Readings for reflection: Persephone

Apollodoros, Bibliotheka E1. 23-24
Theseus and Peirithoos got it into their heads to marry daughters of Zeus, so first they kidnapped the twelve-year-old Helen of Sparta and then they went down to the realm of Haides to carry off Persephone. Persephone did not wish to go and so she deceived them and under the pretense of hospitality bade them sit upon the throne of Lethe whereupon their bodies merged with the stone and they were bound fast with serpent’s coils. Peirithoos has remained there ever since in unspeakable torment, though Herakles was able to lead Theseus back up to the mortal realm.

[Aristotle], de Mirabilibus Auscultationibus 82
In Sicily in the district called Enna there is said to be a cave, around which is an abundance of flowers at every season of the year, and particularly that a vast space is filled with violets, which fill the neighbourhood with sweet scent, so that hunters cannot chase hares, because the dogs are overcome by the scent. Through this cave there is an invisible underground passage, by means of which Pluto is said to have made the rape of Kore. They say that wheat is found in this place unlike the local grain, which they use, and unlike any that is imported, but having great peculiarities. They say that this was the first place in which wheat appeared among them. They also claim Demeter, saying that the goddess was born among them.

[Aristotle], de Mirabilibus Auscultationibus 133
In the country called Aeniac, in that part called Hypate, an ancient pillar is said to have been found; as it bore an inscription in archaic characters of which the Aenianes wished to know the origin, they sent messengers to Athens to take it there. But as they were travelling through Boeotia, and discussing their journey from home with some strangers, it is said that they were escorted into the so‑called Ismenium in Thebes. For they were told that the inscription was most likely to be deciphered there, as they possessed certain offerings having ancient letters similar in form. There having discovered what they were seeking from the known letters they transcribed the following lines:

I Heracles dedicated a sacred grove to Cythera Persephassa,
when I was driving the flocks of Geryon and Erythea.
The goddess Persephassa subdued me with desire for her.
Here my newly wed Erythe brought forth a son Erython;
then I gave her the plain in memory of our love under a shady beech-tree.

The place called Erythus answered to this inscription and also the fact that he brought the cows from there, and not from Erytheia; for they say that the name Erytheia does not occur in the districts of Libya and Iberia.

Aristotle, On the Generation of Animals 734a
In the verse ascribed to Orpheus the various organs—heart, lungs, liver, eyes, etc.—were formed successively, for he says that animals come into being in the same way as a net is woven.

Athenaios, Deipnosophistai 647a
In Sicily, there was the myllos in the shape of the female genitals; it was offered to Demeter and Persephone. Heraklides of Syracuse in his The customs of Syracuse says that at the Panteleia, which is a part of the celebration of the Thesmophoria, cakes in the shape of the female genitalia were made with sesame seeds and honey, and were called mylloi throughout Sicily, and were carried in procession in honour of the Two Goddesses.

Claudian, De Raptu Proserpine 3.137-158
This said, Ceres left the temple; but no speed is enough for her haste; she complains that her sluggish dragons scarce move, and, lashing the wings now of this one and now of that (though little they deserved it), she hopes to reach Sicily e’er yet out of sight of Ida. She fears everything and hopes nothing, anxious as the bird that has entrusted its unfledged brood to a low-growing ash and while absent gathering food has many fears lest perchance the wind has blown the fragile nest from the tree, lest her young ones be exposed to the theft of man or the greed of snakes. When she saw the gate-keepers fled, the house unguarded, the rusted hinges, the overthrown doorposts, and the miserable state of the silent halls, pausing not to look again at the disaster, she rent her garment and tore away the shattered corn-ears along with her hair. She could not weep nor speak nor breathe and a trembling shook the very marrow of her bones; her faltering steps tottered. She flung open the doors and wandering through the empty rooms and deserted halls, recognized the half-ruined warp with its disordered threads and the work of the loom broken off. The goddess’ labours had come to naught, and what remained to be done, that the bold spider was finishing with her sacrilegious web.

Diodoros Sikeliotes, Library of History 2.1-5.3
The island in ancient times was called, after its shape, Trinacria, then Sicania after the Sicani who made their home there, and finally it has been given the name Sicily after the Siceli who crossed over in a body to it from Italy. Its circumference is some four thousand three hundred and sixty stades; for of its three sides, that extending from Pelorias to Lilybaeum is one thousand seven hundred stades, that from Lilybaeum to Pachynus in the territory of Syracuse is a thousand five hundred, and the remaining side is one thousand one hundred and forty stades. The Siceliotae who dwell in the island have received the tradition from their ancestors, the report having ever been handed down successively from earliest time by one generation to the next, that the island is sacred to Demeter and Kore; although there are certain poets who recount the myth that at the marriage of Pluton and Persephone Zeus gave this island as a wedding present to the bride. That the ancient inhabitants of Sicily, the Sicani, were indigenous, is stated by the best authorities among historians, also that the goddesses we have mentioned first made their appearance on this island, and that it was the first, because of the fertility of the soil, to bring forth the fruit of the corn, facts to which the most renowned of the poets also bears witness when he writes:

But all these things grow there for them unsown
And e’en untilled, both wheat and barley, yea,
And vines, which yield such wine as fine grapes give,
And rain of Zeus gives increase unto them.

Indeed, in the plain of Leontini, we are told, and throughout many other parts of Sicily the wheat men call “wild” grows even to this day. And, speaking generally, before the corn was discovered, if one were to raise the question, what manner of land it was of the inhabited earth where the fruits we have mentioned appeared for the first time, the meed of honour may reasonably be accorded to the richest land; and in keeping with what we have stated, it is also to be observed that the goddesses who made this discovery are those who receive the highest honours among the Siceliotae.

Again, the fact that the rape of Kore took place in Sicily is, men say, proof most evident that the goddesses made this island their favourite retreat because it was cherished by them before all others. And the rape of Kore, the myth relates, took place in the meadows in the territory of Enna. The spot lies near the city, a place of striking beauty for its violets and every other kind of flower and worthy of the goddess. And the story is told that, because of the sweet odour of the flowers growing there, trained hunting dogs are unable to hold the trail, because their natural sense of smell is balked. And the meadow we have mentioned is level in the centre and well watered throughout, but on its periphery it rises high and falls off with precipitous cliffs on every side. And it is conceived of as lying in the very centre of the island, which is the reason why certain writers call it the navel of Sicily. Near to it also are sacred groves, surrounded by marshy flats, and a huge grotto which contains a chasm which leads down into the earth and opens to the north, and through it, the myth relates, Pluton, coming out with his chariot, effected the rape of Kore. And the violets, we are told, and the rest of the flowers which supply the sweet odour continue to bloom, to one’s amazement, throughout the entire year, and so the whole aspect of the place is one of flowers and delight.

And both Athena and Artemis, the myth goes on to say, who had made the same choice of maidenhood as had Kore and were reared together with her, joined with her in gathering the flowers, and all of them together wove the robe for their father Zeus. And because of the time they had spent together and their intimacy they all loved this island above any other, and each one of them received for her portion a territory, Athena receiving hers in the region of Himera, where the Nymphs, to please Athena, caused the springs of warm water to gush forth on the occasion of the visit of Heracles to the island, and the natives consecrated a city to her and a plot of ground which to this day is called Athena’s. And Artemis received from the gods the island at Syracuse which was named after her, by both the oracles and men, Ortygia. On this island likewise these Nymphs, to please Artemis, caused a great fountain to gush forth to which was given the name Arethusa. And not only in ancient times did this fountain contain large fish in great numbers, but also in our own day we find these fish still there, considered to be holy and not to be touched by men; and on many occasions, when certain men have eaten them amid stress of war, the deity has shown a striking sign, and has visited with great sufferings such as dared to take them for food. Of these matters we shall give an exact account in connection with the appropriate period of time.

Like the two goddesses whom we have mentioned Kore, we are told, received as her portion the meadows round about Enna; but a great fountain was made sacred to her in the territory of Syracuse and given the name Cyane or “Azure Fount.” For the myth relates that it was near Syracuse that Pluton effected the rape of Kore and took her away in his chariot, and that after cleaving the earth asunder he himself descended into Hades, taking along with him the bride whom he had seized, and that he caused the fountain named Cyane to gush forth, near which the Syracusans each year hold a notable festive gathering; and private individuals offer the lesser victims, but when the ceremony is on behalf of the community, bulls are plunged in the pool, this manner of sacrifice having been commanded by Heracles on the occasion when he made the circuit of all Sicily, while driving off the cattle of Geryones.

After the rape of Kore, the myth does on to recount, Demeter, being unable to find her daughter, kindled torches in the craters of Mt. Aetna and visited many parts of the inhabited world, and upon the men who received her with the greatest favour she conferred briefs, rewarding them with the gift of the fruit of the wheat. And since a more kindly welcome was extended the goddess by the Athenians than by any other people, they were the first after the Siceliotae to be given the fruit of the wheat; and in return for this gift the citizens of that city in assembly honoured the goddess above all others with the establishment both of most notable sacrifices and of the mysteries of Eleusis, which, by reason of their very great antiquity and sanctity, have come to be famous among all mankind. From the Athenians many peoples received a portion of the gracious gift of the corn, and they in turn, sharing the gift of the seed with their neighbours, in this way caused all the inhabited world to abound with it. And the inhabitants of Sicily, since by reason of the intimate relationship of Demeter and Kore with them they were the first to share in the corn after its discovery, instituted to each one of the goddesses sacrifices and festive gatherings, which they named after them, and by the time chosen for these made acknowledgement of the gifts which had been conferred upon them. In the case of Kore, for instance, they established the celebration of her return at about the time when the fruit of the corn was found to come to maturity, and they celebrate this sacrifice and festive gathering with such strictness of observance and such zeal as we should reasonably expect those men to show who are returning thanks for having been selected before all mankind for the greatest possible gift; but in the case of Demeter they preferred that time for the sacrifice when the sowing of the corn is first begun, and for a period of ten days they hold a festive gathering which bears the name of this goddess and is most magnificent by reason of the brilliance of their preparation for it, while in the observance of it they imitate the ancient manner of life. And it is their custom during these days to indulge in coarse language as they associate one with another, the reason being that by such coarseness the goddess, grieved though she was at the rape of Kore, burst into laughter.

That the rape of Kore took place in the manner we have described is attested by many ancient historians and poets. Carcinus the tragic poet, for instance, who often visited in Syracuse and witnessed the zeal which the inhabitants displayed in the sacrifices and festive gatherings for both Demeter and Kore, has the following verses in his writings:

Demeter’s daughter, her whom none may name,
By secret schemings Pluton, men say, stole,
And then he dropped into earth’s depths, whose light
Is darkness. Longing for the vanished girl
Her mother searched and visited all lands
In turn. And Sicily’s land by Aetna’s crags
Was filled with streams of fire which no man could
Approach, and groaned throughout its length; in grief
Over the maiden now the folk, beloved
Of Zeus, was perishing without the corn.
Hence honour they these goddesses e’en now.

But we should not omit to mention the very great benefaction which Demeter conferred upon mankind; for beside the fact that she was the discoverer of corn, she also taught mankind how to prepare it for food and introduced laws by obedience to which men became accustomed to the practice of justice, this being the reason, we are told, why she has been given the epithet Thesmophoros or Lawgiver. Surely a benefaction greater than these discoveries of hers one could not find; for they embrace both living and living honourably. However, as for the myths which are current among the Siceliotae, we shall be satisfied with what has been said.

Epictetus, Discourses 3.21
But no man sails from a port without having sacrificed to the Gods and invoked their help; nor do men sow without having called on Demeter; and shall a man who has undertaken so great a work undertake it safely without the Gods? and shall they who undertake this work come to it with success? What else are you doing, man, than divulging the mysteries? You say, “There is a temple at Eleusis, and one here also. There is an Hierophant at Eleusis, and I also will make an Hierophant: there is a herald, and I will establish a herald; there is a torch-bearer at Eleusis, and I also will establish a torch-bearer; there are torches at Eleusis, and I will have torches here. The words are the same; how do the things done here differ from those done there?” Most impious man, is there no difference? these things are done both in due place and in due time; and when accompanied with sacrifice and prayers, when a man is first purified, and when he is disposed in his mind to the thought that he is going to approach sacred rites and ancient rites. In this way the mysteries are useful, in this way we come to the notion that all these things were established by the ancients for the instruction and correction of life. But you publish and divulge them out of time, out of place, without sacrifices, without purity; you have not the garments which the hierophant ought to have, nor the hair, nor the head-dress, nor the voice nor the age; nor have you purified yourself as he has: but you have committed to memory the words only, and you say: “Sacred are the words by themselves.” You ought to approach these matters in another way; the thing is great, it is mystical, not common thing, nor is it given to every man.

Hyginus, Astronomica 2.7
Some also have said that Venus and Proserpina came to Jove for his decision, asking him to which of them he would grant Adonis. Calliope, the judge appointed by Jove, decided that each should posses him half of the year. But Venus, angry because she had not been granted what she thought was her right, stirred the women in Thrace by love, each to seek Orpheus for herself, so that they tore him limb from limb. His head, carried down from the mountain into the sea, was cast by the waves upon the island of Lesbos. It was taken up and buried by the people of Lesbos, and in return for this kindness, they have the reputation of being exceedingly skilled in the art of music. The lyre, as we have said, was put by the Muses among the stars.

Scholiast on Lucian’s Dialogues of the Courtesans 275–276
Thesmophoria: a festival of the Greeks encompassing mysteries, also known as Skirophoria. It was held, according to the more mythological explanation, because when Kore, picking flowers, was being carried off by Pluto, one Eubuleus, a swineherd, was at the time grazing his pigs on that spot, and they were swallowed up together in Kore’s pit; wherefore, in honor of Eubuleus piglets are thrown into the pits of Demeter and Kore. The rotten remains of what is thrown into the megara below are recovered by women called “dredgers” who have spent three days in ritual purity and descend into the shrines and when they have recovered the remains deposit them on the altars. They believe that anyone who takes some and sows it with their seed will have a good crop. They say that there are also serpents below about the pits, which eat up the great part of the material thrown in; for which reason they also make a clatter whenever the women dredge and whenever they set those models down again, so that the serpents they believe to be guarding the shrines will withdraw. The same thing is also known as Arrhetophoria and is held with the same explanation to do with vegetable fertility and human procreation On that occasion, too, they bring unnameable holy things fashioned out of wheat-dough: images of snakes and male members. And they take pine branches because of that plant’s fertility. There are also thrown into the megara (so the shrines are called) those things, and piglets, as mentioned above—the latter because of their fecundity, as a symbol of vegetable and human generation, for a thanksgiving offering to Demeter; because in providing the fruits of Demeter she civilized the race of humans. Thus the former reason for the festival is the mythological one, but the present is physical. It is called Thesmophoria, because Demeter is given the epithet “Lawgiver” (Thesmophoros), for having set down customs, which is to say laws (thesmoi), under which men have to acquire and work for their food.

Bonnie MacLachlan, Kore as Nymph, not Daughter: Persephone in a Locrian Cave
As in the Grotta Caruso, we have in Syracuse the collocation of death, nymphs and theater. We also have water: today, the water still flows from a spring through the alcove of the central cave. Before the construction of the Syracusan theater the niches in the rocks (some artificial and some natural) afforded places for votive deposits to the nymphs who provided fresh water. Even earlier, the pre-Greek population used these niches for burials. When Paolo Orsi excavated the nymphaeum in 1900 he found female busts, nymph-plaques with three small heads, a relief of Pan and a silen mask: the nymphs here were poised to play. The collocation of theaters with springs, fountains and nymphaea is remarkably common in the Greek Mediterranean world: examples are found in Sicily at Agrigento, Akrai, Morgantina, Segesta, Tindari and Taormina. And the collocation in various sites of votive artifacts representing Demeter/Persephone with comic figures and masks is no less striking. Perhaps the most impressive collection to date was unearthed on the island of Lipari, off the north shore of Sicily. (These are described by Bernabò Brea in Menandro e il teatro Greco nelle terracotta liparese, 1981.) Here, in the necropolis known as Contrada Diana, was a Koreion. Busts of Persephone were found in the Koreion together with silens. From tombs in the necropolis came a stunning and precious collection of terracotta masks, of characters from Attic tragedy and satyr plays, from Middle Comedy, phlyax plays, and New Comedy. Lipari was clearly devoted to the theater in the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C.E., and the theatrical life appears to have been continued after death. In many tombs were found eggs, a universal symbol of death and renewal. Eggs also appear to have been tied to the phlyax theater. On a Lucanian crater from the 4th century a phlyax player holds up a platter with five eggs (P. Claudio Sestieri, Dioniso 7 [1940] 191-95). In another Campanian crater a phlyax player converses with Dionysos; the god holds his thyrsos, the actor a torch in his right hand and an egg in his left (Gennaro Pesce, Dioniso 7 [1939] 162-65). This is a clear collocation of the chthonic and the playful.

Olympiodoros, Commentary on Plato’s Phaedo
The soul descends after the manner of Kore into generation, but is distributed into generation Dionysiacally, and she is bound in body Prometheiacally and Titanically: she frees herself therefore from its bonds by exercising the strength of Herakles; but she is collected into one through the assistance of Apollon and the savior Athene, by philosophical discipline of mind and heart purifying the nature.

P. Oxy. 1612
It was not we who originally invented those rites, which is to our credit, but it was a Nikaian who was the first to institute them…let the rites be his, and let them be performed among his people alone…unless we wish to commit sacrilege against Caesar himself, as we should commit sacrilege against Demeter and her Daughter also, if we performed to them here the ritual used there; for they are unwilling to allow any rites of that sort…

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9.23.3
It is said that on reaching old age a vision came to him in a dream. As he slept Persephone stood by him and declared that she alone of the deities had not been honoured by Pindar with a hymn, but that Pindar would compose an ode to her also when he had come to her. Pindar died at once, before ten days had passed since the dream. But there was in Thebes an old woman related by birth to Pindar who had practised singing most of his odes. By her side in a dream stood Pindar and sang a hymn to Persephone. Immediately on waking out of her sleep she wrote down all she had heard him singing in her dream. In this song, among the epithets he applies to Haides is ‘golden-reined’ – a clear reference to the rape of Persephone.

Pindar, Nemean Odes 1.14-72
Zeus, the lord of Olympus, gave to Persephone, and shook his locks in token unto her that, as queen of the teeming earth, the fertile land of Sicily would be raised to renown by the wealth of her glorious cities ; and the son of Cronus granted that the host of armed horsemen, that awaketh the memory of bronze-clad war, would full oft be wedded with the golden leaves of Olympia’s olive. Lo ! I have lighted on a varied theme, without flinging one false word. Sweet are the strains that I sing as I stand at the portals of the court of a hospitable hero, where a befitting banquet hath been prepared for me, and where the halls are oft familiar with strangers from afar. His lot it is to have true friends to ply against his slanderers, like water against smoke. Various men excel, indeed, in various ways; but it is meet that a man should walk in straight paths, and strive according to his powers of Nature ; for might of limb maketh itself manifest by action, and might of mind by counsel, for those who are attended by the inborn skill of foreseeing the future. But, within the compass of thy character, O son of Agesidamus, thou hast the use of both these boons alike. I love not to keep much wealth buried in my hall, but of my abundance to do good to myself and to win a good name by bestowing it on my friends; for the hopes and fears of toiling men come unto all alike. But, as for me, my heart cleaveth fast unto the theme of Heracles, while, amid the greatest and loftiest deeds of prowess, I wake the memory of that olden story, which telleth how, at the time when the son of Zeus, with his twin-brother, suddenly came from his mother’s birth-pangs with the light of day; — how, I say, when he was laid in his iffron swathing-bands, he escaped not the ken of Hera on her golden throne. Stung with wrath, that queen of the gods sent anon two serpents. Soon as the doors were opened, they crept on to the spacious inner-chamber, yearning to coil their darting jaws around the babes. Yet he lifted up his head, and made his first essay of battle, by seizing the twain serpents by their necks in his twain irresistible hands, and, whUe they were being strangled, the lapse of time breathed forth their souls from out their monstrous limbs. Meanwhile, a pang intolerable pierced the hearts of the women, who at the time were rendering help by the bedside of Alcmena; for even she herself leapt with all speed to her feet, and, unrobed as she was, she yet essayed to stay the rude onslaught of the monsters. Then swiftly the chiefs of the Cadmeans hastened in a throng with their brazen armour; and Amphitryon, brandishing in his hand a sword bared from the scabbard, came smitten with keen throes of anguish. For each alike is distressed by his own trouble, whereas, for a stranger’s sorrow, the heart is at once consoled. And there he stood, possessed with rapture overpowering and delightful ; for he saw the strange spirit and power of his son, since the immortals had turned to falsehood for him the story of the messengers. And he called forth one that dwelt nigh to him, even that chosen prophet of Zeus supreme, the truthful seer, Teiresias. And the prophet told him and all the host, what fortunes the boy was destined to encounter, — how many lawless monsters he would slay on the dry land and how many upon the sea ; and he said that there was one most hateful, one who walked in the crooked path of envy, whom he would do to death. He said, moreover, that when the gods shall meet the giants in battle on the plain of Phlegra, their foes shall soon find their bright tresses befouled with dust beneath that hero’s rushing arrows, but he himself, at rest from mighty labours, shall have allotted to him, as his choicest prize, peace that would endure for ever in the homes of bliss, where, on receiving Hebe as his blushing bride, and celebrating the marriage feast, he shall glorify his hallowed home in the presence of Zeus the son of Cronus.

Porphyry, On the Cave of the Nymphs 6
Let the stony bowls, then, and the amphorae be symbols of the aquatic nymphs. For these are, indeed, the symbols of Dionysos, but their composition is fictile, i.e., consists of baked earth, and these are friendly to the vine, the gift of god; since the fruit of the vine is brought to a proper maturity by the celestial fire of the sun. But the stony bowls and amphorae are in the most eminent degree adapted to the nymphs who preside over the water that flows from rocks. And to souls that descend into generation and are occupied in corporeal energies, what symbol can be more appropriate than those instruments pertaining to weaving? Hence, also, the poet ventures to say, “that on these, the nymphs weave purple webs, admirable to the view.” For the formation of the flesh is on and about the bones, which in the bodies of animals resemble stones. Hence these instruments of weaving consist of stone, and not of any other matter. But the purple webs will evidently be the flesh which is woven from the blood. For purple woollen garments are tinged from blood and wool is dyed from animal juice. The generation of flesh, also, is through and from blood. Add, too, that the body is a garment with which the soul is invested, a thing wonderful to the sight, whether this refers to the composition of the soul, or contributes to the colligation of the soul (to the whole of a visible essence). Thus, also, Persephone, who is the inspective guardian of everything produced from seed, is represented by Orpheus as weaving a web and the heavens are called by the ancients a veil, in consequence of being, as it were, the vestment of the celestial gods.

Proklos, Commentary on Plato’s Timaeus
Orpheus says that the vivific cause of partible natures (i.e. Persephone), while she remained on high, weaving the order of celestials, was a nymph, as being undefiled; and in consequence of this connected with Zeus and abiding in her appropriate manners; but that, proceeding from her proper habitation, she left her webs unfinished, was ravished; having been ravished, was married; and that being married, she generated in order that she might animate things which have an adventitious life. For the unfinished state of her web indicates, I think, that the universe is imperfect or unfinished, as far as to perpetual animals (i.e., the universe would be imperfect if nothing inferior to the celestial gods was produced). Hence Plato says the single creator calls on the many creators to weave together the mortal and immortal natures; after a manner reminding us, that the addition of the mortal genera is the perfection of the textorial life of the universe, and also exciting our recollection of the divine Orphic fable, and affording us interpretative causes of the unfinished webs of Persephone.

Proklos, Commentary on Plato’s Timaeus 3.296.7
The happy life, far from the roaming of generation, that is desired by those who, in Orpheus, are initiated in Dionysos and Kore and told ‘to cease from the circle and enjoy respite from disgrace.’

Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood, Persephone and Aphrodite at Locri: A Model for Personality Definitions in Greek Religion
The first series of scenes indisputably belonging to Persephone-a fact that has never been doubted-is that showing a bearded and majestic male figure carrying off a girl in a winged chariot.” It represents, of course, the Rape of Persephone by Hades. The fact that this is a purely mythological representation, that is, the iconographical expression of a myth, may explain why no symbols are included here, as they are in the context of cult scenes. The only additional feature shown, a chain of flowers,’ belongs to myth: Persephone had been picking flowers when Hades abducted her.

These scenes confirm that Hades’ Bildvorstellung at Locri is the same as that elsewhere in Greece: majestic bearded god of mature age, of the same type as those of Zeus and Poseidon who are, of course, characterised by their attributes. They show too that the myth of Persephone’s Rape by Hades, associating her with the earth’s fertility and with the funerary sphere which was an aspect of her Panhellenic personality, was also an aspect of her personality at Locri.

Another series also indisputably belonging to Persephone is that of ‘the Young Abductor’, showing a girl being carried off by a beardless youth in a chariot, in one example in the presence of Hades. I have argued elsewhere that these pinakes were wedding dedications; and that they showed an ideal representation of a bride and bridegroom depicted according to the iconographical model of the divine bride and bridegroom of Locri, Persephone and Hades, whose marriage was preceded by an abduction depicted in another series of pinakes. I also argued that these dedications were made by girls who were getting married and seeking Persephone’s protection. If this interpretation is correct, it entails that not only was the wedding of Persephone and Hades an important part of the Locrian cult and myth, as Zancani Montuoro has been arguing, but also, and this is where I go further, that the Locrian Persephone was associated with marriage in a way which suggests that she fulfilled the role of protectress of marriage and weddings. In other cities, this role is usually, though not always, fulfilled by Hera. In this paper, I shall extend my earlier suggestion that Persephone was such a protectress at Locri. First, I shall try to show that there is further evidence connecting this role with her. Secondly, I hope to show that the Locrian Persephone also had a kourotrophic function, a role related to that of protectress of marriage. This would suggest that she was presiding over the world of women and their concerns, that she was a women’s goddess like Artemis Brauronia in Attica.

The following cult objects and symbols are found in the ‘Young Abductor’ series.26 (I) The kalathos with fruit or flowers (BdA iii 26 figs. 32-3; 27 figs. 34-5; Prtickner pls. 17.1; 2I.I; Note pl. xxix; cf. also Ausonia iii I65h; Priickner 70, 71, 72). (2) The cock (BdA iii 26 fig. 32; 27 fig. 34; Ausonia iii 154 fig. 18; 155 fig.- 9; BICS xx (1973) pl.I b, c; Priickner pls. 14.2-4; 15.3; 16.3, 8; 17.2; 18.2; cf. also Priickner 71). (3) The ball (Note pl. xxx; cf. also Pruckner 71, 72). (4) The small chest (Ausoniaii i 172, xxv). (5) Flowers (One flower: Priickner7 1 [type 73], cf.a lso 72; a wreath of flowers: Prtickner 71 [type 78]).

Two more series, related to each other, also belong indisputably to the sphere of Persephone: the scenes depicting Hades and Persephone enthroned, and the ‘homage’ scenes in which various deities pay homage to an enthroned Persephone or to the enthroned couple. In the first series we find the following symbols and cult objects. (I) The cock (one is held by Persephone and another is standing under the throne). (2) The thymiaterion surmounted by a cock. (3) The stalk of grain (held by Persephone). (4) The phiale (held by Hades). (5) A blooming twig (held by Hades). (6) The throne with a back ending in a goose’s head. In the homage scenes the divinities paying homage hold attributes which identify them (e.g. Hermes the ram), or offer the cock or other objects appropriate to Persephone or the circumstances. The following deities appear in these scenes. (a) Hermes, always with a ram, and often presenting a cock to Persephone; he is sometimes accompanied by a female figure to whom I shall return below. (b) Dionysos, holding a kantharos and a vine, sometimes also accompanied by a female figure. (c) Apollo, in one type with a lyre, in the other with a lyre and a bow.31 (d) Triptolemos, holding a stalk of grain in one hand and with the other guiding the winged serpents of his chariot. (e) The Dioskouroi, who are represented as horsemen, sometimes followed by a female figure; they hold a cup or a kantharos and a shield or a lyre. Pruickner so recognizes Athena in one of the types. The identification of the female figure with the mantle drawn over her head who sometimes accompanies Hermes, Dionysos or the Dioskouroi, and never appears alone, is difficult. She is shown offering a cock, a ball, a small chest and an alabastron. Of these the cock has already been connected with Persephone, and we shall also find that Persephone herself is holding a cock in some homage scenes. The ball, offered together with cock by the woman accompanying Dionysos, has been associated with Persephone through the ‘Young Abductor’ scenes. Moreover, as we will see later on, the ball and the cock appear, again as joint offerings to Persephone in the hands of mortal girls. The small chest, already found in the Young Abductor series, is also, we shall see, held by Persephone herself in some homage scenes. The alabastron, we saw, is associated with Aphrodite; we have not, so far, found it in the realm of Persephone. Three out of the four objects connected with this problematic goddess then belong to the realm of Persephone and do not characterize the enigmatic figure. The alabastron, which only appears once, held by the goddess accompanying Hermes, belongs to Aphrodite, though, we shall see, it also seems to have been attracted into Persephone’s sphere. Therefore, the identification of the unknown goddess must depend primarily on context, the associations with the male companions. I am inclined to agree with Zancani Montuoro that a different goddess is shown in each of the three contexts: Ariadne with Dionysos, a married couple; Aphrodite with Hermes, an illicit pair important in Locrian cult; Helen with the Dioskouroi (Helen’s marital affairs had been presented in a favourable light by Stesichoros, a poet connected with Locri, in the Palinode, a poem associated with Locri). With regard to the significance of the homage scenes, there can be little doubt that, as Zancani Montuoro has argued,38 they represent various deities paying homage and offering gifts to Persephone or Persephone and Hades on the occasion of their wedding.

Of these objects and symbols, the following also occur in the other series belonging to Persephone’s sphere which I have considered, and therefore emerge as firmly connected with that sphere. The cock (Young Abductor, enthroned couple, homage series); the stalk of grain (enthroned couple, homage); the small chest (Young Abductor, homage); the kalathos (Young Abductor, homage); the ball (Young Abductor, and in the homage scenes as an offering to Persephone in association with the cock). The phiale is associated with Hades in the enthroned couple series and with Persephone in some homage scenes; it belongs then to this sphere, but not exclusively, since, we saw, it is also held by Hermes. The throne with a back ending in a goose’s head firmly belongs here (it is found in the enthroned couple and the homage series). The flowers are found in the Young Abductor and in the Rape of Persephone series. There are also some other symbols and cult objects which are only found in one series, but are nevertheless likely to belong to Persephone’s sphere. For they are never found in types that can certainly be attributed to Aphrodite and are frequently associated firmly with Persephone’s realm either through context (objects consistently held by Hades in one series, like the kantharos) or through their nature (for example, the thymiaterion surmounted by a cock which incorporates an element firmly connected with the goddess). These are, firstly, the thymiaterion decorated with a cock, and secondly, the following objects held by Hades: the kantharos, which also belongs to Dionysos; the pomegranate; the goose; the blooming twig.

In the fifth group a girl carrying the peplos on a tray and followed by the phialophoros arrives in front of a seated deity who has her himation drawn over her head and is holding a cock; under her seat there is a hydria. This type would suggest that in this cycle at least the phialophoros figure is a priestess, while the goddess, shown as ‘ideally present’, is meeting the peplos-carrying procession. The final group’02 shows a girl putting the peplos away in a chest which stands in front of a throne with a back ending in a goose’s head. Since this simple act is shown on pinakes, it must have had a religious significance. The peplos, the type of throne, and the kalathos and kantharos hanging on the wall indicate that we are still in Persephone’s cultic sphere. A mirror is also handing on the wall: we saw that this object had entered Persephone’s orbit. There is also a lekythos on the wall, but this conveys no information to us. The context indicates a sacred garment kept in a sanctuary; this, in combination with the peplophoria scenes, suggests an occasion of garment presentation to a goddess, a well-known ritual act in Greek religion. Zancani Montuoro suggested that we are dealing with the presentation of Persephone’s bridal peplos; she considered the whole nexus of scenes involving the peplos as part of Persephone’s theogamia, but was undecided as to whether these are cultic scenes taking place in the Locrian sanctuary or mythological ones, though she is inclined towards the latter view.’ I think that she is right about the garment being Persephone’s bridal peplos. For, first, Persephone in her character as bride was most important in the Locrian cult, and secondly, the ‘offering girls’ series showed us the peplos and the phialophoros figure in a nuptial context. However, I do not think that we are dealing with the same peplos and the same nuptial context in the two cases. In my opinion, the peplophoria is part of a festival celebrating Persephone’s wedding, while the ‘offering girls’ series represents ritual activities that were part of the Locrian marriage rites in which Persephone played a role.

Persephone is seated on the left; her attributes are the stalk of grain together with poppy-heads, the cock and the phiale. The girl is offering a toilet box and a mirror. The mirror thus appears again in Persephone’s sphere-for the goddess’ attributes leave no doubt as to her identity. We have to accept then that the mirror and the toilet box, both belonging to cosmetic activities, were considered appropriate offerings to the Locrian Persephone, and that the mirror was associated with that goddess in other contexts, although it was also connected with Aphrodite. The explanation of this phenomenon clearly lies in Persephone’s close association with girls of marriageable age and with weddings, an event above all requiring beautification. It must have been this that brought the mirror, and perhaps to a lesser extent the toilet box, into Persephone’s orbit. Many bronze mirrors and some other bronze toilet articles were found in the Mannella sanctuary, but, given the joint cult, the possibility cannot be excluded that these were dedications to Aphrodite

In these circumstances, there can be little doubt that the scenes on the pinakes show the presentation of Locrian children to the kourotrophic deity, a cult act designed to ensure the goddess’ blessing for the children. All these scenes depicting children’s presentations, at Locri and elsewhere, show the deepest meaning of this cult act, by representing the goddess, understood as ‘ideally present’, in physical contact with the child. At Locri, the presentation would seem to have involved the placing of the child in a basket, a ritual which can be explained when it is remembered that in myth divine children who were ‘adopted’, as it were, by kourotrophic goddesses had been similarly placed in baskets. Such was the case with Erichthonios, who was ‘adopted’ by Athena, and, most importantly, with Adonis who was ‘adopted’ by Persephone, to whom he was handed over by Aphrodite hidden in a basket. In reality, it would be the priestess of Persephone who ‘received’ the child in the basket on behalf of the goddess in the course of a ritual which would have involved the threes stages which are represented in the pinakes.

Alternatively, the Locrian ritual may not have involved an actual placing of the child in the basket. In this case, the scenes on the pinakess should be understood as ‘symbolic’ representations of the ritual, modelled upon the myth involving Persephone in a kourotrophic role, the myth of Adonis. The pinakes were probably dedicated by the parents on the occasion of their child’s presentation. In any case, these scenes show that the Locrian Persephone was a kourotrophic goddess, the protectress of children. This aspect of the goddess is another manifestation of her involvement in the world of women. The role of protectress of women, marriage and children is peculiar to the Locrian personality of the divinity. This Locrian personality also included aspects found in her Panhellenic persona, that is her involvement with the fertility of the earth and with the funerary sphere. However, at Locri her character as Demeter’s daughter, so prominent in Panhellenic religion, is hardly noticeable; Demeter’s place in the Locrian cult of Persephone is minimal. This phenomenon is undoubtedly related to the fact that at Locri the emphasis was on Persephone the bride and spouse. It is of some interest to the problem of the definition of divine personalities that the personality and functions of Persephone at Locri as recovered here resemble in many ways those of Hera at the sanctuary of Foce del Sele.

Strabo, Geography 6.1.5
Because the country round about Hipponion has luxuriant meadows abounding in flowers, people have believed that Kore used to come hither from Sicily to gather flowers; and consequently it has become the custom among the women of Hipponion to gather flowers and to weave them into garlands, so that on festival days it is disgraceful to wear bought garlands.

Strabo, Geography 14.1.44
On the road between the Tralleians and Nysa is a village of the Nysaians, not far from the city Acharaka, where is the Ploutonion, with a costly sacred precinct and a shrine of Plouton and Kore, and also the Charonion, a cave that lies above the sacred precinct, by nature wonderful; for they say that those who are diseased and give heed to the cures prescribed by these gods resort thither and live in the village near the cave among experienced priests, who on their behalf sleep in the cave and through dreams prescribe the cures. These are also the men who invoke the healing power of the gods. And they often bring the sick into the cave and leave them there, to remain in quiet, like animals in their lurking-holes, without food for many days. And sometimes the sick give heed also to their own dreams, but still they use those other men, as priests, to initiate them into the mysteries and to counsel them. To all others the place is forbidden and deadly. A festival is celebrated every year at Acharaka; and at that time in particular those who celebrate the festival can see and hear concerning all these things; and at the festival, too, about noon, the boys and young men of the gymnasium, nude and anointed with oil, take up a bull and with haste carry him up into the cave; and, when let loose, the bull goes forward a short distance, falls, and breathes out his life. Thirty stadia from Nysa, after one crosses over Mt. Tmolos and the mountain called Mesogis, towards the region to the south of the Mesogis, there is a place called Leimon, whither the Nysaians and all the people about go to celebrate their festivals. And not far from Leimon is an entrance into the earth sacred to the same gods, which is said to extend down as far as Acharaka.

Suidas s.v. Λεύκη
Demosthenes in the speech For Ktesiphon writes, “those crowned with fennel and white-poplar.” Those celebrating the Bacchic rites used to be crowned with white-poplar because the plant is from the nether world and the Dionysos of Persephone, too, is from the nether world. He says that the white-poplar grew by the river Acheron, which is why in Homer it is called acherois.

Theognis, Fragment 1. 703; 973
Persephone who impairs the mind of mortals and brings them forgetfulness. Once death’s dark cloud has enveloped him and he has come to the shadowy place of the dead and passed the black gates which hold back the souls of the dead, no man may return to the world above no matter how much he wails and protests. None there have the pleasure of listening to the lyre or pipes or of raising to his lips the gift of Dionysos.

ZPE 72, 1988, 245
When through the shadowy mountains, through the region of black radiances, from the garden of Persephone, at the hour of milking, the child brings by necessity the holy quadruped, companion of Demeter, the goat, to nurse at the fountain of inexhaustible milk, calling for torches for Hecate at the crossroads, the goddess with a terrible voice guides the stranger to the god.

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