“I will remember and not be unmindful of Apollo who shoots afar. As he goes through the house of Zeus, the gods tremble before him and all spring up from their seats when he draws near, as he bends his bright bow.”
Homeric Hymn to Apollo
In the scene above, after the initial uproar, Leto disarms her son and leads him to a throne at the festive table. His father Zeus passes him a cup of nectar and all is again once merry and delightful on Olympus.Jenny Strauss-Clay (The Politics of Olympus, 1989) asks whether this is “Apollo's first reception into Olympus…or whether it represents typical scene, repeated each and every time the god enters his father’s halls.” Ten excellent pages of reading later, Clay observers, “That the time of the gods differs from ours.” (When I read that line I recalled from my adult confirmation class, Pastor Carroll Marohal saying God’s time was kairos time rather than our linear chronos time. And Kurt Vonnegut's phrase, “unstuck in time.”) Clay concludes that the opening scene “portrays both the first epiphany of the new god on the threshold of Olympus and his eternally repeated entrance into this father’s house…as he did the first time and as he will forever.”
I continued reading Clay’s excellent book and noticed the same “once and for always” phenomena in her analysis of “The Homeric Hymn to Demeter”. The goddess said, (208-211)” it was not lawful for her to drink red wine, but bade them mix meal and water with soft mint and give her to drink. And Metaneira mixed the draught and gave it to the goddess as she bade. So the great queen Deo received it to observe the sacrament” Here she is referencing and establishing for all time a ritual in the Eleusinian mysteries, which she hasn’t even found yet.
Currently I am as student of Professor Gregory Nagy in “The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 hours” Nagy seems to support the same “once and for always” notion At 17§9. Nagy explains Electra’s confusion in the Libation-Bearers 118 (Aeschylus) "What should I say? Instruct me, inexperienced as I am, and lead me in my thinking." Nagy suggests that Agamemnon is in the process of becoming a cult hero. Electra’s offering will be the first of many. Likewise in “Oedipus at Colonus” Nagy suggests that all the rituals Oedipus performs for the first time prior to his death represent Oedipus formulating his heroic legacy for Theseus (18§48).
At Theogony 545 Prometheus once and for always arranges the portions during a sacrifice. In Eumenides 482, Athena says, “I will establish this tribunal for all time.” and we’ve had 12 good men on a jury ever since.
In short, I see evidence that when the Divine acts, it is once and for always and I encourage readers to test the hypothesis in their readings.