One sentence to change your life

Demeter (seated) and Kore

Either alone or together, and worshiped in connexion with other related deities, these two goddesses have by far the most important place in the cult of the underworld.

This is what Erwin Rhode says of Greek goddesses Demeter and Persephone in his formative work Psyche (1925, p. 160).  It’s a sentence I’ve read a number of times before but never when I’ve been in so much of a thesis-funk (Rhode, though this book is seminal to the study of death and the dead in Greek religion, is not usually one of my funk-related go-to books…).  It comes at a fairly decisive point in the (re-)formulation of my thesis and wondering if I shouldn’t focus on these two goddesses in my study.  Of course, doing so would change my study in quite a fundamental way.  It would involve getting rid of not one, but several chapters (in various states of completion from totally finished and edited to not yet started), and I would be looking at losing probably another 10,00 to 15,000 words (on top of the 15,000 I’ve recently lost.)

Of course, if I don’t go down this path of fundamental change, then Demeter and Persephone – or more accurately, Persephone and Demeter – still figure very strongly in my work.  Such is the nature of looking at death gods in early Greek religion.  I think the best course of action is to continue building the Persephone-themed chapter (which I thought was finished, but I have now decided to expand and rework slightly) and continue writing the Erinyes and Demeter chapter, only perhaps making the emphasis on Demeter, rather than the Erinyes.

The big problem I had in the Moirai chapter – which caused me to cut the whole thing – was that I got a bit caught up on how much I was enjoying doing the research and it wasn’t until I’d reached the end that I realised how poorly the case fits into my overall study.  Which is about cults not mythology.  That is not to say that mythology doesn’t play an important role in my work, but that the focus must always come back to the actual ritual practice that takes place.  This is why I spent all that time thinking, oh so painfully, about myth-ritual theory, and why I must read (and re-read, and re-read) the new holy-trinity of Greek Religion Theory books (Versnel, Parker, and Kindt).  There is nothing wrong with studying literature or mythology or mythography, but it’s not me.

So.  To bed, for now.  Tomorrow, keep going.  Keep thinking, keep working, keep writing and keep moving forward.  This week I lost 15,000 words, but that doesn’t mean anything because they weren’t words which were valuable to my current project.


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