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By Blue Lindner
Special to The PREVIEW
Pagosa Homeschool Cooperative students are busy preparing for their performance of the Greek myth “Persephone and Demeter” on Friday, May 9, and Saturday, May 10, at the Farmhouse Barn Theater located at 1041 County Road 139.
Admission is free and open to the public. The content is appropriate for all ages, and attending is an excellent opportunity for families to expose their young ones to the performing arts, history and culture.
As spring’s warmth finally begins to accompany the sun’s rays again, we emerge from the dark, cold winter with a sense of hope and celebration of new life. It’s comforting to realize that this human emotion has accompanied springtime throughout the history of man — the ancient Greeks passed on their creation myth to express this sense of hope that we all enjoy each spring.
According to Greek mythology, at first the world was always in the height of life and bloom. Crops were always bountiful, flowers always bloomed and the world was awash in color every day of the year. The people had Demeter, the goddess of life and harvest, to thank for the constant abundance they enjoyed. Demeter had a daughter, Persephone, the apple of her eye, whom she loved more than life itself.
One day after sowing seeds together, Persephone begged her mother to let her play in the meadow. Demeter, always overprotective, forbade her to leave the safety of the grotto where she rested. Against her mother’s will, Persephone gave in to the temptation of the frolicking nymphs and satyrs, and left the safety of the grotto to play. Hades, passing through the same meadow, was stung by the puncture of one of Cupid’s arrows. He caught sight of Persephone and decided that she was to be his bride. He took her from the meadow to his kingdom in the underworld.
When Demeter discovered what had happened, she was stricken with grief, and refused to perform her godly duties as goddess of life. Without her blessing, the plants withered and the earth became gray and lifeless. The people were in despair because they could no longer live without the harvest. They prayed to the gods, and the gods pleaded with Demeter to let go of her sorrow and return the earth to life. In her grief she refused, so the gods pleaded with Hades to let Persephone leave the underworld and return to her grieving mother. Hades, in his complete devotion and love of Persephone, told her that she may return to the earth above if that will make her happiest.
“If you return my love for you,” said Hades, “then show me by tasting the fruit of the underworld.”
Persephone had indeed grown to love Hades, so she granted him his wish and ate six seeds from the pomegranate he gave her. Once the fruit of the underworld had been tasted, however, the taster must abide in the underworld forever. To save destruction of the world, the god Hermes devised a compromise.
“She has eaten 6 seeds. Therefore, she will spend 6 months of the year with Hades in the underworld. The other 6 months she will return to her mother in the land above.”
When the first spring beauty and hyacinth and crocus pop their heads out of the gray winter soil, and the hillsides begin to tinge green, we are experiencing what humanity has experienced since the beginning — the sense of hope and joy that comes from the return of life to the earth after the cold, dark winter. Like Demeter anticipating the return of her daughter, we look forward to the return of blossoms and fruit and harvest. Without the winter, we would never experience the hope of spring; without knowing the gray, color would be meaningless. And so the Greeks show us the importance of balance with the dichotomy of life and death through the seasons.
Pagosa Homeschool Cooperative will be performing their own version of this myth, a play inspired by a drama written by William Ward. The students have designed and created every part of the play, including the set, the costumes and the props. They will be performing several musical pieces throughout the play. The audience won’t believe they are watching children between 7 and 12 years old.
Please join us Friday, May 9, at 6 p.m. or Saturday, May 10, at 2 p.m. at the Pagosa Homeschool Cooperative Barn Theater located at 1041 CR 139. Call 946-1877 for more information. Please bring folding chairs or a picnic blanket for viewing. Admission is free.