Friday, September 17, 2010

The Rape of Persephone

"She [Persephone] was having a good time, along with the daughters of Okeanos, who wear their girdles slung low.

She was picking flowers: roses, crocus, and beautiful violets.
Up and down the soft meadow. Iris blossoms too she picked, and hyacinth.

And the narcissus, which was grown as a lure for the flower-faced girl by Gaia [Earth]. All according to the plans of Zeus. She [Gaia] was doing a favor for the one who receives many guests [Hadês].

It [the narcissus] was a wondrous thing in its splendor. To look at it gives a sense of holy awe to the immortal gods as well as mortal humans.

It has a hundred heads growing from the root up.
Its sweet fragrance spread over the wide skies up above.
And the earth below smiled back in all its radiance. So too the churning mass of the salty sea.

She [Persephone] was filled with a sense of wonder, and she reached out with both hands to take hold of the pretty plaything."

"He seized her against her will, put her on his golden chariot,
And drove away as she wept. She cried with a piercing voice,
calling upon her father [Zeus], the son of Kronos, the highest and the best.

But not one of the immortal ones, or of human mortals,
heard her voice. Not even the olive trees which bear their splendid harvest.
Except for the daughter of Persaios, the one who keeps in mind the vigor of nature.

She heard it from her cave. She is Hekatê, with the splendid headband.
And the Lord Helios [Sun] heard it too, the magnificent son of Hyperion.
They heard the daughter calling upon her father, the son of Kronos.

But he, all by himself, was seated far apart from the gods, inside a temple, the precinct of many prayers.
He was receiving beautiful sacrificial rites from mortal humans.

She was being taken, against her will, at the behest of Zeus,
by her father’s brother, the one who makes many sêmata, the one who receives many guests,
the son of Kronos, the one with many names. On the chariot drawn by immortal horses."

"And the earth, full of roads leading every which way, opened up under her.

It happened on the Plain of Nysa. There it was that the Lord who receives many guests made his lunge.
He was riding on a chariot drawn by immortal horses. The son of Kronos. The one known by many names."

"After that, the Father sent out all the other blessed and immortal gods.
They came one by one, they kept calling out to her, offering many beautiful gifts,
all sorts of tîmai that she could choose for herself if she joined the company of the immortal gods.
But no one could persuade her in her thinking or in her intention [noêma], angry as she was in her thûmos, and she harshly said no to their words.

She said that she would never go to fragrant Olympus,
that she would never send up the harvest of the earth,
until she saw with her own eyes her daughter, the one with the beautiful looks.
But when the loud-thunderer, the one who sees far and wide, heard this, he sent to Erebos [Hadês] the one with the golden wand, the Argos-killer
[Hermes], so that he may persuade Hadês, with gentle words,
that he allow holy Persephone to leave the misty realms of darkness
and be brought up to the light in order to join the daimones [the gods in Olympus], so that her mother may
see her with her own eyes and then let go of her anger.

Hermes did not disobey, but straightaway he headed down beneath the depths of the earth,
rushing full speed, leaving behind the abode of Olympus.
And he found the Lord inside his palace,
seated on a funeral couch, along with his duly acquired bedmate,
the one who was much under duress, yearning for her mother, and suffering from the unbearable things inflicted on her by the will of the blessed ones. "

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