the rape of persephone (homeric hymn)

The Rape of Proserpina – Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1622)

I) HAIDES ABDUCTS PERSEPHONE
Homeric Hymn ii to Demeter (abridged) (trans. Evelyn White) (Greek epic circa 7th or 6th B.C.)

“[Demeter’s] trim-ankled daughter whom Aidoneus [Haides] rapt away, given to him by all-seeing Zeus the loud-thunderer. Apart from Demeter, lady of the golden sword and glorious fruits, she was playing with the deep-bosomed daughters of Okeanos and gathering flowers over a soft meadow, roses and crocuses and beautiful violets, irises also and hyacinths and the narcissus, which Gaia made to grow at the will of Zeus and to please Polydektor (the Host of Many), to be a snare for the bloom-like girl – a marvellous, radiant flower. It was a thing of awe whether for deathless gods or mortal men to see: from its root grew a hundred blooms and it smelled most sweetly, so that all wide heaven (Ouranos) above and the whole earth (Gaia) and the sea’s (Thalassa’s) salt swell laughed for joy.

And the girl was amazed and reached out with both hands to take the lovely toy: but the wide-pathed earth yawned there in the plain of Nysa, and the lord, Polydegmon (Host of Many), with his immortal horses sprang out upon her — the Son of Kronos, Polynomos (He who has many names).¬†He caught her up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting.

Then she cried out shrilly with her voice, calling upon her father, [Zeus] the Son of Kronos, who is most high and excellent. But no one, either of the deathless gods or mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tender-hearted Hekate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaios, heard the girl from her cave, and the lord Helios (the Sun), Hyperion’s bright son, as she cried to her father, the Son of Kronos. But he was sitting aloof, apart from the gods, in his temple where many pray, and receiving sweet offerings from mortal men. So he [Haides], that Son of Kronos, Polynomos (of Many Names), Polysemantor (Ruler of Many) and Polydegmon (Host of Many), was bearing her away by leave of Zeus on his immortal chariot – his brother’s child and all unwilling.

And so long as she, the goddess, yet beheld earth and starry heaven and the strong-flowing sea where fishes shoal, and the rays of the sun, and still hoped to see her dear mother and the tribes of the eternal gods, so long hope claimed her great heart for all her trouble… and the heights of the mountains and the depths of the sea ran with her immortal voice: and her queenly mother heard her.

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