Persephone is the daughter of Zeus, the god of gods, and Demeter, the goddess of agriculture. She is also known as Kore that means “daughter”and “maiden”; or Proserpina, in Roman mythology. Persephone is the goddess of vegetation, grain and spring. She has a talent for flowers and is described as full of life and youth. The story of Persephone symbolizes the changing of the seasons throughout the year.
Louis Théophile Hingre (1832-1911): Persephone and, her mother, Demeter.
Hades, the King of the Underworld, falls in love with Persephone and abducts her from the Vale of Nysa. While Persephone was collecting sweet-smelling blooms, a chasm opens in the ground and Hades comes through it in is chariot led by black steeds. As her daughter disappears, Demeter is distraught and neglects her sacred duties leading to famine across the Earth. When humanity begins to wither, Zeus intervenes with Hades to let Persephone go back home to her mother.
Walter Crane, The Fate of Persephone, 1877
Nevertheless, Persephone couldn’t be permitted to leave the Underworld because Hades had tricked her into eating a pomegranate seed. It is a rule of the Underworld that if a mortal eats the harvest in this realm, they cannot leave permanently. In other versions of the myth, Persephone eats the seeds of her own free will to be able to come back to her husband Hades but considering she was abducted… this seems unlikely. Regardless, this is the story of how Persephone, a goddess full of life and vibrancy, becomes the Queen of the Underworld.
Rape of Persephone by Bernini, 1622
And so forth, the deal was struck. Persephone would stay two-thirds out of the year with her mother and one-third with Hades. That is why the Earth suffers Demeter’s sadness during autumn and winter, while it enjoys her happiness during spring and summer. Another interpretation is that this myths represents how the Greeks stored their grain underground for part of the year in order to protect it from summer heat.
The return of Persephone, by Frederic Leighton (1891)
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