Apollodoros, Bibliotheka 1.9.12
Bias wooed Pero, daughter of Neleus. But as there were many suitors for his daughter’s hand, Neleus said that he would give her to him who should bring him the kine of Phylakos. These were in Phylake, and they were guarded by a dog which neither man nor beast could come near. Unable to steal these kine, Bias invited his brother to help him. Melampos promised to do so, and foretold that he should be detected in the act of stealing them, and that he should get the kine after being kept in bondage for a year. After making this promise he repaired to Phylake and, just as he had foretold, he was detected in the theft and kept a prisoner in a cell. When the year was nearly up, he heard the worms in the hidden part of the roof, one of them asking how much of the beam had been already gnawed through, and others answering that very little of it was left. At once he bade them transfer him to another cell, and not long after that had been done the cell fell in. Phylakos marvelled, and perceiving that he was an excellent soothsayer, he released him and invited him to say how his son Iphiklos might get children. Melampos promised to tell him, provided he got the kine. And having sacrificed two bulls and cut them in pieces he summoned the birds; and when a vulture came, he learned from it that once, when Phylakos was gelding rams, he laid down the knife, still bloody, beside Iphiklos, and that when the child was frightened and ran away, he stuck the knife on the sacred oak, and the bark encompassed the knife and hid it. He said, therefore, that if the knife were found, and he scraped off the rust, and gave it to Iphiklos to drink for ten days, he would beget a son. Having learned these things from the vulture, Melampos found the knife, scraped the rust, and gave it to Iphiklos for ten days to drink, and a son Podarces was born to him. But he drove the kine to Pylos, and having received the daughter of Neleus he gave her to his brother. For a time he continued to dwell in Messene, but when Dionysos drove the women of Argos mad, he healed them on condition of receiving part of the kingdom, and settled down there with Bias.
Apuleius, Apologia 56
Could anyone who has any idea of religion still find it strange that a man initiated in so many divine mysteries should keep at home some tokens of recognition of the cults and should wrap them in linen cloth, the purest veil for sacred objects? For wool, the excrescence of an inert body extracted from a sheep, is already a profane garment in the prescriptions of Orpheus and Pythagoras.
Areios Didymos, Epitome of Stoic Ethics 3.604-3.662
The Stoics say that only the wise man can be a priest, while no worthless person can be one. For the priest needs to be experienced in the laws concerning sacrifices, prayers, purifications, foundations, and the like. In addition to this he needs ritual, piety, and experience in the service of the gods, and to be close to the divine nature. Not one of these things belongs to the worthless; hence, also all the stupid are impious. For impiety as a vice is ignorance of the service of the gods, while piety is knowledge of that divine service. Likewise they say that the worthless are not holy. For holiness is described as justice with respect to the gods. The worthless transgress many of the just customs pertaining to the gods, on account of which they are unholy, impure, unclean, defiled and barred from festive rites. For carrying out festive rites is, they say, the mark of a civilized man, since a festival is a time when one ought to be concerned with the divine for the sake of honor and appropriate celebration. So the person who carries out festive rites needs to have humbly entered with piety into this post.
Aristophanes, The Frogs 1030-33
For consider how useful our noble-minded poets have been from the beginning. Orpheus revealed to us the mysteries and abstinence from murder, Musaeus taught us cures from illnesses and oracles.
Aristophanes, Peace 959
To purify I take this fire-brand first and plunge it into the water.
Athenaios, Deipnosophistai 9.78
However there is a unique use of the word aponimma [normally ‘dirty water’] among the Athenians, where it is applied to the ritual actions in honor of the dead, or to the purification of those who are enageis, as Kleidemos says in the work called the Exegetikon. For, having made remarks ‘on sacrifices for the dead’, he writes as follows, “Dig a trench on the west side of the grave. Next, standing right next to the trench, look toward the west. Pour water down, saying the following, ‘For you the water of purification, to whom it is necessary and for whom it is right.’ Then immediately pour down the perfumed oil.” Dorotheus also cites this, alleging that such things are written down in the ancestral laws of the Eupatridai, concerning the purification of suppliants, “Next, after you yourself and the other persons taking part in the sacrificial ritual have received the water of purification, take water and purify; clean off the blood-guilt of the one being purified, and after that, having shaken off the water of purification, pour it into the same place.”
Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights 10.15
Ceremonies in great number are imposed upon the priest of Jupiter and also many abstentions, of which we read in the books written On the Public Priests; and they are also recorded in the first book of Fabius Pictor. Of these the following are in general what I remember: It is unlawful for the priest of Jupiter to ride upon a horse; it is also unlawful for him to see the ‘classes arrayed’ outside the pomerium, that is, the army in battle array; hence the priest of Jupiter is rarely made consul, since wars were entrusted to the consuls; also it is always unlawful for the priest to take an oath; likewise to wear a ring, unless it be perforated and without a gem. It is against the law for fire to be taken from the flaminia, that is, from the home of the flamen Dialis, except for a sacred rite; if a person in fetters enter his house, he must be loosed, the bonds must be drawn up through the impluvium to the roof and from there let down into the street. He has no knot in his head-dress, girdle, or any other part of his dress; if anyone is being taken to be flogged and falls at his feet as a suppliant, it is unlawful for the man to be flogged on that day. Only a free man may cut the hair of the Dialis. It is not customary for the Dialis to touch, or even name, a she-goat, raw flesh, ivy, and beans. The priest of Jupiter must not pass under an arbour of vines. The feet of the couch on which he sleeps must be smeared with a thin coating of clay, and he must not sleep away from this bed for three nights in succession, and no other person must sleep in that bed. At the foot of his bed there should be a box with sacrificial cakes. The cuttings of the nails and hair of the Dialis must be buried in the earth under a fruitful tree. Every day is a holy day for the Dialis. He must not be in the open air without his cap; that he might go without it in the house has only recently been decided by the pontiffs, so Masurius Sabinus wrote, and it is said that some other ceremonies have been remitted and he has been excused from observing them. The priest of Jupiter must not touch any bread fermented with yeast. He does not lay off his inner tunic except under cover, in order that he may not be naked in the open air, as it were under the eye of Jupiter. No other has a place at table above the flamen Dialis, except the rex sacrificulus. If the Dialis has lost his wife he abdicates his office. The marriage of the priest cannot be dissolved except by death. He never enters a place of burial, he never touches a dead body; but he is not forbidden to attend a funeral. The ceremonies of the priestess of Jupiter are about the same; they say that she observes other separate ones: for example, that she wears a dyed robe, that she has a twig from a fruitful tree in her head-dress, that it is forbidden for her to go up more than three rounds of a ladder, except the so called Greek ladders; also, when she goes to the Argei, that she neither combs her head nor dresses her hair. I have added the words of the praetor in his standing edict concerning the flamen Dialis and the priestess of Vesta: ‘In the whole of my jurisdiction I will not compel the flamen of Jupiter or a priestess of Vesta to take an oath.’ The words of Marcus Varro about the flamen Dialis, in the second book of his Divine Antiquities, are as follows: He alone has a white cap, either because he is the greatest of priests, or because a white victim should be sacrificed to Jupiter.
Celsus, Alethes Logos
If in obedience to the traditions of their fathers they abstain from such victims, they must also abstain from all animal food, in accordance with the opinions of Pythagoras, who thus showed his respect for the soul and its bodily organs. But if, as they say, they abstain that they may not eat along with daimones, I admire their wisdom, in having at length discovered, that whenever they eat they eat with daimones, although they only refuse to do so when they are looking upon a slain victim; for when they eat bread, or drink wine, or taste fruits, do they not receive these things, as well as the water they drink and the air they breathe, from certain daimones, to whom have been assigned these different provinces of nature? We must either not live, and indeed not come into this life at all, or we must do so on condition that we give thanks and first-fruits and prayers to daimones, who have been set over the things of this world: and that we must do as long as we live, that they may prove good and kind. They must make their choice between two alternatives. If they refuse to render due service to the gods, and to respect those who are set over this service, let them not come to manhood, or marry wives, or have children, or indeed take any share in the affairs of life; but let them depart hence with all speed, and leave no posterity behind them, that such a race may become extinct from the face of the earth. Or, on the other hand, if they will take wives, and bring up children, and taste of the fruits of the earth, and partake of all the blessings of life, and bear its appointed sorrows (for nature herself hath allotted sorrows to all men; for sorrows must exist, and earth is the only place for them), then must they discharge the duties of life until they are released from its bonds, and render due honour to those beings who control the affairs of this life, if they would not show themselves ungrateful to them. For it would be unjust in them, after receiving the good things which they dispense, to pay them no tribute in return.
Demosthenes, On the Crown 259-60
On attaining manhood, you abetted your mother in her initiations and the other rituals, and read aloud from the cultic writings. At night, you mixed the libations, purified the initiates, and dressed them in fawnskins. You cleansed them off with clay and cornhusks, and raising them up from the purification, you led the chant, ‘The evil I flee, the better I find.’ And it was your pride that no one ever emitted that holy ululation so powerfully as yourself. I can well believe it! When you hear the stentorian tones of the orator, can you doubt that the ejaculations of the acolyte were simply magnificent? In the daylight, you led the fine thiasos through the streets, wearing their garlands of fennel and white poplar. You rubbed the fat-cheeked snakes and swung them above your head crying ‘Euoi Saboi’ and dancing to the tune of hues attes, attes hues. Old women hailed you as ‘Leader’, ‘mysteries instructor’, ‘ivy-bearer’, ‘liknon carrier’, and the like.
Diogenes Laertios, Lives of Eminent Philosophers 8.19-21; 23-24
Above all, Pythagoras forbade as food red mullet and blacktail, and he enjoined abstinence from the hearts of animals and from beans, and sometimes, according to Aristotle, even from paunch and gurnard. Some say that he contented himself with just some honey or a honeycomb or bread, never touching wine in the daytime, and with greens boiled or raw for dainties, and fish but rarely. His robe was white and spotless, his quilts of white wool, for linen had not yet reached those parts. He was never known to over-eat, to behave loosely, or to be drunk. He would avoid laughter and all pandering to tastes such as insulting jests and vulgar tales. He would punish neither slave nor free man in anger. Admonition he used to call “setting right.” He used to practise divination by sounds or voices and by auguries, never by burnt-offerings, beyond frankincense. The offerings he made were always inanimate; though some say that he would offer cocks, sucking goats and porkers, as they are called, but lambs never. However, Aristoxenus has it that he consented to the eating of all other animals, and only abstained from ploughing oxen and rams. The same authority, as we have seen, asserts that Pythagoras took his doctrines from the Delphic priestess Themistoclea. Hieronymus, however, says that, when he had descended into Hades, he saw the soul of Hesiod bound fast to a brazen pillar and gibbering, and the soul of Homer hung on a tree with serpents writhing about it, this being their punishment for what they had said about the gods; he also saw under torture those who would not remain faithful to their wives. This, says our authority, is why he was honoured by the people of Croton. Aristippos of Kyrene affirms in his work On the Physicists that he was named Pythagoras because he uttered the truth as infallibly as did the Pythian oracle. And he further bade them to honour gods before demi-gods, heroes before men, and first among men their parents; and so to behave one to another as not to make friends into enemies, but to turn enemies into friends. To deem nothing their own. To support the law, to wage war on lawlessness. Never to kill or injure trees that are not wild, nor even any animal that does not injure man. That it is seemly and advisable neither to give way to unbridled laughter nor to wear sullen looks. To avoid excess of flesh, on a journey to let exertion and slackening alternate, to train the memory, in wrath to restrain hand and tongue, to respect all divination, to sing to the lyre and by hymns to show due gratitude to gods and to good men. To abstain from beans because they are flatulent and partake most of the breath of life ; and besides, it is better for the stomach if they are not taken, and this again will make our dreams in sleep smooth and untroubled.
Diogenes Laertios, Lives of Eminent Philosophers 8.33-35
Pythagoras taught that right has the force of an oath, and that is why Zeus is called the God of Oaths. Virtue is harmony, and so are health and all that is good and God himself; this is why they say that all things are constructed according to the laws of harmony. The love of friends is just concord and equality. We should not pay equal worship to gods and heroes, but to the gods always, with reverent silence, in white robes, and after purification, to the heroes only from midday onwards. Purification is by cleansing, baptism and lustration, and by keeping clean from all deaths and births and all pollution, and abstaining from meat and flesh of animals that have died, mullets, gurnards, eggs and egg-sprung animals, beans, and the other abstinences prescribed by those who perform mystic rites in the temples. According to Aristotle in his work On the Pythagoreans, Pythagoras counselled abstinence from beans either because they are like the genitals, or because they are like the gates of Hades, as being alone unjointed, or because they are injurious, or because they are like the form of the universe, or because they belong to oligarchy, since they are used in election by lot. He bade his disciples not to pick up fallen crumbs, either in order to accustom them not to eat immoderately, or because they are connected with a person’s death; nay, even, according to Aristophanes, crumbs belong to the heroes, for in his Heroes he says: Nor taste ye of what falls beneath the board! Another of his precepts was not to eat white cocks, as being sacred to the month and wearing suppliant garb–now supplication ranked with things good– sacred to the month because they announce the time of day; and again white represents the nature of the good, black the nature of evil. Not to touch such fish as were sacred; for it is not right that gods and men should be allotted the same things, any more than free men and slaves. Not to break bread; for once friends used to meet over one loaf, as the barbarians do even to this day; and you should not divide bread which brings them together; some give as the explanation of this that it has reference to the judgement of the dead in Hades, others that bread makes cowards in war, others again that it is from it that the whole world begins.
Euripides, Cretans fragment 472
Son of the Phoenician princess, child of Tyrian Europa and great Zeus, ruler over hundred-fortressed Crete—here am I, come from the sanctity of temples roofed with cut beam of our native wood, its true joints of cypress welded together with Chalybean axe and cement from the bull. Pure has my life been since the day when I became an initiate of Idaean Zeus. Where midnight Zagreus roves, I rove; I have endured his thunder-cry; fulfilled his red and bleeding feasts; held the Great Mother’s mountain flame; I am set free and named by name a Bakchos of the Mailed Priests. Having all-white garments, I flee the birth of mortals and, not nearing the place of corpses, I guard myself against the eating of ensouled flesh.
Euripides, Helen 868-870
Lead on, bearing before me blazing brands, and, as sacred rites ordain, purge with incense every cranny of the air, that I may breathe heaven’s breath free from taint; meanwhile do thou, in case the tread of unclean feet have soiled the path, wave the cleansing flame above it, and brandish the torch in front, that I may pass upon my way.
Euripides, Hippolytos 948–957
Are you, then, the companion of the gods, as a man beyond the common? Are you the chaste one, untouched by evil? I will never be persuaded by your vauntings, never be so unintelligent as to impute folly to the gods. Continue then your confident boasting, take up a diet of greens and play the showman with your food, make Orpheus your lord and engage in mystic rites, holding the vaporings of many books in honor. For you have been found out. To all I give the warning: avoid men like this. For they make you their prey with their high-holy-sounding words while they contrive deeds of shame.
Gold tablet from Rome
A: I come pure from the pure, Queen of the Underworld, Eukles and Eubouleus, noble child of Zeus! I have this gift of Memory, prized by men!
B: Caecilia Secundina, come, made divine by the Law!
The Gurôb Papyrus
… in order that he may find
… on account of the rite they paid the penalty of their fathers. Save me, Brimô, Demeter, Rhea and armed Curêtês!
So that we may perform beautiful sacrifices …
Goat and bull, limitless gifts …
And by the law of the river …
… of the goat, and let him eat the rest of the flesh. Let no uninitiated look on!
… dedicating to the …
… prayer …
I call on … Eubouleus, and I call the Maenads who cry Euoi …
You having parched with thirst … the friends of the feast …
… of Demeter and Pallas for us …
King Irekepaigos, save me, Phanes!
… top, rattle, dice-bones, mirror …
Herodotos, The Histories 2.49
Melampos was the one who taught the Greeks the name of Dionysos and the way of sacrificing to him and the phallic procession; he did not exactly unveil the subject taking all its details into consideration, for the teachers who came after him made a fuller revelation; but it was from him that the Greeks learned to bear the phallus along in honor of Dionysos, and they got their present practice from his teaching. I say, then, that Melampos acquired the prophetic art, being a discerning man, and that, besides many other things which he learned from Egypt, he also taught the Greeks things concerning Dionysos, altering few of them; for I will not say that what is done in Egypt in connection with the god and what is done among the Greeks originated independently: for they would then be of an Hellenic character and not recently introduced. Nor again will I say that the Egyptians took either this or any other custom from the Greeks. But I believe that Melampos learned the worship of Dionysos chiefly from Kadmos of Tyre and those who came with Kadmos from Phoenicia to the land now called Boiotia.
Herodotos, The Histories 2.81
The Egyptians wear linen tunics with fringes hanging about the legs, called ‘calasiris’ and loose white woolen mantles over these. But nothing of wool is brought into the temples, or buried with them; that is forbidden. In this they follow the same rules as the ritual called Orphic and Bacchic, but which is in truth Egyptian and Pythagorean; for neither may those initiated into these rites be buried in woolen wrappings. There is a sacred legend about this.
Hesiod, Works and Days 724-745
Never pour a libation of sparkling wine to Zeus after dawn with unwashen hands, nor to others of the deathless gods; else they do not hear your prayers but spit them back. Do not stand upright facing the sun when you make water, but remember to do this when he has set towards his rising. And do not make water as you go, whether on the road or off the road, and do not uncover yourself: the nights belong to the blessed gods. A scrupulous man who has a wise heart sits down or goes to the wall of an enclosed court. Do not expose yourself befouled by the fireside in your house, but avoid this. Do not beget children when you are come back from ill-omened burial, but after a festival of the gods. Never cross the sweet-flowing water of ever-rolling rivers afoot until you have prayed, gazing into the soft flood, and washed your hands in the clear, lovely water. Whoever crosses a river with hands unwashed of wickedness, the gods are angry with him and bring trouble upon him afterwards. At a cheerful festival of the gods do not cut the withered from the quick upon that which has five branches with bright steel [i.e. do not cut your fingernails]. Never put the ladle upon the mixing-bowl at a wine party, for malignant ill-luck is attached to that.
Hesiod, Works and Days 752-758
A man should not clean his body with water in which a woman has washed, for there is bitter mischief in that also for a time. When you come upon a burning sacrifice, do not make a mock of mysteries, for Heaven is angry at this also. Never make water in the mouths of rivers which flow to the sea, nor yet in springs; but be careful to avoid this. And do not ease yourself in them: it is not well to do this.
They are to enter the temple of Zeus Kynthios and Athene Kynthia with pure hands and soul, with white clothing, barefooted, keeping pure from intercourse with a woman and from meat; and they are not to bring in … nor a key nor an iron ring nor a belt nor a purse nor weapons of war …
You must abstain from the pleasures of sex, from beans, from heart. May you be holy in the temple: not cleansed with water but purified in spirit.
The theophantes … son of Menandros dedicated this stele. All who enter the temenos and temples of Bromios: avoid for forty days after the exposure of a newborn child, so that divine wrath does not occur; after the miscarriage of a woman for the same amount of days. If he conceals the death and fate of a relative, keep away from the propylon for the third of a month. If impurity occurs from other houses, remain for three days after the departure of the dead. No one wearing black clothes may approach the altar of the king, nor lay hands on things not sacrificed from sacrificial animals, nor place an egg as food at the Bacchic feast, nor sacrifice a heart on the holy altars … keep away from the smell, which … the most hateful root of beans from seed … proclaim to the mystai of the Titans … and it is improper to rattle with reeds … on the days when the mystai sacrifice……, nor bring …
Jerome, Against Jovinianus 2.14
Eubulus who wrote the history of Mithras in many volumes, relates that among the Persians there are three kinds of Magi, the first of whom, those of greatest learning and eloquence, take no food except meal and vegetables. At Eleusis it is customary to abstain from fowls and fish and certain fruits. Euripides relates that the prophets of Jupiter in Crete abstained not only from flesh, but also from cooked food. Xenocrates the philosopher writes that at Athens out of all the laws of Triptolemus only three precepts remain in the temple of Ceres: respect to parents, reverence for the gods, and abstinence from flesh.
Jerome, Against Jovinianus 2.13
Chaeremon the Stoic, a man of great eloquence, has a treatise on the life of the ancient priests of Egypt who, he says, laid aside all worldly business and cares and were ever in the temple, studying nature and the regulating causes of the heavenly bodies; they never had intercourse with women; they never from the time they began to devote themselves to the divine service set eyes on their kindred and relations, nor even saw their children; they always abstained from flesh and wine, on account of the light-headedness and dizziness which a small quantity of food caused, and especially to avoid the stimulation of the lustful appetite engendered by this meat and drink. They seldom ate bread, that they might not load the stomach. And whenever they ate it, they mixed pounded hyssop with all that they took, so that the action of its warmth might diminish the weight of the heavier food. They used no oil except with vegetables, and then only in small quantities, to mitigate the unpalatable taste. What need, he says, to speak of birds, when they avoided even eggs and milk as flesh. The one, they said, was liquid flesh, the other was blood with the colour changed? Their bed was made of palm-leaves, called by them baiae: a sloping footstool laid upon the ground served for a pillow, and they could go without food for two or three days. The humours of the body which arise from sedentary habits were dried up by reducing their diet to an extreme point.
Lampridius, Vita Alexandri Severi 29
This was his manner of life: as soon as there was opportunity—that is, if he had not spent the night with his wife—he performed his devotions in the early morning hours in his lararium, in which he had statues of the divine princes and also a select number of the best men and the more holy spirits, among whom he had Apollonius of Tyana, and as a writer of his times says, Christ, Abraham, and Orpheus, and others similar, as well as statues of his ancestors.
Do not enter the sanctuary after consuming wine.
Marinus of Samaria, The Life of Proclus 18-19
Proclus made use of the noble purificatory practices which woo us from evil, that is lustrations and all of the other processes of purification whether Orphic or Chaldean, such as dipping himself into the sea without hesitation every month, and sometimes even twice or thrice a month. He practiced this discipline, rude as it was, not only in his prime, but even also when he approached his life’s decline; and so he observed, without ever failing, these austere habits of which he had, so to speak, made himself a law … As to the necessary pleasures of food and drink, he made use of them with sobriety, for to him they were no more than a solace from his fatigues. He especially preached abstinence from animal food, but if a special ceremony compelled him to make use of it, he only tasted it, out of consideration and respect. Every month he sanctified himself according to the rites devoted to the Mother of the Gods by the Romans, and before them by the Phrygians; he observed the holy days observed among the Egyptians even more strictly than did they themselves; and especially he fasted on certain days, quite openly. During the first day of the lunar month he remained without food, without even having eaten the night before; and he likewise celebrated the New Moon in great solemnity, and with much sanctity. He regularly observed the great festivals of all peoples, so to speak, and the religious ceremonies peculiar to each people or country. Nor did he, like so many others, make this the pretext of a distraction, or of a debauch of food, but on the contrary they were occasions of prayer meetings that lasted all night, without sleep, with songs, hymns and similar devotions. Of this we see the proof in the composition of his hymns, which contain homage and praises not only of the gods adored among the Greeks, but where you also see worship of the god Marnas of Gaza, Asklepios Leontukhos of Askalon, Thyandrites who is much worshipped among the Arabs, the Isis who has a temple at Philae, and indeed all other divinities. It was a phrase he much used, and that was very familiar to him, that a philosopher should watch over the salvation of not only a city, nor over the national customs of a few people, but that he should be the hierophant of the whole world in common. Such were the holy and purificatory exercises he practiced, in his austere manner of life.
Marinus of Samaria, The Life of Proclus 28
But since, as I said before, by his studies on this subject, Proclus had acquired a still greater and more perfect virtue, namely the theurgic, passing beyond the theoretic step, he did not conform his life exclusively to one of the two characteristics suitable to divine beings, but to both: not only did he direct his thoughts upward to the divine, but by a providential faculty which was not merely social, he cared for those things which were lower. He practiced the Chaldean prayer-meetings and conferences, and even employed the art of moving the divine tops. He was a believer in these practices, in unpremeditated responses, and other such divinations, which he had learned from Asklepigenia, daughter of Plutarch, to whom exclusively her father had confided and taught the mystic rites preserved by Nestorius, and the whole theurgic science. Even before that, according to the prescribed order, and purified by the Chaldean lustrations, the philosopher had, as epoptic initiate, witnessed the apparitions of Hekate under a luminous form, as he himself has mentioned in a special booklet. He had the power of producing rains by activating, at the right time, a particular rite, and was able to deliver Attica from a terrible drought. He knew how to foresee earthquakes, he had experimented with the divinatory power of the tripod, and had himself uttered verses prophetic about his own destiny.
Pausanias, Description of Greece 1.37.4
It is impossible to attribute the discovery of beans to Demeter; whoever has seen the initiation at Eleusis or has read the so-called Orphica knows what I am talking about.
Plato, Laws 6.782
Again, the practice of men sacrificing one another still exists among many nations; while, on the other hand, we hear of other human beings who did not even venture to taste the flesh of a cow and had no animal sacrifices, but only cakes and fruits dipped in honey, and similar pure offerings, but no flesh of animals; from these they abstained under the idea that they ought not to eat them, and might not stain the altars of the gods with blood. For in those days men are said to have lived a sort of Orphic life, having the use of all lifeless things, but abstaining from all living things.
Plato, Laws 854ac
And, in accordance with our rule as already approved, we must prefix to all such laws preludes as brief as possible. By way of argument and admonition one might address in the following terms the man whom an evil desire urges by day and wakes up at night, driving him to rob some sacred object– “My good man, the evil force that now moves you and prompts you to go temple-robbing is neither of human origin nor of divine, but it is some impulse bred of old in men from ancient wrongs unexpiated, which courses round wreaking ruin; and it you must guard against with all your strength. How you must thus guard, now learn. When there comes upon you any such intention, betake yourself to the rites of guilt-averting, betake yourself as suppliant to the shrines of the curse-lifting deities, betake yourself to the company of the men who are reputed virtuous; and thus learn, partly from others, partly by self-instruction, that every man is bound to honor what is noble and just; but the company of evil men shun wholly, and turn not back. And if it be so that by thus acting your disease grows less, well; but if not, then deem death the more noble way, and quit yourself of life.”
Plato, Republic 2.364a–365b
But the most astounding of all these arguments concerns what they have to say about the gods and virtue. They say that the gods, too, assign misfortune and a bad life to many good people, and the opposite fate to their opposites. Begging priests and prophets frequent the doors of the rich and persuade them that they possess a god-given power founded on sacrifices and incantations. If the rich person or any of his ancestors has committed an injustice, they can fix it with pleasant things and feasts. Moreover, if he wishes to injure some enemy, then, at little expense, he’ll be able to harm just and unjust alike, for by means of spells and enchantments they can persuade the gods to serve them. And they present a hubbub of books by Musaeus and Orpheus, offspring as they say of Selene and the Muses, according to which they arrange their rites, convincing not only individuals but also cities that liberation and purification from injustice is possible, both during life and after death, by means of sacrifices and enjoyable games to the deceased which free us from the evils of the beyond, whereas something horrible awaits those who have not celebrated sacrifices.
Plotinos, First Ennead 6.7
There we must ascend again towards the good, desired of every soul. Anyone who has seen this, knows what I intend when I say it is beautiful. Even the desire of it is to be desired as a good. To attain it is for those who will take the upward path, who will set all their forces towards it, who will divest themselves of all that we have put on in our descent:– so, to those who approach the holy celebrations of the mysteries, there are appointed purifications and the laying aside of the garments worn before, and the entry in nakedness– until, passing on the upward way, all that is other than the god, each in the solitude of oneself shall see that solitary-dwelling existence, the apart, the unmingled, the pure, that from which all things depend, for which all look and live and act and know, the source of life and of intellection and of being.
Plutarch, Life of Caesar 93
The Romans have a goddess whom they call Good, whom the Greeks call the Women’s Goddess. The Phrygians say that this goddess originated with them, and that she was the mother of their king Midas. The Romans say that she was a Dryad nymph who married Faunus, and the Greeks say that she was the Unnameable One among the mothers of Dionysos. For this reason the women who celebrate her rites cover their tents with vine-branches, and a sacred serpent sits beside the goddess on her throne, as in the myth. It is unlawful for a man to approach or to be in the house when the rites are celebrated. The women, alone by themselves, are said to perform rites that conform to Orphic ritual during the sacred ceremony.
Plutarch, Moralia Frag. 97
Let men not cleanse themselves in the women’s bath, nor should men strip in the presence of women. Besides the impropriety, there are certain effluences that proceed from the female body and its excretions with which it is a kind of defilement for men to be infected. Both those who enter into the same air and those who enter into the same water are necessarily affected by them.
Plutarch, On Isis and Osiris 353e-c
As for wine, those who serve the god in Heliopolis bring none at all into the shrine, since they feel that it is not seemly to drink in the daytime while their Lord and King is looking upon them. The others use wine, but in great moderation. They have many periods of holy living when wine is prohibited, and in these they spend their time exclusively in studying, learning, and teaching religious matters. Their kings also were wont to drink a limited quantity prescribed by the sacred writings, as Hecataeus has recorded; and the kings are priests. The beginning of their drinking dates from the reign of Psammetichus; before that they did not drink wine nor use it in libation as something dear to the gods, thinking it to be the blood of those who had once battled against the gods, and from whom, when they had fallen and had become commingled with the earth, they believed vines to have sprung. This is the reason why drunkenness drives men out of their senses and crazes them, inasmuch as they are then filled with the blood of their forbears. These tales Eudoxus says in the second book of his World Travels are thus related by the priests.
Plutarch, Roman Questions 112
Did they regard the ivy as an unfruitful plant, useless to man, and feeble, and because of its weakness needing other plants to support it, but by its shade and the sight of its greenness fascinating to most people? And did they therefore think that it should not be uselessly grown in their homes nor be allowed to twine about in a futile way, contributing nothing, since it is injurious to the plants forming its support? Or is it because it cleaves to the ground? Wherefore it is excluded from the ritual of the Olympian gods, nor can any ivy be seen in the temple of Hera at Athens, or in the temple of Aphrodite at Thebes; but it has its place in the Agrionia and the Nyktelia, the rites of which are for the most part performed at night. Or was this also a symbolic prohibition of Bacchic revels and orgies? For women possessed by Bacchic frenzies rush straightway for ivy and tear it to pieces, clutching it in their hands and biting it with their teeth; so that not altogether without plausibility are they who assert that ivy, possessing as it does an exciting and distracting breath of madness, deranges persons and agitates them, and in general brings on a wineless drunkenness and joyousness in those that are precariously disposed towards spiritual exaltation.
Plutarch, Sayings of the Spartans 224d
This is his retort to Philip, the priest of the Orphic mysteries, who was in the direst straits of poverty, but used to assert that those who were initiated under his rites were happy after the conclusion of this life; to him Leotychidas said, “You idiot! Why then don’t you die as speedily as possible so that you may with that cease from bewailing your unhappiness and poverty?”
Plutarch, Symposiacs 2.3
When upon a dream I had forborne eggs a long time, on purpose that in an egg (as in a Carian) I might make experiment of a notable vision that often troubled me; some at Sossius Senecio’s table suspected that I was tainted with Orpheus’s or Pythagoras’s opinions, and refused to eat an egg (as some do the heart and brain) imagining it to be the principle of generation. And Alexander the Epicurean ridiculingly repeated, —
To feed on beans and parents’ heads
Is equal sin;
as if the Pythagoreans covertly meant eggs by the word ϰύαμοι (beans), deriving it from ϰύω or ϰυέω (to conceive), and thought it as unlawful to feed on eggs as on the animals that lay them. Now to pretend a dream for the cause of my abstaining, to an Epicurean, had been a defence more irrational than the cause itself; and therefore I suffered jocose Alexander to enjoy his opinion, for he was a pleasant man and excellently learned. Soon after he proposed that perplexed question, that plague of the inquisitive, Which was first, the bird or the egg? And my friend Sylla, saying that with this little question, as with an engine, we shook the great and weighty question (whether the world had a beginning), declared his dislike of such problems. But Alexander deriding the question as slight and impertinent, my relation Firmus said: Well, sir, at present your atoms will do me some service; for if we suppose that small things must be the principles of greater, it is likely that the egg was before the bird; for an egg amongst sensible things is very simple, and the bird is more mixed, and contains a greater variety of parts. It is universally true, that a principle is before that whose principle it is; now the seed is a principle, and the egg is somewhat more than the seed, and less than the bird; for as a disposition or a progress in goodness is something between a tractable mind and a habit of virtue, so an egg is as it were a progress of Nature tending from the seed to a perfect animal. And as in an animal they say the veins and arteries are formed first, upon the same account the egg should be before the bird, as the thing containing before the thing contained. Thus art first makes rude and ill-shapen figures, and afterwards perfects every thing with its proper form; and it was for this reason that the statuary Polycletus said, Then our work is most difficult, when the clay comes to be fashioned by the nail. So it is probable that matter, not readily obeying the slow motions of contriving Nature, at first frames rude and indefinite masses, as the egg, and of these moulded anew, and joined in better order, the animal afterward is formed. As the canker is first, and then growing dry and cleaving lets forth a winged animal, called psyche; so the egg is first as it were the subject matter of the generation. For it is certain that, in every change, that out of which the thing changes must be before the thing changing. Observe how worms and caterpillars are bred in trees from the moisture corrupted or concocted; now none can say but that the engendering moisture is naturally before all these. For (as Plato says) matter is as a mother or nurse in respect of the bodies that are formed, and we call that matter out of which any thing that is is made. And with a smile continued he, I speak to those that are acquainted with the mystical and sacred discourse of Orpheus, who not only affirms the egg to be before the bird, but makes it the first being in the whole world. The other parts, because deep mysteries (as Herodotus would say), we shall now pass by; but let us look upon the various kinds of animals, and we shall find almost every one beginning from an egg, — fowls and fishes; land animals, as lizards; amphibious, as crocodiles; some with two legs, as a cock; some without any, as a snake; and some with many, as a locust. And therefore in the solemn feast of Bacchus it is very well done to dedicate an egg, as the emblem of that which begets and contains every thing in itself.
Porphyry, On Abstinence from Animal Foods 2.45
That is why even sorcerers have thought such advance protection and purification necessary; but it is not effective in all circumstances, for they stir up wicked daimones to gratify their lusts. So holiness is not for sorcerers, but for godly men who are wise about the gods, and it brings as a guard on all sides, for those who practice it, their attachment to the divine. If only sorcerers would practice it constantly, they would have no enthusiasm for sorcery, because holiness would exclude them from enjoyment of the things for the sake of which they commit impiety. But, being filled with passions, they abstain for a little from impure foods, yet are full of impurity and pay the penalty for their lawlessness towards the universe: some penalties are inflicted by the beings they themselves provoke, some by the justice which watches over all mortal concerns, both actions and thoughts. Holiness, both internal and external, belongs to a godly man, who strives to fast from the passions of the soul just as he fasts from those foods which arouse the passions, who feeds on wisdom about the gods and becomes like them by right thinking about the divine; a man sanctified by intellectual sacrifice, who approaches the god in white clothing, with a truly pure freedom from passion in the soul and with a body which is light and not weighted down with the alien juices of other creatures or with the passions of the soul.
Porphyry, On Abstinence from Animal Foods 2.50
Priests, diviners and all men who are wise in the ways of religion instruct us to stay clear of tombs, of sacrilegious men, menstruating women, sexual intercourse, any shameful or lamentable sight, anything heard which arouses emotion; for often even unseen impurity disturbs those officiating at the rites, and an improperly performed sacrifice brings more harm than good.
Porphyry, On Abstinence from Animal Foods 2.61
The best offering to the gods is a pure intellect and a soul unaffected by passion; it is also appropriate to make them moderate offerings of other things, not casually but with full commitment. Honors to the gods must be like the front seats given to good men, and like standing up for them to sit down, not like paying taxes. If a man can say, Íf you remember my good deeds and love me, long since dear one you repaid my favor, it was for this I showed you favor first’ surely a god will be satisfied with this. That is why Plato says (Laws 716d; 717a) ‘it is right for a good man to sacrifice and always to be in conversation with the gods by prayer and dedications and sacrifices and all forms of worship’ but for a bad man ‘great effort about the gods is in vain.’ The good man knows what must be sacrificed, from what one must abstain, what should be eaten and from what offerings should be made; the bad man, bringing to the gods honors suited to his own disposition and what he wants, acts impiously.
Porphyry, On Abstinence From Animal Food 4.16
In the Eleusinian mysteries, likewise, the initiated are ordered to abstain from domestic birds, from fishes and beans, pomegranates and apples, which fruits are as equally defiling to the touch, as a woman recently delivered, and a dead body But whoever is acquainted with the nature of divinely-luminous appearances knows also on what account it is requisite to abstain from all birds, and especially for him who hastens to be liberated from terrestrial concerns, and to be established with the celestial Gods.
Porphyry, On Abstinence from Animal Foods 4.6-8
Chaeremon the Stoic, therefore, in his narration of the Egyptian priests, who, he says, were considered by the Egyptians as philosophers, informs us, that they chose temples, as the places in which they might philosophize. For to dwell with the statues of the gods is a thing allied to the whole desire, by which the soul tends to the contemplation of their divinities. And from the divine veneration indeed, which was paid to them through dwelling in temples, they obtained security, all men honouring these philosophers, as if they were certain sacred animals. They also led a solitary life, as they only mingled with other men in solemn sacrifices and festivals. But at other times the priests were almost inaccessible to any one who wished to converse with them. For it was requisite that he who approached to them should be first purified, and abstain from many things; and this is as it were a common sacred law respecting the Egyptian priests. But these philosophic priests having relinquished every other employment, and human labours, gave up the whole of their life to the contemplation and worship of divine natures and to divine inspiration; through the latter, indeed, procuring for themselves, honour, security, and piety; but through contemplation, science; and through both, a certain occult exercise of manners, worthy of antiquity. For to be always conversant with divine knowledge and inspiration, removes those who are so from all avarice, suppresses the passions, and excites to an intellectual life. But they were studious of frugality in their diet and apparel, and also of continence and endurance, and in all things were attentive to justice and equity. They likewise were rendered venerable, through rarely mingling with other men. For during the time of what are called purifications, they scarcely mingled with their nearest kindred, and those of their own order, nor were they to be seen by anyone, unless it was requisite for the necessary purposes of purification. For the sanctuary was inaccessible to those who were not purified, and they dwelt in holy places for the purpose of performing divine works; but at all other times they associated more freely with those who lived like themselves. They did not, however, associate with any one who was not a religious character. But they were always seen near to the gods, or the statues of the gods, the latter of which they were beheld either carrying, or preceding in a sacred procession, or disposing in an orderly manner, with modesty and gravity; each of which operations was not the effect of pride, but an indication of some physical reason. Their venerable gravity also was apparent from their manners. For their walking was orderly, and their aspect sedate; and they were so studious of preserving this gravity of countenance, that they did not even wink, when at any time they were unwilling to do so; and they seldom laughed, and when they did, their laughter proceeded no farther than to a smile. But they always kept their hands within their garments. Each likewise bore about him a symbol indicative of the order which he was allotted in sacred concerns; for there were many orders of priests. Their diet also was slender and simple. For, with respect to wine, some of them did not at all drink it, but others drank very little of it, on account of its being injurious to the nerves, oppressive to the head, an impediment to invention, and an incentive to venereal desires. In many other things also they conducted themselves with caution; neither using bread at all in purifications, and at those times in which they were not employed in purifying themselves, they were accustomed to eat bread with hyssop, cut into small pieces. For it is said, that hyssop very much purifies the power of bread. But they, for the most part, abstained from oil, the greater number of them entirely; and if at any time they used it with pot-herbs, they took very little of it, and only as much as was sufficient to mitigate the taste of the herbs.
It was not lawful for them therefore to meddle with the esculent and potable substances, which were produced out of Egypt, and this contributed much to the exclusion of luxury from these priests. But they abstained from all the fish that was caught in Egypt, and from such quadrupeds as had solid, or many-fissured hoofs, and from such as were not horned; and likewise from all such birds as were carnivorous. Many of them, however, entirely abstained from all animals; and in purifications this abstinence was adopted by all of them, for then they did not even eat an egg. Moreover, they also rejected other things, without being calumniated for so doing. Thus, for instance, of oxen, they rejected the females, and also such of the males as were twins, or were speckled, or of a different colour, or alternately varied in their form, or which were now tamed, as having been already consecrated to labours, and resembled animals that are honoured, or which were the images of any thing that is divine, or those that had but one eye, or those that verged to a similitude of the human form. There are also innumerable other observations pertaining to the art of those who are called mosxofragistai, or who stamp calves with a seal, and of which books have been composed. But these observations are still more curious respecting birds; as, for instance, that a turtle should not be eaten; for it is said that a hawk frequently dismisses this bird after he has seized it, and preserves its life, as a reward for having had connexion with it. The Egyptian priests, therefore, that they might not ignorantly meddle with a turtle of this kind, avoided the whole species of those birds. And these indeed were certain common religious ceremonies; but there were different ceremonies, which varied according to the class of the priests that used them, and were adapted to the several divinities. But chastity and purifications were common to all the priests. When also the time arrived in which they were to perform something pertaining to the sacred rites of religion, they spent some days in preparatory ceremonies, some indeed forty-two, but others a greater, and others a less number of days; yet never less than seven days; and during this time they abstained from all animals, and likewise from all pot-herbs and leguminous substances, and, above all, from a venereal connexion with women; for they never at any time had connexion with males. They likewise washed themselves with cold water thrice every day; viz. when they rose from their bed, before dinner, and when they betook themselves to sleep. But if they happened to be polluted in their sleep by the emission of the seed, they immediately purified their body in a bath. They also used cold bathing at other times, but not so frequently as on the above occasion. Their bed was woven from the branches of the palm tree, which they call bais; and their bolster was a smooth semi-cylindric piece of wood. But they exercised themselves in the endurance of hunger and thirst, and were accustomed to paucity of food through the whole of their life.
This also is a testimony of their continence, that, though they neither exercised themselves in walking or riding, yet they lived free from disease, and were sufficiently strong for the endurance of modern labours. They bore therefore many burdens in the performance of sacred operations, and accomplished many ministrant works, which required more than common strength. But they divided the night into the observation of the celestial bodies, and sometimes devoted a part of it to offices of purification; and they distributed the day into the worship of the gods, according to which they celebrated them with hymns thrice or four times, viz. in the morning and evening, when the sun is at his meridian altitude, and when he is declining to the west. The rest of their time they devoted to arithmetical and geometrical speculations, always labouring to effect something, and to make some new discovery, and, in short, continually exercising their skill. In winter nights also they were occupied in the same employments, being vigilantly engaged in literary pursuits, as paying no attention to the acquisition of externals, and being liberated from the servitude of that bad master, excessive expense. Hence their unwearied and incessant labour testifies their endurance, but their continence is manifested by their liberation from the desire of external good. To sail from Egypt likewise, was considered by them to be one of the most unholy things, in consequence of their being careful to avoid foreign luxury and pursuits; for this appeared to them to be alone lawful to those who were compelled to do so by regal necessities. Indeed, they were very anxious to continue in the observance of the institutes of their country, and those who were found to have violated them, though but in a small degree were expelled from the college of the priests. The true method of philosophizing, likewise, was preserved by the prophets, by the hierostolistae, and the sacred scribes, and also by the horologi, or calculators of nativities. But the rest of the priests, and of the pastophori, curators of temples, and ministers of the gods, were similarly studious of purity, yet not so accurately, and with such great continence, as the priests of whom we have been speaking. And such are the particulars which are narrated of the Egyptians, by a man who was a lover of truth, and an accurate writer, and who among the Stoics strenuously and solidly philosophized.
Porphyry, Life of Pythagoras 33
While his friends were in good health Pythagoras always conversed with them; if they were sick, he nursed them; if they were afflicted in mind, he solaced them, some by incantations and magic charms, others by music. He had prepared songs for the diseases of the body, by singing which he cured the sick. He had also some that caused forgetfulness of sorrow, mitigation of anger, and destruction of lust.
Proklos, Commentary on Hesiod’s Works and Days 808
The ancestral laws of the Athenians devotes the 18th and 19th of the month to purifications and apotropaic rituals, as Philochoros and Kleidemos, both exegetes of ancestral law.
Proklos, Commentary on Plato’s Republic 2.167.17-23
The capacity to hear the voices of daimones is provided to some by the priestly power, to others by their natural constitution … some can even hear things that are inaudible to all mortal hearing and see things invisible to mortal sight.
Suidas s.v. Ἀποτεθρίακεν
Meaning plucked, made smooth. But properly pruned fig-trees; for thria [“fig-leaves”] are the leaves of the fig-tree. Aristophanes writes, “which of the Odomanti has unpetalled his prick?” The Odomanti are a Thracian people. The Thracians used to pluck and smooth their genitals and had them circumcised. They say Judaeans are the same. Also attested is the participle ἀποτεθρυωμένοι [“they having gone to pieces”], meaning they having gone savage. This is said in a metaphor from rushes, tethrua, which are wild and sterile plants.
Suidas s.v. Hêraïskos
Hence his life also reached such a point that his soul always resided in hidden sanctuaries as he practiced not only his native rites in Egypt but also those of other nations, wherever there was something left of these. Heraiskos became a Bakchos, as a dream designated him and he traveled widely, receiving many initiations. Heraiskos actually had a natural talent for distinguishing between religious statues that were animated and those that were not. For as soon as he looked at one his heart was struck by a sensation of the divine and he gave a start in his body and his soul, as though seized by the god. If he was not moved in such a fashion then the statue was soulless and had no share of divine inspiration. In this way he distinguished the secret statue of Aion which the Alexandrians worshiped as being possessed by the god, who was both Osiris and Adonis at the same time according to some mystical union. There was also something in Heraiskos’ nature that rejected defilements of nature. For instance, if he heard any unclean woman speaking, no matter where or how, he immediately got a headache, and this was taken as a sign that she was menstruating.
Suidas s.v. Sarapio
For Isidore said that never in fact could he persuade him to meet another man, especially because when he grew old he no longer came out frequently from his own house; he lived alone in a truly small dwelling, having embraced the solitary life, employing some of the neighbors only for the most necessary things. He said that Sarapio was exceptionally prayerful, and visited the holy places in the dress of an ordinary man, where the rule of the feast led him. For the most part he lived all day in his house, not the life of a man, but to speak simply, the life of a god, continually uttering prayers and miracle-stories to himself or to the divinity, or rather meditating on them in silence. Being a seeker of truth and by nature contemplative, he did not deign to spend time on the more technical aspects of philosophy, but absorbed himself in the more profound and inspired thoughts. For this reason Orpheus was almost the only book he possessed and read, in each of the questions which came to him always asking Isidore, who had achieved the summit of understanding in theology. He recognized Isidore alone as an intimate friend and received him in his house. And Isidore seemed to observe in him the Kronian life of mythology. For that man continued doing and saying nothing else but recollecting himself and raising himself, as far as he could, towards the inward and indivisible life. He despised money so much that he possessed nothing whatever but only two or three books (among these was the poetry of Orpheus); and he despised the pleasures of the body so much that straightway from the beginning he offered to the body only what is necessary and alone brings benefit, but of sexual activity he was pure throughout his life. And he was so little concerned about honor from men that not even his name was known in the city. He would not have been known subsequently, if some one of the gods had not wished to make him an example for mankind of the Kronian life. He used Isidore as an heir, having no heir from his family, nor supposing that anyone else was worthy of his property, I mean the two or three books.
Whoever wishes to visit the temple of the Goddess, whether a resident of the city or anyone else, must refrain from intercourse with his wife that day, from intercourse with another than his wife for the preceding two days, and must complete the required lustrations. The same prohibition applies to contact with the dead and with the delivery of a woman in childbirth. But if he has come from funeral rites or from the burial, he shall purify himself and enter by the door where the holy water stoups are, and he shall be clean that same day.
Concerning sacred men and sacred women. The scribe of the magistrates is to administer the following oath, then and there, to those who have been designated sacred men, who pour the blood and wine when the [offerings] are kindled, that no one may be remiss: “I swear, by the gods for whom the mysteries are celebrated: I shall be careful that the things pertaining to the initiation are done reverently and in fully lawful manner; I myself shall do nothing shameful or wrong at the conclusion of the mysteries, nor shall I confide in anyone else; rather, I shall obey what is written; and I shall administer the oath to the sacred women and the priest in accordance with the rule. May I, by keeping the oath, experience what is in store for the pious, but may one who breaks the oath experience the opposite.” If someone does not wish to take the oath, he is to pay a fine of one thousand drachmai, and in his place he is to appoint by lot another person from the same clan. The priest and the sacred men are to administer the same oath to the sacred women in the sacred area of Karneios on the day before the mysteries, and they are to administer an additional oath as well: “I also have lived purely and lawfully with my husband.” The sacred men are to fine one who does not wish to take the oath one thousand drachmai and not allow her to celebrate the things pertaining to the sacrifices or participate in the mysteries. Rather, the women who have taken the oath are to celebrate. But in the fifty-fifth year those who have been designated sacred men and sacred women are to take the same oath in the eleventh month before the mysteries.
Regarding transferral. The sacred men are to hand over, to those appointed as successors, the chest and the books that Mnasistratos donated; they also are to hand over whatever else may be furnished for the sake of the mysteries.
Regarding wreaths. The sacred men are to wear wreaths, the sacred women a white felt cap, and the first initiates among the initiated a tiara. But when the sacred men give the order, they are to take off their tiara, and they are all to be wreathed with laurel.
Regarding clothing. The men who are initiated into the mysteries are to stand barefoot and wear white clothing, and the women are to wear clothes that are not transparent, with stripes on their robes not more than half a finger wide. The independent women are to wear a linen tunic and a robe worth not more than one hundred drachmai, the daughters an Egyptian or linen tunic and a robe worth not more than a mina, and the female slaves an Egyptian or linen tunic and a robe worth not more than fifty drachmai. The sacred women: the ladies are to wear an Egyptian tunic or an undergarment without decoration and a robe worth not more than two minas, and the [daughters] an Egyptian tunic or a robe worth not more than one hundred drachmai. In the procession the ladies among the sacred women are to wear an undergarment and a woman’s wool robe, with stripes not more than half a finger wide, and the daughters an Egyptian tunic and a robe that is not transparent. None of the women are to wear gold, or rouge, or white makeup, or a hair band, or braided hair, or shoes made of anything but felt or leather from sacrificial victims. The sacred women are to have curved wicker seats and on them white pillows or a round cushion, without decoration or purple design. The women who must be dressed in the manner of the gods are to wear the clothing that the sacred men specify. But if anyone somehow has clothing contrary to the rule, or anything else of what is prohibited, the supervisor of the women is not to allow it, but the supervisor is to have the authority to inflict punishment, and it is to be devoted to the gods.
Oath of the supervisor of the women. When the sacred men themselves take the oath, they also are to administer the oath to the supervisor of the women, before the same sacred men: “I truly shall be careful concerning the clothing and the rest of the things assigned to me in the rule.
Sylloge2, 939, 2-9
It is not permitted to enter the temple of the Lady Goddess with any object of gold on one’s person, unless it is intended for an offering; or to wear purple or bright colored or black garments, or shoes, or a finger ring. But if one enters wearing any forbidden object, it must be dedicated to the temple. Women are not to have their hair bound up, and men must enter with bared heads. No flowers are to be brought in at the mysteries; no pregnant women or nursing mothers are to have any part. If anyone wishes to make an offering, let it be of olive, myrtle, honey, grains of barley clean from weeds, a picture, a white poppy, lamps, incense, myrrh, spice. But if anyone wishes to offer the Lady Goddess sacrificial animals, they must be female and white …
These are the laws concerning the dead; bury the dead person as follows: in three white cloths, a spread, a garment, and a coverlet – there may be less – worth not more than 300 drachmas. Carry it out on a wedge-footed bed and do not the cover the bier completely with the cloths. Bring not more than three khoes of wine to the tomb and not more than khous of olive oil, and bring back the vessels. Carry the dead man, covered over, up to the tomb in silence. Perform the preliminary sacrifice according to ancestral custom. Bring the bed and its coverings from the tomb indoors. On the following day first sprinkle the house with sea water, then wash it with water having anointed it with earth; when it has been sprinkled throughout, the house is purified and sacrifices should be made on the hearth. The women who go to the funeral are to leave the tomb before the men. Do not carry out the rites performed on the thirtieth day in honor of the deceased. Do not put a kylix under the bed, do not pour out the water, and do not bring the seepings to the tomb. Whenever someone dies, when he is carried out, no women should go to the house other than those polluted by death. The mother and wife and sisters and daughters are polluted, and in addition to these not more than five women, children of the daughters and of the cousins, and no one else. Those polluted washed from head to foot … a pouring of water are purified …
Sylloge3 26. 524
The madman shall exit the oracle.
Theon of Smyrna, Mathematica
Philosophy may be called the initiation into true sacred ceremonies, and the instruction in genuine Mysteries; for there are five parts of initiation: the first of which is the previous purification; for neither are the Mysteries communicated to all who are willing to receive them; but there are certain persons who are prevented by the voice of the crier [κηρυξ, kerux], such as those who possess impure hands and an inarticulate voice; since it is necessary that such as are not expelled from the Mysteries should first be refined by certain purifications: but after purification, the reception of the sacred rites succeeds. The third part is denominated epopteia, or reception. And the fourth, which is the end and design of the revelation, is [the investiture] the binding of the head and fixing of the crowns. The initiated person is, by this means, authorized to communicate to others the sacred rites in which he has been instructed; whether after this he becomes a torch-bearer, or an hierophant of the Mysteries, or sustains some other part of the sacerdotal office. But the fifth, which is produced from all these, is friendship and interior communion with God, and the enjoyment of that felicity which arises from intimate converse with divine beings. Similar to this is the communication of political instruction; for, in the first place, a certain purification precedes, or else an exercise in proper mathematical discipline from early youth. For thus Empedocles asserts, that it is necessary to be purified from sordid concerns, by drawing from five fountains, with a vessel of indissoluble brass: but Plato, that purification is to be derived from the five mathematical disciplines, namely from arithmetic, geometry, stereometry, music, and astronomy; but the philosophical instruction in theorems, logical, political, and physical, is similar to initiation. But he (that is, Plato) denominates εποπτεια [or the revealing], a contemplation of things which are apprehended intuitively, absolute truths, and ideas. But he considers the binding of the head, and coronation, as analogous to the authority which any one receives from his instructors, of leading others to the same contemplation. And the fifth gradation is, the most perfect felicity arising from hence, and, according to Plato, an assimilation to divinity, as far as is possible to mankind.
Theophrastos, On The Superstitious Man
It is apparent that superstition would seem to be cowardice with regard to the spiritual realm. The superstitious man is one who will wash his hands and sprinkle himself at the Sacred Fountain, and put a bit of laurel leaf in his mouth, to prepare himself for each day. If a marten should cross his path, he will not continue until someone else has gone by, or he has thrown three stones across the road. And if he should see a snake in his house, he will call up a prayer to Sabazios if it is one of the red ones; if it is one of the sacred variety, he will immediately construct a shrine on the spot. Nor will he go by the smooth stones at a crossroads without anointing them with oil from his flask, and he will not leave without falling on his knees in reverence to them. If a mouse should chew through his bag of grain, he will seek advice on what should be done from the official diviner of omens; but if the answer is, ‘Give it to the shoemaker to have it sewn up,’ he will pay no attention, but rather go away and free himself of the omen through sacrifice. He is also likely to be purifying his house continually, claiming that terrible Hecate has been mysteriously brought into it. And if an owl should hoot while he is outside, he becomes terribly agitated, and will not continue before crying out, ‘O! Mighty Athena!’ Never will he step on a tomb, nor get near a dead body, nor a woman in childbirth: he says he must keep on his guard against being polluted. On the unlucky days of the month– the fourth and seventh– he will order his servants to heat wine. Then he will go out and buy myrtle-wreaths, frankincense, and holy pictures; upon returning home, he spends the entire day arranging the wreaths on statues of the Hermaphrodites. Also, when he has a dream, he will go to the dream interpreters, the fortune-tellers, and the readers of bird-omens, to ask what god or goddess he should pray to. When he is to be initiated into the Orphic mysteries, he visits the priests every month, taking his wife with him; or, if she can’t make it, the nursemaid and children will suffice. It is also apparent that he is one of those people who go to great lengths to sprinkle themselves with sea-water. And if he sees someone eating Hecate’s garlic at the crossroads, he must go home and wash his head; and then he calls upon the priestesses to carry a squill or a puppy around him for purification. If he sees a madman or epileptic, he shudders and spits into his lap.