Persephone

Goddess of Spring and the Underworld

 

Hades, Lord of the Underworld, abducts the lovely Persephone to be his bride. Her mother Demeter, the Goddess of Agriculture, travels the world in search of her daughter, finding sanctuary in the city of Eleusis.  While Demeter grieves, nothing can grow.  Mankind starves.  Eventually, Zeus persuades his brother Hades to return the girl, but because Persephone has already eaten three pomegranate seeds from the Underworld, she must remain with her husband for three months of every year.  While Persephone inhabits the Underworld, Demeter sends winter to the earth.  When Persephone returns to her mother, spring arrives.  Persephone's story explains the turning of the seasons and also forms the basis for the Eleusinian Mysteries, the most popular relgious cult in Ancient Greece.

 

Roman name: Proserpina

 

Parents: Demeter and Zeus

 

Spouse and children: Married to her uncle, Hades.  Some myths claim that the Furies are their children.
 

Epithets: Kore (Maiden), Discreet, Lovely.

 

Attributes: wheat sheaves, torch

1st century AD Roman copy of a 5th century BC Greek original found at the temple of Demeter at Eleusis.  Demeter stands on the left, Persephone on the right.  Between them stands Triptolemos, a Eleusinian prince raised to godhood by Demeter and tasked wtih teaching men to cultivate grain.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

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