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The division of honors and journeying among the gods

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


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


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're 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.

Word Count: 1631

Source: Essay UK -

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