Demeter And Persephone (Kore)

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Demeter and Persephone (Kore)

Demeter and Persephone (Kore)

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  • The mythology of Demeter and Persephone is especially rich in interpretive possibilities. Listed here are some of the different interpretations applied to it by scholars of mythology from antiquity to the present. The story continues to fascinate. Be prepared to respond to the following: What is “The Maiden’s Tragedy”? How might the myth of Demeter and Kore be interpreted aetiologically? What might kykeion have been? What would be a “nature myth” interpretation of this myth? What are two ways it might be a ‘social’ myth?

Transcript

  • 1. Demeter and Persephone (Kore)
    • The Maiden’s Tragedy
    • Aetiological: The Mysteries of Eleusis
    • Nature Myth: The recurring seasons
    • Social: Triptolemus and agriculture
    • Civilization and law
    • Encoding: Famine
  • 2. Outline of hymn and myth
    • Persephone picks narcissus in meadow.
    • The ground gapes open.
    • Hades rides out and grabs her.
    • She cried to Zeus for help; no one heard her except Hecate and Helios.
    • (Zeus had conspired with Hades in the abduction.)
    • Finally Demeter heard her.
    • In grief, she went searching for P.; no one would tell.
    • For nine days she searched with torches, not eating, not bathing.
    • On 10 th day Hecate comes to her: she heard the cries but does not know who took P.
    • They both get torches, go to see Helios.
    • Helios tells them that Zeus and Hades made this deal; he flies away.
    • Demeter is angry; avoids Olympus, wanders in mortal disguise from town to town.
  • 3. Outline cont.: Demeter’s stop at Eleusis
    • At Eleusis, where Celeus is king, she sat down at a well.
    • King’s four daughters come to get water; they ask her who she is.
    • Demeter tells a lying story (cf. Aphrodite to Anchises).
    • Girls go home, tell mother; mother sends them back to bring her home as a nurse for her infant son.
    • Brief epiphany; Metaneira is awed.
    • Iambe tells dirty jokes, makes “Doso” laugh.
    • “ Doso” asks for a drink of barley water and mint.
    • Metaneira offers her the job of raising her late-born son; she accepts.
    • The boy, Demophoon, grows quickly because Demeter rubs him with ambrosia and anneals him in the fire each night to make him immortal.
    • But one night Metaneira peeks and cries out.
    • Demeter, angry, casts the child down, rebukes Metaneira, reveals her true identity (epiphany).
    • She orders a temple built, promises instruction in Mysteries.
    • The daughters cuddle the baby.
    • King Celeus has the temple built; Demophoon grows strong.
  • 4. Outline, concluded.
    • Demeter still does not return to Olympus; a famine ensues.
    • People die; Zeus is worried, since no one will be left to offer sacrifice to the gods.
    • He summons Iris, dispatches her to Demeter.
    • Iris tries, but Demeter refuses.
    • All the gods visit her; no luck.
    • Zeus sends Hermes to Hades.
    • Hades persuades P. to go, but gives her one pomegranate seed.
    • Hermes takes Persephone to Eleusis.
    • Mother and daughter are reunited; but Demeter suspects a trick …
    • Persephone tells her story, including the pomegranate seed.
    • Hecate comes and becomes the servant of Persephone.
    • Zeus sends Rhea to get Demeter and bring her to Olympus.
    • He decrees that P. must spend one-third of year in underworld.
    • Demeter accepts the bargain; crops begin to grow again.
    • She teaches Triptolemus agriculture, others the Mysteries of Eleusis.
  • 5. Demeter and Persephone/Kore
    • Epithets:
    • De-meter = Ge-mater, “Mother Earth;” giver of all good things, reverend, august, golden-haired, Deo.
    • Kore = Maiden, Queen of the Underworld, Wife of Hades/Pluto.
    • In Roman tradition: Ceres and Proserpina.
  • 6. The mother-daughter goddess
    • Jurisdictions: agriculture of all kinds, the Eleusinian mysteries, girls at marriage.
    • Attributes:
    • Demeter: long braided blonde hair, torches, long shawl, wheat stalk, throned.
    • Persephone/Kore: pomegranate, throned, sometimes a torch, wheat stalk, rooster.
  • 7. “ Glistening miracle, marvel and wonder for all who behold it, for from its root it thrust upward a glorious, manifold blossom”
  • 8. Death has taken her in the flower of her youth. The abduction of Persephone by Hades. Hecate leads the way with a torch, while Hermes, the guide of the dead, flies along.
  • 9. Abduction of Kore: a wedding rite.
  • 10. The fruit of innocence?
  • 11. The Mother’s Search: Eleusis
  • 12. Honored Queen of the Dead
  • 13. The Gift to Triptolemus (and man)
  • 14. INITIAL LOSS : Persephone’s abduction. Demeter’s stop in Eleusis : --annealing of Demophoon --epiphany of the goddess --construction of temple for D&P --establishment of Mysteries Demeter’s anger and search. Famine ( 2nd loss ). Diplomacy (fail/succeed). Hades’ trick ( 3rd loss ). RESTORATION : Persephone and mother. Benefits to mankind (agriculture, civilization, law, the Mysteries of Eleusis).