The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Naenia – Naevius



connected the exhibition of certain holy things, including symbols and relics. la many cases the symbols were not hidden from the public eye, but their meaning was revealed to the initiated alone. Of native mysteries those considered most holy were the Elevainian mysteries of Demeter; we know more about the ceremonies in this case than in any other. (See eleusinia.) Next to these came the Samothracian mys­teries of the Cabin (q.v.), which in course of time appear to have become very similar to the Eleusinian. In these two mysteries, as indeed in all, no deeper meaning was originally attached to the legends, usages, and symbols. But, as time went on, these initiations were supposed to have a peculiar power of preserving men amid the dangers of this life by purification and expiation, of giving him a temporary blessedness, and above all of conferring a sure prospect of a state of bliss after death. [Isocrates, Paneg. § 28.) This change is in great ! part due to the influence of a sect, the Orphici (see orpheus). Following Oriental, Egyptian, and also Pythagorean doctrines, they taught that expiation and sanctification | were necessary for this and for a future life, and that these must be effected by means of the initiations and purifications which they pretended Orpheus had revealed to them. Those who enjoyed these revelations

of Orpheua constituted a religious society which gradually extended to every Greek country. Their religious services were also called mysteries, not only because the ini­tiated alone could take part in them, but because the representations and usages connected with them had a hidden mystic meaning. It was chiefly owing to their influence that foreign mysteries were intro­duced into Greece, and that thus the various systems were blended together. Among foreign mysteries must be mentioned the wild and fanatic orgies of Dionysus (or Bacchus), Sabazius, and Cybelc.

The first of these gained a footing in Rome and Italy under the name of Bacchanalia, and in 186 b.c. had to be firmly suppressed by the government on account of the ex­cesses connected with them [Livy xxxix 8-19]; while the last-mentioned were most widely spread even in early imperial times. (See rhea.) The mysteries connected with the worship of Isis and of Mithras (q.v.) were also held in high esteem by Greeks and Romans down to a late period. The whole system of mysteries endured to the very end of the pagan times, for the deeper meaning of its symbolism offered a certain satisfaction even to the religious require­ments of the educated, which they failed to find in the empty forms of the ordinary worship. (Cp.


Nsenia. properly spelt Nenia (q.v.).

Naevlus (Gnceus). A Roman epic and dra­matic poet. Born apparently in Campania, about 270 b.c., he served in the Roman army during the first Punic War; and, set­tling after this at Rome, he brought his first play upon the stage in 235, i.e. soon after the first appearance of Livius Andronicus. Owing to the license and recklessness with which he incessantly attacked the Roman nobles, especially the Metelli, he was thrown into prison, and though liberated thence by the tribunes of the people, was afterwards banished from Rome. He died in exile at Utiica about 200.

His poetical account of the first Punic War (Bellum Pcenicum), written in old age in the Saturnian metre, made him the creator of the Roman national epic. The work originally formed one continuous whole, but at a later time was divided into seven books by the scholar Octavius Lam-padio. The fragments preserved give the

impression of its having been little more than a chronicle in verse. Indeed, even in its plan, it bears a close resemblance to the prose chronicles of the Roman annalists : for here, as there, the real subject of the poem was preceded by an account of the early history of Rome, dating from the flight of iEneas from Troy. Nsevius also made an important departure in the province of dramatic poetry by creating a national drama. Besides imitations of Greek tra­gedies, of which seven alone are known by name and by extant fragments, it was he who first attempted to adapt the materials of his country's history to the dramatic form handed down by the Greeks. Thus, in the Romulus or Lupus, he treats of the youth of Romulus and Remus; and, in the play Clasticlium, of a contemporary his­torical event. From the number of titles of his comedies still preserved (over thirty), and from the verdict of antiquity, we may infer that his forte lay in comedy: ha

About | First | Index



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.