Eta Sigma Phi
Initiation Ritual

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Opening Ceremony
When all is ready, the Prytanis shall give the signal for silence and order, and the Pyloros shall close the door.
PRYTANIS: Adelphos Pyloros, you will see that no one enters this room save members and accepted candidates for initiation into Eta Sigma Phi.
PYLOROS: I shall admit only these.
PRYTANIS: Adelphos Hyparchos, what does Sigma signify to us?
HYPARCHOS: Sigma is the society under which we meet, providing us with the
means of cooperation throughout our body to achieve our aims.
PRYTANIS: Adelphos Grammateus, what does Phi signify in our ritual?
GRAMMATEUS: Phi binds us together in the study and appreciation of the ancient classics, opening out before us a vista of that glorious age of intellectual achievement.
PRYTANIS: This organization, meeting under the name of ή συνουσια φιλελλήνων, purposes to foster the study of the ancient classics, to enhance the appreciation of Greek and Roman culture, and to promote good will and friendship among classical students.
Members of Eta Sigma Phi, what is our motto?
MEMBERS: φιλοσοφουμεν καί φιλοκοφουμεν.
During the opening ceremony the Prytanis, Hyparchos, and Grammateus sit at a table at one end of the room.
The ritual requires two rooms, preferably connected. The room in which the initiation takes place is called the naos; the anteroom in which the candidates are at first assembled is called the pronaos. In the naos the arrangement is as follows: The table with candelabra on each side is at the end of the room far from the door. The candles should be royal purple, one of the colors of the society. The olive branch and saffron-colored peplos, which is folded in a narrow band, lie upon the mensa. Until the entrance of the Kybernetes the mensa remains covered and serves as a lectern for the presiding officer. The members of the chapter who are not officiating are seated in parallel rows in front of the table and facing toward the center of the room. A passageway is left around the room behind the chairs. The Prytanis stands or sits behind the mensa. The Grammateus is seated at one side.
The candidates will be assembled in the pronaos. (The Constitution and By-Laws should be made available to the candidates at this time.)
When all is in readiness and the chapter has opened its meeting according to the form prescribed, the Chrysophylax will retire to the pronaos and, having first collected whatever fees are required by the Constitution and By-Laws, will address the candidates as follows:
CHRYSOPHYLAX: You have signified your desire to become a member (members) of Eta Sigma Phi and have been recommended for initiation into that society. In this ceremony which you are about to pass through, you will be required to pledge your word of honor that you will abide by and support the Constitution of the National Society of Eta Sigma Phi and the By-Laws of the local chapter, and that with loyalty you will promote its purposes and ideals. But I assure you that nothing dishonorable or unlawful will be required. Do you, one and all, wish to proceed?
CANDIDATES (seperatly): I do.
CHRYSOPHYLAX: I shall now conduct you into the naos.
Chrysophylax signifies by one knock to Pyloros that the candidates are ready.
Pyloros responds to the message with two knocks. Chrysophylax leads the candidates to a position facing the mensa but some distance from it.
PRYTANIS: Adelphos Chrysophylax, whom have you there?
CHRYSOPHYLAX: This is (These are) … (names of candidates). He (she, they) has (have) been judged worthy to assume the responsibilities of our society and has (have) been duly selected to be admitted to the rites of the order. He (she, they) has (have) met all the requirements and now voluntarily presents (present) himself (herself, themselves) for initiation.
PRYTANIS, addressing the candidates by name: Chrysophylax advances the candidates to a position about five feet in front of the mensa. In presenting yourself (yourselves) for initiation into our society you have taken a step which I trust will be mutually helpful to you and to us. The purposes of Eta Sigma Phi are to encourage classical scholarship, to enhance the appreciation of Greek and Roman culture which is our priceless heritage, and to promote good will and friendship among classical students. Your excellent record for scholarship has pointed you out as a person (persons) both worthy and able to cooperate with us in promoting the ideals of the society, and as classical students devoted to similar interests, we desire your good will and friendship.
We expect you to continue to maintain a high quality of scholarship, so that as champion (champions) of the classics you may never bring reproach upon them.
Before we can proceed further I must require of you an affirmative answer to the following:
Do you promise–
That you will abide by and support the Constitution of the National Society of Eta Sigma Phi and the By-Laws of … Chapter?
That you will uphold the ideals of the society and strive by every honorable means to promote the cause to which it is dedicated?
That you will contribute your fair share of time and effort to carry forward the work of the chapter?
That you will try at all times to maintain and promote harmony, good will, and friendship within the Chapter?
Do you unreservedly assent to these propositions?
CANDIDATES, seperatly: I do.
PRYTANIS: In accordance with the above and in token thereof you will step to
the desk of the Grammateus and sign the By-Laws.
After signing the By-Laws, the neophytes are seated by the Chrysophylax in a place reserved for them.
PRYTANIS: Having thus fulfilled the requirements for membership and having proved yourself (yourselves) worthy of receiving the benefits derived from the fellowship in this society, you are now ready for further instruction.
The official name of the national society to which you have just sworn your oath of loyalty is ή συνουσια φιλελλήνων, Society of Those Who Love the Greek Tradition. The letters which signify this name are Eta Sigma Phi, and our emblem is a pin consisting of these letters. If pins are used, they are presented at this time.
Eta is the Greek word for “the.”
Sigma is the initial of συνουσια, the society under which we meet, providing us with the means of cooperation throughout our body to achieve our aims.
Phi, as the initial of φιλελλήνων, binds us together in the study and appreciation of the ancient classics, opening out before us that glorious age of intellectual achievement.
This organization, meeting under the name of ή συνουσια φιλελλήνων, purposes to foster the study of the ancient classics, to enhance the appreciation of Greek and Roman culture, and to promote good will and friendship among classical students.
Our motto is φιλοσοφουμεν καί φιλοκοφουμεν, We are lovers of wisdom and beauty.
Our colors are gold and royal purple.
Access to all official meetings is gained by one knock, which the Pyloros answers after an interval with two knocks before opening the door.
Eta Sigma Phi has a brief history, which you as a member (members) shouldvknow and which the Grammateus will read to you.
GRAMMATEUS: In the autumn of 1914 a group of students in the Department of Greek at the University of Chicago organized as an undergraduate classical club under the name of Phi Sigma. This organization continued for ten years with a membership consisting of students of Latin and Greek. By a union of this society with a society already existing at Northwestern University , in 1924 the organization became national. The Chicago society became the Alpha Chapter and the Northwestern society became the Beta Chapter. With the nationalization the name became Eta Sigma Phi.
PRYTANIS: Our hope is that Eta Sigma Phi will promote a greater appreciation of classical culture throughout our country. In you as a member (members) of … Chapter the national society reposes full confidence, with the expectation that through faithful effort and loyalty you will contribute to the realization of this hope.
Second Section
PRYTANIS: Adelphos Chrysophylax, bring our new members before me for further instruction. (When the neophytes have been brought before the mensa, the Prytanis then addresses them.) And now, that you may have a better understanding of the high purposes which our society holds, you shall witness the symbols of our order and hear the words of some of the sages of ancient times. I shall now place you in the hands of a faithful guide who will reveal to you the immediate symbols of our order and later conduct you to those who will lay before you the wisdom of some of the great teachers of the past.
The Prytanis and Kybernetes change places. The Kybernetes uncovers the mensa. The neophytes remain as they were.
KYBERNETES: Before the dawn of history, when Zeus, father of gods and mortals, ruled in ancient Greece , the city of Athens was founded upon a rocky citadel, the Acropolis. The people chose as their patron deity Athene, warrior daughter of Zeus, goddess of all wisdom, knowledge, and art. Under her tutelage Athens waxed great and powerful and became supreme in literature, philosophy, and all the arts. Her learning filled both Greece and Rome , and from Rome and Greece it pervades all civilization. So in Eta Sigma Phi Athene symbolizes the wisdom and power gained through the study of the classics.
On the mensa before which you now stand are symbols of Athene, protecting deity of Athens . You should know the full significance of the mensa and these lighted candles. This mensa symbolizes the shrine of classical culture recognized by everyone who is worthy of the name of Eta Sigma Phi. The candles symbolize the continuing light of classical learning. Just as this mensa stands here in the light of these candles, kindled by one generation after another, so shall Eta Sigma Phi abide, lighted by the radiance of the learning which Athene spread abroad throughout the world, to endure for all time. It is the duty and privilege of each one of you to uphold the light of classical culture and learning through all the walks of life.
The peplos of saffron color which the people of Athens regularly bore to Athene lies upon the mensa as the symbol of our devotion to our society. The branch is that of the olive tree which Athene created for human use. As the olive grew abundantly in the land of the Athenians, so Athens developed the great tree of classical culture, whose branches reach out into all the world. Just as this is a branch of the olive, so are we a branch of the greater tree.
Now that you may more thoroughly understand the inspiration of Athene you shall go in search of further wisdom. Follow me.
Suitable passages from other authors may be added to or substituted for the following.
The Kybernetes leads the neophytes away from the mensa and to the place where Homer is seated at a table with a lighted candle. The Kybernetes should arrange the neophytes in front of the table before Homer speaks. Music is desirable during this and the following progressions.
KYBERNETES: Let us make inquiry of this stranger where we shall find the object of our quest. To Homer: These who follow me desire wisdom and beauty that they may follow the right way of life.
HOMER: I speak the words of Homer.
The Muses love the race of poets and to us they teach a sweet song. For they know all things, but we hear only a rumor and know not anything. Even as are the generations of leaves, such are those likewise of human beings; the wind scatters the leaves on the earth, and the forest buds and puts forth more again when the season of spring is at hand; so of the generations of humankind, one puts forth and another ceases. All things are ever the same. The past is for you a mirror of the future. Learn of us.
Learn for your youth lessons of caution from glorious Achilles, taught to be a speaker of words and a doer of deeds. Rule your high spirits, for it is not seemly to have a ruthless heart. There is no device to heal an injury once done.
View not the moment only, but in whatever you take a hand look before and after, that it may be for the best for all.
Learn for your later years lessons of fortitude from versatile Odysseus, who, suffering much while seeing the cities and learning the minds of many people, was disciplined to say this to his great spirit in every crisis, “Endure, my heart.”
KYBERNETES: Follow me, that we may make further inquiry. The Kybernetes leads the neophytes away from Homer and to Plato. To you, stranger, I bring these who journey in search of wisdom and of beauty. Can you guide them in their quest?
PLATO: I speak the words of Plato.
The unexamined life is not worth living. It is not for you to follow the opinion of the many and fear it rather than that of the one whosoever has exact knowledge, whom you must reverence and fear rather than all others combined.
I have believed in the unity of the virtues and hoped that they, arising from true knowledge and right opinion, could be taught. I have set forth the sole reality of those ideas, looking away to which as patterns and contemplating them as culminating in the idea of the good, we may most nobly order our lives.
I have described an ideal state in which all physical and moral arrangements conduce to this.
You may ask, “Where is that State?” Why, in heaven perhaps there is a pattern of it laid up for the one wishing to see it, and seeing, to emulate it. But it makes no difference whether it exists anywhere or does not. For the affairs of that city alone should you carry on and those of no other.
And for the one who believes it exists, ’tis a fair adventure. Be of good cheer about your soul, if, letting go other pleasures, those of the body and its adornment, as being alien and rather tending to the worse, you have been serious about those having to do with learning, and having adorned your soul with no alien, but its own, adornment—temperance and justice and courage and freedom and truth—you so await the journey to the other land as ready to go when the appointed day calls you.
KYBERNETES: Follow me, that we may make further inquiry. The Kybernetes leads the neophytes away from Plato and to Vergil. Let us hear the words of this stranger. To Vergil: These who follow me desire to find wisdom and beauty.
VERGIL: I speak the words of Vergil.
Before all other things, may the sweet Muses, whose sacred emblems I bear, and for whom I have great love, receive me and show me the paths of heaven and the stars. Blessed is the person who has been able to learn the causes of things, and who has hurled under foot all fear, and fate that cannot be opposed.
Fortunate are they who know the humility of God. Power granted by the people cannot turn them from the straight path, nor the purple of kings, nor civil strife.
They do not carry the political life of the Forum to the extremes of madness, nor sail the seas only to attack foreign lands; they do not ruin cities for their wealth or live as misers gloating over buried gold. They are not too easily impressed by the glib speaker, nor do they love to hear praise of themselves from others.
Though they may not live in a mansion, they have the wealth of simple pleasures: youth strengthened by honest effort, worship of God, reverence for age. Among such people as these Justice has set her footprints.
You, like Aeneas, grasp the Golden Bough that leads to the Underworld, a place where truths are revealed. Heed the warning of the Sibyl, for the descent to Avernus is easy, but the return is difficult. Be resolved that, when you have gained the knowledge that you seek, you will return, not through the ivory gate of false dreams, but through the gate of horn into reality, where your newfound knowledge may help to make the lives of all people better.
KYBERNETES: Follow me.
The Kybernetes leads the neophytes back to the mensa and the Prytanis, who again stands or sits behind the mensa.
I have taken these candidates far in the search for wisdom and beauty.
PRYTANIS: Your search has been long and it has led you to the wisdom of some of the greatest sages of ancient times. Ever give heed to their words and ever pursue what is good and what is true and above all else seek out wisdom and beauty. Be ever mindful of these sources of inspiration. Accept the treasure which is placed within your grasp and carry on this heritage.
And now since you have satisfied the requirements, on behalf of the national society, I receive you as active members of Eta Sigma Phi.
ALL MEMBERS TOGETHER: Let the spirit of earnest endeavor, good will, and friendship pervade the body of Eta Sigma Phi and bind us all together.
All closed meetings should end with the following, said by all members in unison:
ALL MEMBERS: Let the spirit of earnest endeavor, good will, and friendship pervade the body of Eta Sigma Phi and bind us all together.