No less than thirteen sanctuaries with mystery cults are known in Arcadia (Table 6.1).1 Unfortunately, often only the existence of these cults is mentioned, without any information on their content. A more detailed knowledge of these cults can be obtained through the combination of archaeological evidence with the data from the literary and epigraphic texts. At Lykosoura, for example, the study of the buildings and chance ﬁnds from the Megaron, where the Mysteries were celebrated, allows the reconstruction of certain details of the ceremonial aspects of the Mysteries that are not mentioned in the literary sources, whereas the study of the drapery of the cult statue of Despoina provides further relevant information. This fortunate case is nevertheless unique, as for the remaining cults we are restricted to literary and epigraphic texts, which are silent in terms of the essential time of the “secret mysteries” (IG V 2, 265, line 22). Two honorary decrees from Mantineia, dated to 61/60 and 42/41 BC (IG V 2, 265, 266) mention, respectively,
the Mysteries of Kore and a megaron which probably housed the Mysteries of Demeter and Kore. In general, it is Pausanias who provides the most essential documentation: although he certainly was not present at each site on the day of initiation, he mentions the Mysteries which still existed in the second century of our era. Pausanias obeys a constant principle: the observation of the secrecy of the Mysteries. On the other hand, as we shall see, the obligation of silence does not seem to concern the entire logos on which the ceremony is founded, nor the whole of the rites of which it consists. As a result, despite our inability to shed light on the central rites of the Mysteries, we can restore their immediate context.