Demeter And Persephone
Once when Demeter was going through the world, giving men grain to be sown in their fields, she heard a cry that came to her from across high mountains and that mounted up to her from the sea. Demeter's heart shook when she heard that cry, for she knew that it came to her from her daughter, from her only child, young Persephone.
She stayed not to bless the fields in which the grain was being sown, but she hurried, hurried away, to Sicily and to the fields of Enna, where she had left Persephone. All Enna she searched, and all Sicily, but she found no trace of Persephone, nor of the maidens whom Persephone had been playing with. From all whom she met she begged for tidings, but although some had seen maidens gathering flowers and playing together, no one could tell Demeter why her child had cried out nor where she had since gone to.
There were some who could have told her. One was Cyane, a water nymph. But Cyane, before Demeter came to her, had been changed into a spring of water. And now, not being able to speak and tell Demeter where her child had gone to and who had carried her away, she showed in the water the girdle of Persephone that she had caught in her hands. And Demeter, finding the girdle of her child in the spring, knew that she had been carried off by violence.She lighted a torch at Etna's burning mountain, and for nine days and nine nights she went searching for her through the darkened places of the earth.
Then, upon a high and a dark hill, the Goddess Demeter came face to face with Hecate, the Moon. Hecate, too, had heard the cry of Persephone; she had sorrow for Demeter's sorrow: she spoke to her as the two stood upon that dark, high hill, and told her that she should go to Helios for tidings--to bright Helios, the watcher for the gods, and beg Helios to tell her who it was who had carried off by violence her child Persephone.
Demeter came to Helios. He was standing before his shining steeds, before the impatient steeds that draw the sun through the course of the heavens. Demeter stood in the way of those impatient steeds; she begged of Helios who sees all things upon the earth to tell her who it was had carried off by violence, Persephone, her child.
And Helios, who may make no concealment, said: "Queenly Demeter, know that the king of the Underworld, dark Aidoneus, has carried off Persephone to make her his queen in the realm that I never shine upon." He spoke, and as he did, his horses shook their manes and breathed out fire, impatient to be gone. Helios sprang into his chariot and went flashing away.
Demeter, knowing that one of the gods had carried off Persephone against her will, and knowing that what was done had been done by the will of Zeus, would go no more into the assemblies of the gods. She quenched the torch that she had held in her hands for nine days and nine nights; she put off her robe of goddess, and she went wandering over the earth, uncomforted for the loss of her child. And no longer did she appear as a gracious goddess to men; no longer did she give them grain; no longer did she bless their fields. None of the things that it had pleased her once to do would Demeter do any longer.
Persephone had been playing with the nymphs who are the daughters of Ocean--Phaeno, Ianthe, Melita, Ianeira, Acast--in the lovely fields of Enna. They went to gather flowers--irises and crocuses, lilies, narcissus, hyacinths and roseblooms--that grow in those fields. As they went, gathering flowers in their baskets, they had sight of Pergus, the pool that the white swans come to sing in.
Beside a deep chasm that had been made in the earth a wonder flower was growing--in color it was like the crocus, but it sent forth a perfume that was like the perfume of a hundred flowers. And Persephone thought as she went toward it that having gathered that flower she would have something much more wonderful than her companions had.
She did not know that Aidoneus, the lord of the Underworld, had caused that flower to grow there so that she might be drawn by it to the chasm that he had made.
As Persephone stooped to pluck the wonder flower, Aidoneus, in his chariot of iron, dashed up through the chasm, and grasping the maiden by the waist, set her beside him. Only Cyane, the nymph, tried to save Persephone, and it was then that she caught the girdle in her hands.
The maiden cried out, first because her flowers had been spilled, and then because she was being reft away. She cried out to her mother, and her cry went over high mountains and sounded up from the sea. The daughters of Ocean, affrighted, fled and sank down into the depths of the sea.
In his great chariot of iron that was drawn by black steeds Aidoneus rushed down through the chasm he had made. Into the Underworld he went, and he dashed across the River Styx, and he brought his chariot up beside his throne. And on his dark throne he seated Persephone, the fainting daughter of Demeter.