Talk:Eleusinian Mysteries

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Former good article Eleusinian Mysteries was one of the Philosophy and religion good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
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incoherent entheogenic section[edit]

I have just read this page for the first time, and I found the section about entheogenic theories extraordinarily incoherent. I believe this is due to the work of several authors in disagreement who inserted contradictory statements regardless of whether in context they would make sense for the reader. Therefore I am going to attempt to bring this section into some kind of order editorially without deleting anything of substance. I just wanted to explain what I am doing—I have no opinion on the subject and don't intend to take sides in the debate. Londonbroil (talk) 08:48, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

"sport, paedophilia and a dodgy ritual?"[edit]

...as well as one of the three mainstays of Greek classical culture, the Olympic Games and pederasty (in certain areas) being the other two.

Are you seriously suggesting that Classical Greek culture boiled down to sport, paedophilia and a dodgy ritual? adamsan 20:04, 13 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I, too, consider that part to be a little far fetched, if not a plain POV. The sentence should at least include a reference such as "according to ..." But I'm still sure that Greek classical culture has more to it than these three aspects. Robin des Bois ♘ 01:29, 17 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Yoink! adamsan 17:58, 17 Aug 2004 (UTC)

While I agree with both of you I hardly think that the Eleusinian Mysteries are 'a dodgy ritual', unless you regard things like the Eucharist as 'a dodgy ritual' too. The Mysteries are at the heart of Greek worship! ThePeg 22:36, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

(An Other) I almost want to say that the "pederasty" associated with this ritual is really just the expressed 'impressions' of certain individuals who would rather individual, independent investigation of such rituals cease. For whatever reasons those may be. Actually, I do want to say that. And anyone who disagrees with me would be a Fool and a Communoterrorist. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 70.174.120.38 (talk) 03:15, 19 November 2012 (UTC)

Corn?[edit]

"Following this section of the Mysteries was the Pannychis, an all-night feast accompanied by dancing and merriment. The dances took place in the Rharian Field, rumored to be the first spot where corn grew."

Corn? I think you should make clear that corn back then was any staple food grain, and not the corn, maize.

—Preceding unsigned comment added by Adamsan (talkcontribs) 17:58, August 17, 2004

Iacchus and Dionysus[edit]

According to the article stub Iacchus, the identification of Iacchus with Dionysus is uncertain. However there seems to be long-standing identification of the two according to the quotes given at Greek Mythology: IACCHUS / IAKKHOS. From memory Jane Ellen Harrison discusses the prominence of Dionysus in the Greater Mysteries at some length in her Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion (but I don't have the book in front of me). Is there some reason that I'm unaware of for doubting either the identification of Iacchus with Dionysus, or Dionysus' prominence in the rites? I believe (again, I would need to track down sources) that Dionysus/Iacchus/Zagreus is of major importance in the Orphic Mysteries as well. Fuzzypeg 00:47, 11 January 2006 (UTC)


Ethnicity Restrictions[edit]

Was it possible for anyone regardless of ethnicity to become an initiate in the Mysteries or was it restricted to Greeks? Obviously my question is mostly relevant for the Roman age. Could Romans become initiated> Lucius Domitius 13:03, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

The Eleusinian initiation was open to anyone who could afford it. Cicero, who was initiated there, writes "I don't mention the holy and august Eleusis, where people from the remotest shores are initiated." (De Natura Deorum, I.119 , "Omitto Eleusinem sanctam illam et augustam, ubi initiantur gentes orarum ultimae"). L'omo del batocio (talk) 16:50, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

Cleanup[edit]

I think this article needs to be divided into sections, to break up that huge mass of text. It's currently very hard to read, and hard to know where to put new text.

I suggest the Mysteries section be broken down in the following manner: begin with a brief description of what events were held and when; move on to a section describing what the events were known to symbolise, and giving a bit more detail about the proceedings; and continue on to a section dealing with theories and interpretations. Fuzzypeg 01:50, 15 February 2006 (UTC)

Sounds good, go for it. --Heah talk 03:00, 15 February 2006 (UTC)

This looks good to me now. However, I did have one comment: in the "Entheogenic" theories, last paragraph, Phalaris could be added next to Acacia. If no one minds, I will do this now.... fine, consider it done! Next I'd like to replace "entheogenic" (what ever that is supposed to mean) with something a bit more precise and perhaps even academic, after a respectful pause212.149.205.113 (talk) 20:26, 26 March 2009 (UTC)

Failed GA[edit]

A clean-up tag and no references are why I've failed this. Wiki-newbie 16:18, 21 December 2006 (UTC)

Shibboleth?[edit]

Yes, only Greek speakers were initiated, but how does that relate to shibboleth? The implication is that there was some trick question asked of postulants, a test of pronunciation or meaning that foreigners would unwittingly fail. Surely this is not the case? It was a simple matter of not allowing non-greek speakers? Fuzzypeg 20:21, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

GA review (see here for criteria)
  1. It is reasonably well written.
    a (prose): b (MoS):
  2. It is factually accurate and verifiable.
    a (references): b (citations to reliable sources): c (OR):
  3. It is broad in its coverage.
    a (major aspects): b (focused):
  4. It follows the neutral point of view policy.
    a (fair representation): b (all significant views):
  5. It is stable.
  6. It contains images, where possible, to illustrate the topic.
    a (tagged and captioned): b (lack of images does not in itself exclude GA): c (non-free images have fair use rationales):
  7. Overall:
    a Pass/Fail:


In reviewing this article compared to the criteria listed at WP:WIAGA, I found the following issues:

  • The lead does not adequately summarize the article. It should touch briefly on each section of the article. Blue check.svg
  • The use (or not) of the serial comma needs to be consistent throughout the article. Blue check.svg
  • There also needs to be a consistency in wikification of centuries. The century in the lead is not wikified. Blue check.svg
  • The article could use some additional wikification. Blue check.svg
  • ..."and probably will be forever." is not very encyclopedic. I recommend rewording. Blue check.svg
  • References need to be consistently formatted per WP:CITE.Blue check.svg
  • The article appears to have a lot of OR. Further use of inline citation would remedy this.Blue check.svg

I am placing the nomination on hold for no more than seven days to allow time for improvements to be made. Let me know if you need any help or have any questions by either responding here or dropping a line on my talk page. Regards, Lara♥Love 05:22, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

All issues have been addressed. I have listed the article at WP:GA. Thank you for your hard work. In improving the quality of this article, you have improved the quality of Wikipedia. Best regards, Lara♥Love 18:19, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

needs to be cleaned up some, I've never edited pages, so if someone can do it that would be great. Someone slandard the last sentence of the page. Thanks, -B —Preceding unsigned comment added by 150.135.66.26 (talk) 19:22, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

In my opinion the current article, while decent, is not GA material. The relevant scholarly debate isn't even sketched and marginal, controversial views are given undue weight. Perusing Burkert's book, which was added as a reference only a few days ago, may provide a starting point for substantial improvements. Just to give an example, Synesius' famous quote of Aristotle's views on the Mysteries isn't currently mentioned. The article should provide a context where such crucial information can be meaningfully inserted. L'omo del batocio (talk) 10:45, 1 March 2008 (UTC)

summer or winter?[edit]

When they told me of Demetra and Persephone as a child, they taught me that Kore lived with Hades during the winter months. It seems logic. Why should ancient Greeks consider summer a dead period?

Matt —Preceding unsigned comment added by 80.19.93.38 (talk) 14:07, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

There's a lot of scholarship that debates the two different interpretations. It would be sensible for the article to note the controversy. I recall running across one or two good refs pertaining to this topic on JSTOR. Robert K S (talk) 03:55, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
"/According to the prevailing version of the myth, Persephone had to remain with Hades for four months while staying above ground with her mother for a similar period. This left her the choice of where to spend the last four months of the year and since she opted to live with Demeter, the end result was eight months of growth and abundance to be followed by four months of no productivity./"
"/The Eleusinian Mysteries probably included a celebration of Persephone's return, for it was also the return of plants and of life to the earth. Persephone had gone into the underworld (underground, like seeds in the winter), then returned to the land of the living: her rebirth is symbolic of the rebirth of all plant life during Spring and, by extension, all life on earth./"
Is is clear that winter is the dead season? FenixEden (talk) 23:45, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

Taylor[edit]

Evidence on the Mysteries from Thomas Taylor is quite suspect, as he was a devoted Neo-Platonist interested primarily in the mystical aspects of Plato. His use of Plato as evidence of the actual mysteries likely conflates the two; it is far more likely that Plato transfigured the symbols and acts of the mysteries, mixing them with the symbols of other cults (e.g. Orphism), rather than reporting them. 134.117.196.196 (talk) 19:06, 16 February 2010 (UTC)tdal

The following is suspect: "However, one researcher writes that this Cista ("kiste") contained a golden mystical serpent, egg, a phallus and possibly also seeds sacred to Demeter.[11]" The source given is self-published; a better source must be out there somewhere. Oh, and the name of the publisher is misspelled: it's "Lightning Source" not "Lighting Source." —Preceding unsigned comment added by 98.19.115.61 (talk) 22:46, 11 October 2008 (UTC)

Expanded Lesser and (especially) Greater Mysteries section.[edit]

Dromena, deiknumena and legomena were central aspects to the ritual's climax. Ifnkovhg (talk) 07:22, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

Beginnings of the Cult[edit]

There are two statements -- one in the intro and one in secton 2, "The Mysteries" -- that claim the Eleusinian Mysteries began in the Mycenean period ca. 1600 BC. The citations are to sources from 1915, 1947 and 1961. This is a controversial conclusion that has been extensively debated since the early 1980's. I'm not sure, but I think the consensus opinion today is that the cult originated in the 6th century BCE. If this is true (the fact needs to be checked) it's important to update this article to make it current with the last 25 years of scholarship.Yonderboy (talk) 04:58, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

GA Reassessment[edit]

This discussion is transcluded from Talk:Eleusinian Mysteries/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the reassessment.

GA onhold.svg This article has been reviewed as part of Wikipedia:WikiProject Good articles/Project quality task force in an effort to ensure all listed Good articles continue to meet the Good article criteria. In reviewing the article, I have found there are some issues that may need to be addressed, listed below.

The problems are primarily in the references:

  • "Mythology of Demeter and Persephone" - last paragraph seems like WP:OR, needs refs
  • "Participants" - ref
  • "Greater Mysteries" - though mostly an uncontroversial narration of events, more refs would be nice here. Particularly the "two modern theories", though there is more on this further down. Also, there's an external link in the text.
  • "End of the Eleusinian Mysteries" - ref for quote, attribution is not enough
  • "The Mysteries in art" - Shakespeare mask thing needs ref. "It is interesting that..." - no, no, no...
  • "Entheogenic theories" - here there's a [citation needed] tag, indeed the whole section after the last ref seems like OR
  • "References" - not quite consistent in use of page numbers etc.
  • As has been pointed out above, the current ref 13 - Thomas Taylor - is doubtful

I will check back in seven days. If these issues are addressed, the article will remain listed as a Good article. Otherwise, it may be delisted (such a decision may be challenged through WP:GAR). If improved after it has been delisted, it may be nominated at WP:GAN. Feel free to drop a message on my talk page if you have any questions, and many thanks for all the hard work that has gone into this article thus far. Lampman (talk) 16:50, 2 August 2009 (UTC)

Since no significant improvements have been made to the article over the last week, I will now delist it. Lampman (talk) 15:17, 11 August 2009 (UTC)

Epopteia[edit]

In the "Participants" section, the Greek word epopteia is given an English translation of "contemplation". Does anyone have a source on this? If you consult the LSJ lexicon, epopteia must be epi (upon) + opteuein (to look/see), meaning "a look upon", i.e., a vision. I have not come across any other direct translations of the word, but "contemplation" seems very misleading and seems to read in philosophical appropriations of the Mysteries. 134.117.196.196 (talk) 19:34, 16 February 2010 (UTC)tdal

Entheogenic Hypothesis Number 3[edit]

As Barley/Wheat and Pomogranate are foods part of the ritual, it makes sense that the drink was made from them. I am guessing Beer or Mead is a possiblity here. If either beer or mead "go bad", do they form a fungus/bacterium that is mind-altering; any references? 2010-07-08 T01:45 Z-7 PDT 76.90.232.7 (talk) 08:45, 18 July 2010 (UTC)

The ergot fungus grows on grains such as rye and, I believe, wheat. It has been suggested as the entheogenic source elsewhere. As an aside to this, I note that the article talks about the contents of the chest and the basket and suggests that there may have been mushrooms in one of them. The article says in the chest, but I think it means in the basket. In other words when it says:
However, one researcher writes that this Cista ("kiste") contained a golden mystical serpent, egg, a phallus and possibly also seeds sacred to Demeter.[14] The contents of the chest might have been similar to Central American mushrooms of the genus Psilocybe[verification needed].[15]

I believe it should read

The contents of the basket might have been similar to Central American mushrooms of the genus Psilocybe

I read the source for the mushroom hypothesis, unsurprisingly Wasson, and he does suggest them as the source but does not specify whether it is the chest or the basket. I could swear I had read before that the chest contained ritual objects and the basket what was passed around, which would make sense if mushrooms or morning glory seeds or something like that were being used.

As for the reference to drink, I do wonder what word was used for potion and if it always meant a liquid. This may be part of why we are having trouble divining this mystery. I'm fairly certain that nothing that happens to beer or mead after it is made can increase its entheogenic properties. It is possible that you could make a drink from ergot-infected grains and have some effect, as it is said that bread made from ergot-infected rye did have psychedelic effects Rifter0x0000 (talk) 21:47, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

origins-establishment[edit]

In my opinion the origins and the date of the establishment are not verified in the article and by the references.It is possible that the origin of similar mysteries was Egypt,but it is more propable that the Eleusinian mysteries combine a Creto-Pelasgian vegetetion cult with a cult of ressurected gods which came later from the East.(M.Renault:The four seasons of greek philosophy).R.Wunderlich (The secret of Creta) believes that the "mistress of the Labyrinth" became the Godess Demeter.Her title in the Eleusinian mysteries is kept by her daughter Persephone (ko-re).Persephone had also the surname Despoina (miss).(Despoina was the godess of the mysteries of Arcadian cult).This possibility must be included in the article.The double edged-axe labrys which propably gave the name to the Cretan labyrinth was the symbol of matriarchy (F.Schachermeyer:Die Minoische Kultur des alten Kreta) and the priests at Delphi were called "Labryades" (The men of the double axe). The Myceneans conquered Creta at 1450 B.C,therefore the date of the propable establishment of the mysteries in the article (1600B.C or 1800 B.C as in ref (1)) is not confirmed and must be revised.Creta had a strong connection with Egypt,but a complete diferrent relegion (Furumark).It is very difficult to believe that the mysteries came direct from Egypt during the Mycenean period (ref.(1)) and this must be verified by experts.94.65.192.182 (talk) 08:58, 3 August 2010 (UTC)

Blood guilt[edit]

I don't think being free of "blood guilt" meant NEVER having committed a murder. Surely someone could be cleansed of blood guilt by bathing somewhere holy, Myrvin (talk) 14:39, 10 September 2010 (UTC)

Alcibiades[edit]

The article on Alcibiades contradicts the statement in the article that he was condemned for performing the Elusinian mysteries at home. This statement must be cited or it needs to be removed. Spiral5800 (talk) 12:46, 16 September 2010 (UTC)

That article states that he was condemned for profaning the mysteries. Do you object that it doesn't actually say how, whereas this article does? Myrvin (talk) 12:29, 17 September 2010 (UTC)
Pro tem I have changed the wording a bit and added a citation. Myrvin (talk) 12:52, 17 September 2010 (UTC)

Autumn?[edit]

"Finally, by consulting Zeus, Demeter reunites with her daughter and the earth returns to its former verdure and prosperity: the first autumn." Shouldn't this be 'spring'? Myrvin (talk) 12:25, 17 September 2010 (UTC)

Definitely so. TWx4eABO5y (talk) 17:39, 21 September 2013 (UTC)

"An ear of corn in silence reaped"[edit]

Under the Section "Mysteries", sub-section "Secrets"; the quote of "An ear of corn in silence reaped". Refers to grain; not actual corn or maize. Maize corn is native to North America, Europe never had it until European explorers took it back with them. "Corn" is one word for grain, until Columbus and Leif stumpted their keel into North America. So, in European English, corn = grain; maize = corn-on-the-cob. Similar to American English Buffalo is really a Bison, Buffalo are from India. 2010-09-29 T16:28 Z-7 PDsT 76.90.73.133 (talk) 23:28, 29 September 2010 (UTC)

Altered States[edit]

I added this category and the following while watching H2 just now... Altered consciousness was acheived by those practicing the Eleusinian Mysteries. Often, drugs were used for the initiates to experience different mental perceptions.<ref]The Stoned Ages, History Channel (H2)</ref] — Preceding unsigned comment added by Brad Watson, Miami (talkcontribs) 17:02, 14 September 2012 (UTC)

If it was the History Channel, I'm surprised they didn't say the altered states were caused by aliens. However, it's certainly possible to find scholarly sources that suggest the use of psychotropic drugs at Eleusis and elsewhere, and the ecstatic trances associated with some mysteries would qualify as an "altered state." The article content should probably support inclusion in the category better, but only if such content has good-enough sources. Cynwolfe (talk) 17:36, 14 September 2012 (UTC)
this whole too long section here and in article is nothing but sheer speculation, ... the rites and others worldwide were about connecting to heaven in a real tangible way and that could include visions, not substance abue,,, etc. such rites bring this connection to initiates, later jesus bringing it to all via him and otherwise as masonic rites bringing the connection to their initiates today ...

arepo sator AO 24.186.53.181 (talk) 13:43, 17 April 2014 (UTC) ...

Vague statements[edit]

It is unclear what the sources for several of the statements in the first section may be.

Of all the mysteries celebrated in ancient times, these were held to be the ones of greatest importance. (By whom)

It is acknowledged that their basis was an old agrarian cult which probably goes back to the Mycenean period (who acknowledges this?)

The idea of immortality which appears in syncretistic religions of antiquity was introduced in late antiquity.[2] (Poorly worded and unclear)

216.184.15.172 (talk) 08:22, 30 March 2013 (UTC)

I've had a go at this. Myrvin (talk) 14:16, 17 April 2014 (UTC)