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Demeter Print

Demeter (Mini plywood) - The Hellenic Marbles

The "Hellenic Marbles" are images of historically significant Greek sculptures transposed onto plywood. These have been produced for Dig if U will exclusively. 

Demeter (mini plywood print) is 14cm wide x 18 cm high.

More about Demeter:

The Greeks worshipped among their deities a goddess called Demeter, which means "mother earth." It was her office to attend to the sowing and reaping and all kinds of farm work. She first taught mankind the use of the plough; she helped the men in their threshing and the women in their baking. All country folk sought her blessing in their labors. She was, in fact, a personification of nature, and perhaps it is a remnant of the old Greek belief in our speech that we still refer to "mother earth" and "mother nature."

Demeter's only child was a daughter, Persephone, and upon her she lavished all a mother's fond devotion. The story runs that one day Persephone was gathering posies in the meadow when a strange accident overtook her. A beautiful flower suddenly attracted her attention, the like of which she had never before seen. When she put forth her hand to pluck it, the entire plant came up by the roots, leaving a hole in the ground. The hole widened into a great crack, the earth shook with a mighty thundering, and out dashed a chariot drawn by coal-black steeds, bearing Pluto, the king of the lower regions. He caught up the astonished Persephone, and away they sped again into the gloomy kingdom beyond the Styx, where Persephone was installed as queen.

Demeter, missing her daughter, inquired everywhere what had become of the maiden, but none could tell her. Then she lighted a torch and began a weary search for the lost child. Nine days she wandered without finding any clew. But on the tenth day she met the old witch Hecate, who had heard Persephone scream when she was carried away. Together the two sought Apollo, who sees all the doings of gods and men, and he told them the whole story. "Then a more terrible grief took possession of Demeter, and ... she forsook the assembly of the gods and abode among men for a long time, veiling her beauty under a worn countenance so that none who looked upon her knew her." She declared that the earth should not again bring forth fruit till she had seen her daughter.

It comforted her not a little in this time of mourning to take a mother's care of a certain sickly little child she chanced upon. Disguised as a nurse, she fed the child upon ambrosia, held him in her bosom, and at night covered him in a bed of coals. Under this treatment he thrived amazingly; but the parents discovered the nurse's strange ways and became alarmed. Their anxiety was turned to dismay when they learned that this was a goddess, who would have made their son immortal but for their interference.

In the mean time the crops fell into a bad state, and it was a year of grievous famine. Demeter still kept her vow to let no green thing appear upon the earth. Then Zeus came to the rescue of perishing humanity. He sent a messenger to Pluto begging him to let Persephone return to her mother. The request was granted, the chariot was made ready, but the wily king first pressed his bride to eat with him some pomegranate seeds, designing that she should return to him again. Mother and daughter were now joyfully reunited, but not without further separation; for a portion of each year Persephone returned to her kingdom below the earth, reappearing in the spring to visit her mother. And this is why to this day the harvest is followed by winter until the spring revisits the earth. [17]

In all this story we see that the most striking characteristic of Demeter is her motherliness. In some respects she is like Hera, because both are matrons and are patterns of the domestic virtues. But while Hera is the model wife, Demeter is the model mother.

It is the motherliness of our statue which makes us feel sure that it must be intended to represent Demeter. [18]The goddess stands holding in her outstretched right hand a sheaf of wheat, and lifting high in the left hand the torch with which she journeyed round the world. It is as if she stood on the threshold of the opening season awaiting her daughter's return. She gazes straight before her with a look of expectancy as if she already saw her child from afar. Her face is lighted by a smile of welcome. One can fancy how tenderly those motherly arms will fold the child to her heart, and how gladly the daughter will pillow her head on that broad bosom.

The figure is in striking contrast to the statue of Athena. The virgin goddess is stately and unapproachable in her panoply of wisdom, but the great mother seems to invite our confidence. She is one to whom a frightened child might run, sure of being soothed. To her the sorrowing would turn, fearing no repulse. She would welcome, she would understand, she would comfort. There is strength and repose in every line of her majestic figure.

The statue illustrates admirably the grandeur and simplicity of the best Greek art. The long straight lines of the drapery, unbroken by any unnecessary folds, are the secret of the impression of tranquil dignity in the work.