A point of this myth stands out to me now that didn’t before, and I think it’s related to what I talked about regarding Loki with the myths surrounding Ragnarok. The gods must tell the truth. Core (since it’s before she becomes Persephone) has the opportunity to either refute Hades’s gardener—exposing him as a liar—or to lie herself about eating the pomegranate seeds.
She does neither.
Hades, when he heard the gardener, was overjoyed that he would be able to swear an oath about Core’s eating habits, so I think that the Greek gods are similarly bound to the truth in the same way that the Norse gods are.
Core may not have had to volunteer the information herself, but once brought to light, she could not say a word against it because it was true. The gardener, likewise, cannot lie. If we fold in the Bible, it seems there is a prohibition against lying across the big three mythologies—with an exception made for trickster figures. I’m now curious to see if the Egyptian would follow suit, and the Hindu as well.
I think it’s also important to point out that the prohibition is strictly against lying as opposed to deception in general. Several of the Greek gods will employ disguises by changing their shape. Zeus alone could write a book on how he has used deception in order to have affairs with mortal women (a separate volume would be for the goddesses).
So actions are not as strictly relegated as speech, as if it possesses a different quality—one more revered? In my recollection, none of the Greek gods has ever spoken a falsehood, which is intriguing. While the Norse were quite clear that Freyja had to speak the truth, there doesn’t appear to be anything overtly said about this concerning the Greeks. However, just because it’s not overtly stated doesn’t make it untrue. So far, whenever anything is spoken, it is the complete truth. Zeus even holds his tongue with Hades, saying neither yes or no regarding permission to court Core.
When Demeter refuses to let the crops grow, she is not bluffing, as it appears she would be incapable of such. She is speaking an absolute truth that she will destroy all of humanity if her daughter is not returned to her. This also makes it clear that there is no negotiation to be had, no bargain to be struck. It is an absolute truth.
This idea makes for an interesting thought regarding one of Zeus’s myths, where he requires an oath from the other gods. It bears further investigation, certainly.