Homeric Hymn to Demeter

I. The Rape of Persephone (1-39)

II. The Search for Persephone (40-94)

III. Demeter at Eleusis (95-302)

IV. Famine and the Return of Persephone (303-470)

Important Characters
Aidoneus [Hades]
Hermes Psychopompos


1. What does Hades use to lure Persephone? What does this suggest about the god and his powers?

2. Who is the “Host of Many”? Why is this an appropriate name?

3. In what ways does Demeter show grief for her missing daughter? Make direct reference to the Hymn to answer this question.

4. Describe Zeus role in the Homeric Hymn of Demeter.

5. Why does Helios think that Hades is a suitable husband for Persephone?

6. Describe Demeter’s appearance as she enters Eleusis? What story does she tell the women? Why do you think she chose to look like this and tell this story?

7. Why do the women invite Demeter to their home?

8. Describe Demeter’s reception into the house of Metaneira. All of these details may reference events in the Eleusinian Mysteries.

9. What does Iambe do for Demeter?

10. How does Demeter care for Demophon? How does Metaneira react? What does this suggest about the Eleusinian Mysteries?

11. What does Demeter tell the family of Metaneira and the Eleusinians before she leaves Eleusis?

12. How do the Eleusinians respond to Demeter’s speech?

13. After she leaves Eleusis, how does Demeter express her grief more deeply? What does Zeus do in response? How does Demeter react to this?

14. How does Demeter respond to Iris?

15. What does Hermes tell Hades? How does Hades respond?

16. What does Hades tell Persephone? How does he make sure that she will come back to him?

17. How does Demeter respond to Hades’ deceit?

18. What story does Persephone tell Demeter when she is reunited with her mother? What does her story suggest about her feelings?

19. How do Zeus and Rhea resolve Persephone’s situation?

20. What do these final lines of the Hymn suggest about the cult of Demeter at Eleusis?
Happy is he among men upon earth who has seen these mysteries; but he who is uninitiate and who has no part in them, never has lot of like good things once he is dead, down in the darkness and gloom.