Hierophant or MystagögUs

Hierophant or Mystagögus (Gr. ἱεροφάντης, μυσταγωηός).

I. The high-priest of Demeter who conducted the celebration of the Eleusinian Mysteries and initiated the candidates, being always one of the Eumolpidae, and a citizen of Attica. The office was for life, and regarded of high religious importance, and the hierophant was required to be of mature age to be without physical defects, to possess a fine, sonorous voice suited to the character and dignity of the office, and was forbidden to marry, though that prohibition may have applied only to contracting marriage after his installation. He was distinguished by a peculiar cut of his hair, by the strophion, a sort of diadem, and by a long purple robe. In the Mysteries he represented the Demiurge or World-creator, was the only authorized custodian and expositor of the unwritten laws (hence also styled προφήτης), and the utterance of his name in the presence of the uninitiated was forbidden.

II. The name is also given in the Greek Church to the prior of a monastery. — Chambers, s.v.; Pierer, 8, 370; Smith, Dict. of Grk. and Romans Antiq. s.v. Eumolpidue; Brande. Dict. 2, 125. SEE HIEROMNEMON. (J.W. M.)

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