Nuktipolois

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Κἄστι τὸ σύνθημα Ἐλευσινίων μυστηρίων· “ἐνήστευσα, ἔπιον τὸν κυκεῶνα, ἔλαβον ἐκ κίστης, ἐργασάμενος ἀπεθέμην εἰς κάλαθον καὶ ἐκ καλάθου εἰς κίστην.” καλά γε τὰ θεάματα καὶ θεᾷ πρέποντα. ἄξια μὲν οὖν νυκτὸς τὰ τελέσματα καὶ πυρὸς καὶ τοῦ “μεγαλήτορος”, μᾶλλον δὲ ματαιόφρονος Ἐρεχθειδῶν δήμου, πρὸς δὲ καὶ τῶν ἄλλων Ἑλλήνων, οὕστινας “μένει τελευτήσαντας ἅσσα οὐδὲ ἔλπονται.” τίσι δὴ μαντεύεται Ἡράκλειτος ὁ Ἐφέσιος; “νυκτιπόλοις, μάγοις, βάκχοις, λήναις, μύσταις”, τούτοις ἀπειλεῖ τὰ μετὰ θάνατον, τούτοις μαντεύεται τὸ πῦρ· “τὰ γὰρ νομιζόμενα κατὰ ἀνθρώπους μυστήρια ἀνιερωστὶ μυοῦνται.” νόμος οὖν καὶ ὑπόληψις κενὴ καὶ τοῦ δράκοντος τὰ μυστήρια ἀπάτη τίς ἐστιν θρῃσκευομένη, τὰς ἀμυήτους ὄντως μυήσεις καὶ τὰς ἀνοργιάστους τελετὰς εὐσεβείᾳ νόθῳ προστρεπομένων.
(Clement of Alexandria, Protr. 18-19)

And the formula of the Eleusinian mysteries is as follows: “I fasted; I drank the draught; I took from the chest; having done my task, I placed in the basket, and from the basket into the chest.” Beautiful sights indeed, and fit for a goddess! Yes, such rites are meet for night and torch fires, and for the “great-hearted”—I should rather say empty-headed—people of the Erechtheidae, with the rest of the Greeks as well, “whom after death there await such things as they little expect.” Against whom does Heracleitus of Ephesus utter this prophecy? Against “night-roamers, magicians, Bacchants, Lenaean revellers and devotees of the mysteries.” These are the people whom he threatens with the penalties that follow death; for these he prophesies the fire. “For in unholy fashion are they initiated into the mysteries customary among men.” The mysteries, then, are mere custom and vain opinion, and it is a deceit of the serpent that men worship when, with spurious piety, they return towards these sacred initiations that are really profanities, and solemn rites that are without sanctity. (tr. George William Butterworth)

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