"I was initiated at Eleusis eighteen months later"

Eleusis, near Athens, is the location of an ancient mystery cult dedicated to the goddesses Demeter and Persephone, a myth first written down in one of the Homeric hymns (c650 BC), but arguably extending back into Bronze Age times (c1200-1500 BC). The historical Hadrian was initiated into these mysteries. According to the myth, Hades, the god of the underworld, abducted Persephone, the daughter of Demeter. Demeter searched for her and, eventually, Zeus forced Hades to return her, the reuinion of mother and daughter symbolising the triumph of life over death, of spring over winter. It closely mirrors the Egyptian mysteries of Isis and Osiris, and is reflected in the later Roman cult of Osiris-Antinous. The key to the illustration below is as follows: 1 Demeter; 2 Persephone; 3 Athena; 4 Aphrodite; 5 Artemis; 6 the Eleusinian hero, Triptolemus; 7 the Hierophant (chief priest); 8 a junior priest; 9 a herald; 10. Hecate.

The Eleusinian Mysteries
Public DomainThe Eleusinian Mysteries