Herodotus, Dionysus, and the Greek death taboo. The Homeric hymn to Demeter and the construction of the "chthonic" in Greek literary tradition
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Herodotus’ explicit avoidance of the mentioning of divine names and matters in the second book of the Histories counts in most cases as instances of the Greek taboo concerning the relation of gods to the impurity of death, which the Egyptian death cult of Osiris transgresses in an obvious manner. In 2.171.2–3, Herodotus’ reticence may have concerned Persephone, whose name was taboo for the same reasons. The Homeric Hymn to Demeter, the Theogony, the Eumenides, and other works featuring underwordly deities, construed the Chthonian category of the divine as an attempt to justify and explain the nature of these ancient agricultural gods and rituals in a manner acceptable to the aristocratic religious tendency, which had come to regard death as impure: a tendency which justifiably may be called Olympian and traced its ideological origins back to the Homeric epos.