Farewell Happy Fields
The Story of Hades and His Coy Mistress
E. Caddy Compson
A Word from the Writer: My interest has long been piqued by the mystique of Greek myth, or mythology in general, one might say, though recent re-re-readings in my Literature class at the University have quite served to rekindle my spirits in the way of writing; this is my outlet. You may notice the use of occasional (or more than occasional) sentence fragments and things of the sort; it's a result of reading Faulkner one too many times, I assure you, and all done in (an attempt at) good taste. I hope sincerely that any whom may come across this piece will like it, and perhaps leave me a review once you have read it; let me know what it is you liked, hated, or think can be improved. Feedback is always appreciated :)
Disclaimer: The Greek myths are not of my own creation; I claim no ownership over them whatsoever. References to other works of literature, especially in the way of metaphysical poetry, or references to Milton or Ovid or Homer, may be littered throughout this work; they are not mine, either. The title comes from a line in a work by John Milton entitled "Paradise Lost," with a reference in the subtitle to a Marvell work. This is merely my own interpretation of a much greater, quite well-known story. I hope you will enjoy reading it, as I have enjoyed writing it. You may find my works posted on various sites, but they will always be posted under the same pen name and with credit to the same author.
I've included endnotes to clarify whatever might be unclear, so scroll down and refer to it if you feel the need, whenever a number in parenthesis (not superscripted, since my formatting didn't hold up) comes up. Hope that helps!
Brief Summary: This is, in fact, yet another retelling of the Hades/Persephone myth, though I am going to do my very best to make it a bit different. We will see how it turns out. The first chapter is an introduction, but rest assured, all that should be "to come" will. If that makes sense…
Invocation. Inspired by J. Milton.
OF Death's Great Disobedience, and the Fruit
Of that Forbidden Realm, whose darkness taste
Brought Queen into Underworld, and Ceres' woe,
With loss of Kore, till one greater Zeus
Restore spring, and regain the blissful Flow'rs,
Sing Immort'l Muse, that on the greatest top
Of Olympus, amidst the clouds, didst inspire
That lone King, who drew the last lot of all,
In the Beginning ruled the Darkness
Beyond th'River Styx, and Elysium.
Delight thee more, and the rivers that flow'd
Fast by the land of Death; I thence
May justify th' ways of Hades to men.
I. No Light, but Rather Darkness Visible
Darkness. Darkness everywhere, enveloping darkness, suffocating -- almost, in the salty air of the sea nearby -- there was, and only the faintest of sounds, save the crashing of the waves outside the cave could be heard from within. And then, footsteps. Small footsteps echoed through the darkness, pitter-patter of smooth sandal against rougher stone almost disturbing the deafening silence, and light of a torch breaking the reverie of the void of dark. The light of the torch shone, bright, it would appear, to any within the cave, illuminating the path ahead of a woman, a woman pretty in her appearance, chestnut locks atop her head twisted simply but elegantly up, secured in place by an ornate clip of rich gold, flowers engraved into its fair polished surface. Her chiton(1) flowed loosely about her body, high girded beneath a light periwinkle himation(2), aquamarine fibulae clasped tastefully at the shoulders. She made her way forth gingerly, going deeper and deeper into the cave, each step taken with great care.
And then, her torch went out, blown by a startling wind into darkness. The goddess sharply inhaled a breath of the salty air, still evident even this far into the mysterious cave, and suddenly torches lit all around her, with speed previously unseen, illuminating a large chamber and revealing to her the sight she sought, the sight that many feared, the white-robed apportioners she'd been told to seek out.
And seek out she had. Before her, the fates(3) sat, Chlotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, the personifications of destiny, the ones who held the answers to her questions and so much more.
"Demeter," came the voice of the spinner, Chlotho, spinning life's thread to her spindle from her distaff.
The goddess started, shaking off her wonder at the sight of them, recomposing herself, "Parcea, please forgive me," she said, bowing and starting to kneel before them, "I--"
"Rise, fair apple-bearer," came the voice of Lachesis as she paused in the measuring of thread, gentle now despite her typically disdainful demeanour.
"Yes, please rise, child," said the last, Atropos, placing her abhorréd shears down for a moment.
"We have indeed been expecting you," said the first once again, stopping her spinning momentarily, and rising to meet their guest. "Please, have a seat," she said, gesturing to an empty chair, as Atropos the cutter of the thread conjured it handily before the first fate sat once again.
The goddess of the grain nodded, "Thank you so much, great Moerae," she said, even as they raised their hands dismissively. "I tried to come as quickly as I could--"
"But in your condition, child, you did the best that you could," came the voice of one.
"You should be cautious, child," said the second.
"We do understand, you know" the third chimed in.
The poppy goddess sighed, drained from her journey long, knowing that the fates were omniscient, knowing all as it happened, before it happened, and knowing all the past like no others could possibly. "Yes, I'm sorry. Again, I--"
"There's no need to apologize, dear," the cutter of life's thread said.
"Yes, Atropos is right, fair Demeter," said Lachesis. "It is only natural to come at this time, to call upon Chlotho."
The fate mentioned fixed a rare smile upon their visitor, spinning again for a moment before pausing once more. "Yes, goddess. Indeed it is." She sighed, gingerly passing a finger along the thread on the spindle. "We have foreseen your questions; have foreseen your calling for knowledge of what lies in store for the life you hold within you at present, the life that will commence a fortnight from this very day." She paused, observing Demeter, rising from her seat to place a hand over the goddess's swelled midsection, feeling a soft, gentle kick as she did so. Her gaze darted to her consorts, who all rose.
"You will be blessed with a daughter, fair Demeter of the harvest and grain," Chlotho said, prophetically, "a daughter of beauty to rival that of love's goddess, not the same sort of beauty, but one all her own, and wits to rival the wisest man."
"She will be one who destroys the light, at first only in name," Lachesis continued, measuring a thread with her great rod-like scepter, "and she will bring you the greatest joys known to a mother."
"But," came the voice of Atropos, "your fair Kore will one day be taken, stolen away to lands unknown by a man with much power."
"Yes, very much power," continued Chlotho, "I see much pain, much suffering for you, so much time apart."
The grain goddess's eyes opened wide with fear, with anxiety and wrought with pain at what the future might hold. "Oh, fates, what can I do? How--"
"How--can you prevent this horrible fate?" Atropos finished for her.
"It is a natural question for a mother to ask," said Lachesis.
"That it is," Chlotho chimed in once again, reverie of prophecy yet unbroken. "Goddess, nourisher of the green earth and all that is good, mother of agriculture, keep your young Kore safe, secluded from any that might abduct her, or I see much pain for you, and for humanity. Let not her be taken from you, lest she be stolen to a place where you lack the power, have not the resources to do a single thing about it."
The fates bowed their heads to the goddess in an almost sympathetic fashion, and she bowed her head in return.
"Thank you, great apportioners," the goddess said, rising from her seat, voice shaking as she steadied herself. "Thank you, so much…"
And then she was gone, trying not to run as fast as her weak and wobbling legs might carry her, trying not to collapse with fitful tears of anger and frustration, stopping outside the cave and finally falling to her knees, sorrowfully, clutching her himaton over her chest and making a silent vow, placing a hand over her abdomen, swelled by nearly nine months of pregnancy. No one would take her away, not her Kore, not her sweet Persephone.
(1)chiton – a chiton was an Ancient Greek article of clothing, consisting of fabric, usually in two pieces, draped over the body, usually with either a high-girded belt or low-girded belt, or both to help contain it. (Called a monochiton if used alone, but usually worn with a himation – see below)
(2)himation – himations were another type of clothing of Ancient Greece, and usually worn over a chiton if by ladies, which served the function of a sort of cloak. Its fabric was usually heavier, but not quite as bulky as the later Roman toga. A himation could also be used without a chiton (called an achiton sometimes this way)
(3)Fates– the Fates, also called "Moirae," "Moerae," or "Parcae," among other things, controlled the thread of life in mythology. Conceived here in the tradition of there being three of them, Clotho spun the thread of life (and was usually consulted by pregnant women before they gave birth), Lachesis measured the thread, and Atropos cut it. They were also called the "great apportioners."