Chapter 14.docx - Chapter 14 Demeter and the Eleusinian...

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Chapter 14: Demeter and the Eleusinian Mysteries The myth of Demeter and Persephone o There are two Homeric Hymns to Demeter Number 13 is a very short prelude The lengthy and powerful Homeric Hymn to Demeter (2), by contrast, is of the utmost important; it begins with Hades' abduction of Persephone at the will of Zeus Interpretations of the hymn o The myth of Demeter and Persephone represents another variation of a fundamental and recurring theme - the death and rebirth of vegetation as a metaphor or allegory for spiritual resurrection o In this Greek hymn, the allegory is rendered in terms of the touching emotions of mother and daughter; more often the symbols and metaphors involve the relationship between a fertility goddess and her male partner, either lover or son o Persephone is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, who enact once again the sacred marriage between earth-goddess and sky-god o The Homeric Hymn to Demeter also illustrates the grim character of Hades in his method of obtaining a wide and provides the mythological reasons for Hecate's prominence as a goddess of the underworld o Hades' basis character as a fertility god is evident from the location of his realm, the violence of his nature, and his link with horses He is thus a god of agricultural wealth; but he should not be confused with Plutus (wealth) Triptolemus o Triptolemus is generally depicted as the messenger of Demeter when she restored fertility to the ground o He is the one who taught and spread her arts of agriculture to new lands at that time and later, often traveling in a magical car drawn by winged dragons, a gift of Demeter The Eleusinian mysteries o This hymn to Demeter is of major importance because it provides the most significant evidence that we have for the nature of the worship of Demeter at Eleusis o This religious observance was of a special kind, not the general prerogative of everyone
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