I''m giving this two stars for the sake of the benefit of the doubt, as I: a) haven''t finished reading it, and b) am not familiar with all of the legends and histories that it covers. That said, I''ve just read the introduction/historical context box...
I''m giving this two stars for the sake of the benefit of the doubt, as I:
a) haven''t finished reading it, and
b) am not familiar with all of the legends and histories that it covers.
That said, I''ve just read the introduction/historical context box preceding the myth of Demeter and Persephone, and the most if not all of the information presented is historically/archaeologically inaccurate.
The text states that Mycenaean Greeks diminished the concept of a Great Goddess by relating all the powerful goddesses of the general Mediterranean area to Zeus, "their principle divinity". One of the goddesses mentioned is Aphrodite, despite that she did not exist in Mycenaean Greece. Moreover, Zeus was not an important god to the Mycenaeans to begin with.
The text also claims that the Mycenaeans diminished Persephone herself, downgrading her from a Great Goddess in a previous religion to "Hades'' subservient wife" and "Demeter''s loving daughter". Firstly, early versions of Persephone and Demeter are thought to have been honored as extremely prominent deities in Mycenaean religion, with John Chadwick theorizing that they were revered on a level similar to the pre-Poseidon who took the role of king of the gods. Secondly, there''s no evidence to suggest that Hades even existed at this time. Mycenaean scripts make no mention of him, and most historians believe he was a later addition to the pantheon. Finally, even in the eras that followed Mycenaean Greece, Persephone is not portrayed as subservient to him. The Homeric Hymn to Demeter, the oldest account to actually detail Persephone''s descent into the Underworld, states outright that Persephone has equal (and total) rule of the Underworld: "If you are here, you will be queen of everything that lives and moves about, and you will have the greatest honors in the company of the immortals." This is even acknowledged in the text''s retelling of the hymn, so I really don''t know where the interpretation of a submissive Persephone came into play here.
With the exception of the issue regarding the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, this is all probably the result of a mix-up with regard to specific time periods in the region, but the cultures and religious traditions of Bronze Age Greece and Ancient Greece were not synonymous, and considering that this is a text being used to teach the historical and cultural contexts of myths and legends, this is a mix-up that should have been caught.
That said, this is all regarding one single story. On the one hand, it''s entirely possible that the author was given misinformation at the time of writing for this legend in particular. On the other, the number of discrepancies between this short text box and the archaeological evidence we have available makes me skeptical as to the accuracy of the entire book, especially as this is one of the easier myths to research.
TL;DR: Remember, kids, fact-check your textbooks too.