The Mystery-Religions

The Mystery-Religions

Language: English

Pages: 386


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This classic study offers an understanding of the ancient religious cults, exploring their appeal and eventual failure in the face of Christianity. Topics include the Eleusinian mysteries of ancient Greece; Asiatic cults of Cybele, the Magna Mater, and Attis; Dionysian groups; Orphics; Egyptian devotees of Isis and Osiris; Mithraism; and others.





















sensuous and at times even a sensual side, but they could never have entered into competition with Christianity had they not also presented a pronounced religious character. Freed from the national and political restraints of the state churches, they in a wonderful measure adapted themselves to the needs of every age by casting off what was repulsive or flagrantly offensive ; but they never succeeded in wholly divesting themselves of primitive naturalism and the magic in which superstition

finally to triumph in Neo-Platonism. In the Hellenistic era this element of Platonism proved a convenient bridge to the Oriental conception of deity which necessitated a condescension in the form of a special revelation. Plato having thus prepared the way, Posidonius was the first, so far as our evidence goes, who definitely introduced to the Western religious mind 125 the conception of ‘the knowledge of God’ as something transcending conceptual thought and eluding intellectual grasp. It is

On the Day of Blood the tree was buried, while the mystae in frenzied dances gashed themselves with knives to prove their participation in the sorrows of the god that they might have 78 fellowship in his joy. Next night the Resurrection of Attis was celebrated by the opening of the grave. In the darkness of the night a light was brought to the open grave, while the presiding priest anointed the lips of the initiates with holy oil, comforting them with the words: 135 ‘ Be of good cheer, ye

after which followed feasts and banqueting, for which doubtless Lucius himself had paid in hard cash (24). A year later the goddess’s grasping priests advised a further initiation into the rites of Osiris (27), for which it was necessary to sell his clothes to procure the necessary fees (28), and shortly thereafter the goddess required a third initiation (29), in the preparation for which he was ‘ guided by the enthusiasm of my faith rather than the measure of my fortunes,’ relying on his

from the living, that they might be found to be Theoi 191 Meilichioi (propitious deities) in the underworld. This Earth-mother cult was accepted by the conquering Hellenes, and, as Demeter, was held in the greatest honour beside the more aristocratic worship of the Olympians. No god was held in greater repute throughout Greece than Dionysus, of purely chthonic origin. Throughout the centuries of the disintegration of the Olympian religion the secret and mysterious chthonic cults gained in

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