Mystery Cults Essay

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Mystery Cults

Mystery cults greatly influenced the development of Pythagoreanism as Pythagoreans adopted many of their traditions, behaviors and beliefs. Pythagoras, the founder of the Pythagoreans, established a school in which he developed and taught these adopted cultural behaviors and beliefs. "The nature of daily living in the school, both its moral and its intellectual disciplines, can perhaps best be understood as an intellectualized development from earlier mystery cults such as the Eleusinian" (Wheelwright 201). The Pythagoreans and the mystery cults were not identical, but they shared many similar beliefs on subjects such as the soul, transmigration and reincarnation, and they practiced many of the traditions of
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#10 pg. 231). The Greek mysteries are traced back to the pre-Classical Mycenaean period and were most likely ancient rituals of initiation into a clan or an association. Of the Greek mysteries, the mysteries of Eleusis, which provided a pattern for the idea of mysteries, were the most important. The mythological background for the Eleusinian mysteries centered on a story of the goddesses Demeter and Kore in which Kore (the divine daughter of Demeter) is carried down to the lower world by Aidoneus. After searching for her child and mourning for her, Kore is finally restored to Demeter. Before Demeter returns to Olympos, Demeter founded a sacred worship where she instructed the princes of the Eleusinians in the performance of the cult. The story of Kore's return envelopes the theme of loss (death), grief, search, and (re)discovery (life). Pythagoreans were a secret society begun by Pythagoras of Somos in the sixth century B.C. The Pythagorean School of Philosophy was founded by Pythagoras in the city of Crotona, Italy. Pythagoras established the school in pursuit of higher studies in mathematics, astronomy, music, metaphysics, and polydaemonistic theology (Wheelwright 201).

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