Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/418

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the worship of Bacchus, Apollo, and Demeter evolved the famous and widely popular Eleusinian mysteries. These religious ceremonies are thought by those who have made a study of early Greek life to have been instituted about the time of the first record of the Olympian games—776 b. c.—but the final molding of this elaborate ritual was not completed before the sixth century b. c. "The mysteries of Eleusis were the one great attempt of the Grecian genius to construct a religion that would keep pace with the growth of thought and civilization." The survival of savage thought in these rites, the progressive spirit of this cultured age, attempted to overcome, while trying at the same time to preserve, their fervor and self-devotion. There were four successive stages in the ceremonies connected with the celebration of the Eleusinian mysteries—confession, purification through immersion in water, the initiatory rites, followed by the last and crowning one, when the communicants were admitted to the most holy place and partook of the flesh of Demeter, or Circe, and drank the blood of Bacchus—this rite taking the place among these people of the holy sacrament in the Christian Church. We find many evidences from the Greek authors of that period that the people who joined this religious assembly were thought to lead better lives, and that through this connection salvation after death was assured them. Sopater asserted that "the initiation establishes a kinship with the divine nature." Plato wrote: "He that has been initiated has learned that which will insure his happiness hereafter." Plutarch, in a letter to his wife, wrote: "Some say the soul will be entirely insensible after death, but you are too well acquainted with the doctrine delivered in the mysteries of Bacchus and with the symbols of our fraternity to harbor such a thought." Thomas Taylor has given us these lines from an old Orphic hymn:

"The soul that uninitiated dies,
 Plunged in the blackest mire of hades lies."

Modern research has proved that the celebration of the Eucharist, in the mysteries of all ancient peoples, was considered by them as their highest act of worship and the most solemn ordinance of their religion. In the Egyptian mysteries the communicants partook of bread which had been consecrated by their priests, and was then regarded as the veritable body of Osiris, just as in ancient Mexico the worshipers of the supreme Mexican god ate sacramentally paste images made of corn and blood, after a sacred formula was pronounced over the symbols. The devotees informed the Spaniards who witnessed these ceremonies that they were partaking of the body and blood of their god. When the Mithraic mysteries were introduced into Rome, and were celebrated in the world's metropolis, the holy sacrament