in vain attempting to drink, implies the elusive, humid, and rapidly-gliding condition of such a life.” Ὁ Οδυσσευς ϰατελϑων εις ᾁδου, οιδε τον Σισυψον, ϰαι τον Τιτυον, ϰαι τον Τανταλον. Και τον μεν Τιτυον, επι της γης ειδε ϰειμενον, ϰαι οτι το ἡπαϱ αυτου ἡσϑιεν γυψ. Το μεν ουν ἡπαϱ σημαινει οτι ϰατα το επιϑυμητιϰον μεϱος εζησε, ϰαι δια τουτο εσω φϱοντιζετο. Ἡ δε γη σημαινει το χϑονιον αυτου φϱονημα. Ο δε Σισυφος, ϰατα το φιλοτιμον, ϰαι ϑυμοειδες ζησας εϰυλιε τον λιϑον, ϰαι παλιν ϰατεφεϱεν, επειδε πεϱι αυτα ϰαταϱῥει, ο ϰαϰως πολιτευομενος. Αιϑον δε εϰυλιε, δια το σϰληϱον, ϰαι αντιτυπον της αυτου ζωης. Τον δε Τανταλον ειδεν εν λιμν (lege λιμνῃ) ϰαι οτι εν δενδϱοις ησαν οπωϱαι, ϰαι ηϑελε τϱυγαν, ϰαι αφανεις εγινοντο αἱ οπωϱαι. Τουτο δε σημαινει την ϰατα φαντασιαν ζωην. Αυτη δε σημανει το ολισϑηϱον ϰαι διυϱγον, ϰαι ϑαττονα ποπαυομενον. So that according to the wisdom of the ancients, and the most sublime philosophy, the misery which a soul endures in the present life, when giving itself up to the dominion of the irrational part, is nothing more than the commencement, as it were, of that torment which it win experience hereafter: a torment the same in kind though different in degree, as it will be much more dreadful, vehement, and extended. And by the above specimen, the reader may perceive how infinitely superior the explanation which the Platonic philosophy affords of these fables is to the frigid and trifling interpretations of Bacon and other modern mythologists; who are able indeed to point out their correspondence to something in the natural or moral world, because such is the wonderful connection of things, that all things sympathize with all, but are at the same time ignorant that these fables were composed by men divinely wise, who framed them after the model of the highest originals, from the contemplation of real and permanent being, and not from regarding the delusive and fluctuating objects of sense. This, indeed, will be evident to every ingenuous mind, from reflecting that these wise men universally considered Hell or death as commencing in the present life (as we have already abundantly proved), and that, consequently, sense is nothing more than the energy of the dormant soul, and a perception, as it were, of the delusions of dreams. In consequence of this, it is absurd in the highest degree to imagine that such men would compose fables from the contemplation of shadows only, without regarding the splendid originals from which these dark phantoms were produced:—not to mention that their harmonizing so much more perfectly with intellectual explications is an indisputable proof that they were derived from an intellectual [noetic] source.
And thus much for the dramatic shows of the Lesser Mysteries, or the first part of these sacred institutions, which was properly denominated τελετη [telete, the closing up] and μυησις [muesis, the initiation], as containing certain perfective rites, symbolical exhibitions and the imparting and reception of sacred doctrines, previous to the beholding of the most splendid visions, or εποπτεια [epopteia, seership]. For thus the gradation of the Mysteries is disposed by Proclus in Theology of Plato, book iv. “The perfective rite [τελετη, telete],” says he, “precedes in order the initiation μυησις, muesis], and initiation, the final apocalypse, epopteia.” Πϱοηγειται γαϱ, ἡ μεν τελετη της μυσεως, αυτη δε της εποπτειας.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 crier [ϰηϱυξ, kerux], 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, or reception.And the fourth, which is the end and design of the revelation, is [the investiture] the binding of the head and fixing of the crowns. The initiated person 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 an 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 God, and the enjoyment of that felicity which arises from intimate converse with divine beings. Similar to this is the communication of political instruction; for, in the first place, a certain purification precedes, or else an exercise in proper mathematical discipline from early youth. For thus Empedocles asserts, that it is necessary to be purified from sordid concerns, by drawing from five fountains, with a vessel of indissoluble brass: but Plato, that purification is to be derived from the five mathematical disciplines, namely from arithmetic, geometry, stereometry, music, and astronomy; but the philosophical instruction in theorems, logical, political, and physical, is similar to initiation. But he (that is, Plato) denominates εποπτεια [or the revealing], 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.” But though εποπτεια, or the rendition of the arcane ideas, principally characterized the Greater Mysteries, yet this was likewise accompanied with the μυησις, or initiation, as will be evident in the course of this inquiry.
But let us now proceed to the doctrine of the Greater Mysteries: and here I shall endeavor to prove that as the dramatic shows of the Lesser Mysteries occultly signified the miseries of the soul while in subjection to body, so those of the Greater obscurely intimated, by mystic and splendid visions, the felicity of the soul both here and hereafter, when purified from the defilements of a material nature, and constantly elevated to the realities of intellectual [spiritual] vision. Hence, as the ultimate design of the Mysteries, according to Plato, was to lead us back to the principles from which we descended, that is, to a perfect enjoyment of intellectual [spiritual] good, the imparting of these principles was doubtless one part of the doctrine contained in the αποϱῥητα, aporrheta, or secret discourses;and the different purifications exhibited in these rites, in conjunction with initiation and the epopteia were symbols of the gradation of virtues requisite to this reascent of the soul. And hence, too, if this be the case, a representation of the descent of the soul [from its former heavenly estate] must certainly form no inconsiderable part of these mystic shows; all which the following observations will, I do not doubt, abundantly evince.
In the first place, then, that the shows of the Greater Mysteries occultly signified the felicity of the soul both here and hereafter, when separated from the contact and influence of the body, is evident from what has been demonstrated in the former part of this discourse: for if he who in the present life is in subjection to his irrational part is truly in Hades, he who is superior to its dominion is likewise an inhabitant of a place totally different from Hades.If Hades therefore is the region or condition of punishment and misery, the purified soul must reside in the regions of bliss; in a life and condition of purity and contemplation in the present life, and entheastically,animated by the divine energy, in the next. This being admitted, let us proceed to consider the description which Virgil gives us of these fortunate abodes, and the latent signification which it contains. Æneas and his guide, then, having passed through Hades, and seen at a distance Tartarus, or the utmost profundity of a material nature, they next advance to the Elysian fields:
Devenere locus lætos, et amæna vireta
Fortunatorum nemorum, sedesque beatas.
Largior hic campos æther et lumine vestit
Purpureo; solemque suum, sua sidera norunt.
[“They came to the blissful regions, and delightful green retreats, and happy abodes in the fortunate groves. A freer and purer sky here clothes the fields with a purple light; they recognize their own sun, their own stars.”]
Now the secret meaning of these joyful places is thus beautifully unfolded by Olympiodorus in his manuscript Commentary on the Gorgias of Plato. “It is necessary to know,” says he, “that the fortunate islands are said to be raised above the sea; and hence a condition of being, which transcends this corporeal life and generated existence, is denominated the islands of the blessed; but these are the same with the Elysian fields. And on this account Hercules is said to have accomplished his last labor in the Hesperian regions; signifying by this, that having vanquished a dark and earthly life he afterward lived in day, that is, in truth and light.” Δει δε ειδεναι ὁτι αἱ νησοι ὑπεϱϰυπτουσιν της ϑαλασσης ανωτεϱω ουσαι. Την ουν πολιτειαν την ὑπεϱϰυψασαν του βιου ϰαι της γενησεῳς, μαϰαϱων νησους ϰαλουσι. Ταυτον δε εστι ϰαι το ηλυσιον πεδιον. Δια τοι τουτο ϰαι ὁ Ἡϱαϰλης τελευταιον αϑλον εν τοις εσπεϱιοις μεϱεσιν εποιησατο, αντι ϰατηγωνισατο τον σϰοτεινον ϰαι χϑονιον βιον, ϰαι λοιπον εν ἡμεϱᾳ, ὁστιν εν αληϑειᾳ ϰαι φωτι εζη. So that he who in the present state vanquishes as much as possible a corporeal life, through the practice of the purifying virtues, passes in reality into the Fortunate Islands of the soul, and lives surrounded with the bright splendors of truth and wisdom proceeding from the sun of good.
The poet, in describing the employments of the blessed, says:
Pars in gramineis exercent membra palæstris:
Contendunt ludo, et fulva luctantur arena:
Pars pedibus plaudunt choreas, et carmina dicunt.
Nec non Threicius longa cum veste sacerdos
Obloquitur numeris septem discrimina vocum:
Iamque eadem digitis, jam pectine pulsat eburno.
Hic genus antiquum Teueri, pulcherrima proles,
Magnanimi heroes, nati melioribus annis,
Illusque, Assaracusque, et Trojæ Dardanus auctor.
Arma procul, currusque virum miratur inanis.
Stant terra defixæ hastæ, passimque soluti
Per campum pascuntur equi. Quæ gratia curruum
Armorumque fuit vivis, quæ cura nitentis
Pascere equos, eadem sequitur tellure repostos.
Conspicit, ecce alios, dextra lævaque per herbam
Vescentis, lætumque choro Pæana canentis,
Inter odoratum lauri nemus: unde superne
Plurimus Eridani per silvam volvitur amnis.
[“Some exercise their limbs upon the grassy field, contend in play and wrestle on the yellow sand; some dance on the ground and utter songs. The priestly Thracian, likewise, in his long robe [Orpheus] responds in melodious numbers to the seven distinguished notes; and now strikes them with his fingers, now with the ivory quill. Here are also the ancient race of Teucer, a most illustrious progeny, noble heroes, born in happier years,—Il, Assarac, and Dardan, the founder of Troy. Æneas looking from afar, admires the arms and empty war-cars of the heroes. There stood spears fixed in the ground, and scattered over the plain horses are feeding. The same taste which when alive these men had for chariots and arms, the same passion for rearing glossy steeds, follow them reposing beneath the earth. Lo! also he views others, on the right and left, feasting on the grass, and singing in chorus the joyful pæon, amid a fragrant grove of laurel; whence from above the greatest river Eridanus rolls through the woods.”
A pæon was chanted to Apollo at Delphi every seventh day.]
This must not be understood as if the soul in the regions of felicity retained any affection for material concerns, or was engaged in the trifling pursuits of the everyday corporeal life; but that when separated from generation, and the world’s life, she is constantly engaged in employments proper to the higher spiritual nature; either in divine contests of the most exalted wisdom; in forming the responsive dance of refined imaginations; in tuning the sacred lyre of mystic piety to strains of divine fury and ineffable delight; in giving free scope to the splendid and winged powers of the soul; or in nourishing the higher intellect with the substantial banquets of intelligible [spiritual] food. Nor is it without reason that the river Eridanus is represented as flowing through these delightful abodes; and is at the same time denominated plurimus (greatest), because a great part of it was absorbed in the earth without emerging from thence: for a river is the symbol of life, and consequently signifies in this place the intellectual or spiritual life, proceeding from on high, that is, from divinity itself, and gliding with prolific energy through the hidden and profound recesses of the soul. In the following lines he says:
Nulli certa domus. Lucis habitamus opacis,
Riparumque toros, et prata recentia rivis
[“No one of us has a fixed abode. We inhabit the dark groves, and occupy couches on the river-banks, and meadows fresh with little rivulets.”]
By the blessed not being confined to a particular habitation, is implied that they are perfectly free in all things; being entirely free from all material restraint, and purified from all inclination incident to the dark and cold tenement of the body. The shady groves are symbols of the retiring of the soul to the depth of her essence, and there, by energy solely divine, establishing herself in the ineffable principle of things.And the meadows are symbols of that prolific power of the gods through which all the variety of reasons, animals, and forms was produced, and which is here the refreshing pasture and retreat of the liberated soul.
But that the communication of the knowledge of the principles from which the soul descended formed a part of the sacred Mysteries is evident from Virgil; and that this was accompanied with a vision of these principles or gods, is no less certain, from the testimony of Plato, Apuleius, and Proclus. The first part of this assertion is evinced by the following beautiful lines:
Principio cælum ac terras, camposque liquentes
Lucentemque globum lunæ, Titaniaque astra
Spiritus intus alit, totumque infusa per artus
Mens agitat molem, et magno se corpore miscet.
Inde hominum pecudumque genus, vitæque volantum,
Et quæ marmoreo fert monstra sub æquore pontus.
Igneus est ollis vigor, et cælestis origo
Seminibus, quantum non noxia corpora tardant,
Terrenique hebetant artus, moribundaque membra.
Hinc metuunt cupiuntque: dolent, gaudentque: neque auras
Despiciunt clausa tenebris et carcere cæco.
[“First of all the interior spirit sustains the heaven and earth and watery plains, the illuminated orb of the moon, and the Titanian stars; and the Mind, diffused through all the members, gives energy to the whole frame, and mingles with the vast body [of the universe]. Thence proceed the race of men and beasts, the vital souls of birds and the brutes which the Ocean breeds beneath its smooth surface. In them all is a potency like fire, and a celestial origin as to the rudimentary principles, so far as they are not clogged by noxious bodies. They are deadened by earthly forms and members subject to death; hence they fear and desire, grieve and rejoice; nor do they, thus enclosed in darkness and the gloomy prison, behold the heavenly air.”]
For the sources of the soul’s existence are also the principles from which it fell; and these, as we may learn from the Timæus of Plato, are the Demiurgus, the mundane soul, and the junior or mundane gods.Now, of these, the mundane intellect, which, according to the ancient theology, is represented by Bacchus, is principally celebrated by the poet, and this because the soul is particularly distributed into generation, after the manner of Dionysus or Bacchus, as is evident from the preceding extracts from Olympiodorus: and is still more abundantly confirmed by the following curious passage from the same author, in his comment on the Phædo of Plato. “The soul,” says he, “descends Corically [or after the manner of Proserpine] into generation,but is distributed into generation Dionysiacally,and she is bound in body Prometheiacallyand Titanically: she frees herself therefore from its bonds by exercising the strength of Hercules; but she is collected into one through the assistance of Apollo and the savior Minerva, by philosophical discipline of mind and heart purifying the nature.” Ὁτι ϰοϱιϰως μεν εις γενεσιν ϰατεισιν ἡ ψυχη· Διονυσιανως δε μεϱιζεται ὑπο της γενεσεως· Πϱομηϑειως δε, ϰαι Τιτανιϰως, εγϰαταδειται τῳ σωματι· Αυει μεν ουν εαυτην Ἡϱαϰλειως ισχυσασα· Συναιϱει δε δι Απολλωνος ϰαι της σωτηϱας Αϑηνας, παϑαϱτιϰως τω οντι φιλοσοφουσα. The poet, however, intimates the other causes of the soul’s existence, when he says,
Igneus est ollis vigor, et cælestis origo
[“There is then a certain fiery potency, and a celestial origin as to the rudimentary principles.” I. e. Restored to wholeness and divine life.]
which evidently alludes to the sowing of souls into generation,mentioned in the Timæus. And from hence the reader will easily perceive the extreme ridiculousness of Dr. Warburton’s system, that the grand secret of the Mysteries consisted in exposing the errors of Polytheism, and in teaching the doctrine of the unity, or the existence of one deity alone. For he might as well have said, that the great secret consisted in teaching a man how, by writing notes on the works of a poet, he might become a bishop! But it is by no means wonderful that men who have not the smallest conception of the true nature of the gods; who have persuaded themselves that they were only dead men deified; and who measure the understandings of the ancients by their own, should be led to fabricate a system so improbable and absurd.
But that this instruction was accompanied with a vision of the source from which the soul proceeded, is evident from the express testimony, in the first place, of Apuleius, who thus describes his initiation into the Mysteries. “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.”That is, “I approached the confines of death: and having trodden on the threshold of Proserpina returned, having been carried through all the elements. In the depths of midnight I saw the sun glittering with a splendid light, together with the infernal and supernal gods: and to these divinities approaching near, I paid the tribute of devout adoration.” And this is no less evidently implied by Plato, who thus describes the felicity of the holy soul prior to its descent, in a beautiful allusion to the arcane visions of the Mysteries. Καλλος δε τοτε ην ιδειν λαμπϱον, ὁτε συν ευδαιμονι χοϱῳ μαϰαϱιαν οψιν τε ϰαι ϑεαν επομενοι μετα μεν Διος ἡμεις, αλλοι δε μετ’ αλλου ϑεων, ειδον τε ϰαι ετελουντο τελετων ἡν ϑεμις λεγειν μαϰαϱιωτατην· ην οϱγιαζομεν ολοϰληϱοι μεν αυτοι οντες, ϰαι απαϑεις ϰαϰων ὁσα ἡμας εν ὑστεϱῳ χϱονῳ ὑπεμενεν. Ὁλοϰληϱα δε ϰαι ἁπλα ϰαι ατϱεμη ϰαι ευδαιμονα φασματα μυουμενοι τε ϰαι εποπτευοντες εν αυγῃ ϰαϑαϱᾳ, ϰαϑαϱοι οντες ϰαι ασημαντοι τουτου ὁ νυν δη σωμα πεϱιφεϱοντες ονομαζομεν οστϱεου τϱοπον δε δεσμευμενοι. That is, “But it was then lawful to survey the most splendid beauty, when we obtained, together with that blessed choir, this happy vision and contemplation. And we indeed enjoyed this blessed spectacle together with Jupiter; but others in conjunction with some other god; at the same time being initiated in those Mysteries, which it is lawful to call the most blessed of all Mysteries. And these divine Orgieswere celebrated by us, while we possessed the proper integrity of our nature, we were freed from the molestations of evil which otherwise await us in a future period of time. Likewise, in consequence of this divine initiation, we became spectators of entire, simple, immovable, and blessed visions, resident in a pure light; and were ourselves pure and immaculate, being liberated from this surrounding vestment, which we denominate body, and to which we are now bound like an oyster to its shell.”Upon this beautiful passage Proclus observes, “That the initiation and epopteia [the vailing and the revealing] are symbols of ineffable silence, and of union with mystical natures, through intelligible visions.Και γαϱ ἡ μυησις, ϰαι η εποπτεια, της αϱῥητου σιγης εστι συμβολον, ϰαι της πϱος τα μυστιϰα διὰ των νοητων φασματων ενωσεως. Now, from all this, it may be inferred, that the most sublime part of the εποπτιεια [epopteia] or final revealing, consisted in beholding the gods themselves invested with a resplendent light;and that this was symbolical of those transporting visions, which the virtuous soul will constantly enjoy in a future state; and of which it is able to gain some ravishing glimpses, even while connected with the cumbrous vestment of the body.
But that this was actually the case, is evident from the following unequivocal testimony of Proclus: Εν απασι ταις τελεταις ϰαι τοις μυστηϱιοις, οἱ ϑεοι πολλας μεν εαυτων πϱοτεινουσι μοϱφας, πολλα δε σχηματα εξαλαττοντες φαινονται· ϰαι τοτε μεν ατυπωτον αυτων πϱοβεβληται φως, τοτε δε εις ανϑϱωπειον μοϱφην εσχηματισμενον, τοτε δε εις ἁλλοιον τυπον πϱοεληλυϑως. I. e. “In all the initiations and Mysteries, the gods exhibit many forms of themselves, and appear in a variety of shapes: and sometimes, indeed, a formless lightof themselves is held forth to the view; sometimes this light is according to a human form, and sometimes it proceeds into a different shape.”This assertion of divine visions in the Mysteries, is clearly confirmed by Plotinus.And, in short, that magical evocation formed a part of the sacerdotal office in the Mysteries, and that this was universally believed by all antiquity, long before the era of the latter Platonists,is plain from the testimony of Hippocrates, or at least Democritus, in his Treatise de Morbo Sacro.For speaking of those who attempt to cure this disease by magic, he observes: ει γαϱ σεληνην τε ϰαϑαιϱειν, ϰαι ἡλιον αφανιζειν, χειμωνα τε ϰαι ευδιην ποιειν, ϰαι ομβϱους ϰαι αυχμους, ϰαι ϑαλασσαν αφοϱον ϰαι γην, ϰαι τ’αλλα τα τοιουτοτϱοπα παντα επιδεχονται επιστασϑαι, ειτε ϰαι εϰ ΤΕΛΕΤΩΝ, ειτε ϰαι εξ αλλης τινος γνωμης μελετης φασιν οιοι τε ειναι οι ταυτα επιτηδευοντες δυσεβεειν εμοι γε δοϰεουσι. ϰ. λ. I. e. “For if they profess themselves able to draw down the moon, to obscure the sun, to produce stormy and pleasant weather, as likewise showers of rain, and heats, and to render the sea and earth barren, and to accomplish every thing else of this kind; whether they derive this knowledge from the Mysteries, or from some other mental effort or meditation, they appear to me to be impious, from the study of such concerns.” From all which is easy to see, how egregiously Dr. Warburton was mistaken, when, in page 231 of his Divine Legation, he asserts, “that the light beheld in the Mysteries, was nothing more than an illuminated image which the priests had thoroughly purified.”
But he is likewise no less mistaken, in transferring the injunction given in one of the Magic Oracles of Zoroaster, to the business of the Eleusinian Mysteries, and in perverting the meaning of the Oracle’s admonition. For thus the Oracle speaks:
Μη φυσεως ϰαλεσης αυτοπτον αγαλμα,
Ου γαϱ χϱη ϰεινους σε βλεπειν πϱιν σωμα τελεσϑη.
That is, “Invoke not the self-revealing image of Nature, for you must not behold these things before your body has received the initiation.” Upon which he observes, “that the self-revealing image was only a diffusive shining light, as the name partly declares.”But this is a piece of gross ignorance, from which he might have been freed by an attentive perusal of Proclus on the Timæus of Plato: for in these truly divine Commentaries we learn, “that the moonis the cause of nature to mortals, and the self-revealing image of the fountain of nature.” Σεληνη μεν αιτια τοις ϑνητοις της φυσεως, το αυτοπτον αγαλμα ουσα της πηγαιας φυσεως. If the reader is desirous of knowing what we are to understand by the fountain of nature of which the moon is the image, let him attend to the following information, derived from a long and deep study of the ancient theology: for from hence I have learned, that there are many divine fountains contained in the essence of the demiurgus of the world; and that among these there are three of a very distinguished rank, namely, the fountain of souls, or Juno, — the fountain of virtues, or Minerva—and the fountain of nature, or Diana. This last fountain too immediately depends on the vivifying goddess Rhea; and was assumed by the Demiurgus among the rest, as necessary to the prolific reproduction of himself. And this information will enable us besides to explain the meaning of the following passages in Apuleius, which, from not being understood, have induced the moderns to believe that Apuleius acknowledged but one deity alone. The first of these passages is in the beginning of the eleventh book of his Metamorphoses, in which the divinity of the moon is represented as addressing him in this sublime manner: “En adsum tuis commota, Luci, precibus, rerum Natura parens, elementorum omnium domina, seculorum progenies initialis, summa numinum, regina Manium, prima cælitum, Deorum Dearumque facies uniformis: quæ cæli luminosa culmina, maris salubria flamina, inferorum de plorata silentia nutibus meis dispenso: cujus numen unicum, multiformi specie, ritu vario, nomine multijugo totus veneratur orbis. Me primigenii Phryges Pessinunticam nominant Deûm matrem. Hinc Autochthones Attici Cecropiam Minervam; illinc fluctuantes Cyprii Paphiam Venerem: Cretes sagittiferi Dictynnam Dianam; Siculi trilingues Stygiam Proserpinam; Eleusinii vetustam Deam Cererem: Junonem alii, alii Bellonam, alii Hecaten, Rhamnusiam alii. Et qui nascentis dei Solis inchoantibus radiis illustrantur, Æthiopes, Ariique, priscaque doctrina pollentes Ægyptii cærimoniis me prorsus propriis percolentes appellant vero nomine reginam Isidem.” That is, “Behold, Lucius, moved with thy supplications, I am present; I, who am Nature, the parent of things, mistress of all the elements, initial progeny of the ages, the highest of the divinities, queen of departed spirits, the first of the celestials, of gods and goddesses the sole likeness of all: who rule by my nod the luminous heights of the heavens, the salubrious breezes of the sea, and the woful silences of the infernal regions, and whose divinity, in itself but one, is venerated by all the earth, in many characters, various rites, and different appellations. Hence the primitive Phrygians call me Pessinuntica, the mother of the gods; the Attic Autochthons, Cecropian Minerva; the wave-surrounded Cyprians, Paphian Venus; the arrow-bearing Cretans, Dictynnian Diana; the three-tongued Sicilians, Stygian Proserpina; and the inhabitants of Eleusis, the ancient goddess Ceres. Some, again, have invoked me as Juno, others as Bellona, others as Hecaté, and others as Rhamnusia; and those who are enlightened by the emerging rays of the rising sun, the Æthiopians, and Aryans, and likewise the Ægyptians powerful in ancient learning, who reverence my divinity with ceremonies perfectly proper, call me by my true appellation Queen Isis.” And, again, in another place of the same book, he says of the moon: “Te Superi colunt, observant Inferi: tu rotas orbem, luminas Solem, regis mundum, calcas Tartarum. Tibi respondent sidera, gaudent numina, redeunt tempora, serviunt elementa, etc.” That is, “The supernal gods reverence thee, and those in the realms beneath attentively do homage to thy divinity. Thou dost make the universe revolve, illuminate the sun, govern the world, and tread on Tartarus. The stars answer thee, the gods rejoice, the hours and seasons return by thy appointment, and the elements serve thee.” For all this easily follows, if we consider it as addressed to the fountain-deity of nature, subsisting in the Demiurgus, and which is the exemplar of that nature which flourishes in the lunar orb, and throughout the material world, and from which the deity itself of the moon originally proceeds. Hence, as this fountain immediately depends on the life-giving goddess Rhea, the reason is obvious, why it was formerly worshiped as the mother of the gods: and as all the mundane are contained in the super-mundane gods, the other appellations are to be considered as names of the several mundane divinities produced by this fountain, and in whose essence they are likewise contained.
But to proceed with our inquiry, I shall, in the next place, prove that the different purifications exhibited in these rites, in conjunction with initiation and the epopteia were symbols of the gradation of disciplines requisite to the reascent of the soul.And the first part, indeed, of this proposition respecting the purifications, immediately follows from the testimony of Plato in the passage already adduced, in which he asserts that the ultimate design of the Mysteries was to lead us back to the principles from which we originally fell. For if the Mysteries were symbolical, as is universally acknowledged, this must likewise be true of the purifications as a part of the Mysteries; and as inward purity, of which the external is symbolical, can only be obtained by the exercise of the virtues, it evidently follows that the purifications were symbols of the purifying moral virtues. And the latter part of the proposition may be easily inferred, from the passage already cited from the Phædrus of Plato, in which he compares initiation and the epopteia to the blessed vision of the higher intelligible natures; an employment which can alone belong to the exercise of contemplation. But the whole of this is rendered indisputable by the following remarkable testimony of Olympiodorus, in his excellent manuscript Commentary on the Phædo of Plato.“In the sacred rites,” says he, “popular purifications are in the first place brought forth, and after these such as are more arcane. But, in the third place, collections of various things into one are received; after which follows inspection. The ethical and political virtues therefore are analogous to the apparent purifications; the cathartic virtues which banish all external impressions, correspond to the more arcane purifications. The theoretical energies about intelligibles, are analogous to the collections; and the contraction of these energies into an indivisible nature, corresponds to initiation. And the simple self-inspection of simple forms, is analogous to epoptic vision.” Ὁτι εν τοις ἱεϱοις ἡγουντο μεν αἱ πανδημοι ϰαϑαϱσεις. Ειτα επι ταυταις αποϱῥητοτεϱαι· μετα δε ταυτας συστασεις παϱελαμβανοντο, ϰαι επι ταυταις μυησεις· εν τελει δε εποπτειαι. Αναλογουσι τοινυν αἱ μεν ηϑιϰαι ϰαι πολιτιϰαι αϱεται, τοις εμφανεσι ϰαϑαϱμοις. Αἱ δε ϰαϑαϱτιϰαι ὁσαι αποσϰευαζονται παντα τα ἑϰτος τοις αποϱῥητοτεϱοις. Αἱ δε πεϱι τα νοητα ϑεωϱητιϰαι τε ενεϱγειαι ταις συστασεσιν. Αἱ δε τουτων συναιϱεσεις εις το αμεϱιστον ταις μυησεσιν. Αἱ δε ἁπλαι των ἁπλων ειδων αυτοψιαι ταις εποπτειαις. And here I can not refrain from noticing, with indignation mingled with pity, the ignorance and arrogance of modern critics, who pretend that this distribution of the virtues is entirely the invention of the latter Platonists, and without any foundation in the writings of Plato.And among the supporters of such ignorance, I am sorry to find Fabricius, in his prolegomena to the life of Proclus. For nothing can be more obvious to every reader of Plato than that in his Laws he treats of the social and political virtues; in his Phædo, and seventh book of the Republic, of the purifying; and in his Thæatetus, of the contemplative and sublimer virtues. This observation is, indeed, so obvious, in the Phædo, with respect to the purifying virtues, that no one but a verbal critic could read this dialogue and be insensible to its truth: for Socrates in the very beginning expressly asserts that it is the business of philosophers to study to die, and to be themselves dead,and yet at the same time reprobates suicide. What then can such a death mean but symbolical or philosophical death? And what is this but the true exercise of the virtues which purify? But these poor men read only superficially, or for the sake of displaying some critical acumen in verbal emendations; and yet with such despicable preparations for philosophical discussion, they have the impudence to oppose their puerile conceptions to the decisions of men of elevated genius and profound investigation, who, happily freed from the danger and drudgery of learning any foreign language,directed all their attention without restraint to the acquisition of the most exalted truth.
It only now remains that we prove, in the last place, that a representation of the descent of the soul formed no inconsiderable part of these mystic shows. This, indeed, is doubtless occultly intimated by Virgil, when speaking of the souls of the blessed in Elysium, he adds,
Has omnes, ubi mille rotam volvere per annos,
Lethæum ad fluvium deus evocat agmine magno:
Scilicet immemores supera ut convexa revisant,
Rursus et incipiant in corpore velle reverti.
[“All these, after they have passed away a thousand years, are summoned by the divine one in great array, to the Lethæan river. In this way they become forgetful of their former earth-life, and revisit the vaulted realms of the world, willing again to return into bodies.”]
But openly by Apuleius in the following prayer which Psyché addresses to Ceres: Per ego te frugiferam tuam dextram istam deprecor, per lætificas messium cærimonias, per tacita sacra cistarum, et per famulorum tuorum draconum pinnata curricula, et glebæ. Siculæ fulcamina, et currum rapacem, et terram tenacem, et illuminarum Proserpinæ nuptiarum demeacula, et cætera quæ silentio tegit Eleusis, Atticæ sacrarium; miserandæ Psyches animæ, supplicis tuæ, subsiste.That is, “I beseech thee, by thy fruit-bearing right hand, by the joyful ceremonies of harvest, by the occult sacred rites of thy cistæ,and by the winged car of thy attending dragons, and the furrows of the Sicilian soil, and the rapacious chariot (or car 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.” For the abduction of Proserpina signifies the descent of the soul, as is evident from the passage previously adduced from Olympiodorus, in which he says the soul descends Corically;and this is confirmed by the authority of the philosopher Sallust, who observes, “That the abduction of Proserpina is fabled to have taken place about the opposite equinoctial; and by this the descent of souls [into earth-life] is implied.” Πεϱι γουν την εναντιαν ισημεϱιαν ἡ της Κοϱης ἁϱπαγη μυϑολογειται γενεσϑαι, ὁ δη ϰαϑοδος εστι των ψυχων.And as the abduction of Proserpina was exhibited in the dramatic representations of the Mysteries, as is clear from Apuleius, it indisputably follows, that this represented the descent of the soul, and its union with the dark tenement of the body. Indeed, if the ascent and descent of the soul, and its condition while connected with a material nature, were represented in the dramatic shows of the Mysteries, it is evident that this was implied by the rape of Proserpina. And the former part of this assertion is manifest from Apuleius, when describing his initiation, he says, in the passage already adduced: “I approached the confines of death, and having trodden on the threshold of Proserpina, I returned, having been carried through all the elements.” And as to the latter part, it has been amply proved, from the highest authority, in the first division of this discourse.
Nor must the reader be disturbed on finding that, according to Porphyry, as cited by Eusebius,the fable of Proserpina alludes to seed placed in the ground; for this is likewise true of the fable, considered according to its material explanation. But it will be proper on this occasion to rise a little higher, and consider the various species of fables, according to their philosophical arrangement; since by this means the present subject will receive an additional elucidation, and the wisdom of the ancient authors of fables will be vindicated from the unjust aspersions of ignorant declaimers. I shall present the reader, therefore, with the following interesting division of fables, from the elegant book of the Platonic philosopher Sallust, on the gods and the universe. “Of fables,” says he, “some are theological, others physical, others animastic (or relating to soul), others material, and lastly, others mixed from these. Fables are theological which relate to nothing corporeal, but contemplate the very essences of the gods; such as the fable which asserts that Saturn devoured his children: for it insinuates nothing more than the nature of an intellectual (or intuitional) god; since every such intellect returns into itself. We regard fables physically when we speak concerning the operations of the gods about the world; as when considering Saturn the same as Time, and calling the parts of time the children of the universe, we assert that the children are devoured by their parent. But we utter fables in a spiritual mode, when we contemplate the operations of the soul; because the intellections of our souls, though by a discursive energy they go forth into other things, yet abide in their parents. Lastly, fables are material, such as the Egyptians ignorantly employ, considering and calling corporeal natures divinities: such as Isis, earth, Osiris, humidity, Typhon, heat · or, again, denominating Saturn water, Adonis, fruits, and Bacchus, wine. And, indeed, to assert that these are dedicated to the gods, in the same manner as herbs, stones, and animals, is the part of wise men; but to call them gods is alone the province of fools and madmen; unless we speak in the same manner as when, from established custom, we call the orb of the sun and its rays the sun itself. But we may perceive the mixed kind of fables, as well in many other particulars, as when they relate that Discord, at a banquet of the gods, threw a golden apple, and that a dispute about it arising among the goddesses, they were sent by Jupiter to take the judgment of Paris, who, charmed with the beauty of Venus, gave her the apple in preference to the rest. For in this fable the banquet denotes the super-mundane powers of the gods; and on this account they subsist in conjunction with each other: but the golden apple denotes the world, which, on account of its composition from contrary natures, is not improperly said to be thrown by Discord, or strife. But again, since different gifts are imparted to the world by different gods, they appear to contest with each other for the apple. And a soul living according to sense (for this is Paris), not perceiving other powers in the universe, asserts that the apple is alone the beauty of Venus. But of these species of fables, such as are theological belong to philosophers; the physical and spiritual to poets; but the mixed to the first of the initiatory rites (τελεταῖς); since the intention of all mystic ceremonies is to conjoin us with the world and the gods.”
Thus far the excellent Sallust: from whence it is evident, that the fable of Proserpina, as belonging to the Mysteries, is properly of a mixed nature, or composed from all the four species of fables, the theological [spiritual or psychical], and material. But in order to understand this divine fable, it is requisite to know, that according to the arcana of the ancient theology, the Coricorder (or the order belonging to Proserpina) is twofold, one part of which is super-mundane, subsisting with Jupiter, or the Demiurgus, and thus associated with him establishing one artificer of divisible natures; but the other is mundane, in which Proserpina is said to be ravished by Pluto, and to animate the extremities of the universe. “Hence,” says Proclus, “according to the statement of theologists, who delivered to us the most holy Mysteries, she [Proserpina] abides on high in those dwellings of her mother which she prepared for her in inaccessible places, exempt from the sensible world. But she likewise dwells beneath with Pluto, administering terrestrial concerns, governing the recesses of the earth, supplying life to the extremities of the universe, and imparting soul to beings which are rendered by her inanimate and dead.” Και γαϱ ἡ των ϑεολογων φημη, των τας ἁγιωτατας ἡμιν εν Ελευσινι τελετας παϱαδεδωϰοτων, ανω, μεν αυτην εν τοις μητϱος οιϰοις μενειν φησιν, ους ἡ μητηϱ αυτη ϰατεσϰευαζεν εν αβατοις εξηϱημενους του παντος. Κατω δε μετα Πλουτωνος των χϑονιων επαϱχειν, ϰαι τους της γης μυχους επιτϱοπευειν, ϰαι ζωην εποϱεγειν τοις εχατοις του παντος, ϰαι ψυχης μεταδιδοναι τοις παῤ εαυτων αψυχοις ϰαι νεχϱοις.Hence we may easily perceive that this fable is of the mixed kind, one part of which relates to the super-mundane establishment of the secondary cause of life,and the other to the procession or outgoing of life and soul to the farthest extremity of things. Let us therefore more attentively consider the fable, in that part of it which is symbolical of the descent of souls; in order to which, it will be requisite to premise an abridgment of the arcane discourse, respecting the wanderings of Ceres, as preserved by Minutius Felix. “Proserpina,” says he, “the daughter of Ceres by Jupiter, as she was gathering tender flowers, in the new spring, was ravished from her delightful abodes by Pluto; and being carried from thence through thick woods, and over a length of sea, was brought by Pluto into a cavern, the residence of departed spirits, over whom she afterward ruled with absolute sway. But Ceres, upon discovering the loss of her daughter, with lighted torches, and begirt with a serpent, wandered over the whole earth for the purpose of finding her till she came to Eleusis; there she found her daughter, and also taught to the Eleusinians the cultivation of corn.” Now in this fable Ceres represents the evolution of that intuitional part of our nature which we properly denominate intellect(or the unfolding of the intuitional faculty of the mind from its quiet and collected condition in the world of thought); and Proserpina that living, self-moving, and animating part which we call soul. But lest this comparing of unfolded intellect to Ceres should seem ridiculous to the reader, unacquainted with the Orphic theology, it is necessary to inform him that this goddess, from her intimate union with Rhea, in conjunction with whom she produced Jupiter, is evidently of a Saturnian and zoogonic, or intellectual and vivific rank; and hence, as we are informed by the philosopher Sallust, among the mundane divinities she is the deity of the planet Saturn.So that in consequence of this, our intellect (or intuitive faculty) in a descending state must aptly symbolize with the divinity of Ceres. But Pluto signifies the whole of a material nature; since the empire of this god, according to Pythagoras, commences downward from the Galaxy or milky way. And the cavern signifies the entrance, as it were, into the profundities of such a nature, which is accomplished by the soul’s union with this terrestrial body. But in order to understand perfectly the secret meaning of the other parts of this fable, it will be necessary to give a more explicit detail of the particulars attending the abduction, from the beautiful poem of Claudian on this subject. From this elegant production we learn that Ceres, who was afraid lest some violence should be offered to Proserpina, on account of her inimitable beauty, conveyed her privately to Sicily, and concealed her in a house built on purpose by the Cyclopes, while she herself directs her course to the temple of Cybelé, the mother of the gods. Here, then, we see the first cause of the soul’s descent, namely, the abandoning of a life wholly according to the higher intellect, which is occultly signified by, the separation of Proserpina from Ceres. Afterward, we are told that Jupiter instructs Venus to go to this abode, and betray Proserpina from her retirement, that Pluto may be enabled to carry her away; and to prevent any suspicion in the virgin’s mind, he commands Diana and Pallas to go in company. The three goddesses arriving, find Proserpina at work on a scarf for her mother; in which she had embroidered the primitive chaos, and the formation of the world. Now by Venus in this part of the narration we must understand desire, which even in the celestial regions (for such is the residence of Proserpina till she is ravished by Pluto), begins silently and stealthily to creep into the recesses of the soul. By Minerva we must conceive the rational power of the soul, and by Diana, nature, or the merely natural and vegetable part of our composition; both which are now ensnared through the allurements of desire. And lastly, the web in which Proserpina had displayed all the fair variety of the material world, beautifully represents the commencement of the illusive operations through which the soul becomes ensnared with the beauty of imaginative forms. But let us for a while attend to the poet’s elegant description of her employment and abode:
Devenere locum, Cereris quo tecta nitebant
Cyclopum firmata manu. Stant ardua ferro
Mænia; ferrati postes: immensaque nectit
Claustra chalybs. Nullum tanto sudore Pyracmon,
Nec Steropes, construxit opus: non talibus umquam
Spiravere Notis animæ nec flumine tanto
Incoctum maduit lassa cervice metallum.
Atria cingit ebur: trabibus solidatur ænis
Culmen et in celsas surgunt electra columnas.
Ipsa domum tenero mulcens Proserpina cantu
Irrita texebat redituræ munera matri.
Hic elementorum seriem sedesque paternas
Insignibat acu: veterem qua lege tumultum
Discrevit Natura parens et semina justis
Discessere locis: quidquid leve, fertur in altum,
In medium graviora cadunt, incanduit æther:
Egit flamma polum: fluxit mare: terra pependit
Nec color unus inest. Stellas accendit in auro,
Ostro fundit aquos, attollit litora gemmis,
Filaque mentitos jam jam cælantia fluctus
Arte tument. Credas inlidi cautibus algam,
Et raucum bibulis inserpere murmur arenis.
Addit quinque plagas: mediam subtemine rubro
Obsessam fervore notat: squalebat adustus
Limes et assiduo sitiebant stamina sole.
Vitales utrimque duas; quas mitis oberrat
Temperies habitanda viris. Tum fine supremo
Torpentes traxit geminas, brumaque perenni
Fædat, et æterno contristat frigore telas.
Nec non et patrui pingit sacraria Ditis,
Fatalesque sibi manes. Nec defuit omen.
Præscia nam subitis maduerunt fletibus ora.
After this, Proserpina, forgetful of her parent’s commands, is represented as venturing from her retreat, through the treacherous persuasions of Venus:
Impulit Jonios præmisso lumine fluctus
Nondum pura dies: tremulis vibravit in undis
Ardor, et errantes ludunt per cærula flammæ.
Jamque audax animi, fidæque oblita parentis,
Fraude Dionæa riguos Proserpina saltus
(Sic Parcæ voluere) petit.
And this with the greatest propriety: for oblivion necessarily follows a remission of intellectual action, and is as necessarily attended with the allurements of desire.Nor is her dress less symbolical of the acting of the soul in such a state, principally according to the energies and promptings of imagination and nature. For thus her garments are beautifully described by the poet:
Quas inter Cereris proles, nunc gloria matris,
Mox dolor, æquali tendit per gramina passu,
Nec membris nec honore minor; potuitque
Pallas, si clipeum, si ferret spicula, Phœbe.
Collectæ tereti nodantur jaspide vestes.
Pectinis ingenio nunquam felicior arti
Contigit eventus. Nullæ sic consona telæ
Fila, nec in tantum veri duxere figuram.
Hic Hyperionis Solem de semine nasci
Fecerat, et pariter, sed forma dispare lunam,
Auroræ noctisque duces. Cunabula Tethys
Præbet, et infantes gremio solatur anhelos,
Cæruleusque sinus roseis radiatur alumnis.
Invalidum dextro portat Titana lacerto
Nondum luce gravem, nec pubescentibus alte
Cristatum radiis: primo clementior ævo
Fingitur, et tenerum vagitu despuit ignem.
Læva parte soror vitrei libamina potat
Uberis, et parvo signatur tempora cornu.
In which description the sun represents the phantasy, and the moon, nature, as is well known to every tyro in the Platonic philosophy. They are likewise, with great propriety, described in their infantine state: for these energies do not arrive to perfection previous to the sinking of the soul into the dark receptacle of matter. After this we behold her issuing on the plain with Minerva and Diana, and attended by a beauteous train of nymphs, who are evident symbols of world of generation,and are, therefore, the proper companions of the soul about to fall into its fluctuating realms.
But the design of Proserpina, in venturing from her retreat, is beautifully significant of her approaching descent: for she rambles from home for the purpose of gathering flowers; and this in a lawn replete with the most enchanting variety, and exhaling the most delicious odors. This is a manifest image of the soul operating principally according to the natural and external life, and so becoming effeminated and ensnared through the delusive attractions of sensible form. Minerva (the rational faculty in this case), likewise gives herself wholly to the dangerous employment, and abandons the proper characteristics of her nature for the destructive revels of desire. All which is thus described with the utmost elegance by the poet:
Forma loci superat flores: curvata tumore
Parvo planities, et mollibus edita clivis
Creverat in collem. Vivo de pumice fontes
Roscida mobilibus lambebant gramina rivis.
Silvaque torrentes ramorum frigore soles
Temperat, et medio brumam sibi vindicat æstu.
Apta fretis abies, bellis accommoda cornus,
Quercus amica Jovi, tumulos tectura cupressus,
Ilex plena favis, venturi prœscia laurus.
Fluctuat hic denso crispata cacumine buxus,
Hic ederæ serpunt, hic pampinus induit ulmos.
Haud procul inde lacus (Pergum dixere Sicani)
Panditur, et nemorum frondoso margine cinctus
Vicinis pallescit aquis: admittit in altum
Cernentes oculos, et late pervius humor
Ducit inoffensus liquido sub gurgite visus,
Imaque perspicui prodit secreta profundi.
Huc elapsa cohors gaudet per florida rura.
Hortatur Cytherea, legant. Nunc ite, sorores,
Dum matutinis præsudat solibus aer:
Dum meus humectat flaventes Lucifer agros,
Rotanti prævectus equo. Sic fata, doloris
Carpit signa sui. Varios tum cætera saltus
Invasere cohors. Credas examina fundi
Hyblæum raptura thymum, cum cerea reges
Castra movent, fagique cava dimissus ab alvo
Mellifer electis exercitus obstrepit herbis.
Pratorum spoliatur honos. Hac lilia fuscis
Intexit violis: hanc mollis amaracus ornat:
Hæc graditur stellata rosis; hæc alba ligustris.
Te quoque, flebilibus mærens, Hyacinthe, figuris,
Narcissumque metunt, nunc inclita germina veris,
Prœstantes olim pueros. Tu natus Amyclis:
Hunc Helicon genuit. Te disci perculit error:
Hunc fontis decepit amor. Te fronte retusa
Delius, hunc fracta Cephissus arundine luget.
Æstuat ante alias avido fervore legendi
Frugiferæ spes una Deæ. Nunc vimine texto
Ridentes calathos spoliis agrestibus implet:
Nunc sociat flores seseque ignara coronat.
Augurium fatale tori. Quin ipsa tubarum
Armorumque potens, dextram, qua fortia turbat
Agmina, qua stabiles portas et mænia vellit,
Jam levibus laxat studiis hastamque reponit,
Insuetisque docet galeam mitescere sertis.
Ferratus lascivit apex horrorque recessit
Martius et cristæ pacato fulgure vernant.
Nec quæ Parthenium canibus scrutatur odorem,
Aspernata choros, libertatemque comarum
Injecta tantum voluit frenare corona.
But there is a circumstance relative to the narcissus which must not be passed over in silence: I mean its being, according to Ovid, the metamorphosis of a youth who fell a victim to the love of his own corporeal form; the secret meaning of which most admirably accords with the rape of Proserpina, which, according to Homer, was the immediate consequence of gathering this wonderful flower.For by Narcissus falling in love with his shadow in the limpid stream we may behold an exquisitely apt representation of a soul vehemently gazing on the flowing condition of a material body, and in consequence of this, becoming enamored with a corporeal life, which is nothing more than the delusive image of the true man, or the rational and immortal soul. Hence, by an immoderate attachment to this unsubstantial mockery and gliding semblance of the real soul, such an one becomes, at length, wholly changed, as far as is possible to his nature, into a vegetive condition of being, into a beautiful but transient flower, that is, into a corporeal life, or a life totally consisting in the mere operations of nature. Proserpina, therefore, or the soul, at the very instant of her descent into matter, is, with the utmost propriety, represented as eagerly engaged in picking this fatal flower; for her faculties at this period are entirely occupied with a life divided about the fluctuating condition of body.
After this, Pluto, forcing his passage through the earth, seizes on Proserpina, and carries her away with him, notwithstanding the resistance of Minerva and Diana. They, indeed, are forbid by Jupiter, who in this place signifies Fate, to attempt her deliverance. By this resistance of Minerva and Diana no more is signified than that the lapse of the soul into a material nature is contrary to the genuine wish and proper condition, as well of the corporeal life depending on her essence, as of her true and rational nature. Well, therefore, may the soul, in such a situation, pathetically exclaim with Proserpina:
O male dilecti flores, despectaque matris
Consilia: O Veneris deprensæ serius artes!
[Oh flowers fatally dear, and the mother’s cautions despised: Oh cruel arts of cunning Venus!]
But, according to Minutius Felix, Proserpina was carried by Pluto through thick woods, and over a length of sea, and brought into a cavern, the residence of the dead: where by woods a material nature is plainly implied, as we have already observed in the first part of this discourse; and where the reader may likewise observe the agreement of the description in this particular with that of Virgil in the descent of his hero:
Tenent media omnia silvæ
Cocytusque sinuque labens, circumvenit atro.
[“Woods cover all the middle space and Cocytus gliding on, surrounds it with his dusky bosom.”]
In these words the woods are expressly mentioned; and the ocean has an evident agreement with Cocytus, signifying the outflowing condition of a material nature, and the sorrows and sufferings attending its connection with the soul. Pluto hurries Proserpina into the infernal regions: in other words, the soul is sunk into the profound depth and darkness of a material nature. A description of her marriage next succeeds, her union with the dark tenement of the body:
Jam suus inferno processerat Hesperus orbi
Ducitur in thalamum virgo. Stat pronuba juxta
Stellantes Nox pieta sinus, tangensque cubile
Omina perpetuo genitalia federe sancit.
Night is with great beauty and propriety introduced as standing by the nuptial couch, and confirming the oblivious league. For the soul through her union with a material body becomes an inhabitant of darkness, and subject to the empire of night; in consequence of which she dwells wholly with delusive phantoms, and till she breaks her fetters is deprived of the intuitive perception of that which is real and true.
In the next place, we are presented with the following beautiful and pathetic description of Proserpina appearing in a dream to Ceres, and bewailing her captive and miserable condition:
Sed tunc ipsa sui jam non ambagibus ullis
Nuntia, materna facies ingesta sopori.
Namque videbatur tenebroso obtecta recessu
Carceris, et sævis Proserpina vincta catenis,
Non qualem roseis nuper convallibus Ætnæ
Suspexere Deæ. Squalebat pulchrior auro
Cæsaries, et nox oculorum infecerat ignes.
Exhaustusque gelu pallet rubor. Ille superbi
Flammeus oris honos, et non cessura pruinis
Membra colorantur picei caligine regni.
Ergo hanc ut dubio vix tandem agnoscere visu
Evaluit: cujus tot pænæ criminis? inquit.
Unde hæc informis macies? Cui tanta facultas
In me sævitiæ est? Rigidi cur vincula ferri
Vix aptanda feris molles meruere lacerti?
Tu, mea tu proles?
An vana fallimur umbra?
Such, indeed, is the wretched situation of the soul when profoundly merged in a corporeal nature. She not only becomes captive and fettered, but loses all her original splendor; she is defiled with the impurity of matter; and the sharpness of her rational sight is blunted and dimmed through the thick darkness of a material night. The reader may observe how Proserpina, being represented as confined in the dark recess of a prison, and bound with fetters, confirms the explanation of the fable here given as symbolical of the descent of the soul; for such, as we have already largely proved, is the condition of the soul from its union with the body, according to the uniform testimony of the most ancient philosophers and priests.After this, the wanderings of Ceres for the discovery of Proserpina commence. She is described, by Minutius Felix, as begirt with a serpent, and bearing two lighted torches in her hands; but by Claudian, instead of being girt with a serpent, she commences her search by night in a car drawn by dragons. But the meaning of the allegory is the same in each; for both a serpent and a dragon are emblems of a divisible life subject to transitions and changes, with which, in this case, our intellectual (and diviner) part becomes connected: since as these animals put off their skins, and become young again, so the divisible life of the soul, falling into generation, is rejuvenized in its subsequent career. But what emblem can more beautifully represent the evolutions and outgoings of an intellectual nature into the regions of sense than the wanderings of Ceres by the light of torches through the darkness of night, and continuing the pursuit until she proceeds into the depths of Hades itself? For the intellectual part of the soul,when it verges towards body, enkindles, indeed, a light in its dark receptacle, but becomes itself situated in obscurity: and, as Proclus somewhere divinely observes, the mortal nature by this means participates of the divine intellect, but the intellectual part is drawn down to death. The tears and lamentations too, of Ceres, in her course, are symbolical both of the providential operations of intellect about a mortal nature, and the miseries with which such operations are (with respect to imperfect souls like ours) attended. Nor is it without reason that Iacchus, or Bacchus, is celebrated by Orpheus as the companion of her search: for Bacchus is the evident symbol of the imperfect energies of intellect, and its scattering into the obscure and lamentable dominions of sense.
But our explanation will receive additional strength from considering that these sacred rites occupied the space of nine days in their celebration; and this, doubtless, because, according to Homer,this goddess did not discover the residence of her daughter till the expiration of that period. For the soul, in falling from her original and divine abode in the heavens, passed through eight spheres, namely, the fixed or inerratic sphere, and the seven planets, assuming a different body, and employing different faculties in each; and becomes connected with the sublunary world and a terrene body, as the ninth, and most abject gradation of her descent. Hence the first day of initiation into these mystic rites was called agurmos, i. e. according to Hesychius, ekklesia et παν το αγειϱομενον, an assembly, and all collecting together: and this with the greatest propriety; for, according to Pythagoras, “the people of dreams are souls collected together in the Galaxy.Δημος δε ονειϱων ϰατα Πυϑαγοϱαν αἱ ψυχαι, ἁς συναγεσϑαι φησιν εις τον γαλαξιαν.And from this part of the heavens souls first begin to descend. After this, the soul falls from the tropic of Cancer into the planet Saturn; and to this the second day of initiation was consecrated, which they called Αλαδε μυσται, [“to the sea, ye initiated ones!”] because, says Meursius, on that day the crier was accustomed to admonish the mystæ to betake themselves to the sea. Now the meaning of this will be easily understood, by considering that, according to the arcana of the ancient theology, as may be learned from Proclus,the whole planetary system is under the dominion of Neptune; and this too is confirmed by Martianus Capella, who describes the several planets as so many streams. Hence when the soul falls into the planet Saturn, which Capella compares to a river voluminous, sluggish, and cold, she then first merges herself into fluctuating matter, though purer than that of a sublunary nature, and of which water is an ancient and significant symbol. Besides, the sea is an emblem of purity, as is evident from the Orphic hymn to Ocean, in which that deity is called ϑεων αγνισμα μεγιστον, theon agnisma megiston, i. e. the greatest purifier of the gods: and Saturn, as we have already observed, is pure [intuitive] intellect. And what still more confirms this observation is, that Pythagoras, as we are informed by Porphyry, in his life of that philosopher, symbolically called the sea a tear of Saturn. But the eighth day of initiation, which is symbolical of the falling of the soul into the lunar orb,was celebrated by the candidates by a repeated initiation and second sacred rites; because the soul in this situation is about to bid adieu to every thing of a celestial nature; to sink into a perfect oblivion of her divine origin and pristine felicity; and to rush profoundly into the region of dissimilitude,ignorance, and error. And lastly, on the ninth day, when the soul falls into the sublunary world and becomes united with a terrestrial body, a libation was performed, such as is usual in sacred rites. Here the initiates, filling two earthen vessels of broad and spacious bottoms, which were called πλημοχοαι, plemokhoai, and ϰοτυλυσϰοι, kotuluskoi, the former of these words denoting vessels of a conical shape, and the latter small bowls or cups sacred to Bacchus, they placed one towards the east, and the other towards the west. And the first of these was doubtless, according to the interpretation of Proclus, sacred to the earth, and symbolical of the soul proceeding from an orbicular figure, or divine form, into a conical defluxion and terrene situation:but the other was sacred to the soul, and symbolical of its celestial origin; since our intellect is the legitimate progeny of Bacchus. And this too was occultly signified by the position of the earthen vessels; for, according to a mundane distribution of the divinities, the eastern center of the universe, which is analogous to fire, belongs to Jupiter, who likewise governs the fixed and inerratic sphere; and the western to Pluto, who governs the earth, because the west is allied to earth on account of its dark and nocturnal nature.Again, according to Clemens Alexandrinus, the following confession was made by the new initiate in these sacred rites, in answer to the interrogations of the Hierophant: “I have fasted; I have drank the Cyceon;I have taken out of the Cista, and placed what I have taken out into the Calathus; and alternately I have taken out of the Calathus and put into the Cista.” Κᾳστι το συνϑημα Ελευσινιων μυστηϱιων. Ενηστωσα· επιον τον ϰυϰεωνα· ελαβον εϰ ϰιστης, εϱγασαμενοςαπεϑεμην εις ϰαλαϑον, ϰαι εϰ ϰαλαϑου εις ϰιστην. But as this pertains to a circumstance attending the wanderings of Ceres, which formed the most mystic and emblematical part of the ceremonies, it is necessary to adduce the following arcane narration, summarily collected from the writings of Arnobius: “The goddess Ceres, when searching through the earth for her daughter, in the course of her wanderings arrived at the boundaries of Eleusis, in the Attic region, a place which was then inhabited by a people called Autochthones, or descended from the earth, whose names were as follows: Baubo and Triptolemus; Dysaules, a goatherd; Eubulus, a keeper of swine; and Eumolpus, a shepherd, from whom the race of the Eumolpidæ descended, and the illustrious name of Cecropidæ was derived; and who afterward flourished as bearers of the caduceus, hierophants, and criers belonging to the sacred rites. Baubo, therefore, who was of the female sex, received Ceres, wearied with complicated evils, as her guest, and endeavored to soothe her sorrows by obsequious and flattering attendance. For this purpose she entreated her to pay attention to the refreshment of her body, and placed before her a mixed potion to assuage the vehemence of her thirst. But the sorrowful goddess was averse from her solicitations, and rejected the friendly officiousness of the hospitable dame. The matron, however, who was not easily repulsed, still continued her entreaties, which were as obstinately resisted by Ceres, who persevered in her refusal with unshaken persistency and invincible firmness. But when Baubo had thus often exerted her endeavors to appease the sorrows of Ceres, but without any effect, she, at length, changed her arts, and determined to try if she could not exhilarate, by prodigies (or out-of-the-way expedients), a mind which she was not able to allure by earnest endeavors. For this purpose she uncovered that part of her body by which the female sex produces children and derives the appellation of woman.This she caused to assume a purer appearance, and a smoothness such as is found in the private parts of a stripling child. She then returns to the afflicted goddess, and, in the midst of those attempts which are usually employed to alleviate distress, she uncovers herself, and exhibits her secret parts; upon which the goddess fixed her eyes, and was diverted with the novel method of mitigating the anguish of sorrow; and afterward, becoming more cheerful through laughter, she assuages her thirst with the mingled potion which she had before despised.” Thus far Arnobius; and the same narration is epitomized by Clemens Alexandrinus, who is very indignant at the indecency as he conceives, in the story, and because it composed the arcana of the Eleusinian rites. Indeed as the simple father, with the usual ignoranceof a Christian priest, considered the fable literally, and as designed to promote indecency and lust, we can not wonder at his ill-timed abuse. But the fact is, this narration belonged to the αποϱῥητα, aporrheta, or arcane discourses, on account of its mystical meaning, and to prevent it from becoming the object of ignorant declamation, licentious perversion, and impious contempt. For the purity and excellence of these institutions is perpetually acknowledged even by Dr. Warburton himself, who, in this instance, has dispersed, for a moment, the mists of delusion and intolerant zeal.Besides, as Iamblichus beautifully observes,“exhibitions of this kind in the Mysteries were designed to free us from licentious passions, by gratifying the sight, and at the same time vanquishing desire, through the awful sanctity with which these rites were accompanied: for,” says he, “the proper way of freeing ourselves from the passions is, first, to indulge them with moderation, by which means they become satisfied; listen, as it were, to persuasion, and may thus be entirely removed.”This doctrine is indeed so rational, that it can never be objected to by any but quacks in philosophy and religion. For as he is nothing more than a quack in medicine who endeavors to remove a latent bodily disease before he has called it forth externally, and by this means diminished its fury; so he is nothing more than a pretender in philosophy who attempts to remove the passions by violent repression, instead of moderate compliance and gentle persuasion.
But to return from this disgression, the following appears to be the secret meaning of this mystic discourse: The matron Baubo may be considered as a symbol of that passive, womanish, and corporeal life through which the soul becomes united with this earthly body, and through which, being at first ensnared, it descended, and, as it were, was born into the world of generation, passing, by this means, from mature perfection, splendor and reality, into infancy, darkness, and error. Ceres, therefore, or the intellectual soul, in the course of her wanderings, that is, of her evolutions and goings-forth into matter, is at length captivated with the arts of Baubo, or a corporeal life, and forgets her sorrows, that is, imbibes oblivion of her wretched state in the mingled potion which she prepares: the mingled liquor being an obvious symbol of such a life, mixed and impure, and, on this account, liable to corruption and death; since every thing pure and unmixed is incorruptible and divine. And here it is necessary to caution the reader from imagining, that because, according to the fable, the wanderings of Ceres commence after the rape of Proserpina, hence the intuitive intellect descends subsequently to the soul, and separate from it. Nothing more is meant by this circumstance than that the diviner intellect, from the superior excellence of its nature, has in cause, though not in time, a priority to soul, and that on this account a defection and revolt (and descent earthward from the heavenly condition) commences, from the soul, and afterward takes place in the intellect, yet so that the former descends with the latter in inseparable attendance.
From this explanation, then, of the fable, we may easily perceive the meaning of the mystic confession, I have fasted; I have drank a mingled potion, etc.; for by the former part of the assertion, no more is meant than that the higher intellect, previous to imbibing of oblivion through the deceptive arts of a corporeal life, abstains from all material concerns, and does not mingle itself (as far as its nature is capable of such abasement) with even the necessary delights of the body. And as to the latter part, it doubtless alludes to the descent of Proserpina to Hades, and her re-ascent to the abodes of her mother Ceres: that is, to the outgoing and return of the soul, alternately falling into generation, and ascending thence into the intelligible world, and becoming perfectly restored to her divine and intellectual nature. For the Cista contained the most arcane symbols of the Mysteries, into which it was unlawful for the profane to look: and whatever were its contents,we learn from the hymn of Callimachus to Ceres, that they were formed from gold, which, from its incorruptibility, is an evident symbol of an immaterial nature. And as to the Calathus, or basket, this, as we are told by Claudian, was filled with spoliis agrestibus, the spoils or fruits of the field, which are manifest symbols of a life corporeal and earthly. So that the candidate, by confessing that he had taken from the Cista, and placed what he had taken into the Calathus, and the contrary, occultly acknowledged the descent of his soul from a condition of being super-material and immortal, into one material and mortal; and that, on the contrary, by living according to the purity which the Mysteries inculcated, he should re-ascend to that perfection of his nature, from which he had unhappily fallen.
It only now remains that we consider the last part of this fabulous narration, or arcane discourse. It is said, that after the goddess Ceres, on arriving at Eleusis, had discovered her daughter, she instructed the Eleusinians in the planting of corn: or, according to Claudian, the search of Ceres for her daughter, through the goddess, instructing in the art of tillage as she went, proved the occasion of a universal benefit to mankind. Now the secret meaning of this will be obvious, by considering that the descent of the superior intellect into the realms of generated existence becomes, indeed, the greatest benefit and ornament which a material nature is capable of receiving: for without this participation of intellect in the lowest department of corporeal life, nothing but the irrational souland a brutal life would subsist in its dark and fluctuating abode, the body. As the art of tillage, therefore, and particularly the growing of corn, becomes the greatest possible benefit to our sensible life, no symbol can more aptly represent the unparalleled advantages arising from the evolution and procession of intellect with its divine nature into a corporeal life, than the good resulting from agriculture and corn: for whatever of horrid and dismal can be conceived in night, supposing it to be perpetually destitute of the friendly illuminations of the moon and stars, such, and infinitely more dreadful, would be the condition of an earthly nature, if deprived of the beneficent irradiations [πϱοοδοι] and supervening benefits of the diviner life.
And this much for an explanation of the Eleusinian Mysteries, or the history of Ceres and Proserpina; in which it must be remembered that as this fable, according to the excellent observation of Sallust already adduced, is of the mixed kind, though the descent of the soul was doubtless principally alluded to by these sacred rites, yet they likewise occultly signified, agreeable to the nature of the fable, the descending of divinity into the sublunary world. But when we view the fable in this part of its meaning, we must be careful not to confound the nature of a partial intellect like ours with the one universal and divine. As everything subsisting about the gods is divine, therefore intellect in the highest degree, and next to this soul, and hence wanderings and abductions, lamentations and tears, can here only signify the participations and providential operations of these in inferior natures; and this in such a manner as not to derogate from the dignity, or impair the perfection, of the divine principle thus imparted. I only add, that the preceding exposition will enable us to perceive the meaning and beauty of the following representation of the rape of Proserpina, from the Heliacan tables of Hieronymus Aleander.Here, first of all, we behold Ceres in a car drawn by two dragons, and afterwards, Diana and Minerva, with an inverted calathus at their feet, and pointing out to Ceres her daughter Proserpina, who is hurried away by Pluto in his car, and is in the attitude of one struggling to be free. Hercules is likewise represented with his club, in the attitude of opposing the violence of Pluto: and last of all, Jupiter is represented extending his hand, as if willing to assist Proserpina in escaping from the embraces of Pluto. I shall therefore conclude this section with the following remarkable passage from Plutarch, which will not only confirm, but be itself corroborated by the preceding exposition. Ὁτι μεν ουν ἡ παλαια φυσιολογια, ϰαι παϱ Ελλησι ϰαι Βαϱβαϱοις, λογος ἡν φυςιϰος ελϰεϰαλυμμενος μυϑοις, τα πολλα δι’ αινιγματων ϰαι ὑπονοιων επιϰϱυφος, ϰαι μυστηϱιωδης ϑεολογια. Τα τε λαλουμενα των σιγωμενων σαφεστεϱα τοις πολλοις εχοντα. Και τα σιγωμενα των λαλουμενων ὑποπτοτεϱα. Δηλον εστι, pergit, εν τοις Οϱφιϰοις επεσι, ϰαι τοις Αιγυπτιαϰοις ϰαι Φϱυγιοις λογοις. Μαλιστα δε οἱ πεϱι τας τελετας οϱγιασμοι, ϰαι τα δϱωμενα συμβολιϰως εν ταις ἱεϱουϱγιαις, την των παλαιων εμφαιναι διανοιαν.i. e. “The ancient physiology,both of the Greeks and the Barbarians, was nothing else than a discourse on natural subjects, involved or veiled in fables, concealing many things through enigmas and under-meanings, and also a theology taught, in which, after the manner of the Mysteries,the things spoken were clearer to the multitude than those delivered in silence, and the things delivered in silence were more subject to investigation than what was spoken. This is manifest from the Orphic verses, and the Egyptian and Phrygian discourses. But the orgies of initiations, and the symbolical ceremonies of sacred rites especially, exhibit the understanding had of them by the ancients.”
All ancient religions were characterised by a certain amount of secrecy. Certain restrictions could apply to parts of the temple; there were rituals without any human audience, featuring only the god and his priest, and knowledge and texts could be kept out of reach from all but a few trusted ones. A few further distinctions must be made here, before we can analyse the concept and the working of secrecy in the ancient world.
In the ﬁrst place, secrecy is connected with publicity and with accessibility, in other words, with tradition. If it is about excluding and including, about handing down knowledge, texts, or rituals to a privileged person or group, the secret needs to be capable of being transmitted. There is a wide gap between secrecy on the one hand and → mysticism on the other, in the sense that secrets can be articulated, accessed and transmitted, with severe restrictions, whereas mystical experiences, including the emotional impact of secret acts, defy formulation. The ineffable may be a private secret; it is not a social one and must be treated elsewhere. (...)
The language used in the section on “secret knowledge” comes very close to the language necessary for secret rituals, to the language of initiation and mystery cults. The most important secret from the ancient world without any doubt was the experience of the Mysteries of Eleusis. A large number of the citizens of Athens took part in these Mysteries in some stage of their lives, and the “secret”, therefore, must have been widely known. It was guarded and enforced with much energy. It is widely assumed that the other mystery cults of antiquity, including those of the so-called “Oriental” deities (Cybele, Mithras, Isis, etc.) in part emulated the Mysteries of Eleusis. The secrecy of the rituals, in most cases, functioned as a “control for experience”, although it could be formulated in different terms. In Athenian law, “profaning” the Mysteries (i.e., revealing them either by describing them in words or by acting them out) was punishable by death. This was certainly not the case with the other, private, mystery cults, but in all cases secrecy seems to have served the same purpose: to ensure the emotional impact of undergoing the ritual. Revealing the rituals and their symbols beforehand not only meant transgressing sacred institutions, but also spoiling the effects the ritual was supposed to accomplish.
— In: Wouter J. Hanegraaff: Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism. Leiden: Brill, 2006. pp. 1050 & 1052.
Among the cults of Greece none was more favorably known in the first century of the Christian era than the Eleusinian mysteries. Although it was more definitely localized and centralized than were the other Greek mysteries, this circumstance did not detract from either its reputation or its influence. Locally it was associated with an antique tradition that ran back to prehistoric times, and such antiquity was a valued credential for any first-century religion. The home of this cult was the town of Eleusis on the fertile Rharian plain a few miles from Athens, where in prehistoric times the cereal goddess Demeter was revered by an agricultural community. Legends of the special initiation of foreigners like Heracles and the Dioscuri recall the primitive time when membership in the cult was open to citizens of Eleusis only. With the political fusion of Eleusis and Athens, however, the local barriers were broken down and rebuilt along much extended lines. The dominant city-state of Athens adopted the cult as her own, brought it under state supervision, and entrusted the general management of the mysteries to the Archon Basileus. Inscriptions of the Periclean period attest the well-considered plan of Athens to use the mysteries as a religious support for her political hegemony. This combination of ancient Eleusinian tradition and the official patronage of the Athenian state gave dignity and prestige to the mysteries of Demeter even in the first century.
But this cult was more than merely a state religion of the usual Greek model. In the first century its appeal and its guaranties were for the individual rather than for the citizen. On the one hand not all Athenians, by any means, were members of the cult. The citizen of Athens did not automatically come under the protection of Demeter by natural birth as he found himself under the aegis of Athena. It was by special initiation alone, conceived and represented as a process of rebirth, that he could avail himself of the cult privileges. No less an Athenian than Socrates was reproached for not seeking initiation into these mysteries. The state cult of Demeter operated as a voluntary religious association in which Athenian citizens were eligible for membership; but their adherence was a matter of their own volition.
Conversely, eligibility for admission was not limited to Athenians only. When, as a result of the absorption of Eleusis by Athens, the mysteries lost their local exclusiveness, they further took on a pan-Hellenic character. The so-called Homeric Hymn to Demeter, one of the earliest and most valuable of Eleusinian documents, invites the whole Greek world to come and participate in the mysteries. Herodotus states that in his day whoever wished to do so, whether they were Athenians or other Greeks, might come to be initiated. Later, even the Hellenic limitation was removed and persons of any nationality were received, providing they understood the Greek language in which the ritual was conducted. In the time of Cicero, just before the beginning of our era, “the most distant nations were initiated into the sacred and august Eleusinia.”
It is interesting to note further that women and slaves, even, were admitted to this cult. The author of the oration In Neaeram, which was once attributed to Demosthenes, states that Lysias, without any difficulty, was able to arrange for the initiation of his mistress Metanira. That slaves were admitted is suggested by a fragment from the comic poet Theophilus in which a slave speaks with gratitude of his beloved master who taught him his letters and got him initiated into the sacred mysteries. An inscription dated in the administration of Lycurgus (329-328 B.C.) further puts the question of the admission of slaves beyond doubt. It is an expense account of an Eleusinian official, and among the items included is the following: “For the initiation of two public slaves; thirty drachmae.” The mysteries of Demeter, therefore, once a local cult and later a state religion, came in the end to assume an international character and to make an individualistic appeal. In its developed form, the cult received into membership not only Greeks but also “barbarians,” and women and slaves as well as free men.
It is indubitable that the influence of the Eleusinian mysteries was widespread in the Graeco-Roman world. Though localized at Eleusis this cult influenced rites that were celebrated elsewhere in widely scattered centers. In Ionia, at Eleusis this cult influenced rites that were celebrated elsewhere in widely scattered centers. In Ionia, at Ephesus and Mycale, and again in the Arcadian city of Pheneus, Demeter Eleusinia was worshipped and her cult was related in local legend to the Attic foundation. Pausanias vouches for the statement that Celeae near Philius, and Megalopolis in Arcadia each had an “initiation mystery of Demeter” in which the proceedings were conducted “in imitation of those at Eleusis.” According to a late inscription (third century A.D.), a mystery of Demeter flourished at Lerna in Argolis, and the hierophant in charge was the son of an Athenian priest. There are further records that Demeter Eleusinia was worshiped in Boeotia and Laconia on the Greek mainland, and in Crete and Thera among the Greek islands. At Naples, in Italy, mysteries in honor of Demeter were celebrated after the Attic manner. It is even possible that the Andanian mysteries in Messenia, which Pausanias regarded as second in dignity and prestige to the Eleusinian alone, were also related to the Attic cult. In each of these instances two possibilities are to be considered. Either the similar rites had their origin in the Eleusinian ceremonies or else both came from a common parentage. In either case it is patent that there was widespread interest in Demeter cults in the Graeco-Roman world.
Quite apart from the question of related Demeter cults, however, there is an abundance of testimonia to prove the world-wide reputation of the Eleusinian rites themselves at the beginning of the common era. Crinagoras, the Greek epigrammatist of Mytilene, writing in the time of Augustus, advised his friend by all means to go to Athens and see the mysteries, even though he traveled nowhere else. If we may credit Philostratus, his hero Apollonius of Tyana, certainly one of the most famous and respected religionists of his day, applied in person for admission to the Eleusinian mysteries. “But the hierophant was not disposed to admit him to the rites, for he said he would never initiate a wizard and charlatan, nor open the Eleusinian Mysteries to a man who dabbled in impure rites.”
During the early imperial period some very famous non-Greeks showed their deep interest in the mysteries at Eleusis, among them the Emperor Augustus himself. Though normally not attracted by foreign religions, he was initiated at Eleusis in 21 B.C. Later, according to Suetonius, he gave signal proof of his reverence for the mysteries.
“He was hearing a case at Rome which involved the privileges of the priests of the Attic Ceres. When some of the mysteries of their sacred rites were to be introduced into the pleadings, he dismissed those who sat upon the bench with him as judges, as well as the bystanders, and heard the arguments upon these points himself.”
Seutonius also tells us that when Nero was in Greece, “he dared not attend the Eleusinian Mysteries at the initiation of which impious and wicked persons are warned by the voice of the herald from approaching the rites.” However, there were other emperors who like Augustus attained the goal which Nero failed to gain. Marcus Aurelius and Commodus were two of these illustrious mystae. The epitaph of an Eleusinian priestess mentions it as a matter of special pride that she set the crown upon their heads as they participated in the solemn rites. The fact that the first citizens of the Roman Empire sought membership in the Eleusinian cult is striking proof of its great influence.
Other significant testimony is given by the philosophers and moralists of this period. At the close of the pre-Christian era, Cicero declared it was his personal opinion that Athens had given nothing to the world more excellent or divine than the Eleusinian mysteries. At the beginning of the Christian centuries, the Stoic Epictetus spoke of the impressiveness of these mysteries in terms of genuine appreciation. Thus, at the beginning of our era, when Olympian Zeus had lost his ancient supremacy and Delphian Apollo, though reviving, was yet reduced in influence, Demeter of Eleusis still enjoyed a high reputation. The influence of her mysteries was literally world-wide during the early imperial period.
In order to understand the type of religious experience represented by this important cult, it is necessary clearly to keep in mind the main points of the Eleusinian myth which was developed to explain and justify the cult rites. These are stated with sufficient elaboration in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, although this document does not give the myth in its fully developed form. According to the story, Persephone, daughter of Demeter, “giver of goodly crops,” was stolen by Pluto and carried off to the underworld to be his bride. This was done with the knowledge and tacit approval of Zeus himself. The mother, frenzied with grief, rushed about the earth for nine days, torch in hand, abstaining from eating and drinking, and searching wildly for her lost daughter. As she rested at the “maiden well of fragrant Eleusis” she was welcomed by the daughters of Celeus, who took her to their father’s house for refreshment. Here she finally broke her fast and dwelt for a time. ln her resentment against Zeus, she brought famine upon the fruitful earth so that no crops grew for men and no offerings were made to the gods. Finally, an arrangement was made with Pluto whereby Persephone was restored to her sorrowing mother. Since, however, the daughter had eaten a sweet pomegranate seed in the underworld she was forced to return there regularly for a portion of each year. Demeter, in her joy at the restoration of her lost daughter, allowed the crops to grow once more and instituted in honor of the event the Eleusinian mysteries which gave to mortals the assurance of a happy future life. Such was the myth which stood in the background of thought for one who participated in the Eleusinian rites.
The experiential basis for this story is quite clear. It was a nature myth, a vivid depiction of the action of life in the vegetable world with the changing of the seasons. Each year nature passed through the cycle of apparent death and resurrection. In winter vegetable life was dead while Demeter, the giver of life, grieved for the loss of her daughter. But with the coming of spring the life of nature revived again, for the sorrowing mother had received her daughter back with rejoicing. Through the summer the mother abundantly maintained the life of nature until autumn, when again her daughter returned to the underworld and earth became desolate once more. Thus year after year nature re-enacted the myth of Eleusis.
It was also a reflection of poignant human experiences, mirroring the joys, sorrows, and hopes of mankind in face of inevitable death. The three actors of the Eleusinian tragedy, the mater dolorosa as the protagonist, the maiden daughter is the deuteragonist, and the sinister figure of the ravisher as the mysterious third actor, these three enacted the mystery of human life and death. The god of death himself stole the beloved daughter away from the life-giver; but the divine mother would not give up her loved one, and in the end she accomplished her daughter’s resurrection. Here was human experience made heroic and divine; for man has ever loved and lost, but rarely has he ceased to hope for reunion with the loved one. The Eleusinian myth told of these fundamental human experiences as well as of the life of nature.
With this mythological background in mind the Eleusinian ritual should be examined, at least in its more important features, in order to define the variety of religious experience fostered by this cult. It was an elaborate ceremonial, extending over a long period of time. The classical analysis of the Eleusinian rite divided it into four distinct stages: the katharsis, or preliminary purification, the sustasis, or preparatory rites and sacrifices, the telete, i.e., the initiation proper, and the epopteia, or highest grade of initiation. Of these various stages the first two were public, and concerning them there is a large amount of information. But the last two were very strictly private and therefore they remain for us shrouded in mystery. Unfortunately, it is these very private ceremonials that are most important for the student who is interested in the personal religious experiences of paganism. The elaborate preliminary ceremonies do not concern us in detail except as a preparation for the all-important rites which followed.
More than six months before the “great mysteries” in September the “lesser mysteries” were celebrated at Agrae, a suburb of Athens, on the banks of the Illisus. Clement of Alexandria spoke of “the minor mysteries which have some foundation of instruction and of preliminary preparation for what is to come after.” This statement emphasizes what for our purpose was the most significant feature of the mysteries at Agrae — they were important as a prerequisite for the “great mysteries.”
On the thirteenth of September the “great mysteries” began and they lasted over a full week. Early in the festival there was a solemn assembly in the Stoa Poicile, the main item of which was a proclamation by the hierophant. This was not a sermon but rather a warning to depart, addressed to those who for one reason or another were disqualified or unworthy of initiation. As to the content of the formal warning, Libanius states that the “leaders of the mystae” proclaimed to those seeking initiation that they must be “pure in hand and soul and of Hellenic speech.” These terms are confirmed in part by a mathematician of the imperial period who compared his studies to the mysteries. “Not all who wish,” he said, “have a share in the Mysteries. But there are some who are forewarned to abstain; such as those whose hands are not clean and whose speech is unintelligible.” Celsus, as reported by Origen, gives two formulas of invitation, one altogether similar to those already cited and the other of a somewhat different character. He is quoted as follows:
“Those who invite people to other mysteries make proclamation thus: ‘Everyone who has clean hands and intelligible speech,’ others again thus: ‘He who is pure from all pollution, and whose soul is conscious of no evil and who has lived well and justly.’ Such is the proclamation made by those who promise purification from sins.”
These quotations from late pagan writers indicate that the Athenian proclamation included not only ritualistic requirements but elements of moral scrutiny as well. One may say that over the Eleusinian shrine as over the doorway of the Rhodian temple were inscribed the words “[Those can rightfully enter] who are pure and healthy in hand and heart and who have no evil conscience in themselves.”
On the day following the assembly came the cry, “To the sea, O Mystae!” and the candidates for initiation ran down to the sea, there to purify themselves in its salt waves — a lustration believed to be of greater virtue than that of fresh water. “Sea waves wash away ill sin,” said Euripides. The potent effect of the cleansing by salt water was further enhanced by sprinkling with pig’s blood. Each of the mystae carried with him a sucking pig which he purified by immersion in the waters of the sea. Later the pig was sacrificed and its blood sprinkled on the candidate. Tertullian, in speaking of this rite, declared, “At the Eleusinian mysteries men are baptized and they assume that the effect of this is their regeneration and the remission of the penalties due to their perjuries.” This striking affirmation by a Christian writer shows that the initiates themselves applied the new birth comparison to their own experiences in Eleusinian baptism. The rite was believed to be more than cathartic, merely. Regenerative powers were credited to it which operated to make the initiate in some sense a new being. It was with this rite particularly that the Eleusinian devotees associated the idea of personal transformation.
After the preliminary rites at Athens, the purified candidates formed in solemn procession on the nineteenth of September and marched to Eleusis, there to complete the celebration of the festival. Along the Sacred Way leading from Athens there were many holy places, and since the mystae performed ritualistic observances en route the company arrived at Eleusis by torchlight late in the evening. The long march was followed by a midnight revel under the stars, a ceremony that Aristophanes described in glowing terms. This was held on the Rharian plain, and it is not improbable that it partook of the nature of a mimetic ritual. Near the great propylaea of the sacred precinct was the Well of Callichoros, where the first choral dances were organized by the women of Eleusis in honor of Demeter. Close at hand was the Unsmiling Rock, where the desolate mother sat when she first came to Eleusis. Not far away were the meadows which had seen her torchlit wanderings. It would not be strange if the mystae beginning their choral dances at the Well of Callichoros, continuing their revel by torchlight in the meadows, or resting at the Unsmiling Rock — it would not be strange if they felt that they were really sharing in the antique experiences of their goddess. Certainly in their wearied state, weakened by fasting, they would be peculiarly susceptible to such mystical emotions.
Thus the mystae were prepared for the climactic feature of the celebration which took place in the telesterion, or Hall of Initiation. This sacred place was closed to all save the initiated, and the events which occurred there were strictly private and shrouded in the densest mystery. The initiates were under pledge of secrecy not to divulge the revelation there given. Apparently, Public opinion enforced this pledge in a very remarkable manner. Once when Aeschylus was acting in one of his own tragedies the audience became suspicious that he was betraying certain secrets of the Eleusinian mysteries. They arose in real fury and attacked the author-actor, who saved his life only by fleeing to the altar of Dionysus, a refuge that the Athenian mob respected. Later, however, Aeschylus was brought to trial before the Areopagus for revealing forbidden secrets and was acquitted quite as much because of his bravery at Marathon as because of his plea of ignorance. Alcibiades, on the eve of his departure for the Sicilian expedition, was charged with “impious mockery of the goddesses Demeter and Persephone” because he had “profanely acted the sacred mysteries at a drunken meeting.” Even such a garrulous historian as Herodotus, though he was “accurately acquainted with the sacred rites of Demeter” yet felt that he “must observe a discreet silence” concerning them. The secret of Eleusis was guarded all too well and as a result we know almost nil concerning the central rites of the mysteries of Demeter.
One of the incidents just mentioned, however, makes it clear that the heart of the Eleusinian ritual was in the nature of a religious drama. The accusation against Alcibiades very definitely specified actors in a mock pageant which he staged at his drunken revel. “Theodorus represented the herald, Polytion the torch-bearer, and Alcibiades the chief priest, while the rest of the party appeared is candidates for initiation and received the title of initiates.” This describes the situation in the telesterion at Eleusis on the night of initiation; the priests took the part of actors in a religious drama or pageant of which the initiates were the spectators. The archaeological remains of the Hall of Initiation at Eleusis bear out this theory. It was a great square hall around the four sides of which ran stone seats eight steps high, one above the other. Here the initiates sat and watched the spectacle staged in their midst.
Of what did the dramatic action in the telesterion consist? Only hints are given; yet these are sufficient to suggest what was probably the subject matter of the mystery play. Clement of Alexandria tells us that “Deo [Demeter] and Kore became [the personages of] a mystic drama, and Eleusis with its dadouchos celebrates the wandering, the abduction, and the sorrow.” Apparently the drama of the telesterion was a sort of passion play, the subject matter of which was essentially the same as that of the Homeric Hymn. It concerned the loss of the daughter, the sorrow of the mother, and the final return of the loved one from Hades. This view is further confirmed by the words which Apuleius puts into the mouth of Psyche when she appeals to Demeter “by the unspoken secrets of the mystic chests, the winged chariots of thy dragon ministers, the bridal descent of Proserpine, the torchlit wanderings to find thy daughter, and all the other mysteries which Attic Eleusis shrouds in secret.”
[„Per ego te frugiferam tuam dexteram istam deprecor per lætificas messium cærimonias per tacita secreta cistarum et per famulorum tuorum draconum pinnata curricula et glebæ Siculæ sulcamina et currum rapacem et terram tenacem et inluminarum Proserpinæ nuptiarum demeacula et luminosarum filiæ inventionum remeacula et cetera quæ silentio tegit Eleusinis Atticæ sacrarium, miserandæ Psyches animæ supplicis tuæ subsiste. Inter istam spicarum congeriem patere vel pauculos dies delitescam, quoad deæ tantæ sæviens ira spatio temporis mitigetur vel certe meæ vires diutino labore fessæ quietis intervallo leniantur.“ — Apuleius: Met. VI,2.]
From these two references it is evident that the important parts of the great myth of Demeter were enacted as a drama before the eyes of the mystae gathered in the telesterion.
Various writers, pagan is well as Christian, furnish additional evidence on this point and emphasize certain crises in the unfolding plot of the passion drama. Apollodorus, an Athenian historian and mythographer of the second century B.C., is quoted as saying, “The hierophant is in the habit of sounding the so-called gong when Kore calls for aid.” Undoubtedly this statement has reference to the Eleusinian ritual, as the mention of the hierophant proves. One can easily understand that the cry of Persephone marked a high point of interest in the course of the Eleusinian drama, and that it was accentuated by the sounding of a gong. The effect of this on the devotees can easily be imagined. It was an unexpected sound coming suddenly in the midst of a solemn ceremonial. It focused attention entirely and sharply on the immediate action. In emotional effect, it was probably not unlike the sounding of the gong during the celebration of mass. By this simple expedient, the abduction of Persephone was made a memorable part of the passion play of Eleusis.
The statement already quoted from the Alexandrian Clement concerning the actors in the Eleusinian drama makes specific reference to the grief of Demeter as constituting a part of the action. This reference is further confirmed by a quotation from a late pagan author, Proclus, who asserts, “The ceremonies of the mysteries in their secret part, transmit certain sacred lamentations of Kore, of Demeter, of the Great Goddess herself.” Thus again it becomes clear that the Eleusinian passion play was not merely a pantomime, reproducing the actions and gestures of the divine personages, but that it included vocal expression as well. By recitative or chant the actors who impersonated the goddesses gave expression to the emotions of the moment. The text suggests that these chants were traditional and were characterized by the fixity of form usual in ritual. Such being the case, the sorrow of Demeter which formed a distinct episode in the Eleusinian drama was further made impressive by traditional liturgical expression.
An important but very vague reference to the secret part of the Eleusinian mysteries is found in the Panegyric oration of Isocrates. “In her wanderings after the abduction of Persephone, Demeter came into our land. She wished to give testimony of her benevolence to our ancestors in recompense for the good offices of which initiates alone are permitted to hear.” What were these services with which only initiates into the Eleusinian mysteries were familiar and of which they could speak only among themselves? Obviously it could not be the welcome given to Demeter by the household of Celeus. That was known to the wide world through the Homeric Hymn. A Latin poet of the first century furnishes a possible explanation of this veiled reference in Isocrates. Addressing the goddess herself, Statius says:
“Tuque, Actæa Ceres, cursu cui semper anelo Votivam taciti quassamus lampada mystæ.”
Here the Latin poet speaks as an initiate himself. He is contemplating a ceremony which is not a mere spectacle but a religious rite, shared in by the devotees. In solemn silence, torch in hand, they accompanied Demeter in her breathless wanderings. Just as the priestess personified the goddess, they temporarily represented the legendary inhabitants of Eleusis who not only welcomed the goddess but also assisted her in her search. These were probably the services of which Isocrates hinted with such reserve. In the wanderings of Demeter, then, the initiates actually participated by mimetic action. They did the very things which would enable them best to share emotionally in the profound experiences of their goddess.
A quotation from a fourth-century Christian writer, Lactantius, adds confirmatory evidence here and further suggests what was probably the closing scene of the Eleusinian drama. Referring specifically to the mysteries of Demeter, Lactantius says, “With burning torches Proserpina is sought, and when she is found, the rite is closed with general thanksgiving and a waving of torches.” The search was not in vain. The lost daughter was found and restored; and the initiates who had shared in the anxious wanderings of the mother now shared in her happiness at the recovery of her daughter. With joyous acclamation and the waving of torches the return of the lost daughter was hailed by the initiates. This scene of happiness, according to Lactantius, closed the drama of Eleusis.
Thus, notwithstanding the meagerness of information concerning the Eleusinian passion play, we can yet distinguish the main episodes of its action. The abduction of Persephone, the grief of her mother, the search for the lost daughter, and the reunion of the two goddesses — these were the principle scenes. The indecent actions suggested by a few Christian writers must be ruled out as vouched for only on the testimony of prejudiced and highly interested witnesses. On the other hand, the well-certified scenes, though so few in number, constitute the basis for a religious rite of impressive possibilities.
True, the actors in this passion play were few. But classical Greek tragedy at its best boasted of but three actors. And in the telesterion the protagonist was Demeter, the goddess of grain, and the deuteragonist was Persephone, the goddess of the underworld. Clad in gorgeous and traditional costumes the personages of the Eleusinian passion play must have been very impressive figures. Of scenic effect there was little or nothing. The architectural remains of the telesterion show no provision for anything like stage settings or machinery. There was not even a stage, and the properties were probably the simplest possible — torchlight and rich robes. Again the familiar effects of Greek drama may serve to account for this absence of properties. On the Greek stage all was simplicity and convention. Greek audiences, like the spectators of the Elizabethan drama, were trained to depend upon their imaginations to supply what was lacking in stage settings. So at Eleusis, the effectiveness of the passion play depended much upon the cultivated imaginations of the mystae. Moreover, by simple expedients the participation of the initiates in the action of the drama was brought about. They were not merely spectators of a pageant; they were participants in a ritual. The gong focused their attention upon the first great crisis of the drama, the abduction of the daughter. With torches they followed the mother in her frantic search and again with the waving of torches they expressed their joy at the return of her daughter. Thus, by participation in the dramatic action, as well as by active imagination, the mystae were enabled to share emotionally in the experiences of the great goddesses.
Does the plot centering around the abduction of Persephone and her restoration to her sorrowing mother mark the limits of the dramatic representation in the telesterion? Many students believe it does not. M. Foucart, for example, goes so far as to distinguish a second drama, enacted at Eleusis on the evening following the passion play just outlined. According to M. Foucart, the main features of this second mystery drama were a sacred marriage and the birth of a holy child.
The citations supporting this view are not numerous. A commentator on a passage in Plato’s Gorgias says, “The Mysteries are celebrated in honor of Demeter and Kore, because the latter was abducted by Pluto and because Zeus was united with Demeter.” This reference does suggest the possibility of two different Eleusinian dramas along the lines indicated. From the context, however, it is evident that the scholiast is drawing uncritically from Christian sources; hence the value of his testimony is not certain. Tertullian’s question, “Why is the priestess of Ceres ravished, unless Ceres herself suffered the same sort of thing?” is a passage of doubtful reference and interpretation that can scarcely be cited in proof of a sacred marriage at Eleusis. It is most reasonable to think that Tertullian in speaking thus merely confused Demeter and Persephone. As a subsidiary bit of evidence from a pagan source, it should be noted that Lucian had his false-prophet Alexander introduce a sacred marriage into his mysteries, which were modeled in part after the Eleusinian rites.🞵 However, the clearest passage in support of the sacred marriage idea is found in the writings of Asterius, a fourth-century Christian bishop. With unpleasant insinuation, he speaks of “the underground chamber and the solemn meeting of the hierophant and the priestess, each with the other alone, when the torches are extinguished, and the vast crowd believes that its salvation depends on what goes on there.”
If this passage may be taken as conclusive evidence of a sacred marriage in the Eleusinian telesterion, then it has a further significance that is noteworthy. It shows that the marriage was a representative act whereby the initiates entered into mystical communion with their deity. As such it would be a more or less realistic rite after the order of the marriage of the Basilinna at Athens with the god Dionysus, in which the city was united by proxy to the god. The point has this importance: if a sacred marriage was part of the Eleusinian ritual, then this rite assured the initiates of a more direct and immediate communion with the goddess than would otherwise be possible. Whether or not the testimony of Asterius is accepted, his insinuations deserve to be repudiated. There is no reason to assume that any part of the rites were indelicate or were regarded otherwise than with reverence by the initiates. We may be sure of this, that if there was a sacred marriage at Eleusis it was a solemn ceremonial, probably a liturgical fiction, and not an exhibition of licentiousness. Indeed, we have the positive statement of Hippolytus as to the scrupulous purity of the hierophant.
Closely connected with the question of a sacred marriage is that relative to a holy birth at Eleusis. Hippolytus, in the Naassenic sermon just cited, is almost the only authority for this episode. He says:
“The hierophant himself ... celebrating at Eleusis the great and ineffable mysteries beside a huge fire cries aloud and makes proclamation, saying: ‘August Brimo has brought forth a holy son, Brimos,’ that is, the strong has given birth to the strong. For august, he says, is the generation which is spiritual, or heavenly, or from above, and strong is that which is thus generated.”
Such a holy birth as this would normally follow the marriage rite just discussed. What lends exceptional interest to the rite is the idea suggested unclearly in a brief word study that follows. Quoting from “those initiated into the mysteries,” the name Eleusis is derived from eleusesthai (ἐλεύσεσϑαι, to come) “because we spiritual ones came on high.” This suggests that the holy birth of the Eleusinian drama, a birth “spiritual, heavenly, and from above” was viewed as typifying the new birth of the initiate which translated him from the earthly, human sphere to the heavenly, spiritual realm. On this interpretation the rite came to be viewed as a dramatic enactment of a spiritual rebirth experienced individually by the initiates themselves.
The possibility of such a two-act drama as this at Eleusis must certainly be allowed. With lights extinguished, the initiates may have waited in breathless silence for the consummation of a sacred marriage, believing that it involved their own direct communion with the goddess. Again in a blaze of light they may have welcomed the announcement of a holy birth, believing that their own rebirth as spiritual beings was involved in the process. If so, the rites of Eleusis held out to the whole body of initiates the possibility of immediate communion with deity and complete personal transformation guaranteed by appropriate rites. The mystical communion fostered by the problematic second drama at Eleusis was even more intimate and realistic than that cultivated by the passion play.
Distinct from the dramatic part of the initiation ceremony at Eleusis was the exhibition of sacred objects. This part of the service was at least of equal importance with the passion play. The title of the hierophant was “he who displays the sacred things,” and his exhibition of these objects was an act of the utmost solemnity. Only a part of them were, shown during the celebration at which the neophytes witnessed the mystic drama and attained the grade of mystae. Others were reserved for exhibition a year later at the epopteia, or final grade of initiation, when the mystae became epoptae. Thus the display of venerable objects marked the culmination of the “great mysteries” and, so far as we know, was the all-important feature of the final grade of initiation.
Just what the “sacred things” were is a question not clearly answered. It is but reasonable to suppose that they were the very objects which were solemnly escorted to Athens at the beginning of the festival and were later returned to Eleusis in the procession of the candidates on the nineteenth of September. In these processions they were treated with the highest honors and were carefully guarded from public view. Probably they included statues of the goddesses, images of great antiquity and sanctity. We know how the crude old wooden statues of the gods were venerated in other cults. Ordinarily their origin was a matter of marvel. At Athens, for example, the wooden image of Athena Polias, which was believed to have fallen from heaven during the reign of Cecrops, was inextricably bound up with the fortunes of the city. Tertullian speaks not only of a wooden statute of Athena but also of a like image of Demeter as well. Accordingly, we may infer that Eleusis had its wooden image of Demeter even as Athens had its xoanon of Athena Polias, and in all probability this was the most sacred of all the sacred objects at Eleusis. Quite certainly it was accompanied also by an image of Persephone. Within the sacred area at Eleusis, these statues were housed in the anactoron, or chapel, of Demeter which crowned the citadel. This was the holy of holies in the Eleusinian precinct and none but the hierophant might enter here. An Epicurean who had the hardihood to violate the shrine perished miserably as a result of his impiety. In this anactoron the sacred objects were carefully guarded from profanation until the time came for their exhibition.
The display of the hiera was contrived in a most impressive manner. When the door of the shrine was opened the hierophant, clad in his festival robes, came out into the full blaze of a bright light and revealed the sacred objects to the gaze of the initiates. It was an awesome spectacle. The hierophant in his priestly vestments was himself an impressive figure. Eleusinian inscriptions also suggest how effective was the lighting of this scene. One of them speaks of the “holy night, clearer than the light of the sun.” Another one, a metrical inscription engraved on the base of the statue of a hierophant, exclaims: “O mystae, formerly you saw me coming from the shrine and appearing in the luminous nights.” Being in an impressionable state of mind, the mystae must have felt themselves very near to divinity when objects so jealously guarded and of such sanctity were finally exposed to view. The emotional effect of the exhibition is well suggested by a passage from Plutarch. In discussing “Progress in Virtue,” he used a figure of speech derived from the initiation ceremony of these mysteries. According to Plutarch, “He who once enters into philosophy and sees the great light, as when shrines are open to view, is silent and awestruck.” This passage probably well describes the impression made by the spectacle at Eleusis on a company of initiates.
Of the epopteia attained a year after the telete, our knowledge is most scanty. Apparently it was in the nature of a further revelation of sacred tokens. But a single rite is known to us and this only on the authority of Hippolytus. With a fine show of sarcasm he speaks of “the Athenians initiating people at Eleusis and showing to the epoptae that great and marvellous mystery of perfect revelation, in solemn silence, a cut cornstock!” There are two points of emphasis in this passage: first, that the exhibition of a corn token formed a part of the Eleusinian mystery, and, second, that this exhibition was reserved for the epoptae. On these two points there can be little doubt. Indeed, considering the agricultural background of the Eleusinian festival, it is not only credible, but even probable that a corn token should be among the most sacred things of the Eleusinia. The solemnity of this final exhibition is emphasized by the phrase “in silence.” In this case the display took place without a word of elucidation from the hierophant, whereas the year before the spectacle had been accompanied with an explanatory discourse throughout. As to the meaning of this silent exhibition, we are left entirely to conjecture. It is not unreasonable to suppose that the corn was regarded as the symbol of a birth and rebirth in man paralleling the vernal rebirth of nature. This, at least, is the explanation suggested by Farnell. To the gentile mind of the first century, however, it was not merely a matter of symbolism, but rather a conviction arising “in accordance with the naive and primitive belief in the unity of man’s life with the vegetative world.” In this final exhibition, therefore, the initiate would find a proof as well as an illustration of a personal rebirth like that of the grain in springtime. The emotional effect of this rite was probably not unlike that of the hieratic spectacle a year previous. But the conviction arising from it would be rather the assurance of individual rebirth to new life, instead of communion with deity.
The revelation in silence at the epopteia serves to throw into relief a third distinctive element of the Eleusinian mysteries, the discourse or verbal explanation which accompanied the ceremonial. A quaint rhetorical fragment preserved under the name of Sopatros suggests the importance of this discourse. It recounts the dream of a young man who saw the spectacle of the mysteries. Because he did not hear the words of the hierophant, however, he could not consider himself initiated. Without the priestly discourse, then, the initiation was incomplete.
It is difficult to determine precisely what the content of the discourse was. The references at hand concerning these utterances, however, make it clear that it was not in isolated speech but rather a running commentary which served to expIain to the mystae the meaning of the tableaux and the significance of the sacred objects. In all probability the formulas used were liturgical in character, though some freedom of utterance may have been allowed the hierophant. In the course of the explanation, he probably descanted on the blessings assured by the initiation ceremonies, and he may have included moral exhortation as well. About all that can be said, therefore, concerning the sacred discourse is that it was an oral interpretation of the Eleusinian ceremonial intended to give to tableau and drama and exhibition their full meaning.
Having canvassed the drama, the spectacle, and the discourse, have we exhausted the significant elements in the Eleusinian ceremonial? Clement of Alexandria has preserved a formula that suggests the possibility of a different type of ritualistic observance. His statement is, “The password of the Eleusinian Mysteries is as follows: ‘I have fasted, I have drunk the barley drink, I have taken things from the sacred chest, having tasted thereof I have placed them into the basket and again from the basket into the chest.’” There is no reason for doubting the genuineness of this password. The meaning of the first two elements in the process is fairly clear. The fasting of the mystae corresponded to that of the sorrowing goddess Demeter who “sat smileless, nor tasted meat nor drink, wasting with long desire for her deep-bosomed daughter.” Likewise the drinking of the barley drink corresponded to the breaking of her fast; for the goddess had refused a cup of sweet wine, “but she had them mix meal and water with the tender herb of mint, and give it to her to drink.” This mixed potion the goddess accepted. Accordingly, in drinking a similar potation the mystae shared the cup from which the great goddess drank in her sorrow. It was a direct and sympathetic participation in the experiences of the goddess, an action expressive of attained fellowship with the deity.
Just what the eating of food from the chest meant to the participant is less obvious. Like the drinking of the barley drink, it was probably a sacrament of communion, and it may have implied an even more realistic communion than was involved in the act of drinking. If, as is most likely, the sacred food consisted of cereals, then the assimilation of this food meant a direct and realistic union with Demeter, the goddess of grain. It meant an incorporation of divine substance into the human body. However the idea was arrived at, this rite clearly involved a mystical communion by the act of eating, even as the barley drink stood for mystical fellowship through the act of drinking. Already emotionally united with Demeter through participation in her passion, the initiates now became realistically one with her by the assimilation of food and drink.
It is further important to note the effects, both imediate and ultimate, of this elaborate ceremonial upon the lives of the devotees. According to Aristotle, the mysteries did not teach rules of conduct but rather stimulated the emotions. “Aristotle is of the opinion,” Synesitis affirms, “that the initiated learned nothing precisely, but that they received impressions and were put into a certain frame of mind.” To use the Aristotelian formula, not mathein (to learn) but pathein (to suffer) was the reason for participation in the Eleusinian ritual; and in its immediate aspect this was exactly the effect of the celebration.
This stimulation of emotion is so frequently mentioned in Eleusinian sources that there is little danger of exaggeration at this point. Plutarch drew several striking comparisons illustrating the emotional effect of the rites of Eleusis. In his treatise on “Progress in Virtue” he compared the effect of initiation on a confused and jostling crowd of candidates to the influence of philosophy on a noisy and talkative group of students.
“Those who are initiated, come together at first with confusion and noise, and jostle one another, but when the mysteries are being performed and exhibited, they give their attention with awe and silence. ... So also at the commencement of philosophy. ... you will see round its doors such confusion and assurance and prating, some rudely and violently jostling their way to reputation; but he who once enters in assumes another air and is silent and awestruck, and in humility and decorum follows reason as if she were a god.”
Plutarch used yet other striking similes to illustrate more specifically the emotional effect of participation in the mysteries. The joy of the initiated, he affirmed, was like that of the ostracized returning to their native land after banishment. Again he took advantage of the mingled trouble and apprehension, the peculiar hope and final joy of the initiated to describe the feelings of the soul at death. According to Plutarch:
“When a man dies, he is like those who are being initiated into the mysteries. The one expression teleutan the other teleisthai correspond. ... Our whole life is but a succession of wanderings, of painful courses, of long journeys by tortuous ways without outlet. At the moment of quitting it, fears, terrors, quiverings, mortal sweats, and a lethargic stupor, come over us and overwhelm us; but as soon as we are out of it pure spots and meadows receive us, with voices and dances and the solemnities of sacred words and holy sights. It is there that man, having become perfect and initiated — restored to liberty, really master of himself — celebrates crowned with myrtle the most august mysteries, and holds converse with just and pure souls.”
With all this evidence it cannot be doubted that the extended ceremonial of the Eleusinia had a profound effect in stirring deeply the feelings of the mystae. They experienced the whole gamut of emotions from doubt and fear to hope and joy.
Furthermore, the Eleusinian rites were so ordered as to enable the worshiper to enact the legendary experiences of his goddess, and feel as she had felt of old. There was, first of all, the careful mental and physical preparation, the purification of body, and the disposition of mind, which Epictetus stressed, without which, he said, the mysteries could bring no benefit. It was a long preparation beginning at Agrae six months before the initiation proper. At the opening of the greater mysteries the candidates prepared themselves for approach to divinity by fasting and lustrations. They marched in solemn procession along the Sacred Way from Athens to Eleusis, stopping at holy places redolent with memories of their goddess. After all these preliminaries, they were impressionable and psychologically prepared to share intensely in the emotional experiences of the Great Goddess. When in the passion play of the telesterion they witnessed the abduction of Persephone they were sensitive to the grief of the mother. They assisted her in her frenzied search for her lost daughter, and at the reunion of the goddesses they participated in the joy of the occasion. Like Demeter herself they broke their fast by drinking of the barley drink. As completely as possible the devotees of Demeter reproduced her experiences, shared her feelings, and thereby established a sense of mystical fellowship with their goddess. This was the great experience of their religion.
It was not, however, a mere matter of temporary emotional satisfaction to the initiates; for the rites of Eleusis gave positive assurance for the future as well. The mystical communion established by initiation was a lasting one. Sharing in the other experiences of the goddess, the mystae believed they would share also in her triumph over death. According to Farnell, it was their sense of present fellowship that led directly to this conviction concerning the future.
“These deities, the mother and the daughter and the dark god in the background, were the powers that governed the world beyond the grave: those who had won their friendship by initiation in this life would by the simple logic of faith regard themselves as certain to win blessing at their hands in the next. And this, as far as we can discern, was the ground on which flourished the Eleusinian hope.”
Nothing is clearer than that the devotees of Demeter enjoyed the anticipation of a happy future life. It was not merely the vague promise of a future existence, it was the definite assurance of a blissful future that the mysteries of Eleusis offered to seekers for salvation. In classical antiquity this Eleusinian assurance was generally known and appreciated. The Homeric Hymn declared, “Happy is he among deathly men who has seen these things! But he who is uninitiated, and has no lot in them, will never have equal lot in death beneath the murky gloom.” Pindar and Sophocles re-echoed the same thought. “Thrice happy they who go to the world below, having seen these mysteries; to them alone is life there, to all others is misery.” Among the orators, Isocrates declared, “Those who share this initiation have sweet hopes for the end of life and for all future time.” Plato also gave recognition to this conviction when he said that the mysteries taught enigmatically “that he who passes unsanctified and uninitiated into the world below will lie in a slough, but he who arrives there after initiation and purification will dwell with the gods.” At the beginning of the Christian era, this was still the strong hope that the mysteries of Eleusis guaranteed. Cicero said of them, “In the mysteries we learn not only to live happily but to die with fairer hope.” Thus, the mythical experiences of the Eleusinian goddesses in breaking the power of death became the basis for a definite assurance of a happy life beyond the grave. Precisely what the relationship was between the mythological experiences of the Great Goddess and the hopes of her devotees is, indeed, unclear, but that the relationship existed is certain and that the mysteries gave prized assurance of immortality is indubitable.
Not only did the experience of initiation result in a temporary emotional exaltation and a lasting guaranty of future bliss, but it eventuated also in a purification and elevation of the present life of men as well. It is true that the Eleusinian mysteries were criticized at exactly this point. Diogenes of Sinope, for example, sarcastically declared, “It will be an absurd thing if Aegesilaus and Epaminondas are to live in the mire and some miserable wretches who have been initiated are to be in the island of the blest.” Undoubtedly there was reason enough for his criticism. Nevertheless, the general testimony of the ancients was on the other side of the case. Andocides, on trial for impiety before a jury of mystae, assumed that those who had been initiated would be more ready to punish the impious and save the righteous than others would be, and that sin was the more heinous in one who was consecrated to the service of the mother and daughter. At the close of one of his beautiful odes, Aristophanes had the happy initiated sing, “To us alone is there joyous light after death, who have been initiated and who lived in pious fashion as touching our duty to strangers and private people.” Cicero stated as his conviction that in the mysteries we perceive the real principles of life. Even such a stern moralist as Epictetus encouraged reverence for the mysteries, recognized their benefits, and asserted that they were established by those of old for our education and the amendment of life. In face of such an imposing array of evidence, the modern student cannot avoid the conclusion that the Eleusinian mysteries did exert an elevating influence on the moral life.
Here again, the precise relationship between the Eleusinian ritual and its moral effect is exceedingly unclear. We do not know what was the basis for the Eleusinian ethic. There may have been no exhortation to the mystae to lead pure and good lives. Indeed, the immediate and conscious aim of the rites may not have been an ethical one at all. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that the mysteries of Demeter did exercise a salutary influence in the matter of practical living. Not only a temporary stimulation of the emotions, not only a positive guaranty of future happiness, but also a lasting elevation of moral standards was a result of initiation into the mysteries at Eleusis.
For the devotees of Demeter initiation into her cult marked the beginning of a new kind of life more divine than they had known before. It was virtually for them the experience of a new birth. True, the exact word palingenesia does not occur on any of the Eleusinian monuments, but Tertullian attests that the mystae applied this very figure of speech to their initiation experiences and to baptism especially. Tertullian himself did not question the applicability of the term, though as a Christian he naturally insisted on the superior validity of the Christian rite and experience. He argued thus:
“If the mere nature of water, in that it is the appropriate material for washing away, leads men to flatter themselves with a belief in the omens of purification, how much more truly will waters render that service through the authority of God, by whom all their matter has been constituted.”
In other words, Christian baptism according to Tertullian was a potent agency for spiritual regeneration, while Eleusinian baptism was not, though the Christian lawyer admitted that pagan religionists claimed regenerative power for their rite.
In the Eleusinian ritual itself there was much besides baptism to suggest and realistically induce a new birth experience. The mythical background of Eleusinian thought distinctly picturized the recurrent revival of life in nature with each successive year. It represented this fact of common experience in the mythological terms of a goddess who was carried off to Hades but later returned to the upper air. The lesser mysteries, celebrated at Agrae in the springtime, were probably especially suggestive of this renewal of life in nature. The ritual of purification and the long period of fasting preliminary to the great mysteries were intended to wash away the stains of the old life so that the purified candidates might approach the two goddesses prepared for personal renewal. If a ritual marriage formed a part of the mysteries, then the initiates realized a real unio mystica with the divine, in itself a completely transforming process. If the sacred marriage was followed by a holy birth, then the idea of a new life “spiritual, heavenly, and from above,” was further accentuated. With the exhibition of sacred relics the initiates were brought very close to things divine, and the most sacred of these objects, the corn token, was itself a symbol of regeneration. Furthermore, in a realistic sacrament of eating and drinking, the neophytes assimilated food charged with such divine potency that it could transmute human nature into immortal essence. Thus, by realistic union as well as by sympathetic communion, the individual neophyte came to realize a new life by means of initiation.
The type of life which was thus induced by the Eleusinian ritual has been sufficiently characterized. From a purely descriptive standpoint the new birth experience of Eleusis was temporarily a matter of the feelings — the arousal of deep emotions by participation in an ancient and well-ordered ritual. But it resulted in more than a temporary satisfaction of the emotions merely. It eventuated in an amended moral life and the ultimate assurance of future happiness. These were the permanent effects of Eleusinian regeneration.
— Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1929.
Before coming to “images” of mysteries, let us begin from a broad etymological perspective. The lexicon regularly used to express mystery-related matters is frequently connected to the act of seeing – as the Eleusinian title hiero-phantes suggests and to things or images that are seen, and forbidden to be revealed to the non-initiates: μυστήϱιον (μυέω: “closing the lips or eyes”), ἐποπτεία (“look upon, see”, and ἐπόπται “viewers” different to the μύσται), and the δειϰνύμενα (“things that are shown”), the sacred objects shown to the initiates in Eleusis. All these “things shown” might have inspired visual representations. A similar context of viewing is expressed in the light and sudden enlightment (ἔλλαμψις), which closed the initiatory experience. Many Eleusinian inscriptions use the formula ἱεϱὰ φαίνειν, related etymologically to the hierophantes who “displayed the mysteries (τελετὰς ἀνέφαινε) for the Two Goddesses by the sanctuary of Deo”. Aristotle🞯Peri philosophias, fr. 15b (possibly paraphrased more than quoted by Synesius of Cyrene) put a sharp distinction between seeing and hearing that, unlike Plato, he equated to the distinction between a dialectical process of knowledge (hearing) and an immediate and experiential one (seeing):
“[…] didactic knowledge and initiatory knowledge (εἴς τε τὸ διδαϰτιϰὸν ϰαὶ τὸ τελεστιϰόν): the first comes to men through hearing (ἀϰοῇ), and the second when the mind experiences enlightment (αὐτοῦ παϑόντος τοῦ νοῦ τὴν ἔλλαμψιν). Aristotle designates the latter as μυστηϱιῶδες, similar to the Eleusinian Mysteries. In these mysteries indeed, the one who is initiated is struck by the visions (τυπούμενος ὁ τελούμενος τὰς ϑεωϱίας ἦν), but he does not receive instruction (ἀλλ’ οὐ διδασϰόμενος).”
Greek authors who rationalized the characteristics of initiation or mystery experience related it to a form of knowledge resulting from a particular process of learning, produced by a sudden and immediate experience (exaiphnes). Plato called it “telestic” or “epoptic”, drawing on the terminology of the Eleusinian mysteries, and Strabo ἡ μυστιϰὴ τῶν ἱεϱῶν. The emphasis put on sensations and perceptions – expressed by the Aristotle’s formula οὐ μαϑεῖν […] ἀλλὰ παϑεῖν, transmitted by Synesius of Cyrene – explains why neurocognitivist theories may be applicable to the study of the ancient mysteries.
— Nicole Belayche and Francesco Massa: Mystery Cults and Visual Language in Graeco-Roman Antiquity: An Introduction. In: Mystery Cults in Visual Representation in Graeco-Roman Antiquity. Leiden: Brill, 2021. pp. 9-10.
He paused for a moment. “Twenty years ago, I took an extended trip to Greece. I did this to study, to regain my failing health, and, incidentally, to escape Sulla’s notice. He was still dictator and had cause to dislike me. I studied with Antiochus, a most distinguished and learned man. At that time I also became an initiate in the Eleusinian mysteries. I had been a profound sceptic, but the mysteries provided a most illuminating and moving experience. It is of course forbidden to discuss them with one who is not an initiate, but suffice it to say that I have remained since convinced, not only of the possibility of a good life, but of the immortality, or at least the continuity, of the soul.”
I had not been expecting anything quite so deep. “I see. And yet, most people, in most parts of the world, have their own gods, which they believe to regulate the cosmos. Have these any validity?”
“What people have, for the most part, is fear,” Cicero said. “They fear the world in which they live. They fear that which they see and that which they cannot see. They fear their fellowmen. None of these fears, I hasten to point out, is unfounded. The world is indeed a dangerous and hostile place. People seek out the powers that control this world, and they seek to placate them.”
“And can these powers exist as we envision them?” I asked.
“Do you mean, is Jupiter a majestic, middle-aged man attended by eagles? Does Neptune have blue hair and a trident? Is Venus a voluptuous woman of infinite sexual allure?” He chuckled. “We got that from the Greeks, Decius. For our ancestors, the gods had no form. They were powers of nature. They were worshipped in the fields and in woods and at shrines. But it is difficult to imagine gods without form, and when we saw the images created by the Greeks to represent their gods we adopted them.”
“But do we truly influence the gods, with our rituals and ceremonies and sacrifices?”
“We influence ourselves. When we acknowledge these ineffable powers, we see ourselves in a proper perspective, which is one of humility. Our rituals reinforce the ordering of society, from the daily ceremonies conducted by the head of each household to the great rites of state. All are held communally and all emphasize the strict hierarchy of the state in subordination to the gods of the state. As for sacrifice, all men understand the principle of exchange. One gives something of value in exchange for something else. To the common people, sacrifice is just that — the exchange of material objects for less material but nonetheless palpable benefits from the gods. Educated people understand sacrifice as a symbolic act, which brings about the unity of our mortal selves and the higher powers whose supremacy we acknowledge.”
— New York: Thomas Dunne, 1999. pp. 159-160.
Ὦ μαϰάϱιε Σιμμία, μὴ γὰϱ οὐχ αὕτη ᾖ ἡ ὀϱϑὴ πϱὸς ἀϱετὴν ἀλλαγή, ἡδονὰς πϱὸς ἡδονὰς ϰαὶ λύπας πϱὸς λύπας ϰαὶ φόβον πϱὸς φόβον ϰαταλλάττεσϑαι, ϰαὶ μείζω πϱὸς ἐλάττω ὥσπεϱ νομίσματα, ἀλλ᾽ ᾖ ἐϰεῖνο μόνον τὸ νόμισμα ὀϱϑόν, ἀντὶ οὗ δεῖ πάντα ταῦτα ϰαταλλάττεσϑαι, φϱόνησις, [69β]ϰαὶ τούτου μὲν πάντα ϰαὶ μετὰ τούτου ὠνούμενά τε ϰαὶ πιπϱασϰόμενα τῷ ὄντι ᾖ ϰαὶ ἀνδϱεία ϰαὶ σωφϱοσύνη ϰαὶ διϰαιοσύνη ϰαὶ συλλήβδην ἀληϑὴς ἀϱετή, μετὰ φϱονήσεως, ϰαὶ πϱοσγιγνομένων ϰαὶ ἀπογιγνομένων ϰαὶ ἡδονῶν ϰαὶ φόβων ϰαὶ τῶν ἄλλων πάντων τῶν τοιούτων: χωϱιζόμενα δὲ φϱονήσεως ϰαὶ ἀλλαττόμενα ἀντὶ ἀλλήλων μὴ σϰιαγϱαφία τις ᾖ ἡ τοιαύτη ἀϱετὴ ϰαὶ τῷ ὄντι ἀνδϱαποδώδης τε ϰαὶ οὐδὲν ὑγιὲς οὐδ᾽ ἀληϑὲς ἔχῃ, τὸ δ᾽ ἀληϑὲς τῷ ὄντι ᾖ [69ξ]ϰάϑαϱσίς τις τῶν τοιούτων πάντων ϰαὶ ἡ σωφϱοσύνη ϰαὶ ἡ διϰαιοσύνη ϰαὶ ἀνδϱεία, ϰαὶ αὐτὴ ἡ φϱόνησις μὴ ϰαϑαϱμός τις ᾖ. ϰαὶ ϰινδυνεύουσι ϰαὶ οἱ τὰς τελετὰς ἡμῖν οὗτοι ϰαταστήσαντες οὐ φαῦλοί τινες εἶναι, ἀλλὰ τῷ ὄντι πάλαι αἰνίττεσϑαι ὅτι ὃς ἂν ἀμύητος ϰαὶ ἀτέλεστος εἰς Ἅιδου ἀφίϰηται ἐν βοϱβόϱῳ ϰείσεται, ὁ δὲ ϰεϰαϑαϱμένος τε ϰαὶ τετελεσμένος ἐϰεῖσε ἀφιϰόμενος μετὰ ϑεῶν οἰϰήσει. εἰσὶν γὰϱ δή, ὥς φασιν οἱ πεϱὶ τὰς τελετάς, ‘ναϱϑηϰοφόϱοι’ [69δ]μὲν πολλοί, βάϰχοι δέ τε παῦϱοι:’ οὗτοι δ᾽ εἰσὶν ϰατὰ τὴν ἐμὴν δόξαν οὐϰ ἄλλοι ἢ οἱ πεφιλοσοφηϰότες ὀϱϑῶς. ὧν δὴ ϰαὶ ἐγὼ ϰατά γε τὸ δυνατὸν οὐδὲν ἀπέλιπον ἐν τῷ βίῳ ἀλλὰ παντὶ τϱόπῳ πϱουϑυμήϑην γενέσϑαι: εἰ δ᾽ ὀϱϑῶς πϱουϑυμήϑην ϰαί τι ἠνύσαμεν, ἐϰεῖσε ἐλϑόντες τὸ σαφὲς εἰσόμεϑα, ἂν ϑεὸς ἐϑέλῃ, ὀλίγον ὕστεϱον, ὡς ἐμοὶ δοϰεῖ.
O bester Simmias, daß uns also nur nicht dies gar nicht der rechte Tausch ist, um Tugend zu erhalten, Lust gegen Lust und Unlust gegen Unlust und Furcht gegen Furcht austauschen und Größeres gegen Kleineres, wie Münze; sondern jenes die einzige rechte Münze, gegen die man alles dieses vertauschen muß, die Vernünftigkeit, und nur alles, was mit dieser und für diese verkauft ist und eingekauft, in Wahrheit allein Tapferkeit ist und Besonnenheit und Gerechtigkeit, und überhaupt wahre Tugend nun mit Vernünftigkeit ist, mag nun Lust und Furcht und alles übrige der Art dabei sein oder nicht dabei sein; werden aber diese, abgesondert von der Vernünftigkeit, gegen einander umgetauscht, eine solche Tugend dann immer nur ein Schattenbild ist und in der Tat knechtisch, die nichts Gesundes und Wahres an sich hat, das Wahre aber gerade Reinigung von dergleichen allem ist, und Besonnenheit und Gerechtigkeit und Tapferkeit und die Vernünftigkeit selbst Reinigungen sind. Und so mögen auch diejenigen, welche uns die Weihen angeordnet haben, gar nicht schlechte Leute sein, sondern schon seit langer Zeit uns andeuten, wenn einer ungeweiht und ungeheiligt in der Unterwelt anlangt, daß der in den Schlamm zu liegen kommt, der Gereinigte aber und Geweihte, wenn er dort angelangt ist, bei den Göttern wohnt. Denn, sagen die, welche mit den Weihen zu tun haben, Thyrsosträger sind viele, doch echte Begeisterte wenig. Diese aber sind, nach meiner Meinung, keine anderen, als die sich auf rechte Weise der Weisheit beflissen haben, deren einer zu werden auch ich nach Vermögen im Leben nicht versäumt, sondern mich auf alle Weise bemüht habe. Ob ich mich aber auf die rechte Weise bemüht und etwas vor mich gebracht habe, das werden wir, dort angekommen, sicher erfahren, wenn Gott will, binnen kurzem, wie mich dünkt.
Οὕτω ϰατὰ τὴν εἰς τὸ ὅλον μεταβολὴν ϰαὶ μεταϰόσμησιν ὀλωλέναι τὴν ψυχὴν λέγομεν ἐϰεῖ γενομένην · ἐνταῦϑα δ᾿ ἀγνοεῖ, πλὴν ὅταν ἐν τῷ τελευτᾶν ἤδη γένηται · τότε δὲ πάσχει πάϑος οἷον οἱ τελεταῖς μεγάλαις ϰατοϱγιαζόμενοι. διὸ ϰαὶ τὸ ῥῆμα τῷ ῥήματι ϰαὶ τὸ ἔϱγον τῷ ἔϱγῳ τοῦ τελευτᾶν ϰαὶ τελεῖσϑαι πϱοσέοιϰε. πλάναι τὰ πϱῶτα ϰαὶ πεϱιδϱομαὶ ϰοπώδεις ϰαὶ διὰ σϰότους τινὲς1 ὕποπτοι ποϱεῖαι ϰαὶ ἀτέλεστοι, εἶτα πϱὸ τοῦ τέλους αὐτοῦ τὰ δεινὰ πάντα, φϱίϰη ϰαὶ τϱόμος ϰαὶ ἱδϱὼς ϰαὶ ϑάμβος · ἐϰ δὲ τούτου φῶς τι ϑαυμάσιον ἀπήντησεν ϰαὶ τόποι ϰαϑαϱοὶ ϰαὶ λειμῶνες ἐδέξαντο, φωνὰς ϰαὶ χοϱείας ϰαὶ σεμνότητας ἀϰουσμάτων ἱεϱῶν ϰαὶ φασμάτων ἁγίων ἔχοντες · ἐν αἷς ὁ παντελὴς ἤδη ϰαὶ μεμυημένος ἐλεύϑεϱος γεγονὼς ϰαὶ ἄφετος πεϱιιὼν ἐστεφανωμένος ὀϱγιάζει ϰαὶ σύνεστιν ὁσίοις ϰαὶ ϰαϑαϱοῖς ἀνδϱάσι, τὸν ἀμύητον ἐνταῦϑα τῶν ζώντων ϰαὶ4 ἀϰάϑαϱτον ἐφοϱῶν ὄχλον ἐν βοϱβόϱῳ πολλῷ ϰαὶ ὁμίχλῃ πατούμενον ὑφ᾿ ἑαυτοῦ ϰαὶ συνελαυνόμενον, φόβῳ δὲ ϑανάτου τοῖς ϰαϰοῖς ἀπιστίᾳ τῶν ἐϰεῖ ἀγαϑῶν ἐμμένοντα. ἐπεὶ τό γε παϱὰ φύσιν τὴν πϱὸς τὸ σῶμα τῇ ψυχῇ συμπλοϰὴν εἶναι ϰαὶ σύνεϱξιν ἐϰεῖϑεν ἂν συνίδοις.
— Stobaeus, iv.52.49.
Thus we say that the soul that has passed thither is dead (olôlenai), having regard to its complete (eis to holon) change and conversion. In this world it is without knowledge, except when it is already at the point of death; but when that time comes, it has an experience like that of men who are undergoing initiation into great mysteries; and so the verbs teleutân (die) and teleisthai (be initiated), and the actions they denote, have a similarity. In the beginning there is straying and wandering, the weariness of running this way and that, and nervous journeys through darkness that reach no goal, and then immediately before the consummation every possible terror, shivering and trembling and sweating and amazement. But after this a marvellous light meets the wanderer, and open country and meadow lands welcome him; and in that place there are voices and dancing and the solemn majesty of sacred music and holy visions. And amidst these, he walks at large in new freedom, now perfect and fully initiated, celebrating the sacred rites, a garland upon his head, and converses with pure and holy men; he surveys the uninitiated, unpurified mob here on earth, the mob of living men who, herded together in mirk and deep mire, trample one another down and in their fear of death cling to their ills, since they disbelieve in the blessings of the other world. For the soul’s entanglement with the body and confinement in it are against nature, as you may discern from this.
— Translated by Francis Henry Sandbach.
Ὥσπεϱ γὰϱ οἱ τελούμενοι ϰατ´ ἀϱχὰς μὲν ἐν ϑοϱύβῳ ϰαὶ βοῇ συνίασι πϱὸς ἀλλήλους ὠϑούμενοι, δϱωμένων δὲ ϰαὶ δειϰνυμένων τῶν ἱεϱῶν πϱοσέχουσιν ἤδη μετὰ φόβου ϰαὶ σιωπῆς, οὕτω ϰαὶ φιλοσοφίας ἐν ἀϱχῇ ϰαὶ πεϱὶ ϑύϱας πολὺν ϑόϱυβον ὄψει ϰαὶ λαλιὰν ϰαὶ ϑϱασύτητα, ὠϑουμένων πϱὸς τὴν δόξαν ἐνίων ἀγϱοίϰως τε ϰαὶ βιαίως· ὁ δ´ ἐντὸς γενόμενος ϰαὶ μέγα φῶς ἰδών, οἷον ἀναϰτόϱων ἀνοιγομένων, ἕτεϱον λαβὼν σχῆμα ϰαὶ σιωπὴν ϰαὶ ϑάμβος ὥσπεϱ ϑεῷ τῷ λόγῳ «Ταπεινὸς συνέπεται ϰαὶ ϰεϰοσμημένος.»
Bey den Mysterien pflegen anfangs die, welche eingeweihet seyn wollen, sich mit großem Getümmel und Geschrey zu versammeln, und einander zu drängen; hernach aber, wenn der Gottesdienst angeht, merken sie voll Andacht und stiller Ehrfurcht auf die Heiligtümer, die ihnen gezeiget werden. So wird man auch bey dem Anfange, und so zu reden, vor der Thüre der Philosophie, viel Getümmel, Frechheit, und Geschwätzigkeit gewahr, da einige sich auf eine ungesittete und gewaltsame Art zum Ruhme hinzuzudrängen suchen. Wer aber einmal hineingedrungen ist, und, nach Eröfnung des innern Heiligthums, das glänzende Licht erblicket hat, der nimmt nun ein ganz anderes Betragen an, er staunet stillschweigend, und folgt der Vernunft, als einem Gotte, mit Demuth und Sittsamkeit.
— Übersetzt von Johann Friedrich Salomon Kaltwasser. Frankfurt: Hermann, 1783. p. 264.
Τὴν μὲν οὖν εἰσαγγελίαν οὕτως ἔχουσαν ἀναγϱάφουσι: ‘Θεσσαλὸς Κίμωνος Λαϰιάδης Ἀλϰιβιάδην Κλεινίου Σϰαμβωνίδην εἰσήγγειλεν ἀδιϰεῖν πεϱὶ τὼ ϑεώ, τὴν Δήμητϱαν ϰαὶ τὴν Κόϱην, ἀπομιμούμενον τὰ μυστήϱια ϰαὶ δειϰνύοντα τοῖς αὑτοῦ ἑταίϱοις ἐν τῇ οἰϰίᾳ τῇ ἑαυτοῦ, ἔχοντα στολὴν οἵανπεϱ ὁ ἱεϱοφάντης ἔχων δειϰνύει τὰ ἱεϱά, ϰαὶ ὀνομάζοντα αὑτὸν μὲν ἱεϱοφάντην, Πουλυτίωνα δὲ δᾳδοῦχον, ϰήϱυϰα δὲ Θεόδωϱον Φηγαιᾶ, τοὺς δ᾽ ἄλλους ἑταίϱους μύστας πϱοσαγοϱεύοντα ϰαὶ ἐπόπτας παϱὰ τὰ νόμιμα ϰαὶ τὰ ϰαϑεστηϰότα ὑπό τε Εὐμολπιδῶν ϰαὶ Κηϱύϰων ϰαὶ τῶν ἱεϱέων τῶν ἐξ Ἐλευσῖνος.’ ἐϱήμην δ᾽ αὐτοῦ ϰαταγνόντες ϰαὶ τὰ χϱήματα δημεύσαντες ἔτι ϰαταϱᾶσϑαι πϱοσεψηφίσαντο πάντας ἱεϱεῖς ϰαὶ ἱεϱείας, ὧν μόνην φασὶ Θεανὼ τὴν Μένωνος Ἀγϱαυλῆϑεν ἀντειπεῖν πϱὸς τὸ ψήφισμα, φάσϰουσαν εὐχῶν, οὐ ϰαταϱῶν ἱέϱειαν γεγονέναι.
His impeachment is on record, and runs as follows: ‘Thessalus, son of Cimon, of the deme Laciadae, impeaches Alcibiades, son of Cleinias, of the deme Scambonidae, for committing crime against the goddesses of Eleusis, Demeter and Cora, by mimicking the mysteries and showing them forth to his companions in his own house, wearing a robe such as the High Priest wears when he shows forth the sacred secrets to the initiates, and calling himself High Priest, Pulytion Torch-bearer, and Theodorus, of the deme Phegaea, Herald, and hailing the rest of his companions as Mystae and Epoptae, contrary to the laws and institutions of the Eumolpidae, Heralds, and Priests of Eleusis.’ His case went by default, his property was confiscated, and besides that, it was also decreed that his name should be publicly cursed by all priests and priestesses. Theano, the daughter of Menon, of the deme Agraule, they say, was the only one who refused to obey this decree. She declared that she was a praying, not a cursing priestess.
— Translated by Bernadotte Perrin, Cambridge, MA.: Harvard UP., 1916.
„Per ego te frugiferam tuam dexteram istam deprecor per lætificas messium cærimonias per tacita secreta cistarum et per famulorum tuorum draconum pinnata curricula et glebæ Siculæ sulcamina et currum rapacem et terram tenacem et inluminarum Proserpinæ nuptiarum demeacula et luminosarum filiæ inventionum remeacula et cetera quæ silentio tegit Eleusinis Atticæ sacrarium, miserandæ Psyches animæ supplicis tuæ subsiste. Inter istam spicarum congeriem patere vel pauculos dies delitescam, quoad deæ tantæ sæviens ira spatio temporis mitigetur vel certe meæ vires diutino labore fessæ quietis intervallo leniantur.“
„Ich bitte Dich, o Göttin,“ spricht sie, „bei dieser Fülle der Früchte ausspendenden Rechten, bei den fröhlichen Erntefesten, bei Deinen heiligen, geheimnisvollen Körben, bei Deinem drachenbespannten Wagen, bei Siziliens Fruchtbarkeit! Ich beschwöre Dich, bei dem Raube Deiner Tochter, bei der Erde, die sie verbarg, bei Deinem fackelerleuchteten Hinabsteigen zu ihrer Hochzeit in der Unterwelt, bei Deiner Wiederkehr und bei allem übrigen, was das attische Eleusis in unverbrüchliches Stillschweigen einhüllt! Erbarme Dich, Du milde Ceres, hilf der unglückseligen Psyche, die zu Dir ihre Zuflucht nimmt! Verstatte mir, nur wenige Tage unter diesen zusammengetragenen Ähren verborgen zu liegen, bis der mächtigen Venus Zorn durch Zeit sich besänftigt oder bis wenigstens meine so unablässig angestrengten und nun völlig erschöpften Kräfte durch einige Ruhe wiederhergestellt sind!“
„En adsum tuis commota, Luci, precibus, rerum naturæ parens, elementorum omnium domina, sæculorum progenies initialis, summa numinum, regina manium, prima cælitum, deorum dearumque facies uniformis, quæ cæli luminosa culmina, maris salubria flamina, inferum deplorata silentia nutibus meis dispenso: cuius numen unicum multiformi specie, ritu vario, nomine multiiugo totus veneratus orbis. Inde primigenii Phryges Pessinuntiam deum matrem, hinc autochthones Attici Cecropeiam Minervam, illinc fluctuantes Cyprii Paphiam Venerem, Cretes sagittiferi Dictynnam Dianam, Siculi trilingues Stygiam Proserpinam, Eleusinii vetusti Actæam Cererem, Iunonem alii, Bellonam alii, Hecatam isti, Rhamnusiam illi, et qui nascentis dei Solis inchoantibus inlustrantur radiis Aethiopes utrique priscaque doctrina pollentes Aegyptii cærimoniis me propriis percolentes appellant vero nomine reginam Isidem.“
„Schau! Dein Gebet hat mich gerührt. Ich, Allmutter Natur, Beherrscherin der Elemente, erstgeborenes Kind der Zeit, Höchste der Gottheiten, Königin der Manen, Erste der Himmlischen; ich, die in mir allein die Gestalt aller Götter und Göttinnen vereine, mit einem Wink über des Himmels lichte Gewölbe, die heilsamen Lüfte des Meeres und der Unterwelt klägliche Schatten gebiete. Die alleinige Gottheit, welche unter so mancherlei Gestalt, so verschiedenen Bräuchen und vielerlei Namen der ganze Erdkreis verehrt – denn mich nennen die Erstgeborenen aller Menschen, die Phrygier, pessinuntische Göttermutter – ich heiße den Atheniensern, Kindern ihres eigenen Landes, kekropische Minerva; den eiländischen Kypriern paphische Venus; den pfeilführenden Kretern dictynnische Diana: den dreizüngigen Siziliern stygische Proserpina; den Eleusinern Altgöttin Ceres. Andere nennen mich Juno, andere Bellona, andere Hekate, Rhamnusia andere. Sie aber, welche die aufgehende Sonne mit ihren ersten Strahlen beleuchtet, die Äthiopier, auch die Arier und die Besitzer der ältesten Weisheit, die Ägypter, mit den angemessensten eigensten Gebräuchen mich verehrend, geben meinen wahren Namen mir: Königin Isis.“
Nam et inferum claustra et salutis tutelam in deæ manu posita, ipsamque traditionem ad instar voluntariæ mortis et precariæ salutis celebrari, quippe cum transactis vitæ temporibus iam in ipso finitæ lucis limine constitutos, quis tamen tuto possint magna religionis committi, silentia, numen deæ soleat elicere et sua providentia quodam modo renatos ad novæ reponere rursus salutis curricula; ergo igitur me quoque oportere cæleste sustinere præceptum, quanquam perspicua evidentique magni numinis dignatione iam dudum felici ministerio nuncupatum destinatumque; nec secus quam cultores ceteris cibis profanis ac nefariis iam nunc temperarem, quo rectius ad arcana purissimæ religionis secreta pervaderem.
In den Händen der Isis läge überhaupt das Leben eines jeglichen Menschen, lägen die Schlüssel zum Reiche der Schatten; in ihren Mysterien würde Hingebung in einen freiwillig gewählten Tod und Wiedererlangung des Lebens durch die Gnade der Göttin gefeiert und vorgestellt. Auch pflege die Göttin nur solche zu erkiesen, die nach vollbrachter Lebenszeit am Rande des Grabes sich befänden, weil denen der Religion große Geheimnisse am sichersten könnten anvertraut werden. Durch ihre Allmacht würden dieselben dann gleichsam wiedergeboren und zu einem neuen Leben zurückgeführt. Wäre ich nun gleich aus besonderer, sichtbarer Gunst der großen Göttin vorlängst schon zu ihrem seligen Dienste auserkoren und berufen, so müsse ich demungeachtet mich jener himmlischen Verordnung unterwerfen, mich gerade wie ihre anderen Diener aller unheiligen und verbotenen Nahrungsmittel von nun an zu enthalten. Ich würde dadurch um desto fähiger, zu den verborgensten Geheimnissen der allerreinsten Religion zugelassen zu werden.
Tunc semotis procul profanis omnibus linteo rudique me contectum amicimine arrepta manu sacerdos deducit ad ipsius sacrarii penetralia. Quæras forsitan satis anxie, studiose lector, quid deinde dictum, quid factum; dicerem, si dicere liceret, cognosceres, si liceret audire. Sed parem noxam contraherent et aures et lingua, ⟨ista impiæ loquacitatis⟩, illæ temerariæ curiositatis. Nec te tamen desiderio forsitan religioso suspensum angore diutino cruciabo. Igitur audi, sed crede, quæ vera sunt. 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. Ecce tibi rettuli, quæ, quamvis audita, ignores tamen necesse est. ergo quod solum potest sine piaculo ad profanorum intellegentias enuntiari, referam.
Darauf mußten sich alle und jegliche Profanen entfernen. Ich wurde mit einem groben, leinenen Gewande angetan, und der Hohepriester führte mich bei der Hand in das innerste Heiligtum des Tempels ein. Vielleicht fragst Du hier neugierig, geneigter Leser, was nun gesprochen und vorgenommen worden? – Wie gern wollte ich’s sagen, wenn ich es sagen dürfte! Wie heilig solltest Du es erfahren, wenn es Dir zu hören erlaubt wäre! Allein Zunge und Ohr würden gleich hart für den Frevel zu büßen haben! Doch es möchte Dir schaden, wenn ich Deine fromme Neugier so auf die Folter spannte; so höre denn und – glaube, traue! es ist wahrhaftig. Ich ging bis zur Grenzscheide zwischen Leben und Tod. Ich betrat Proserpinens Schwelle, und nachdem ich durch alle Elemente gefahren, kehrte ich wiederum zurück. Zur Zeit der tiefsten Mitternacht sah ich die Sonne in ihrem hellsten Lichte leuchten; ich schaute die unteren und oberen Götter von Angesicht zu Angesicht und betete sie in der Nähe an. Siehe! Nun hast Du alles gehört: aber auch verstanden? Unmöglich! So vernimm wenigstens, was ich ohne Sünde Dir Laien verständlich machen kann!
— Übersetzt von August Rode. Berlin: Propyläen, 1920.
Ἀναβατέον οὖν πάλιν ἐπὶ τὸ ἀγαϑόν, οὗ ὀϱέγεται πᾶσα ψυχή. Εἴ τις οὖν εἶδεν αὐτό, οἶδεν ὃ λέγω, ὅπως ϰαλόν. Ἐφετὸν μὲν γὰϱ ὡς ἀγαϑὸν ϰαὶ ἡ ἔφεσις πϱὸς τοῦτο, τεῦξις δὲ αὐτοῦ ἀναβαίνουσι πϱὸς τὸ ἄνω ϰαὶ ἐπιστϱαφεῖσι ϰαὶ ἀποδυομένοις ἃ ϰαταβαίνοντες ἠμφιέσμεϑα· οἷον ἐπὶ τὰ ἅγια τῶν ἱεϱῶν τοῖς ἀνιοῦσι ϰαϑάϱσεις τε ϰαὶ ἱματίων ἀποϑέσεις τῶν πϱὶν ϰαὶ τὸ γυμνοῖς ἀνιέναι· ἕως ἄν τις παϱελϑὼν ἐν τῆι ἀναβάσει πᾶν ὅσον ἀλλότϱιον τοῦ ϑεοῦ αὐτῶι μόνωι αὐτὸ μόνον ἴδηι εἰλιϰϱινές, ἁπλοῦν, ϰαϑαϱόν, ἀφ᾽ οὗ πάντα ἐξήϱτηται ϰαὶ πϱὸς αὐτὸ βλέπει ϰαὶ ἔστι ϰαὶ ζῆι ϰαὶ νοεῖ· ζωῆς γὰϱ αἴτιος ϰαὶ νοῦ ϰαὶ τοῦ εἶναι. Τοῦτο οὖν εἴ τις ἴδοι, ποίους ἂν ἴσχοι ἔϱωτας, ποίους δὲ πόϑους, βουλόμενος αὐτῶι συγϰεϱασϑῆναι, πῶς δ᾽ ἂν ἐϰπλαγείη μεϑ᾽ ἡδονῆς; Ἔστι γὰϱ τῶι μὲν μήπω ἰδόντι ὀϱέγεσϑαι ὡς ἀγαϑοῦ· τῶι δὲ ἰδόντι ὑπάϱχει ἐπὶ ϰαλῶι ἄγασϑαί τε ϰαὶ ϑάμβους πίμπλασϑαι μεϑ᾽ ἡδονῆς ϰαὶ ἐϰπλήττεσϑαι ἀβλαβῶς ϰαὶ ἐϱᾶν ἀληϑῆ ἔϱωτα ϰαὶ δϱιμεῖς πόϑους ϰαὶ τῶν ἄλλων ἐϱώτων ϰαταγελᾶν ϰαὶ τῶν πϱόσϑεν νομιζομένων ϰαλῶν ϰαταφϱονεῖν· ὁποῖον πάσχουσιν ὅσοι ϑεῶν εἴδεσιν ἢ δαιμόνων πϱοστυχόντες οὐϰέτ᾽ ἂν ἀποδέχοιντο ὁμοίως ἄλλων ϰάλλη σωμάτων. Τί δῆτα οἰόμεϑα, εἴ τις αὐτὸ τὸ ϰαλὸν ϑεῶιτο αὐτὸ ἐφ᾽ ἑαυτοῦ ϰαϑαϱόν, μὴ σαϱϰῶν, μὴ σώματος ἀνάπλεων, μὴ ἐν γῆι, μὴ ἐν οὐϱανῶι, ἵν᾽ ἦι ϰαϑαϱόν; Καὶ γὰϱ ἐπαϰτὰ πάντα ταῦτα ϰαὶ μέμιϰται ϰαὶ οὐ πϱῶτα, παϱ᾽ ἐϰείνου δέ. Εἰ οὖν ἐϰεῖνο, ὃ χοϱηγεῖ μὲν ἅπασιν, ἐφ᾽ ἑαυτοῦ δὲ μένον δίδωσι ϰαὶ οὐ δέχεταί τι εἰς αὐτό, ἴδοι, μένων ἐν τῆι ϑέαι τοῦ τοιούτου ϰαὶ ἀπολαύων αὐτοῦ ὁμοιούμενος, τίνος ἂν ἔτι δέοιτο ϰαλοῦ; Τοῦτο γὰϱ αὐτὸ μάλιστα ϰάλλος ὂν αὐτὸ ϰαὶ τὸ πϱῶτον ἐϱγάζεται τοὺς ἐϱαστὰς αὐτοῦ ϰαλοὺς ϰαὶ ἐϱαστοὺς ποιεῖ. Οὗ δὴ ϰαὶ ἀγὼν μέγιστος ϰαὶ ἔσχατος ψυχαῖς πϱόϰειται, ὑπὲϱ οὗ ϰαὶ ὁ πᾶς πόνος, μὴ ἀμοίϱους γενέσϑαι τῆς ἀϱίστης ϑέας, ἧς ὁ μὲν τυχὼν μαϰάϱιος ὄψιν μαϰαϱίαν τεϑεαμένος· ἀτυχὴς δὲ [οὗτος] ὁ μὴ τυχών. Οὐ γὰϱ ὁ χϱωμάτων ἢ σωμάτων ϰαλῶν μὴ τυχὼν οὐδὲ δυνάμεως οὐδὲ ἀϱχῶν οὐδὲ ὁ βασιλείας μὴ τυχὼν ἀτυχής, ἀλλ᾽ ὁ τούτου ϰαὶ μόνου, ὑπὲϱ οὗ τῆς τεύξεως ϰαὶ βασιλείας ϰαὶ ἀϱχὰς γῆς ἁπάσης ϰαὶ ϑαλάττης ϰαὶ οὐϱανοῦ πϱοέσϑαι χϱεών, εἰ ϰαταλιπών τις ταῦτα ϰαὶ ὑπεϱιδὼν εἰς ἐϰεῖνο στϱαφεὶς ἴδοι. 8Τίς οὖν ὁ τϱόπος; Τίς μηχανή; Πῶς τις ϑεάσηται ϰάλλος ἀμήχανον οἷον ἔνδον ἐν ἁγίοις ἱεϱοῖς μένον οὐδὲ πϱοιὸν εἰς τὸ ἔξω, ἵνα τις ϰαὶ βέβηλος ἴδηι;
Wir müssen also wieder emporsteigen zum Guten, nach welchem jede Seele sich sehnt. Wenn es jemand gesehen hat, so weiss er, was ich sagen will mit der Behauptung, es sei schön. Als das Gute muss es erstrebt werden und das Streben muss darauf gerichtet sein. Man erreicht es, wenn man nach dem Oberen aufsteigt, sich zu ihm hinwendet und das ablegt, was man beim Herabkommen angelegt hatte, wie ja auch diejenigen, die zur allerheiligsten Handlung der Mysterien sich anschicken, der Reinigung bedürfen, ihre Kleider ablegen und im Untergewande herangehen, so lange bis man bei dem Hinaufsteigen allem ausgewichen ist, was dem Göttlichen fremd ist, und mit seinem alleinigen Selbst auch das Göttliche in seiner Alleinheit schaut als lauter, einfach und rein, als das, wodurch alles bedingt ist, worauf alles hinblickt, in welchem alles lebt und denkt. Denn es ist die Ursache des Lebens, der Vernunft und des Seins. Welche Liebesgluth wird aber nicht der empfinden, der dies zu sehen bekommt, wie wird er sich nach der innigen Vereinigung mit ihm sehnen, wie wird ihn das Staunen der Wonne durchzittern! Denn nach dem Göttlichen als dem Guten sehnt sich auch derjenige, der es noch niemals gesehen hat. Wer es aber gesehen hat, der bewundert es wegen seiner Schönheit, der wird mit freudigem Staunen erfüllt, der geräth in Schrecken, der ihn nicht verzehrt, der liebt in wahrer Liebe und in heftiger Sehnsucht, der verlacht alle andere Liebe und verachtet das, was er früher für schön hielt. Das ist etwa die Empfindung derer, welchen eine Erscheinung von Göttern oder Dämonen zu Theil geworden ist und die nun nichts mehr wissen wollen von der Schönheit der anderen Körper. Was wird der erst empfinden, welcher nun gar das absolut Schöne sieht in seiner an und für sich seienden Reinheit, ohne fleischliche körperliche Hülle um rein zu sein, an keinen Raum der Erde oder des Himmels gebunden. Denn das ist ja alles etwas abgeleitetes und gemischtes, nichts ursprüngliches, sondern von jenem ausgebend. Wer also jenes sieht, welches den Reigen aller übrigen Dinge eröffnet, welches in sich selbst ruhend mittheilt und nichts in sich aufnimmt, wer dann in seinem Anblick verharrt und es geniesst, indem er ihm ähnlich wird, was sollte der noch für ein Schönes bedürfen? Es ist ja eben selbst die Urschönheit, welche als das recht eigentlich Schöne, auch die es lieben, schön und liebenswürdig macht. Es ist ferner das Ziel für den grössten angestrengtesten Wettkampf der Seelen, das Ziel aller Mühen, nicht untheilhaftig zu bleiben des herrlichsten Anblicks. Selig, wer es erreicht hat, wer zum Schauen des seligen Anblicks gekommen ist; unselig fürwahr dagegen, bei wem dies nicht der Fall. Denn nicht der ist unselig, der um den Anblick schöner Farben und Körper kommt, der weder Macht noch Ehre noch Kronen erlangt, sondern wer dies Eine nicht erlangt, um dessen Erreichung man auf alle Kronen und Reiche der ganzen Erde, auf dem Meere und im Himmel verzichten muss, ob man das Irdische mit Verachtung verlassend, den Blick auf jenes gewandt, zum Schauen gelangen möge. 8Aber auf welche Art und wie soll man das angreifen? Wie soll man die unsagbare Schönheit sehen, die gleichsam im innersten Heiligthum bleibt und nicht herauskommt, dass sie auch ein Uneingeweihter zu sehen bekäme?
— Übersetzt von Hermann Friedrich Müller. Berlin: Weidmann, 1878.
Μεγαλεῖον δέ τί ἐστι ϰαὶ ἡ ἀλληγοϱία, ϰαὶ μάλιστα ἐν ταῖς ἀπειλαῖς, οἷον ὡς ὁ Διονύσιος, ὅτι “οἱ τέττιγες αὐτοῖς ᾄσονται χαμόϑεν.” εἰ δ᾿ οὕτως ἁπλῶς εἶπεν, ὅτι τεμεῖ τὴν Λοϰϱίδα χώϱαν, ϰαὶ ὀϱγιλώτεϱος ἂν ἐφάνη ϰαὶ εὐτελέστεϱος. νῦν δὲ ὥσπεϱ συγϰαλύμματι τοῦ λόγου τῇ ἀλληγοϱίᾳ ϰέχϱηται· πᾶν γὰϱ τὸ ὑπονοούμενον φοβεϱώτεϱον, ϰαὶ ἄλλος εἰϰάζει ἄλλο τι· ὃ δὲ σαφὲς ϰαὶ φανεϱόν, ϰαταφϱονεῖσϑαι εἰϰός, ὥσπεϱ τοὺς ἀποδεδυμένους. διὸ ϰαὶ τὰ μυστήϱια ἐν ἀλληγοϱίαις λέγεται πϱὸς ἔϰπληξιν ϰαὶ φϱίϰην, ὥσπεϱ ἐν σϰότῳ ϰαὶ νυϰτί. ἔοιϰε δὲ ϰαὶ ἡ ἀλληγοϱία τῷ σϰότῳ ϰαὶ τῇ νυϰτί.
There is a kind of impressiveness also in allegorical language. This is particularly true of such menaces as that of Dionysius: “their cicalas shall chirp from the grounds”. If Dionysius had expressed his meaning directly, saying that he would ravage the Locrian land, he would have shown at once more irritation and less dignity. In the phrase actually used the speaker has shrouded his words, as it were, in allegory. Any darkly-hinting expression is more terror-striking, and its import is variously conjectured by different hearers. On the other hand, things that are clear and plain are apt to be despised, just like men when stripped of their garments. Hence the Mysteries are revealed in an allegorical form in order to inspire such shuddering and awe as are associated with darkness and night. Allegory also is not unlike darkness and night.
— Translated by William Rhys Roberts, Cambridge University Press, 1902.