Eleusinian Mysteries

Eleusinian Mysteries
Topics in Greek mythology

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The Eleusinian Mysteries (Greek: Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια) were initiation ceremonies held every year for the cult of Demeter and Persephone based at Eleusis in ancient Greece. Of all the mysteries celebrated in ancient times, these were held to be the ones of greatest importance. It is acknowledged that their basis was an old agrarian cult which probably goes back to the Mycenean period (c.1600-1100 BC) and it is believed that the cult of Demeter was established in 1500 BC.[1] The idea of immortality which appears in syncretistic religions of antiquity was introduced in late antiquity.[2] The mysteries represented the myth of the abduction of Persephone from her mother Demeter by the king of the underworld Hades, in a cycle with three phases, the "descent" (loss), the "search" and the "ascent", with main theme the "ascent" of Persephone and the reunion with her mother. It was a major festival during the Hellenic era, and later spread to Rome.[3] The name of the town, Eleusís seems to be Pre-Greek and it is probably a counterpart with Elysium and the goddess Eileithyia[4]

The rites, ceremonies, and beliefs were kept secret and consistently preserved from a hoary antiquity. The initiated believed that they would have a reward in the afterlife.[5] There are many paintings and pieces of pottery that depict various aspects of the Mysteries. Since the Mysteries involved visions and conjuring of an afterlife, some scholars believe that the power and longevity of the Eleusinian Mysteries came from psychedelic agents.[6]


Mythology of Demeter and Persephone

Triptolemus receiving wheat sheaves from Demeter and blessings from Persephone, 5th century BC relief, National Archaeological Museum of Athens

The Mysteries are related to a myth concerning Demeter, the goddess of agriculture and fertility as recounted in one of the Homeric Hymns (c. 650 B.C.). According to the hymn, Demeter's daughter Persephone (also referred to as Kore, "maiden") was gathering flowers with friends, when she was seized by Hades, the god of death and the underworld. He took her to his underworld kingdom. Distraught, Demeter searched high and low for her daughter. Because of her distress, and in an effort to coerce Zeus to allow the return of her daughter, she caused a terrible drought in which the people suffered and starved. This would have deprived the gods of sacrifice and worship. As a result, Zeus relented and allowed Persephone to return to her mother.[7]

According to the myth, during her search, Demeter traveled long distances and had many minor adventures along the way. In one instance, she teaches the secrets of agriculture to Triptolemus.[8] Finally, by consulting Zeus, Demeter reunites with her daughter and the earth returns to its former verdure and prosperity: the first autumn. (For more information on this story, see Demeter.)

Zeus, pressed by the cries of the hungry people and by the other deities who also heard their anguish, forced Hades to return Persephone. However, it was a rule of the Fates that whoever consumed food or drink in the Underworld was doomed to spend eternity there. Before Persephone was released to Hermes, who had been sent to retrieve her, Hades tricked her into eating pomegranate seeds, (six or four according to the telling) which forced her to return to the underworld for some months each year. She was obliged to remain with Hades for six or four months (one month per seed) while staying above ground with her mother for a similar period. This left a large period of time when Demeter was unhappy due to Persephone's absence therefore she did not cultivate the Earth and it withered. When Persephone returned to the surface, Demeter became joyful and cared for the Earth again.

It is easier to believe that Persephone stayed with Hades for four months and Demeter eight months. The end result was eight months of growth and abundance to be followed by four months of no productivity.[9] These periods correspond well with the Mediterranean climate of Ancient Greece. The four months during which Persephone is with Hades correspond to the dry Greek summer, a period during which plants are threatened with drought.[10] At the beginning of the autumn when the seeds are planted, Persephone returns from the Underworld, is reunited with her mother and the cycle of growth begins anew.

Her rebirth is symbolic of the rebirth of all plant life and the symbol of eternity of life that flows from the generations which spring from each other.[11]


The Eleusinian Mysteries are believed to be of considerable antiquity, deriving from religious practice of the Mycenaean period and thus predating the Greek Dark Ages. One line of thought by modern scholars has been that these Mysteries were intended "to elevate man above the human sphere into the divine and to assure his redemption by making him a god and so conferring immortality upon him."[12] Comparative study shows significant parallels between these Greek rituals and similar system—some of them older—in Near East (see Religions of the Ancient Near East). These cults are the mysteries of Isis and Osiris in Egypt, the Adoniac of Syrian cults, the Persian mysteries and the Phrygian Cabirian mysteries.[13] Some scholars argued that the Eleusinian cult was a continuation of a Minoan cult,[14] probably affected by Near East.

The lesser mysteries were probably held every year; the greater mysteries only every five years.[15] This cycle continued for about two millennia. In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, King Celeus is said to have been one of the first people to learn the secret rites and mysteries of her cult. He was also one of her original priests, along with Diocles, Eumolpos, Polyxeinus and Triptolemus, Celeus' son, who had supposedly learned agriculture from Demeter.[16]

Under Pisistratus of Athens, the Eleusinian Mysteries became pan-Hellenic and pilgrims flocked from Greece and beyond to participate. Around 300 BC, the state took over control of the Mysteries; they were specifically controlled by two families, the Eumolpidae and the Kerykes. This led to a vast increase in the number of initiates. The only requirements for membership were a lack of "blood guilt", meaning having never committed murder, and not being a "barbarian" (unable to speak Greek). Men, women and even slaves were allowed initiation.[17]


To participate in these mysteries one had to swear a vow of secrecy.

There were four categories of people who participated in the Eleusinian Mysteries:

  1. Priests, priestesses and hierophants.
  2. Initiates, undergoing the ceremony for the first time.
  3. Others who had already participated at least once. They were eligible for the fourth category.
  4. Those who had attained épopteia (Greek: ἐποπτεία) (English: "contemplation"), who had learned the secrets of the greatest mysteries of Demeter.


The outline below is only a capsule summary; much of the concrete information about the Eleusinian Mysteries was never written down. For example, only initiates knew what the kiste, a sacred chest, and the kalathos, a lidded basket, contained. The contents, like so much about the Mysteries, are unknown. However, one researcher writes that this Cista ("kiste") contained a golden mystical serpent, egg, a phallus and possibly also seeds sacred to Demeter.[18]

The Church Father Hippolytus, writing in the early 3rd century, discloses that "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: an ear of corn in silence reaped."[19]

Lesser Mysteries

There were two Eleusinian Mysteries, the Greater and the Lesser. According to Thomas Taylor, "the dramatic shows of the Lesser Mysteries occultly signified the miseries of the soul while in subjection to the 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." And that according to Plato, "the ultimate design of the Mysteries … was to lead us back to the principles from which we descended, … a perfect enjoyment of intellectual [spiritual] good."[20]

The Lesser Mysteries took place in the month of Anthesteria under the direction of Athens' archon basileus. In order to qualify for initiation, participants would sacrifice a piglet to Demeter and Persephone, and then ritually purify themselves in the River Illisos. Upon completion of the Lesser Mysteries, participants were deemed mystai ("initiates") worthy of witnessing the Greater Mysteries.

Greater Mysteries

For among the many excellent and indeed divine institutions which your Athens has brought forth and contributed to human life, none, in my opinion, is better than those mysteries. For by their means we have been brought out of our barbarous and savage mode of life and educated and refined to a state of civilization; and as the rites are called "initiations," so in very truth we have learned from them the beginnings of life, and have gained the power not only to live happily, but also to die with a better hope.

—Cicero, Laws II, xiv, 36

The first act (14th Boedromion) of the Greater Mysteries was the bringing of the sacred objects from Eleusis to the Eleusinion, a temple at the base of the Acropolis.

The Greater Mysteries took place in Boedromion (the third month of the Attic calendar, falling in late Summer) and lasted ten days. On 15th Boedromion, called Agyrmos (the gathering), the hierophants (priests or "those who show the sacred ones") declared prorrhesis, the start of the rites, and carried out the "Hither the victims" sacrifice (hiereía deúro). The "Seawards initiates" (halade mystai) began in Athens on 16th Boedromion with the celebrants washing themselves in the sea at Phaleron.

On 17th Boedromion, the participants began the Epidauria, a festival for Asklepios named after his main sanctuary at Epidauros. This "festival within a festival" celebrated the hero's arrival at Athens with his daughter Hygieia, and consisted of a procession leading to the Eleusinion, during which the mystai apparently stayed at home, a great sacrifice, and an all-night feast (pannykhís).[21]

The procession to Eleusis began at Kerameikos (the Athenian cemetery) on 19th Boedromion from where the people walked to Eleusis, along what was called the "Sacred Way" (Ιερά Οδός, Hierá Hodós), swinging branches called bacchoi. At a certain spot along the way, they shouted obscenities in commemoration of Iambe (or Baubo), an old woman who, by cracking dirty jokes, had made Demeter smile as she mourned the loss of her daughter. The procession also shouted "Íakch', O Íakche!" referring to Iacchus, possibly an epithet for Dionysus, or a separate deity, son of Persephone or Demeter.[citation needed]

Upon reaching Eleusis, there was a day of fasting in commemoration of Demeter's fasting while searching for Persephone. The fast was broken while drinking a special drink of barley and pennyroyal, called kykeon. Then on 20th and 21st Boedromion, the initiates entered a great hall called Telesterion; in the center stood the Anaktoron ("palace"), which only the hierophantes could enter, where sacred objects were stored. Before mystai could enter the Telesterion, they would recite, "I have fasted, I have drunk the kykeon, I have taken from the kiste ("box") and after working it have put it back in the kalathos ("open basket").[22] It is widely supposed that the rites inside the Telesterion comprised three elements: dromena ("things done"), a dramatic reenactment of the Demeter/Persephone myth; deiknumena ("things shown"), displayed sacred objects, in which the hierophant played an essential role; and finally legomena ("things said"), commentaries that accompanied the deiknumena.[23] Combined these three elements were known as the apporheta ("unrepeatables"); the penalty for divulging them was death. Athenagoras of Athens, Cicero, and other ancient writers cite that it was for this crime (among others) that Diagoras received the death penalty;[24][25] the tragic playwright Aeschylus was allegedly tried for revealing secrets of the Mysteries in some of his plays, but was acquitted.[26] The ban on divulging the core ritual of the Mysteries was thus absolute, which is probably why we know almost nothing about what transpired there.

As to the climax of the Mysteries, there are two modern theories. Some hold that the priests were the ones to reveal the visions of the holy night, consisting of a fire that represented the possibility of life after death, and various sacred objects. Others hold this explanation to be insufficient to account for the power and longevity of the Mysteries, and that the experiences must have been internal and mediated by a powerful psychoactive ingredient contained in the kykeon drink. (See "entheogenic theories" below.)

Following this section of the Mysteries was the Pannychis, an all-night feast accompanied by dancing and merriment. The dances took place in the Rharian Field, rumored to be the first spot where grain grew. A bull sacrifice also took place late that night or early the next morning. That day (22nd Boedromion), the initiates honored the dead by pouring libations from special vessels.

On 23rd Boedromion, the Mysteries ended and everyone returned home.[27]


In 170 AD, the Temple of Demeter was sacked by the Sarmatians but was rebuilt by Marcus Aurelius. Aurelius was then allowed to become the only lay person to ever enter the anaktoron. As Christianity gained in popularity in the 4th and 5th centuries, Eleusis' prestige began to fade. Julian, the last pagan emperor of Rome, was also the last emperor to be initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries.[28]

The Roman emperor Theodosius I closed the sanctuaries by decree in 392 AD. The last remnants of the Mysteries were wiped out in 396 AD, when Alaric, King of the Goths, invaded accompanied by Christians "in their dark garments", bringing Arian Christianity and desecrating the old sacred sites.[29] The closing of the Eleusinian Mysteries in the 4th century is reported by Eunapius, a historian and biographer of the Greek philosophers. Eunapius had been initiated by the last legitimate Hierophant, who had been commissioned by the emperor Julian to restore the Mysteries, which had by then fallen into decay. According to Eunapius, the very last Hierophant was a usurper, "the man from Thespiae who held the rank of Father in the mysteries of Mithras."

In art

Henryk Siemiradzki. Phryne in Eleusus (1889).

There are many paintings and pieces of pottery that depict various aspects of the Mysteries. The Eleusinian Relief, from late 5th century BC, displayed in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens is a representative example. Triptolemus is depicted receiving seeds from Demeter and teaching mankind how to work the fields to grow crops, with Persephone holding her hand over his head to protect him.[30] Vases and other works of relief sculpture, from the 4th, 5th and 6th centuries BC, depict Triptolemus holding an ear of corn, sitting on a winged throne or chariot, surrounded by Persephone and Demeter with pine torches. The monumental Protoattic amphora from the middle of the 7th century BC, with the depiction of Medusa's beheading by Perseus and the blinding of Polyphemos by Odysseus and his companions on its neck, is kept in the Archaeological Museum of Eleusis which is located inside the archaeological site of Eleusis.

The Ninnion Tablet, found in the same museum, depicts Demeter, followed by Persephone and Iacchus, and then the procession of initiates. Then, Demeter is sitting on the kiste inside the Telesterion, with Persephone holding a torch and introducing the initiates. The initiates each hold a bacchoi. The second row of initiates were led by Iakchos, a priest who held torches for the ceremonies. He is standing near the omphalos while an unknown female (probably a priestess of Demeter) sat nearby on the kiste, holding a scepter and a vessel filled with kykeon. Pannychis is also represented.[31]

In Shakespeare's The Tempest, the masque that Prospero conjures to celebrate the troth-pledging of Miranda and Ferdinand echoes the Eleusinian Mysteries, although it uses the Roman names for the deities involved - Ceres, Iris, Dis and others - instead of the Greek. It is interesting that a play which is so steeped in esoteric imagery from alchemy and hermeticism should draw on the Mysteries for its central masque sequence.

Entheogenic theories

Some scholars have proposed that the power of the Eleusinian Mysteries came from the kykeon's functioning as a psychedelic agent.[6] Use of potions or philtres for magical or religious purposes was relatively common in Greece and the ancient world.[32] The initiates, sensitized by their fast and prepared by preceding ceremonies (see set and setting), may have been propelled by the effects of a powerful psychoactive potion into revelatory mind states with profound spiritual and intellectual ramifications.[33] In opposition to this idea, other pointedly skeptical scholars note the lack of any solid evidence and stress the collective rather than individual character of initiation into the Mysteries.[34]

Many psychoactive agents have been proposed as the significant element of kykeon, though without consensus or conclusive evidence. They include a fungal parasite of barley, ergot, which contains the alkaloids lysergic acid amide (LSA), a precursor to LSD, and ergonovine.[33] However, modern attempts to prepare a kykeon using ergot-parasitized barley have yielded inconclusive results, though Alexander Shulgin and Ann Shulgin describe both ergonovine and LSA to be known to produce LSD-like effects.[35][36]

Mushrooms are another candidate. Terence McKenna speculated that the mysteries were focused around a variety of Psilocybe. Other entheogenic plants, such as Amanita muscaria, have also been suggested.[37] A recent hypothesis suggests that the ancient Egyptians cultivated psilocybe on barley and associated it with Osiris.[38]

Another candidate for the psychoactive drug is an opioid derived from the poppy. The cult of the goddess Demeter may have brought the poppy from Crete to Eleusis; it is certain that opium was produced in Crete.[39]

Another theory is that the psychoactive agent in kykeon was an Ayahuasca analog involving Syrian Rue (Peganum harmala), a shrub which grows throughout the Mediterranean and also functions as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor.

Yet another candidate is DMT, a psychoactive agent occurring in many wild plants of the Mediterranean, including Phalaris and/or Acacia.[40]

Indirect evidence in support of the entheogenic theory is that in 415 BC Athenian aristocrat Alcibiades was condemned partly because he took part in an "Eleusinian mystery" in a private house.[41]

Modern Interpretation

The annual Aquarian Tabernacle Church Spring Mysteries Festival is a 3 day Pan-Pagan festival, recreating the mysteries in modern day. The main focus of the Festival is the Ritual Drama. The ATC (Aquarian Tabernacle Church) presents a modern interpretation of the ancient Greek mystery drama of how the seasons came to be.

The original Eleusinian Mysteries were a mystery kept secret for almost three-thousand years and the basic story, as portrayed, is all that is available. In modern times the ATC is the only group performing these mysteries on a large scale, available for all who have always wished to experience their wonder, are able to.

The ritual takes place every Easter weekend at Fort Flagler State Park in Washington.

See also


  1. ^ Cf. Mylonas, 1961, p.24. "Again, from legends we learn of the arrival of the Cult of Demeter at Eleusis in the fifteenth century [BC] --- an event that must of course have had a profound influence on the life and activities of the site
  2. ^ Martin Nilsson.The Greek popular religion.The cult of Eleusis pp 42-44
  3. ^ Ouvaroff, M. (alternatively given as Sergei Semenovich Uvarov, or Sergey Uvarov, 1786-1855) (Translated from the French by J. D. Price) Essay on the Mysteries of Eleusis, London : Rodwell and Martin, 1817 (Reprint: USA: Kessinger Publishing, 2004). Ouvaroff does write that fixing the earliest foundation date to the Eleusinian Mysteries is fraught with problems.
  4. ^ Elysion:The island of the happy dead (Hesiod:Works and days 166ff).Eileithyia.A Minoan goddess of childbirth and divine midwifery:F.Schachermeyer(1967).Die Minoische Kultur des alten Kreta.W.Kohlhammer Stuttgart. pp 141-142
  5. ^ Tripolitis, Antonia. Religions of the Hellenistic-Roman Age. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, November 2001. pp. 16–21.
  6. ^ a b Wasson, R. Gordon, Ruck, Carl, Hofmann, A., The Road to Eleusis: Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries. Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1978.
  7. ^ Foley, Helene P., The Homeric "Hymn ro Demeter". Princeton University Press 1994. Also Vaughn, Steck. Demeter and Persephone. Steck Vaughn Publishing, June 1994
  8. ^ Smith, William. A New Classical Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography, Mythology and Geography Vol. II. Kessinger Publishing, LLC 2006.
  9. ^ Smith, 2006.
  10. ^ Greene, William C. "The Return of Persephone". Classical Philology. University of Chicago Press 1946. pp. 105–106
  11. ^ .Similar ideas appear in many ancient agricultural societies,like in the cult of Adonis in Phoenecia,the cult of Osiris in Egypt and the cult of Ariadne in Minoan Crete.Also in China:"There in the buried seed,the end of life is connected with a new beginning":The I Ching or book of changes.Transl.Richard Wilhelm p.45
  12. ^ Nilsson, Martin P. Greek Popular Religion "The Religion of Eleusis" New York: Columbia University Press, 1947. pages 42 - 64
  13. ^ Newton,Joseph Fort.The Builders p.24
  14. ^ Karl Kerenyi.Dionysos.Archetypal image of indestructible life.p 24,89,90.
  15. ^ Savage, William A. "Quest of the Soul: The Eleusinian Mysteries". Sunrise (magazine). February/March 2006.
  16. ^ Apollodorus, 1.5.2.
  17. ^ Smith, William. A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, London, 1875.
  18. ^ Taylor, Thomas. Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries. Lighting Source Publishers, 1997. p. 117.
  19. ^ Hippolytus, Refutation of all Heresies, in ANF, vol. 5; 5, 3
  20. ^ Taylor, p.49.
  21. ^ Clinton, Kevin. "The Epidauria and the Arrival of Asclepius in Athens", in Ancient Greek Cult Practice from the Epigraphical Evidence, edited by R. Hägg. Stockholm, 1994.
  22. ^ According to Clement of Alexandria's Exhortaton to the Greeks. See Meyer 1999, 18.
  23. ^ See (e.g.) Brisson/Teihnayi 2004, 60
  24. ^ Hecht, Jennifer Michael (2003). "Whatever Happened to Zeus and Hera?, 600 BCE-1 CE". Doubt: A History. Harper San Francisco. pp. 9–10. ISBN 0-06-009795-7.
  25. ^ A History of Freethought, Ancient and Modern, to the Period of the French Revolution, J.M. Robertson, Fourth Edition, Revised and Expanded, In Two Volumes, Vol. I, Watts, 1936. p173 - 174.
  26. ^ Nicomachean Ethics 1111a8-10.
  27. ^ Boardman, Griffin, and Murray. The Oxford History of the Classical World. Oxford University Press 1986.
  28. ^ Eleusis: Pathways to Ancient Myth
  29. ^ Rassias, Vlasis. Demolish Them. (in Greek) Athens 2000.
  30. ^ "Timeline of Art History: Italian Peninsula, 1000 BC–1 AD". The Metropolitan Museum of Art. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/god2/ho_14.130.9.htm. Retrieved July 26, 2007. 
  31. ^ "The Niinnion Tablet (Image)". Wesleyan University. http://mkatz.web.wesleyan.edu/cciv110x/hhdemeter/cciv110.Niinnion.html. Retrieved July 25, 2007. 
  32. ^ Collins, Derek. Magic in the Ancient Greek World. Wiley, 2008
  33. ^ a b Wasson, et al..
  34. ^ Burkert, op.cit. Ch.4
  35. ^ Shulgin & Shulgin. Tihkal. Transform Press, 1997.
  36. ^ Erowid Ergot Vault
  37. ^ McKenna.
  38. ^ Stephen R. Berlant (2005) (pdf). The entheomycological origin of Egyptian crowns and the esoteric underpinnings of Egyptian religion. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2005.07.028. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T8D-4H74M4C-1&_user=10&_coverDate=11%2F14%2F2005&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=3b8c9b21a56a3c75d4fe6c372d3dffe1. 
  39. ^ Karl Kerenyi.Dionysos.Archetypal image of indestructible life.p 24
  40. ^ Metzner, Ralph. "The Reunification of the Sacred and the natural". Eleusis Volume VIII, 1997. pp. 3-13
  41. ^ Robin Waterfield,Why Socrates Died, Faber & Faber, 2009, p. 92.


  • Apollodorus. Apollodorus: The Library, Sir James George Frazer (translator). Two volumes. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press and London: William Heinemann Ltd. 1921. Vol. 1: ISBN 0-674-99135-4. Vol. 2: ISBN 0-674-99136-2.
  • Boardman, Griffin, and Murray. The Oxford History of the Classical World (Oxford University Press 1986). ISBN 978-0-19-872112-3.
  • Bowden, Hugh. Mystery Cults of the Ancient World (Princeton University Press; 2010) 256 pages; A study of the Mysteries of Eleusis and other cults of ancient Greece and Rome.
  • Brisson, Luc and Tihanyi, Catherine (2004). How Philosophers Saved Myths: Allegorical Interpretation and Classical Mythology. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-07535-4
  • Burkert, Walter, Ancient Mystery Cults, Harvard University Press, 1987.
  • Cicero. Laws II, xiv, 36.
  • Clinton, Kevin. "The Epidauria and the Arrival of Asclepius in Athens" in Ancient Greek Cult Practice from the Epigraphical Evidence. edited by R. Hägg, Stockholm, 1994. ISBN 91-7916-029-8.
  • Goblet d’Alviella, Eugène, comte, The mysteries of Eleusis : the secret rites and rituals of the classical Greek mystery tradition, 1903.
  • Greene, William C. "The Return of Persephone" in Classical Philology. University of Chicago Press 1946. pp. 105–106.
  • Kerényi, Karl. Eleusis: Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter, Princeton University Press, 1991. ISBN 0-691-01915-0.
  • Metzner, Ralph. "The Reunification of the Sacred and the natural", Eleusis Volume VIII, pp. 3–13 (1997).
  • McKenna, Terence. Food of the Gods: Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge. Bantam, January 1993. ISBN 0-553-37130-4.
  • Meyer, Marvin W. (1999). The Ancient Mysteries, a Sourcebook: Sacred Texts of the Mystery Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean World. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0812211692X
  • Moore, Clifford H. Religious Thought of the Greeks. (1916). Kessinger Publishing April, 2003. ISBN 0-7661-5130-1.
  • Mylonas, George Emmanuel. Eleusis and the Eleusinian Mysteries. Princeton University Press 1961.
  • Nilsson, Martin P. Greek Popular Religion 1940.
  • Rassias, Vlasis. Demolish Them. (in Greek) Athens, 2000. (2nd edition) ISBN 960-7748-20-4.
  • Riu, Xavier. Dionysism and Comedy, (1999), Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.; Reprint edition (March 2002). ISBN 0-8476-9442-9. Cf. p. 107 for a discussion of Dionysus and his role in the Eleusinian Mysteries.
  • Rohde, Erwin. Psyche: The Cult of Souls and the Belief in Immortality among the Greeks. trans. from the 8th edn. by W. B. Hillis, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1925; reprinted by Routledge, 2000. cf. Chapter 6, "The Eleusinian Mysteries".
  • Shulgin, Alexander, Ann Shulgin. TiHKAL. Transform Press, 1997.
  • Smith, William, A New Classical Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography, Mythology and Geography Vol. II. Kessinger Publishing, LLC 2006. ISBN 1-4286-4561-6.
  • Smith, William. A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities. London, 1875.
  • Taylor, Thomas, The Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries: a dissertation. Amsterdam [i.e. London] [c.1790], later editions, edited, and reprinted variously. (Fourth Edition, 1891)
  • Tripolitis, Antonia. Religions of the Hellenistic-Roman Age. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, November 2001. ISBN 0-8028-4913-X.
  • Vaughn, Steck. Demeter and Persephone. Steck Vaughn Publishing, June 1994. ISBN 978-0-8114-3362-4.
  • Wasson, R, Ruck, C., Hofmann, A., The Road to Eleusis: Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries. Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1978. ISBN 0-15-177872-8.
  • Willoughby, Harold R. The Greater Mysteries at Eleusis, Ch. 2 of Pagan Regeneration: A Study of Mystery Initiations in the Graeco-Roman World, 2003, Kessinger Publishing, ISBN 0-7661-8083-2. Broad excerpts can be browsed online.

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  • Eleusinian mysteries — the mysteries, celebrated annually at Eleusis and Athens in ancient times, in memory of the abduction and return of Persephone and in honor of Demeter and Bacchus. [1635 45] * * * Most famous mystery religion of ancient Greece. It was based on… …   Universalium

  • Eleusinian mysteries — El•eu•sin′i•an mys′teries [[t]ˌɛl yʊˈsɪn i ən[/t]] n. pl. anq the mysteries, celebrated annually at Eleusis and Athens in ancient times, in memory of the abduction and return of Persephone and in honor of Demeter and Dionysus • Etymology:… …   From formal English to slang

  • Eleusinian mysteries — /əljuˌsɪniən ˈmɪstriz/ (say uhlyooh.sineeuhn mistreez) plural noun (in ancient Greece) the famous mysteries and festival celebrated at the city of Eleusis and later Athens and elsewhere, in honour of Demeter (Ceres), Persephone, and Dionysus …  

  • Eleusinian mysteries — the mysteries, celebrated annually at Eleusis and Athens in ancient times, in memory of the abduction and return of Persephone and in honor of Demeter and Bacchus. [1635 45] …   Useful english dictionary

  • ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES —    rites, initiation into which, as religiously conducive to the making of good men and good citizens, was compulsory on every free born Athenian, celebrated annually at Eleusis in honour of Demeter and Persephone, and which lasted nine days …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES —    information about these RITES, which took place as part of a MYSTERY RELIGION at Eleusis near Athens, is fragmentary and unreliable. Initiation lasted two years and involved vows of secrecy. The CULT was suppressed in the fourth century A.D …   Concise dictionary of Religion

  • Eleusinian mysteries — [ˌɛlju: sɪnɪən] plural noun the annual rites performed by the ancient Greeks at the village of Eleusis near Athens in honour of the goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone …   English new terms dictionary

  • Eleusinian — El eu*sin i*an, a. [L. Eleusinius, Gr. ?.] Pertaining to Eleusis, in Greece, or to secret rites in honor of Ceres, there celebrated; as, Eleusinian mysteries or festivals. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Eleusinian — [el΄yo͞o sin′ē ən] adj. 1. of Eleusis 2. designating or of the secret religious rites (Eleusinian mysteries) celebrated at the ancient Greek city of Eleusis in honor of Demeter and Persephone …   English World dictionary

  • Mysteries — Mystery Mys ter*y (m[i^]s t[ e]r*[y^]), n.; pl. {Mysteries} (m[i^]s t[ e]r*[i^]z). [L. mysterium, Gr. mysth rion, fr. my sths one initiated in mysteries; cf. myei^n to initiate into the mysteries, fr. my ein to shut the eyes. Cf. {Mute}, a.] 1. A …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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