Demeter and Persephone

Lessons from a Myth

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About the Book

The classical Greek myth of Demeter and her daughter Persephone as told in Homer’s Hymn to Demeter has been used most often to explain the cycle of the seasons. However, a closer examination will reveal insights on living and dying, loss and reconciliation, and suffering and healing.
This work demostrates the continued importance and relevance of the myth of Demeter and Persephone to today’s society. The first three chapters provide a summary of the Homeric story and examine the myth from the perspectives of the mother and daughter.
The following chapters discuss the symbolism of critical objects, the role of female mentoring, the role of Hades and the meaning of the underworld, the subject of rape, and the masculinist perspective presented by Zeus and Helios, and derive lessons useful for healing and knowledge. The Hymn to Demeter as translated by Helene Foley is included as an appendix in order to provide a basis for the discussion in the text. Notes and a bibliography also follow the text.

About the Author(s)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar is a professor of English at Kansas City (Kansas) Community College where she founded the women’s studies program. She lives in Overland Park, Kansas.

Bibliographic Details

Tamara Agha-Jaffar
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 211
Bibliographic Info: appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2002
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1343-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     vii

Cast of Characters     xiii

Introduction     1

1 The Story     7

2 Demeter: Grieving, Retaliation, and Reconciliation     14

3 Persephone: Moving Beyond Victimization      36

4 A Narcissus, a Veil, and a Pomegranate     56

5 Female Mentoring     73

6 Zeus and Helios: Male Power and Masculinities     97

7 The Underworld and Hades: Death, Transformation, and Rebirth      115

8 Rape     135

9 Unraveling the Mysteries: Guidelines for Healing and Knowledge      149

10 One Day in a Life     158

Notes     165

Appendix     173

Bibliography     187

Index     193

Book Reviews & Awards

The Homeric Hymn to Demeter is included in full as an Appendix in a translation by Helene P. Foley that in itself justifies the purchase…important themes”—Journal of Classics Teaching; “excellent read…highly recommended”—Sage Woman; “invaluable”—Catholic Library World; “recommended”—Feminist Academic Press Column.