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Soon they came to the house of heaven-nurtured Celeus [185] and went through the portico to where their queenly mother sat by a pillar of the close-fitted roof, holding her son, a tender scion, in her bosom. And the girls ran to her. But the goddess walked to the threshold: and her head reached the roof and she filled the doorway with a heavenly radiance. [190] Then awe and reverence and pale fear took hold of Metaneira, and she rose up from her couch before Demeter, and bade her be seated. But Demeter, bringer of seasons and giver of perfect gifts, would not sit upon the bright couch, but stayed silent with lovely eyes cast down [195] until careful Iambe placed a jointed seat for her and threw over it a silvery fleece. Then she sat down and held her veil in her hands before her face. A long time she sat upon the stool1 without speaking because of her sorrow, and greeted no one by word or by sign, but rested, [200] never smiling, and tasting neither food nor drink, because she pined with longing for her deep-bosomed daughter, until careful Iambe —who pleased her moods in aftertime also —moved the holy lady with many a quip and jest to smile and laugh and cheer her heart. [205] Then Metaneira filled a cup with sweet wine and offered it to her; but she refused it, for she said it was not lawful for her to drink red wine, but bade them mix meal and water with soft mint and give her to drink. [210] And Metaneira mixed the draught and gave it to the goddess as she bade. So the great queen Deo received it to observe the sacrament2 ...

And of them all, well-girded Metaneira first began to speak:

1 Demeter chooses the lowlier seat, supposedly as being more suitable to her assumed condition, but really because in her sorrow she refuses all comforts.

2 An act of communion —the drinking of the potion (κυκεών) here described —was one of the most important pieces of ritual in the Eleusinian mysteries, as commemorating the sorrows of the goddess.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Thomas W. Allen, E. E. Sikes, Commentary on the Homeric Hymns, HYMN TO DEMETER
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