The Division of Honors and Journeying Among the Gods
In this midterm essay I will discuss why Gods Journey. I believe that Gods journey for two reasons. One reason is to seek out honor for themselves. The other reason is to regain honors they have lost. To demonstrate this I will first discuss the journeys of Hades in the Homeric hymn "To Demeter" comparing it to the journey of Hermes in "To Hermes". I fell that both of these companion journeys were attempts by these Gods to win honors they did not already have. Next I will look at the companion journeys of Demeter and Apollo. I think that both of these Gods journeyed to regain honors they'd previously had, but lost. Lastly I will conclude by showing how all four Gods had to compromise and divide up the honors amongst themselves. "Earth with its wide roads gaped and then over the Nysian field the lord and All receiver, the many named son of Kronos, sprang out upon her with his immortal horses...Not an unseemly bridegroom among the immortals is Aidoneus, Lord on Many, your own brother from the same seed; to his share fell honor when in the beginning a triple division was made, and he dwells among those over whom his lot made him lord" (To Demeter 16-18, 83-87). I think that these two sets of lines show that Hades viewed Persephone as a prize. Honor was one of the things Hades won when he, Zeus, and Poseidon divided up the world. Thus Hades felt justified in journeying up from the underworld to earth to claim Persephone as his bride. I feel that he felt he deserved to have her, according to his logic, because honor was something he was entitled to as a God. I feel that Hermes journey was similar to that of Hades in that he traveled in order to win honor for himself and for his Mother Maia. "A watcher by night and a gate keeper, soon destined to show forth glorious deeds among the immortal gods. Born at dawn, by midday he played his lyre, and at evening he stole the cattle of far shooting Apollon...But I shall be master of whatever skill is best to provide for you and me forever; we shall not suffer, as you bid me, to stay right here and be the only two immortals not plied with gifts and prayers. It is better to be forever in the gods' intimate circle, rich, affluent, and with an abundance of grain, than to sit in this dark cave; and as for honor, I, too, shall claim the rite of which Apollon is a master" (To Hermes 15-18, 166- 173). Hermes much like Hades was destined to achieve glorious deeds and win honor. He felt he was entitled to steal Apollo's cattle, just as Hades felt entitled to steal Persephone, because neither he nor Maia were receiving their just honors from the Gods. I think that honor is one of the most important and significant things among the Gods. It is truly the one area in which Gods are able to distinguish themselves from other gods. I think that both of these Gods risked earning the wrath of other Gods because honor was so important to them, and they felt they were lacking of such. Both of these journeys represent one of the key reasons why I feel that Gods travel. Both of these Gods were not receiving the honors that they felt they deserved as Gods. Furthermore both of them lived in isolated places, Hades in the underworld and Hermes in an isolated cave, away from the other gods who lived on MT. Olympus. Thus these Gods could easily be forgotten and dismissed by the people, and the other Gods. I think that Hermes wanted to own something so people would honor him and his mother in the same fashion they honored the other Gods on Mt. Olympus. I feel that Hades wanted someone whom he could claim as a bride to keep him company in his rule of the underworld isolated away from the other Gods. While both of these Gods were able to temporarily steal away these honors for themselves, they had to take them from other Gods. Once these other Gods found out about their thievery they responded in kind with a journey of their own to reclaim honors which had been there's before and which they felt should still rightfully be theirs. "For nine days then all over the earth mighty Deo roamed about with bright torches in her hands, and in her sorrow never tasted ambrosia or nectar sweet to drink,and never bathed her skin... Afterwards, angered with Kronion, lord of black clouds, she withdrew from the assembly of the gods and from lofty Olympos and went through the cities of men and the wealth of their labors, tearing at her hair form for a long time" (To Demeter 47-50, 91-94); Demeter was so distraught over the rape of Persephone that she roamed the Earth for nine days seeking out her daughter. While the loss of Persephone was perhaps not a loss of honor to her in the same way the stealing Persephone was an 'honor' to Hades, Demeter still felt dishonored and offended that her daughter was taken away from her. When she found out what had happened she walked among the people from village to village until she finally came upon the home of Keleos. There Demeter agreed to serve as the birth mother of Demephoon. I feel that Demeter's journey that brought her to Demephoon was her way of attempting to win back the honor that was taken from her in the form of Persephone. Demeter used Demephoon as a substitute and cared for him in place of Persephone. Apollo goes on a similar journey once he finds out that his cattle have been stolen. "And then he saw a long winged bird and knew forthwith that the robber was the son of Zeus Kronion. And Apollon, son of Zeus, speedily rushed to holy Pylos in search of his shambling cows, his broad shoulders enveloped in a purple cloud... Son of Leto, are not these harsh words you have spoken? And here you are in search of roving cattle? I have neither seen, nor found out, nor heard another man's word; and I will neither tell, nor get the reward for telling (To Hermes 213-217, 261-264). Apollo is initially thwarted in his efforts to recover what has been taken from him just as Demeter was. He listens to and old man and finally finds Hermes, yet Hermes lies to him and refuses to tell him where his cattle are hidden because he knows that he will receive no prize if he does so. In these situations both Apollo and Demeter are thwarted in their initial efforts to recover their lost honors. Demeter does find a temporary replacement in Demephoon, but that ends when Meteneira catches her placing Demephoon in the fire and Demeter's secret is revealed. This leaves two Gods, Demeter and Apollo, unsatisfied with their stolen honors and two Gods, Hades and Hermes, thoroughly satisfied that they have been able to pull off their great thievery. I feel that since Gods journey to earn or win back honors and to divide them up amongst themselves clearly this unequal situation cannot exist in perpetuity. In both cases Zeus the Ruler of all is called upon to rectify the situation and help work out some type of balance of power between the warring Gods. "So then again the father sent forth all the blessed immortal gods. They ran to her, and each in his turn summoned her and gave her many beautiful gifts and whatever honors she might want to choose among the immortals. But no one could persuade the mind and thought of the angry goddess who stubbornly spurned their offers. She said she would never set foot on fragrant Olympos and never allow the grain in the earth to sprout forth so when loud thundering, far seeing Zeus heard this he sent Argeiphontes of the golden want to Erebos. His mission was to win Hades over with gentle words, and bring Persephone out of the misty darkness" (To Demeter 325-337). In this case Zeus was forced to recall Persephone from Hades in order to placate Demeter. However since Persephone had eaten a pomengrate seed she was sentenced to live two thirds of the year with Demeter and one third of the year with Hades. This division of the honor of having Persephone between Hades and Demeter was a result of the journeys that both of them took. The journeys of Apollo and Hermes resulted in a similar arrangement and division of honors. "For, noble and mighty as you are, O son of Zeus, your seat is first among the immortals, and wise Zeus loves you, by every sacred right, and has granted you splendid gifts. And they say, O Far Shooter, that from Zeus and his divine voice you learn the honors, the prophet's skills, and all god given relevations. I myself have learned that you have all these in abundance. You may choose to learn whatever you desire, but since you heart is so eager to play the lyre, sing and play the lyre and minister to gay festivities, receiving this skill from me and, friend, grant me glory" (To Hermes 468-477). Thus both Apollo and Hermes wind up with something to gain from their journeys. Hermes gains the fame and glory that he sought both among the Gods and among the men on Earth while Apollo was given back his cattle and the ability to play the lyre as well. These hymns I feel both have the same truths within them. Gods travel as a way to gain honor, either new or lost. Honor however is a fungible thing, there can only be so much of it to go around. Thus Gods ultimately journey as a way of dividing up that honor so that every God has some, but no one God has it all.