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09 Demeter Fertility NEW

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Published on December 18, 2008

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FERTILITY GODDESSES : FERTILITY GODDESSES Demeter & others; The “Great Goddess” Ch. 9 of the Book + our comments Stories today: : Stories today: Demeter, Persephone & Hades Isis & Osiris Cybele & Attis Aphrodite & Adonis Omitting: Inanna and Dumuzi General features: : General features: Fertility goddesses ... with a male lover (so called “consort”) The male usually dies . . . is he reborn? (fully or partially?) Fertility Deities & Consorts;Frazer’s “Dying & Rising Gods” : Fertility Deities & Consorts;Frazer’s “Dying & Rising Gods” * = gets a rebirth of some kind (partial, usually) DEMETER & PERSEPHONE : DEMETER & PERSEPHONE “Homeric Hymn to Demeter” : “Homeric Hymn to Demeter” Not actually by Homer. 600s BCE Persephone plucking flowers Rape (abduction) of Persephone by Hades Hades raping Persephone : Hades raping Persephone A rare ancient Greek painting! c. 330s BCE. Discovered in a Macedonian royal tomb from the family of Alexander the Great. Hades & Persephone& his little dog tooBy Bernini (1621-22) : Hades & Persephone& his little dog tooBy Bernini (1621-22) Slide 9: Persephone became queen of underworld Demeter mourns at Eleusis (? cult founded) Digression: failed immortality for the boy Hades fed Persephone a pomegranate seed Zeus’ deal: she must return to Hades 1/3 of each year. Slide 10: My theory (JL): Compare the fruit Persephone eats with what Eve eats – the result is the same in both cases: you eat the fruit, you die. The theme is mortality. Triptolemus : Triptolemus Explanations : Explanations 1. Gender 2. Allegory of the Seasons Winter: Death Spring: Rebirth (resurrection) Slide 13: 3. More generally: life and death, the life cycle (the seasons are an example of this). Mortality, and, is immortality possible? Eleusis & the Eleusinian Mysteries : Eleusis & the Eleusinian Mysteries Hall of the Mysteries at Eleusis : Hall of the Mysteries at Eleusis Wheat (sculpture) at Eleusis : Wheat (sculpture) at Eleusis ISIS & OSIRIS : ISIS & OSIRIS Egyptian but we actually have it in a Greek source (written by Plutarch c. 100 CE/AD) Osiris and evil twin Typhoeus (Seth) Byblos in Phoenicia (? the word “Bible”) Digression: story of failed immortality Isis, Osiris, baby Horus : Isis, Osiris, baby Horus CYBELE & ATTIS : CYBELE & ATTIS PHRYGIA (inland Asia Minor; home of Midas) Monster AGDESTIS Pomegranate tree grows from his blood Pomegranate fruit impregnates Nana Attis Wedding & death of Attis His partial afterlife? APHRODITE & ADONIS : APHRODITE & ADONIS hybris punishment: daughter Myyrha “sleeps” with father She turns into myrrh tree Adonis born from the myrrh tree APHRODITE & ADONIS : APHRODITE & ADONIS Adonis born from the myrrh tree Aphrodite loves Adonis Bleeds to death – flower grows from blood A cult in Greek world, evidently from Near East. in Hebrew, Adonai = “Lord” General Interpretation: 1 : General Interpretation: 1 Is there a universal “Great Goddess”? Theory of the archetype This is a psychological theory of Carl Jung (1875-1961) ? Prehistoric figurines(Neolithic period etc. : Prehistoric figurines(Neolithic period etc. Comments on the gender interpretation : Comments on the gender interpretation Gender interest today (above) is utopian (probably explicitly, deliberately) Goddesses are not all benevolent (Tiamat, Gaia, etc. can be destructive too): both men and women are neither all good nor all bad Males were (are) involved in fertility too, as we have seen (of course – that’s nature) Nature gives life but also death. That’s life – for both males and females. This is another way that fertility deities are not utopian (all good). General Interpretation: 2 : General Interpretation: 2 Dying and Rising Gods Theory of Frazer -- James Frazer (1854-1941) --The Golden Bough, 12 volumes Comment on this : Comment on this Frazer used these to explain Jesus Doubted today because these figures do not get a full rebirth (resurrection) from the dead But also doubted today because we say “they are myth and we have religion”. Here Frazer is still interesting (comparative mythology)

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