Aischylos, Psuchahogoi fragment 273
Chorus of Evocators: We, the race that lives around the lake, do honor to Hermes our ancestor … Come now, guest-friend, take up your stance on the grassy sacred enclosure of the fearful lake. Slash the gullet of the neck, and let the blood of this sacrificial victim flow into the murky depths of the reeds as a drink offering for the lifeless. Call upon primeval Earth and chthonic Hermes, escort of the dead, and ask chthonic Zeus to send up the swarm of night-wanderers from the mouth of this melancholy river, unfit for washing hands, sent up by Stygian springs.
Anonymous, Akhbar Al-Zaman 172-74
It was found in some of the holy books of the Egyptian priests that king Budshir bin Qfitwim exhausted himself in the worship of the luminous heavenly bodies to the point where their spirits entered into him. He became infatuated with these spirits and starved himself; his body gave up food and drink. When he became ecstatic the spirits desired him as he desired them, so they raised him up to their place and purified him of all painful evils of earth and made him a heavenly spirit, floating within their luminosity and able to do as they did.
Aristophanes, The Frogs 316
Xanthias: I have it, master: ’tis those blessed mystics, souls of those who were initiated into the mysteries in life, which we were told would be sporting in the area. They are singing the Iakchos hymn that Diagoras made.
Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks 2.30
Phalloi are consecrated to Dionysos, and this is the origin of those phalloi. Dionysos was anxious to descend into Haides, but did not know the way. Thereupon a certain man, Prosymnos by name, promises to tell him; though not without reward. The reward was not a seemly one, though to Dionysos it was seemly enough. It was a favour of lust, this reward which Dionysos was asked for. The god is willing to grant the request; and so he promises, in the event of his return, to fulfil the wish of Prosymnos, confirming the promise with an oath. Having learnt the way he set out, and came back again. He does not find Prosymnos, for he was dead. In fulfilment of the vow to his lover Dionysos hastens to the tomb and indulges his unnatural lust. Cutting off a branch from a fig-tree which was at hand, he shaped it into the likeness of a phallos, and then made a show of fulfilling his promise to the dead man. As a mystic memorial of this passion phalloi are set up to Dionysos in cities. ‘For if it were not to Dionysos that they held solemn procession and sang the phallic hymn, they would be acting most shamefully,’ says Herakleitos.
Diodoros Sikeliotes, Library of History 91.7; 96.4-9
This explains why many Egyptians keep the bodies of their ancestors in costly chambers and gaze face to face upon those who died many generations before their own birth, so that, as they look upon the stature and proportions and the features of the countenance of each, they experience a strange enjoyment, as though they had lived with those on whom they gaze.
When the body is ready to be buried the family announces the day of interment to the judges and to the relatives and friends of the deceased, and solemnly affirms that he who has just passed away — giving his name — “is about to cross the lake.” Then, when the judges, forty-two in number, have assembled and have taken seats in a hemicycle which has been built across the lake, the baris is launched, which has been prepared in advance by men especially engaged in that service, and which is in the charge of the boatman whom the Egyptians in their language is called charon. For this reason they insist that Orpheus, having visited Egypt in ancient times and witnessed this custom, merely invented his account of Hades, in part reproducing this practice and in part inventing on his own account; but this point we shall discuss more fully a little later.
Orpheus, for instance, brought from Egypt most of his mystic ceremonies, the orgiastic rites that accompanied his wanderings, and his fabulous account of his experiences in Hades. For the rite of Osiris is the same as that of Dionysos and that of Isis very similar to that of Demeter, the names alone having been interchanged; and the punishments in Hades of the unrighteous, the Fields of the Righteous, and the fantastic conceptions, current among the many, which are figments of the imagination — all these were introduced by Orpheus in imitation of the Egyptian funeral customs. Hermes, for instance, the Conductor of Souls, according to the ancient Egyptian custom, brings up the body of the Apis to a certain point and then gives it over to one who wears the mask of Cerberus. And after Orpheus had introduced this notion among the Greeks, Homer followed it when he wrote:
Cyllenian Hermes then did summon forth
The suitors’s souls, holding his wand in hand.
And again a little further on he says:
They passed Okeanos’ streams, the Gleaming Rock,
The Portals of the Sun, the Land of Dreams;
And now they reached the Meadow of Asphodel,
Where dwell the Souls, the shades of men outworn.
Now he calls the river “Okeanos” because in their language the Egyptians speak of the Nile as Okeanos; the “Portals of the Sun” (Heliopulai) is his name for the city of Heliopolis; and “Meadows,” the mythical dwelling of the dead, is his term for the place near the lake which is called Acherousia, which is near Memphis, and around it are fairest meadows, of a marsh-land and lotus and reeds. The same explanation also serves for the statement that the dwelling of the dead is in these regions, since the most and the largest tombs of the Egyptians are situated there, the dead being ferried across both the river and Lake Acherousia and their bodies laid in the vaults situated there.
The other myths about Hades, current among the Greeks, also agree with the customs which are practised even now in Egypt. For the boat which receives the bodies is called baris, and the passenger’s fee is given to the boatman, who in the Egyptian tongue is called charon. And near these regions, they say, are also the “Shades,” which is a temple of Hekate, and “portals” of Kokytos and Lethe, which are covered at intervals with bands of bronze. There are, moreover, other portals, namely, those of Truth, and near them stands a headless statue of Justice.
Empedokles, Fragment 118
I wept and I wailed, when I beheld the unfamiliar place, the joyless region where Murder and Wrath and troops of other Dooms (Keres) and loathsome diseases and putrefactions and running sores wander this way and that throughout the meadow of Ateê.
Empedokles, Fragments 146 and147
As the hour of our death approaches we become prophets and singers and physicians and chieftains among men upon the earth: from whence they arise up gods, supreme in honour, sharing the same hearth and table with the other immortals, exempt from doom and hurt.
Herodotos, The Histories 4:26
The Issedonians are said to have the following customs. When a man’s father dies, all the near relatives bring sheep to the house; which are sacrificed, and their flesh cut in pieces, while at the same time the dead body undergoes the like treatment. The two sorts of flesh are afterwards mixed together, and the whole is served up at a banquet. The head of the dead man is treated differently: it is stripped bare, cleansed, and set in gold. It then becomes an ornament on which they pride themselves, and is brought out year by year at the great festival which sons keep in honour of their fathers’ death, just as the Greeks keep their Genesia. In other respects the Issedonians are reputed to be observers of justice: and it is to be remarked that their women have equal authority with the men. Thus our knowledge extends as far as this nation.
Herodotos, The Histories 4.72
When a Scythian dies his nearest kin lay him upon a waggon and take him round to all his friends in succession: each receives them in turn and entertains them with a banquet, whereat the dead man is served with a portion of all that is set before the others; this is done for forty days, at the end of which time the burial takes place. After the burial, those engaged in it have to purify themselves, which they do in the following way. First they well soap and wash their heads; then, in order to cleanse their bodies, they act as follows: they make a booth by fixing in the ground three sticks inclined towards one another, and stretching around them woollen felts, which they arrange so as to fit as close as possible: inside the booth a dish is placed upon the ground, into which they put a number of red-hot stones, and then add some hemp-seed. Hemp grows in Scythia: it is very like flax; only that it is a much coarser and taller plant: some grows wild about the country, some is produced by cultivation: the Thracians make garments of it which closely resemble linen; so much so, indeed, that if a person has never seen hemp he is sure to think they are linen, and if he has, unless he is very experienced in such matters, he will not know of which material they are. The Scythians, as I said, take some of this hemp-seed, and, creeping under the felt coverings, throw it upon the red-hot stones; immediately it smokes, and gives out such a vapour as no Grecian vapour-bath can exceed; the Scyths, delighted, shout for joy, and this vapour serves them instead of a water-bath; for they never by any chance wash their bodies with water. Their women make a mixture of cypress, cedar, and frankincense wood, which they pound into a paste upon a rough piece of stone, adding a little water to it. With this substance, which is of a thick consistency, they plaster their faces all over, and indeed their whole bodies. A sweet odour is thereby imparted to them, and when they take off the plaster on the day following, their skin is clean and glossy.
Homer, Odyssey 11. 568
I saw Minos the son of Zeus holding a golden sceptre and deliving judgements among the dead. There he sat, and around him the others sat or stood in the ample-gated house of Haides, seeking from this master of justice the firm sentences of the law.
Hyginus, Astronomica 2.5
Those who wrote the Argolica say that when Liber received permission from his father to bring back his mother Semele from the Lower World, and in seeking a place of descent had come to the land of the Argives, a certain Hypolipnus met him, a man worthy of that generation, who was to show the entrance to Liber in answer to his request. However, when Hypolipnus saw him, a mere boy in years, excelling all others in remarkable beauty of form, he asked from him the reward that could be given without loss. Liber, however, eager for his mother, swore that if he brought her back, he would do as he wished, on terms, though, that a god could swear to a shameless man. At this, Hypolipnus showed the entrance. So then, when Liber came to that place and was about to descend, he left the crown, which he had received as a gift from Venus, at that place which in consequence is called Stephanus, for he was unwilling to take it with him for fear the immortal gift of the gods would be contaminated by contact with the dead. When he brought his mother back unharmed, he is said to have placed the crown in the stars as an everlasting memorial.
Inscription from Cumae
Lying buried in this place is illicit unless one has lived like a bakchos.
IKyzikos I 540
… the thiasoi set this up for the sake of remembrance …
having a figure of Bromios … It is a corpse we see.
Now if a passer-by sees me alone here in the tomb,
… how he performs the funerary rites, and alone …
Say farewell to me, all mystai of Dionysos who pass by.
Lucian, On Mourning
Beneath the earth, the common people believe, lies the kingdom of Hades; spacious, murky, and sunless, but by some mysterious means sufficiently lighted to render all its details visible. Its king is a brother of Zeus, one Pluto; whose name–so an able philologer assures me–contains a complimentary allusion to his ghostly wealth. As to the nature of his government, and the condition of his subjects, the authority allotted to him extends over all the dead, who, from the moment that they come under his control, are kept in unbreakable fetters; Shades are on no account permitted to return to Earth; to this rule there have been only two or three exceptions since the beginning of the world, and these were made for very urgent reasons. His realm is encompassed by vast rivers, whose very names inspire awe: Cocytus, Pyriphlegethon, and the like. Most formidable of all, and first to arrest the progress of the new-comer, is Acheron, that lake which none may pass save by the ferryman’s boat; it is too deep to be waded, too broad for the swimmer, and even defies the flight of birds deceased. At the very beginning of the descent is a gate of adamant: here Aeacus, a nephew of the king, stands on guard. By his side is a three-headed dog, a grim brute; to new arrivals, however, he is friendly enough, reserving his bark, and the yawning horror of his jaws, for the would-be runaway. On the inner shore of the lake is a meadow, wherein grows asphodel; here, too, is the fountain that makes war on memory, and is hence called Lethe. All these particulars the ancients would doubtless obtain from the Thessalian queen Alcestis and her fellow-countryman Protesilaus, from Theseus the son of Aegeus, and from the hero of the Odyssey. These witnesses (whose evidence is entitled to our most respectful acceptance) did not, as I gather, drink of the waters of Lethe; because then they would not have remembered. According to them, the supreme power is entirely in the hands of Pluto and Persephone, who, however, are assisted in the labours of government by a host of underlings: such are the Furies, the Pains, the Fears; such too is Hermes, though he is not always in attendance. Judicial powers are vested in two satraps or viceroys, Minos and Rhadamanthus, both Cretans, and both sons of Zeus. By them all good and just men who have followed the precepts of virtue are sent off in large detachments to form colonies, as it were, in the Elysian Plain, and there to lead the perfect life. Evil-doers, on the contrary, are handed over to the Furies, who conduct them to the place of the wicked, where they are punished in due proportion to their iniquities. What a variety of torments is there presented! The rack, the fire, the gnawing vulture; here Ixion spins upon his wheel, there Sisyphus rolls his stone. I have not forgotten Tantalus; but he stands elsewhere, stands parched on the Lake’s very brink, like to die of thirst, poor wretch! Then there is the numerous class of neutral characters; these wander about the meadow; formless phantoms, that evade the touch like smoke. It seems that they depend for their nourishment upon the libations and victims offered by us upon their tombs; accordingly, a Shade who has no surviving friends or relations passes a hungry time of it in the lower world.
Macrobius, Dream of Scipio 9.2.66
Plato speaks of this in the Phaedo and says that the soul is dragged back into a body, hurried on by new intoxication, desiring to taste a fresh draught of the overflow of matter, whereby it is weighed down and brought back to earth. The sidereal Crater of Father Liber is a symbol of this mystery; and this is what the ancients called the River of Lethe; the Orphics saying that Father Liber was the Material Mind.
Pausanias, Description of Greece 2.36.7 – 2.37.6
On returning to the straight road, you will cross the Erasinos and reach the river Cheimarros (Winter-torrent). Near it is a circuit of stones, and they say that Pluto, after carrying off Kore, the daughter of Demeter, descended here to his fabled kingdom underground. Lerna is, I have already stated, by the sea, and here they celebrate mysteries in honor of Lernaean Demeter.
At this mountain begins the grove, which consists chiefly of plane trees, and reaches down to the sea. Its boundaries are, on the one side the river Pantinos, on the other side another river, called Amymane, after the daughter of Danaos. Within the grove are images of Demeter Prosymne and of Dionysos. Of Demeter there is a seated image of no great size.
Both are of stone, but in another temple is a seated wooden image of Dionysos Saotes (Savior), while by the sea is a stone image of Aphrodite. They say that the daughters of Danaos dedicated it, while Danaos himself made the sanctuary of Athena by the Pontinos.
I saw also what is called the Spring of Amphiaraos and the Alkyonian Lake, through which the Argives say Dionysos went down to Haides to bring up Semele, adding that the descent here was shown him by Palymnos. There is no limit to the depth of the Alkyonian Lake, and I know of nobody who by any contrivance has been able to reach the bottom of it since not even Nero, who had ropes made several stades long and fastened them together, tying lead to them, and omitting nothing that might help his experiment, was able to discover any limit to its depth.
This, too, I heard. The water of the lake is, to all appearance, calm and quiet but, although it is such to look at, every swimmer who ventures to cross it is dragged down, sucked into the depths, and swept away. The circumference of the lake is not great, being about one-third of a stade. Upon its banks grow grass and rushes. The nocturnal rites performed every year in honor of Dionysos I must not divulge to the world at large.
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9.39.5-14
When a man has made up his mind to descend to the oracle of Trophonios, he first lodges in a certain building for an appointed number of days, this being sacred to the Good Daimôn and to Good Fortune. While he lodges there, among other regulations for purity he abstains from hot baths, bathing only in the river Hercyna. Meat he has in plenty from the sacrifices, for he who descends sacrifices to Trophonios himself and to the children of Trophonios, to Apollo also and to Kronos, to Zeus with the epithet King, to Hera Charioteer [Hêniokhos], and to Demeter whom they name with the epithet Europa and say was the wetnurse of Trophonios. At each sacrifice a diviner is present, who looks into the entrails of the sacrificial victim, and after an inspection prophesies to the person descending whether Trophonios will give him a kind and gracious reception. The entrails of the other victims do not declare the mind of Trophonios so much as a ram, which each inquirer sacrifices over a pit on the night he descends, calling upon Agamedes. Even though the previous sacrifices have appeared propitious, no account is taken of them unless the entrails of this ram indicate the same; but if they agree, then the inquirer descends in good hope.
The procedure of the descent is this. First, during the night he is taken to the river Hercyna by two boys of the citizens about thirteen years old, named Hermae, who after taking him there anoint him with oil and wash him. It is these who wash the descender, and do all the other necessary services as his attendant boys. After this he is taken by the priests, not at once to the oracle, but to fountains of water very near to each other. Here he must drink water called the water of Forgetfulness that he may forget all that he has been thinking of hitherto, and afterwards he drinks of another water, the water of Memory which causes him to remember what he sees after his descent. After looking at the image which they say was made by Daedalus (it is not shown by the priests save to such as are going to visit Trophonios), having seen it, worshipped it and prayed, he proceeds to the oracle, dressed in a linen tunic, with ribbons girding it, and wearing the boots of the native locale. The oracle is on the mountain, beyond the grove. Round it is a circular basement of white marble, the circumference of which is about that of the smallest threshing floor, while its height is just short of two cubits. On the basement stand spikes, which, like the cross-bars holding them together, are of bronze, while through them has been made a double door.
Within the enclosure is a chasm in the earth, not natural, but artificially constructed after the most accurate masonry. The shape of this structure is like that of a bread-oven. Its breadth across the middle one might conjecture to be about four cubits, and its depth also could not be estimated to extend to more than eight cubits. They have made no way of descent to the bottom, but when a man comes to Trophonios, they bring him a narrow, light ladder. After going down he finds a hole between the floor and the structure. Its breadth appeared to be two spans, and its height one span. The descender lies with his back on the ground, holding barley-cakes (mazai) kneaded with honey, thrusts his feet into the hole and himself follows, trying hard to get his knees into the hole. After his knees the rest of his body is at once swiftly drawn in, just as the largest and most rapid river will catch a man in its eddy and carry him under. After this those who have entered the shrine learn the future, not in one and the same way in all cases, but by sight sometimes and at other times by hearing. The return upwards is by the same mouth, the feet darting out first.
They say that no one who has made the descent has been killed, save only one of the bodyguards of Demetrius. But they declare that he performed none of the usual rites in the sanctuary, and that he descended, not to consult the god but in the hope of stealing gold and silver from the shrine. It is said that the body of this man appeared in a different place, and was not cast out at the sacred mouth. Other tales are told about the man, but I have given the one most worthy of consideration.
After his ascent from Trophonios the inquirer is again taken in hand by the priests, who set him upon a chair called the Throne of Memory, which stands not far from the shrine, and they ask of him, when seated there, all he has seen or learned. After gaining this information they then entrust him to his relatives. These lift him, paralyzed with terror and unconscious both of himself and of his surroundings, and carry him to the building where he lodged before with Good Fortune and the Good Daimôn. Afterwards, however, he will recover all his faculties, and the power to laugh will return to him.
What I write is not hearsay; I have myself inquired of Trophonios and seen other inquirers.
Pindar, Dirges Fragment 129
For them in Elysium the sun shineth in his strength, in the world below, while here ‘tis night; and, in meadows red with roses, the space before their city is shaded by the incense-tree, and is laden with golden fruits. Some of them delight themselves with horses and with wrestling; others with draughts, and with lures; while beside them bloometh the fair flower of perfect bliss. And o’er that lovely land fragrance is ever shed, while they mingle all manner of incense with the far-shining fire on the altar of the gods. From the other side sluggish streams of darksome night belch forth a boundless gloom.
Pindar, Dirges Fragment 137
Blessed is he who hath seen these things before he goeth beneath the hollow earth; for he understandeth the end of mortal life, and the beginning of a new life given of god.
Pindar, Olympian Ode 2. 55
When men die hearts that were void of mercy pay the due penalty, and of this world’s sins a judge below the earth holds trial, and of dread necessity declares the word of doom. But the good, through the nights alike, and through the days unending, beneath the sun’s bright ray, tax no the soil with the strength of their hands, nor the broad sea for a poor living, but enjoy a life that knows no toil; with men honoured of heaven, who kept their sworn word gladly, spending an age free from all tears. But the unjust endure pain that no eye can bear to see. But those who had good courage, three times on either side of death, to keep their hearts untarnished of all wrong, these travel along the road of Zeus to Kronos’ tower. There round the Islands of the Blest, the winds of Okeanos play, and golden blossoms burn, some nursed upon the waters, others on land on glorious trees; and woven on their hands are wreaths enchained and flowering crowns, under the just decrees of Rhadamanthys, who has his seat at the right hand of the great father, Rhea’s husband, goddess who holds the throne highest of all. And Peleus and Kadmos are of that number, and thither, when her prayers on the heart of Zeus prevailed, his mother brought Achilles, he who felled Hektor, Troy’s pillar invincible, unyielding, and brought death to Kyknos, and the Aithiop son of Eos.
Lactantius Placidus, Narrationes fabularum ovidianarum 7.3
Having seen Medea expel Aeson’s old age with her medicines, Father Liber asked her to help his nurses in the same way and lead them back to youthful vigor. Driven by his authority, by the medicines she had used on Aeson, she restored them to the first fruits of youth. She gave Liber an everlasting favor.
[Plato], Axiochus 371e
They are led by Erinyes to Erebos and Chaos through Tartarus, where they find the dwelling of the unrighteous, the Danaids’ jars without bottom, Tantalus tormented by thirst, Tityos’ entrails devoured and always reborn, Sisyphos’ stone without end … there they waste away in everlasting punishments, licked by wild beasts, constantly burnt with Furies’ torches and ill-treated by all kind of tortures.
Plato, Gorgias 492e-493a
The part of the soul in which we have desires is liable to be overpersuaded and to vacillate to and fro, and so some smart fellow, a Sicilian, I daresay, or Italian, made a fable in which—by a play of words—he named this part, as being so impressionable and persuadable (πιθανόν), a jar (πίθος), and the thoughtless (ἀνόητοι) he called uninitiates (ἀμύητοι); in these uninitiates that part of the soul where the desires are, the licentious and fissured part, he named a leaky jar (πίθος) in his allegory because it is so insatiate. So you see this person, Callicles, takes the opposite view to yours, showing how of all who are in Hades—meaning of course the invisible (ἀιδές)—these uninitiates will be most wretched, and will carry water into their leaky jar with a sieve, as my story-teller said, he means the soul: and the soul of the thoughtless he likened to a sieve, as being perforated, since it is unable to hold anything by reason of his unbelief and forgetfulness. Well, well, as you say, life is strange. For I tell you I should not wonder if Euripides’ words were true when he says: ‘Who knows if life is death and death life?’ Perhaps then we are already dead and do not realize it. Indeed, I once heard a clever fellow, an Italian from Sicily, say that the body is our tomb.
Plato, Phaedo 69c
It could be that those who instituted the initiations for us were not inept, but that in reality it has long been indicated in symbolic form that whoever arrives in Hades uninitiated and without having carried out the rites ‘will lie in the mud’, but that he who arrives purified and having accomplished the rites, will live there with the gods.
Plato, The Republic 363c
Still more heroic are the blessings which Musaeus and his son bestow upon the righteous from the gods. They conduct them into Hades, and lay them on couches, and establish a kind of symposium of saints, and set garlands on their heads, and make them live for ever in a state of intoxication, esteeming the fairest reward of virtue to be an eternity of drunkenness.
Plato, Republic 427b
The burial of the dead and the services we must render to the dwellers in the world beyond to keep them gracious.
Plutarch, De Anima fragment preserved in Stobaios Florigelium 120
When the soul comes to the point of death, it suffers something like those who participate in the great initiations (teletai). Therefore the word teleutan closely resembles the word teleisthai just as the act of dying resembles the act of being initiated. At first there are wanderings and toilsome running about in circles and journeys through the dark over uncertain roads and culs de sacs; then, just before the end, there are all kinds of terrors, with shivering, trembling, sweating, and utter amazement. After this, a strange and wonderful light meets the wanderer; he is admitted into clean and verdant meadows, where he discerns gentle voices, and choric dances, and the majesty of holy sounds and sacred visions. Here the now fully initiated is free, and walks at liberty like a crowned and dedicated victim, joining in the revelry.
Plutarch, On Isis and Osiris 362c-365e
As a matter of fact, these statements of Phylarchus are absurd, but even more absurd are those put forth by those who say that Serapis is no god at all, but the name of the coffin of Apis; and that there are in Memphis certain bronze gates called the Gates of Oblivion and Lamentation, which are opened when the burial of Apis takes place, and they give out a deep and harsh sound; and it is because of this that we lay hand upon anything of bronze that gives out a sound. More moderate is the statement of those who say that the derivation is from “shoot” (seuesthai) or “scoot” (sousthai), meaning the general movement of the universe. Most of the priests say that Osiris and Apis are conjoined into one, thus explaining to us and informing us that we must regard Apis as the bodily image of the soul of Osiris. But it is my opinion that, if the name Serapis is Egyptian, it denotes cheerfulness and rejoicing, and I base this opinion on the fact that Egyptians call their festival of rejoicing sairei.
That Osiris is identical with Dionysos who could more fittingly know than yourself, Clea? For you are at the head of the inspired maidens of Delphi, and have been consecrated by your father and mother in the holy rites of Osiris. If, however, for the benefit of others it is needful to adduce proofs of this identity, let us leave undisturbed what may not be told, but the public ceremonies which the priests perform in the burial of the Apis, when they convey his body on an improvised bier, do not in any way come short of a Bacchic procession; for they fasten skins of fawns about themselves, and carry Bacchic wands and indulge in shoutings and movements exactly as do those who are under the spell of the Dionysiac ecstasies. For the same reason many of the Greeks make statues of Dionysos in the form of a bull; and the women of Elis invoke him, praying that the god may come with the hoof of a bull; and the epithet applied to Dionysos among the Argives is “Son of the Bull.” They call him up out of the water by the sound of trumpets, at the same time casting into the depths a lamb as an offering to the Keeper of the Gate. The trumpets they conceal in Bacchic wands, as Socrates has stated in his treatise on the Holy Ones. Furthermore, the tales regarding the Titans and the rites celebrated by night agree with the accounts of the dismemberment of Osiris and his revivification and regenesis. Similar agreement is found too in the tales about their sepulchres. The Egyptians, as has already been stated, point out tombs of Osiris in many places, and the people of Delphi believe that the remains of Dionysos rest with them close beside the oracle; and the Holy Ones offer a secret sacrifice in the shrine of Apollo whenever the devotees of Dionysos wake the God of the Mystic Basket. To show that the Greeks regard Dionysos as the lord and master not only of wine, but of the nature of every sort of moisture, it is enough that Pindar be our witness, when he says
May gladsome Dionysos swell the fruit upon the trees,
The hallowed splendour of harvest time.
For this reason all who reverence Osiris are prohibited from destroying a cultivated tree or blocking up a spring of water.
Not only the Nile, but every form of moisture they call simply the effusion of Osiris; and in their holy rites the water jar in honour of the god heads the procession. And by the picture of a rush they represent a king and the southern region of the world, and the rush is interpreted to mean the watering and fructifying of all things, and in its nature it seems to bear some resemblance to the generative member. Moreover, when they celebrate the festival of the Pamylia which, as has been said, is of a phallic member, they expose and carry about a statue of which the male member is triple; for the god is the Source, and every source, by its fecundity, multiplies what proceeds from it; and for “many times” we have a habit of saying “thrice,” as, for example, “thrice happy,” and
bonds, even thrice as many, unnumbered
unless, indeed, the word “triple” is used by the early writers in its strict meaning; for the nature of moisture, being the source and origin of all things, created out of itself three primal material substances, Earth, Air and Fire. In fact, the tale that is annexed to the legend to the effect that Typhon cast the male member of Osiris into the river, and Isis could not find it, but constructed and shaped a replica of it, and ordained that it should be honoured and borne in processions, plainly comes round to this doctrine, that the creative and germinal power of the god, at the very first, acquired moisture as its substance, and through moisture combined with whatever was by nature capable of participating in generation.
Alexander Polyhistor, Successions of Philosophers FGrHist 273 F 93
Hermes is the steward of souls, and for that reason is called Hermes the Escorter, Hermes the Keeper of the Gate, and Hermes of the Underworld, he brings upwards the purified souls, but impure souls were not allowed to approach each other, much less to come close to pure souls, since they were fettered in unbreakable bonds by the Erinyes. And all the air is full of souls and they are called daimones and heroes; and they carry to men dreams, portents, diseases, and purification, averting by expiatory sacrifices, all divination and omens are related to them.
Themistios, Orat. in Patrem. 50
Entering now into the secret dome, he is filled with horror and astonishment. He is seized with loneliness and total perplexity; he is unable to move a step forward, and at a loss to find the entrance to the way that leads to where he aspires to, till the prophet or conductor lays open the anteroom of the temple.
Xenophon of Ephesos, Ephesiaca 5.7.7-9
When I was still a girl, I wandered away from my family during an all-night festival. I came to the tomb of a man who had just recently died. And then the man appeared before me, jumping up out of the grave and he tried to lay hold of me but I attempted to run off and screamed loudly. The man was fearful to look at, but his voice was more terrifying by far. Finally, when it became day he let me go but he struck me in the chest and said he cast this disease into me. And from that point on I have been subject to various fits and seizures as a result of this disease though many years have passed since the incident.