Earth's Sun with Sun Flare
062-089 Earth's Sun, with Flare for the sun god, Helios, NASA Photo

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

Helios: A Masculinist Perspective
"Throughout his interaction with Demeter, Helios adopts what Bettina Aptheker in Tapestries of Life: Women's Work, Women's Consciousness, and the Meaning of Daily Experience identifies as a masculinist process which accentuates the oppositional, the either/or dichotomies. From Helios' perspective, there is no compromise. You either accept the situation as it is, or you fight a losing battle and suffer in hopeless misery — preferably in some dark corner where you don't disturb the rest of the universe with the sound of your whimpering. Demeter is able to challenge such rigid dichotomies. By tapping into her inner strength and acting from a position of power, she forces a compromise: she and Hades will share Persephone throughout the year on a rotating basis. In this manner, there are no outright winners; there are no outright losers. The masculinist perspective as promulgated by Helios has been exposed for what it is: unnecessarily rigid, uncompromising, skewed and detrimental to the health and well-being of individual development."

from "Demeter and Persephone: Lessons from a Myth," p. 111 by Tamara Agha-Jaffar (2002)
Minaoan fruitstand sun emblem
Embossed fruit stand bowl, interior sunburst emblem, Middle Minoan II (1800-1700 BCE), from Arthur Evans, Palace of Minos V. 4, 1921
___ ___ ___

Why are torches needed
to meet the Sun?

"Hekate...accompanies Demeter on her flight to Helios, and she, like Demeter, carries torches, suggesting something slightly strange, for though they fly to the sun as the sun himself is in flight on his chariot, suggesting the daytime, they carry torches as though their journey were taking place at night. Though torches in Greece could announce that the carrier bears a message of some sort...and Hekate, the poet says, is indeed bringng news; still, when Demeter takes Hekate in hand to visit Helios, the fact that they both carry torches seems to indicate the bond between them, not any nunciatory role. [...] Now Helios, as the god of daylight, is also the god of bringing things into the light, causing them to be seen and seen in their true being, in their true identities. [...] In reporting what has befallen Persephone as he has seen it, Helios thus wishes to convince the Goddesses of the rectitude of Persephone's abduction. Persephone has been rapt away out of the daylight and brought into concealment, and here is Helios, the god of daylight, making excuses for Zeus!"

from "Persephone Unveiled: Seeing the Goddess and Freeing Your Soul," pp. 27, 30, by Charles Stein (2006)
___ ___ ___

Journeying Together: Torches
as Demeter & Hecate's Bond

With its simple tune and swaying steps, [the ancient Greek sacred circle dance, from Tsakônia in the Peloponnese] called Tsakônikos is a mesmerizing dance that you perform in a close chain of people, ideal for weaving in and out of the labyrinth. [...] Link your right elbow over your neighbor's left and extend your right thumb to be held by the hand of the the dancer on the right. [...] The handhold is said to be symbolic of carrying candles through the labyrinth, although it also carries a more obvious sexual meaning [or any union]."

from The Healing Labyrinth: Finding Your Path to Inner Peace, by Helen Raphael Sands, p.72, (2001)
___ ___ ___

See more spiral designs from this vase. Minoan, Knosssos amphora from the Northwest Palace, illustrated in Arthur Evans, Palace of Minos, 1921
___ ___ ___

Don't Make Waves
"The perspective of Helios, also implied in Zeus' attitude and echoed later by Hades as well, appears to be, 'Don't make waves, don't rock the boat, stop "overreacting" and be reconciled to this.' Although Kore was seized against her will and raped by the dreaded god of Death, Demeter is expected to see this as positive and acquiesce to it. [...] She never buys into the patriarchal perspective, refuses to go on serving the system that has brought this about, and effectivelty protests and subverts it on both a human and transpersonal level. Never will she reconcile herself or her daughter to such a brutal and unrelational display of power."

from "Life's Daughter/Death's Bride: Inner Transformations through the Goddess Demeter / Persephone," p.32, by Kathie Carlson (1997)
___ ___ ___

No Real Interaction with Helios
"Relationships between characters are sketched minimally in the withdrawals of Demeter. In the first withdrawal, there are only two characters, Helios and Demeter, though one supposes Hekate is standing there watching, since she accompanied Demeter on her visit to Helios. Actions and emotions are generalized. Demeter asks about Presephone's whereabouts, with a question that is very diffuse and full of detail which seems to dilute rather than augment the emotional content of the scene. Helios, in turn, gives a reply that is more like a formal announcement than a real response to Demeter's question. [...] There is no real interaction between the two."

from "Traditional themes and the Homeric Hymns," p. 112, by Cora Angier Sowa (1984)
___ ___ ___

Hades in the
"Light of Consciousness"

"[The Hymn to Demeter] one of the few times that Pluto [Hades] appears without the helmet which renders him invisible. For once, the conscious self can see what it is that emerges from the Underworld of the unconscious. Here is the unexpected trauma, the drama that suddenly pulls us down into the depths of our own being. Here is the rapist, translated in the 20th century world into the therapist, who accompanies the journey down into Hades, the unconscious. [...] Interestingly enough, Persephone's abduction is witnessed by two deities: Helios, the Sun God, symbolic of the universal Self and the impersonal light of the collective consciousness; and the crone Hecate, the mature face of the Moon Goddess, the instinctual part of ourselves. These two planets, the luminaries, are of course, in astrology those nearest to consciousness and most aware of what is going on within the psyche."

from "The Hades Moon: Pluto in Aspect to the Moon." p. 40, by Judy Hall (1998)
___ ___ ___

Despite Helios' Apology
Not a Legitimate Marriage

"Despite Helios' apology, Hades abduction does not function as a legitimate marriage. The abduction includes elements in a normal marriage rite — an engyê or pledge of marriage between father and groom and the transfer of the bride to her new residence — only to emphasize the abnormality of a marriage in which the bride, because she initially does not eat in the underworld, has not fully engaged in the final stage necessary to legitimate Athenian marriage, at least cohabitation (synoikein).[...] The abduction comes to resemble marriage more fully only at the point of the final compromise, when Persephone eats and Hades mitigates his original violence with persuasion — a promise of honors to his bride. It is unclear whether Persephone has consummated her marriage — we find her in Hades' bed, an unwilling partner (L-343-344) still longing for her mother."

from "The Homeric Hymn to Demeter, Translation, Commentary and Interpretive Essays," p. 108, by Helene P. Foley (1994)
___ ___ ___

Late Minoan (ca. 1524 -1450 BCE), 3-Handle (two for carrying, one for pouring) hydra jug, with goddess-evoking, whirling spiral patterns, on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
___ ___ ___


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
So they came to Helios, watchman* of both gods and mortals,
___ Ἠέλιον δ' ἵκοντο, θεῶν σκοπὸν ἠδὲ καὶ ἀνδρῶν,
___ Êelion d' hikonto, theôn skopon êde kai andrôn,

and standing before his horses, the resplendent* goddess inquired:
___ στὰν δ' ἵππων προπάροιθε καὶ εἴρετο δῖα θεάων:
___ stan d' hippôn proparoithe kai eireto dia theaôn:

Helios, do you at least respect* me, goddess as I am, if ever,
___ ἠέλι', αἴδεσσαί με θεὰν σύ περ, εἴ ποτε δή σευ
___ êeli', aidessai me thean su per, ei pote dê seu

by word or deed of mine, your heart and spirit* I have cheered* ?
___ ἢ ἔπει ἢ ἔργῳ κραδίην καὶ θυμὸν ἴηνα:
___ ê epei ê ergôi kradiên kai thumon iêna:  

The maiden whom I bore, sweet scion [offshoot], lovely to see —
___ κούρην τὴν ἔτεκον, γλυκερὸν θάλος,* εἴδεϊ κυδρήν,*
___ kourên tên etekon, glukeron thalos, eideï kudrên,

I heard her vehement* cry through the fruitless* air
___ τῆς ἀδινὴν ὄπ' ἄκουσα δι' αἰθέρος ἀτρυγέτοιο
___ tês adinên op' akousa di' aitheros atrugetoio

as of one seized violently; though with my eyes I saw nothing.
___ ὥστε βιαζομένης, ἀτὰρ οὐκ ἴδον ὀφθαλμοῖσιν.
___ hôste biazomenês, atar ouk idon ophthalmoisin.

But you — for over all the earth and sea —
___ ἀλλά, σὺ γὰρ δὴ πᾶσαν ἐπὶ χθόνα καὶ κατὰ πόντον
___ alla, su gar dê pasan epi khthona kai kata ponton

from the bright upper air you look down with your beams —
___ αἰθέρος ἐκ δίης καταδέρκεαι ἀκτίνεσσι,
___ aitheros ek diês kataderkeai aktinessi,

tell me truly of my dear child, if you have seen her anywhere.
___ νημερτέως μοι ἔνισπε φίλον τέκος, εἴ που ὄπωπας,
___ nêmerteôs moi enispe philon tekos, ei pou opôpas,

Who has violently seized her against her will and mine
___ ὅστις νόσφιν ἐμεῖο λαβὼν ἀέκουσαν ἀνάγκῃ
___ hostis nosphin emeio labôn aekousan anankêi

and so vanished,* what god or mortal man?
___ οἴχεται ἠὲ θεῶν ἢ καὶ θνητῶν ἀνθρώπων.
___ oikhetai êe theôn ê kai thnêtôn anthrôpôn.

So said she. And the Son of Hyperion answered her:
___ ὣς φάτο: τὴν δ' Ὑπεριονίδης ἠμείβετο μύθῳ:
___ hôs phato: tên d' Huperionidês êmeibeto muthôi:

Daughter of rich-haired Rhea, Queen Demeter,
___ Ῥείης ἠυκόμου θύγατερ, Δήμητερ ἄνασσα,
___ Rheiês êukomou thugater, Dêmêter anassa,

I will tell you the truth; for I greatly reverence* and pity you
___ εἰδήσεις: δὴ γὰρ μέγα σ' ἅζομαι ἠδ' ἐλεαίρω
___ eidêseis: dê gar mega s' hazomai êd' eleairô

in your grief for your trim-ankled daughter. None other
___ ἀχνυμένην περὶ παιδὶ τανυσφύρῳ: οὐδέ τις ἄλλος
___ akhnumenên peri paidi tanusphurôi: oude tis allos

the cause among the deathless gods, but only
cloud-gathering Zeus
___ αἴτιος ἀθανάτων, εἰ μὴ νεφεληγερέτα Ζεύς,
___ aitios athanatôn, ei mê nephelêgereta Zeus

who gave her to Hades, to be called his budding* wife.
___ ὅς μιν ἔδωκ' Ἀίδῃ θαλερὴν κεκλῆσθαι ἄκοιτιν
___ hos min edôk' Aidêi thalerên keklêsthai akoitin

Her father's brother — down to his realm of mist and gloom —
___ αὐτοκασιγνήτῳ: ὃ δ' ὑπὸ ζόφον ἠερόεντα
___ autokasignêtôi: ho d' hupo zophon êeroenta

Hades seized her and took her loudly crying in his chariot.
___ ἁρπάξας ἵπποισιν ἄγεν μεγάλα ἰάχουσαν.
___ harpaxas hippoisin agen megala iakhousan.

Yet, goddess, cease from your loud lament* and keep not
___ ἀλλά, θεά, κατάπαυε μέγαν γόον: οὐδέ τί σε χρὴ
___ alla, thea, katapaue megan goon: oude ti se khrê

your vain anger unrelentingly. He is no unfitting
___ μὰψ αὔτως ἄπλητον ἔχειν χόλον: οὔ τοι ἀεικὴς
___ maps autôs aplêton ekhein kholon: ou toi aeikês

husband among the deathless gods, Aidoneus, Ruler of Many
___ γαμβρὸς ἐν ἀθανάτοις Πολυσημάντωρ Ἀιδωνεύς,
___ gambros en athanatois Polusêmantôr Aidôneus,

being our own brother and born of the same stock. For honor,
___ αὐτοκασίγνητος καὶ ὁμόσπορος: ἀμφὶ δὲ τιμὴν
___ autokasignêtos kai homosporos: amphi de timên

he has that third share* he received at the first division
___ ἔλλαχεν ὡς τὰ πρῶτα διάτριχα δασμὸς ἐτύχθη,
___ ellakhen hôs ta prôta diatrikha dasmos etukhthê,

and, among whom he dwells, he is appointed lord.
___ τοῖς μεταναιετάειν, τῶν ἔλλαχε κοίρανος εἶναι
___ tois metanaietaein, tôn ellakhe koiranos einai.

So he spake, and called to his horses: and who at his
threatening* shouts,
___ ὣς εἰπὼν ἵπποισιν ἐκέκλετο: τοὶ δ' ὑπ' ὀμοκλῆς
___ hôs eipôn hippoisin ekekleto: toi d' hup' omoklês

swiftly whirled the chariot along, like long-winged birds.
___ ῥίμφα φέρον θοὸν ἅρμα τανύπτεροι ὥστ' οἰωνοί.
___ rhimpha pheron thoon harma tanupteroi hôst' oiônoi

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062 σκοπόν / skopon
one that watches - one that looks about or after things,
of a housekeeper - lookout-man - watcher, stationed in
some high place - game watcher

063 δῖα / dia
resplendent - heavenly - of goddesses, with superlative force -
noblest - excellent

064 αἴδεσσαί / aidessai
respect - show a sense of regard - stand in awe of -
show compassion upon - have mercy

065 θυμὸν / thumon
soul - spirit, as the principle of life - feeling and thought, esp. of strong feeling and passion

065 ἴηνα / iêna
warm - relax by warmth - cheer - delight in - heal - save - melt

066 θάλος / thalos
child - scion [twig, shoot] in metaphorical sense

066 εἴδεϊ κυδρήν / eideï kudrên
N. J. Richardson (1974) says the expression appears only here, probably coined by the poet, various translations = lovely to see (both Sargent & Rayor) - lovely in form (Evelyn-White) - noble in form (Foley) - (offshoot) of glorious form (Crudden)

067 ἀδινὴν / adinên
thick, close - of sounds: loud - vehement

067 ἀτρυγέτοιο / atrugetoio
unharvested - barren - fruitless [ see also L-457 ]

073 οἴχεται / oikhetai (οἴχομαι)
go - depart - vanish - to have departed - dead

076 ἅζομαι / hazomai
reverent - in holy fear - stand in awe of - esp. gods and one's parents

079 θαλερὴν / thalerên
youthful - budding - blooming - fresh - nubile - ripened
- of marriage, a youthful pair

082 γόον / goon
lament - bewailing - weeping - wailing - grief - groan

086 διάτρῐχα / diatrikha (= τρίχα)
in three divisions - three ways - usually written divisim in
Homer as one word

086 δασμός / dasmos
share - division of spoil - tribute paid

088 ὀμοκλῆς / omoklês
threat - threatening shout - reproof - rebuke - reproach - attack

089 φέρον / pheron
whirl - convey at full speed - go full tilt - spring into motion - hurl

Fertility Demeter's Share
"Various myths allude to the fact that Zeus and his two brothers divided up the universe among them, in some versions by lot, in others by common agreement. In this division [L-086], Zeus gains control over the sky, Poseidon over the sea, and Hades over the underworld. [...] In making what seems to be a satisfactory arrangement among the male gods of his generation, Zeus overlooks Demeter and the power of fertility that she represents. [...] [The Hymn to Demeter] creates a crisis that Zeus cannot ignore, and he must negotiate with Demeter [...] to accommodate her."

from "Homeric Hymns" translated by Sarah Ruden, notes and introduction by Sheila Murnaghan (2005)

Helios, First Witness
"The Homeric hymns were generally designed as a prelude to the recitation of the major archaic epics. Although composed by poets from specific localities like Eleusis, they were in all probability designed for pan hellenic audiences. The Hymn to Demeter, by assigning the role of informant to Helios, adapts itself to a panhellenic audience by avoiding the need to take sides on the controversial question of which mortals were first to assist Demeter on earth."

from "A Question of Origins: Goddess Cults Greek and Modern, by Helene P. Foley, p. 228, in Women, Gender, Religion: a Reader, ed. by Elizabeth Anne Castelli, Rosamond C. Rodman (2001)

Every Initiate Had a Torch,
Mourned, Wandered, Searched
"Clement refers to a ritual reenactment, a mystic drama celebrating the wandering, the abduction and the mourning with torches. Even though his assertions must be taken with caution, the initiates are supposed to imitate the experiences of the goddess. […] That this search belongs to the drama is uncertain, although other sources refer to the imitation of the goddess's deeds. The question of the reliability of these sources remain open and the mystic drama so-called only by Clement, a much disputed question. Despite these uncertainties, modern scholars assert that 'surely every initiate had a torch, mourned, wandered, searched.'"

from "Light and Lighting Equipment in the Eleusinian Mysteries," by Ionnna Patera, in "Light and Darkness in Ancient Greek Myth and Religion" p.264 edited by Menelaos Christopoulos, Efimia Karakantza, Olga Levaniouk, Lexington Books, 2010

The Mother who Never Abandons Her Daughter —
Virginia Woolf's Demeter
"What Virginia Woolf sought in her intense personal and artistic relationships with women may best be explained in mythological rather than psychological terms. The work of the great classical scholar Jane Harrison had a powerful influence on Virginia Woolf's imagery and metaphors. Harrison's work on mothers and daughters in pre-classical Greece, her study of the transition of the powerful myths of mother-goddess worship into patriarchal Greek thought as we know it, was very important to Virginia Woolf's writing and thinking. The "Hymn to Demeter' and the story of Persephone were especially moving for a writer who always thought of herself as a 'motherless daughter.' It may help us to understand what she meant by 'thinking back through our mothers.' [...] The Demeter-Persephone myth affirms eternal refuge and redemption as well as resurrection. The mother will never abandon her daughter."

from "New Feminist Essays on Virginia Woolf," p. 13, by Jane Marcus (1981)
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Illustrations: (Left Panel) Peplos Kore (Κόρη), Acropolis Museum, Athens, 6th c. BCE, (Top) Earth's Sun, with Sun Flare, NASA Photo, Metropolitan Hydra jug, photo credit:
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