What follows at Eleusis? The "mysteries" are "mysteries"
still; we cannot claim initiation and reveal them. There seem to be
manifold sacrifices of a symbolic significance, the tasting of sacred
"portions" of food and drink—a dim foreshadowing of the Christian
sacrament of the Eucharist; especially in the great hall of the Temple
of the Mystæ in Eleusis there take place a manner of symbolic
spectacles, dramas perhaps one may call them, revealing the origins of
Iacchus, the mystical union of Persephone and Zeus, and the final joy of
This certainly we can say of these ceremonies. They seem
to have afforded to spiritually minded men a sense of remission of
personal sin which the regular religion could never give; they seem also
to have conveyed a fair hope of immortality, such as most Greeks
doubted. Sophocles tells thus the story: "Thrice blessed are they who
behold these mystical rites, ere passing to Hades' realm. They alone
have life there. For the rest all things below are evil."
And in face of imminent death, perhaps in hours of shipwreck, men are
wont to ask one another, "Have you been initiated at Eleusis?"