October 7 - October 7, 2007 Non-Demeter Mystery Cults...

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October 7, 2007 Non-Demeter Mystery Cults Mystery cults in general o Definition of mysteries “esoteric initiation ceremonies connected with agricultural cycles and death” Initiation: passage into new social group, new state of being Birth, childhood > adulthood, marriage, death Esoteric: concerned with a chosen few Initiation a personal choice Generally outside oikos, polis control o Exception: Demeter = “mainstream” mysteries Include secret rituals ( arcana ) o Often underground or at night Roles for marginalized groups (women, slaves) o Comparative perspective Sacred space for initiated: Jewish Temple, Latter Day Saints Acts, words not revealed to uninitiated: fraternities/sororities Occur in ancient Near East, Greece, Rome Greece transmits concepts across Mediterranean o Typical elements of mystery cults Procession: dramatizes passage into the sacred Sacred space ( telesterion < telos , “end, goal”) Separation from oikos, polis Initiation: adoption into cult Ritual act ( dromenon ): re-enacts suffering of deity Explanation ( legomenon , mythos ): rationalizes the ritual Theology/philosophy behind mystery cults o Rites of passage: aspects unsatisfied by polis, oikos rituals Psychology of growing up, marrying, parenting, dying Preserve personal identity in afterlife (polis, oikos: collective) o Death and rebirth: analogy of agricultural cycle Figurative vs. literal: reincarnation, or passage to a higher place
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2008 for the course CLT 3371 taught by Professor Marks during the Fall '07 term at University of Florida.

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October 7 - October 7, 2007 Non-Demeter Mystery Cults...

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