This chapter discusses the Two Great Gods of Earth; Demeter and Dionysus Demeter (Ceres) is the goddess of corn. Her worship takes place in the fields and threshing floors. Her feminine nature appeals to the women who take charge of farming in Greek society. Yet Demeter’s personal history is a sad one. Hades kidnaps her daughter Persephone (Proserpine), goddess of spring, to be his queen in the underworld. Heartbroken, Demeter leaves Olympus and, disguised as an old woman, wanders the earth looking for her daughter. Because her daughter is gone, she stops helping the humans, and the whole world becomes an icy wasteland.
Zeus intervenes, sending Hermes to the underworld to fetch Persephone. Hades makes Persephone eat a pomegranate seed, which ensures her return to him, but mother and daughter are reunited. Because of the pomegranate seed, Persephone must return to Hades for four months of the year. During these months the plants die and the world goes dark and that, according to the Greeks, is why winter occurs. The other god discussed in this chapter is Dionysus, the wine god. He, too, is the focus of worship and festivals, but he, too, has a tragic history.
As the personification of the vine, Dionysus endures pruning and death to be reborn in the spring like Persephone. He is born the son of Zeus and Semele, a princess of Thebes. Dionysus is raised by nymphs in the valley of Nysa. Once grown, he travels around the world, teaching men to make wine. During his wanderings, he is captured by pirates who are unable to contain him, and he makes the decks of their ship run with wine.
But Dionysus never forgets his lost mother and eventually travels to the underworld to demand Death release her. She is allowed to live in Olympus as the mother of a god. Dionysus, like wine itself, has a dual nature. He is associated with merrymaking, but he can also make people angry.
The chapter talks about because these are gods of men, they truly know pain and have experienced it, while immortal gods don’t know this pain, due to their power.