The Homeric Hymn to Demeter: Translation, Commentary, and Interpretive Essays

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Helene P. Foley
Princeton University Press, 1994 - Fiction - 297 pages
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The Homeric Hymn to Demeter, composed in the late seventh or early sixth century B.C.E., is a key to understanding the psychological and religious world of ancient Greek women. The poem tells how Hades, lord of the underworld, abducted the goddess Persephone and how her grieving mother, Demeter, the goddess of grain, forced the gods to allow Persephone to return to her for part of each year. Helene Foley presents the Greek text and an annotated translation of this poem, together with selected essays on its historical context and its religious, literary, social, and psychological meaning.The Hymn reflects both the crisis precipitated when marriage separates mother and daughter as well as the bonds that allow them to survive this transition. Demeter and Persephone, who suffered the pains of mortality, found the Eleusinian Mysteries that offered their male and female initiates a "different lot once dead in the dreary darkness." A version of the same myth formed the basis of exclusively female religious cults. The essays, contributed by Helene Foley, Mary Louise Lord, Jean Rudhardt and Nancy Felson-Rubin, Harriet M. Deal, Marilyn Arthur Katz, and Nancy Chodorow, give the reader a rich understanding of the Hymn's structure and artistry, its role in the religious life of the ancient world, and its meaning for the modern world. The essays study the Hymn in the context of early Greek epic and cosmology, examine its critical attitude to the institution of marriage, and analyze the dynamics of mother-daughter relations in the poem.
 

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Contents

TEXT AND TRANSLATION OF THE HOMERIC HYMN TO DEMETER
2
COMMENTARY ON THE HOMERIC HYMN TO DEMETER
28
THE ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND WOMENS RITES FOR DEMETER
65
INTERPRETIVE ESSAY ON THE HOMERIC HYMN TO DEMETER
78
INTERPRETING THE HYMN TO DEMETER
83
THE THEOLOGY OF THE MYSTERIES
84
VARIANTS OF THE MYTH AND THE IMPORTANCE OF THE VERSION IN THE HYMN TO DEMETER
97
FEMALE EXPERIENCE IN THE HYMN TO DEMETER
103
THE INFLUENCE OF THE HYMN TO DEMETER AND ITS MYTH
151
APPENDIX
169
The Hymn to Demeter as a Panhellenic Poem
175
FURTHER INTERPRETATION CONTRIBUTED ARTICLES
179
AN EPIC STORY PATTERN IN THE HOMERIC HYMN TO DEMETER AND IN THE HOMERIC POEMS
181
SOME FUNCTIONS OF THE DEMOPHOON EPISODE IN THE HOMERIC HYMN TO DEMETER
190
CONCERNING THE HOMERIC HTMN TO DEMETER
198
POLITICS AND POMEGRANATES REVISITED
212

MARRIAGE
104
GENDER CONFLICT AND THE COSMOLOGICAL TRADITION
112
THE MOTHERDAUGHTER ROMANCE
118
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE MYSTERIES
137
THE HYMN TO DEMETER AND THE POLIS
142
CHRISTIANITY AND THE HYMN TO DEMETER
150
FAMILY STRUCTURE AND FEMININE PERSONALITY
243
BIBLIOGRAPHY
266
BIBLIOGRAPHICAL ADDENDUM
281
INDEX LOCORUM
283
GENERAL INDEX
289
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About the author (1994)

Helene P. Foley is Olin Professor of Classics at Barnard College, Columbia University. She is author of Ritual Irony: Poetry and Sacrifice in Euripides, coauthor of Women in the
Classical World: Image and Text, and editor of Reflections of Women in Antiquity.

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