Who is Hekate – Εκάτη Ρrópolos
Who is [Hekate] Εκάτη Ρrópolos?
Image: Hekate Ρrópolos
Image: Hecate [Ρrópolos – companion/guide] with Diana
Who is Εκάτη Ρrópolos?
The epithet or ancient title Ρrópolos denotes the roles of – ‘The Attendant Who Leads’, ‘Guide’, ‘She Who Leads’, ‘Companion’.
Given this epithet to Εκάτη certainly describes the role she played in the ancient Greek myth of Persephone, Hades, and Demeter; as Εκάτη acted as Guide and Companion to Persephone annually on her ascent and descent, both as Εκάτη Ρrópolos and as Psychopompe; here through our Temple Εκάτη Ρrópolos guides us and all who are drawn to this Virtual Hierón of Εκάτη Ρrópolos.
Her most descriptive functions throughout antiquity fall under the following epithets; Propylaia, Ρrópolos, Kourotrophos, Phosphoros, and Khthonia, with three of these being evidenced as more prominent in archaic, and classical periods; being those of Propylaia, Phosphoros, and Ρrópolos.
According to the scholar Robert Von Rudloff, M.Sc., M.A. – “I have found that the limited record indicates that in early times Hekate was a secondary figure who could serve one or more of several specific functions, none of which were unique to Her. These can be categorized under the ancient titles Propylaia, Ρrópolos, Phosphoros, Kourotrophos, and Chthonia. The first three of these are Her most distinctive functions, and generally involve attending upon more prominent deities such as Demeter, Persephone, Artemis, and Kybele. Individually they are not unique to Her…
…but NO other deity can claim all of them.”
As Εκάτη Ρrópolos, she is the ‘attendant who leads’, she provides a ‘companion’, most notably a personal one, and she is the ‘guide’. If we return to the myth of Persephone as her most historically recorded example, Εκάτη attended both Demeter, and Persephone, she became personal guide and companion to Persephone on her annual journey to and from the Underworld, and she did this under the epithets of Ρrópolos, Phosphoros, and Khthonia as Psychopompe, with the ability to walk into the Underworld and back out again – As Persephone represents the coming or return of Spring in this myth, it also provides the evidence of a Rebirth, therefore in her Ρrópolos role Εκάτη can be believed to have guided neophytes through the initiatory gates of the Lesser and Greater Mysteries.
I shall add to this page as I do more research for historical evidence, but for now the above will give an intro with what has been already researched by many scholars, historians, mythographers, and writers, without adding the modern connotations or misinterpretations of projection.
*Hecate Própolos: Guide and companion. In the Hymn to Demeter, Hecate becomes Persephone’s Guide. She appears in this role on a number of artworks and vases, usually bearing torches.
Hecate’s best-known role in Greek myth is in Homer’s Hymn to Demeter. After Persephone is abducted by Hades, Hecate reveals the truth to Demeter, and together they try to rescue Persephone. Home says of Hecate, “Hecate, with the bright headband, who heard from her cave.” Once Persephone’s fate is determined, it is Hecate who acts as her guide between the worlds.
Homeric Hymn 2 to Demeter 436 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th or 6th B.C.) :
“The lady Hekate was minister and companion to Persephone [goddess of the underworld].”
Abduction of Persephone:
Homeric Hymn 2 to Demeter (abridged) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th or 6th B.C.) :
“[Demeter’s] trim-ankled daughter whom Aidoneus [Haides] rapt away, given to him by all-seeing Zeus the loud-thunderer. Apart from Demeter, lady of the golden sword and glorious fruits, she was playing with the deep-bosomed daughters of Okeanos and gathering flowers over a soft meadow, roses and crocuses and beautiful violets, irises also and hyacinths and the narcissus, which Gaia (the Earth) made to grow at the will of Zeus and to please Polydektor (Host of Many), to be a snare for the bloom-like girl–a marvelous, radiant flower. It was a thing of awe whether for deathless gods or mortal men to see: from its root grew a hundred blooms and it smelled most sweetly so that all wide heaven (Ouranos) above and the whole earth (Gaia) and the sea’s (Thalassa) salt swell laughed for joy. And the girl was amazed and reached out with both hands to take the lovely toy : but the wide-pathed earth yawned there in the plain of Nysa, and the lord, Polydegmon (Host of Many) [Haides], with his immortal horses sprang out upon her–the Son of Kronos (Cronus), Polynomos (He Who has Many Names).
He caught her up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. Then she cried out shrilly with her voice, calling upon her father [Zeus], the Son of Kronos, who is most high and excellent. But no one, either of the deathless gods or mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tender-hearted Hekate (Hecate), bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaios (Persaeus), heard the girl from her cave, and the lord Helios (the Sun), Hyperion’s bright son, as she cried to her father, the Son of Kronos.
DEMETER SEARCHES FOR PERSEPHONE:
“Bitter pain seized her [Demeter’s] heart, and she rent the covering upon her divine hair with her dear hands: her dark cloak she cast down from both her shoulders and sped, like a wild-bird, over the firm land and yielding sea, seeking her child. But no one would tell her the truth, neither god nor mortal man; and of the birds of omen, none came with true news for her. Then for nine days, queenly Deo wandered over the earth with flaming torches in her hands, so grieved that she never tasted ambrosia and the sweet draught of nektaros, nor sprinkled her body with water. But when the tenth enlightening dawn had come, Hekate, with a torch in her hands, met her, and spoke to her and told her news : ‘Queenly Demeter, bringer of seasons and giver of good gifts, what god of heaven (theon ouranion) or what mortal man has rapt away Persephone and pierced with sorrow your dear heart? For I heard her voice, yet saw not with my eyes who it was. But I tell you truly and shortly all I know.’
So, then, said Hekate. And [Demeter] the daughter of rich-haired Rheia answered her not, but sped swiftly with her, holding flaming torches in her hands. So they came to Helios (the Sun), who is watchman of both gods and men, and stood in front of his horses: and the bright goddess enquired of him: ‘Helios, do you at least regard me, goddess, as I am, if ever by word or deed of mine I have cheered your heart and spirit. Through the fruitless air (aitheros) I heard the thrilling cry of my daughter whom I bare, sweet scion of my body and lovely in form, as of one seized violently; though with my eyes I saw nothing. But you–for with your beams you look down from the bright upper air (aitheros) over all the earth and sea–tell me truly of my dear child if you have seen her anywhere, what god or mortal man has violently seized her against her will and mine, and so made off.’
So said she. And the Son of Hyperion [Helios] answered her: ‘Queen Demeter, daughter of rich-haired Rheia, I will tell you the truth; for I greatly reverence and pity you in your grief for your trim-ankled daughter. None other of the deathless gods is to blame, but only cloud-gathering Zeus who gave her to Aides, her father’s brother, to be called his buxom wife. And Aides seized her and took her loudly crying in his chariot down to his realm of mist and gloom.
NECROMANCY OF AESON & ALCIMEDE (ALKIMEDE):
…”Then he appeased the goddess of triple form [Hekate goddess of ghosts], and with his last sacrifice offers a prayer to the Stygian abodes, rehearsing backward a spell soon, soon to prove persuasive; for without that no thin shade will the dark ferryman [Kharon (Charon)] take away, and bound they stand at the mouth of Orcus [Haides].”
Statius, Thebaid 4. 410 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.):
‘Abodes of Tartarus and awful realm of insatiable Mors (Death) [Thanatos], and thou, most cruel of the brothers [Haides], to whom the Shades are given to serve thee, and the eternal punishments of the damned obey thee, and the palace of the underworld, throw open in answer to my knowing the silent places and empty void of stern Persephone, and send forth the multitude that lurk in hollow night; let the ferryman [Kharon (Charon)] row back across the Styx with groaning bark. Haste ye all together, nor let there before the Shades but one fashion of return to the light; do thou, daughter of Perses [Hekate], and the cloud-wrapt Arcaidan [Hermes] with rod of power lead in separate throng the pious denizens of Elysium’