Moreover, under piaculum are confused purification, propitiations and expiations; Smith's contention that purifications, whose magical character he recognizes but interprets as late, are not sacrificial, is far from conclusive.
In fact, the Persian religion throughout all its multitude of purifications, observances and expiations was a constant warfare against impurity, death and the devil.
They are to all appearance the work of a school of priests, who, after the destruction of the Temple in 586 B.C., began to write down and codify the ceremonial regulations of the pre-exilic times, combining them with an historical narrative extending from the Creation to the establishment of Israel in Canaan; and who completed their work during the century following the restoration in 537 B.C. The chief object of these sections is to describe in detail the leading institutions of the theocracy (Tabernacle, sacrifices, purifications, &c.), and to refer them to their traditional origin in the Mosaic age.
As to the manual rites of the daily cult, all that can here be said is that incense, purifications and anointings with various Oils played a large part; the sacrifices consisted chiefly of slaughtered oxen and geese; burnt offerings were a very late innovation.
A collection of oracles, a theogony, an epic poem on the Argonautic expedition, prose works on purifications and sacrifices, and a cosmogony, were attributed to him.
Following the fashion of the pagan mysteries in which men were only permitted to gaze upon the sacred objects after minute lustrations and scrupulous purifications, Christian teachers came to represent the Creed, Lord's Prayer and Lord's Supper as mysteries to be guarded in silence and never divulged either to the unbaptized or to the pagans.
Only so far as we can get away from the modern view that a person's name is a trifling accident, and breathe the atmosphere which broods over ancient religions, can we understand the use of the name in baptisms, exorcisms, prayers, purifications and consecrations.
It is only the lowest form of virtue - the " civic " virtue of Plato's Republic - that is employed in regulating those animal impulses whose presence in the soul is due to its mixture with the body; higher or philosophic wisdom, temperance, courage and justice are essentially purifications from this contagion; until finally the highest mode of goodness is reached, in which the soul has no community with the body, and is entirely turned towards reason.
In Judaism, as in other, especially Oriental, religions, the natural dislike of material defilement has been elevated into a religious sentiment, and made to support a complicated system of quasi-sanitary abstinences and ceremonial purifications; then, as the ethical element predominated in the Jewish religion, a moral symbolism was felt to reside in the ceremonial code, and thus aversion to impurity came to be a common form of the ethico-religious sentiment.
It was sacred to Apollo and the Muses, and its water was used in the religious purifications of the "Pythian Pilgrims."