Persephone’s story actually focuses more on her mother, Demeter, and what happens when Persephone disappears. The young goddess is also the daughter and niece of Zeus, and the wife and niece of Hades when she becomes the queen of the Underworld.
Daughter of Demeter
Persephone is a true nature child, being the daughter of the goddess of the harvest. Her mother is also affectionately known as Mother Nature. Persephone is a living example of youth, beauty, and life, and draws the attention of the king of the dead (Not to be confused with death itself, who is Thanatos). While picking flowers with her companions, Persephone is lured away from the group by the most interesting, beautiful, and sweet-smelling blooms she has ever encountered. As she attempts to gather them, a great chasm opens in the earth and Hades bears upon her riding his monstrous chariot pulled by magnificent black stallions. He sweeps her away to the depths of the kingdom of the dead.
Demeter looks everywhere for her child, causing mayhem and destruction as she goes. At first Zeus does not see a need to seek out Hades and confront him about the abduction of Persephone, but when Demeter’s horrible sadness causes her to neglect her duties as a goddess, the earth begins to suffer. Crops die, animals become barren, and the land becomes cold and lifeless. Zeus appeals to Hades, but finds out that the problem is a lot more complicated than just asking for her release.
The underworld has many rules, one of which is that should a mortal consume anything while in the underworld, that mortal cannot leave it. Supposedly unbeknownst to Hades, Persephone has swallowed several pomegranate seeds. Zeus is usually a stickler for the rules, unless it restricts him from getting something that he truly wants, but it this instance, he has to consider the fate of the world. He decrees that Persephone must be returned to Demeter for everyone’s sake, and that she and Hades must share their time with her. They each get six months of the year with her.
When Hermes guides her out of the underworld and back to her mother, the earth begins to thaw. The earth experiences spring and summer while Persephone and Demeter are together. While she is with Hades, the earth feels Demeter’s lament during autumn and winter. There is also a story about these two seasons that concerns Persephone as the queen of the Underworld.
Queen of the Underworld
While Persephone is more reasonable and compassionate than her fierce, but fair husband, she causes conflict when she does a favor for Aphrodite. Apparently the goddess of love has fallen for the beautiful youth Adonis. When he dies, Aphrodite gives him to Persephone for safekeeping, but the goddess falls in love with him herself. When she refuses to give him up, Zeus must again intervene with a similar resolution. The two goddesses must share him for six months out of the year, with Persephone claiming him during the autumn and the winter.
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