Ancient Religion CLA 315
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Greek Philosophers and Sophists Some Names Dates Main Locations and Major Ideas 1 Materialists Thales 636546 BC Miletos Geometry calculated height of pyramids from their shadows all isfull ofgods water originates everything Anaximander 611547 BC Miletos The infinite apeiron governs all Anaximander is the first known prose author Anaximenes died 502 BC Miletos The basic element is air a r 2 Eleatics Xenophanes 570480 BC Colophon Honorary Eleatic the basic elements are earth and water gods are perfect one supreme god Parmenides 515445 BC Elea Anything conceivable is real Zeno1 490430 BC Elea Paradoxes of motion including Achilles and the Tortoise 3 Other Major Archaic and Classical Philosophers Pythagoras 580520 BC Samos Reincarnation sacred numbers Empedocles c490430BC Acragas Doctrine of thefour elements fire air water earth Socrates 469399 BC Athens All assumptions should be challenged most people only think that they know things Democritus born 460 BC Abdera Everything is made ofatoms including colors sounds light the gods and the soul Plato 437347 BC Athens Wrote dialogues involving Socrates portraying views we call Platonism we live among weak reflections of a higher realm of Forms 1 Not to be confused with Zeno of Citium 335263 BC the founder of Stoicismisee below 4 Sophists Gorgias c485c380 BC Leontini Antithetical style ofargument the power of words and moral responsibility Protagoras c490 420 BC Abdera Agnosticism quotman is the measure ofall things all beliefs are true for the believer Prodicus 43 BC Ceos Definitions of words naturalistic explanations of myths the Choice of Heracles Hippias c485415 BC Elis Mathematics empiricism Thrasymachus fl c430300 BC Chalcedon Might is right how to appeal to the emotions in speeches through expression and delivery 5 Hellenistic Philosophers Aristotle 384322 BC Athens then Pella Founder of quotPeripateticquot school Invented logic Wrote on various scientific ethical political and artistic subjects Zeno c335263 BC Citium Founder of quotStoicquot school Virtue is the highest good A single God the force ofreason controls the world Epicurus 341270 BC Athens Founder of quotEpicureanquot school The gods are perpetual blissful and barely interfere with the world at all Diogenes 412403c324321 BC Athens and Corinth Founder of quotCynicquot school Much admired and hated Ascetic Attacked all conventions marriage family politics distinctions between people social sexual and racial reputation wealth power literature music and intellectualinquiry Big Questions in Ancient Greek Philosophy 0 What is the world made of and how did it get here Physics 0 What is the good life How should we behave Ethics 0 How do we know anything Epistemology o What counts as reality What is existence Ontology And above all 0 If traditional religion is not the whole answer what is Areas of renewed interest architecture and mathematics astrology and astronomy music and poetry biology and medicine law and justice CLA 315 Ancient Religion The Roman Gods Origins of Roman Religion One Italic township grew into the biggest empire there had ever been a story of religious growth too The Romans conquered Greece in and turned it into a province taking many artworks and texts But Greek culture had already been in uential eg Roman literature began under the shadow of Greek Source materials scarce before 3ml century BC Most writings appear later looking back into the past unreliable Roman Myth nonGreek myths are rare Stories about mortals eg Romulus and Remus 9 history Religion at Rome three strands mixed together plus other foreign cultsiwe will study some of them later 1 Roman or Italic traditions o Polytheistic various deities with different functions Not originally a big twelve pantheon but some gods eg Vesta or Neptune are very ancient 0 Most major gods are mapped onto Greek gods syncretism A few are not 0 Janus twoheaded god of transitions 0 Silvanus rustic god of the woodland o Vertumnus rustic shapeshifting god 0 Various kinds of numina a numen a presence of power without clear personalities o Lares and Penates household or local protector spirits o Manes spirits of the dead 0 Genius a person s guardian spirit 0 Personi cations are common Some ancient some awarded cult on historical occasions o Ops Wealth o Fortuna Fortune 0 Pax Peace 0 Mens Mind Wisdom 2 Greek traditions 0 Greek names and imagery added to existing gods see big table of gods on other page 0 Some Greek gods imported eg Apollo Ceres Asclepius o Hercules receives cult in the Greek manner ie sacri cer s head is uncovered see next page on Sacri ce 3 Etruscan traditions 0 Detailed ceremonies and techniques of divination bird signs augury guts extispicy 0 Etruscan myth is in uenced by Greek myth ltering and changing it For example names HOMERIC HYMN TO DEMETER ADAPTED TRANSLATION AND COMMENTARY BY GREGORY NAGY l I begin to sing of Demeter the holy goddess with the beautiful hair And her daughter Persephone too The one with the delicate ankles whom Hades1 seized She was given away by Zeus the loudthunderer the one who sees far and wide Demeter did not take part in this she of the golden doubleaxe she who glories in the harvest 5 She Persephone was having a good time along with the daughters of Okeanos who wear their girdles slung low She was picking owers roses crocus and beautiful violets Up and down the soft meadow Iris blossoms too she picked and hyacinth And the narcissus which was grown as a lure for the flowerfaced girl by Gaia Earth All according to the plans of Zeus She Gaia was doing a favor for the one who receives many guests Hades 10 It the narcissus was a wondrous thing in its splendor To look at it gives a sense of holy awe to the immortal gods as well as mortal humans It has a hundred heads growing from the root up lts sweet fragrance spread over the wide skies up above And the earth below smiled back in all its radiance So too the churning mass of the salty sea 15 She Persephone was filled with a sense of wonder and she reached out with both hands to take hold of the pretty plaything2 And the earth full of roads leading every which way opened up under her It happened on the Plain of Nysa There it was that the Lord who receives many guests made his lunge He was riding on a chariot drawn by immortal horses The son of Kronos The one known by many names He seized her against her will put her on his golden chariot 20 And drove away as she wept She cried with a piercing voice calling upon her father Zeus the son of Kronos the highest and the best But not one of the immortal ones or of human mortals heard her voice Not even the olive trees which bear their splendid harvest Except for the daughter of Persaios the one who keeps in mind the vigor of nature 25 She heard it from her cave She is Hekat with the splendid headband And the Lord Helios Sun heard it too the magnificent son of Hyperion They heard the daughter calling upon her father the son of Kronos But he all by himself was seated far apart from the gods inside a temple the precinct of many prayers He was receiving beautiful sacrificial rites from mortal humans 30 She was being taken against her will at the behest of Zeus by her father s brother the one who makes many signs the one who receives many guests the son of Kronos the one with many names On the chariot drawn by immortal horses So long as the earth and the starfilled sky were still within the goddess s Persephone s view as also the fishswarming sea with its strong currents 35 as also the rays of the sun she still had hope that she would yet see her dear mother and that special group the immortal gods For that long a time her great mind was soothed by hope distressed as she was 1 This name designates both the god of the underworld and the underworld itself 2 As we shall now see the narcissus is the trigger for the trap door The peaks of mountains resounded as did the depths of the sea with her immortal voice And the Lady Mother Demeter heard her And a sharp pain seized her heart The headband on her hair she tore off with her own immortal hands and threw a dark cloak over her shoulders She sped off like a bird soaring over land and sea looking and looking But no one was willing to tell her the truth not one of the gods not one of the mortal humans not one of the birds messengers of the truth Thereafter for nine days did the Lady Demeter wander all over the earth holding torches ablaze in her hands Not once did she take of ambrosia and nectar sweet to drink in her grief nor did she bathe her skin in water But when the tenth bright dawn came upon her Hekat came to her holding a light ablaze in her hands She came with a message and she spoke up saying to her Lady Demeter bringer of the hours giver of splendid gifts which one of the gods who dwell in the sky or which one of mortal humans seized Persephone and brought grief to your dear spirit I heard the sounds butl did not see with my eyes who it was So I quickly came to tell you everything without error So spoke Hekat But she was not answered by the daughter Demeter of Rhea with the beautiful hair Instead she Demeter joined her Hekat and quickly set out with her holding torches ablaze in her hands They came to Helios the seeingeye of gods and men They stood in front of his chariotteam and the resplendent goddess asked this question Helios Show me respect god to goddess if ever I have pleased your heart and spirit in word or deed It is about the girl born to me a sweet young seedling renowned for her beauty whose piercing cry I heard resounding through the boundless aether as if she were being forced thoughl did not see it with my eyes I turn to you as one who ranges over all the earth and sea panics as you look down from the bright aether with your sunbeams tell me without error whether you have by any chance seen my philan child and who has taken her away from me by force against her will and then gone away Tell me which one of the gods or mortal humans did it So she spoke And the son of Hyperion answered her with these words Daughter of Rhea with the beautiful hair Queen Demeter You shall know the answer for I greatly respect you and feel sorry for you as you grieve over your child the one with the delicate ankles No one else among all the immortals is responsible except the cloudgatherer Zeus himself who gave her to Hades as his beautiful wife So he gave her to his own brother And he Hades heading for the misty realms of darkness seized her as he drove his chariot and as she scream ed out loud But I urge you goddess stop your loud cry of lamentation you should not have an anger without bounds all in vain It is not unseemly to have of all the immortals such a soninlaw as Hades the one who makes many signs He is the brother of Zeus whose seed is from the same place And as for prestige 100 105 110 115 120 he has his share going back to the very beginning when the threeway division of inheritance was made3 He dwells with those whose king he was destined by lot to be 4 So saying he shouted to his horses and they responded to his command as they swiftly drew the speeding chariot like longwinged birds And she Demeter was visited by grief that was even more terrible than before it makes you think of the Hound of Hades In her anger at the one who is known for his dark clouds the son of Kronos she shunned the company of gods and lofty Olympus She went away visiting the cities of humans with all their fertile landholdings shading over her appearance for a long time And not one of men looking at her could recognize her Not one of women either who are accustomed to wear their girdles lowslung Until one day she came to the house of brightminded Keleos who was at that time ruler of Eleusis fragrant with incense6 She sat down near the road sad in her dear heart at the well called Parthenion the Virgin s Place where the people of the polis7 used to draw water She sat in the shade under the thick growth of an olive tree looking like an old woman who had lived through many years and who is deprived of giving childbirth and of the gifts of Aphrodite lover of garlands in the hair She was like those nursem aids who belong to kings administrators of justice and who are guardians of children in echoing palaces She was seen by the daughters of Keleos son of Eleusinos who were coming to get water easy to draw from the well in order to carry it in bronze waterjars to the dear home of their father There were four of them looking like goddesses with their bloom of adolescence Kallidik Kleisidik and lovely Demo And then there was Kallitho who was the eldest of them all They did not recognize her Demeter Gods are hard for mortals to see They the daughters stood near her and spoke these winged words Who are you and where are you from old woman old among old humans Why has your path taken you far away from the polis Why have you not drawn near to the palace There throughout the shaded chambers are women who are as old as you are and younger ones too who would welcome you in word and in deed So she spoke8 And the Lady Goddess spoke with the following words Dear children Whoever women you are among the female kind of humans 1 wish you goodwill 1 shall tell you It is not unseemly since you ask for me to tell you truths Doso9 is my name It was given to me by my honored mother But that was then 1 am from Crete having traveled over the wide stretches of sea 3 On the division of the world to be shared by the three brothers Zeus Poseidon and Hades cf IzadXV 189191 4 That is with the dead 5 Different locales had different traditions about where Demeter was first recognized and where her cult and her Mysteries were first established 6 Eleusis is the locale of the Eleusinian Mysteries both Eleusis and the Eleusinian Mysteries were eventually appropriated by the polis of Athens 7 That is the polis of Eleusis 8 Evidently the oldest sister was speaking on behalf of the others as well The name suggests somebody who is a giver of gifts against my will Without my consent by force by duress 125 1 was abducted by pirates After a while sailing with their swift ship they landed at the harbor of Thorikos There the ship was boarded by women of the mainland many of them They the pirates started preparing dinner next to the prow of the beached ship But my spirit did not yearn for food that delight of the mind 130 I stole away and set out to travel over the dark earth of the mainland fleeing my arrogant captors This way I stopped them from drawing any benefit from my worth without having paid the price That is how 1 got here in the course of all my wanderings Andl do not know what this land is and who live here 135 But I pray to all the gods who abide on Olympus that you be granted vigorous husbands and that you be able to bear children in accordance with the wishes of your parents As for me young girls take pity To be honest about it what 1 want is for you to name for me a house to go to the house of someone man or woman who has dear children to be taken care of10 1 want to work for them 140 honestly The kind of work that is cut out for a fem ale who has outlived others her own age 1 could take some newborn baby in my arms and nourish him well 1 could watch over his house 1 would make his bed in the inner recesses of wellbuilt chambers the royal bed Andl could see to a woman s tasks 145 So spoke the goddess And she was answered straightaway by the unwed maiden Kallidik the most beautiful of the daughters of Keleos Old Mother we humans endure the gifts the gods give us even when we grieve over what has to be11 They the gods are after all far better than we are What 1 now say will be clear advice and 1 will name for you 150 the men who have the great control divinely given of prestige here the men who stand at the forefront of the people and who protect the citadel of the polis with their wise counsel and their straight judgem ents And then there are the wives too of soundminded Triptolemos of Dioklos of Polyxenos of faultless Eumolpos as well 155 of Dolikhos and of our splendid father Keleos The wives of all of these manage the palace12 10 The textual transmission is garbled here and my translation of this line is tentative the key I propose is in the connections with lines 149150 11 The gifts of the gods can be good fortune or bad fortune making people rejoice or grieve This theme is relevant to the adlmc name ofDemeter at line 122 12 All this is an exercise in religious hindsight The temple of today is the palace of yesterday the age of heroes The priest of today descended as he is from an influential aristocratic family is the king of yesterday At a complex cultcenter or temple like that of Eleusis which is run by an accretive hierarchy of hereditary priesthoods the religious hindsight requires that the accretion of priestly offices in the temple be retroj ected as an aggregation of kings in the palace who are also the cultheroes in the temple Notice that although Kallidik promises Demeter a catalogue of the kings what she says turns out to be a catalogue of queens who are named in terms of their husbands The husbands are in the foreground but the wives in the background are the ones who manage the palace The kings are all special cultheroes connected with the worship of Demeter Triptolemos the primeval Ploughman is a local hero of Athens Dioklos is a local hero of Megara according to Megarean tradition he was the Megarean ruler of Eleusis who was expelled by the Athenian hero Theseus Plutarch Theseus 1039 the Megarean character in Aristophanes Acharnzans 774 swears by him as a culthero We know less about Polyxenos but here too we have evidence for his cult in symbiosis with the cult of Demeter keeping in mind the theme of god hero antagonism 1 note that poluX 39nos he who has many guests is a conventional epithet of Hades As for Of these women not a single one of them when they first look at you would deprive you of prestige the way you look and turn you away from the palace Rather they will receive you For right now you look like the gods 160 lfyou wish wait for us while we go to the palace of our father and tell our mother Metaneira with the lowslung girdle all these things from beginning to end in the hope that she will tell you to come to our house and not to seek out the houses of others13 She has a treasured son growing up in the wellbuilt palace 165 He was born late after many a prayer for the birth of a son a great joy to his parents If you nourish him to grow till he reaches the crossingpoint of life coming of age 1 can predict that you will be the envy of any woman who lays eyes on you That is how much compensation she Metaneira would give you in return for raising him So she Kallidik spoke And she Demeter nodded her assent So they 170 filling their splendid jars with water carried it off looking magnificent Swiftly they came to the great palace of their father and quickly they told their mother what they saw and heard 14 And she told them quickly to go and invite her Demeter for whatever wages no limits and they much as deer or heifers in the hour of spring 175 prance along the meadow satiating their dispositions as they graze on the grass so also they hitching up the folds of their lovely dresses dashed along the rutted roadway their hair flowing over their shoulders looking like crocus blossoms They found the illustrious goddess sitting near the road just the way 180 they had left her Then they led her to the dear palace of their father She was walking behind them sad in her dear heart She was wearing a veil on her head and a long dark robe peplas trailed around the delicate feet of the goddess 15 Straightaway they came to the palace of skynurtured16 Keleos 185 They went through the hall heading for the place where their mistress their mother was sitting near the threshold of a wellbuilt chamber holding in her lap her son a young seedling And they ran over to her side She Demeter in the meantime went over to the threshold and stood on it with feet firmly planted and her head reached all the way to the ceiling And she filled the whole indoors with a divine light 190 She Metaneira was seized by a sense of awe by a holy wonder by a blanching fear She Metaneira yielded to her Demeter the chair on which she was sitting and she told her to sit down But Demeter the bringer of the hours the giver of splendid gifts refused to sit down on the splendid chair but she stood there silent with her beautiful eyes downcast Eumolpos he who sings and dances well he is the heroancestor of the ultimately dominant priestly family at the cultcenter of Eleusis he represents the most current tradition in Eleusis itself Dolikhos was a culthero connected with the Eleusinian Games Richardson commentary p 199 Keleos seems to be a figure parallel to Eumolpos cf Richardson commentary p 303 13 Note the roles of the father and the mother 14 Again note the roles of the father and the mother 15 Note the diametrical oppositions between Demeter and the girls both in movement and in appearance In the cult of Demeter such diametrically opposite movements and appearances are suitable for ritual reenactment in song and dance by ensembles of speciallychosen girls and women 16 An epithet appropriate to kings reflecting a mythpattern that connects royal sovereignty with dew from heaven 195 until lamb the one who knows what is worth caring about and what is not set down for her a wellbuilt stool on top of which she threw a splendid fleece17 On this she Demeter sat down holding with her hands a veil before her face For a long time she sat on the stool without uttering a sound in her sadness And she made no approach either by word or by gesture to anyone 200 Unsmiling not partaking of food or drink she sat there wasting away with yearning for her daughter with the lowslung girdle until lamb 18 the one who knows what is dear and what is not started making fun Making many jokes she turned the Holy Lady s disposition in another direction making her smile and laugh and have a merry spirit 205 Ever since she lamb has been pleasing her Demeter with the sacred rites Then Metaneira offered her Demeter a cup having filled it with honeysweet wine But she refused saying that it was divinely ordained that she not drink red wine Then she Demeter ordered her Metaneira to mix some barley and water with delicate pennyroyal and to give her Demeter that potion to drink 210 So she Metaneira made the kuke n19 and offered it to the goddess just as she had ordered The Lady known far and wide as Dec 20 accepted it for the sake of the hasia2l Then wellgirded Metaneira spoke up in their midst Woman I wish you goodwill I speak this way because I think you are descended not from base parents but from noble ones You have the look of respect in your eyes 215 and the look of goodwill just as if you were descended from kings who uphold the laws We humans endure the gifts the gods give us even when we are grieving over what has to be The yoke has been placed on our neck But now that you have come here there will be as many things that they give to you as they give to me Take this little boy of mine and nourish him He is lateborn and it was beyond my expectations 220 that the immortals could have given him to me I prayed many times to have him If you nourish him to grow till he reaches the crossingpoint of life coming of age I can predict that you will be the envy of any woman who lays eyes on you That is how much compensation l Metaneira would give you in return for raising him Then Demeter with the beautiful garlands in her hair addressed her 225 Woman I wish you goodwill back and then some May the gods give you good things With positive intentions I will take your little boy as you tell me to I will nourish him and I do not expect that through the inadvertence of her nursem aid he would perish from a pestilence or from the Undercutter22 I know an antidote23 that is far more powerful than the Woodcutter3924 230 I know a genuine remedy for the painful pestilence 17We know from other sources that such a stool with a eece on it was a prop for the purification ritual at Eleusis 18 lamb as we shall now see is a personification of the iambic tradition which re ects a ritual discourse that provokes laughter and thereby promotes avidity This discourse which makes fun of its targets is often obscene in nature The obscenity it goes without saying is ritual obscenity 19 The name of a ritual potion in the Eleusinian Mysteries 20 Another name for Demeter 21 The 110512 is whatever can be considered specific to the sphere of humans not gods in a ritual For example 110512 is when humans take a drink at a ritual whereas the god involved does not From the standpoint of myth however when the ritual is founded the god has to show the way by doing it first so that humans will have precedent In such a case the god does it for the sake of 110512 cf Richardson commentary p 225 22 With reference to the cutting of roots this riddling euphemism designates extracts that serve as ingredients for magic potions 23 Literally an anticutting 24 Apparently the same threat as the Undercutter Having so spoken she took the child to her fragrant bosom in her immortal hands And the mother Metaneira rejoiced in her mind And thus it came to pass that the splendid son of brightminded Keleos Demophon25 who was born to wellgirded Metaneira 235 was nourished in the palace and he grew up like a daim n not eating grain not sucking from the breast But Demeter used to anoint him with ambrosia as if he had been born of the goddess and she would breathe down her sweet breath on him as she held him to her bosom At nights she would conceal him within the power of fire as if he were a smoldering log 240 and his dear parents were kept unaware But they marveled at how full in bloom he came to be and to look at him was like looking at the gods26 Now Demeter would have made him ageless and immortal if it had not been for the heedlessness of wellgirded Metaneira who went spying one night leaving her own fragrant bedchamber 245 and caught sight of it what Demeter was doing She let out a shriek and struck her two thighs 27 afraid for her child She had made a big mistake in her spirit Weeping she spoke these winged words My child Demophon The stranger this woman is making you disappear in a mass of ames This is making me weep in lamentation This is giving me baneful anguish 250 So she spoke weeping And the resplendent goddess heard her Demeter she of the beautiful garlands in the hair became angry at her Metaneira She Demeter took her Metaneira s dear little boy who had been born to her mother in the palace beyond her expectations ishe took him in her immortal hands and put him down on the floor away from her 28 She had taken him out of the fire very angry in her spirit 255 and straightaway she spoke to wellgirded Metaneira Ignorant humans Heedless unable to recognize in advance the difference between future good fortune and future bad In your heedlessness you have made a big mistake a mistake without remedy I swear by the Styx29 the witness of oaths that gods make as I say this 260 immortal and ageless for all days would I have made your dear little boy andl would have given him prestige that is unwilting30 But now there is no way for him to avoid death and doom31 Still he will have a prestige that is unwilting for all time because he had once sat on my knees and slept in my arms 265 At the right hour every year the sons of the Eleusinians will have a war a terrible battle among each other They will do so for all days to come32 25 Literally he who shines for the 16127057 26 Commentary in Nagy Best oft16 Adja cans pp 18 l l 82 27 With downturned palms a ritual gesture described also in the Iliad 28 In other versions Demeter just leaves the baby in the fire letting him perish right then and there cf Richardson commentary 244 29 Styx the word stuxconveys the nervous reaction of recoiling at something that is chillingly icecold is a river in Hades and the gods swear by it when they guarantee the absolute truth of what they are saying 30 Commentary in Nagy Best oft16 Adja cans p 184 31 In the present version of the Demeter myth Metaneira s mistake thus causes the boy s eventual death In other versions as already mentioned it causes the boy s immediate death in the fire 32 This refers to a ritual mockbattle at Eleusis a quasiathletic event known as the Ball zus which was officially held on a seasonallyrecurring basis to compensate for the death of the baby culthero Demophon This mockbattle 270 275 280 285 290 295 300 305 I am Demeter the holder of honors I am the greatest boon and joy for immortals and mortals alike But come Let a great temple with a great altar at its base be built by the entire people Make it at the foot of the acropolis and its steep walls Make it loom over the well of Kallikhoron33 on a prominent hill And I will myself instruct you in the sacred rites so that in the future you may perform the rituals in the proper way and thus be pleasing to my mind So saying the goddess changed her size34 and appearance shedding her old age and she was totally enveloped in beauty And a lovely fragrance wafted from her perfumed robes The radiance of her immortal complexion shone forth from the goddess Her blond hair stream ed down her shoulder The wellbuilt palace was filled with light as if from a ash of lightning She went out of the palace and straightaway her Metaneira s knees buckled For a long time she Metaneira was speechless She did not even think of her treasured little boy to pick him up from the floor But his sisters heard his plaintive wailing and they quickly ran downstairs from their wellcushioned bedrooms One of them picked up the child in her arms clasping him to her bosom Another one rekindled the fire Still another one rushed with her delicate feet to prop up her mother as she was staggering out of the fragrant room They all bunched around the little boy washing him as he gasped and spluttered They all kept hugging him but his spirit could not be comforted He was now being held by nursemaids who were far inferior All night they prayed to the illustrious goddess trembling with fear And when the bright dawn came they told Keleos who rules far and wide exactly what happened and what the goddess Demeter the one with the beautiful garlands in the hair instructed them to do Then he Keleos assembled the masses of the people from this end of the public place to the other and he gave out the order to build for Demeter with the beautiful hair a splendid temple and an altar too on top of the prominent hill And they obeyed straightaway hearing his voice They built it as he ordered And the temple grew bigger and bigger taking shape through the dispensation of the dan39m n35 When the people had finished their work and paused from their labor they all went home But blondhaired Demeter sat down and stayed there in the temple shunning the company of all the blessed ones the gods She was wasting away with yearning for her daughter with the lowslung girdle She made that year the most terrible one for mortals all over the Earth the nurturer of many It was so terrible it makes you think of the Hound of Hades The Earth did not send up any seed Demeter she with the beautiful garlands in her hair kept them the seeds covered underground Many a curved plough was dragged along the fields by many an oxiall in vain seems to have been the ritual kernel of a whole complex of events known as the Eleusinian Games cf Richardson commentary p 246 Parallels the Nemean and the lsthmian Games panHellenic athletic events were held on a seasonallyrecurring basis to compensate for the deaths of the baby cultheroes Arkhemoros and Melikertes respectively 33 Meaning the beautiful place of dancing 34 Gods are largerthanlifesize 35 I see here a veiled reference to the ultimate development of the entire religious complex of Eleusis 310 315 320 325 330 335 340 345 Many a bright grain of wheat fell into the earthiall for naught At this moment she Demeter could have destroyed the entire race of merapes36 humans with harsh hunger thus depriving of their prestige the dwellers of the Olympian abodesisacrificial portions of meat for eating or for burning37 if Zeus had not noticed with his mind taking note in his heart First he sent lris with the golden wings to summon Demeter with the splendid hair with a beauty that is much loved That is what he told her to do And she obeyed Zeus the one with the dark clouds the son of Kronos and she ran the space between sky and earth quickly with her feet 38 She arrived at the city of Eleusis fragrant with incense and she found in the temple Demeter the one with the dark robe Addressing her she spoke winged words Demeter Zeus the one who has unwilting knowledge summons you to come to that special group the company of the immortal gods So then come May what my words say which come from Zeus not fail to be turned into action that is completed So she spoke making an entreaty But her Demeter s spirit was not persuaded After that the Father sent out all the other blessed and immortal gods They came one by one they kept calling out to her offering many beautiful gifts all sorts of honors that she could choose for herself if she joined the company of the immortal gods But no one could persuade her in her thinking or in her intention angry as she was in her spirit and she harshly said no to their words She said that she would never go to fragrant Olympus that she would never send up the harvest of the earth until she saw with her own eyes her daughter the one with the beautiful looks But when the loudthunderer the one who sees far and wide heard this he sent to Erebos Hades the one with the golden wand the Argoskiller Hermes39 so that he may persuade Hades with gentle words that he allow holy Persephone to leave the misty realms of darkness and be brought up to the light in order to join the daimanes the gods in Olympus so that her mother may see her with her own eyes and then let go of her anger Hermes did not disobey but straightaway he headed down beneath the depths of the earth rushing full speed leaving behind the abode of Olympus And he found the Lord inside his palace seated on a funeral couch along with his duly acquired bedmate the one who was much under duress yearning for her mother and suffering from the unbearable things inflicted on her by the will of the blessed ones40 Going near him Hades and stopping the powerful Argoskiller said to him Hades Darkhaired one King of the dead 36 The meaning of this word is opaque it probably conveys some mythological theme of anthropogony 37 There were two ways of offering meat to the gods as portions to be set aside and eaten eg by the priests or to be burned on the altar The gods give vegetation to humans who give their meatofferings to the gods If humans get no vegetation in order to sustain their life the gods cannot get meatofferings to sustain their prestige 38Her golden wings are on her heels 39 Hermes was the killer of a monster called Argos who was himself a Hermetic figure The form argos conveys swiftness and brightness and the form Argczgnljont smay well convey both Argoskiller and he who kills with swiftness and brightness 40 The text of lines 349350 is garbled and the translation here is merely an approximation 350 355 360 365 370 375 380 385 Zeus the Father orders that l have splendid Persephone brought back up to light from Erebos back to him and his company so that her mother may see her with her own eyes and let go of her wrath and terrible grudge against the immortals For she Demeter is performing a mighty deed to destroy the tribes of earthborn humans causing them to be without power by hiding the Seed undergroundiand she is destroying the honors of the immortal gods41 She has a terrible anger and she refuses to keep company with the gods Instead far removed she is seated inside a temple fragrant with incense She has taken charge of the rocky citadel of Eleusis So he spoke Hades King of the Dead smiled with his brows42 and he did not disobey the order of Zeus the King Swiftly he gave an order to brightminded Persephone Go Persephone to your mother the one with the dark robe Have a kindly disposition and spirit in your breast Do not be too upset excessively so I will not be an unseemly husband to you in the company of the immortals I am the brother of Zeus the Father If you are here you will be queen of everything that lives and moves about and you will have the greatest honors in the company of the immortals Those who violate justice will get punishment for all days to come ithose who do not supplicate your power with sacrifice performing the rituals in a reverent way executing perfectly the offerings that are due So he spoke And highminded Persephone rejoiced Swiftly she set out with joy But he Hades gave her stealthily the honeysweet berry of the pomegranate to eat peering around him 43 He did not want her to stay for all time over there at the side of her honorable mother the one with the dark robe The immortal horses were harnessed to the golden chariot by Hades the one who makes many signs She got up on the chariot and next to her was the powerful Argoskiller who took reins and whip into his dear hands and shot out of the palace of Hades And the horses sped away eagerly Swiftly they made their way along the long journey Neither the sea nor the water of the rivers nor the grassy valleys nor the mountain peaks could hold up the onrush of the immortal horses High over the peaks they went slicing through the vast air He came to a halt at the place where Demeter with the beautiful garlands in the hair was staying at the forefront of the temple fragrant with incense When she Demeter saw them she rushed forth like a maenad44 down a wooded mountainslope 387 40045 41 Commentary on lines 351354 in Nagy Best oft16 Aclja cans pp 186187 42 This is conventionally said about a knowing smile Hades knows more than he lets on 43 Hades is acting furtively Richardson commentary p 277 44 Maenads are frenzied devotees of Bacchus Dionysus 45 These lines are incomplete the gaps in the text are caused by a tear in the manuscript the Hymn toDcmctcr is preserved in only one medieval manuscript The reconstructed context Persephone also runs to her mother Demeter finds out that Persephone has eaten of the pomegranate that had been offered her by Hades It is determined 10 401 405 410 415 420 425 430 435 440 But when the earth starts blossoming with fragrant owers of springtime owers of every sort then it is that you must come up from the misty realms of darkness once again a great thing of wonder to gods and mortal humans alike But what kind of ruse was used to deceive you by the powerful one the one who receives many guests 46 She Demeter was answered by Persephone the most beautiful So then Mother I shall tell you everything without error When the messenger came to me the swift Argoskiller with the news from my father the son of Kronos and from the other dwellers in the sky thatl should come from Erebos so that you may see me with your own eyes and let go of your wrath and terrible grudge against the immortals thenl sprang up for joy but he stealthily put into my hand the berry of the pomegranate that honeysweet food and he compelled me by force to eat of it As for how it was that he Hades snatched me away through the cunning of the son of Kronos my father and how he took me down beneath the depths of the earth I will tell you and relate in order as you ask We were all of us going along the lovely meadow l and Leukipp Phaino Elektra lanth Melit lakh Rhodeia Kallirrho Melobosis Tych and owerfaced Okyrrho Chryseis laneira Akast Adm t Rhodop Plouto and lovely Kalypso Styx Ourania and lovely Galaxaura Also Pallas Athena the one who rouses to battle and Artemis who delights in arrows We were playing and gathering lovely flowers in our hands an assortment of delicate crocus iris and hyacinth rosebuds and lilies a wonder to behold and the narcissus which is grown like the crocus by the wide earth 47 l was joyfully gathering the flowers and then the earth beneath me gave way and there it was that he sprang out the powerful lord who receives many guests He took me away under the earth in his golden chariot It was very much against my will I cried with a piercing voice These things grieving I tell you and they are all truths In this way did the two of them spend the whole day having a likeminded spirit48 and they gladdened greatly each other s heart and spirit hugging each other and their spirit ceased having pain They received joy from each other and gave it Then Hekat approached them the one with the splendid headband And she welcomed back the daughter of holy Demeter with many embraces And from that day forward the Lady Hekat became her Persephone s attendant and substitute queen Then the loudthundering Zeus who sees far and wide sent to them a messenger that Persephone must therefore stay in Hades for onethird of the year even though she may spend the other two thirds with her mother 46 Demeter is asking Persephone this question 47 As we know from external sources both the crocus and the narcissus are sacred to Demeter and Persephone 48 It is a religious principle that Demeter and Persephone on the occasion of their motherdaughter reunion are likeminded 445 450 455 460 465 470 475 480 Rhea with the beautiful hair to bring Demeter the one with the dark robe to join the company of the special group of gods And he promised honors that he would give to her Demeter which she could receive in the company of the immortal gods He Zeus assented that her daughter every time the season came round would spend a third portion of the year in the realms of dark mist underneath and the other two thirds in the company of her mother and the other immortals So he spoke and the goddess Rhea did not disobey the messages of Zeus Swiftly she darted off from the peaks of Olympus and arrived at the Rarian Field49 the lifebringing fertile spot of land in former times at least But at this time it was no longer lifebringing but it stood idle and completely without green growth The bright grain of wheat had stayed hidden underneath through the mental power of Demeter the one with the beautiful ankles But from this point on it began straightaway to flourish with long ears of grain as the springtime was increasing its power On the field the fertile furrows began to be over ow with cutdown ears of grain lying on the ground while the rest of what was cut down was already bound into sheaves This happened the moment she Rhea arrived from the boundless aether They Demeter and Rhea were glad to see each other and they rejoiced in their spirit Then Rhea the one with the splendid headband addressed her Demeter Come child Zeus the loudthunderer the one who sees far and wide is summoning you to come to the company of that special group of gods And he promised honors that he would give you which you could receive in the company of the immortal gods He Zeus assented that your daughter every time the season comes round would spend a third portion of the year in the realms of dark mist underneath and the other two thirds in your company and that of the other immortals He has assented to all this with the nod of his head 50 So come my child Obey Do not be too stubborn in your anger at the darkclouded son of Kronos Straightaway make the harvest grow that lifebringer for humans So she spoke and Demeter she with the beautiful garlands in her hair did not disobey Straightaway she sent up the harvest from the land with its rich clods of earth And all the wide earth with leaves and blossoms was laden Then she went to the kings administrators of laws and she showed themito Triptolemos to Diokles driver of horses to powerful Eumolpos and to Keleos leader of the peoplei she revealed to them the way to perform the sacred rites and she pointed out the ritual to all of them51 ithe holy ritual which it is not at all possible to ignore to find out about or to speak out The great awe of the gods holds back any speaking out Blessed among earthbound mortals is he who has seen these things But whoever is uninitiated in the rites whoever takes no part in them will never get a share of those sorts of things that the initiated get once they die down below in the dank realms of mist But when the resplendent goddess finished all her instructions they Demeter and Persephone went to Olympus to join the company of the other gods 49 A cultplace associated with the Eleusinian Mysteries and with the myth about the first plowing Demeter is here at the time see lines 457458 50 There is a lacuna in the first part of this line 51 Editors tend to skip the next line which repeats the names of some but not all of the recipients of Demeter s revelation of sacred mysteries
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