These are they who within their own soul, as though within a casket, bear the sacred writings about the gods clear of all superstition and pedantry; and they cloak them with secrecy, thus giving intimation, some dark and shadowy, some clear and bright, of their concepts about the gods, intimations of the same sort as are clearly evidenced in the wearing of the sacred garb. For this reason, too, the fact that the deceased votaries of Isis are decked with these garments is a sign that these sacred writings accompany them, and that they pass to the other world possessed of these and of naught else.
It is a fact, Clea, that having a beard and wearing a coarse cloak does not make philosophers, nor does dressing in linen and shaving the hair make votaries of Isis; but the true votary of Isis is he who, when he has legitimately received what is set forth in the ceremonies connected with these gods, uses reason in investigating and in studying the truth contained therein.
Plutarch: Isis and Osiris
Translated by Frank Cole Babbitt
Featured image: Detail of the original score of The Magic Flute (1791), II.1. Source: World Digital Library.
Opera: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: The Magic Flute. Sarastro’s aria performed by László Polgár, chorus and orchestra of Drottningholm Court Theatre conducted by Arnold Östman (1989).