I recently taught the troubling Homeric Hymn to Demeter in my Classical Myth course at Bucknell. On the one hand, this hymn is a story of violence. Three quarters into the hymn, readers find Hades “sitting in the bed with his bashful, very unwilling, wife who yearned for her mother” (ἥμενον ἐν λεχέεσσι σὺν αἰδοίῃ παρακοίτι, | πόλλ᾽ ἀεκαζομένῃ μητρὸς πόθῳ, 343–344). As Jermaine Bryant and Ship of Theses have recently discussed on Twitter, this scene is clear evidence that Hades has sexually assaulted Persephone.
In my post last month I referred to the crucial role that study abroad played in my formation as a classicist, and the papers delivered at a panel on study-abroad programs at this year’s annual meeting showed that I am not alone. Those papers (by McGinn, Severy-Hoven, Thakur, Morris, and Romano) spoke eloquently of the profound impact on students of exploring the remains of ancient Greece and Rome and their continuities with the present.