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Osi's Unofficial Guide to Roleplaying
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Introduction

Hi, and welcome to my unofficial guide to roleplaying. ^^ Before we begin, I'd like to point at that I am not, in any way, saying that what I write here is the only, or the best, way to roleplay: I am merely setting up a guide for those who have no idea about how to go about it, or would like some hints on how to improve their roleplaying.

Questions, and suggestions, are both appreciated and loved.

The basics: Style

First off, I'll start with the very basics of roleplaying - the style. There are two main styles of roleplaying:

Asterisk style
The first is where you use asterisk to show movement or gesture that your character makes.

eg: *Osi stands on a soap box to address the crowd* Hi, thank you for reading this.

This is usually considered a less formal, or even 'illiterate' (I mean no offence by this term) way of roleplaying, and is usually used in forum chat or OOC threads. The tense for this style is usually present. Use of asterisk, or other alternatives (Such as -action -, or /action) are often a good way to ease into roleplaying for beginners, though I don't suggest you leap into an RP in this style unless other roleplayers are using it also.

Novel Style
The second style I'll talk about is the more formal, or 'literate' style of roleplaying (Again, no offence meant), where you write your words and actions much like you'd find them in a book.

eg: Crouching down in front of her laptop, Osi rubbed at bloodshot eyes, squinting at the screen.

"Wow." She murmured, not quite believing what she was seeing. "I'm at two-hundred and seventy five words on this thing already?"

This style is almost always used in past tense, and is the style used for the majority of roleplays. Unlike the 'asterisk' style, in 'book' style, it's best to try and observe correct grammar and spelling rules, though this doesn't have to be done to the letter.

As a general rule for roleplaying, try running your posts through a spelling and grammar check (I use Microsoft word) before posting it. Having corrected spelling can improve your post tenfold!

Second: Character

Obviously, to roleplay, you need a character of some kind. Usually characters are some kind of humanoid creature, though it is not uncommon to find animal roleplays and other varieties also. My suggestion to first time roleplayers is to start with a human (or something close to) character, as how humans react, move and speak will be much more familiar to you then how, say, a wolf would be.

Let's start with an example profile and go through it piece by piece.

Character name:
Age:
Appearance:
Personality:
History:
Family:
Occupation:
Weapon:
Magic:

First off, character name:
This one isn't incredibly difficult. I would generally suggest putting your character's full name, first and family (and even middle name, if you'd like) in here, unless you have a specific reason for your character to not have a last name. Its little details, such as a last name, that fills out a character. Also, if your character has any aliases or preferred nicknames, here is the place to put them.

This brings us to age:
Now, I know the majority of us want to play teenagers or young adults, yet this isn't a must do. There is no reason why you can't play a forty year old man, if you really want to. Try to pick an age that's appropriate for the roleplay.

Now we get to the more interesting things. Appearance and personality are two criteria that I've noticed people having the most problems with, so I'll try to break both down a bit.

Appearance:
Quite a few people get around appearance by using pictures, rather then describing their character. While this is alright, I personally feel that using just a picture fails to highlight all aspects of your character's looks - if you really want to use a picture, try writing a short paragraph, or even a few sentences, to go with it and truly make the picture into your character! For those of you who, like me, prefer written descriptions of your characters, we'll cover the basics.

- Hair/Eye color: Try not to be too cliche and unnatural with these (oh my word, every second character has red eyes!), yet don't just leave it as 'brown hair and blue eyes'. Going into shades of color, and different styles and lengths for hair, can really add to both your characters appearance and personality, and make them stand out from the crowd.

- Height: While this might not seem important, it can actually be used in later actions in the roleplay. Try looking back at how tall, or short, other characters are so you can have your character react accordingly, whether that is by looking up when speaking to another character, or failing to see them because they're much shorter then your own.

- Physical structure: Again, whilst not seeming very important, your character's build can say a lot about their personality. Weight can also come into this category, if you wish to include it. For example, if your character is a body-builder, you will want to mention how muscle-bound his body is. The same were your character a ballet dancer - you can go into the long, lithe figures. Skin-tone and color are also good to pop in. In this category, you can also mention how they walk or move, or any scars or disabilities your character might have.

- Clothing: While this is not, perhaps, an absolutely necessary criterion, it can help define your character. Instead of describing one outfit (Unless, of course, your character won't change clothes at all during the roleplay), try describing the style and colors of dress your character prefers, or even styles/colors that they hate. Jewelry and accessories also add an individual touch to a character.

The personality makes the character:
Personality is one of those criteria which can be a little vague - after all, our personality changes over them. Your character's can do the same over the course of an RP. Try not to just sum it up in a few words though -
Personality: Cold, brooding, doesn't like people but will warm up to you if you try hard enough.

While this may be the bare bones of a personality, it doesn't actually say much about the character. Try elaborating a little on how they might react. Also, in the last point, there is a slight contradiction: 'Will warm up to you if you try hard enough'. If a character keeps away from others, he will not likely let other characters close enough unless forced to. Try to make sure your character's personality is consistent. Also, it is a good idea to keep your character's past in mind when creating a personality for them. If a person had a happy childhood, it is unlikely they will turn out a cold, brooding person.

Which brings us to History:
The first point I'll make on this one is try to avoid making your character have amnesia, unless there is a real, solid reason for it. This might just be a pet peeve of mine, but I just would like to make the point that a person does not just suddenly get amnesia for any reason. It's the same deal for the "Saw his/her family murdered in front of his/her eyes at the age of nine" story; not everyone, unless it is a war-time roleplay, can have this story.

My main reason for using these two scenarios is to emphases this: Try to be original! There is no crime in giving your character a 'normal' past, with a loving family, school and what-not. In fact, if often makes your character unique. Also, try to make your character's past synch with the roleplay: If it's a modern-day, realistic roleplay, you should try not to bring in demon-hordes and the like.

Family:
I'll be short on this one, I promise. Again, there is nothing wrong with having your character having a family: I'm sure not everyone's family in an entire roleplay was either killed off by the bad-guy, or were evil and abusive.

Mentioning family members also gives you the added option of bringing in a minor character attached to your main one; siblings can have rivalries, children can run to their parents for protection. Giving your character a family can help you shape their personality and history, depending on these minor character's own lives and stories.

Occupation:
Whilst not absolutely necessary, giving your character an occupation not only gives them something to do but, once again, can reflect their character. It also gives reason for other characters to interact with your own. For example, were you character a blacksmith, other characters could come to you to have their weapons fixed, etc. Having an occupation gives your character both purpose, and a range of skills other characters might not have. A word of advice though: if your character is in their teens, it's unlikely they could have become a master swordsman or blacksmith in that amount of time, no matter how long or hard they trained. There's no shame in being an apprentice.

Weapon:
Again, in my opinion, this category is not absolutely necessary unless you're joining a battle RP. After all, people generally don't walk around their own village armed to the teeth (or, at least, they don't where I'm from). If you're playing a peasant or farmer character, I'm sorry, but the most you'll likely have is a knife of sorts.
This brings me to characters that do carry around weapons, such as mercenaries, or the like. My general rule is this: Don't overload on the weapons. More weapons does not make you more cool. Try to think your weapons choice out: your character cannot physically carry around a broadsword, a double-bladed sword and a great-axe. I personally try to give my character one weapon (two if one of them is a bow), yet this isn't a rule. Just try to keep it sensible. ^^
One other thing; if it's a Medieval Europe style roleplay, try not to give foreign weapons, such as katanas or throwing stars, to your character, unless they are specifically from that country.

Magic:
First of all, I'd like to say that there is absolutely no obligation for your character to have magical powers, even if everyone else in the roleplay does (unless the roleplay creator specifies otherwise).
Now that I've said that, I'll say much the same thing I did with weapons: don't overload your character with magical powers. It is highly unlike that your character, no matter how special, will have perfectly mastered every elemental power by the age of 17. Remember, kids, limits are fun! Even if your character is a highly magically based, they can't go shooting fireballs forever. The most important thing, when using magic in a roleplay, is limits.

And that brings us to the end of dissecting a basic profile! The key, pretty much, is detail and moderation in powers, strength and weapons. ^^ Originality is never bad.

Third: Actually roleplaying (The dos and don'ts)

The dos:
- Alright, if you got through all the last section, I'm impressed. This means that you're going to do well in roleplaying, as one of the most important things you can do is read everyone else's posts. You don't want to miss out on important information or character movement just because you were feeling lazy.

- Do go into detail! How your character moves, what they think, little gestures. These sorts of things add life to what could otherwise be a rather dull, cookie-cutter caricature.

- Keep all conversation that is not related to your character, or 'OOC' (Out of Character) out of your direct roleplaying. Larger roleplays will often have an OOC thread which you can discuss your roleplay in, rather then break up the actual storyline, or you can use methods such as ((brackets)) to keep conversation separate. Try to settle all matters on plot, fighting and general conversation within OOC. Arguments of any kind should -definitely- be kept to OOC, preferably private message or e-mail if possible.

- Make sure what you're having your character do is consistent with what other players are doing, or with the plot. For example, if a players character is alone in a room, with the door locked, your character cannot suddenly be in the room with them. Use the door, mate. It's what it's there for.

The don'ts:
- Don't ignore other players just because they don't fit in with where you want to go with your character. There's nothing worse then entering a roleplay and having everyone ignore you because they're caught up in doing their own thing. Pretty much, it's rude.

- I'd suggest that you don't leave the roleplay for long periods of time, then expect everything to be the same when you come back. Along with this, if you need to leave for a while, try to write your character out of the plot before you do. Leaving your character in the middle of a conversation with another and then leaving for a month is incredibly annoying for other players.

- Please, if only for my sake, do not godmode. This is the act of constantly either not letting the actions of others effect your character, or making 'auto-hits' on another person's character. This can be seriously annoying to other players, and extremely frustrating. Also, avoid doing the impossible, such as somehow dodging a point-blank attack unscathed. Godmoding can also be called C&E, cause and effect. Don't affect others characters unless you have their permission!

- Don't feel that you have to make your posts long to look intelligent. Often you don't need to make especially long posts. Just say what you feel you need to say. On the other hand, don't just post a line or two - you can describe more then that! Moderation is the key, my dears.

- Having a 'sixth sense' of absolutely everything going on around your character is not only unrealistic, but can be plain annoying for more stealthy characters. Unless someone makes a move to draw your attention to them, such as stepping on a twig, etc, it's unlikely you're going to see/hear them. Try to keep things at least remotely realistic, and give other characters a chance! You don't have to 'win' the roleplay.

I'll add more to this section as I think of things. ^^;

Fourth: Creating a Roleplay.

There are three things you need in a roleplay:
- Plot
- Setting
- Aim

Plot:
Myself, I think the first, plot, is the most important part of your roleplay. Although it's important to give your players a degree of freedom in what their characters do, a plot is the driving force of your roleplay. Frankly, without a plot, your roleplay is more then likely going to die (I speak from personal experience @.@). The best plots, I've found, are when there is no 'good' and 'bad' side, although those do work rather well. Try to encourage players to evenly take one side or another, so that you don't have one 'good' character against a horde of villains, or visa versa. Also, don't snap up the best lead role for yourself, unless you particularly need it played in a certain way. Try to have equal roles for each character.

Setting:
Again, this is important. Try not to just say "a dark forest", or, "an open field". Give your players locations and landmarks to work with.

Aim:
While this might not seem important, try and have an ending or final aim for your roleplay. This provides a goal for you to try and coax your players towards, and should keep the story moving. If you reach the goal, you can always set up a new one.

Remember kids
Whilst having lots of information and detail in your roleplay is often a good thing, make sure you don't overdo it. Often, if your intro posts are too long, players won't want to read it all. Keep in mind how much you are willing to read, and try to keep your intro lengths to around that.

And we're done!

If you managed to get through that giant slab of text, I must say I'm impressed! Well, I hope this was of some use to you. ^^ Remember, that what's in here is just my advice to roleplayers, not the roleplaying bible or anything.
Unofficial Guide, of course. XD I wrote this up...a year or so back? Maybe more. Mostly because I had some people ask me questions about roleplaying and the like, and partially because I was very bored.

If you don't agree with something I've said, please don't kill me about it. This is just my own beliefs on roleplaying, and certainly not a must-do. I'm not trying to force anyone to comply. XD Honesty.
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Distinguishing RP types

Roleplayers make up a large part of the community here on deviantArt. It's an ever-growing community, and new members join it every day. Thirsty for adventure, these new members leap into the large world of roleplay, blissfully simplistic, filled with hopes and anticipations. They expect a rich roleplay experience full of excitement, and they want it to be delivered!

New members, however, also means less experience, and less experience means less knowledge. That knowledge which new roleplayers need to acquire may be earned in the long run, by partaking in several satisfying and unsatisfying roleplays and learning through trial and error what is right and what is wrong to include in one. I have taken that path, and I can say that it's a hard place. Some people, even after several years, haven't even made as much progress as would have been expected; they just can't get the hang of it. I have decided to let anyone who so desires take an alternate path, a shortcut to avoid the trouble of being dissatisfied with as many roleplays as I have been. This shortcut takes the form of several tutorials, each of these tutorials equalling one step on the shortcut, which in turn equals a dozen steps on the long path.

Now that the introduction is over (am I the only one who thinks it was long?), I will begin on the tutorial itself. I would like to open with a simple concept. Many people already know about it, but some of the newer roleplayers might be unaware of it. The first subject will be the distinction between the two roleplay types which people can use: script-style and paragraph-style.

Script style

This style is also known as "bracket RP" or "casual RP", among other names.  As the name "casual RP" implies, this type of roleplay is accessible to everyone. The reason for this is that it's easy to grasp and easy to start. However, script-style roleplays will rarely offer much character development or plot advancement; it's usually used as a "pick-up-and-go" roleplay for fooling around. The posts in a script-style roleplay will usually start with the name of the character which will be involved in the post, followed by dialog and action done by that character, and possibly, in-between the name of the character and the dialog, an emotion, most often in parentheses, with which the dialog will be spoken and the actions done.
To assist me in my quest to improve the general level of roleplays, I have created an assistant. Her name is Kara Chter. Let's meet her right now in a script-style post to concretely demonstrate what exactly script-style is:

Kara: (shy) Hi... *fiddles with the edge of her shirt*

This style of roleplay, as mentioned before, is casual; it doesn't require any amount of skill to play, except maybe the ability to make your posts legible enough for everyone else to understand. Because of that, this guide will not focus on "how to roleplay script-style". It will rather focus on the second type of roleplay.

Paragraph style

This style, also known as "formal RP", "mid-long post RP", etc., is much more intricate than script-style, and has much more potential for setting an atmosphere and describing actions and thoughts than its casual counterpart. This is what most people will say was meant to be true roleplay; writing a story collectively with one or more other people, each person using one or more character to make the story advance. People who roleplay with this style need a certain amount of concentration and attention to detail when writing. Roleplayers using this style want to make their posts look as though they were excerpts of a novel.

The posts in a paragraph-style roleplay need to be detailed enough to set a certain mood, although exceptions exist. This style most of the time requires a linear scenario, some sort of concrete plot. Sometimes, people will develop it as they go, needing only a setting to begin writing, and other times, people will decide part, if not all of the plot before even beginning on the first post. The latter can take up several hours – if not days or weeks – of planning before actually beginning, and will often feature longer early posts and a better starting morale from the players, since they already know what will happen; it leaves less room for uncertainty and moments when neither player will know what to do and would just make their characters speak with each other without much action going on. Planning lets the roleplay deliver action at a rhythm which every player is able to handle. Let's have Kara Chter introduce herself again, this time in paragraph-style:

A woman stands in the center of the plain, unfurnished room. Her appearance is veiled by an indescribable fog, letting only her outlines and actions be visible; she appears to be of average size, and her arms, resting on either side of her body, allow her hands to tug nervously at the bottom of her shirt. "Hi..." she says in a timid voice.

It's undeniable that a lot more content is present in this version of the same post; it may require more effort, but it's worth it; the amount of detail dished out by this style if done correctly often prevents people from getting confused. That will prevent posts in which the last actions of the other character would be completely ignored, or posts that overlook certain crucial details. For example, I've tried making this last post as clear as possible (although still somewhat short) by describing the surroundings, what the others can see about my character, and her actions, so that my partner wouldn't wonder "where is this happening? what can my character see about this other character? what is the character doing exactly?" and wouldn't assume wrong. Though it may be difficult at first, experience should teach most people how to underline details in order to make the other player(s) notice it and have their character(s) respond accordingly.

---
That's all there is to distinguishing between script style and paragraph style. It's simple enough, but had to be made first, since some script-style roleplayers may not even know what paragraph-style roleplay is; this first "How to Roleplay" hopefully put some light on the subject.
Hm'well, this is my first tutorial. I didn't want to start with something too big or implying that the reader has any more knowledge than what roleplaying is, since I'm supposed to be writing this for newbie roleplayers.

If I made a mistake or forgot to mention something about anything, feel free to comment about it. I'll make sure to edit to include what's missing.

This guide is copyrighted to ~DummysGuideForRP.
You are authorized to link to this page from any site, but you may not claim this as your own.
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100 Questions to Develop a Detailed Character


Ever have trouble deciding what side of an argument your character will take? Do you have trouble remembering small details about your character, and often change them accidentally in the middle of a story? Try this list of one hundred questions to solidify your knowledge of your character. Feel free to use this and post it as its own deviation. Just please link it to me in a comment if you do. Try to answer the questions in as much specific detail as possible. This is for you, so there is no use in cheating on it. I would suggest doing two for each character: one for the beginning of your story, and one for the end, to reflect the changes that happen.



1. What is your character's name? Do they have a nickname?

2. Is your character male or female? What is their sexuality? What role does it play in your story?

3. How old is your character? Does their age matter to them emotionally or socially?

4. How tall is your character? Does it affect them negatively, positively, or neutrally?

5. What is your character's body shape? Are they physically fit? What challenges or advantages does this present?

6. Describe your character's facial features. What color are their eyes and hair? Be specific!

7. Do other people find your character physically attractive? Why or why not?

8. What sort of clothing does your character wear? What colors are common? What does this style reflect?

9. Does your character have any physical or mental disabilities? How does this affect your story? Is it a main point of your plot?

10. What does your character do for money? If they are unemployed, how do they live? Does money matter to your character?

11. Does your character have specified family members? Describe their relationship with their family.

12. What is your character's marital status? Are they involved in a relationship? How is this emotional taxation present in your story?

13. Who are your character's closest friends? How do they know each other? How do they act around each other?

14. Who are your character's minor enemies? Why do they not get along?

15. Who are your character's major enemies? How does this affect your plot? What began the animosity of their relationship? How, if at all, is it resolved?

16. How does your character speak, and what does their voice sound like? How does this reflect their personality, if at all?

17. Is there anything significant about your character's movement? Is it important?

18. Who does your character live with, or do they live alone? How does this arrangement affect your character's lifestyle?

19. What traits does your character value in their friends?

20. What are your character's main pet peeves? Does this play a role in your story?

21. Where does your character live? Are they happy? Describe the scenery. How does this affect your story?

22. What is your character's opinion of the society they live in?

23. Briefly summarize your character's childhood.

24. What are your character's darkest secrets?

25. Has anyone close to your character died in the past? How did your character deal with this? Did it have a lasting impact?

26. What is your character's social status? Are they happy with it?

27. Is your character a hero, a villain, or neither? How do they see themselves, as opposed to how others see them?

28. Is your character conservative and disapproving of change, or liberal and willing to accept?

29. It is said that every character has a fatal flaw. What is your character's?

30. What are your character's special talents? Are they supernatural, or normal? Can few other people do them?

31. What specific activities does your character lack skill for? What challenges does this present?

32. What are your character's major wishes in life? These are not goals, simply things they wish would happen without work.

33. When your character looks in the mirror, what do they think of themselves? Is it positive or negative?

34. What is your character's most precious material object? What would happen if they lost it? Why is it so important?

35. Is your character more creative, or more logical?

36. What are your character's small flaws? Do they cause annoyance or disdain for your character? What are your character's opinions about them?

37. Is your character envied? By whom? Who does your character envy?

38. Does your character deceive others often? Do they attempt to deceive themselves? How and why?

39. What is your character's faith? Briefly describe their religion, if it exists. Are they polytheistic or monotheistic? Do they see God(s) as all-powerful, or helpers in the course of fate?

40. Describe your character's uncommon beliefs. Do they believe in fate? Karma? Multiple heavens and hells?

41. Is your character well known or little known? Why?

42. Is your character more optimistic, or more pessimistic?

43. Does your character have a lot of hope? Are there points in your story in which they lose hope?

44. What traits make your character unique? Do they have special abilities, or a unique facial feature? Be specific.

45. Is your character moody or even? Is there a cause? What are the consequences?

46. What is your character's mental capacity? Are they brilliant, or slow to learn?

47. Does your character sport charisma to influence others? How do they use this? If not, how does it affect them?

48. What is your character's first memory? Why? What was its impact? Was it good or bad? Describe it in detail.

49. Are first impressions important to your character? How does your character judge by them? Does your character go out of their way to make a good first impression on others?

50. How does your character view authorities? How do they react to taking orders?

51. What are your character's goals? Long term? Short term?

52. What does your character do when they need to relax? Does it work? Does it affect those around them?

53. What events in your character's past have left major effects? Why and how? Are they good impacts, or bad?

54. What major changes has your character gone through recently? How do the people around them react to this?

55. What are your character's bad habits? Are they major, like smoking and drinking, or minor, like chewing their nails?

56. What is your character a perfectionist about?

57. Who are your character's distant family? Does this play a role in your story?

58. What recent events have strengthened or weakened your character? What do they think of their changes?

59. Who were your character's childhood friends? Do they play a role in your story? How?

60. What major things does your character ignore? Purposefully? Or are they simply ignorant?

61. What are your character's major fears? How does this challenge them?

62. What does your character want that is unusual?

63. What does your character like that is unusual?

64. What is your character's favorite color? Does this reflect their personality? How?

65. Is your character ahead of their time? Behind? At the correct pace?

66. Does your character have much free time? What do they do with it?

67. Does your character have goals that are unattainable?

68. How does your character dream while they are asleep? Vividly? Rarely? Do they frequently have nightmares? Describe some of their dreams.

69. Does your character have health problems? Do they need medication or medical care? How does this challenge them?

70. What are your character's inner fears? Do they tell people about them? Why or why not?

71. What is your character's taste in food? Is this specific to the setting of your story? How does it affect your story?

72. Is your character more selfish, or more generous?

73. What is your character's stress level? Why? What do they do to resolve it?

74. What effects do social pressures, like money and the media, have on your character?

75. Is your character interested in a more lavish lifestyle, or simple?

76. What weather does your character prefer? Why? How do they react when that weather is not present?

77. What is your character's favorite time of day? Why?

78. Of what importance are holidays to your character? Which holidays?

79. What odd traits belonging to your character tend to drive people away? Why?

80. What "walls" are built by your character to accommodate the common phrase, "sometimes you build walls not to keep people away, but to see who cares enough to tear them down," and what effect does this have?

81. Does your character place significant value in common sense? Does your character have a lot of common sense?

82. What is your character's taste in music? Why? Do they make music?

83. Is your character satisfied with their life? Why or why not?

84. What motivates your character to make changes and move forward in life?

85. What are your character's least favorite activities?

86. List several activities that your character will refuse to do and explain.

87. What does your character do to relieve boredom?

88. Is your character more lazy, or more studious?

89. Is your character more athletic and active, or more lazy?

90. Is your character social, or a loner?

91. Does your character attempt to hide their emotion? If yes, how well do they execute their goal? If not, why? What do other people think of your character because of this?

92. What does your character find beautiful? What does your character find ugly?

93. What are your character's redeeming traits?

94. Is your character easily distracted? If so, why, and what challenges does this present? If not, how does this help them?

95. How does your character interact with nature? Why?

96. What are the major lasting effects that your character will tend to have on other people, if any?

97. How self-centered is your character? Why? What do other people think of this?

98. Does your character judge people, and on what premises? Race? Gender? Age?

99. Briefly summarize the major events in the time line of your character's life.

100. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, what is your character's role in the story?
The full title should be: 100 Questions to Develop a Detailed Character; but it was too long.

I hope you enjoy this, and I really do hope that it helps some of you to develop your characters! After all, it's pretty much impossible to write a story without detailed characters. Every author knows more about their character than they tell, and no author tells everything they know about their character.

Ever have trouble deciding what side of an argument your character will take? Do you have trouble remembering small details about your character, and often change them accidentally in the middle of a story? Try this list of one hundred questions to solidify your knowledge of your character. Feel free to use this and post it as its own deviation. Just please link it to me in a comment if you do. Try to answer the questions in as much specific detail as possible. This is for you, so there is no use in cheating on it. I would suggest doing two for each character: one for the beginning of your story, and one for the end, to reflect the changes that happen.

So please do use this, but please give me a link to where I can find it when you do.

Edit: 6/26/10, Fixed typos.
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Persephone Thesis: Essay Component
"Happy is he among men upon earth who has seen these mysteries!”
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It is generally accepted among historical scholars that the cult of Demeter and Persephone, or Kore, existed in Greece and the surrounding Mediterranean islands long before the traditional Olympian gods became entrenched. Her origins are Cretan . Like Aphrodite, the mother and daughter goddess represent a matriarchal form of fertility worship in the forms of crops and nature, and through this the cycle of birth, growth and death. This myth, however, has taken hold of imaginations from its evolutions into the Eleusinian mysteries of Ancient Greece, to the paintings of Victorian Europe, to today, each with their own distinctive takes and emphases on the story. Perhaps it is the fact that we know so little about the original tale of Persephone – the daughter of Demeter, goddess of fertility, snatched away into the unforgiving Underworld – that creates such curiosity within us. While we are intrigued by ancient myths, the myth of Persephone appears to hold a special place for women.

Unfortunately, the majority of our knowledge of the myth comes through the poet Homer and, later in the Roman era, Ovid. Both working in the strictly patriarchal world of Ancient Greece and Rome, their depiction of Persephone’s story comes almost entirely through her mother, Demeter, leaving a void where Persephone’s personality, story and thoughts should take place. We learn almost nothing about her or her forceful husband, Hades, and it is only recently that authors have begun to focus on Persephone as a character rather than a plot device. To place her character and purpose, however, is difficult. While she may have been worshipped long before the Olympians gods we are familiar with were instated in Greece, very little hard evidence of her nature and purpose survive. It is the prominence of the Eleusinian Mysteries in the Ancient Greek world that reminds us that Persephone must have been important, to have been a figure of worship in a cult that lasted to the Roman empire. This would suggest she was far more than the kidnapped child that Homer’s Hymn to Demeter makes her out to be.

Using a mixture of traditional and modern sources, I have attempted through this essay to tease out a more contemporary and believable version of Persephone. A modern audience may not feel at ease with the stagnant, Homeric version of Persephone we are given, yet to move back to a pre-Olympian version of the myth and ignore the better known tradition would be counter-productive. Therefore I wished to study both traditional and contemporary models of the Persephone story before creating my own work. This involved looking at the Eleusinian Mysteries and their cult and the few remains of pre-historic Greek religion, right through to feminist views on the story and modern retellings focussing on Persephone herself.  

The Eleusinian mysteries
Before studying any of the literary criticism and interpretations of the Persephone myth, it is vital to research the story’s origins and meanings in their traditional contexts. While it is obvious that the myth still resonates with a modern day audience – female writers in particular, a cross section of which I will look at later, are fond of revisiting the themes of the story – one cannot ignore the original meanings of the myth, and the cult that grew around it.

The Eleusinian mysteries were one of the most secretive cults to flourish in Ancient Greek society. Because of this strict code of secrecy the cult’s practices remained completely unknown to those not initiated into them, well into the late Roman period and even then, the accuracy of the information leaked is considered dubious. A few solid facts are known about them, though. Firstly, that their worship was concerned with the fertility goddesses of Demeter and Persephone, and the changing of the seasons and growth of the crops. Secondly, some of the most important figures of Ancient Greek society such as Sophocles joined the cult, which resonated so strongly that people would set forth on pilgrimages to Eleusis from other countries simply to become initiated. Thirdly, the Eleusinian Mysteries were open to any and all people provided they were free of ‘blood guilt’ – the sin of murder – and that they spoke Greek. This final point is perhaps the most important, for this inclusion wasn’t the sort that ruled the Athenian elections, where ‘all’ simply meant all male citizens of the polis. The Eleusinian mysteries were open to men, women and even slaves, one of the few – perhaps even the only – cults that were truly inclusive at the time . Evidence of its appeal through all classes can be seen in the manner of offerings left in the temples of Demeter and Persephone; where other gods such as Zeus, Hera and Athena boasted large marble votives, the majority of offerings to these goddesses’ temples were made of less expensive terracotta, a more accessible medium used by the lower classes . Perhaps its popularity is what made it important enough that every five years, a procession walked from the cemetery of Athens, the Kerameikos, to nearby Eleusis to commemorate Demeter’s months of searching for her lost daughter, part of which was known as The Greater Mysteries. These mysteries were not confined to Eleusis either, with evidence in other temples suggesting they were carried out across Greece , and perhaps even further abroad. With the cult as wide spread as it was, and with The Mysteries being carried out at Eleusis for almost two-thousand years and well into the Roman era, we can assume that although the rituals and story may have changed over the years, the worship of Demeter and Persephone carried on much longer than this .

While the Mysteries are presumed to be primarily concerned with the harvest and Demeter’s blessings on the earth, there is an undeniable undertone that they were also about death and rebirth. “Thrice happy those among mortals who, having seen those Mysteries, will go down to Hades; only they can have true life there; for the rest, all there is evil”, said Sophocles, strongly suggesting that the rites, and what was seen at them was thought to ensure a blissful afterlife in the Underworld, removing the fear of death from the initiates .

Initiates, regardless of gender, at least temporarily took on names with the feminine ending, implying that to truly understand the seasons and man’s place within them, one must look at life through the female perspective . This is a very interesting notion due to the fact that Ancient Greece was a highly patriarchal society where women were required to spend the majority of their time within the house, and within their own quarters of the house. This lends itself to the theory that Demeter and Persephone, much like other goddesses such as Aphrodite, Artemis and Athena, were worshipped long before Ancient Greece became a patriarchal society. I shall expand further on this theory later in this essay.

Returning to the idea of Persephone and Demeter’s worship primarily focussing on the change of seasons and the harvest, the Mysteries appear to have been a later incarnation of a much older cult. It is possible that the two goddesses – always shown as extremely close in all the Persephone myths – were not originally linked. Demeter is specifically a Greek name, while Persephone is a variant on the non-Indo-European name Persephonia, implying that she may not have originated in Greece at all. The exact meaning of the name is not agreed upon by scholars, but it is always believed to hold negative or ominous associations which link Persephone to the role of a death goddess, even in pre-Greek tradition . How she became associated with Demeter is unclear, perhaps it was an example of religion merging, but it seems that Persephone usurped the position of Demeter’s original daughter, the maiden goddess Kore. It is possible that Kore already had associations with death – perhaps even spending the barren portion of the year in the underground, as the myth goes – and that the integration of the two religions was seamless due to similarities in the roles of the goddesses .

Unfortunately, despite the cult’s popularity and inclusive nature, loyalty to its strict code of secrecy has left us with very few sources about its practises and the nature of their worship. We are even without an original telling of the Demeter and Persephone myths, although something of their nature can be found in ancient sources such as wall reliefs and vase paintings, and through information passed down by Christian apologists, though this latter source must be examined with caution . It is unknown why the initiates into the Eleusinian Mysteries were said to no longer fear death – no doubt there was a form of divine secret that made them feel closer to the goddesses, particularly Persephone  – but what this may have been and exactly what the initiation ritual their worshippers went though may forever remain a secret to us.


Historical Persephone
   As previously mentioned, apart from the reliefs and vase-paintings of Persephone, Demeter and Hades, we have been left without an original version of this highly popular myth. This is partially because The Mysteries were so secretive, but also because it is likely that Persephone and Demeter’s story originated far further back than the recorded Mysteries, even to prehistoric Greece in the form of mother and fertility goddesses.

Charlene Spretnak’s 1978 version of the Persephone myth, later re-released in 1992, she claims, is based on what remains of the oral traditions of the myth, pre-Hellenistic and rebuilt around what little evidence has been found. It is a particularly interesting account for us not only because it allegedly adheres to the prehistoric, oral tradition of Persephone, before it was tainted by influence outside of Greece and Sicily, but also because she claims to have not “’fleshed out’ the surviving fragments of evidence beyond the word-smithing necessary to weave the facts together” . It is a simple myth, in comparison to the Hellenistic versions I shall look at later, and formulaic in nature: Persephone and her mother, Demeter, watched over a winterless world and taught mankind about the plants and agriculture. Persephone notices lost spirits of the dead and questions her mother about their neglect, and we find out that Demeter is the one charged with their care. With her mother concerned about feeding the living, Persephone leaves and descends to the underworld of her own accord, with Demeter’s blessing. On finding the cavern of the dead, Persephone declares herself Queen over the dead, produces a bowl of pomegranate seeds – the food of the dead – and “initiates (them) into (their) new world” . Demeter is distraught at her daughter’s absence and withdraws her powers from the world, creating the first winter, until Persephone again resurfaces and spring returns with Demeter’s joy.

There are more than a few noticeable differences between this, pre-Hellenistic take on the myth and the story well known today. There are two in particular I would like to focus on: firstly, that there is no mention of Hades, and secondly that Demeter gives her consent to Persephone’s choice to rule the dead. While Demeter does mourn and cause winter to fall over the world while Persephone is in the underworld, this expressed permission for her daughter’s new role is in complete reversal to later versions where Demeter is depicted as completely against Persephone’s descent. While it could be claimed that this is because the situations are very different, consent is still the main point of disparity. Spretnak’s take on the story also focuses largely on Persephone herself, rather than following Demeter like Homer and Ovid’s Hellenistic and Roman versions. It is briefly mentioned that Demeter searches for her daughter, but it is for her imminent return, not because she has been lost. It is the only version which I have come across in which Persephone is shown as a powerful figure in her own right, still innocent and benevolent but possessing the strength to stand on her own. This version of the myth is also far less complex than any later retelling, lacking the intrigue and adventure elements of a kidnapping and extended search. Both goddesses are benevolent towards humanity – a trait typical of fertility goddesses – rather than the vengeful figure of Demeter in Homer and Ovid’s tales.

Also interesting in Spretnak’s retelling is the details she offers about Persephone’s role in the underworld. The other two ancient sources, Homer and Ovid, tell us almost nothing about her time spent with the dead, only that she mourned and fasted until she was tricked or convinced into eating the pomegranate seeds. Spretnak’s retelling has an entirely different meaning for the fruit: seen as a fruit of the dead, partially for its colour, it is shown here as part of the ritual in which the dead are reborn:

As each spirit crossed before Her, Persephone embraced the form... She reached for a few of the pomegranate seeds, squeezing them between Her fingers. She painted the forehead with a broad swatch of the red juice

It is without doubt that Persephone, in this scene and story, is the only death deity present. Spretnak’s retelling claims that Persephone “received and renewed the dead without ever resting or even growing weary.” , implying she gained a certain satisfaction from her role as their guide and bringing them forward into a new life. I would argue that this Persephone is a similar version to what would be worshipped in The Mysteries, a strong, guiding figure primed to lead the worthy out of death and into a blissful rebirth, rather than the helpless girl she becomes in later myth.

There is no such figure in either Homer or Ovid’s versions of the myth. While they differ on details, the points relevant to this essay are essentially the same: Hades saw Persephone, loved her (either with help from Aphrodite or of his own accord), and abducted her through trickery. Zeus, Persephone’s father figure (notably absent in the previous version of the myths), is aware of Hades’ intent but, rather than face Demeter’s wrath, he simply allows the abduction to happen. Demeter neglects her duties to the earth in grief as she searches for her daughter, only to find she is beyond her reach in the underworld. The conflict is solved by Zeus, who not only gave Hades permission to abduct Persephone in the first place, but also has remained aloof to the situation until the end. This ends with Persephone’s year being divided between her mother and her new husband, and apparent reconciliation between Hades and Demeter. For the myth to follow its original course in any shape or form, this ending is inevitable: Persephone must stay in the underworld for a portion of the year, and Demeter must be appeased enough to restore life to the world when her daughter returns. Those two points are vital for the myth to hold any significance in an Ancient context, yet to a modern audience this almost abrupt, dues ex machina style ending might come up a little short. If Demeter’s anger is so great about her daughter’s abduction, is it really believable that she would abandon it so quickly?

Homer’s version of the myth – the official version given by the Eleusinian mysteries – concentrates almost entirely on Demeter and her journey while searching for Persephone. Her anger is frequently commented on and, other than her brief interlude as nursemaid for the house of Keleos, her normal maternal nature is hardly mentioned. It appears that the search, rather than Persephone herself, and the deprivation of food from the land is the most important element of the story. Outside of her abduction, Persephone is given very little attention. We learn that she is a maiden, beautiful and “modest and very unwilling”  in her marriage to Hades, but this is about all. Her role as a goddess of the underworld, outside of being married to one, is not referenced at all. Even with her mother at the beginning of the myth, she is not given a specific job or identity. To take this aspect of Kore, the maiden, further we could also say that she is placed among other maiden goddesses in the field. Despite Pallas (Athena) and Artemis being identified, both these goddesses were renowned for being forever virgins, highlighting Persephone’s Kore persona as innocent, virginal and very little else.

Patriarchy
If we are to trust Spretnak’s version of the ‘original’ Persephone myth, even as a guideline, the differences between the peaceful descent into the underworld and the later tales are glaringly obvious. Homer and Ovid are, obviously, writing in a patriarchal society rather than one ruled by mother goddesses.

One theme frequently mentioned in the study of the Persephone myth is that of patriarchy. Ancient Greece, all written records we have of it, is unquestionably a patriarchal society with women at a lower rank. Many historians believe that this was not always the case, and an older, matriarchal religion consisting of female deities such as Aphrodite, Artemis and, of course, Demeter and Persephone existed in a prehistoric society, before the Olympian gods were introduced by invaders from the north . It is believed there were three waves of invasion: The Ionians, the Achaeans and finally the Dorians, and that the patriarchal gods such as Zeus, Poseidon and Hades were brought with them . Much like the Christians did when taking over aboriginal religions, these northern invaders amalgamated the existing goddesses into their own religion, keeping some of their attributes but disempowering them by making them, essentially, more human. Aphrodite became flighty and vain, Artemis practically forgotten and Persephone is changed from a guiding light for the dead into a secondary death god, placed after Hades. This, however, is only taking into account the scant written sources we are left with. Unlike Christianity, there was no set religious text across the Ancient Grecian tradition (or, perhaps, none which have survived), so to take what we see at face value would be to diminish a complex and vast religion. Persephone became a victim of forced marriage and her mother left mourning for her daughter: despite this, both were still revered in their own cult from prehistoric times, through the Roman era and into the Medieval period, before Christianity finally stamped the Eleusinian Mysteries out. Why would a victim of abduction draw such respect that the mysteries were never betrayed, if that’s all she was?

Homer’s version of the Abduction of Persephone, as previously mentioned, has very little to do with Persephone at all, rather focussing on Demeter. While this might have been the ‘official’ version of the myth commissioned by the cult, it makes very little sense that she was revered as highly as her mother for doing so little. This would imply that Persephone’s role in the everyday lives of the Ancient Greeks was far more than just a forced-consort role, someone who had been integrated into a system and forgotten. Either Persephone played a far greater role in the Hellenistic versions of the myth than Homer and Ovid let on, or this ‘official’ version of the myth and not fully encompassing the beliefs of the every-day people. If, indeed, Persephone was pulled into the Olympian family tree simply for reasons of amalgamation and adaptation to an invading nation’s religion, it seems this transition did not dent her importance. It’s likely she was still considered very much a goddess of the death, as was her original role, and whether she was the wife of Hades or not did not matter. She would still complete the role she’d always held, such as outlined in the re-telling by Spretnak, and the Mysteries’ popularity and predominance in ancient Greek culture would prove this.

The Hades and Persephone myth is also often interpreted as a representation of Ancient Greek marriage ceremonies. Arranged marriages were normal in Ancient Greece, with the father of the bride and the husband to be organising the wedding between them. Neither the wife nor daughter are said to have been consulted in the arrangement, much like how in Ovid and Homer’s versions of Persephone, neither she nor Demeter are approached. The age gap between Persephone and Hades is not so strange in this context either: brides were young in Ancient Greece, and while the average age of marriage was sixteen they could be married as soon as they entered puberty, while the average age for a man to marry was in his thirties. While this may seem strange to a modern audience, the reasoning behind the age difference would have made sense in the context. Girls were married early because it was presumed that at this age, so soon after puberty was upon them, they would still be virgins . Men, however, married later because not only would they be established by their thirties, they would have also finished any military service to their polis-state that might have been expected . A particularly interesting part of the wedding ceremony in Ancient Greece is that, after the official wedding – the passing of responsibility of the woman from her father to her new husband – she was taken from her home to that of her new partner. Jennifer Powers mentions that this process was mentally painful for the bride but also physical, as the husband grabbed his new wife by the wrists to take her from the house while she said her farewells . When we compare the abduction of Persephone to the Ancient Greek marriage rites, moments such as this do show similarities between the taking of the bride, and the taking of Persephone. I would argue, though, that these similarities were only imposed later, after the Persephone myth was drawn into the canon Olympian pantheon. I feel that to link the traditional Grecian goddess of death, Persephone, to Hades through marriage rather than combing them into one was a smoother transaction for the invading forces, due to gender issues, the ‘abduction’ situation mirroring a marriage ceremony gives the story greater weight. The primary focus of the myth is on the imposition of the seasons onto the world, and an explanation of death and rebirth rather than the marriage of cultures, although the manner in which the myth changed under Greece’s new rulers is quite drastic.

As mentioned previously, before entering the Underworld Persephone is known simply as Kore: a generic title for maiden in Ancient Greece. It is only on entry to the Underworld does she acquire her own name, and through this her own personality and assets, rather than just ones she shares with her mother. When associated with her mother and fertility motifs, it is often difficult to tell the two apart on wall reliefs , however in her role as an Underworld goddess Persephone becomes a completely different creature. While providing a softer side to death, she is also the embodiment of it and the way through it. Hades was the judge of the dead but Persephone, if one goes by the older traditions, was the rebirth afterwards, symbolised by her returning to the earth each spring. This idea follows on from the idea of marriage because in essence, the bride went from her previous, almost genderless existence in the mother’s home to a new role as wife to her husband. The marriage ceremony in ancient Greece involved the bride-to-be leaving her childhood belongings at the temple of Hera, symbolising her leaving childhood behind to become a woman and, eventually, mother. Though women in ancient Greece had little power, this change can also be seen in Persephone in her abduction to the underworld. Before this she was a child, Kore, and it is only through marriage and her descent that she become her own person.

As previously mentioned, Persephone has always been a goddess of the underworld, and hence of death. Her very name, when translated, means something similar to “Bringer of Destruction”, and earliest, pre-Olympian myth tells of her willing descent to the underworld to guide the spirits of the dead. Why has this, more powerful interpretation of the goddess been so comprehensively ignored? Even with the two myths combined – say, that Hades abducted Persephone and then she found her purpose in her new life – her figure is still one of power, purpose and with a role similar in stature to her new husband’s. I would argue this role has been ignored for two reasons: firstly, that we have seen this myth through a predominantly patriarchal history, particularly in the Victorian era; secondly, because feminist interest in the past has focused heavily on the abduction and alleged rape, the intrusion of men upon a woman’s rights and body, instead of looking beyond this to an image of an adapted Persephone, or if they do they portray the change as a negative experience. I would argue that this is not the case, nor the point of the myth. Rather than the ‘rape’ portion of the story, the Hellenistic version focuses on the mother’s reaction to this abduction. Very little information is given on Hades and Persephone’s time in the underworld at all. In the original myth, according to Spretnak, “There was no mention of rape”  and even in the Homeric version of the myth, the rape is not mentioned as being a physical rape. The word rape is only used in the context “as if she was raped” . Certainly it was a distressing time for Persephone both in Spretnak’s ‘original’ myth and the Homeric and Ovid versions – both mention her delight on returning home and her fast in the Underworld, and the Hellenistic versions of the tale have her obviously distressed and screaming on being abducted – but other than this we are given no information on her conditions or treatment while under Hades’ roof. While a feared god, unlike his brothers Hades is rarely, if ever, portrayed as cruel or violent: vases and reliefs from the times of the Mysteries show Hades as a devoted consort to Persephone, rather than a malicious ravisher and abductor . Instead this is ignored, favouring instead to portray Hades as a terrible, overbearing rapist and Persephone as largely useless to prevent her own defilement. It’s the easy alternative, though a curious one.

Modern Persephone
In her book Life’s Daughter/Death’s Bride, Kathie Carlson continually uses words such as ‘force’, ‘trickery’ and ‘deception’ to describe Hades’ attitudes towards Kore, Persephone’s name before her decent to the underworld. Carlson is not subtle in her viewpoint; at every possible moment she uses violent language to describe the interaction between Persephone and Hades. However, to take the view that Persephone was unchanged and continuously fighting her entire underworld ordeal is to take a singular reading of it, a feminist reading which – while constantly swelling on the intrusion of men into female relations – still paints its leading lady as mostly passive. Persephone, according to Carlson, is not a figure we can look up to, as she was in her original myth and mysteries: she is a victim whose only action is to starve herself. Even Carlson’s use of Persephone’s maiden name, Kore, is disempowering in itself. Kore was a widely used name in Greek mythology, meaning nothing more than ‘maiden’ or ‘girl’. It is a name of no description, distinction, and is used frequently to describe other goddesses or their children. It seems that in their constant rage against the male – justified by the rape in this story – feminism has run out of things to argue about without giving way. ‘But she didn’t want it’ is the constant thread of their argument, but they refuse to move outside of this notion and this is where they fail to do the myth justice.

The majority of modern retellings on the myth focus on Persephone rather than the traditional viewpoint of Demeter given in Homer and Ovid’s retellings. While Carlson’s text on Persephone largely revolves around the ideas of patriarchy and, towards the end, the evil nature of Hades in his breaching of the mother/daughter bond, at the same time I would argue that studies into the myth are now moving away from this more negative aspect of the story to focus on the relationship between Demeter and Persephone and, finally, on Persephone’s adaption to her own situation. Herta Rosenblatt’s Three Poems, featured in The Long Journey Home revolve around the two women: The first of the three, The Dance of the Mother Woman is Demeter centric, looking both at her and comparing her to other mythic women in turn. The poem moves between focussing on Demeter as a good mother, in comparison to figures such as Niobe, Mary and Eve, all of whom are considered ‘good’ women. It also deals with the possibility of Demeter’s own guilt, finishing with comparisons to Clytemnestra and, perhaps more surprisingly, Medea. The end of Medea’s story is highlighted by the unthinkable act of her slaughtering her own children in revenge, so to compare this to Demeter’s interactions with Persephone seems quite a step. Rosenblatt is likely using this heavily weighted name as the guilty conscience of a mother who has failed her daughter. Coupled with the second poem of the set, A last game of childhood, this might very well be the case. This second poem focuses on Persephone’s games in the fields in the moments before her abduction. This poem appears to be another manifestation of Demeter’s grief, with phrases such as “Your mother watches you break it/ blessing your eagerness”  holding a double meaning. Demeter is blessing Persephone’s joy in picking flowers but, in hindsight, this can be seen as a blessing for the later abduction.

Were you Weeping takes a completely different approach to the myth, focussing on Persephone in the underworld. The poem is not centred around the typical Persephone myth, rather it focuses on Persephone’s view of another Underworld myth, that of Orpheus’ quest to revive his wife. Orpheus’ wife, Eurydice, was bitten by a snake and descended to the underworld and Orpheus, determined to win her back, travelled down to Hades and Persephone’s domain and when they refused to release her, he played his lute with such skill that the gods and the dead were reduced to tears as they remembered their lives and the world above them. This is an interesting view to take, as such memories would be particularly painful for Persephone, and one I attempted to incorporate into my own retelling of the myth. The relationship between Persephone and Hades here is not shown as violent or forceful.

"when the dark god appeared, in his glory and  power,
and, ravished, you died the death of love?
Were you weeping, and your hand
pressing that of your husband?
Were you humming the tune
of that spring day
and he smiled the smile of remembering: "

Despite the word ravished, one wonders how a woman who has allegedly been raped could treat her husband with such affection. The word love is one very seldom used in the myth of Persephone, save perhaps in popular culture, and I would again like to refer back to the fact that arranged marriages were common in Ancient Greek culture. Perhaps we can read this poem as Persephone’s acceptance of her marriage, however forced, and adaption to it.

A contemporary re-telling of the Persephone myth, and one that heavily inspired my own take on the tale, is the duo of poems written by River Malcolm. Her blend of Persephone as both victim, and then her change to controlled matriarch of the Underworld acknowledges both the Hellenistic take on the myth, with Persephone abducted against her will, yet also lends itself to the prehistoric take of the tale also. Malcolm does not leave us with a weak Persephone always willing to run home to her mother, she instead transforms Persephone into the queen of the dead who is one with her own powers and duties, and even takes on the mantle herself by choosing to eat the pomegranate seeds.


"It is Hades, my husband, who bids me cease,
knowing,
as those of my fathers’ generation
do know,
that Destiny must be obeyed
even by the Gods. "

This is the one published retelling of the myth I have read that has Persephone choose to eat the pomegranate seeds of her own accord, rather than through trickery of naivety. It is a refreshing change to see her with a powerful mindset, not a cowed, frightened girl. The most powerful image for me, however, were the lines “Even Cerberus the fierce/ whines when I approach and begs/ for a pat from his mistress’ hand.” . Cerberus was the three-headed hound of the underworld that guarded one of its many gates to prevent the dead from escaping, and was famously captured by Herecles as one of his redemptive feats. For the typically meek figure of Persephone to be commanding such power, I would argue, is an inspiring take on her situation: not only has she adapted to a situation she couldn’t prevent, she has embraced it and taken control of it.

In this poem too we find the tensions arising between mother and daughter. The constant repetition of the line “And where was my mother” seems to say that Persephone partially blames Demeter’s lack of attention for her plight, for not protecting her from this arranged marriage. Even at the end of the poem, where the focus shifts to Persephone’s inevitable return to the earth, the tone is jaded – “as if I could be again the same girl I was ... I, Queen of Death, Lady of Darkness”  – ending with an almost ominous note as Persephone compares herself to seeds of death.


The Critical-Creative Connection
For my own piece I found my placement of Persephone a difficult one. Until further investigating the myth and its origins I was highly influenced by the popular version of the Persephone myth, mostly based on the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Popular culture, however, views this rape either as a non-physical one – perhaps to make the myth more approachable – or one of seduction, and interprets the myth as a story of love rather than kidnapping and separation from the mother. Amateur authors often borrow the plot or themes of the story and apply them to other characters or situations yet these are almost always love stories . While realising the original story was far harsher than these popular, modern versions, the notion that perhaps the myth isn’t completely negative was one that stayed with me. I enjoyed the picture of the stronger Persephone that these retellings often portray, rather than the helpless Homeric girl, and knew that this would be the type of Persephone I would emulate in my own reworking of the story.

Spretnak’s ‘original’ telling of the myth, along with the poems by Malcolm were the two key factors in my own portrayal of Persephone. As a heroine, Persephone has so little power in the majority of retellings that Spretnak’s image of a strong woman determined to honour the dead was highly appealing to me and something that I wanted to channel into my own work. Restoring Persephone’s role to her also gives her a purpose, not only in the underworld but for herself as well: she changes from an object that’s passed around to a figure with real power in her descent to the Underworld. Malcolm’s glimpse into a changed, somewhat jaded figure of Persephone gave insight into how one might, realistically, change and adapt into the situation. Her figure of Persephone wanting to stay in the underworld because of the power she has attained was a very interesting take on the popular notion that Persephone stayed because she wished to, rather than because she was forced to. That she might have enjoyed the power, and perhaps the freedom that came with that power, was something I had not thought of before reading this poem.

In my own retelling I have attempted to meld the better known Homeric version of the myth with these modern and ‘traditional’ retellings. I wished to explore the change from featureless, innocent girl to powerful goddess and wife, a change which has not been the primary focus of other retellings I have read while researching for this essay. Other retellings focus on her before her descent to the underworld or, alternatively, just after her abduction or a long period of time later, after she has adapted. This phase of adaption, as far as I have read, has yet to be addressed.

The story of Persephone has been given many guises since its evolution into the Olympian pantheon, and not all of these have been positive. Until recently, the primary focus for study of her myth has been in her abduction and alleged rape, rather than in the protagonist herself and her relation to the changing world around her. As we find out more about the traditional role of Persephone in pre-historic Greece and discover her true purpose and power, perhaps it will be easier for us to accept that she is not simply a girl who has been uprooted, but also a goddess in her own right who had a significant role in Greece’s religion. This is shown through the prominence of her mysteries, that survived even into the Roman era, and while we will never know the full details of what this cult entailed, its popularity and far-reaching significance imply that Persephone, and her mother Demeter, were far more influential than Homer’s ‘official’ version of the myth implies. The myth is still popular, taken up by artists over the years and given new meaning and significance as they apply it. Because much of the myth surrounding Persephone and Hades is unmentioned this leaves the story open for interpretation, so perhaps the appeal to a modern audience is that – unlike in ancient times – there is no, single ‘official’ version of this myth and that we can interpret it as we see it. While some choose to highlight the patriarchal influence on the text, I feel that we can benefit more through examining Persephone as a character and how she adapts to her changing world and situation, and how she can triumph through this, rather than leave her as a victim. She was abducted, but it is what we do with her after this which is where the real meaning of the myth lies.
So this is half of what I spent my year doing, my thesis. No, I'm not really expecting anyone to read it, but for crying out loud don't steal it. I spent forever on it! Probably a few mistakes still, here and there, but it's submitted now so WHOO!

Creative Component can be found here: [link]

I feel so dirty. I can't do my footnotes on dA, and it goes against everything I stand for.

SOB.

I'll pop the bibliography here though, so I don't feel quite so terrible.

Bibliography:
- Demeter and Persephone in Ancient Corinth, American School of Classical Studies at
Athens. Princeton, New Jersey: 1987.
- DOWNING, Chrstine (ed.). The Long Journey Home. Shambhala Publications, Inc.,
Boston: 1994.
- ARISTOPHANES. The Frogs, trans. David Barrett. Penguin Books, London: 1964.
- BONNARD, André. Greek Civilization From The Iliad To The Parthenon Vol. 1.
Macmillan, New York: 1962.
- CARLSON, Kathie. Life’s Daughter/ Deaths’ Bride. Shambhala Publications, Inc.,
Boston: 1997.
- CARTER, Angela. The Bloody Chamber. Vintage, London: 1995.
- ELIADE, Mircea. A History of Religious Ideas, trans. Willard R. Trask. The University of
Chicago Press, Chicago: 1978.
- FLACELIÈRE, Robert. Daily Life in Greece at the Time of Pericles. Harper and Row, New
York: 1970.
- KNIGHT, W. F. Jackson. Elysion. Rider & Company, London: 1970.
- POWERS, Jennifer. "Ancient Greek Marriage.",
[link] Jan 5 1999. Online. Accessed August
2009.
- SPRETNAK, Charlene. Lost Goddesses of Early Greece. Beacon Press, Boston: 1992.
- WITTIG, Monique. Across the Acheron. Peter Owen Publishers, London: 1987.
- ZUNTZ, Günther. Persephone. Clarendon Press, Oxford: 1971.
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Plot Ideas

I decided to list various ideas for plots. I was bored.

1. Someone changes genders.
2. Someone changes age (younger is better).
3. Someone changes species.
4. Someone dies.
5. Someone dead is revived (long-defeated enemies are best).
6. Someone is pregnant.
7. Someone has amnesia.
8. Someone disappears randomly (maybe kidnapping, or death, or invisibility).
9. Someone gets a deformity/ailment (vampirism, lycanthropy, blindness, muteness, deafness, broken limbs, ect).
10. People are warped to another world (may be Earth, may be made up).
11. Plot twist (someone had an affair/has children/old enemies/turns out to be a spy/ect).
12. Someone falls in love.
13. Someone loses their powers.
14. Someone gains powers.
15. Someone commits a crime (therefore gaining/adding to a bounty).
16. Someone is a bounty hunter (really only works around people with bounties).
17. A strange creature appears (might be a person in disguise, or is the pet of a character who has disappeared).
18. Someone gets a mysterious ailment (will have unexplained symptoms...might be poisoned, or infected, or faking it).
19. Someone evil turns good.
20. Someone good turns evil.
21. Someone develops a hobby or habit, may be important or not (such as suddenly painting or writing, or biting their lip, or pulling their hair).
22. Someone goes insane.

Try experimenting. These are only a few possible ideas. Try out multiple ones at once. Such as, someone starts acting strangely (staring into space, talking to self) and having odd symptoms (coughing and trembling) and then suddenly disappears. At a later date, the character reappears, but is an animal and is completely insane and evil.

Remember that a plot must be plausible, and cannot be made so by simply saying "it's fantasy, anything can happen". Perhaps the person has mental lapses (born with recessive brain defect?) and forgets not to speak their thoughts, and they have caught a cold on top of that (weak immune system? something only their species can catch?), and sleep-walked during the night. Then perhaps they were changed into an animal (old enemy? magical trap? lycanthropy?) and has totally lost their mind because of the trauma.

When making plots, remember that you are creating them not only for yourself, but for the other rpers. I.e, if you wanted to create a plot that made your main male and female characters get in a fight, and the femme gets captured by the male. The other characters, depending how attached/brave/heroic they are, may or may not try to rescue your femme. If they do, do not make it impossible to accomplish, such as making the kidnapper immortal and allpowerful, or having him kill her before the other characters have a chance to do anything.

Sometimes you may create a plot for a specific character or person. For example, let's say your male char has a happy, healthy relationship with fellow rper's female char. Let's say you wanted to stir up the relationship a bit somehow...maybe bringing in a past lover, or making him get violently angry at his wife. You have to really know another character well to do this sort of thing. You might make a complex, very-thought-out plot, only to have the other character totally ignore it.

If a plot is completely unnoticed, you may or may not choose to omit it completely, and act as though it never happened. But remember that you cannot do this if someone actually did notice and the plot had an effect (as effects are hard or impossible to ever go back on).

Plots may be active or passive. An active plot would be a monster suddenly attacking the group, or your character running away and stabbing themselves. A passive plot would be something not purposely brought out, but used as background material. For example, your character might have an awful habit of biting their nails, and toss and turn during the night. This might be noticed or not. If it is, the character with the habits might not want to share the reason, and it could be brought out slowly. Or perhaps they wouldn't know the reason themselves, and it could likewise be slowly brought out. Or, they could happily explain what's going on. (Perhaps a past event where the character was forced to eat their own hair and it still haunts this character's dreams, or maybe they just like the taste of hair and are restless in sleep).

For one-on-one rps with a stranger, plots will probably be needed, as if both characters are not very active characters and just talk, a rp may easily die. Make sure a plot one-on-one will need the attention of the other character. A quick action plot might be best (maybe a wolf attacks them, or thugs demand their money, or someone kidnaps your character and the other character must save them).

Take into account that like real people, characters are often unpredictable, especially with more experienced rpers. You might assume that in reaction to being thrown knives at they might attack your character, but end up stealing the knives and giving each of them its own name (Steely, Sharpy, Shiny, Pointy...) They might also be a totally different alignment than expected (in an actual rp, a damsel was in distress - a slave anthro fox, pretty but cowardly and doomed to die. My character, instead of doing the expected heroic rescue of said damsel, lets her die without much of a care). Of course, there is also the unexpected romance rp reaction (maybe a character hits on someone who hates love, or is already married).

These are not rules, just suggestions and things to take to mind. I hope it has helped whomever has read it!

Be sure to check out Part 2, linked in the description!
I found this old text file while browsing my documents. It's a sort of tutorial guide thing on how to create a fully-functioning plot in a role-play.

THERE IS NOW A FOLLOW-UP!

This goes in-depth into the first ten items, hopefully to give you more ideas, and explaining why I find them compelling plot twists in the first place: [link]
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The dragon never thought that she and her meal would have so much in common. Finally, someone else who thought Eclipse had the most dreamy blue eyes!

Yayfinished!

Here's my piece for The Pink Project! ~RandomPedestrian gave me the idea of a pink princess talking to a pink dragon. I tried to go for a children's book illustration sort of feel here just coz well, the whole concept is so kiddy. XD
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I've submitted a lot of stuff here today so why not continue a bit and post some more..

This picture was an answer picture for my Isaac askblog at tumblr: [link]

Golden Sun belongs to Camelot
picture was drawn by me
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Drew this a while ago, but I thought I'd upload it :) I'm a huge Golden Sun fan, and obviously Felix is cool. His face is kind of weird and as usual the lineart is bad, but I kind of like how the background came out. ^^

Right now I'm working on some fanart of Alex, cause he's probably my favourite >:3
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Secret Santa gift for :iconraeganleifen:
If you were looking for something serious, sorry. You get what I'm best at--DINKY COMICS. With your favorite characters. Amiti and Karis.
Sorry it took so long but I wanted to wait until after I'd played Dark Dawn to start this so I wouldn't be drawing characters I didn't know anything about. Also sorry about the terrible quality of the outfits--I couldn't for the life of me find a decent visual reference for Paithos, or for Amiti before he changes into his travel clothes.
All the same, I hope you like it.
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Why do I love this game so freaking much?

Anyway, I wanted to do some game fanart, because I don't remember the last time I've drawn anything that wasn't my characters.... and lat time I did, it was probably TOA related.

So yeah I think I'm improving on proportions... or at east drawing guys.... Or maybe it's because I love Felix and Piers... (and yes, I changed Piers outfit, because I didn't really like his shorts....)

Gotta love the random background <3

So yeah this is me fangirling over GS. Expect to see upcoming fanart of Castiel (:love:) and Crystal Chronicles.

Characters (c) Golden Sun: The Lost Age
Art (c) Me
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