Study Guide

Demeter's Prayer to Hades Wisdom

By Rita Dove

Wisdom

"Demeter's Prayer to Hades" begins with the wish for knowledge. But this isn't the type of knowledge that comes from books. This knowledge is about learning how to become responsible for your actions. Though that might be a message we learn as soon as we can walk, it can take a long time to really understand why it's true. And some people may never learn; Hades, a god, still doesn't get it. That's why Demeter, instead of wanting to put a curse on him, only wants him to get a little wisdom.

Questions About Wisdom

  1. What kind of knowledge does Demeter wish for Hades? Why?
  2. How do people normally gain this type of knowledge? How will Hades gain it?
  3. How would Hades behave differently if he received the kind of wisdom Demeter wishes for him? How might normal people behave differently?

Chew on This

Demeter wishes for knowledge because she wants Hades to understand his own wrongdoing, not simply to correct his behavior.

Wisdom can't come from a lecture, or (gasp) even a poem. Demeter's wishes are destined to fall flat, because true wisdom can only be found through genuine experience.

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