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Excerpts from ApuleiusThe Golden Ass

 

 

. . .Thereafter I devoted my whole time to attendance on the Goddess, encouraged by these tokens to hope for even grater marks of her favor, and my desire for taking holy orders increased. I frequently spoke of it to the High Priest, begging him to initiate me into the mysteries of the holy night. . . . “no single member of the brotherhood,” he said, “ has ever been so wrong-minded and sacrilegious, in fact so bent on his own destruction, as partake of the mystery without direct orders from the Goddess, and so fall into deadly sin. The gates of the Underworld and the guardianship of life are in her hands, and the rites of initiation approximate to a voluntary death from which there is only a precarious hope of resurrection.”. . .

 

In due time the High priest summoned me, and took me to the nearest public baths, attended by a crowd of priests. There, when I had enjoyed my ordinary bath, he himself washed and sprinkled me with holy water, offering up prayers for divine mercy. .

 

The curtains were pulled aside and I was suddenly exposed to the gaze of the crowd, as when a statue is unveiled., dressed like the sun. That day was the happiest of my initiation, and I celebrated it as my birthday, with a cheerful banquet at which all my friends were present. Further rites and ceremonies were performed on the third day, including a sacred breakfast, and these ended the proceedings.  . .