- According to greek myth many things sprang from/are responsible because of a female
source, including the origin of the world but most importantly in this chapter:
- > Fertility (Human, plants, animals)
- The goddesses of fertility influenced much of the ancient world, and some of the mod-
ern as well
- Since there are so many goddesses with similar competencies scholars call them:
- > The Great Mother or
- > The Great Goddess
- Greek myth never acknowledged a single great goddess
- > always divided the power among a group
- The goddess who most closely relates as a mother-goddess is Demeter
- > Egypt and mesopotamia myth closely related
- > In all these stories there is a close association between the female, the underworld,
the death of the male and a focus on the cyclical process of life forms, which die only to
be born again.
Demeter and Persephonê
- Persephonê has no clear etymology
- > daughter of demeter and zeus
- > she is often called Korê which means ‘daughter’ or ‘girl’
- > She is a Parathions - an unmarried virgin.
- > Many regard her and her mother as two aspects go the same figure
- - > often called the Two Demeters or the Two Goddesses
- This myth tells of how Hades abducted Persephonê and carried her away to be his
- Demeter refused to allow the grain to grow until a compromise was reached by which
Persephonê a third of the year in Hades house and two thirds in the world above
- > Can’t actually be an Aetiological myth regarding harvest season
- > Extremely important at cult of Demeter at Euless
- Persephonê with Oceanids
- Zeus promissed Perephone to Hades Chapter 9
- Hades carries her off after she picked a glorious flower that was planted as a lure for
- Only Hecatê hears her lamenting
- Finally Demeter hears he daughters cry but no one will tell her what happens
- For nine days she morns
- On tenth day Hecatê tells her what happened but she does not know her daughters
- they go to see Helius, watchmen of gods and mortals
- He blames Zeus, for Zeus gave her to his brother Hades
- Also tells that Hades is the abductor
- Says ‘oh come on, Hades is an awesome son-in-law’
- Demeter disguises herself and no one recognizes her as she travels
- Then at the palace of ‘lofty-souled’ Celeus where she was seen by his daughters
- There were four:
- > Callithoê, oldest
- > Callidicê
- > Demo
- > Clllisidicê
- They asked what she was doing at the well of the maiden and not inside the houses of
- Demeter tells them a false story, not revealing herself
- Asks for directions to employment
- Callidicê gives her list of noble houses but reveals that she’d rather demeter work in
- Says that her mother has a new born son (Demophoön) and that Demeter could help
- Demeter gets job and is befriended by Iambê
- She fed the son food of the gods and put him in the fire each night
- > His mother Meatier oversaw the latter and freaked out
- - > Didn’t realize that Demeter was trying to make him immortal, and because of her
actions her son now would never be immortal
- Demeter commands that a temple be built to her at the well of Dance
- Demeter leaves
- Still lamenting her daughter she sends a year of plague
- > Gods did not get proper offerings Chapter 9
- - > Zeus sends many messengers to fetch Demeter from her temple to speak with her,
but she refuses to come
- - > She said that never would she allow wheat to grow unless she saw her daughter
with her own eyes
- > Hearing this Zeus sent Hermes to bring persephonê to her mum
- Hades allows her to go and warms her heart with fake sweet words. Then, gives her
- > because she ate food from the underworld, she must stay a third of the year there
Observation: The Myth of Demeter and Persephonê
- Myth first used as agricultural allegory
- > Hades was earth
- > Persephonê was grain buried in the earth
- > Her return from the underworld was seen as the growth of new wheat
- > However, this does not respond with the agricultural facts of greece:
- - > In the hymn she returns in the springtime but seed is planted in the fall and grows
- > some argue that this means that the seed is placed in containers underneath the
earth through the four sterile and hot months of summer until fall hits
- Because she is a parthenos this is on some level a story of a young girls experience
and their mothers.
- > Like the narcissus she couldn’t resist, persephone is ‘ripe to be plucked’
- - > hence: ‘deflowered’
- - - > The sudden loss of virginity is death to childhood.
- Because she ate the pomegranate she can never return to her former state:
- > at their wedding, brides carried an apple or quince into their bridal chambers
- Marriage was literal death for many greek women, as they often died in childbirth
- Persephonê unlike parathion who permanently entered their husband’s house and
bore children, lives in two worlds and belongs wholly to neither.
- > She is forever a Korê, forever childless
- When a greek girl died unmarried she is said to be Hades bride ad a wedding vase
was placed over her grave as a memorial
- The pomegranate seeds Persephonê ate are symbolic of her sexual union with Hades
- > He offered her seeds, she took them within her body, but the seeds will never bear
fruit Chapter 9
- Demeters grief paralleled that of real mothers’
- Persephone however, is not entirely the victim as she voluntarily reached for the flower
- > Her sexual curiosity creates a rift between her and her mum
- Life depends on death
The Eleusinian Mystery
- Demeter’s cult The Eleusinian Mysteries, believed that she offered regeneration
- In the 7th century bc, when the homeric hymn was being written down, athens was
- About 600 bc athens absorbed the nearby village of Eleusis
- The word mystery is credited to this cult
- > Comes from Greek Mystêsmeaning ‘one who closes’ - the eyes and perhaps the
mouth to enter the temple, or close them during the sacred rites.
- Latin Iniatus is our Initiate which means ‘one who has gone in’ - to Demeters temple to
participate in the secret ritual.
- The temple was called the Telestrion ‘hall of initiation’
- > To tell of what happened with it was punishable by death.
- - > So modern commentators must begin by confessing what didn’t happen
- A rough picture has been formed:
- Seems to have been an agrarian festival designed to promote the growth of grain.
- > Were functioning in late bronze age 1500 bc
- Two principle families were in charge:
- > the Eumolpids, whose ancestor Eumolpus, according to hymn, received them from
- > The Kerykes, ‘heralds’ from Eumolpus son Keryx ‘herald’.
- The hight priest always a eumolpud was called the hierophant ‘he who reveals the hi-
era (sacred things)’
- The family of the Kerykes provided the torchbearer and the herald.
- For their services the families received a fee from the initiates.
- There was also the priestess of demeter, who, like hierophant, lived permanently in the
- A principal ceremony of the musteries was held annually in the fall.
- In classical timesa a truce was called for 55 days.
- Heralds went out to neighboring cities to invite participation Chapter 9
- On the day before the festival the hiera were removed from the Telesterion and carried
to Athens in a big procession
- The next day the festival started. Lasted for eight days
- All who could speak greek except murderers- were eligible for initation.
- > including women and slaves!
- On 5th day the process