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Eleusis: Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter (Bollingen Series (General)) [Paperback]

C. Kerenyi , Carl Kerenyi , Karl Kerenyi
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: £22.95
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Book Description

1 Sep 1991 Bollingen Series (General)

The Sanctuary of Eleusis, near Athens, was the center of a religious cult that endured for nearly two thousand years and whose initiates came from all parts of the civilized world. Looking at the tendency to "see visions," C. Kerenyi examines the Mysteries of Eleusis from the standpoint not only of Greek myth but also of human nature. Kerenyi holds that the yearly autumnal "mysteries" were based on the ancient myth of Demeter's search for her ravished daughter Persephone--a search that he equates not only with woman's quest for completion but also with every person's pursuit of identity. As he explores what the content of the mysteries may have been for those who experienced them, he draws on the study of archaeology, objects of art, and religious history, and suggests rich parallels from other mythologies.


Frequently Bought Together

Eleusis: Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter (Bollingen Series (General)) + Dionysos: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life (Bollingen Series (General)) + Hermes: Guide of Souls (Dunquin Series)
Price For All Three: £53.54

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Product details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; New Ed edition (1 Sep 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691019150
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691019154
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 16.2 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 322,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"This book is fascinating reading and serves as a meaningful complement to George E. Mylonas's magisterial work, Eleusis and the Eleusinian Mysteries."--Library Journal

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MODERN DEVELOPMENTS have dealt kindly with the natural settings of nearly all the most celebrated holy places of the ancient Greek religion. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound analysis 21 Oct 2005
By Luc REYNAERT TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
I recommend this book as a formidable try to unravel one of the most important ancient pagan mysteries, that survived for more than a thousand years in the Ancient world.
For Kerenyi, the core of the mysteries was the message that 'a birth in death was possible', also for human beings. This message was 'shown' through the ancient myth of the search of Demeter for her ravished daughter Persephone. She finds Persephone under the earth, where she gives birth to Dionysos. The hope of life in death was symbolized through Demeter's offering of the grain, that will grow again. We can see this important hapenning on a stele in the Ancient museum of Athens.
The initiated had to fast and were given a drug (the kykeon) just before the procession.
Nearly all Roman emperors were initiated (with a special place for Marcus Aurelius).
One of the initiated was Plato, who speaks about it in his work 'Phaidoon'.
The influence on Christianity by the mysteries cannot be underestimated, for Plato's theory of the soul was adopted by the Church.
A compelling read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect 26 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is beautifully written, well-explained, nicely organised...this book is great.
If you are interested in the Eleusis myths, mysteries, iconography and history, there is no better option than this.
The format of the book is perfect to take in your bag and I read it in just one day!!!!
Great great great book!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best-kept secret in the ancient world... 25 April 2002
By Kelly (Fantasy Literature) - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
...was the supreme revelation of the Eleusinian Mysteries.
The Mysteries, if you aren't familiar with them, were an initiatory ritual dedicated to the grain mother, Demeter, and her daughter Persephone, who married the lord of death and agreed to split her time between the upper world and the lower. Thousands of Greeks lined up to receive initiation year after year, and afterward they raved of a beatific vision that completely dispelled their fear of death. But they were sworn to secrecy about the things they saw in the Goddesses' temple, and so there are no records explicitly saying what happened there. Many scholars have studied the Mysteries, and at the end of their essays thrown up their hands, figuratively, and saying there is no way we will ever know what the revelation was.
Kerenyi does a wonderful job, in this scholarly book, of trying to put his finger on the nature of the vision. He starts by ruling out things that it could not have been. Poetic sources vividly describe the abduction of Persephone/Kore, and her return to her mother. There were no secrets there. Thus, the Mysteries must not have centered around either of these events. He then uses archaeological and literary evidence to piece together a surmise about what the Mysteries really were. So many little things, in Kerenyi's hands, add up to become significant. Why won't Demeter drink wine during her mourning period? What is the meaning behind the scene where she puts the boy in the fire to make him immortal? What about tantalizing poetic hints that Demeter, like earlier mother goddesses, might have descended to the underworld herself in search of her daughter?
In the end, Kerenyi's theory works quite well. The Mysteries could very well have been much like what he describes. And yet, even if he's right, there is still something mysterious about the whole production. We might have finally figured out what the priests and priestesses of Eleusis showed to the initiates. But we have to use our imaginations to recreate the feeling it must have given them, the meaning it must have held, in a less cynical age than our own.
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unsolved Mystery 5 Jan 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Keneyi's extensive research of the historical written and lastest archaelogical findings on Eleusis is impressive. The text is liberally documented with numerous illustrations that help create a visual perspective. Keneyi sets the stage with a geographical, historical and mythological background, introduces us to the Lesser Mysteries at Agrai and leads us to the Sacred Way on the trail of the grieving Demeter searching for her missing daughter, Persephone. We are titilated by hints of the "visio beatifica" that confers immortality. We are surprised by the rigor of the preparitory austerities. Piece by piece Keneyi recontructs the puzzle, and yet, one of the greatest sacred rites of all time, ultimately remains a mystery...
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound analysis of the mysteries of Eleusis. 31 Aug 2002
By Luc REYNAERT - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I recommend this book as a formidable try to unravel one of the most important ancient pagan mysteries, that survived for more than a thousand years in the Ancient world.
For Kerenyi, the core of the mysteries was the message that 'a birth in death was possible', also for human beings. This message was 'shown' through the ancient myth of the search of Demeter for her ravished daughter Persephone. She finds Persephone under the earth, where she gives birth to Dionysos. The hope of life in death was symbolized through Demeter's offering of the grain, that will grow again. We can see this important hapenning on a stele in the Ancient museum of Athens.
The initiated had to fast and were given a drug (the kykeon) just before the procession.
Nearly all Roman emperors were initiated (with a special place for Marcus Aurelius).
One of the initiated was Plato, who speaks about it in his work 'Phaidoon'.
The influence on Christianity by the mysteries cannot be underestimated, for Plato's theory of the soul was adopted by the Church.
A compelling read.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring work, shaky conclusions 8 Feb 2009
By B. T. Newberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Right up there with Jung and Joseph Campbell is a man named Carl Kerenyi. An exile from his native Hungary, Kerenyi wrote extensively on Greek mythology and played an important role in its revival. Eleusis: Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter, fourth in a series of related books, is his attempt to reconstruct and interpret what really went on in the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Like Jung and Campbell, Kerenyi writes from the perspective of psychology and humanism. At the same time, he distances his view from that of Jung in his introduction. Although Kerenyi uses the term "archetype" he does not mean it in the full Jungian sense. He speaks rather of "archetypal facts of human existence" (p. xxxii). The meaning of this is about as difficult to pin down as that of Jung's archetypes, but seems to refer in this case to the inescapable fact that all humans have mothers, and that mother-daughter relationships bear certain basic resemblances. It seems to communicate an appeal to human universals, without relying on the collective unconscious on the one hand or existentialist philosophies on the other. From this perspective, he attempts to recover what went on in the mysteries.

There is little in his reconstruction that is conclusive, and to an extent he is upfront about this. He says "My book should act as the kykeon of Eleusis in all probability did: as a stimulant" (p. xx). In other words, he intends to suggest and inspire, not to declare fact. This must be kept in mind by the reader, as Kerenyi has a slippery way of posing arguments. For example, in chapter two he concludes that the ineffable secret (arrheton) of Eleusis was a certain goddess, and the only evidence he provides at the time is the epithet "ineffable maiden" (arrhetos koura), which only she possesses. Kerenyi then defers further evidence till later, saying "This becomes comprehensible only as we gradually penetrate to the core of the Mysteries" (p. 26). But he never does put forward any more evidence, and the mere repitition of his thesis, stated in no uncertain terms over and over, threatens to lull the reader into agreement. This is a shaky foundation indeed for one of the core elements of his reconstruction. It is necessary to bear in mind this matter of style to avoid being misled.

What is most impressive about Kerenyi's Eleusis is the vast range of material pulled together. The entire gamut of literature, vase paintings, numismatics, and archaeology comes together to form this picture of Eleusis. Often it is quite difficult to discern what that picture is exactly, but nevertheless there are stimulants for research on every page that would take a lifetime for the amateur Classicist to accumulate. This is the greatest strength of the book.

A much lesser strength is the reconstruction itself. Kerenyi's conclusions are based on a wide variety of disjointed material, lined up and juxtaposed in interesting ways but hardly connected into a logical argument. Truthfully, I cannot put any faith at all in his hypotheses, except by recalling that they are intended as "stimulants." They do inspire, to be sure.

This book is recommendable to anyone looking to expand their Eleusinian horizons beyond the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. There are so many obscure and specialist references presented here that one cannot help but benefit. Those looking for clear, reliable answers will be frustrated, while those hungry for directions for contemplation will get their fill.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent resource! 5 Nov 2004
By Gemma Weston - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is an excellent book, favored especially by many women who find the mother-daughter archetype something that they want to explore. There are many excellent facts of great interest to those seeking to know the background of Demeter's Mysteries.

The first edition of this book was in 1967. I think it holds up pretty well. The reviewer who calls himself "flygadfly" thereby identifying himself with the ancient philosopher Socrates, states that the information is outdated. To expect current values and philosophies to exist in a book that was published 37 years ago is an illogical expectation.

I really love this book. It has an honored place in my home library.

-Gem
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