During Lent we hear much about “salvation”. I got to Petersburg Lutheran Church early this morning. I sat in the pew awaiting the great announcement that "The Lord is Risen. Surrounding me were decorations and flowers with the sunlight streaming in through the stained glass windows. I wondered about the salvation of the ancients. All of us know of mortals who thank to their blood-lines, beautiful, divine patroness or heroic deeds attained Olympus. Pausanias tells us that;
"Men of the mythical age of heroes, because of their righteousness and piety, were guests of the gods, eating at the same board; the good were openly honored by the gods, and sinners were openly visited with their wrath. Nay, in those days men were changed to gods, who down to the present day have honors paid to them--Aristaeus, Britomartis of Crete, Heracles the son of Alcmena, Amphiaraus the son of Oicles, and besides these Polydeuces and Castor." Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 2. 3 (trans. Jones)But, what of us lesser souls, what hope had we of a happy afterlife. One thought is the Eleusian Mysteries founded by Demeter were meant; "to elevate man above the human sphere into the divine and to assure his redemption by making him a god and so conferring immortality upon him." (Nilsson, Martin P. Greek Popular Religion pages 44) Of course Pausanias (1.38.7) can say nothing on this sacred subject. “My dream forbade the description of the things within the wall of the sanctuary, and the uninitiated are of course not permitted to learn that which they are prevented from seeing.” According to the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, the goddess found the Eleusian Mysteries while grieving for her lost daughter.
“she showed the conduct of her rites and taught them all her mysteries, to Triptolemus and Polyxeinus and Diocles also, -- awful mysteries which no one may in any way transgress or pry into or utter, for deep awe of the gods checks the voice. Happy is he among men upon earth who has seen these mysteries; but he who is uninitiated and who has no part in them, never has lot of like good things once he is dead, down in the darkness and gloom.”The hint here is that via the Mysteries normal people can become residences of the Island of the Blest upon their departure from this world. My question is why did Demeter found the Mysteries?