015-032 "Goddess of the Lilies." Persephone with her companions, where she vanishes into Hades but also reappears in spring, graphic rendering adapted from a large Minoan cup, or fruit bowl, Phaistos, Crete, ca. 2000-1900 BCE — see notes . The artefact is discussed at length by Ann Suter (see below) in "The Narcissus and the Pomegranate: An Archaeology of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter," pp. 174 ff. (2002). As regards myth and the abyss, Patrick Conty says (2002): "The truth of myth lies in its path, a path describing a transformation, but this path is hidden and veiled. The study of myth therefore reveals itself as the search for what appears as a vacancy or a rupture, a black space, an emptiness that can resemble the eye of a needle or of a shuttle with which the myth is woven." The dots round the edge of the bowl may indicate the path of the days of the year and the cycle of the seasons. Illustration from the rendering © Caroly Kerenyi, Eleusis, 1967

  Persephone as Peplos Kore (Κόρη),
Acropolis Museum, Athens, 6th c. BCE

Archetypal Images in Myths
"The archetypal image as it appears in myths is considered 'a living system of reactions and aptitudes that determine the individual's life in invisible ways.' Archetypal images burgeon and breathe within what C. G. Jung termed the collective unconscious — the deepest strata of an individual's subliminal spheres. Arising spontaneously in certain kinds of writings — for our purposes, in myths — archetypal images may be seen 'as autonomous elements of the unconscious psyche.' Jung adds that archetypes may be considered the fundamental elements 'of the conscious mind, hidden in the depths of the pysche.'"

from "Women, Myth, and the Feminine Principle." p. xi, by Bettina L. Knapp (1998)
___ ___ ___


___ ___ ___

Knossos, Crete, ivy on rocks, Middle Minoan, illustration from "Decorative Patterns of the Ancient World for Craftsmen," by Flinders Petrie (1930/1974).
___ ___ ___

Nysian Plain
& the God of Ivy

"Dionysus is linked to Persephone
through the location where Persephone is abducted. [...] The nymphs are picking flowers on the Nysian Plain. Now the name Dionysus simply means the Dios — the "Zeus" or god — of Nysa. [...] In botanic lore, Dionysus' own plant, the kissos, or ivy, was called Nysa."


from "Persephone Unveiled: Seeing the Goddess and Freeing Your Soul, p.67, by Charles Stein (2006)
___ ___ ___

Kore as Divine Child
"Persephone is called Kore, 'the maiden,' in the beginning of the story and this alerts us to her intense vulnerability. [...] As an image of the Divine Child, she "is a symbol of future hopes, the seedling, the potentiality of life, newness." In C. G. Jung's essay on the Divine Child [see The Archetype and the Collective Unconscious, 1968, p.167], he touches on the way in which 'abandonment, exposure, danger' are inevitable conditions for the archetype's potential. Kore's abandonment, exposure and danger spring from the betrayal of her innocence by her father and uncle, Zeus and Hades. This is the beginning of her descent and the condition of her transformation."

from "Persephone Returns: Victims, Heroes and the Journey from the Underworld," p. 28, by Tanya Wilkinson (1996)
___ ___ ___

Abduction Subordinate
to Demeter's Story

"It has been argued that the hymn deals with two separate myths which it never fully connects (1) Persephone's abduction and (2) the institution of the Eleusinian Mysteries. [...] Since Persephone is often associated with the new bloom of plants in the spring, the story of her abduction by Hades has also been said to contain elements common to the theme of 'the marriage of a fertility goddess.' But the hymn as we have it subordinates this theme to the story of Demeter's withdrawal and journey to Eleusis after her daughter's disappearance. This is the part of the hymn which appears most closely tied to the institution of the cult at Eleusis."

from "The Homeric Hymns," p.29, by Susan C. Shelmerdine (1995)
___ ___ ___

Goddess of the Lilies (Cup)
"The oldest [Demeter myth artifacts] and in some ways the most tantalizing are from the first Minoan palace at Phaistos: a so-called fruttiera, or fruit stand, in the Kamares style, identified as an offering table by excavators and a large shallow cup [illustrated above]. [...] The scene on the cup has been identified as a depiction of an early Persephone and her friends picking flowers (cf. Hymn 5-7); she is either rising out of or going into the Earth. The cup's rim stands for the edge of the Underworld. [...] Human (or anthropomorphic) figures are rare in the ceramic repertoire at Phaistos in this period. It is likely then, that the females on the fruttiera and cup are special in some way, and the consensus is that the central figure is a goddess; she was named the "dea dei gigli" [θεά των κρίνων, or Goddess of the Lilies], by the excavators."

from "The Narcissus and the Pomegranate: An Archaeology of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter," pp. 173 & 175-176, by Ann Suter (2002)
___ ___ ___


Ceramic potsherds illustrated in Edith Hall Dohan's "Decorative Art of Crete in the Bronze Age" (1907)
___ ___ ___

Voice of Wind in Trees
as Greek Oracle

"Anaximenes was the Greek philosopher who thought that air was the underlying principle of the universe [...[ and thus gave expression to the wisdom of the Aeolian mysteries which identified various psychic forces with the winds. [...] The Aeolian harp was constructed so as to be played by the winds, not by a human musician, in a manner comparable to our modern windchimes. At Dodora, in Aeolian country [in northwestern Greece], the winds moving through leaves of the oak trees by their sounds provided oracular responses to people's questions, and a gong was hung in the grove to enhance these responses, again seeming to come from disembodied entitles or powers."

from "A Guide to the Ancient Mysteries," p. 286, by Tom Ficek (2009)
___ ___ ___


Hades abducting Persephone
(Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Why does Kore not call to
her mother for help?

"Why does Kore call to her father and not to her mother for help? Perhaps it is because the young girl has already absorbed one of the lessons of patriarchy: the father has power and the mother does not. [...] What does Kore's cry suggest to a contemporary audience! And what does her father's refusal to help suggest? A possible interpretation of her plea to the father is that women constantly seek help from the very forces that are actively opposed to helping them. [...] According to Jean Shinoda Bolen in Goddesses in Older Women, sometimes it is this very betrayal of a daughter of patriarchy by patriarchy that initiates a woman into feminism. In the case of Kore, recognition of her betrayal by the father acts as the catalyst that triggers the development of her feminist consciousness. [...] Help comes from her mother — a female who holds fast in her refusal to abandon her child to the throes of a patriarchal system."

from "Demeter and Persephone: Lessons from a Myth," p. 38 ff., by Tamara Agha-Jaffar (2002)
___ ___ ___


Hecate in Her "Cave"
"(Of Hecate). No particular cave is meant. Whether Hecate was originally a moon goddess, or, as Farnell supposes, an earth-goddess, a cave would be appropriate for her home. In this hymn, at all events, she is certainly a moon-goddess, as is shown by the Mention of Helios [in L-026]. So Sophocles (fr. 480) associates Helios and Hecate as sun and moon. Hecate heard the cry, but did not see the rape, as it was daytime, and she was therefore in her cave; Helios heard, and of course saw also (cf. on L-70). Zeus ["son of Cronus"] absents himelf intentionally, in order that he may not appear to connive at the rape [L-027]."

from "The Homeric Hymns," p.19, by Thomas William Allen and Edward Ernest Sikes (1904)
___ ___ ___

Roots to the Underworld —
Is Persephone the Flower
she Plucks?

"When Persephone reaches out to pick the many-headed narcissus, then the earth opens up and Pluto[/Hades] rushes out to pluck her away to the underworld. Pluto[/Hades] plucks her up like she plucks the flower. [...] Persephone tugs, but what comes up out of the ground is not the flower but Pluto driving a gold chariot with immortal horses. Perhaps the roots of this flower are deeper than just the surface phenomenon. If the roots of the flower descend into the underworld, the realm of the dead, then we might say that Persephone is unconsciously pulling on the bell rope of the House of Hades, calling forth her ravisher by this insistent tugging at the wondrously shining flower of many-headedness."

from "Archetypal Imagination:
Glimpses of the Gods in Life and Art," p. 207, by Noel Cobb (1992)
___ ___ ___

Cries Unheard & Unreported
"Both φωνής and κεκλομένης are associated with articulated vocal sound rather than simply shouts or cries, and it is clear from 21 and 27 that Persephone is requesting help from her father in particular with her calls. Therefore, she must have addressed him by name in some way. [...] Her appeal is not only unsuccessful but almost entirely unheard. The narrative reproduces both the powerlessness of the speaker and the ineffectiveness of her cry for help by rendering it with implied speech rather than a more detailed representation."

from "Direct and Indirect Speech in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter," in "Transactions of the American Philological Association," Volume 131, pp. 53-74, by Deborah Beck (2001)
___ ___ ___

Forbidden Underworlds —
in Dreams and Mythology

"Myths are stories about heroes in search of their destiny. In the same way, the fantastic landscapes and forbidden underworlds of dreams present clues that can reveal the way forward. As if some aspect of your mind has an understanding that transcends time and self-awareness, the journey always awakens you to your full potential. [...] There are timeless hidden messages hidden in our ancient stories."

Website intro to "The Mythology of Sleep: The Waking Power of Dreams"
(2009), by Kari Hohne
___ ___ ___

Bloom of Youth Abducted?
"Since we know that the prime of youth is like the spring flowers and brings short-lived enjoyment, it is better to commend the lady of Lesbos when she says: 'Beautiful are they as far as appearances go, whereas the good are always beautiful.'"


from Galen, Exhortation to Learning, 2nd c. CE
___ ___ ___

 

Homeric Hymn to Demeter
Interlinear Translation
edited & adapted from the 1914 prose translation
by Hugh G. Evelyn-White

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Homeric Hymn to Demeter
English • Ancient Greek • Transliteration 
• Greek-English Glossary
  THE ABDUCTION : 015-029
015
And the girl was amazed and reached out with both hands
___ ἣ δ' ἄρα θαμβήσασ' ὠρέξατο χερσὶν ἅμ' ἄμφω
___ hê d' ara thambêsas' ôrexato khersin ham' amphô,

016
the lovely toy* to take — but yawned* the wide-pathed* earth,
___ καλὸν ἄθυρμα λαβεῖν: χάνε δὲ χθὼν εὐρυάγυια
___ kalon athurma labein: khane de khthôn euruaguia

017
in the Nysian* plain, and out sprang the Lord, Host of Many,
___ Νύσιον ἂμ πεδίον, τῇ ὄρουσεν ἄναξ Πολυδέγμων
___ Nusion am pedion, têi orousen anax Poludegmôn

018
with his immortal horses, the many named Son of Cronos.
___ ἵπποις ἀθανάτοισι, Κρόνου πολυώνυμος υἱός.
___ hippois athanatoisi, Kronou poluônumos huios.

019
He caught her up reluctant* on his golden car,
___ ἁρπάξας δ' ἀέκουσαν ἐπὶ χρυσέοισιν ὄχοισιν
___ harpaxas d' aekousan epi khruseoisin okhoisin

020
and bare her away lamenting.* Then she cried out, her voice shrill,
___ ἦγ' ὀλοφυρομένην: ἰάχησε δ' ἄρ' ὄρθια φωνῇ,
___ êg' olophuromenên: iakhêse d' ar' orthia phônêi,

021
calling upon* her father, Son of Cronos, most high and excellent.
___ κεκλομένη πατέρα Κρονίδην ὕπατον καὶ ἄριστον.
___ keklomenê patera Kronidên hupaton kai ariston.

022
But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal folk,
___ οὐδέ τις ἀθανάτων οὐδὲ θνητῶν ἀνθρώπων
___ oude tis athanatôn oude thnêtôn anthrôpôn  

023
heard her voice,* not even the richly-fruited* olive-trees.
___ ἤκουσεν φωνῆς, οὐδ' ἀγλαόκαρποι ἐλαῖαι
___ êkousen phônês, oud' aglaokarpoi elaiai

024
Only the daughter of Persaeus, tender-minded,*
___ εἰ μὴ Περσαίου θυγάτηρ ἀταλὰ φρονέουσα
___ ei mê Persaiou thugatêr atala phroneousa

025
heard in her cave, Hecate (Moon), bright-coiffed,
___ ἄιεν ἐξ ἄντρου, Ἑκάτη λιπαροκρήδεμνος,
___ aien ex antrou, Hekatê liparokrêdemnos,

026
and the lord Helios (Sun), Hyperion's bright son,
___ Ἠέλιός τε ἄναξ, Ὑπερίονος ἀγλαὸς υἱός,
___ Êelios te anax, Huperionos aglaos huios,  

027
as she called out to her father, the Son of Cronos. But he apart
___ κούρης κεκλομένης πατέρα Κρονίδην: ὃ δὲ νόσφιν
___ kourês keklomenês patera Kronidên: ho de nosphin

028
from the gods, sat idle,* where many pray, in the temple-nave
___ ἧστο θεῶν ἀπάνευθε πολυλλίστῳ ἐνὶ νηῷ,
___ hêsto theôn apaneuthe polullistôi eni nêôi,

029
there awaiting* beauteous* offerings* from mortals.
___ δέγμενος ἱερὰ καλὰ παρὰ θνητῶν ἀνθρώπων.
___ degmenos hiera kala para thnêtôn anthrôpôn.

030
And she all-unwilling* by the suggestion of* Zeus, was carried off*
___ τὴν δ' ἀεκαζομένην ἦγεν Διὸς ἐννεσίῃσι
___ tên d' aekazomenên êgen Dios ennesiêisi

031
by her father's brother, Ruler of Many, Host of Many,
___ πατροκασίγνητος, Πολυσημάντωρ Πολυδέγμων,
___ patrokasignêtos, Polusêmantôr Poludegmôn,

032
with his immortal horses, by the Son of Cronos, of many names.*
___ ἵπποις ἀθανάτοισι, Κρόνου πολυώνυμος υἱός.
___ hippois athanatoisi, Kronou poluônumos huios.

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Ancient GreekOther Meanings
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016 ἄθυρμα / athurma
toy - plaything - beautiful object - adornment - delight - joy - pasttime


016 χάνε / khane
yawn - gape - opening the mouth wide - burst with ripeness


016 εὐρυάγυια / euruaguia
broad pathed - with wide streets = εὐρυόδεια, with broad ways,
derived from ἕδος, an epithet of Demeter at Scarpheia


017 Νύσιον / Nusion
Nysa (re: Nysian Plain) - Dionysus (the God of Nysa) is linked to Persephone through the location name - "An Orphic version placed the rape in the regions about Oceanus. [...] The presence of the Oceanids in the Hymn suggests that this may have been the case in the Hymn too." ~ HDem, N. J. Richardson

018 Κρόνου / Kronou
Cronian, here referring to Hades, like Zeus and Demeter —
offspring of Cronus & Rheia


019 ἀέκουσαν / aekousan
reluctant - involuntary - constrained - unwillingly


020 ὀλοφυρομένην / olophuromenên
lament - wail - moan - beg with tears and lamentations - pity


021 & 027 κεκλομένη / keklomenê
urge - exhort - call upon for aid - call to - call by name

022 ἀνθρώπων / anthrôpôn
folk - mankind - humanity - men - any one - the world

023 ἀγλαοκάρπου / aglaokarpou / (ἀγλαό-καρπος)
of glorious fruits - richly fruited - bearing beautiful or goodly fruit
[ shared epithet with Demeter at L-4 ]


023 φωνῆς / phônês
voice - sounds or words uttered - cry aloud - call - speak loud or clearly

024 ἀταλὰ / atala
tender - delicate - young, gay spirit - also delicate, as elderly - amenable


024 φρονέουσα / phroneousa
to be minded - to have understanding - to be wise - prudent

028 ἧμαι (ἧσται) / hêsto
sit still - sit idle - lay low

028 ἀπάνευθε / apaneuthe
far from - aloof from - afar off - far away

028 νηῷ / nêôi
temple - nave [center area "where many pray"] - inmost part of a temple - shrine [containing the image of the deity] - portable shrine


029 δέγμενος / degmenos
awaiting - accepting - welcoming - recieving

029 ἱερὰ / hiera
offerings - sacred objects - rites - sacrifice


029 καλὰ / kala
beauteous - good - of fine quality - noble

030 ἀεκαζομένην / aekazomenên (= ἀέκων, πόλλ')
all unwilling - entirely constrained - of consequences, completely involuntary


030 ἦγεν / êgen
carry off as captive or booty

030 ἐννεσίῃσι / ennesiêisi
by leave of - at the suggestion of
(comparative with the unwillingness of Persephone)


032 πολυώνυμος / poluônumos
lit. many-named - of divinities, worshipped under many names

Dating the Demeter Myth / Phaistos Cup
"Demeter's rites flourished for almost two thousand years at Eleusis, a small town fourteen miles northwest of Athens. The people of Eleusis built the first shrine to Demeter over a small underground chamber, or megaron, ca. 1450 B.C.E. Such underground chambers, in the earliest ages of settlement, were typically used for storing seeds, the grain harvest, or for burials of the dead.

"The first shrine at Eleusis, from the middle Mycenaean era, is considered by some scholars to be the earliest evidence for the practice of this religion. However, as classicist Carolyi Kerenyi believes, perhaps the earliest archeological evidence of the Demeter-Persephone story comes from a cup found at Phaistos, Crete, dated to just before 2000 B.C.E. [see illustration, above ] with the image of a young girl and 'dancing' girlfriends around a cavelike or vulva-shaped opening, which Kerenyi interprets as depicting the myth of Persephone's descent into the underworld."

from "The Eleusinian Mysteries of Demeter and Persephone: Fertility, Sexuality and Rebirth," by Mara Lynn Keller, in "Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion," pp. 31-32 (Spring, 1988)

"Myths with More Love of the Perplexities"
"[A]lthough myths don't tell us how, they help us to question, imagine, go deeper. Myths help us to enter the complexity of our situations more deeply, with more love of the perplexities themselves and of those caught up in them. The myth of Demeter and Persephone stirs the imagination of almost all who hear it. Greek rituals associated with it recognized its relevance to the cycle of vegetal life, to the human fear of death and hope of immortality, to the deep bonds that exist between women [...] An even more inclusive interpretation is suggested by some ecofeminists who, moving beyond seeing the myth primarily through a psychological lens, emphasize its relavance to their concerns about the earth's renewal."

from "The Long Journey Home: Re-visioning the Myth of Demeter and Persephone for Our Time" p. 1,3, by Christine Downing (1994)

The Shadow of Patriarchy
"The point...is not simply blame but rather accountability for power abuse and the capacity to confront the Hades dynamic in oneself or another. This requires the clear eyes of Demeter and her passion for her daughter's life. In human terms this means that to deal with Hades in herself or another, a woman must be grounded in an authority deeper and older than Hades, a matrix not derived from or dependent on the patriarchal Masculine. [...] For modern women, [...] this Matrix and feminine bonding must be discovered (or perhaps uncovered — images of excavation sometimes come up in dreams of this journey to the feminine source ground), the Goddess and her powers to stand against the patriarchal death god emerge from or must be dug out of the collective layers of the psyche that both predate and transcend patriarchal culture."

from "Life's Daughter / Death's Bride: Inner Transformations through the Goddess Demeter/Persephone," p. 125, by Kathie Carlson (1997)
 
Persephone & Alice —
Down the Rabbit Hole
"[In fiction and mythology] these arduous experiences are essentially genderless and timeless, affecting men and women of all ages and backgrounds. Separation, descent and the unknown are all components of the hero's journey. Persephone has passed through, or in this case fallen through the threshold into the otherworld, just as Alice in Wonderland fell down and down into the depths of the rabbit hole. What actually is the underworld though? Hillman defines the underworld as that belonging to the soul. The soul is the unconscious and the underworld is all that we exile ourselves from. [...] We learn that Persephone's father, Zeus handed her over to his brother, Hades, without her knowledge. On a conscious level we experience betrayal as our dreams and innocence escape from us, but always this betrayal is in search of something else. On the level of soul there is much to be harvested."

from "Depression as Spiritual Journey," p. 59-60, by Stephanie Sorréll (2009)

Illustration from Alice in Wonderland
"Alice" through Persephone —
"Metaphorically, [Lewis] Carroll positioned Alice as the Sacred Pilgrim. He cast her, in some sense, as Persephone, goddess of the underworld. Like his literary ancestors, Carroll utilized skillful applications of allegory in order to create adventures that paralleled Persephone’s quest and pointed to the central theme around which the Eleusian initiations were organized. The symbolism implicit in Alice and Looking Glass suggest that Carroll, like so many other writers of his period, used allegory as a delivery mechanism for higher spiritual teachings.”

citation from "Behind the Looking Glass," p. 87, by Sherry L. Ackerman (2008)

Alice in Wonderland illustration by John Tenniel (1865) (Wikipedia).
more on Alice and the Hymn to Demeter

Simone Weil's Persephone
"[In Simone Weil's Intuitions Pré-Chréstiennes,] she translates parts of the opening scene in the Hymn to Demeter [1-21, 30-31) and the passage where Hades gives Persephone a pomegranate seed to eat, so that she will be bound to return to him [360-74]. Persephone is lured by the marvellous beauty of the narcissus into plucking this flower and at this moment she is seized by Hades. For Simone Weil this represents the soul searching for divine beauty, and being captured by the unseen trap or lure in the beauty of earthly things."

from the Introduction by Nicholas Richardson, p. xxxii, in "The Homeric Hymns," translated by Jules Cashford (2003)


Mycenaean ceramic cup with spiral, ca. 1600-1200 BCE

Working the Field of the Feminine
"In an old National Geographic there is a picture of Mary Leakey on her hands and knees in the Olduva Gorge region of Africa looking for signs of primitive life by working the parched earth with a toothbrush. [...] Mary Leakey's way was the most gentle taking — the earth yields different secrets to the field worker's brush than to the spade. The surface I am interested in brushing — the field I want to work — is the Nyssaean (as in Dionysian — where the god was born) field where the goddess Persephone played. This is essentially the field of the feminine, or the mother and daughter, first given attention by a poet in an ancient hymn."

from "The Moon & the Virgin: Reflections on the Archetypal Feminine" by Nor Hall, p.67 (1980)
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Illustrations: (Left Panel) Peplos Kore (Κόρη), Acropolis Museum, Athens, 6th c. BCE. (TOP): Persephone vanishing into Hades, graphic rendering, detail from a large, Minoan cup, excavated as part of a fruit-stand (fruttiera) in Phaistos, Crete, ca. 2000-1900 BCE. Collection: Italian School of Archaeology, Athens.
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