Cicero: The Nature of the Gods
1st century BC, Latin, Rome.
The Eleusinian Mysteries acquaint us with the nature of the material universe rather that that of the gods.
From Book 1 of The Nature of the Gods, by the Roman statesman Cicero, who is known to have been an initiate in the mysteries. Speaking of those who think that the gods are just deified ancestors, he says:
Now when Euhemerus proves the death and burial of the gods, does he seem to have established religion, or to have absolutely and wholly done away with it? I will not refer to Eleusis, that august and holy city – 'where the world’s farthest nations are initiated' – nor will I stop to consider Samothrace, or those rites which at Lemnos – 'are celebrated in secret with approach by night, close hid in leafy covert.' When these are explained and placed upon a basis of reason, it is rather the nature of the material universe than that of the gods with which we are made acquainted.