Eleusinian Mysteries

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Eleusinian Mysteries (Greek: Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια) were a series of initiations held every year in honor of the goddesses Demeter and Persephone. Based at Eleusis (from which the name Eleusinian is derived), they are the "most famous of the secret religious rites of Ancient Greece." The mysteries represented the myth of the abduction of Persephone from her mother Demeter by Hades, the god of the underworld, in a cycle comprised of three phases; the descent (loss), the search, and the ascent, with the main theme being the ascent (άνοδος) of Persephone to the mortal realm and her reunion with her mother. Those who participated in these mysteries were sworn to a vow of secrecy, and initiates were promised a chance in the afterlife. It was a major festival during the Hellenic era, and later spread to Rome. Similar religious rites appear in the agricultural societies of the Near East and in Minoan Crete.