The hallowed rites of the Goddess Persephone at Eleusis, Greece held sway for nearly two thousand years (from at least 1500 BCE until the end of fourth century CE), beginning as a small localized religion and growing, until at its height, as many as three thousand followers could be initiated at one time. At about 600 BCE, Eleusis was adopted as the state religion of nearby Athens, a period just prior to the great Athenian cultural flowering. Eleusis became the centerpiece of the ancient world and the foremost sect of the mystery religions that dominated the Mediterranean sphere during classical antiquity.
And yet the goings-on inside the temple are cloaked in mystery, because the penalty for revealing the rites was death, a decree which is said to have come from the goddess herself. The secrecy was generally kept, which leaves a paucity of direct testimonials about these important rituals.