Of all the nations of antiquity the Persians were the most simple and direct in the worship of the creator. They were the puritans of the heathen world, and not only rejected all images of god or his agents, but also temples and altars, according to Herodotus, 1 whose authority I prefer to any other, because he had an opportunity of conversing with them before they had adopted any foreign superstitions. 2 As they worshipped the ætherial fire without any medium of personification or allegory, they thought it unworthy of the dignity of the god to be represented by any definite form, or circumscribed to any particular place. The universe was his temple, and the all-pervading element of fire his only symbol. The Greeks appear originally to have held similar opinions; for they were long without statues; 3 and Pausanias speaks of a temple at Sicyon, built by Adrastus, 4 who lived an age before the Trojan war; which consisted of columns only, without wall or roof, like the Celtic temples of our Northern ancestors, or the Pyrætheia 4 of the Persians, which were circles of stones, in the centre of which was kindled the sacren fire, 1 the symbol of the god. Homer frequently speaks of places of worship consisting of an area and altar only (τεμενοε Βωμος τε), which were probably inclosures like these of the Persians, with an altar in the centre. The temples dedicated to the creator Bacchus, which the Greek architects called hypaethral, seem to have been anciently of the same kind; whence probably came the title περικιονιον (surrounded with columns) attributed to that god in the Orphic litanies. 2 The remains of one of these are still extant at Puzzuoli near Naples, which the inhabitants call the Temple of Serapis: but the ornaments of grapes, vases, &c. found among the ruins, prove it to have been of Bacchus. Serapis was indeed the same deity worshipped under another form, being equally a personification of the sun. 3 The architecture is of the Roman times; but the ground plan is probably that of a very ancient one, which this was made to replace; for it exactly resembles that of a Celtic temple in Zeeland, published in Stukeley’s itinerary.
— Richard Payne Knight: Discourse on the Worship of Priapus