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What is the lesson or moral lesson behind the story "The Myth of Demeter and Persepohne"? I mean the lesson the story is teaching us as human, not the lesson to the characters in the story. Please help me.

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Lynnette Wofford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The goddesses Persephone and Demeter belong to an earlier phase of Greek religion and in fact may have originally been imported from Sumer. They were worshiped at Eleusis in Mycenaean times (the period before the Trojan War). They are agricultural goddesses who are emblems of the fertility of the land. Modern scholars believe that the rituals involved in worshiping these goddesses existed before stories were composed to explain the goddesses being worshiped. These stories, in the form of songs, were gradually incorporated into the rituals which honored the goddesses. As with many parts of Greek religions, stories about these two goddesses have been handed down in many different works including Hesiod's Theogony, the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, Diodorus Sicilus, Pausanius, and Claudian among other authors. Thus there is no single story "The Myth of Demeter and Persephone" but instead a complex and varied tradition of different accounts of these goddesses and the rituals performed in their honor.

The myths or stories about these two goddesses were attempts to explain how crops went underground in winter and were reborn in summer. Thus the main point is not entirely a moral one but one of death and rebirth. 

The major moral point in the Homeric hymn is one concerning hospitality. A moral often drawn from this and similar tales is that one should always be kind and welcoming to strangers as they may be gods in disguise, walking among us as mortals. Another important moral found in Zeus' response to Demeter's pleas is that even the king of the gods is not above the law.

Finally, as we see in the end of the poem, the audience is reminded that the rituals of Demeter are sacred, celebrate the rebirth of grains after they have been underground, and the precise nature of the showing of the sheaf of grain and other elements of the ritual are not to be revealed to the uninitiated. This impresses on its audience the great powers and mysteries of the goddesses. 


Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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It's a challenge to fully describe the myth of Demeter and Persephone as teaching a moral lesson.  The myth's primary level of explanation or lesson might be more natural than all else in terms of explanation of the season change.  On a more symbolic level, one can use the myth to teach the nature of creation and destruction being one in the same.  The same regenerative forces that end up replenishing the earth and driving its bounty are also the same that bring coldness and a sense of desolation to the Earth.  Demeter must live with the joy of being with her daughter, but is also bound to live with her absence.  She is incapable of living a life that is totally present with happiness and elation.  By the same token, she is relieved of living a life of total despair and misery.  This might be the symbolic lesson to all readers, suggesting that consciousness is complex enough to bridge both the experiences that bring us happiness and the ones that cause us to hurt.  Perhaps, there is a moral lesson here, after all.

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exotiquemerald | Student

From a less literary point of view, unlike my middle school teacher counterpart, you might be looking for the fact that through Greek mythology, the moral lesson taught to "young'uns" was that you should listen to parental figures or else bad things tend to happen. That is the dumbed-down version of the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone.

Of course if you were looking for a more symbolic answer, akannan's pretty much sums it up.