"The king's son, Ferdinand,Ferdinand says that Ariel's sweet air has allayed the fury of the waters and his own passion. This is essentially the same description we have from Virgil of Aeneas' passing from Purgatory into Elysium, where "happy spirits dance and sing upon the yellow sands."
With hair up-starting (then like reeds, not hair),
Was the first man that leapt; cried, 'Hell is empty,
And all the devils are here.'"
"Sea-water shalt thou drink; thy food shalt beIt's interesting that only Ferdinand undergoes these deprivations. And then begin his Herculean labors.
The fresh-brook mussels, withered roots, and husks
Wherein the acorn cradled."
"Enter Ferdinand, bearing a log. . . .As an initiate, Ferdinand has to accept the discipline of a harsh diet and arduous labors. And these trials are expressly said to be for the purpose of his proving worthy of Miranda.
- I must remove
Some thousands of these logs, and pile them up,
Upon a sore injunction."
Having been initiated into the Higher Consciousness, the aspirant is now led into the Holy of Holies.
- "These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind.
- "We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep."
"If you be pleased, retire into my Cell."No one else is allowed into Prospero's Cell throughout the entire action of the play until the end when Ferdinand has completed his Higher Initiation and the Court Party has concluded their initiation into the Lesser Mysteries.
|| Other Ancient and|
Classical Mystery Rites
The Court Party travels from Tunis to Naples, experiencing shipwreck and narrowly escape drowning
Aeneas travels from Carthage (Tunis) to Cumae (only several miles from Naples) and narrowly escapes drowning
Gonzalo, after landing upon the Island, calls attention no less than four times to the unblemished condition of his clothes. The garments are said to be "fresher than before" and to be "rather new-dyed than stained with salt water."|
Ariel sings of the King to Ferdinand his son:
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange
Like Baptism in the Christian Church and Katharsis in the Ancient Mysteries, immersion in water is represented as a physical occurrence, but its significance is entirely spiritual. In the first stage of initiation--immersion in water--the aspirant is purged of the grosser carnal impulses which belong to the "sustaining garment" of the physical body.|
The King has undergone some kind of bettering transformation.
Gonzalo: Will you laugh me asleep, for I am very heavy?|
Antonio: Go sleep, and hear us.
[All sleep but Alonso, Sebastian, and Antonio.
Alonso: What, all so soon asleep?
. . .
Alonso: Thank you, wondrous heavy.
Sebastian: What a strange drowsiness oppresses them!
Antonio: It is the quality o' the climate.
They fell together all, as by consent;
They dropped, as by a thunder-stroke.
Dante, in his account of a visit to the abodes of the dead, says that when he had passed over the water with Charon the ferryman, "Down-dropped, as one with sudden slumber seized."|
Dante says that what caused him to sleep was the conquering of his senses by a loud shaking of the earth and a flash of lightning.
When Aeneas crosses the infernal river, he is told by Charon the ferryman that he has come to the realm of sleep: "This is the place of Ghosts, of sleep, and drowsy Night."
The wanderings of the Court Party are outwardly represented to be a search for the King's son Ferdinand. |
Gonzalo: By'r lakin, I can go no further, sir;
My old bones ache: here's a maze trod, indeed,
Through forth-rights and meanders! By your patience,
I needs must rest me.
Alonso: Old lord, I cannot blame thee,
Who am myself attach'd with weariness
To the dulling of my spirits: sit down and rest.
Even here will I put off my hope, and keep it
No longer for my flatterer: he is drown'd
Whom thus we stray to find.
Stobaeus: "The first state is nothing but errors and uncertainties, laborious wanderings . . ." |
Plutarch likewise refers to "errors and wanderings" in the rites of the Mysteries.
The wanderings of Initiation are always a search for that which is lost, and what is sought is symbolized as the Lost Estate of Man or the inspired Word which he lost in the Fall. In the Eleusinian Mysteries, the wanderings of the candidates with torches around the shores and plains of Eleusis represented the search for the lost daughter, Persephone. In the Isiac Mysteries the neophyte was said to be seeking for the lost Osiris.
Solemn and strange music; and Prospero above, invisible. |
Enter several Strange Shapes bringing in a banquet: they dance about it with gentle acts of salutation; and, inviting the King, Etc, to eat, they depart.
Alonso: What harmony is this? my good friends, hark!
Gonsalo: Marvellous sweet music!
Alonso: Give us kind keepers, heavens! What were these?
Sebastian: A living drollery.
Gonsalo: If in Naples
I should report this now, would they believe me?
If I should say I saw such islanders
(For, certes, these are people of the island)
Who, though they are of monstrous shape, yet, note,
Their manners are more gentle-kind than of
Our human generation you shall find
Many, nay, almost any.
Who would believe that there were mountaineers
Dew-lapped like bulls, whose throats had hanging at them
Wallets of flesh? Or that there were such men
Whose heads stood in their breasts? Which now we find
Milton's Paradise Regained: Christ is depicted as being tempted in the wilderness by means of a banquet set before him by the Devil, and this banquet is then said to disappear:|
"With sound of harpies' wings and talons heard."
At this stage in the Lesser Initiation, the traditional ordeal occurs: the time of temptation. Wearied by 'wanderings' and rendered despondent by failure, the seeker is tempted to abandon his quest. He is assailed by desires, by unclean thoughts, by alluring memories of lower things. It is this phase of inner experience which is represented in the Ancient Tradition by the encounter with the Devil, with the Dragon, with Apollyon, with the Monsters and the Sirens, and which is similarly represented in the Eleusinian rites by the encounter with 'Monstrous Apparitions.'
Of the many different kinds of traditional monsters, which represent unclean thoughts and impulses, it is to the mythical Sirens that the Strange Shapes in the Play correspond most nearly in their general nature. Like the Sirens, they make 'gentle acts of salutation' to the accompaniment of 'marvellous sweet music'. They are monstrous and unnatural in form; yet they seem at the first encounter to be pleasing and attractive in their manners, a curious combination of qualities peculiar to the mythical Sirens.
Virgil, speaking of the strange creatures encountered by Aeneas in the purgatorial region, expressly calls them monsters of mixed species (like the men with throats of bulls who appear to the Court Party.
Chaldean Monsters included creatures of a similar sort of monstrosity, namely, 'men with double faces' and 'bulls with human heads'. They were agents of temptation employed by Thalath, whose rule was through 'lusts by persuasion' and they were therefore essentially the same as the mythical Sirens.
Ariel accuses Alonso, Sebastian and Antonio of being 'three men of sin":|
They [the powers] . . . do pronounce by me
Lingering perdition, worse than any death
Can be at once, shall step by step attend
You and your ways; whose wraths to guard you from
Which hre, in this most desolate isle, else falls
Upon your heads, is nothing but heart's sorrow
And a clear life ensuing.
Ariel reporting to Prospero on the state of mind of the King and his company, but especially of the guilty three:
His brother, and yours, abide all three distracted,
And the remainder mourning over them,
Brimful of sorrow and dismay.
In the Ancient Mysteries, the neophyte wanders in confusion and is at last confronted with his own shortcomings. If the neophyte gains self-knowledge at this point, and experiences remorse, this awareness of guilt is
the first phase of repentance and expiation. He is then allowed to proceed to the Temple.|
Themistius' account of the ritual initiation of the pagan Mysteries:
"At the moment of approaching the innermost sanctuary, the man was filled with a shuddering and a swimming in the head, and was held by dismay and a complete perplexity, and was unable to take a step, or to lay hold of any beginning leading inward (i.e. to make any start towards entering); and when the hierophant, having thrown open the entrance to the temple. . ."
The completion of the Lesser Initiation; passing from the state of remorse, Purgatory, to the state of amendment and self-mastery, Elysium
Being sent to fetch them, Ariel presently returns with the
Court Party: |
Re-enter Ariel: after him, Alonso, with a frantic gesture,
Attended by Gonzalo; Sebastian and Antonio, in like manner,
Attended by Adrian and Francisco. They all enter the circle
Which Prospero has made, and there stand charmed.
Prospero, who has just called forth some "heavenly music," speaks as follows:
A solemn air, and the best comforter
To an unsettled fancy, cure thy brains,
Now useless boiled within thy skull! There stand,
For you are spell-stopped.
This Scene is laid "before the Cell of Prospero" and shortly after the men have been spell-stopped, Prospero throws open the door of the Cell.
And as the morning steals upon the night,
Melting the darkness, so their rising senses
Begin to chase the ignorant fumes that mantle
Their clearer reason.
The opening of the entrance to the temple terminated the wanderings on the shore at Eleusias in search of the Lost Child--so in The Tempest the opening of the entrance of the cell and "discovering Ferdinand" terminates the wanderings of the Court Party in search of the lost son. |
In the Eleusinian Mystery, the entry of the neophyte into the brilliantly lighted temple from the gloom of the seashore, and from the darkness of the vestibule where the Monstrous Shapes were encountered, expressed psychological emergence out of darkness into light--the goal of all mystical Initiation--ILLUMINATION.
Themistius: When the doors of the temple were thrown open "the mist and thick cloud were dispersed, and the mind (of the initiate) emerged from the depth, full of brightness and light in place of the previous darkness."
Do not infest your mind with beating on
The strangeness of this business; at picked leisure,
Which shall be shortly, single I'll resolve you
(Which to you shall seem probably) of every
These happened accidents; till when, be cheerful,
And think of each thing well.
The extraordinary experiences of the Court Party must be resolved by a coherent interpretation by Prospero.
The pagan Mysteries culminated in a spoken discourse, called Paradosis ("oral transmission"). Paradosis must have been an explanatory communication of some sort. One of the chief objects of the Eleusian ritual was to instruct the candidate in that most important subject, the knowledge of himself. At some time the inner meaning of the initiation ceremony was expounded to him, for without such exposition it would defeat its own purpose. If Paradosis was "the transmission of the mystery" in the sense that it was an oral account of the neophyte's experiences and an esoteric interpretation of the particular myth on which the cultus was based, it must have dealt with the subject from a psychological angle. To explain, among other things, that the ritual search for the lost Persephone was figurative of the quest for Truth.
"Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in its head"
"The quality of mercy is not strained,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes"