The Similarities and Differences Between Greek and Roman Literature of the Myth of the Abduction of Persephone/Proserpine
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In Ovid Metamorphoses, the Roman literature described the ruthless act of Pluto of rape, to seize and carry away Proserpine without the consent of Ceres and in parallel in the Homeric Hymns of Demeter; Persephone was seized and carried away by Hades without the consent of Demeter. The invariant theme that was identified in both the Greek and Roman literature was the loss of innocence of Persephone/Proserpine. Despite the various differences the story was presented, it reinforced the innocence that was stolen from the god of the underworld, Hades or also known as Pluto. Throughout this paper, it will discuss the similar characteristics of the two myths such as the motive that led and encouraged the god of the underworld to kidnap Persephone/Proserpine, and the aftermath caused by the grief of the mother of the abducted Persephone/Proserpine. The paper will also discuss the differences between the two literatures, such as the involvement of other gods and goddesses.
In the earlier Greek source, the Homeric Hymns to Demeter illustrated Persephone as a youthful innocent goddess picking flowers with her youthful playmates “the girl was playing with the deep-bosomed daughters of Okeanos picking flowers, roses, and crocus, and beautiful violets” (HHDem. 4-6). In parallel, in Ovid’s text, features and characteristics of the youthful goddess were still retained. Proserpine, the equivalent Greek goddess of Persephone, was also found playing and picking flowers “Here Proserpine was playing in a glade of flowers… filling her basket and her lap to gather more than the other girls” (Met., p. 111). In Ovid Metamorphoses, Proserpine’s sphere of influence was still retained with equivalent Greek goddess of Persephone, the goddess of spring, si...
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...caused by the grieving mother from the abduction Persephone/Proserpine. However, despite the similarities of the two literatures, Ovid incorporated and altered new elements and characters into the myth of the abduction of Persephone/Proserpine. Incorporation of Venus and Cupid greatly altered the similar story of the Greek and Roman literature, involving cupid’s arrow though Pluto’s heart, Venus not wanting another girl to remain a virgin, and her desire to extend her power. In conclusion, each argument that was discussed in the paper reinforced the invariant theme that was identified in both the Greek and Roman literature, the loss of the innocence of Persephone/Proserpine.
Shelmerdine, Susan. The Homeric Hymns. Newburyport MA: Focus Publishing, 1995. Print.
Melville, D, A. Ovid Metamorphoses. Oxford New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print.