Eleusinian Mystery Cults and Demeter

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Kiki Karoglou of the Metropolitan Museum of Art wrote: “In classical antiquity, the earliest and most celebrated mysteries were the Eleusinian. At Eleusis, the worship of the agricultural deities Demeter and her daughter Persephone, also known as Kore, was based on the growth cycles of nature. Athenians believed they were the first to receive the gift of grain cultivation from Demeter. [Source: Kiki Karoglou, Department of Greek and Roman Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 2013, metmuseum.org \^/]

"Extraordinarily, the goddess herself revealed to them the solemn rites in her honor, as we learn in the Homeric hymn to Demeter, which relates the foundation myth of the Eleusinian cult. Hades abducted Persephone while she was picking flowers with her companions in a meadow and carried her off to the Underworld. After wandering in vain looking for her daughter, Demeter arrived at Eleusis. There the wrath of the distressed mother caused a complete failure of the crops, prompting Zeus to order his brother Hades to return the girl. He cunningly tricked Persephone into eating some pomegranate seeds before leaving, thus condemning her to spend part of the year in the Underworld as his wife and the rest among the living with Demeter. \^/

“During the Great Eleusinia, the public aspect of which culminated in the grand procession from the center of Athens to Eleusis along the Sacred Way, the actions and experiences of the initiates mirrored those of the two goddesses in the sacred drama (drama mystikon). In the early sixth century B.C., the "Queen of the Underworld" persona of Kore was introduced and a nocturnal initiation rite called katabasis was added to the festival: a simulated descent to Hades and ritual search for Persephone. Before the entrance to the Telesterion, the central hall of the sanctuary where the secret rites were performed, priestly personnel holding torches met up with the initiates, who until then were wandering in the dark. At the Eleusinian mysteries, the tension between public and private, conspicuous and secret was inherent in the double nature of the cult. Unlike city-state (polis) religion, participation was restricted to individuals who chose to be initiated, to become mystai. At the same time, it was far more inclusive, being open not only to Athenian male citizens, but to non-Athenians, women, and slaves.” \^/

Websites on Ancient Greece and Rome: Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Greece sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Hellenistic World sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; BBC Ancient Greeks bbc.co.uk/history/; Canadian Museum of History historymuseum.ca; Perseus Project - Tufts University; perseus.tufts.edu ; ; Gutenberg.org gutenberg.org; British Museum ancientgreece.co.uk; Illustrated Greek History, Dr. Janice Siegel, Department of Classics, Hampden–Sydney College, Virginia hsc.edu/drjclassics ; The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization pbs.org/empires/thegreeks ; Oxford Classical Art Research Center: The Beazley Archive beazley.ox.ac.uk ; Ancient-Greek.org ancientgreece.com; Metropolitan Museum of Art metmuseum.org/about-the-met/curatorial-departments/greek-and-roman-art; The Ancient City of Athens stoa.org/athens; The Internet Classics Archive kchanson.com ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Rome sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Late Antiquity sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Forum Romanum forumromanum.org ; “Outlines of Roman History” forumromanum.org; “The Private Life of the Romans” forumromanum.org|; BBC Ancient Rome bbc.co.uk/history;
The Roman Empire in the 1st Century pbs.org/empires/romans; The Internet Classics Archive classics.mit.edu ; Bryn Mawr Classical Review bmcr.brynmawr.edu; De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors roman-emperors.org; Cambridge Classics External Gateway to Humanities Resources web.archive.org/web; Ancient Rome resources for students from the Courtenay Middle School Library web.archive.org ; History of ancient Rome OpenCourseWare from the University of Notre Dame /web.archive.org ; United Nations of Roma Victrix (UNRV) History unrv.com

History of the Eleusinian Mysteries

Dudley Wright wrote: “Although secrecy on the subject of the nature of the stately Mysteries is strictly enjoined, the writer of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter makes no secret of the happiness which belonged to all who became initiates: "Happy is he who has been received unfortunate he who has never received the initiation nor taken part in the sacred ordinances, and who cannot, alas! be destined to the same lot reserved for the faithful in the darkling abode." [Source: “The Eleusinian Mysteries and Rites’ by Dudley Wright (1868-1949), Theosophical Publishing House. 1919, Project Gutenberg, www.gutenberg.net, |~|]

Elefsina, archeaological site of the ancient mysteries

“The earliest mention of the Temple of Demeter at Eleusis occurs in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, which has already been mentioned. This was not written by Homer, but by some poet versed in Homeric lore, and its probable date is about 600 B.C. It was discovered a little over a hundred years ago in an old monastery library at Moscow, and now reposes in a museum at Leyden. |~|

“On the submission of Eleusis to Athens, the Mysteries became an integral part of the Athenian religion, so that the Eleusinian Mysteries became a Panhellenic institution, and later, under the Romans, a universal worship, but the secret rites of initiation were well kept throughout their history. ...Eleusis was one of the twelve originally independent cities of Attica, which Theseus is said to have united into a simple state. Leusina now occupies the site, and has thus preserved the name of the ancient city. |~|

“Theseus is portrayed by Virgil as suffering eternal punishment in Hades, but Proclus writes concerning him as follows: "Theseus, and Pirithous are fabled to have ravished Helen, and to have descended to the infernal regions — i.e. they were lovers of intelligible and visible beauty. Afterwards Theseus was liberated by Pericles from Hades, but Pirithous remained there because he could not sustain the arduous attitude of divine contemplation." Dr. Warburton, in his “Divine Legation of Moses” gives it as his opinion that Theseus was a living character who once forced his way into the Eleusinian Mysteries, for which crime he was imprisoned on earth and afterwards damned in the infernal regions.” |~|

Famous People Who Wanted to Be Initiated Into the Eleusinian Mysteries

Nero sought admission into the Eleusinian Mysteries, but was rejected because of the many slaughters connected with his name. Antoninus, when he would purge himself before the world of the death of Avidius Cassius, elected to be initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries, it being recognized at that time that none was admitted into them who was justly guilty of heinous immorality or crime. [Source: “The Eleusinian Mysteries and Rites’ by Dudley Wright (1868-1949), Theosophical Publishing House. 1919, Project Gutenberg, www.gutenberg.net. Wright wrote in about religion, supernormal phenomena and freemasonry. |~|]

Nero was rejected by the Eleusinian Mysteries

“Apollonius of Tyana was desirous of being admitted into the Eleusinian Mysteries, but the hierophant refused to admit him on the ground that he was a magician, and had intercourse with divinities other than those of the Mysteries, declaring that he would never initiate a wizard or throw open the Mysteries to a man addicted to impure rites. Apollonius retorted: "You have not yet mentioned the chief of my offences, which is that, knowing, as I do, more about the initiatory rites than you do yourself, I have nevertheless come to you as if you were wiser than I am." The hierophant, when he saw that the exclusion of Apollonius was not by any means popular with the crowd, changed his tone and said: "Be thou initiated, for thou seemest to be some wise man that has come here." But Apollonius replied: "I will be initiated at another time, and it is (mentioning a name) who will initiate me." Hereon, says Philostratus, he showed his gift of prevision, for he glanced at the one who succeeded the hierophant he addressed, and presided over the temple four years later when Apollonius was initiated. |~|

“Persons of both sexes and of all ages were initiated, and neglect of the ceremony came to be regarded almost in the light of a crime. Socrates and Demonax were reproached and looked upon with suspicion because they did not apply for initiation. Persians were always pointedly excluded from the ceremony. Athenians of both sexes were granted the privilege of initiation during childhood on the presentation of their father, but only the first degree of initiation was permitted. For the second and third degrees it was necessary to have arrived at full age. The Greeks looked upon initiation in much the same light as the majority of Christians look upon baptism. So great was the rush of candidates for initiation when the restrictions were relaxed that Cicero was able to write that the inhabitants of the most distant regions flocked to Eleusis in order to be initiated. Thus it became the custom with all Romans, who journeyed to Athens to take advantage of the opportunity to become initiates. Even the Emperors of Rome, the official heads of the Roman religion, the masters of the world, came to the Eumolpides to proffer the request that they might receive the honour of initiation and become participants in the Sacred Mysteries revealed by the goddess. |~|

“While Augustus, who was initiated in the year 21 B.C., did not hesitate to show his antipathy towards the religion of the Egyptians, towards Judaism and Druidism, he was always scrupulous in observing the pledge of secrecy demanded of initiates into the Eleusinian Mysteries, and on one occasion, when it became necessary for some of the priests of the Eleusinian temple to proceed to Rome to plead before his tribunal on the question of privilege, and in the course of the evidence to speak of certain ceremonial in connection with the Mysteries of which it was not lawful to speak in the presence of the uninitiated, he ordered every one who had not received the privilege of initiation to leave the tribunal so that he and the witnesses alone remained. The Eleusinian Mysteries were not deemed inimical to the welfare of the Roman Empire as were the religions of the Egyptians, Jews, and ancient Britons. |~|

Hadrian introduced Eleusinian celebrations to Rome

“Claudius, another imperial initiate, conceived the idea of transferring the scene of the Mysteries to Rome, and, according to Suetonius, was about to put the project into execution, when it was ruled that it was obligatory that the principal scenic presentation of the Mysteries must be celebrated on the ground trodden by the feet of Demeter and where the goddess herself had ordered her temple to be erected. |~|

“The initiation of the Emperor Hadrian (who succeeded where Claudius had failed, in introducing the celebration of the Mysteries into Rome) took place in A.D. 125, when he was present at the Lesser Mysteries in the spring and at the Greater Mysteries in the following autumn. In September, A.D. 129, he was again at Athens, when he presented himself for the third degree, as is known from Dion Cassius, confirmed by a letter written by the Emperor himself, in which he mentions a journey from Eleusis to Ephesus made by him at that time. Hadrian is the only imperial initiate, so far as is known, who persevered and passed through all three degrees. Since he remained at Eleusis as long as it was possible for him to do so after the completion of his initiation, it is not rash to assume that he was inspired by something more than curiosity or even by a desire to show respect. |~|

“It is uncertain whether the Emperor Antonin was initiated, although from an inscription it seems probable that he was and that he should be included in the list of imperial initiates. Both Marcus Aurelius and Commodus, father and son, were initiated at the same time, at the Lesser Mysteries in March, A.D. 176, and at the Greater Mysteries in the following September. Septimius Severus was initiated before he ascended the throne.” |~|


Demeter (Ceres to Romans) was the goddess of agriculture, fertility and the harvest. She was the sister of Zeus and the mother of Persephone (See Below). Demeter was popular on Earth because of her association with crops and harvests. A large festival was held in her honor around harvest time. Some of the rituals were so secret we have no idea what they were. Ceres is the source of the word "cereal"


Marianne Bonz wrote for PBS's Frontline: “Of the twelve original Olympian deities, Demeter was probably the one who most affected the lives and fortunes of common people. She was the goddess of fertility and of the fruits of the harvest. She was worshipped throughout the Greek world and remained important to her Greek subjects even in the Roman imperial era. She had the reputation of being accessible to the needs of mortals, on whom she bestowed the benefits of the earth's abundance. [Source: Marianne Bonz, Frontline, PBS, April 1998 ]

“Her primary sanctuary was at Eleusis, in the country beyond the outskirts of Athens. And her cult centered on the reenactment of a story by means of which the Greeks explained the mysteries of the agricultural seasons — how the earth's vegetation seemed to die in winter, only to be reborn again every spring.

“In addition to two yearly festivals in which the end of the harvest and the renewal of the planting were commemorated, a major festival was celebrated every five years. The principal object of this festival was the public veneration of Demeter and, for those who qualified, the celebration of her mysteries. Although Romans generally were not admitted to these secret rites, the goddess wisely permitted a few. We know of at least two emperors who were initiated into her mysteries and who supported her cult with material gifts.Since the proceedings of these mysteries and their rituals remained secret, historians do not know exactly what transpired. It is known, however, that those who participated were granted some assurance of the continued favor of the goddess, both in this life and the next."

Persephone in the Underworld

Persephone abducted by Hades

One of the most famous Greek myths is the tale of Persephone, who was kidnaped by Hades, the god of the Underworld , and who is associated with the seasons. Persephone was the daughter of Demeter. She was greatly loved by everyone. She filled Olympus with joy and caused flowers to bloom on earth. One day Persephone wandered from her mother on a visit to earth. She was picking flowers when Hades emerged from the ground with a chariot pulled by black horse and took her to the Underworld and made her the Queen of the Underworld .

Demeter became so distraught at the loss of her daughter she neglected her duties for an entire year. the Earth froze over and a famine ensued, causing untold suffering. Mankind was on the verge of extinction. Demeter eventually enlisted the help of Zeus who convinced Hades to let Persephone go. Persephone was released but there was a problem. While in Hades she ate three pomegranate seeds and no one who had eaten the food of the dead was allowed to leave.

Zeus intervened again and struck a deal with Hades. Persephone was allowed to leave the Underworld but she had to return each year for one month for each pomegranate seed she ate. So each year when Persephone leaves Demeter becomes so depressed that winter ensues. When she is reunited with Persephone in spring, flowers bloom and the world becomes green. To endure the winter months, Demeter taught mankind how to harvest grain and store it during her period of unhappiness.

The Eleusis cult near Athens was dedicated to the worship of Demeter. Special rituals were held to ensure that Persephone returned each spring.

Eleusinian Mysteries and Stories of Persephone and Demeter

Dudley Wright wrote: “The fable of Persephone, as belonging to the Mysteries, was properly of a mixed nature, composed of all four species of fable — theological, physical, animistic, and material. According to the arcana of ancient theology, the Coric order — i.e. that belonging to Persephone — is twofold, one part supermundane and the other mundane. [Source: “The Eleusinian Mysteries and Rites’ by Dudley Wright (1868-1949), Theosophical Publishing House. 1919, Project Gutenberg, www.gutenberg.net, |~|]

“Proclus says: "According to the rumour of theologists, who delivered to us the most holy Eleusinian Mysteries, Persephone abides on high, in those dwellings of her mother which she prepared for her in inaccessible places, exempt from the sensible world. But she likewise dwells with Pluto, administering terrestrial concerns, governing the recesses of the earth and imparting soul to beings which are of themselves inanimate and dead." |~|

“The Orphic poet describes Persephone as "the life and the death of mortals," and as being the mother of Eubuleus or Bacchus by an ineffable intercourse with Jupiter. Porphyry asserts that the wood pigeon was sacred to her and that she was the same as Maia, or the great mother, who is usually claimed as the parent of the Arkite god Mercury. |~|

“According to Nösselt the following may be taken as the meaning of the myth of Demeter and her lost daughter: "Persephone, the daughter of the all-productive earth (Demeter), is the seed. The earth rejoices at the sight of the plants and flowers, but they fade and wither, and the seed disappears quickly from the face of the earth when it is strewn on the ground. The dreaded monarch of the underworld has taken possession of it. In vain the mother searches for her child, the whole face of nature mourns her loss, and everything sorrows and grieves with her. But, secretly and unseen, the seed develops itself in the lap of the earth, and at length it starts forth: what was dead is now alive; the earth, all decked with fresh green, rejoices at the recovery of her long-lost daughter, and everything shares in the joy." |~|

“Demeter was worshipped in a twofold sense by the Greeks, as the foundress of agriculture and as goddess of law and order. They used to celebrate yearly in her honour the Thesmorphoria, or Festival of Laws. According to some ancient writers the Greeks, prior to the time of Demeter and Triptolemus, fed upon the acorns of the ilex, or the evergreen oak. Acorns, according to Virgil, were the food in Epiros, and in Spain, according to Strabo. The Scythians made bread with acorns. According to another tradition, before Demeter's time, men neither cultivated corn nor tilled the ground, but roamed the mountains and woods in search for the wild fruits which the earth produced. Isocrates wrote: "Ceres hath made the Athenians two presents of the greatest consequence: corn, which brought us out of a state of brutality; and the Mysteries, which teach the initiated to entertain the most agreeable expectations touching death and eternity." The coins of Eleusis represented Demeter in a car drawn by dragons or serpents which were sometimes winged. The goddess had two ears of corn in her right hand or, as some imagined, torches, indicating that she was searching for her daughter. George Wheler, in his “Journey into Greece”, published in 1682, says: "We observed many large stones covered with wheat-ears and bundles of poppy bound together; these being the characters of Ceres." At Copenhagen there is a statue representing Demeter holding poppies and ears of corn in her left hand. On a coin of Lampsacus of the fourth century B.C., Persephone is described in the act of rising from the earth. |~|

Perephone abducted by Hades while Demeter looks on

“According to Taylor, the Platonist, Demeter in the legend represents the evolution of that self-inspective part of our nature which we properly determine intellect, and Persephone that vital, self-moving, and animate part which we call soul. Pluto signifies the whole of our material nature, and, according to Pythagoras, the empire of this god commences downwards from the Galaxy or Milky Way. |~|

“Sallust says that among the mundane divinities Ceres is the deity of the planet Saturn. The cavern signifies the entrance into mundane life accomplished by the union of the soul with the terrestrial body. Demeter, who was afraid lest some violence be offered to Persephone on account of her inimitable beauty, conveyed her privately to Sicily and concealed her in a house built on purpose by the Cyclops, while she herself directed her course to the temple of Cybele, the mother of the gods. Here we see the first cause of the soul's descent, viz. her desertion of a life wholly according to intellect, occultly signified by the separation of Demeter and Persephone. Afterwards Jupiter instructed Venus to go and betray Persephone from her retirement, that Pluto might be enabled to carry her away, and, to prevent any suspicion in the virgin's mind, he commanded Diana and Pallas to bear her company. The three goddesses on arrival found Persephone at work on a scarf for her mother, on which she had embroidered the primitive chaos and the formation of the world. Venus, says Taylor, is significant of desire, which, even in the celestial regions (for such is the residence of Persephone until she is ravished by Pluto), begins silently and fraudulently in the recesses of the soul. Minerva is symbolical of the rational power of the soul; and Diana represents nature, or the merely natural and vegetable part of our composition, both ensnared through the allurements of desire. |~|

“In Ovid we have Narcissus, the metamorphosis of a youth who fell a victim to love of his own corporeal form. The rape of Persephone, according to the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, was the immediate consequence of her gathering this wonderful flower. By Narcissus falling in love with his shadow in the limpid stream we behold the representation of a beautiful soul, which, by prolonged gaze upon the material form, becomes enamoured of a corporeal life and changed into a being consisting wholly of the mere energies of nature. Plato, forcing his passage through the earth, seizes on Persephone and carries her away, despite the resistance of Minerva and Diana, who were forbidden by Jupiter to attempt her deliverance after her abduction. This signifies that the lapse of the soul into a material nature is contrary to the genuine wish and proper condition. Pluto having hurried Persephone into the infernal regions, marriage succeeds. That is to say, the soul having sunk into the profoundities of a material nature, unites with the dark tenement of the material body. Night is with great beauty and propriety introduced, standing by the nuptial couch and confirming the oblivious league. That is to say, the soul, by union with a material body, becomes familiar with darkness and subject to the empire of night, in consequence of which she dwells wholly with delusive phantoms and till she breaks her fetters is deprived of the perception of that which is real and true.” |~|

Eleusinian Legend

Dudley Wright wrote: “The legend which formed the basis of the Mysteries of Eleusis, presence at and participation in which demanded an elaborate form or ceremony of initiation, was as follows:- Persephone (sometimes described as Proserpine and as Cora or Kore), when gathering flowers, was abducted by Pluto, the god of Hades, and carried off by him to his gloomy abode; Zeus, the brother of Pluto and the father of Persephone, giving his consent. Demeter (or Ceres), her mother, arrived too late to assist her child, or even catch a glimpse of her seducer, and neither god nor man was able, or willing, to enlighten her as to the whereabouts of Persephone or who had carried her away. For nine nights and days she wandered, torch in hand, in quest of her child. Eventually, however, she heard from Helios (the sun) the name of the seducer and his accomplice. Incensed at Zeus, she left Olympos and the gods, and came down to scour the earth disguised as an old woman. [Source: “The Eleusinian Mysteries and Rites’ by Dudley Wright (1868-1949), Theosophical Publishing House. 1919, Project Gutenberg, www.gutenberg.net. Wright wrote in about religion, supernormal phenomena and freemasonry. |~|] “In the course of her wanderings she arrived at Eleusis, where she was honourably entertained by Keleos, the ruler of the country, with whom, and his wife Metanira, she consented to remain in order to watch over the education of Demophon, who had just been born to the aged king and whom she undertook to make immortal. |~|
Long was thy anxious search
For lovely Proserpine, nor didst thou break
Thy mournful fast, till the far-fam'd Eleusis
Received thee wandering. — Orphic Hymn |~|

Demeter mourning the loss of Persephone

“The city of Eleusis is said to derive its name from the hero Eleusis, a fabulous personage deemed by some to have been the offspring of Mercury and Daira, daughter of Oceanus, while by others he was claimed as the son of Oxyges. |~|

“Unknown to the parents Demeter used to anoint Demophon by day with ambrosia, and hide him by night in the fire like a firebrand. Detected one night by Metanira, she was compelled to reveal herself as Demeter, the goddess. Whereupon she directed the Eleusinians to erect a temple as a peace-offering, and, this being done, she promised to initiate them into the form of worship which would obtain for them her goodwill and favour. "It is I, Demeter, full of glory, who lightens and gladdens the hearts of gods and men. Hasten ye, my people, to raise, hard by the citadel, below the ramparts, a fane, and on the eminence of the hill, an altar, above the wall of Callichorum. I will instruct you in the rites which shall be observed and which are pleasing to me." |~|

“The temple was erected, but Demeter was still vowing vengeance against gods and men, and because of the continued loss of her daughter she rendered the earth sterile during a whole year. <br/> What ails her that she comes not home?
Demeter seeks her far and wide;
And gloomy-browed doth ceaseless roam
From many a morn till eventide.
"My life, immortal though it be,
Is naught!" she cries, "for want of thee,
Persephone — Persephone!" |~|

“The oxen drew the plough, but in vain was the seed sown in the prepared ground. Mankind was threatened with utter annihilation, and all the gods were deprived of sacrifices and offerings. Zeus endeavoured to appease the anger of the gods, but in vain. Finally he summoned Hermes to go to Pluto and order him to restore Persephone to her mother. Pluto yielded, but before Persephone left she took from the hand of Pluto four pomegranate pips which he offered her as sustenance on her journey. Persephone, returning from the land of shadows, found her mother in the temple at Eleusis which had recently been erected. Her first question was whether her daughter had eaten anything in the land of her imprisonment, because her unconditional return to earth and Olympos depended upon that. Persephone informed her mother that all she had eaten was the pomegranate pips, in consequence of which Pluto demanded that Persephone should sojourn with him for four months during each year, or one month for each pip taken. Demeter had no option but to consent to this arrangement, which meant that she would enjoy the company of Persephone for eight months in every year, and that the remaining four would be spent by Persephone with Pluto. Demeter caused to awaken anew "the fruits of the fertile plains," and the whole earth was re-clothed with leaves and flowers. Demeter called together the princes of Eleusis — Triptolemus, Diocles, Eumolpus, Polyxenos, and Keleos — and initiated them "into the sacred rites — most venerable — into which no one is allowed to make enquiries or to divulge; a solemn warning from the gods seals our mouths."” |~|

Different Versions of the Demeter Story

Demeter and the Return of Persephone

Dudley Wright wrote: “In this Homeric Hymn to Demeter, Persephone gives her own version of the incident as follows: "We were all playing in the lovely meadows — Leucippe, and Phaino, and Electra, and Ianthe, and Melitê, and Iachê and Rhodeia, and Callinhoe, and Melobosis, and Ianeira, and Acastê, and Admetê, and Rhodope, and Plouto, and winsome Calypso, and Styx, and Urania, and beautiful Galaxamê. We were playing there and plucking beautiful blossoms with our hands; crocuses mingled, and iris, and hyacinth, and roses, and lilies, a marvel to behold, and narcissus, that the wide earth bare, a wile for my undoing. Gladly was I gathering them when the earth gaped beneath, and therefrom leaped the mighty prince, the host of many guests, and he bare me against my will, despite my grief, beneath the earth, in his golden chariot; and shrilly did I cry." [Source: “The Eleusinian Mysteries and Rites’ by Dudley Wright (1868-1949), Theosophical Publishing House. 1919, Project Gutenberg, www.gutenberg.net, |~|]

“The version of the legend given by Minucius Felix is as follows: "Proserpine, the daughter of Ceres by Jupiter, as she was gathering tender flowers in the new spring, was ravished from her delightful abode by Pluto; and, being carried from thence through thick woods and over a length of sea, was brought by Pluto into a cavern, the residence of departed spirits, over whom she afterwards ruled with absolute sway. But Ceres, upon discovering the loss of her daughter, with lighted torches and begirt with a serpent, wandered over the whole earth for the purpose of finding her, till she came to Eleusis; there she found her daughter, and discovered to the Eleusinians the plantation of corn." |~|

“According to another version of the legend, Neptune met Ceres when she was in quest of her daughter, and fell in love with her. The goddess, in order to escape from his attentions, concealed herself under the form of a mare, when the god of the sea transformed himself into a horse to seduce her, with which act she was so highly offended that after having washed herself in a river and reassumed human form, she took refuge in a cave, where she lay concealed. When famine and pestilence began to ravage the earth, the gods made search for her everywhere, but could not find her until Pan discovered her and apprised Jupiter of her whereabouts. This cave was in Sicily, in which country Ceres was known as the black Ceres, or the Erinnys, because the outrages offered her by Neptune turned her frantic and furious. Demeter was depicted in Sicily as clad in black, with a horse's head, holding a pigeon in one hand and a dolphin in the other.” |~|

Places the Eleusinian Mysteries Were Observed

Dudley Wright wrote: “The Eleusinian Mysteries seem to have constituted the most vital portion of the Attic religion, and always to have retained something of awe and solemnity. They were not known outside Attica until the time of the Median wars, when they spread to the Greek colonies in Asia as part of the constitution of the daughter states, where the cult seems to have exercised a considerable influence both on the populace and on the philosophers. Outside Eleusis the Mysteries were not celebrated so frequently nor on so magnificent a scale. At Celeas, where they were celebrated every fourth year, a hierophant, who was not bound by the law of celibacy, as at Eleusis, was elected by the people for each celebration. Pausanias is the authority for a statement by the Phliasians that they imitated the Eleusinian Mysteries. They maintained, however, that their rendering was instituted by Dysaules, brother of Celeus, who went to their country after he had been expelled from Eleusis by Ion, the son of Xuthus, at the time when Ion was chosen commander-in-chief of the Athenians in the war against Eleusis. Pausanias disputed that any Eleusinian was defeated in battle and forced into exile, maintaining that peace was concluded between the Athenians and the Eleusinians before the war was fought out, even Eumolpus himself being permitted to remain in Eleusis. [Source: “The Eleusinian Mysteries and Rites’ by Dudley Wright (1868-1949), Theosophical Publishing House. 1919, Project Gutenberg, www.gutenberg.net, |~|]

Eleusian shrines near Eleusis

Pausanias, also, while admitting that Dysaules might have gone to Phlias for some cause other than that admitted by the Phliasians, questioned whether Dysaules was related to Celeus, or, indeed, to any illustrious Eleusinian family. The name of Dysaules does not occur in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, where are enumerated all who were taught the ritual of the Mysteries by the goddess, though that of Celeus is mentioned:
She showed to Triptolemus and Diocles, smiter of horses
And mighty Eumolpus and Celeus, leader of people,
The way of performing the sacred rites and explained
to all of them the orgies. |~|

“Nevertheless, according to the Phliasians, it was Dysaules who instituted the Mysteries among them. The Pheneatians also had a sanctuary dedicated to Demeter, which they called Eleusinian, and in which they celebrated the Mysteries in honour of the goddess. They had a legend that Demeter went thither in her wanderings, and that, out of gratitude to the Pheneatians for the hospitality they showed her, she gave them all the different kinds of pulse, except beans. Two Pheneatians--Trisaules and Damithales--built a temple to Demeter Thesuria, the goddess of laws, under Mount Cyllene, where were instituted the Mysteries in her honour which were celebrated until a late period, and which were said to be introduced there by Naus, a grandson of Eumolpus. |~|

“"Much that is excellent and divine," wrote Cicero, "does Athens seem to me to have produced and added to our life, but nothing better than those Mysteries by which we are formed and moulded from a rude and savage state of humanity; and, indeed, in the Mysteries we perceive the real principles of life, and learn not only to live happily, but to die with a fairer hope." Every manner of writer--religious poet, worldly poet, sceptical philosopher, orator--all are of one mind about this, that the Mysteries were far and away the greatest of all the religious festivals of Greece.” |~|

Mysteries for Demeter in Celaee

Ceres (Demeter) and Bacchus (Dionysus)

Pausanias wrote in “Description of Greece” Book II: Corinth (A.D. 160): Celeae, a town near Phlius in the northwestern Peloponnese, “is some five stades distant from the city, and here they celebrate the mysteries in honor of Demeter, not every year but every fourth year. The initiating priest is not appointed for life, but at each celebration they elect a fresh one, who takes, if he cares to do so, a wife. In this respect their custom differs from that at Eleusis, but the actual celebration is modelled on the Eleusinian rites. [Source: Pausanias, “Description of Greece,” with an English Translation by W.H.S. Jones, Litt.D. in 4 Volumes. Volume 1.Attica and Cornith, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd., 1918]

“The Phliasians themselves admit that they copy the "performance" at Eleusis. They say that it was Dysaules, the brother of Celeus, who came to their land and established the mysteries, and that he had been expelled from Eleusis by Ion, when Ion, the son of Xuthus, was chosen by the Athenians to be commander-in-chief in the Eleusinian war. Now I cannot possibly agree with the Phliasians in supposing that an Eleusinian was conquered in battle and driven away into exile, for the war terminated in a treaty before it was fought out, and Eumolpus himself remained at Eleusis. But it is possible that Dysaules came to Phlius for some other reason than that given by the Phliasians. I do not believe either that he was related to Celeus, or that he was in any way distinguished at Eleusis, otherwise Homer would never have passed him by in his poems. For Homer is one of those who have written in honor of Demeter, and when he is making a list of those to whom the goddess taught the mysteries he knows nothing of an Eleusinian named Dysaules. These are the verses:
‘She to Triptolemus taught, and to Diocles, driver of horses,
Also to mighty Eumolpus, to Celeus, leader of peoples,
Cult of the holy rites, to them all her mystery telling.

“At all events, this Dysaules, according to the Phliasians, established the mysteries here, and he it was who gave to the place the name Celeae. I have already said that the tomb of Dysaules is here. So the grave of Aras was made earlier, for according to the account of the Phliasians Dysaules did not arrive in the reign of Aras, but later. For Aras, they say, was a contemporary of Prometheus, the son of Iapetus, and three generations of men older than Pelasgus the son of Arcas and those called at Athens aboriginals. On the roof of what is called the Anactorum they say is dedicated the chariot of Pelops.”

Eleusinian Mystery Rituals

Dudley Wright wrote: “ The Eleusinian Mysteries, observed by nearly all Greeks, but particularly by the Athenians, were celebrated yearly at Eleusis, though in the earlier annals of their history they were celebrated once in every three years only, and once in every four years by the Celeans, Cretans, Parrhasians, Pheneteans, Phliasians, and Spartans. It was the most celebrated of all the religious ceremonies of Greece at any period of the country's history, and was regarded as of such importance that the Festival is referred to frequently simply as "The Mysteries." The rites were guarded most jealously and carefully concealed from the uninitiated. If any person divulged any part of them he was regarded as having offended against the divine law, and by the act he rendered himself liable to divine vengeance. It was accounted unsafe to abide in the same house with him, and as soon as his offence was made public he was apprehended. Similarly, drastic punishment was meted out to any person not initiated into the Mysteries who chanced to be present at their celebration, even through ignorance or genuine error. [Source: “The Eleusinian Mysteries and Rites’ by Dudley Wright (1868-1949), Theosophical Publishing House. 1919, Project Gutenberg, www.gutenberg.net, |~|]

Demeter statue with a votive box

“The Mysteries were divided into two parts — the Lesser Mysteries and the Greater Mysteries. The Lesser Mysteries were said to have been instituted when Hercules, Castor, and Pollux expressed a desire to be initiated, they happening to be in Athens at the time of the celebration of the Mysteries by the Athenians in accordance with the ordinance of Demeter. Not being Athenians, they were ineligible for the honour of initiation, but the difficulty was overcome by Eumolpus, who was desirous of including in the ranks of the initiated a man of such power and eminence as Hercules, foreigner though he might be. The three were first made citizens, and then as a preliminary to the initiation ceremony as prescribed by the goddess, Eumolpus instituted the Lesser Mysteries, which then and afterwards became a ceremony preliminary to the Greater Mysteries, as they then became known, for candidates of alien birth. In later times this Lesser Festival, celebrated in the month of Anthesterion at the beginning of spring, at Agra, became a general preparation for the Greater Festival, and no persons were initiated into the Greater Mysteries until they had first been initiated into the Lesser. |~|

“With regard to Hercules, there is a legend that on a certain time Hercules wished to become a member of one of the secret societies of antiquity. He accordingly presented himself and applied in due form for initiation. His case was referred to a council of wise and virtuous men, who objected to his admission on account of some crimes which he had committed. Consequently he was rejected. Their words to him were: "You are forbidden to enter here; your heart is cruel, your hands are stained with crime. Go! repair the wrong you have done; repent of your evil doings, and then come with pure heart and clean hands, and the doors of our Mysteries shall be opened to you." The legend goes on to say that after his regeneration he returned and became a worthy member of the Order. |~|

“The Festival of the Greater Mysteries — and this was, of course, by far the more important — began on the 15th of the month of Boedromion, corresponding roughly with the month of September, and lasted until the 23rd of the same month. During that time it was unlawful to arrest any man present, or present any petition except for offences committed at the Festival, heavy penalties being inflicted for breaches of this law, the penalties fixed being a fine of not less than a thousand drachmas, and some assert that transgressors were even put to death. |~|

“From two inscriptions found at Eleusis it would appear that it was customary to make the name public after the death of the hierophant. It seems also to have been the practice to make the name known to the initiate under the pledge of secrecy. Sir James Frazer thinks that the names were, in all probability, engraved on tablets of bronze or lead and then thrown into deep water in the Gulf of Salamis.” |~|

See Separate Article Eleusinian Mystery Rituals

Mystical Significance of the Eleusinian Mysteries

Dudley Wright wrote: “ Life, as we know it, was looked upon by the ancient philosophers as death. Plato considered the body as the sepulchre of the soul, and in the “Cratylus” acquiesces in the doctrine of Orpheus that the soul is punished through its union with the body. Empedocles, lamenting his connection with this corporeal world, pathetically exclaimed:
For this I weep, for this indulge my woe,
That e'er my soul such novel realms should know.
He also calls this material abode, or the realms of generation, a joyless region,
Where slaughter, rage, and countless ills reside. [Source: “The Eleusinian Mysteries and Rites’ by Dudley Wright (1868-1949), Theosophical Publishing House. 1919, Project Gutenberg, www.gutenberg.net. Wright wrote in about religion, supernormal phenomena and freemasonry. |~|]

“Philolaus, the celebrated Pythagorean, wrote: "The ancient theologists and priests testify that the soul is united with the body for the sake of suffering punishment, and that it is buried in the body as in a sepulchre"; while Pythagoras himself said: "Whatever we see when awake is death, and when asleep a dream." |~|

“This is the truth intended to be expressed in the Mysteries. Sallustius, the neo-Platonic philosopher, in his treatise “Peri Theon kai Kosmou”, "Concerning the gods and the existing state of things," explains the rape of Persephone as signifying the descent of the soul. Other writers have explained the real element of the Mysteries as consisting in the relations of the universe to the soul, more especially after death, or as intimating obscurely by splendid visions the felicity of the soul here and hereafter when purified from the defilements of a material nature. The intention of all mystic ceremonies, according to Sallustius, was to conjoin the world and the gods. Plotinus says that to be plunged into matter is to descend and then fall asleep. The initiate had to withstand the dæmons and spectres, which, in later times, illustrated the difficulties besetting the soul in its approach to the gods, so also the Uasarian had to repel or satisfy the mystic crocodiles, vipers, avenging assessors, dæmons of the gate, and other dread beings whom he encountered in his trying passage through the valley of the shadow of death. Pindar, speaking of the Eleusinian Mysteries, says: "Blessed is he who, on seeing those common concerns under the earth, knows both the end of life and the given end of Jupiter." |~|

“Psyche is said to have fallen asleep in Hades through rashly attempting to behold corporeal beauty, and the truth intended to be taught in the Eleusinian Mysteries was that prudent men who earnestly employed themselves in divine concerns were, above all others, in a vigilant state, and that imprudent men who pursued objects of an inferior nature were asleep, and engaged only in the delusion of dreams; and that if they happened to die in this sleep before they were aroused they would be afflicted with similar, but still sharper, visions in a future state. |~|

“Matter was regarded by the Egyptians as a certain mire or mud. They called matter the dregs or sediment of the first life. Before the first purification the candidate for initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries was besmeared with clay or mud which it was the object of the purification to wash away. It also intimated that while the soul is in a state of servitude to the body it lives confined, as it were, in bonds through the dominion of this Titanic life. Thus the Greeks laid great stress upon the advantages to be derived from initiation. Not only were the initiates placed under the protection of the State, but the very act of initiation was said to assist in the spreading of goodwill among men, keep the soul from sin and crime, place the initiates under the special protection of the gods, and provide them with the means of attaining perfect virtue, the power of living a spotless life, and assure them of a peaceful death and of everlasting bliss hereafter. The hierophants assured all who participated in the Mysteries that they would have a high place in Elysium, a clearer understanding, and a more intimate intercourse with the gods, whereas the uninitiated would for ever remain in outer darkness. Indeed, in the third degree the epoptæ were said to be admitted to the presence of and converse with the goddesses Demeter and Persephone, under whose immediate care and protection they were said to be placed. Initiation was referred to frequently as a guarantee of salvation conferred by outward and visible signs and by sacred formulæ.” |~|

Eleusinian Mysteries and Ideas About Death and the Soul

Dudley Wright wrote: “The Lesser Mysteries were intended to symbolize the condition of the soul while subservient to the body, and the liberation from this servitude, through purgative virtues, was what the wisdom of the Ancients intended to signify by the descent into Hades and the speedy return from those dark abodes. They were held to contain perfective rites and appearances and the tradition of the sacred doctrines necessary to the perfection or accomplishment of the most splendid visions. The perfective part, said Proclus, precedes initiation, as initiation precedes inspection. [Source: “The Eleusinian Mysteries and Rites’ by Dudley Wright (1868-1949), Theosophical Publishing House. 1919, Project Gutenberg, www.gutenberg.net, |~|]

“"Hercules," said Proclus also in “Plat. Polit”., "being purified by sacred initiations and enjoying undefiled fruits, obtained at length a perfect establishment among the gods"; that is, freed from the bondage of matter ascending beyond the reach of its hands. |~|

“Plutarch wrote:-"To die is to be initiated into the great mysteries,... Our whole life is but a succession of errors, of painful wanderings, and of long-journeys by tortuous ways, without outlet. At the moment of quitting it, fears, terrors, quiverings, mortal sweats, and a lethargic stupor come and overwhelm us; but, as soon as we are out of it, we pass into delightful meadows, where the purest air is breathed, where sacred concerts and discourses are heard; where, in short, one is impressed with celestial visions. It is there that man, having become perfect through his new initiation, restored to liberty, really master of himself, celebrates, crowned with myrtle, the most august mysteries, holds converse with just and pure souls, and sees with contempt the impure multitude of the profane or uninitiated, ever plunged and sinking itself into the mire and in profound darkness." |~|

“Dogmatic instruction was not included in the Mysteries; the doctrine of the immortality of the soul traces its origin to sources anterior to the rise of the Mysteries. At Eleusis the way was shown how to secure for the soul after death the best possible fate. The miracle of regeneration, rather than the eternity of being, was taught. |~|

“Plato introduces Socrates as saying: "In my opinion those who established the Mysteries, whoever they were, were well skilled in human nature. For in these rites it was of old signified to the aspirants that those who died without being initiated stuck fast in mire and filth; but that he who was purified and initiated should, at his death, have his habitation with the gods." |~|

“Plato, again, in the seventh book of the “Republic” says: "He who is not able by the exercise of his reason to define the idea of the good, separating it from all other objects and piercing as in a battle through every kind of argument; endeavouring to confute, not according to opinion but according to evidence, and proceeding with all these dialectical exercises with an unshaken reason — he who cannot accomplish this, would you not say that he neither knows the good itself, nor anything which is properly demonstrated good? And would you not assert that such a one when he apprehended it rather through the medium of opinion than of science, that in the present life he is sunk in sleep and conversant with delusions and dreams; and that before he is roused to a vigilant state he will descend to Hades, and be overwhelmed with sleep perfectly profound?" |~|

“Olympiodorus, in his MS. Commentary on the Georgias of Plato, says of the Elysian fields: "It is necessary to know that the fortunate islands are said to be raised above the sea.... Hercules is reported to have accomplished his last labour in the Hesperian regions, signifying by this that, having vanquished an obscure and terrestrial life, he afterwards lived in open day — that is, in truth and resplendent light. So that he who in the present state vanquishes as much as possible a corporeal life, through the exercise of the cathartic virtues, passes in reality into the fortunate islands of the soul, and lives surrounded with the bright splendours of truth and wisdom proceeding from the sun of good." |~|

“The esoteric teaching was not, of course, grasped by all the initiates; the majority merely recognized or grasped the exoteric doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments. Virgil, in his description, in the “Æneid”, of the Mysteries, confines himself to the exoteric teaching. Æneas, having passed over the Stygian lake, meets with the three-headed Cerberus. By Cerberus must be understood the discriminative part of the soul, of which a dog, by reason of its sagacity, is an emblem. The three heads signify the intellective, dianoetic, and doxatic powers. "He dragg'd the three-mouth'd dog to upper day" — i.e. by temperance, continence, and other virtues he drew upwards the various powers of the soul. The teaching of the Mysteries was not in opposition to the ordinary creed: it deepened it rather, revived it in a spiritual manner and gave to religion a force and a power it had not hitherto possessed.” |~|

River Styx in the Greek Underworld

Eleusinian Mysteries and Dealing with the Reality of Gods and the Unknown

Dudley Wright wrote: “The nine days of the Festival are said to be significant of the descent of the soul. The soul, in falling from her original, divine abode in the heavens, passes through eight spheres, viz. the inerratic sphere and the seven planets, assuming a different body and employing different energies in each, finally becoming connected with the sublunary world and a terrene body on the ninth. Demeter and the foundation of the art of tillage are said to signify the descent of intellect into the realms of generation, the greatest benefit and ornament which a material nature is capable of receiving. Without the possibility of the participation of intellect in the lower material sphere nothing but an irrational and a brutal life would subsist. [Source: “The Eleusinian Mysteries and Rites’ by Dudley Wright (1868-1949), Theosophical Publishing House. 1919, Project Gutenberg, www.gutenberg.net. Wright wrote in about religion, supernormal phenomena and freemasonry. |~|]

“But, according to some writers, the initiates into the third degree were taught that the gods and goddesses were only dead mortals, subject while alive to the same passions and infirmities as themselves; and they were taught to look upon the Supreme Cause, the Creator of the Universe, as pervading all things by His virtue and governing all things by His power. Thus the meaning of “Mystes” is given as "one who sees things in disguise," and that of “Epopt” as "one who sees things as they are, without disguise." The Epopt, after passing through the ceremonial of exaltation, was said to have received Autopsia, or complete vision. Virgil declared that the secret of the Mysteries was the Unity of the Godhead, and Plato owned it to be "difficult to find the Creator of the Universe, and, when found, impossible to discover Him to all the world."

“Varro, in his work “Of Religions”, says that "there were many truths which it was inconvenient for the State to be generally known; and many things which, though false, it was expedient the people should believe, and that, therefore, the Greeks shut up their Mysteries in the silence of their sacred enclosures." The Mysteries declared that the future life was not the shadowy, weary existence which it had hitherto been supposed to be, but that through the rites of purification and sacrifices of a sacramental character man could secure a better hope for the future. Thus the Eleusinian Mysteries became the chief agent in the conversion of the Greek world from the Homeric view of Hades to a more hopeful belief as to man's state after death. Tully promulgated a law forbidding nocturnal sacrifices in which women were permitted to take part, but made an express exception in favour of the Eleusinian Mysteries, giving as his reason: "Athens hath produced many excellent, even divine inventions and applied them to the use of life, but she has given nothing better than those Mysteries by which we are drawn from an irrational and savage life and tamed, as it were, and broken to humanity. They are truly called “Initia”, for they are indeed the beginnings of a life of reason and virtue." |~|

“Secrecy was enjoined because it was regarded as essential that the profane should not be permitted to share the knowledge of the true nature of Demeter and Persephone, as if it were known that these goddesses were only mortal women their worship would become contemptible. Cicero says that it was the humanity of Demeter and Persephone, their places of interment, and several facts of a like nature that were concealed with so much care. Diagoras, the Melian, was accounted an atheist because he revealed the real secret of the Eleusinian. Mysteries. The charge of atheism was the lot of any who communicated a knowledge of the one, only God. Pindar says, referring to the Mysteries: "Happy is he who has seen these things before leaving this world: he realizes the beginning and the end of life, as ordained by Zeus"; and Sophocles wrote: "Oh, thrice blessed the mortals, who, having contemplated these Mysteries, have descended to Hades; for those only will there be a future life of happiness — the others there will find nothing but suffering."

Homeric Hymn to Demeter

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 Hadês
seized. She was given away by Zeus, the loud-thunderer, the one who sees far and wide.
Demeter did not take part in this, she of the golden double-axe, she who glories in the harvest.
She [Persephone] was having a good time, along with the daughters of Okeanos, who wear their girdles slung low.
She was picking flowers: 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 flower-faced girl
by Gaia [Earth]. All according to the plans of Zeus. She [Gaia] was doing a favor for the one who receives many guests [Hadês].
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.
Its 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. [Source: translated by Gregory Nagy, uh.edu/~cldue/texts/demeter]

She [Persephone] was filled with a sense of wonder, and she reached out with both hands
to take hold of the pretty plaything. 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,
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.


She heard it from her cave. She is Hekatê, 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.
She was being taken, against her will, at the behest of Zeus,
by her father’s brother, the one who makes many sêmata, 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 star-filled sky
were still within the goddess’s [Persephone’s] view, as also the fish-swarming sea [pontos], with its strong currents,
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 noos was soothed by hope, distressed as she was.
The peaks of mountains resounded, as did the depths of the sea [pontos],
with her immortal voice. And the Lady Mother [Demeter] heard her.
And a sharp akhos 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 [etêtuma],
not one of the gods, not one of the mortal humans,
not one of the birds, messengers of the truth [etêtuma].
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,

Hekatê 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 hôrai, 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 philos thûmos?
I heard the sounds, but I did not see with my eyes
who it was. So I quickly came to tell you everything, without error.”
So spoke Hekatê. But she was not answered
by the daughter [Demeter] of Rhea with the beautiful hair. Instead, she [Demeter] joined her [Hekatê] and quickly
set out with her, holding torches ablaze in her hands.
They came to Hêlios, the seeing-eye of gods and men.
They stood in front of his chariot-team, and the resplendent goddess asked this question:

“Helios! Show me respect [aidôs], god to goddess, if ever
I have pleased your heart and thûmos 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, though I did not see it with my eyes.
I turn to you as one who ranges over all the earth and sea [pontos]
as you look down from the bright aether with your sunbeams:
tell me without error whether you have by any chance seen my philon 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 [aitios] except the cloud-gatherer Zeus himself,
who gave her to Hadês as his beautiful wife.
So he gave her to his own brother. And he [Hadês], heading for the misty realms of darkness,
seized her as he drove his chariot and as she screamed 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 son-in-law as Hadês, the one who makes many sêmata.
He is the brother [of Zeus], whose seed is from the same place. And as for tîmê,
he has his share, going back to the very beginning, when the three-way division of inheritance was made.
He dwells with those whose king he was destined by lot to be.”
So saying, he shouted to his horses, and they responded to his command
as they swiftly drew the speeding chariot, like long-winged birds.
And she [Demeter] was visited by grief [akhos] that was even more terrible than before: it makes you think of the Hound of Hadês.
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.

Roman Demeter statue in Spain

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 low-slung.
Until, one day, she came to the house of bright-minded Keleos,
who was at that time ruler of Eleusis, fragrant with incense.
She sat down near the road, sad in her philon heart,
at the well called Parthenion [the Virgin’s Place], where the people of the polis 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 nursemaids who belong to kings, administrators of themistes,
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 water-jars to the phila home of their father.
There were four of them, looking like goddesses with their bloom of adolescence:
Kallidikê, Kleisidikê, and lovely Dêmô.
And then there was Kallithoê, 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 spoke. And the Lady Goddess spoke with the following words:
“Phila children! Whoever women you are among the female kind of humans,
I wish you kharis [‘I wish you pleasure and happiness from our relationship, starting now’]. I shall tell you. It is not unseemly,
since you ask, for me to tell you alêthea.
Dôsô is my name. It was given to me by my honored mother.
But that was then. I am from Crete, having traveled over the wide stretches of sea
against my will. Without my consent, by biâ, by duress,
I 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 thûmos did not yearn for food, that delight of the mind.
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 I got here, in the course of all my wanderings. And I do not know
what this land is and who live here.

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 I want is for you to name for me a house to go to, the house of someone, man or woman, who has phila children to be taken care of.
I want to work for them,
honestly. The kind of work that is cut out for a female who has outlived others her own age.
I could take some newborn baby in my arms,
and nourish him well. I could watch over his house.
I would make his bed in the inner recesses of well-built chambers,
the royal bed. And I could see to a woman’s tasks.”
So spoke the goddess. And she was answered straightaway by the unwed maiden,
Kallidikê, the most beautiful of the daughters of Keleos:
“Old Mother, we humans endure the gifts the gods give us, even when we are grieving over what has to be.

They [the gods] are, after all, far better than we are.
What I now say will be clear advice, and I will name for you
the men who have the great control, divinely given, of tîmê here:
the men who stand at the forefront of the dêmos and who protect the citadel of the polis
with their wise counsel and their straight dikai.
And then there are the wives too: of sound-minded Triptolemos, of Dioklos,
of Polyxenos, of faultless Eumolpos as well,
of Dolikhos, and of our splendid father [Keleos].
The wives of all of these manage the palace.
Of these women, not a single one of them, when they first look at you,
would deprive you of tîmê, the way you look, and turn you away from the palace.
Rather, they will receive you. For, right now, you look like the gods.
If you wish, wait for us, while we go to the palace of our father
and tell our mother, Metaneira with the low-slung 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 others.

She has a treasured son, growing up in the well-built palace.
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 crossing-point 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 she [Metaneira] would give you in return for raising him.”
So she [Kallidikê] spoke. And she [Demeter] nodded her assent. So they,
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. 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 hôrâ of spring
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
they had left her. Then they led her to the phila palace of their father.
She was walking behind them, sad in her philon heart.
She was wearing a veil on her head, and a long dark robe [peplos]
trailed around the delicate feet of the goddess.
Straightaway they came to the palace of sky-nurtured Keleos.
They went through the hall, heading for the place where their mistress, their mother,
was sitting near the threshold of a well-built 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.
She [Metaneira] was seized by a sense of aidôs, 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 hôrai, the giver of splendid gifts,
refused to sit down on the splendid chair,
but she stood there silent, with her beautiful eyes downcast,
until Iambê, the one who knows what is worth caring about [kednon] and what is not, set down for her
a well-built stool, on top of which she threw a splendid fleece.
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.
Unsmiling, not partaking of food or drink,
she sat there, wasting away with yearning for her daughter with the low-slung girdle,
until Iambê, 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 thûmos.
Ever since, she [Iambê] has been pleasing her [Demeter] with the sacred rites.
Then Metaneira offered her [Demeter] a cup, having filled it with honey-sweet 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.
So she [Metaneira] made the kukeôn and offered it to the goddess, just as she had ordered.
The Lady known far and wide as Dêô accepted it, for the sake of the hosia.
Then well-girded Metaneira spoke up in their midst:
“Woman, I wish you kharis [‘I wish you pleasure and happiness from our relationship, starting now’]. I speak this way because I think you are descended not from base parents
but from noble ones. You have the look of aidôs in your eyes,
and the look of kharis, just as if you were descended from kings, who uphold the themistes.
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 late-born, and it was beyond my expectations
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 crossing-point 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 I [Metaneira] would give you in return for raising him.”

Then Demeter, with the beautiful garlands in her hair, addressed her:
“Woman, I wish you kharis 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 nursemaid,
he would perish from a pestilence or from the Undercutter.
I know an antidote that is far more powerful than the Woodcutter;
I know a genuine remedy for the painful pestilence.”
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 bright-minded Keleos,
Dêmophôn, who was born to well-girded Metaneira,
was nourished in the palace, and he grew up like a daimôn,
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 menos of fire, as if he were a smoldering log,
and his philoi 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 gods.

Now Demeter would have made him ageless and immortal
if it had not been for the heedlessness of well-girded Metaneira,
who went spying one night, leaving her own fragrant bedchamber,
and caught sight of it [what Demeter was doing]. She let out a shriek and struck her two thighs,
afraid for her child. She had made a big mistake in her thûmos.
Weeping, she spoke these winged words:
“My child! Demophon! The stranger, this woman, is making you disappear in a mass of flames!
This is making me weep in lamentation [goos]. This is giving me baneful anguish!”
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] philos little boy, who had been born to her mother in the palace, beyond her expectations,
—she took him in her immortal hands and put him down on the floor, away from her. She had taken him out of the fire, very angry in her thûmos,
and straightaway she spoke to well-girded Metaneira:
“Ignorant humans! Heedless, unable to recognize in advance
the difference between future good fortune [aisa] and future bad.
In your heedlessness, you have made a big mistake, a mistake without remedy.
I swear by the Styx, the witness of oaths that gods make, as I say this:
immortal and ageless for all days
would I have made your philos little boy, and I would have given him tîmê that is unwilting [a-phthi-tos].
But now there is no way for him to avoid death and doom.
Still, he will have a tîmê that is unwilting [a-phthi-tos], for all time, because he had once sat
on my knees and slept in my arms.

At the right hôrâ, 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 come.
I am Demeter, the holder of tîmai. 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 dêmos. Make it at the foot of the acropolis and its steep walls.
Make it loom over the well of Kallikhoron, 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 noos.”
So saying, the goddess changed her size 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 streamed down her shoulder.
The well-built palace was filled with light, as if from a flash 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 well-cushioned 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 thûmos 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 daimôn.
When the people had finished their work and paused from their labor,
they all went home. But blond-haired 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 low-slung 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 Hadês. 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 ox—all in vain.
Many a bright grain of wheat fell into the earth—all for naught.
At this moment, she [Demeter] could have destroyed the entire race of meropes humans
with harsh hunger, thus depriving of their tîmê
the dwellers of the Olympian abodes—[the tîmê of] sacrificial portions of meat for eating or for burning,
if Zeus had not noticed with his noos, taking note in his thûmos.
First, he sent Iris, 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.
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 [a-phthi-ta] 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] thûmos 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 tîmai 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 [noêma],
angry as she was in her thûmos, 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 loud-thunderer, the one who sees far and wide, heard this,
he sent to Erebos [Hadês] the one with the golden wand, the Argos-killer [Hermes],
so that he may persuade Hadês, 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 daimones [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 ones.

Going near him [Hadês] and stopping, the powerful Argos-killer said to him:
“Hadês! Dark-haired one! King of the dead!
Zeus the Father orders that I 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 mênis
against the immortals. For she [Demeter] is performing a mighty deed,
to destroy [root phthi-] the tribes of earth-born humans, causing them to be without menos,
by hiding the Seed underground—and she is destroying [root phthi-] the tîmai
of the immortal gods. 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. Hadês, King of the Dead, smiled
with his brows, and he did not disobey the order of Zeus the King.
Swiftly he gave an order to bright-minded Persephone.
“Go, Persephone, to your mother, the one with the dark robe.
Have a kindly disposition and thûmos 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 tîmai in the company of the immortals.

Those who violate dikê– will get punishment for all days to come
—those who do not supplicate your menos with sacrifice,
performing the rituals in a reverent way, executing perfectly the offerings that are due.”
So he spoke. And high-minded Persephone rejoiced.
Swiftly she set out, with joy. But he [Hadês]
gave her, stealthily, the honey-sweet berry of the pomegranate to eat,
peering around him. 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 Hadês, the one who makes many sêmata.
She got up on the chariot, and next to her was the powerful Argos-killer,
who took reins and whip into his philai hands
and shot out of the palace [of Hadês]. 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 maenad down a wooded mountainslope.

But when the earth starts blossoming with fragrant flowers of springtime,
flowers 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?”
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 Argos-killer,
with the news from my father, the son of Kronos, and from the other dwellers in the sky,
that I should come from Erebos, so that you may see me with your own eyes
and let go of your wrath and terrible mênis against the immortals,
then I sprang up for joy, but he, stealthily,
put into my hand the berry of the pomegranate, that honey-sweet food,
and he compelled me by biâ to eat of it.

As for how it was that he [Hadês] snatched me away, through the mêtis 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, I and
Leukippê, Phainô, Elektra, Ianthê,
Melitê, Iakhê, Rhodeia, Kallirrhoê,
Mêlobosis, Tychê, and flower-faced Okyrrhoê,
Chryseis, Ianeira, Akastê, Admêtê,
Rhodopê, Ploutô, and lovely Kalypsô,
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.
I 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 alêthea.”
In this way did the two of them spend the whole day, having a like-minded thûmos,
and they gladdened greatly each other’s heart and thûmos,
hugging each other, and their thûmos ceased having akhos.
They received joy from each other, and gave it.
Then Hekatê 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 [Hekatê] became her [Persephone’s] attendant and substitute queen.
Then the loud-thundering Zeus, who sees far and wide, sent to them a messenger,
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 tîmai
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 Field, the life-bringing fertile spot of land,
in former times, at least. But, at this time, it was no longer life-bringing, 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 overflow with cut-down 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 thûmos.
Then Rhea, the one with the splendid headband, addressed her [Demeter]:
“Come, child, Zeus the loud-thunderer, the one who sees far and wide, is summoning you
to come to the company of that special group of gods. And he promised tîmai
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.
So come, my child! Obey! Do not be too
stubborn in your anger at the dark-clouded son of Kronos.
Straightaway make the harvest grow, that life-bringer 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 themistes,
and she showed them—to Triptolemos, to Diokles, driver of horses,
to powerful Eumolpos and to Keleos, leader of the people [lâoi]—
she revealed to them the way to perform the sacred rites, and she pointed out the ritual to all of them
—the 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.
Olbios among earth-bound 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 [aisa] 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.
And there they abide at the side of Zeus, who delights in the thunderbolt.
Holy they are, and revered. Olbios is he whom they,
being kind, decide to love among earth-bound mortals.
Straightaway they send to such a man, to reside at his hearth, in his great palace,
Ploutos [Wealth personified], who gives riches to mortal humans.
But come, you goddesses, who have charge of the dêmos of Eleusis, fragrant with incense.
and of Paros the island and rocky Antron.
Come, O lady resplendent with gifts, queen Dêô [Demeter], bringer of hôrai,
both you and your daughter, the most beautiful Persephone.
Think kindly and grant, in return for this song, a rich means of livelihood that suits the thûmos.
And I will keep you in mind throughout the rest of my song.

The interpretation of the "Homeric Hymn to Demeter" as a ritual myth, giving clues to the Eleusinian Mysteries, has recently been challenged. See the review of Kevin Clinton, Myth and Cult: The Iconography of the Eleusinian Mysteries (Stockholm 1992), by Richard Hamilton (Bryn Mawr College).

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Greece sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Hellenistic World sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; BBC Ancient Greeks bbc.co.uk/history/ ; Canadian Museum of History historymuseum.ca ; Perseus Project - Tufts University; perseus.tufts.edu ; MIT, Online Library of Liberty, oll.libertyfund.org ; Gutenberg.org gutenberg.org Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Live Science, Discover magazine, Times of London, Natural History magazine, Archaeology magazine, The New Yorker, Encyclopædia Britannica, "The Discoverers" [∞] and "The Creators" [μ]" by Daniel Boorstin. "Greek and Roman Life" by Ian Jenkins from the British Museum.Time, Newsweek, Wikipedia, Reuters, Associated Press, The Guardian, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “History of Warfare” by John Keegan (Vintage Books); “History of Art” by H.W. Janson Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.), Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated October 2018

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