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Hermes Binding Sandal

Museum Label:
Hermes Binding Sandal - bronze (original Greek 4th Century BC)

Chiurazzi description:
Hermes. The original in bronze was work of Lysippus. The god is in the act of repose and is lacing the sandal of his right foot. Looking towards the sky awaits the commands from the gods.

Measure Originates Them: 172 cm.

Subject info:
Hermes was found in Hadrian's Villa. It was thought to be in the proportion style of Lysippus whose figures had small heads and slender bodies. This can relate to the story and statue of the Rape of Proserpina, when Hermes was sent as a messenger from Jupiter to warn Proserpina not to eat in the underworld.
He arrived too late because Pluto tricked her into eating Pomegranate seeds so she had to spend part of the year in the underworld.

Full Story:
In the Olympian pantheon, Persephone is given a father: according to Hesiod's Theogony, Persephone was the daughter produced by the union of Zeus and Demeter. "And he [Zeus] came to the bed of bountiful Demeter, who bore white-armed Persephone, stolen by Hades from her mother's side".

Unlike every other offspring of an Olympian pairing, Persephone has no stable position at Olympus. Persephone used to live far away from the other gods, a goddess within Nature before the days of planting seeds and nurturing plants. In the Olympian telling, the gods Hermes, Ares, Apollo and Hephaistos, had all wooed Persephone, but Demeter rejected all their gifts and hid her daughter away from the company of the gods. Thus, Persephone lived a peaceful life before she became the goddess of the underworld, which, according to Olympian mythographers, did not occur until Hades abducted her and brought her into the underworld. She was innocently picking flowers with some nymphs—and Athena and Artemis, the Homeric hymn says—, or Leucippe, or Oceanids— in a field in Enna when he came, bursting up through a cleft in the earth; the nymphs were changed by Demeter into the Sirens for not having interfered. Life came to a standstill as the devastated Demeter (goddess of the Earth) searched everywhere for her lost daughter. Helios, the sun, who sees everything, eventually told her what had happened.

The Return of Persephone by Frederic Leighton (1891).Finally, Zeus, pressured by the cries of the hungry people and by the other gods who also heard their anguish, could not put up with the dying earth and forced Hades to return Persephone. But before she was released to Hermes, who had been sent to retrieve her, Hades tricked her into eating three pomegranate seeds, (or six, or four according to some versions of the myth) which forced her to return to the underworld for one month each year for every seed that she ate. In some versions, Ascalaphus informed the other gods that Persephone had eaten the pomegranate seeds. When Demeter and her daughter were together, the Earth flourished with vegetation and color, but for four months each year, when Persephone returned to the underworld, the earth once again became a barren realm of darkness. This is an origin story to explain winter.

In an alternate version, Hecate rescued Persephone. In the earliest version the dread goddess Persephone was herself Queen of the Underworld (Burkert, Kerenyi).

In some versions, Demeter forbids the earth to produce, in others she is so busy looking for Persephone that she neglects the earth, and in some the depth of her despair causes nothing to grow.

The number of pomegranate seeds varies in different versions of the story, corresponding with the number of months considered as winter months.

This myth can also be interpreted as an allegory of ancient Greek marriage rituals. The Greeks felt that marriage was a sort of abduction of the bride by the groom from the bride's family, and this myth may have explained the origins of the marriage ritual. The more popular etiological explanation of the seasons may have been a later interpretation.

Persephone, as Queen of Hades, only showed mercy once, because the music of Orpheus was so hauntingly sad. She allowed Orpheus to bring his wife Eurydice back to the land of the living as long as she walked behind him and he never tried to look at her face until they reached the surface. Orpheus agreed but failed, looking back at the very end to make sure his wife was following, and lost Eurydice forever.

Persephone also figures in the story of Adonis, the Syrian consort of Aphrodite. When Adonis was born, Aphrodite took him under her wing, seducing him with the help of Helene, her friend, and was entranced by his unearthly beauty. She gave him to Persephone to watch over, but Persephone was also amazed at his beauty and refused to give him back. The argument between the two goddesses was settled either by Zeus or Calliope, with Adonis spending four months with Aphrodite, four months with Persephone and four months of the years on his own.

When Hades pursued a nymph named Mintho, Persephone turned her into a mint plant.

Persephone was the object of Pirithous' affections. Pirithous and Theseus, his friend, pledged to marry daughters of Zeus. Theseus chose Helen and together they kidnapped her and decided to hold onto her until she was old enough to marry. Pirithous chose Persephone. They left Helen with Theseus' mother, Aethra, and travelled to the underworld, domain of Persephone and her husband, Hades. Hades pretended to offer them hospitality and set a feast; as soon as the pair sat down, snakes coiled around their feet and held them there.

Persephone and her mother Demeter were often referred to as aspects of the same goddess, and were called "the Demeters" or simply "the goddesses." The story of Persephone's abduction was part of the initiation rites in the Eleusinian Mysteries.

The 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica account of the myth
"As she was gathering flowers with her playmates in a meadow, the earth opened and Pluto, god of the dead, appeared and carried her off to be his queen in the world below. ... Torch in hand, her sorrowing mother sought her through the wide world, and finding her not she forbade the earth to put forth its increase. So all that year not a blade of corn grew on the earth, and men would have died of hunger if Zeus had not persuaded Pluto to let Proserpine go. But before he let her go Pluto made her eat the seed of a pomegranate, and thus she could not stay away from him for ever. So it was arranged that she should spend two-thirds (according to later authors, one-half) of every year with her mother and the heavenly gods, and should pass the rest of the year with Pluto beneath the earth. ... As wife of Pluto, she sent spectres, ruled the ghosts, and carried into effect the curses of men."


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