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"spring and winter" and "Loves of the Gods and Metamorphoses"

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Laura Jane Wey

Biblical and classical myths: the mythological framework of western culture Author(s) Frye, Northrop ; Macpherson, Jay Imprint Toronto, Ont. : University of Toronto Press, 2004 Extent xiv, 471 p. Topic BL Subject(s) Mythology, Classical; Myth in the Bible Language English ISBN 9780802039279, 0802086950, 0802039278 Permalink http://books.scholarsportal.info/viewdoc.html?id=39168 Pages 313 to 333 Demeter, Triptolemus, Persephone II. Spring and Winter Demeter and Persephone ... that fair field Of Enna,where Proserpin gatheringflowers, Herself a fairer flower, by gloomy Dis Was gathered,which cost Ceres all thatpain Toseek her throughtheworld. Milton There was a time when the corn-mother Demeter,the sister and at the same time one of the wives of Zeus, poured out her blessings on the earth in the same abundance all the year round. That was before her griefs estranged her from the councils of the gods. Demeter bore a child to Zeus, the slender-ankled maiden Persephone, who grew up in surpassing beauty. When Zeus' brother Hades, the dark ruler of the underworld, asked for her in marriage, Zeus swore that he should have her, whatever her mother might say. The two brothers called in Earth to help them, and the three of them together Demeter and Persephone 297 One day Persephone went to play with the daughters ofOcean in the meadows of Enna in Sicily, away from her mother, and wandered here and there with her companions gathering the flowers ofall the seasons that were blooming there together. At the will of Zeus Earth sent up from her lap a new flower, a wonderful sight for mortal men or death- less gods, a bright narcissus with a hundred blooms growing from its single stalk. The sweetness of its perfume delighted the heavens and the earth and made the sea laugh forjoy.Persephone stood amazed at the flower's beauty; then as she stretched out her hand to pick it, suddenly the earth gaped, a wide chasm opened at her feet, and outof it sprang Hades in his golden chariot, drawn by deathless coal-black horses. Seizing her before she could find the power to move, he set her in his chariot and drove the horses forward. As long as Persephone could still seethe earth and the broad sky and the seawith its crowding fish, shewas calmand quiet. Butwhen the tall gates ofHades' realm camein sight and earth seemed to be lost behind her, she gave a shrill cry,so that the heights of the mountains and the depths of the sea rang with her immortal voice. Her father Zeus heard her, sitting in his temple receiving the offerings of men, and rejoiced that his design had been carried out. Her mother Demeter heard her, and the cry filled her heart with grief and fear. Sherent her headdress apart with her hands, and casting overher shoulders a dark bluecloak, she hastened like a wild bird in search of her child, over the firm ground and the unstable sea. Butthere was no one who was willing to tell her the truth, even among those who knew it. For nine days and nights majestic Demeter searched over the earth, with flaming torches in her hands, so grieved that she would neither partake of the food of the gods nor refresh her body with water. On the tenth day the dark goddess Hecate approached her, with a torch in her hand, saying: "Lady Demeter, who brings on the season and bestows good gifts, who ofheavenly gods ormortal men has stolen away Persephone and pierced your heart with sorrow? ForIheard her voice as she cried out, but I did not see the event." Together Hecate and Demeter approached the sun-god Helios, who watches the doings ofboth gods and men. Standing before his horses, Demeter asked him whether he had seen the theft of her child. Helios replied to her: "Queen Demeter, daughter of Rhea, I pity you in your grief for your slim-ankled daughter. One alone ofallthe deathless gods is to blame, and that is cloud-gathering Zeus, who gave her to his brother to wife; and Hades it was who seized her, and took her in his 298 FourAges:The ClassicalMyths chariot despite her loud cries down to his kingdom ofmist and gloom. But, goddess, cease your lamenting: the divine ruler of a third partof the world is not an unfitting husband for your child." So saying, he hastened on with his horses, urging them forward to make up for the time he had lost. At Helios' words the grief in Demeter's heart became more terrible and savage, and she was so angry with Zeus that she forsook the assemblies of the gods and the high places of Olympus, wandering unknown among the cities and fields of men; and during the whole time ofher mourning, the seed remained hidden in the ground and the new leaves and sprouts remained closed in the plants, so that no new crop came in response to men's labo3rs. At last Demeter came to Eleusis, ruled overby King Celeus, and she sat down in her distress by a well outside the town, looking like an old and weary woman. There the four daughters of Celeus met her when they came out to draw water. Not recognizing the goddess, they asked her who she was and why she did not come into the town in search of hospitality. Then Demeter, to explain why she had come alone to a strange city, told them that she had been carried awayby pirates from her native Crete and had only now escaped. "But take pity on me, maidens, and tell me to what house I may go to find work suitable to my age. Icannurse anewborn child, and keephouse, and supervise the women in their work." The eldest of the daughters of Celeus replied: "None of the women who run the households ofour town would send you awayifyoucame to them, but rather they would welcome you; for there is something gracious in your appearance. Butif you will, stay here, and we will go home and tell our mother,the lady Metaneira,allyourstory, sothatyou may cometo our house rather than any other. Shenurses in the hall her infant son, late-born, long prayed for, and welcome;and ifyou brought him up to the age of young manhood, our mother would hasten to reward you in gratitude." Thegoddess agreed, and the maidens hurried homewith their pitch- ers. When they found their mother and told her what had passed, she told them to bring the stranger back with them with all the speed they could. Catchingup the folds oftheir garments, theyhastened backto the goddess as she waited by the roadside, and led her back to their father's house. They hastened ahead like young deer in the springtime, while Demeter in the grief of her heart walked behind, with her head veiled, draped in the darkblue cloak that floated around her slender feet.
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