Hesiod, the Homeric Hymns and Homerica by HesiodThis edition contains the collected works of Hesiod including Works and Days, The Shield of Heracles, The Theogeny as well as Homers Hymns, Epigrams and fragments of the Epic Cycle. Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and Homer with establishing Greek religious customs. Modern scholars refer to him as a major source on Greek mythology, farming techniques, early economic thought (he is sometimes identified as the first economist), archaic Greek astronomy and ancient time-keeping. In the Western classical tradition, Homer is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest of ancient Greek epic poets. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.
Persephone, Demeter, and Hades
For all of its popularity and importance, however, it is also one of the most frequently misunderstood texts of Greek antiquity in existence, for reasons which will be detailed below. While a variety of translations of the Homeric Hymns are available, the present version, with its parallel Greek text and English translation, extensive textual notes, and lengthy interpretive essay, is perhaps one of the most useful and comprehensive editions currently available. However, this reading is at odds with the text itself, which Foley makes clear throughout her notes and discussions. Once Persephone is stolen by Hades, Demeter looks for information on where she has gone and what has become of her with the help of Hekate and Helios , and then goes wandering the earth in disguise. Demeter then reveals herself, and retreats to the safety of her temple in Eleusis, and it is only then that she removes the fertility from the earth. It is the lack of vegetable produce, which in addition to causing human starvation also deprives the gods of their sacrificial offerings, which prompts the gods to intervene, to bring Persephone back to Demeter, and for Demeter to gain additional honors once her mother Rheia returns her to the company of the gods on Olympus. This interpretation does not require a close reading of the text, it simply involves one that pays attention to the actual events of the narrative as they unfold.
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With few meaningful changes, the Romans adopted much of Greek mythology, as their existing deities—the Numina, the Lares, and the Penates—were largely abstract, vague personifications of the processes of daily life. Aside from the twelve Olympians, there are two equally important gods who reside on earth: Demeter and Dionysus Bacchus. These two are the best friends of humanity: Demeter, goddess of the harvest and nature, provides fruitful plenty and protects the threshing-floor, while Dionysus, god of wine and revelry, rules the grapevine and so the production of wine. Demeter is celebrated in a festival every fifth September; her prime temple is at Eleusis, and her worship is a central and mysterious aspect of ancient life. Bacchus also comes to be worshipped at Eleusis—a natural pairing of the two gods who bring the pleasant gifts of the earth and, significantly, are both overpowered by seasonal change.
Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Translated by Gregory Nagy. And her daughter [Persephone] too.
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