The Homeric Hymn To Demeter

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On a reading of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter which regards Persephone, Demeter's daughter, as being representative of spring, the myth of Persephone's kidnapping by Hades can be interpreted as allegorical of the changing of the seasons. In particular, Persephone can be considered as a metaphor for the planting of seeds. While she is kept underground in the realm of Hades during the winter, no crops are grown and the land is barren. However, as the winter transitions into the spring Persephone emerges from the underworld, much like a budding plant, and reunites with her mother and the other Olympian gods and goddesses above ground. When Persephone is relegated to live with Hades she falls into a depression and becomes, figuratively speaking,…show more content…
Seeds are already associated with the concept of birth, and characters are regularly mentioned as having come from their father's “seed” (HH 84-85). Like Persephone, Keleos's daughters are described in naturalistic language, their youth being linked to flowers and other symbols of springtime as well. (HH 108, 175-76). In a different context, seeds are also representative of death and the loss of life that happens when the seasons change to winter. When Hades feeds Persephone pomegranate seeds before she is allowed to visit Demeter above ground, she seals her fate to be confined to the underworld until springtime returns, like a seed waiting through winter until it can be harvested again (HH 371-74). Finally, if the hymn is understood as an allegory for the seasons it serves the purpose of providing an explanation for why spring is a time of celebration. When Demeter is joined each year by Persephone, plants and crops awaken from their dormancy and both mortals and immortals are satisfied, the former for receiving sustenance and the latter for receiving sacrifices. The “gloom” of winter is cast aside and the world begins to come back to life in preparation for the return of the goddess to her mother and her ascension from the realm of the dead to that of the living (HH
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