Standing before some of the exhibits, the viewer perceives enigmatic voices and sounds.
Passages in Latin and Greek emerge from an irregular acoustic fabric. There is a suggestion here, a feeling that something that is lost forever has availed itself of an enigmatic form so as to fleetingly dispel the shadow of time. It is a glimpse taken from the present into a world that remains in any case impenetrable: a secret back when it was alive, and much more of a secret now, after centuries of silence. The passages from which the fragments have been lifted are by authors then at the forefront of sacred rites; some of them are actually true initiatory ceremonial formulas.
Here we find Callimachus’s “Hymn to Demeter” and Aristophanes’s The Frogs, Tertullian’s Adversus Valentinianos and Plato’s Phaedo. Apuleius’s Metamorphoses discusses an initiation that leads to within a breath of that most closely guarded of secrets: “I reached the very gates of death and, treading Proserpine’s threshold, yet passed through all the elements and returned. I have seen the sun at midnight shining brightly. I have entered the presence of the gods below and the presence of the gods above, and I have paid due reverence before them.” Other excerpts are taken from Plutarch’s De Iside et Osiride, Catullus’s poem on Cybele’s Phrygian temple, Porphyry’s “On the Cave of the Nymphs”, etc.