We interrupt the work of the gods,
hasty and inexperienced beings of the moment.
In the palaces of Eleusis and Phthia
Demeter and Thetis start good works
amid high flames and dense smoke. But
always Metaneira rushes from the king's
chambers, disheveled and scared,
and always Peleus is fearful and interferes.

Constantine P. Cavafy (1901)

[ Greek original ]


The sea nymph Thetis, queen of Pthia, attempted to make her son Achilles immortal, by burning away his mortality over a pyre, but was stopped by her husband, king Peleus; she had almost completed her task except for Achilles's heel.

Demeter, disguised as an old woman, was engaged by Metaneira, queen of Eleusis, to take care of her newborn son Demophon. Demeter likewise attempted to burn away Demophon's mortality, but was stopped by Metaneira.

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