Eleusis-Telesterion by shimeiyan


   The settlement of Eleusis was founded in ca. 2000 B.C. on the
    slopes of the hill, and during the Mycenaean period it developed into
    a large fortified settlement, mostly due to its strategic position.
    During this period the cult of Demeter was introduced, as the
    worship of a deity connected to nature and the growing of cereals.
    The continuity of Demeter's cult is attested until Roman times, by
    the erection of successive temples on the east side of the hill.
    In the 8th century B.C. the sanctuary aquired a panhellenic
    character, and in the time of Solon, the Eleusinian Mysteries were
    established as one of the most important Athenian festivals. During
    the tyranny of Peisitratos the sanctuary and the settlement were
    enclosed with a massive fortification wall reinforced with towers.
    Splendid buildings were erected during the Classical and Roman
    periods, but with the spread of Christianity and especially after the
    invasion of the Ostrogoths, the sanctuary was abandoned.
TELESTERION=Temple of Demeter
   The Telesterion itself was unique compared to any other Greek
    temple. Its seats were cut into the rock itself, and it was designed
    to hold the large number of initiates in the darkness so that they
    would experience the "things said, things done, and things
   The Telesterion does not have the columns and sculpture we
    associate with Greek sacred architecture.
   Large square hall with six entrances, two on each of the three sides,
    and eight tiers of seats along all of the four sides, where the
    initiates sat (only their foundations are preserved today). The centre
    of the hall was occupied by the "megaron", the adyton of the
    Eleusenian cult, where only the hierophantes (the high priest) was
    allowed to enter in order to perform the mysteric rites. Several
    architectural phases are distinguished in the building, dated from
    the 5th century B.C. until the 2nd century A.D.
Telesterion _Demeter’s temple=
Eleusis, plan and reconstruction
 Reconstruction of the entrance to
  the Eleusis precinct (left) what
survives now- Built in Roman times
               Eleusinian Mysteries
 The Eleusinian Mysteries were a cult associated with the god Demeter and
  her daughter Persephone. The cult rites were performed at Eleusis because
  it was there, according to the myths, that Demeter found her daughter
  again after Persephone had been carried off by HADES. Though the
  Mysteries may have been performed earlier, it was during the Classical
  period that they attained a special place in the religious life of Athens.
 There are frequent references to the Mysteries in ancient writers,
  inscriptions, prosopographies of priests, and art. Yet the precise
  reconstruction of the rite and its philosophical underlay is extremely
  difficult. The basic reason for this is that a veil of secrecy surrounded the
  proceedings, inasmuch as the initiates pledged themselves not to make
  them common knowledge. Hints can be gleaned from Plutarch, when he
  refers in his Life of Alcibiades to an attempt - "sacrilegious and ill-tuned " -
  he and some friends had made to copy the Eleusinian Mysteries and guy
  them in the privacy of their homes. From the archaeological data we have
  details about the place and the building in which the Mysteries were
  celebrated - the great Telesterium at Eleusis.
   The festival of the Mysteria took place every
    year in the month Boedromion (late September).
    Organizing it was the privilege of two famous
    clans: the Eumolpids and the Kerykes. The
    hierophant - the person presiding over the
    secret rites - was always a Eumolpid; while the
    dadouchos (torchholder) - who played a key part
    in the process of initiation - and the hierokeryx
    (sacred herald) were always Kerykes. The
    female priest of Demeter worked closely
    together with the hierophant, residing
    permanently in the shrine of Eleusis.
   Votive clay tablet of
    Ninnius, with scenes of
    Eleusinian worship.
    (Bottom): Iacchus leading
    the initiates to Demeter
    in the preliminary stage
    of the Eleusinian
    Mysteries. (Top):
    Persephone leading the
    initiates to Demeter at
    the 'Mysteries-in-the-
    Fields'. First half of the
    fourth [4th] century B.C.
    Athens, National
    Archaeological Museum

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