Demeter and Persephone, with Eumolpus: a relief





  • DEMETER, sister of Zeus and Hades
  • HADES, Lord of the Underworld
  • HECATE (`Crone')
  • KORE (Persephone), daughter of Zeus and Demeter
  • King CELEUS of Eleusis
  • Queen METANEIRA, his wife
  • DEMOPHON, their baby
  • TRIPTOLEMUS, another (?) son
  • IAMBE and her sisters


of Kore (Persephone) by Hades.
  • -picking flowers in the meadow (symbol of virginity, and its destruction)
  • -Hades, in his golden chariot drawn by black horses, `rapes' her.
  • -In Hades' palace, Persephone eats seven pomegranate seeds, and so becomes `attached' to Hades.
  • -Demeter seeks her daughter. Only ARETHUSA (daughter of Alpheus the River, she is a spring in Sicily), HELIOS, and HECATE heard or saw the abduction. The daughters of Melpomene, who were Pandora's companions, were turned into SIRENS because they would not help search for her (or ‘in order to search for her’).
  • -While Demeter is searching, there is no fertility (cf. Isis searching fot the body-parts of her husband-brother Osiris in the Egyptian fertility myth).


for Kore by Demeter.

Carrying torches, Demeter searches for Kore. After 9 days, Helios (who sees everything above the earth, during
the day) tells Demeter where her daughter is.
(a) While searching Arcadia Demeter is raped by her brother Poseidon (horse cult?)
(b) In Elis, TANTALUS prepares a cannibalistic banquet to test Zeus and the gods: his son PELOPS is the
    dinner. The other gods perceive the trick, but Demeter is so distracted that he eats Pelops' shoulder.
    Although Pelops is reassembled and reanimated by Zeus (resurrection ?? Osiris story ?) , his shoulder
    is replaced by a carved piece of ivory.


by Demeter.

Taking the form of an old woman (crone), Demeter sits down to rest near a well called Parthenion (`Maiden'), where she is approached by the daughters of King Celeus, who have come to fetch water.

They treat the disguised goddess sympathetically, and invite her to come to the Palace, since their mother needs a nanny for their young brother; the most amusing of the girls is IAMBE (‘Iambic verse’). Offered hospitality, Demeter refuses wine, but accepts a drink called kykeion (barley water with pennyroyal). Queen METANEIRA is impressed with the `woman' and gives her employment. Demeter anoints the baby Demopho(o)n every evening with ambrosia, and puts the baby in the fire of the hearth to burn away its mortality. But one evening Metaneira spies on Demeter and interrupts the rite. Demeter drops the child in surprise, resumes her divine form, and rebukes Metaneira for interfering with divine secrets which would have made the baby immortal. But Demeter does promise to teach her sacred rituals to the Eleusinians.


On the intervention of the older Earth-goddess RHEA (grandmother crone), Demeter (mother) is reconciled with ZEUS (father) and HADES (husband), and has her daughter KORE (`Maid') restored to her--at least part-time.

Demeter teaches King Celeus' son TRIPTOLEMUS to cultivate wheat (there is a sacred field of grain at Eleusis, the Riarian Field). He becomes the ancient version of Johnny Appleseed, spreading the knowledge of wheat-cultivation. In Scythia (the Ukraine ?) he visits KING LYNKOS (`The Lynx'), who tries to murder Triptolemus so that he can become the sole possessor of the secret of wheat, and therefore its patron/manipulator. Demeter intervenes, however, and turns Lynkos intoa lynx (Ovid, Metamorphoses V. 648 ff.)



January 23, 2010 9:46 AM

John Paul Adams, CSUN

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