It will thus be seen that Greek religion was largely social and local. The members of the family, the clan, the tribe, and the state were bound together by worship in which the individual shared by virtue of his membership in the social body. These conditions gave solidarity to society and made religion the common and permanent concern of all citizens; yet this common worship tended to check all tendencies to personal religion. But from the eighth century B. C. on, many influences operated to bring the individual to self-consciousness. Men began to be dissatisfied with the sacred tradition of the state and to seek to establish such personal relations with the gods as should give them as individuals religious satisfaction. This desire found outlet from the sixth century B. C. in the Orphic Sect, whose members tried to secure satisfaction for religious emotion and to gain the warrant of a happy life hereafter through the mystic worship of Dionysus and a fixed method of life. At about the same time the Mysteries began to be prominent. Of these the most important were at Eleusis in Attica, where a festival in honor of Demeter and certain associated gods had existed from a remote period. This festival was originally agricultural, intended to secure fertility and prosperity for all admitted to it; but before 600 B. C. it had been transformed into an eschatological mystery, by initiation into which the individual was assured of a blessed future life. The movements thus started in Greek religion tended to break down men’s real dependence on social worship, although the old cults continued to the end of paganism. Yet, in Athens especially, political events during the fifth century checked the individualistic movements in religion temporarily. From the conflict with Persia (490-479 B. C.) Athens emerged as the chief state in Greece; during the fifty years which followed she enjoyed an unprecedented prosperity and an imperial position which bound all citizens closely together, in spite of the strife of political parties. Now in the preceding century Peisistratus had done much to exalt and establish the Olympian type of religion at Athens; and it was natural that in the time of the power of Athens the ideal of the state religion should predominate. All citizens united in dedicating to the gods their material wealth and their noblest art.

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