The Mysteries of Eleusis
In the dialogue, Gorgias, Socrates argues many philosophical ideals with four different people: Chaerophon, Polus, Gorgias and Callicles. As Socrates progressed from conversation to conversation the increasing difficulty in the arguments became prominent. When he finally encountered Callicles, his final opponent, the intensity of the discussion undoubtedly reached its highest level. At one point Callicles became so frustrated by Socrates’ excessive questioning that he refused to go on with the dispute. After he is convinced by Gorgias to return to the argument Socrates taunted Callicles by stating “You’re a happy man, Callicles ; [you have] been initiated into the Greater Mysteries of the Lesser.”(Plato 285). In this statement Socrates incorporated the Mysteries of Eleusis to showcase the overall credibility of Callicles. However this reference goes far beyond just that.
The Eleusian Mysteries, also known as the cult of The Two Goddesses, are estimated to date back to 1,700 B.C. They were started to honor Demeter, the Goddess of Liberty, and her daughter Persephone. Although one cult altogether, the mysteries were separated into two stages the Lesser and the Greater Mysteries. The Lesser Mysteries “were designed by the ancient theologists, their founders, to signify occultly the condition of the unpurified soul invested with an earthy body, and enveloped in a material and physical nature” (Hall 1). In other words, to purify the soul of the candidates from materialistic and physical ideals of the world and to teach them spiritual values. Accordingly, Myesis, a Greek word meaning “to teach” and “to initiate, was the name given to the rituals of these mysteries. Most of these ceremonies are unknown due to the vow of silence the mystes had to take upon. However, historians do know that many of these rituals were sacrifices or offerings to Persephone from flowers to the most popular rams. In addition to these offerings, the...
Cited: Hall, Manly Palmer The Secret Teachings of All Ages "An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy Being an Interpretation of the Secret Teachings Concealed within the Rituals, Allegories and Mysteries of all Ages" H.S. Crocker Company, Inc. 1928 (Reprint: Tarcher 2003) pages 29 – 32
Lewis, Ralph M. "The Lesser Mysteries of Eleusis." Rosicrucian Digest. San Jose, CA: Supreme Council of the Rosicrucian Order, 1987. N. pag. Print.
Shearer, Caroline. "The Lesser Mysteries." And The Greater Mysteries. Temple of the Presence, 12 Sept. 1987. Web. 17 Oct. 2013.
White, David A. Myth and Metaphysics in Plato 's Phaedo. Selinsgrove [Pa.: Susquehanna UP, 1989. Print.
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