Professor Andrew Barrett
CLA 2000- 006
22 October 2018
Paraphrase of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter
The Homeric Hymn to Demeter tells of the abduction of Demeter’s daughter, Persephone, by Hades. Persephone, the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, and the daughters of the Ocean were picking flowers in a meadow. The Narcissus flower, grown by Earth at the will of Zeus to appease Hades, sprouted up in the meadow. Its incredible beauty entices Persephone. She reaches out to pluck the flower, but the Earth gaped open and Hades appeared. He took Persephone against her will to be his wife and she wept out. No one heard her cry expect for Hekate and Demeter. Demeter quickly went in search for her and abandoned her agriculture help. Disguised as an old woman, she came to Eleusis. The daughters of the king of Eleusis came across Demeter, viewing her as a nurse, and believed she could be helpful to their mother. The queen hired Demeter to nurse her son Demophoon. Demeter did so and at night hid him in an open fire so that he would be immortal. The queen spied upon her one night and ruined Demeter’s spell. Demophoon would no longer be immortal but would have honor. Angered Demeter told the queen of her actual identity as a goddess and instructed her to let the people build her a shrine with an altar above a hill and in return she would tell them of the instructions for her rites. Demeter sat on her shrine longing for her daughter and brought about a devastating year with no harvest for humans. Having this continue would have ended the human race and robbed the Olympians of their offerings and honor, thus Zeus sent Hermes to persuade Hades to return Persephone to her mother. Hades obeyed but secretly fed Persephone a pomegranate seed before he sent her back. Demeter and Persephone were reunited however, because of Hades’s trick Persephone must spend a third of the year in the underworld and two-thirds with her mother and the gods. Demeter and Persephone were joyous again. Demeter gave crops back to the humans and returned to Eleusis to show them how to perform her rites, as well as revealed sacred actions that couldn’t be broken, learned, or revealed. Demeter and Persephone returned to Olympos and were sent to Ploutos, the giver of wealth to humans doomed to death.