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Of the dotted Chaplet, Girdle, and Scarf. — The Fate of Cassandra and
the Flight of Æneas mystically treated.
It was just at this moment that I had promised to myself and the mystæ, my readers, admission to the very adyta of Eleusis; for I had found a key, not indeed that golden one which Sophocles tells us was hung upon the tongue of the Eleusinian priests, it was of baser metal : with the hope of obtaining useful information I applied it; but what a nauseous spectacle did it disclose!
To see the internal organisation of nature laid open, to view the mysterious oeconomy of her womb, (and this merely to show the transition from sterility to fecundity, and to prove that nature is ever reproductive,) might afford entertainment to the anatomist, or the obstetrical professor ; but to an enquirer into the principles of Greek theology, it presented nothing but horror and disgust. Let me then quickly close this chamber, where from every object drips uncleanness, and chase its contents from my memory. It is now, for the first time, that I applaud the prudence of those who forbad the disclosure of the mysteries. The Greek writers often intimate their acquaintance with these
doctrines, which visions, and other warnings, deterred them from exposing: but, independent of their fears, and the punishment that awaited whoever revealed them, these writers might also have convicted themselves of unmanly conduct in having listened to such discourses; and I conceive, notwithstanding the laxity of morals in Greece, that the priests who adopted these gross
allusions in explaining their tenets would scarcely have been honoured with general respect, but for the consolatory promises also held out by them to the initiated.
The extent of these disquisitions will be somewhat abridged, from the disappointment I have experienced : of some things which it yet remains for me to treat, a part must be taken by my reader for granted; but should he be inclined to withhold his assent to certain points, I will rather court his incredulity, than be compelled to assign authority for what I advance. To enter upon an investigation from mere curiosity were a waste of time, but to collect from
such enquiry what may throw light upon the customs and ceremonies of distant nations, or tend to approximate the scattered tribes of the μερόπων ανθρώπων towards their original focus, may have its use, as well as rational entertainment. It is with this view, therefore, that I proceed in my disquisition.
The object of these nightly shows was chiefly to display nature resuscitated, generally by the means of some vivifying gift ; but this present was supposed to be first impregnated, in a manner, which for obvious reasons, I forbear to explain. Suffice it to say, that certain luminous spots, whether disposed in a circle, or expressed upon a leaf or chaplet, a girdle or scarf, were signs of such impregnation. Hence I have reason for dissenting from the report of Diodorus Siculus, respecting the ve@gis or fawn's hide, which that writer observes, was said to be worn by Bacchus, because it represented the starry firmament, whereas the spotted appearance of it recommended this peculiar clothing to Bacchus