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William Davis, A Day in Old Athens

 

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Page 4

The Holy Procession to Eleusis

 

    Very sacred is the procession, but not silent and reverential. It is an hour when the untamed animal spirits of the Greeks, who after all are a young race and who are gripped fast by natural instinct, seem uncurbed. Loud rings the "orgiastic" cry, "Iacchë! Iacchë! evoë!"

    There are wild shouts, dances, jests, songs,[5] postures. As the marchers pass the several sanctuaries along the road there are halts for symbolic sacrifices. So the multitude slowly mounts the long heights of Mount Ægaleos, until—close to the temple of Aphrodite near the summit of the pass—the view opens of the broad blue bay of Eleusis, shut in by the isle of Salamis, while to the northward are seen the green Thrasian plain, with the white houses of Eleusis town[6] near the center, and the long line of outer hills stretching away to Megara and Bœotia.

    The evening shadows are falling, while the peaceful army sweeps over the mountain wall and into Eleusis. Every marcher produces a torch, and bears it blazing aloft as he nears his destination. Seen in the dark from Eleusis, the long procession of innumerable torches must convey an effect most magical.

 

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