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or numberless other peculiarities, may require the fullest ex. planation, before we can arrive at any thing like a correct une derstanding of the whole meaning of the allegory.
Clemens Alexandrinus is the great authority for the symbols in use at the Eleusinian Mysteries; though Clemens is so carried away by his holy indignation (sufficiently well-founded as it was, in many instances,) that he often gives the colour of anger rather than the character of truth to his imaginary exposition of these anti-christian ceremonies :but we enter not into the field of obsolete and useless controversy ; « nunc non erit his locus :" — we rather chuse to quote our present author as a commentator on the text of Clemens.
The first emblem which he mentions is the tonurin, or crossed ball of wool, discovered in the hand of females, and probably implying the thread of life which is not yet spun.
• The presentation of a Gutta,' says Mr. C. may denote the principle of fecundity comprised in the oil vessel ; and this may account to us why sesame is recorded as a mysterious seed from the oil which it produces ; oil being accepted as a principle of fertility.' - The pyramidal cake, from its shape, was a similar emblem with fame and the Phallus. The knob or boss, which partakes somewhat of a Pyramidal form, has the same import. It appears particularly in the centre of antient pateræ, of which many in bronze are preserved in the cabinets of the curious ; it there rises out of the Lotus, expressive of the action of flame upon water ; these patera are therefore surrounded by a rim, in order to contain water, that the boss in the center might appear surrounded by this element. Salt wao. presented in the Mysteries as symbolical of generation. The serpent is a well known emblem.'
Ivy always denotes the Shades ; and is proper to Bacchus in inferis ; it had therefore a place in the Agrionia and Nyctelia ; which were night festivals, as we are informed by Plutarch.'
We may add, as the latter name would have intimated of itself.-- Pleased as we have been with much recondite knowlege in Mr. Christie, we have sometimes been a little surprized at the apparent simplicity of his remarks. Perhaps the following instance may strike our readers in the same light in which we have viewed it.
Note on the word “ Etruscan,' page 3.
• This word is differently by Horace, accordingly as it suited the rhythm of his versé.
“ Minacis aut Etrusca Porsene Manus," Verse. 4. Epode 16.
6. Heirusca traler et volate littora.". Verse 40. Ibid. • It is indifferent which orthography we choose.'
We hardly think that it is, since custom assuredly sanctions Etruscan in the present day : but to Horace it clearly was in
different, since the rhythm of the verse has no connection with the spelling of this word. The variations were occa. sioned solely by the good pleasure of the scribe or the printer.
To return to the symbols, - of which we have omitted to notice many, in our abridgement of Mr. C.'s account above, and can only specify one or two more :
• The poppy was also used in the Mysteries, as symbolical of life and generation. The somniferous qualities of this plant enforced the idea of quiescence; but the seeds of existence which it was emblematically supposed to contain, seemed tv shew that Nature, though her powers were suspended, yet possessed the capability of being called intu existence.' _. The dissimilar casts of the Astragali might, perhaps, express the alternate operations of the Dioscuri.' - The mirror mighi present the simulachrum animæ, for which Servius may be consulied upon those words in the Æncid iv. 654. Subterras ibit imago'
All'this is at least very ingenious, whatever doubt the hypothetical expression may throw on it.
Of the construction of the Vase itself, Mr. C. observes that it appears to him to have been suggested to the Greeks by the Egyptians. The latter people, he remarks, must have had the knowlege and use of the potter's wheel, for the manufacture of their antient emblems of se deity Canopus. He might have added other proofs ;—the people of Egypt,
- Pellei gens fortunata Canopi,
Quæ circum pictis vehitur sua rura phaselis," accustomed
o brevibus pictæ remis incumbere teste," doubtless had the art of moulding any clay vessels; and we do not see why they should not have embellished their sacred utensils with allegorical representations, as well as the Atheni. ans. By the farther mystical application of the Vase among that ingenious people, the invention became, as it were, their own.
From various authorities, for which we must refer to page 44 and 45, Mr. Christie conceives that the Canopus, used by the Egyptian priests in their ancient contest (as the story runs) with the Chaldæan priests, as the symbol of water and of their deity, in opposition to the Chaldæan divinity, whose ato tributes were represented by fire, may be termed a symbol of creation from water ; and that the Greek Vase had the same purport :
For this reason the Lotus also was referred to as a model for its elegant form ; and it was used with great propriety as the Larva of Bacchus, who was the god of humid nature. The religious contest before-mentioned seems to save partaken of that well-known jealous
which has from early time existed in India, where the favourite deity of each secr is distinguished by his proper'symbol; the preserver Vishnu by water ; : he destroyer Siva by fire. From this fragmeut of their religious history, it would appear that the Egyptians had attached themselves to the milder system ; and if, as we are assured, the Eleusinian Mysteries came either mediately or immediately from Egypt into Greece, the doctrine of preservation, of which water was the symbol, must have been the basis on which they were founded ; and they would naturally have held ont “ a better hope" to the gloomy Pelasgi in Greece ; who, if we except the single instance of the fate of Orpheus, seem to have otherwise thankfully admitted the salutary doctrine.
· These remarks as to the origin of the vase, I trust, explain why this class of antient vessels was chosen to commemorate the Mysteries in preference to any other utensil.'
*. After some quotations from the Baron de Ste. Croix, (with which we shall close our review of this article, adding a reference from Warburton to complete the general picture of the Mysteries,) the author farther observes respecting the real nature of the Shews at Eleusis, that they probably consisted of transparencies, of which the subjects are faithfully preserved on Etruscan Vases to the present day :
• The scenes of the Theatre at Eleusis,' (he adds,) . it might be readily supposed, consisted either of a dark superficies, in which transparent figures were placed-(hence the Etruscan vases with red figures upon a black ground) - or of opaque figures moved behind a transparent canvas--and hence those earlier vases with black figures upon a red ground.
• There is a country, widely distant from Greece, the natives of which, however, retain some correspondent marks of anriquity, where the vase in a transparent state is occasionally exhibited with great solemnity. – Şuch' is the exhibition of lanterns among the Chinese, in their festival so named. The purpose of that ceremony, and of the Shews.at Eleusis, is the same. At the time of the Chinese festival, the manes are supposed to revisit the earth; the lanterns then displayed are not only ornamented with paintings, but are also made further interesting by certain small figures cut out, and ingeniously moved upon the side. ... The object of the Eleusinian Mysteries was to inculcate a belief in a future state ; and the Chinese feast of lanterns no doubt was equally designed to enforce the immortality of the soul, by the ingenious and pleasing medium of moving transparencies.'
On this point, we shall add a note of the author in another part of his work : ! • According to the most reasonable accounts, the Chinese derive their Feast of Lanterns from a mandarin (peirun) whose daughter perished in a river, and from his seeking her by torch-light. Mr. Boulanger, Vol. 3. p. 51. and 167. compares this mandarin and his
daughter to Ceres and Proserpine; and it is for those who have acquaintance with the Chinese language* to seek in the etymology of their names, whether his conjecture be well-founded. This festival is held in February, soon after the opening of the new year. Tbe sign Aquarius is accordingly termed in the Chinese language, “the resurrection of the spring."
Mr. Christie also refers us to Captain Wilford's explanation .. of the mystic words KorĚ, Ou ATĘ, which closed the celebra
tion of the Eleusinian Mysteries; and which words that learned antiquary has satisfactorily proved to be of eastern etymology. See the 5th Vol. of Asiatic Researches, at the close of the chapter to which we referred before, in our account of the Cabiri. ,
We must now briefly recur to some detached passages of the work under review, and conclude with our promised extracts.. • In mentioning the ceremonies of the 5th day of the celebration of the Mysteries, or the procession of the Mystä by torches at night, Mr. C. observes : • From the following line of Æschylus,
« Λαμπραισιν αστραπαισι λαμπαδων σθενει,” it is probable that transparent scenes strongly illumined with lamps from behind were then exhibited.''
Now the line in question, quoted as a line of Æschylus without any farther reference, in favour of Mr. C.'s hypothesis of the illumined paintings exhibited at Eleusis, 'is only to be found (as far as we can discover) in the Scholiast on Sophocles, line 1048. (Brunck's edition) of the Edipus Coloneus. The passage in Sophocles may be rendered as follows. « On the Shore of Lamps, where the awful priestesses preserve the sacred mysteries for mortals, on whose tongue also hangs the golden key of the initiated.” (or, “ of the ministers descended from Eumolpus.”) — The Shore of Lamps, the Scholiast explains to be “ Eleusis, illuminated and glittering with the holy lamps and torches of the Mysteries ; concerning which Æschylus says” (according to the Scholiast) Aquapalovy — *. 1. n. « with sparkling light, shed from the strong blaze of ļamps.” This line, however, is not in any extant play of Æschylus, nor in the collection of edited fragments, as far as we can discover ; and if it were, unless the context gave to it the sense which Mr. Christie suggests, it conveys no such meaning in its detached state. — In this case, we fear, the author has raised an Ombre Chinoise, or rather played off some Greek fire, of his
* A very satisfactory reference of M. Boulanger, we must confess.!
bolon Eumollsis, ille Mystere Scholizne strong
own invention, and has delighted his readers with an imaginary transparency: “ animum picturâ pascit inani.”
We come now to his quotation from Plutarch, subjoined to that which is taken from Onomacritus, Λαμπρον άγων φαος αγνον, as an additional motto:
Olov soli nam to 78 halalñpos Cádiure) ; 60:46 gap o squrimp Tu περιεχοντι την ψυχην σωματι: φως γαρ έστιν η εντος ψυχη.
As to the reference of these words to the descent of Bacchus ad inferos in the shape of a lamp, may we not ask Mr., C., also in the words of Plutarch, on another Roman question,
'H TYTO MEY GRZ0s, 'Ou Apos Alovuoou, bolov;
Or, in English, is his quotation to the purpose ? Let us take the whole passage in Plutarch. It is an important truism (for we must not be laughed out of our truisms,) that, if we detach a sentence from a paragraph, we may easily make a part of a writer's meaning contradict the whole. We by no means assert this to be the case at présent:- but let Plutarch state his own question as to the enigma of the lamp.
or Why did the Romans ordain that the lanterns of their Augurs (whom they before called Auspices) should always be open to the air and free from any covering? Did they intend such trifles to be symbolical of things of greater momerit, after the manner of the Pythagoreans? For with the same spirit that they forbad you to sit upon a corn-measure*, or to stir the fire with a sword, did the antients also make use of many obscure intimations, or enigmas, particularly in their sacred rites : such was this enigma of the lamp. For the lamp answers to the body containing the soul: the soul within is the light; and that light, or the perceptive and reasoning faculties of man, ought always to be unclouded and vigorous; neither shut from the air, nor extinguished by it. -- Now when the wind is high, the birds sail about unequally and irregularly, and do not afford a certain augury. So they teach you by this custom, of carrying the lamps without covering, to take omens in tranquil weather!” • What a mass of superstitious nonsense, and a glimmering
of good sense, have we here! but as to the descent of any spirit to the Shades, personated by the enigma of the lamp, still less as to the descent of Bacchus, may we not again ask, —though with all due deference to a writer who has clearly considered these matters more than any of his predecessors or contemporaries,
'H T8TO UEY C'hws, 'Ou tapos Alovuoov, šolu; We have thus gone through the principal subjects of Mr. Christie's volume, and have touched on several points
* The chenix, or semodius ;-about half a bushel.