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The Homeric Hymn to Demeter

Translation, Commentary and Interpretive Essays

By (author) Helene P. Foley
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Princeton University Press, New Jersey, United States
Published: 2nd Jan 1994
Dimensions: w 152mm h 229mm
Weight: 571g
ISBN-10: 0691068437
ISBN-13: 9780691068435
Barcode No: 9780691068435
The Homeric "Hymn to Demeter", composed in the late seventh or early sixth century BCE, 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 exlusively 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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"Foley's attempt to connect the psychological, cosmological, and theological themes in the "Hymn" is her greatest success."--Victoria Pedrick, "The Classical Journal" "Foley's book is the first full-length study in English of the "Hymn."... It is a welcome and much-needed work.... Foley's analysis of the "Hymn" is an excellent demonstration of how it can be interpreted in the light of the [Eleusinian] Mysteries."--Ann C. Suter, "New England Classical Newsletter and Journal" "Foley synthesizes important insights of the articles she reprints and of much other scholarship besides, and builds on them to construct a comprehensive and persuasive reading of her own."--William G. Thalmann, "Bryn Mawr Classical Review"