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Finally, by consulting Zeus, Demeter reunited with her daughter and the earth returned to its former verdure and prosperity: the first spring.Zeus, pressed by the cries of the hungry people and by the other deities who also heard their anguish, forced Hades to return Persephone.
Demeter, enthroned and extending her hand in a benediction toward the kneeling Metaneira, who offers the triune wheat that is a recurring symbol of the mysteries (Varrese Painter, red-figure hydria, c.
340 BC, from Apulia) Excavations showed that, a private building existed under the Telesterion in the Mycenean period, and it seems that originally the cult of Demeter was private.
Death remained a reality, but at the same time a new beginning like the plant which grows from the buried seed.
According to Mylonas, the lesser mysteries were held "as a rule once a year in the early spring in the month of flowers, the Anthesterion," while "the Greater Mysteries were held once a year and every fourth year they were celebrated with special splendor in what was known as the penteteris.
Kerenyi concurs with this assessment: "The Lesser Mysteries were held at Agrai in the month of Anthesterion, our February...
The initiates were not even admitted to the epopteia [Greater Mysteries] in the same year, but only in September of the following year." This cycle continued for about two millennia.Because of her distress, and in an effort to coerce Zeus to allow the return of her daughter, she caused a terrible drought in which the people suffered and starved, depriving the gods of sacrifice and worship.As a result, Zeus relented and allowed Persephone to return to her mother.When Persephone returned to the surface, Demeter became joyful and cared for the earth again.In the central foundation document of the mystery, the Homeric Hymn to Demeter line 415, Persephone is said to stay in Hades during winter and return in the spring of the year: "This was the day [of Persephone's return], at the very beginning of bountiful springtime." This fits with the Mediterranean change of seasons.For the initiated, the rebirth of Persephone symbolized the eternity of life which flows from generation to generation, and they believed that they would have a reward in the afterlife.There are many paintings and pieces of pottery that depict various aspects of the Mysteries.The name pais (child) appears in the Mycenean inscriptions, The high point of the celebration was "an ear of grain cut in silence", which represented the force of the new life.The idea of immortality didn't exist in the mysteries at the beginning, but the initiated believed that they would have a better fate in the underworld.Similar religious rites appear in the agricultural societies of Near East and in Minoan Crete.The rites, ceremonies, and beliefs were kept secret and consistently preserved from antiquity.