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The Mourning Of Demeter And Ceres

1212 words - 5 pages

The Greeks and Romans are two groups of people that were closely associated with each other. They both used legends of gods and mighty beings to explain the mysteries of the universe. A myth that has strong significance to both of them is the rape of Persephone or Prosperine as she was known to the Romans. The myths, while both referring to the same event, occur differently, over different periods of time and have slightly different outcomes. The key characters, Demeter (Ceres), Zeus (Jove), Persephone (Prosperine), and Hades (Pluto) are in both versions of the myth. Other characters that interact with the key characters such as Aphrodite (Venus) and Eros (Cupid) are only in one version of the myth. In both versions of the myth, Persephone is taken by Hades for different reasons and she is returned to Demeter for only parts of the year. Demeter is told who kidnapped her daughter by different people in both myths and different people explain to her why Hades is a fit husband and son-in-law. While both versions of the myth bear similarities, there are significant differences that make the myths stand apart.
There are many similarities between both versions of the rape of Persephone. In both, Hades kidnaps Persephone and makes her his queen. For ease of explanation, the Roman names of gods and the Greek names of gods will refer to separate entities. Hades kidnaps Persephone under direct orders from his brother Zeus (HHDem.36), whereas Pluto kidnaps Prosperine because his own love for her created by Cupid’s arrow (Met., p. 110). Zeus orders her kidnapping in order to expand his own domain. Cupid infatuates Pluto with Prosperine in order to expand his mother, Venus’ domain. With Hades married to Persephone, Zeus has a daughter who is queen of the underworld, a mother who is ruler of the earth and Zeus himself is the ruler of the skies. Now he has complete control of the three domains. Venus had the same reason to order Hades’ infatuation with Prosperine. Cupid’s power would now be in effect in all three realms of the world. As the goddess of sexuality, she also would not want other people to be virgins so she steals away Prosperine’s virginity without her knowledge (Met., p. 110). After the kidnapping, Demeter and Ceres are unaware as to where their children are and roam the earth looking for them (Met., p. 113). In their wake, they leave destruction by wilting crops and making the earth infertile (Met., p. 113) (HHDem.49). Even after they are told who kidnapped their children they do not loosen their grip on the earth’s fertility. Arethusa, a nymph, explains to Ceres that “The land is innocent; against its will/It opened for that rape.” (Met., p. 114). She explains to Ceres that Ceres is punishing the land for something of which it had no control. The land was just as innocent as Prosperine and a child of Saturn partook in the rape of both. Arethusa also tells Ceres how she saw Prosperine as queen of hell (Met., p. 114). Demeter...

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