Some Ideas on the Orphic Hymn to Demeter of Eleusis (to complete the set)

O Universal mother, Ceres [Deo] fam’d 
august, the source of wealth, and various nam’d: 

Great nurse, all-bounteous, blessed and divine,
 who joy’st in peace, to nourish corn is thine:

Goddess of seed, of fruits abundant, fair,
 harvest and threshing, are thy constant care;

Who dwell’st in Eleusina’s seats retir’d,
 lovely, delightful queen, by all desir’d.

Nurse of all mortals, whose benignant mind
, first ploughing oxen to the yoke confin’d; 

And gave to men, what nature’s wants require,
 with plenteous means of bliss which all desire.

In verdure flourishing in honor bright,
 assessor of great Bacchus [Bromios], bearing light:

Rejoicing in the reapers sickles, kind,
 whose nature lucid, earthly, pure, we find.

Prolific, venerable, Nurse divine,
 thy daughter loving, holy Proserpine [Koure]:

A car with dragons yok’d, ’tis thine to guide,
 and orgies singing round thy throne to ride: 

Only-begotten, much-producing queen,
 all flowers are thine and fruits of lovely green.

Bright Goddess, come, with Summer’s rich increase
 swelling and pregnant, leading smiling Peace;

Come, with fair Concord and imperial Health,
 and join with these a needful store of wealth.
This hymn seems to focus on Demeter in the aspect of her being the Goddess of Growing Things almost exclusively. It speaks of seed, abundant fruits, plowing oxen and the reapers’ sickles. She is interestingly (at least to me) the “Nurse of all mortals” and not the source of those mortals. Described more than once as a nurturer, she is also described as the one who gave to men the roots of a settled existence and more than once as a queen capable of bestowing many disparate gifts. 

This is an interesting emphasis as it she is the only one of the three Daughters of Chronos who is described by her Orphic Hymn in agreement with the extant mythology (unlike the hymns honoring her sisters Hera and Hestia). This hymn also seems to hint at a strong association with Dionysus, possibly due to their both being associated with agriculture (her with grain and him with grapes). And this is the only hymn to one of the three Daughters of Chronos which identifies the Goddess in question with a place. We should look at that as being an indicator of the importance of her connection to that place in the Orphic worldview as she is the only one of the children of Chronos and Rhea who is given a place-name as an epithet in the hymns dedicated to each of them.

I feel like I should write more on this, but at this time I cannot. There will probably be more to come on the Children of Chronos……

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