The relationship between the Hymn to Aphrodite (Aphr) and the Hymn to Demeter (Dem) has attracted scholarly attention at least since the late 19th century. 1 An extensive list of verbal parallels has provided the basis for assessing the connection. Discussions have concentrated overwhelmingly on the question of whether and how the shared linguistic items shed light on relative chronology, somewhat overshadowing the issue of the literary relation. Currently the view that the poet of Dem "knew" Aphr is accepted widely, albeit with varying degrees of certainty.
This paper attempts to broach the topic from a narrative and thematic vantage point. As both poems are products of a tradition, the poetological building blocks of which include formulaic language and narrative, it seems appropriate to pay attention also to narrative when the density of linguistic parallels signals a relation of some sort. The two hymns indeed share a fair amount of narrative elements: Zeus as instigator and secret controller of the action; female divinity appearing in disguise; abduction stories; epiphanies; misdirection as to the possibility of overcoming mortality; compensation for non-obtained immortality, and prohibition against disclosing a secret.
Admittedly the main motif-provider for Dem is not Aphr but the Eleusinian tradition, in the form of either oral narratives or poetry on the rape and recovery of Persephone. A compelling case has been made recently that Dem interacts intensively with the hexametric poem partly paraphrased and partly cited in papyrus BKT 44. The interaction encompasses narrative structures and motifs, as well as specific wording.
Against the background of this important development it may be worthwhile to revisit the thematic, narrative relation of Dem with Aphr, a poem that linguistic parallels point out as a possible influence. If nothing else, comparison of motifs may yield insights into the narrative poetics of Dem and explanations as to the background of some linguistic parallels.