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Mystery Cults
(4,087 words)

In Greek, three different nouns referred to mystery cults, the specific term μυστήρια and the wider terms ὄργια/orgia and τελετή/teletē. The plural orgia (the singular is attested later and in a different meaning) is etymologically connected with the Indo-European root found in English “work.” In its origins euphemistic, already in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter the core-text on Eleusis from perhaps the second half of the 7th century BCE (Richardson, 1974), orgia is the specia…

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Graf, Fritz, “Mystery Cults”, in: Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online, General Editor David G. Hunter, Paul J.J. van Geest, Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte. Consulted online on 06 December 2023 <>
First published online: 2022

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