Demeter's Grief for Persephone

from by Michael Levy



The story of Persephone and Demeter is a classic example of an etiological myth (ie a myth intended to explain the origins of natural phenomena etc), which beautifully and elegantly attempts to explain the actual cause behind the changes we observe in the passing of the seasons...

In Greek mythology, Persephone is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest goddess Demeter, and is the queen of the underworld.
One day while Persephone was gathering flowers, Hades, god of the underworld, captured her. No one had any idea where she had gone to or what had happened to her.

Demeter was sick with worry and grief. She asked Helios the sun god what had happened. When she learned that Hades had captured her daughter she became very angry. For a year she caused crops and plants to wither and die. A terrible famine gripped the earth.

Zeus commanded that Hades release Persephone. Persephone was overjoyed. However he tricked her into eating some pomegranate seeds before she left the underworld. He knew that if she ate anything from the land of the dead, she would have to return to him for a part of each year.

Demeter was delighted that her daughter had returned to her. However every time Persephone had to return to Hades, Demeter mourned terribly again.

This is why for a part of each year the plants and crops stop growing. When Persephone returns to earth, the land once again bursts with life.

The myth of the abduction of Persephone represents her function as the personification of vegetation, which shoots forth in spring and withdraws into the earth after harvest; hence, she is also associated with spring as well as the fertility of vegetation...

To reflect the poignant yearning of Demeter for her beloved daughter Persephone, this composition is in the form of a lament, in the mournful and distinctively poignant ancient Greek Phrygian Mode (equivalent intervals as D-D on the white notes of the piano and misnamed the 'Dorian' mode in the Middle Ages). I also tune my kithara in authentically pure just intonation to further enhance the distinctive characteristics of this ancient Greek mode.

I also experiment with creating rhythmic effects during the performance, by also sometimes using the greater mass of my replica ancient Greek carved bone plectrum as a baton to beat rhythm on the soundboard of my kithara, in much the same way that creative acoustic guitarists beat rhythm on the soundboard of their guitar whilst they play...


from Kithara of the Golden Age, released September 13, 2016


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Michael Levy UK

Michael Levy is a prolific composer for the recreated lyres of antiquity, whose musical mission is to create an entirely new musical genre, which could best be described as a 'New Ancestral Music' - dedicated to reintroducing the recreated lyres, ancient musical modes and intonations, back into the modern musical world.. ... more

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