I. Names to Remember
Demeter (Ceres), Persephone (Kore, Proserpine), Hades (Pluto,
Eleusis, Eleusinian Mysteries, Pelops
II. Lecture Outline
- Sister of Zeus, Daughter of Cronus/Saturn
- Goddess of Grain, Agriculture, Fertility
- Symbols: Wheat (Ceres = cereal); Torch
- Persephone (Demeter's Daughter by Zeus)
- Hades/Pluto abducts her while she is picking flowers
- Demeter searches the world for her, carrying torch(es)
- Tantalus Episode: Serves son Pelops as dinner to gods
- Distracted by grief, Demeter eats Pelops' shoulder
- Fasts for nine days, doesn't bathe
- Helios (Sun) reveals that Zeus has given her to Hades
- In anger, Demeter leaves Olympus in disguise
- Comes to Eleusis, near Athens
- Finally breaks fast and is made to laugh
- But she eats (or is forced to eat) a pomegranate seed
- She must spend one-third of the year in the underworld
- Festival celebrating Demeter and Persephone near Athens
- Many specifics unknown because of secrecy
- Lasted nine days, like Demeter's fast
- Involved 14 mile procession from Athens to Eleusis
- Symbolic death and rebirth
- Brings happiness and solace; promise of a better life after death
- Agricultural Myth
- Hades = earth, Persephone the grain buried in the earth
- Her return = growth of the new crop
- Marriage Myth
- Passage from childhood to adulthood
- Death to childhood, rebirth as married woman
- Plucked like a flower (narcissus); loses virginity
- Taken from mother into an unfamiliar foreign household
- Demeter's grief over the loss of her daughter like a mother's
- Curiosity about flower = desire to leave the mother
- The necessary separation between mother and daughter
- Pomegranate = she can never go back to her former state
- Hero Myth (Demeter)
- Wrath, Withdrawal, Destruction, and Return
- Demeter's Wandering and Journey
- Disguise and Discovery
- The Rape of Proserpine, Giancarlo Bernini. Galleria Borghese, Rome.
- The Rape of Persephone. Detail of the painted interior of the "Tomb of Persephone" at Vergina.
- Hades and Kore Persephone. Clay pinax with bas-relief from Locri Epizephyrii, early 5th c. BCE. Hades and Persephone enthroned; the former holds celery stalks, the latter, wheat shafts; rooster and torch.
- Proserpine. Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1877. Tate Gallery, London.
- Ceres Enthroned. Michele Pannonio, c. 1450-60. Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest.
- Demeter and Kore (Persephone). Detail from Athenian lekythos c. 450-425 BC. National Museum, Athens.
- The Rape of Persephone. Niccolò dell'Abate, 1537. Musée du Louvre, Paris.
- Persephone's Return. Attic Vase.
- The Return of
Persephone. Frederic Leighton,
c. 1890-91. City Art Gallery, Leeds.