Sunday, December 12, 2004

Demeter readings

Read the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, Ovid's Ceres and Proserpina myth, and the pertaining page of Apollodorus. Chased it all down with a reread of Kate Atkinson's "Temporal Anomaly":

" 'Have you got a good recipe for lemon meringue pie?' Marianne asked but then she never caught her mother's answer because a darkness, like a great pair of black wings, covered her car and she could no longer hear her mother or the car engine or the rain or Forth FM on the radio, only the deafening sound of Hades' chariot wheels as he overtook her on the inside lane, so close that she could smell the rank sweat on the flanks of his horses and the stench of his breath like rotten mushrooms. And then Hades leaned out of his chariot and punched a hole in the windscreen of her Audi and Marianne thought, 'This is really going to hurt.' "

I'm assuming Edith Hamilton must have relied on the Homeric version because I'd heard the story of the baby boy in the fire before, the mortal boy to whom Demeter serves as a nurse and intends to make immortal. Ovid's version has the goddess changing a boy, for his rudeness, into a starry newt.

Hades seizes Persephone with Zeus' prior approval in the hymn; Ovid has Jupiter not knowing of his daughter's rape and disappearance until Ceres tells him, at which time he declares the abduction an act of love and brother Pluto a son-in-law of whom they can be proud.

It must have been pure hell being a woman in ancient times.

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