Monday, July 5, 2010

New Looks At Old Myths

Demeter's hair was yellow as the ripe corn of which she was mistress, for she was the Harvest Spirit, goddess of farmed fields and growing grain. The threshing floor was her sacred space. Women, the world's first farmers (while men still ran off to the bloody howling of hunt and battle), were her natural worshipers, praying...

Demeter had but one daughter, and she needed no other, for Persephone was the Spirit of Spring. The Lord of Shadows and Death, Hades himself, the Unseen One, carried her off in his jet-black chariot, driven by coal-black steeds, through a crevice in the surface of Earth, down the the realms of the dead...

With Zeus' help, the mother retrieved her daughter, but Persephone had already eaten a pomegranate seed, food of the dead, at Hades' insistence, which meant that she must come back to him. In the end, a sort of truce was arranged. Persephone could return to her sorrowing mother but must spend a third of each year with her dark Lord. Thus, by the four-month death each year of the goddess of springtime in her descent to the underworld, did winter enter the world. And when she returns from the dark realms she always strikes earthly beings with awe and smells somewhat of the grave.


— intro. "The Way They Came"
from Sailing The Wine-Dark Sea: Why The Greeks Matter by Thomas Cahill

6 comments:

Fiddler said...

Love the author's style, Sheila. Thanks for sharing this snippet.

Cerwydwyn said...

I love that book. My daughter was supposed to read it for a class she dropped because she hated the text so much. Knowing me well, she placed it into my hands knowing that it wouldn't be wasted.
Are you reading the whole thing or browsing?

sheila said...

Well, for some reason Blogger is unable to process my request (which was to publish comments).

I will try it myself and see if it comes up.

sheila said...

Hmm, it did. I guess either Blogger recognizes me as a Superior Being, one that it must obey, or I have Special Powers as the owner of this blog.

Let's hope it resolves this issue soon. Until then, don't think I am ignoring your comments.

sheila said...

Isn't that a wonderful end, Fiddler? I just loved it: "smells somewhat of the grave." Perfect description of the end of winter.

sheila said...

Hi C! I am attempting to read the whole thing, along with his Mysteries of the Middle Ages (which was the book I'd originally gone to the library for). I need some history inspiration for the fall. I am really loving his style - it's so, err, eclectic.