previous next

[3]

But when Zeus ordered Pluto to send up the Maid, Pluto gave her a seed of a pomegranate to eat, in order that she might not tarry long with her mother.1 Not foreseeing the consequence, she swallowed it; and because Ascalaphus, son of Acheron and Gorgyra, bore witness against her, Demeter laid a heavy rock on him in Hades.2 But Persephone was compelled to remain a third of every year with Pluto and the rest of the time with the gods.3


1 The Maid (Kore) is Persephone. As to her eating a seed or seeds of a pomegranate, see HH Dem. 371ff., HH Dem. 411ff.; Ov. Met. 5.333ff.; Ovid, Fasti iv.601ff.; Serv. Verg. G. 1.39 and Serv. Aen. 4.462; Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. iii.511; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 3, 108 ((First Vatican Mythographer 7; Second Vatican Mythographer 100). There is a widespread belief that if a living person visits the world of the dead and there partakes of food, he cannot return to the land of the living. Thus, the ancient Egyptians believed that, on his way to the spirit land, the soul of a dead person was met by a goddess (Hathor, Nouit, or Nit), who offered him fruits, bread, and water, and that, if he accepted them, he could return to earth no more. See G. Maspero, Histoire Ancienne des Peuples de l'Orient Classiques, les Origines (Paris, 1895), p. 184. Similarly, the natives of New Caledonia, in the South Pacific, say that when a man dies, messengers come from the other world to guide his soul through the air and over the sea to the spirit land. Arrived there, he is welcomed by the other souls and bidden to a banquet, where he is offered food, especially bananas. If he tastes them, his doom is fixed for ever: he cannot return to earth. See the missionary Gagniere, in Annales de la Propagation de la Foi, xxxii. (Lyons, 1860), pp. 439ff. The Eastern Melanesians believe that living people can go down to the land of the dead and return alive to the upper world. Persons who have done so relate how in the nether world they were warned by friendly ghosts to eat nothing there. See R. H. Codrington, The Melanesians (Oxford, 1891), pp. 277, 286. Similar beliefs prevail and similar tales are told among the Maoris of New Zealand. For example, a woman who believed that she had died and passed to the spirit land, related on her return how there she met with her dead father, who said to her, “You must go back to the earth, for there is no one now left to take care of my grandchild. But remember, if you once eat food in this place, you can never more return to life; so beware not to taste anything offered to you.” See E. Shortland, Traditions and Superstitions of the New Zealanders (London, 1856), pp. 150-152. Again, they tell of a great chief named Hutu, who performed the same perilous journey. On reaching the place of departed spirits he encountered a certain being called Hine nui te po, that is, Great Mother Night, of whom he inquired the way down to the nether world. She pointed it out to him and gave him a basket of cooked food, saying, “When you reach the lower regions, eat sparingly of your provisions that they may last, and you may not be compelled to partake of their food, for if you do, you cannot return upwards again.” See R. Taylor, Te Ika A Maui, or New Zealand and its Inhabitants, 2nd ed. (London, 1870), p. 271. And the same rule holds good of fairyland, into which living people sometimes stray or are enticed to their sorrow. “Wise people recommend that, in the circumstances, a man should not utter a word till he comes out again, nor, on any account, taste fairy food or drink. If he abstains he is very likely before long dismissed, but if he indulges he straightway loses the will and the power ever to return to the society of men.” See J. G. Campbell, Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland (Glasgow, 1900), p. 17. See further E. S. Hartland, The Science of Fairy Tales (London, 1891), pp. 40ff.

2 As to the talebearer Ascalaphus, below, Apollod. 2.5.12. According to another account, Persephone or Demeter punished him by turning him into a screech-owl. See Ov. Met. 5.538ff.; Serv. Verg. G. 1.39 and Aen. iv.462; Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. iii.511; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. p. 108 (Second Vatican Mythographer 100).

3 Apollodorus agrees with the author of the HH Dem. 398ff., HH Dem. 445ff.) that Persephone was to spend one-third of each year with her husband Pluto in the nether world and two-thirds of the year with her mother and the other gods in the upper world. But, according to another account, Persephone was to divide her time equally between the two regions, passing six months below the earth and six months above it. See Ovid, Fasti iv.613ff.; Ov. Met. 5.564ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 146; Serv. Verg. G. 1.39; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. p. 108 (Second Vatican Mythographer 100).

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Sir James George Frazer)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
New Zealand (New Zealand) (1)
New Caledonia (1)

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (6 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: