Homeric Hymn to Demeter: Structuralist and Nature Myth

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Homeric Hymn to Demeter: Structuralist and Nature Myth The Homeric Hymn to Demeter tells the tale of Persephone’s abduction by Hades to the Underworld and her subsequent existence living partially as Hades’ queen with him and partially on earth with her mother, Demeter. This myth can be analyzed both from a structuralist perspective as well as from a nature myth perspective. Applying the paradigmatic structuralist theory unveils several binaries that exist in the myth and likewise, it reveals the methods of mediation that are used to satisfy these contradictory pairings. The most obvious of these is the tension between life and death, which is ultimately resolved by the marriage between Persephone and Hades. The myth also illustrates a struggle between the female stages of life: adolescence and adulthood. Both the compromise of Persephone’s living situation and the development of the relationship and the exchange of emotions between Demeter and Persephone mediate between these stages of womanhood. Lastly, the myth articulates and then mediates the opposition and power struggle between the idea of the Great Goddess who is entirely self-sufficient and the idea of the Greek patriarchy; the audience finds a balance between the two through Persephone and Hades’ union and the compromise that arises from it. Firstly, the life and death dynamic exists through Persephone’s movement between the Underworld and the upper world, as well as through Demeter’s tending to the fertility of the earth. Before her abduction, Persephone resides on earth and is alive with the rest of the living world that Demeter has maintained (6-8). Once taken by Hades though, her time is spent in the world of the dead, and in response, Demeter essentially deadens the natural earth (307-315). This shows the two extremes of the paradigm: Persephone living solely in the agriculturally thriving
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