Cultures & Traditions
Greek Mystery Cults
From the sixth century B.C.E. onward, many people in ancient societies became initiates (mystai) of cults that seemed to have promised immortality to their worshipers. The most prominent of these was the cult of the wine god Dionysos, who was always considered different from the major Greek deities. Dionysos was a god of intoxication and ecstasy. He was supposed to possess his initiates and translate them out of the human sphere into another state of existence. He represented the irrational in human life. Dionysos also promised his initiates some kind of life after death, unlike the traditional Greek view of bloodless shades.
Other mystery cults grew up around the sage Pythagoras; the mythic poet Orpheus; the goddess of crops, Demeter; and her daughter Persephone, queen of the afterworld. All these cults of immortality envisioned human life as being like the seasons in nature - constantly being born, dying, and being reborn in the springtime.
DMA unpublished material, Label text.