|Goddess of Springtime|
|Queen of the Underworld|
|Greek/Roman form||Proserpina (Roman)|
Persephone (Περσεφoνε in Ancient Greek) is the minor goddess of springtime, flowers, and young life. She is also the queen of the Underworld. Persephone is the daughter of Demeter and Zeus and the wife of Hades. Her Roman counterpart is Proserpina.
Unlike Zeus' other children, Persephone has no position at Olympus. Persephone used to live far away from the other deities, a goddess within Nature herself before the days of planting seeds and nurturing plants. When Persephone reached marriageable age, the gods Hermes, Ares, Apollo, and Hephaestus had all wooed her, but Demeter rejected all their gifts and hid her daughter away from the company of the Olympian deities (Ironically, Demeter said that Peresephone could have married the god of doctors, who is Apollo, since he is the god of medicine). Thus, Persephone lived a peaceful life before she became the goddess of the Underworld, which did not occur until Hades abducted her and brought her to the Underworld by his infamous kidnapping of her.
Zeus, Persephone's father
Persephone's uncle, Hades, was lonely and wanted a wife. He spied Persephone in the fields one day and entranced by her purity and beauty, fell in love with her at first sight. Persephone was innocently picking flowers with some nymphs in a field in Enna when Hades came to abduct her, bursting through a cleft in the earth. Life came to a standstill as the devastated Demeter, goddess of harvest, searched everywhere for her lost daughter. Hecate, Goddess of magic, then told Demeter she had heard Persephone scream that she was being kidnapped. Demeter then stopped caring for the Earth, and the land didn't flourish and people began to starve and die.
In some stories it is said that Eros, the god of love shot a golden arrow into Hades' heart while he was riding in his black chariot when Hades rode across the field and saw Persephone, thus he fell in love with her. Most versions agree Hades first obtained the permission of Zeus to kidnap her.
Hades was determined to make Persephone love him, and tried in many ways. She hated him at first for snatching her away from her mother, but soon she came to revel in Demeter's absence as she had never been allowed away from her mother before. Hades very much wanted Persephone's love and, at first, tried to buy it with many gifts. But then he took to spending all of his day with his new wife, working to make her happy. Hecate, the Goddess of Magic, came down to the Underworld and befriended Persephone, and Hades was pleased, because Persephone was not depressed or unhappy when her friend was around.
Demeter, Persephone's mother
Finally, Zeus, pressed by the cries of the hungry people and by the other deities who also heard their anguish, forced Hades to return his daughter, Persephone. However, it was a rule of the Fates that whoever consumed food or drink in the Underworld was doomed to spend eternity there. Before Persephone was released to Hermes, who had been sent to retrieve her, Hades tricked Persephone into eating six pomegranate seeds, which forced her to return to the underworld for a season each year. In another version she ate the pomegranate off of a tree not knowing the results, but a servant (or sometimes a gardener) of Hades testified against her forcing her to return.
When Demeter and her daughter were united, the Earth flourished with vegetation and color, but for six months each year, when Persephone returned to the Underworld, the earth once again became a barren realm: and that is how the seasons came from. In Spring and Summer, Persephone and her mother are together. In Fall and Winter, Persephone goes back with Hades. This is the myth to explain the weather changes in Fall and Winter compared with Spring and Summer when everthing is nice and sunny.
Children and family
She is described as a tall, beautiful young woman with pale skin, curly flowing black hair. She wears a white dress, which, in fact, is actually a colorful dress, though the colors have been washed out. Although she is becomes more radiantly beautiful and healthy during Spring, with lustrous black hair and welcoming black eyes. During the winter months however she becomes almost ghost like with paler skin and dark shadows under her eyes. Her eyes are multicolored, but also washed out, as if the Underworld had sapped her life force.
- Main Article: Proserpina
Persephone can change her appearance into her Roman counterpart of Proserpina. As Proserpina, she becomes more disciplined, warlike, and militaristic. The Greeks believed Persephone's return from the Underworld signified the rebirth of crops whereas the Romans thought that Proserpina preserved their seeds during the winter.