I religiously attend the monthly used book sale at the local library. Not too many scholarly tomes on Greek Mythology, but occasionally... More commonly I pick up books in some way related to my favorite obsession. Recently I found The Book of the Goddess; Past and Present, Editor Carl Olson. Many of the articles in the middle of the book I found interesting. The article that sang to me to me the most was The Mother Goddess among the Greeks by Christine R. Downing.
The focus of Downing’s work is on Gaia, of course, and her grand-daughters and great grand-daughters. Downing’s resume is not the norm for my reading and she presses her argument too hard sometimes. The piece is little referenced and, like me, assumes the reader is well read. All that said, I find some of her insight concise and clearer than other authors. I intend to read, “Gods in Our Midst”
A few quotes to consider;
“Tartarus is Gaia’s within-ness, Gaia is Tartarus’ self-externalization.”
“The others (primordial gods) are supplanted Ouranos by Zeus, Pontus by Poseidon. She is not; indeed, she participates in the supplantation.”
In these goddesses (Metis, Leto, Artemis, Athena, Hestia, Aphrodite, Hera, Hebe, Eileithyia Demeter) the Greeks represented in divine proportions the mother who abandons her children or holds them too tight, the mother who uses her children as agents to her marital struggles or to fulfill her own frustrated ambitions.” For example;
- “Of the major Olympian goddesses only Artemis had a mother – a mother; who she seems to have mothered from almost the moment of her own birth. The new-born daughter immediately sets about assisting with the delivery of her twin brother Apollo and on many other occasions rescues Leto from insult or danger.”
- Demeter’s boundless love for her daughter, Persephone seems at first glance to represent an idealized version of maternal devotion-yet a closer reading suggests it may be her overinvestment in her child that makes Persephone’s adduction by Hades a necessary denouement.” As proven by Gaia’s involvement in the abduction as mentioned in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter.
All and all a good short read if you are well read and know discretion.