The Rape of Persephone and Female Initiation Analytical Essay

The Rape of Persephone and Female Initiation
An analysis of the significance of rape in the Greek myth of Persephone.
# 146758 | 1,413 words | 4 sources | APA | 2008 | GB
Published on Jan 15, 2011 in Anthropology (Cultural) , History (Greek and Roman) , Religion and Theology (Other)

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This paper focuses its analysis on the role and significance of rape in the ancient Greek myth of Persephone. The paper begins by defining initiation as a ceremony that results in the admission of a person to a particular association, whether that is an introduction to an age group or an ordination of a priest or entrance to a secret society. The paper goes on to explain that the myth surrounding the rape of Persephone follows this structure precisely with the young daughter being taken away from her mother, Demeter, to the underworld where she spends some time in a state of transition before being reunited with Demeter, but having been fundamentally, and permanently, changed in some sense. The paper asserts that the most convincing argument is to associate the myth with the female initiation of a girl in becoming a woman. The paper concludes that rape is used in the myth because the girl must pass the stage of liminality; otherwise, the myth teaches, there will be dire consequences for man and the cosmos.

From the Paper:

"Following this separation kore is in a vulnerable state, as she is no longer part of the household of her father, Zeus. She is in fact at the stage of liminality in the van Gennep structure. This is the equivalent to the day of the marriage, the gamos, for the Greeks. The daughter is on the verge of being transferred to another man's authority but has not quite reached it yet. We are shown, through the myth, that one important aspect of this transferral is the loss of virginity of the bride. '...while I, together with my virginity, lose the air of heaven; stolen from me alike is innocence and daylight.' There is a definite comparison here with the loss of virginity coinciding with the loss of light. It is not merely because kore is being taken down into the underworld with Hades but rather, and more significantly, due to the view of legitimate sex in Greece. Sex was seen as a private affair that should be done in the dark away from others. To do otherwise would make you a barbarian and insinuate the physical act is not part of legitimate marriage. Therefore, the physical act of sex with Hades has transferred the authority of the girl to Hades."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Burkert. W. 1985. Greek Religion. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Lincoln. B. The Rape of Persephone: A Greek Scenario of Women's Initiation. The Harvard Theological Review. Vol. 72. No, 3/4. (1979). pp. 223-235.
  • Parker. R. 1983. MIASMA. Pollution and Purification in early Greek Religion. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Van Gennep. A. 1960. The Rites of Passage. United States of America: The University of Chicago Press.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

The Rape of Persephone and Female Initiation (2011, January 15) Retrieved March 01, 2024, from

MLA Format

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