Thousands upon thousands of people participated in the Mysteries every year. And like any large scale events, there were people in charge of the proceedings. One group of people who took up that responsibility were the many priests and priestesses of the Mysteries. Today, I would like to take a look at the priests and priestess of which there was only one at a time at the mysteries--men and women who often traced their lines back far into the Eleusian mythology.

The Hierophant
The most important priest of the Eleusinian Mysteries was the Hierophant (Ἱεροφάντης). The Hierophant was nominated for life from the Eleusinian descendants of Eumolpos. Perhaps because of this first criterium, he was generally an elderly man. Once chosen, he became bound to a life of strict chastity. There was only one Hierophant at a time and his name was never mentioned in Hellenic times. He simply became the Hierophant. The title 'Hierophant' was constructed from the combination of ta hiera ('the holy') and phainein ('to show'). As such, his principal duty was, as his name indicates, to show and explain the sacred symbols and figures--perhaps in a kind of chant or recitative, as he was required to have a good voice.

The Dadoukhoi
I have written about the Dadoukhoi before. The Daduchos (δᾳδοῦχος), or torch-bearer, was below the Hierophant in terms of power and of equal rank to the Keryx below. Originally, he was descended from the Eleusinian Triptolemos but about 380 BC. The lineage died out and the Lykomidai (Λυκομίδαι) took over. The Lykomidai celebrated a local worship of Demeter at Phlyae full of Orphic doctrines and ceremonies. As with the Hierophant, there was only one. His main duty was to hold the torch at the sacrifices but he also recited portions of the ritual and took part in certain purification rituals.

The Keryx
The Keryx (Κῆρυξ) or Hierokeryx (Ἱεροκῆρυξ) traced their origin back to Keryx, a younger son of Eumolpos; but they themselves considered their ancestors to be Hermes and one of the daughters of Kekrops—Aglauros according to Pausanias, Pandrosos according to Pollux. His duties were chiefly to proclaim silence at the sacrifices. No family laid especial claim to this priesthood.

The Hierophantis
There was originally only one Hierophantis (Ἱερόφαντις). She belonged to Demeter and her name was sacred. In Roman times, there were first two, then even more. They lived a life of perfect chastity during their tenure of office, though they might have been married previously. It was lost to what family the original Hierophantis of Demeter belonged. The duties of the Hierophantis corresponded to those of the Hierophant.