Demeter 8

Making many jokes, she turned the Holy Lady’s disposition in another direction,

making her smile and laugh and have a merry spirit.

Ever since, Iambê has been pleasing Demeter with the sacred rites.

Then Metaneira offered Demeter a cup, having filled it with honey-sweet wine.

But she refused, saying that it was divinely ordained that she not

drink red wine. Then Demeter ordered Metaneira to mix some barley and water

with delicate pennyroyal, and to give that potion to her to drink.

So Metaneira made the drink and offered it to the goddess, just as she had ordered.

The Lady known far and wide as Dêô accepted it, for the sake of the holy custom.

Then well-girded Metaneira spoke up in their midst:

“Woman, I wish you pleasure and happiness from our relationship, starting now. I speak this way because I think you are descended not from base parents

but from noble ones. You have the look of grandeur and grace in your eyes,

just as if you were descended from law-giving kings.

We humans endure the gifts the gods give us, even when we are grieving over what has to be.

The yoke has been placed on our neck.

But now that you have come here, there will be as many things that they give to you as they give to me.

Take this little boy of mine and nourish him. He is late-born, and it was beyond my expectations

that the immortals could have given him to me. I prayed many times to have him.

If you nourish him to grow till he reaches the crossing-point of life, coming of age,

I can predict that you will be the envy of any woman who lays eyes on you.

That is how much compensation I would give you in return for raising him.”

Then Demeter, with the beautiful garlands in her hair, addressed her:

“Woman, I wish you well back, and then some. May the gods give you good things.

With positive intentions, I will take your little boy as you tell me to.

I will nourish him, and I do not expect that, through the inadvertence of her nursemaid,

he would perish from a pestilence or from the Undercutter.

I know an antidote that is far more powerful than the Woodcutter;

I know a genuine remedy for the painful pestilence.”

Having so spoken, she took the child to her fragrant bosom,

in her immortal hands. And the mother Metaneira rejoiced in her mind.

And thus it came to pass that the splendid son of bright-minded Keleos,

Dêmophôn, who was born to well-girded Metaneira,

was nourished in the palace, and he grew up like a god,

not eating grain, not sucking from the breast. But Demeter

used to anoint him with ambrosia, as if he had been born of the goddess,

and she would breathe down her sweet breath on him as she held him to her bosom.  [203-238]


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