The Myth of Hades and Persephone

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When I was young, I’ve been reading and watching about Greek Mythology. However, it was only in grade school, that I encountered the story about Hades and Persephone. I love the fact that they stayed loyal to each other no matter what.

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PERSEPHONE was the goddess queen of the underworld, wife of the god Haides (Hades). She was also the goddess of spring growth, who was worshipped alongside her mother Demeter in the Eleusinian Mysteries. This agricultural-based cult promised its initiates passage to a blessed afterlife.

Persephone was titled Kore (Core) (the Maiden) as the goddess of spring’s bounty. The name Persephone means murder or to destroy and in other references the one who eats the light.

In other myths, Persephone appears exclusively as the queen of the underworld, receiving the likes of Herakles and Orpheus at her court.

Persephone was usually depicted as a young goddess holding sheafs of grain and a flaming torch. Sometimes she was shown in the company of her mother Demeter, and the hero Triptolemos, the teacher of agriculture. At other times she appears enthroned beside Haides.

Persephone’s Personality

Persephone is extroverted, curious, joyful, bright and sees the goodness in everyone. She can empathize with others easily. She is loving, caring, but feisty, strong and firm at the same time. She is also well-behaved due to Demeter’s strict upbringing. She is innocent and somehow wise beyond her age. She is elegant, confident and a formidable woman. She can see and understand things that surprises the Gods and Goddesses around her. Through her marriage with Hades, she became more confident and a woman of strength. Hades eventually became friend, her motivator, her anchor and her pillar of strength.

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HAIDES (Hades) was the king of the underworld and god of the dead. He presided over funeral rites and defended the right of the dead to due burial. Haides was also the god of the hidden wealth of the earth, from the fertile soil with nourished the seed-grain, to the mined wealth of gold, silver and other metals.

Haides was depicted as a dark-bearded, regal god. He was depicted as either Aidoneus, enthroned in the underworld, holding a bird-tipped sceptre, or as Plouton (Pluton), the giver of wealth, pouring fertility from a cornucopia. The Romans named him Dis, or Pluto, the Latin form of his Greek title Plouton, “the Lord of Riches.”

He is also known as Zeus Melichios and Snake God. It is due to this moniker (Zeus Melichios) that made others believed Zues had children with Persephone. It was said that Hades ravished Persephone under the guise of the snake and where she gave birth to twins Melinoe (Goddess of Ghosts, daughter of Hades and Persephone) and Zagreus (God of hunting and rebirth, son of Hades and Persephone). Makaria (Goddess of blessed death, daughter of Hades and Persephone) is another child of Hades with Persephone. Then there’s Ploutus, which is said to be Hades or Zeus son, but some sources say that he is the son of Demeter and Persephone’s younger brother. There isn’t enough information about him though.

Hades Personality

Hades is introverted, calm, cool, collected, confident, and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. He likes being feared by others and has a morbid personality. He is strict when it comes to the souls in the underworld. He is handsome, dark, brooding and mysterious. He doesn’t like the other souls bypassing their punishments while other souls are paying for their sins. He doesn’t like breaking the natural order of things such as life and death. After marrying Persephone, her influence made him a god that benefited the mortals. She brightened up his life and the underworld. Mortals began to see him as a giver of grain, minerals, and other necessities produced from the earth.

How did Hades fell in love with Persephone?

Before Hades and Persephone fell in love, the fates Cloho, Lachesis and Atropos threaded Hades and Persephone lives together. 

Here’s how Hades fell in love:

Ovid, Metamorphoses 5. 363 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :

“Tyrannus [Haides] had left his dark domains to and fro, drawn in his chariot and sable steeds, inspected the foundations of the isle [of Sicily]. His survey done, and no point found to fail, he put his fears aside; when, as he roamed, Erycina [Venus-Aphrodite], from her mountain throne, saw him and clasped her swift-winged son, and said : ‘Cupido [Eros], my child, my warrior, my power, take those sure shafts with which you conquer all, and shoot your speedy arrows to the heart of the great god to whom the last lot fell when the three realms were draw. Your majesty subdues the gods of heaven and even Jove [Zeus], subdues the Gods of the Sea and him, even him, [Poseidon] who rules the Gods of the Sea. Why should Tartara (Hell) lag behind? Why not there too extend your mother’s empire and your own? The third part of the world’s at stake, while we in heaven (so long-suffering!) are despised–my power grows less, and less the power of Amor [Eros]. Do you not see how Pallas [Athena] and Diana [Artemis], queen of the chase, have both deserted me? And Ceres'[Demeter’s] daughter [Persephone], if we suffer it, will stay a virgin too–her hope’s the same. So for the sake of our joint sovereignty, if that can touch your pride, unite in love that goddess [Persephone] and her uncle [Haides].’ So she spoke. Then Cupido, guided by his mother, opened his quiver and of all his thousand arrows selected one, the sharpest and the surest, the arrow most obedient to the bow, and bent the pliant horn against his knee and shot the barbed shaft deep in Dis’ [Haides’] heart.

The myth of Hades and Persephone also has different versions. The one below is close to my greek mythology book at home and other references.

In this one Demeter was present when Persephone was kidnapped by God Hades but was tricked by Zeus and Hades.

That morning when Demeter descended on Earth with her daughter Persephone , she left her to play with the sea nymphs called Nereids and the Naiads who were the freshwater nymphs of the lakes, springs and rivers.

Demeter went to supervise her bountiful crops. As Persephone engaged in play and with the rest of the group, her attention fell upon the potently fragrant valley nearby and she couldn’t take her eyes of the yellow flower narcissus. She called upon her playmates to accompany her, but they couldn’t possibly go with her as leaving the side of their water bodies would result in their death.

The flower Narcissus was planted there by Gaia, who was following the orders of Zeus. The goal was to enchant Persephone and attract her, away from her guides.

So, Persephone danced her way to the garden alone and tried to pluck the narcissus from the bosom of Gaia. It drained her energies as the narcissus only came out after a lot of pulling. But suddenly, to her utter fright, she saw the tiny hole from which she had drawn out the flower shaft, began to rapid grow in size until it started to resemble a mighty enormous chasm.

From this came the vigorous galloping sounds of multiple horses and such sudden happenings only froze the frail beauty to her feet. Out of all her friends only the naiad Cyane tried to rescue the crying Persephone but she was no match for the powerful Hades. Bereaving her friend’s kidnap, Cyane melted into a pool of tears and formed the river Cyane at the spot.

Persephone’s mother, Demeter, begged her brother Hades to allow Persephone to come back to the livings, denoting that the young Persephone was not supposed to live in the underworld. Hades consulted with Zeus and they both decided to allow Persephone to live on earth for six months each year, while the rest of the time she would be on his side in the Underworld.

Band Persephone is associated with the coming of Spring and Winter: When Persephone comes to the Earth, it’s springtime. When she descends to Hades, it is winter.

WHAT HADES OFFERED PERSEPHONE IN THE UNDERWORLD ACCORDING TO THE HOMERIC HYMN TO DEMETER

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360 “Go, Persephone, to your mother, the one with the dark robe.

Have a kindly disposition and thûmos in your breast.

Do not be too upset, excessively so.

I will not be an unseemly husband to you, in the company of the immortals.

I am the brother of Zeus the Father. If you are here,

365 you will be queen of everything that lives and moves about,

and you will have the greatest tîmai in the company of the immortals.

Those who violate dikê will get punishment for all days to come

—those who do not supplicate your menos with sacrifice,

performing the rituals in a reverent way, executing perfectly the offerings that are due.”

370 So he spoke. And high-minded Persephone rejoiced.

Hades abducted Persephone but this is how he treated her in the Underworld. She was well taken cared of, she is Hades’ equal in power and made her the respected Queen of the Underworld. Hades treated her as an adult contrary to the sheltered life Demeter gave her. Demeter is overprotective with Persephone to the point that she forbids her to explore so much but Persephone has a very curious personality. Even as she aged, Demeter had dressed her as a child making sure to keep her in her side.

Persephone was afraid of Hades but slowly those fears diminished because was the only who with the opportunity to see Hades’ soft side. She got to know him and found that he is sincere with his love to her, he is patient and he treats her as her equal. He waited on her hand and foot and treated her as an adult woman to be cared and wanted which made her appreciate and fall in love with him.

As Hades gave her the pomegranate seeds, she was fully aware that anyone who eats the food of the underworld should stay they there even a Goddess. She ate six seeds knowing she was bounding herself to him. For she was intrigued of being a queen and she enjoyed her freedom from her mother and position as a queen. She realized that the underworld, the souls, the other Gods and especially Hades needs her, needs her light. Still, she misses her mother and her previous life. As an adult woman she accepted and embraced her fate. Considering the fact, that yes she lived a sheltered life but through Demeter’s over protectiveness of her that she taught Persephone everything to make sure she will be careful.

STOCKHOLM SYNDROME?

Persephone may have been afraid the first few days, but her experience wasn’t enough to psychologically trauma her and made her desperate to the point of thinking that Hades is her only way to live. She may be innocent and naive, but she’s strong and defiant or resilient as a Goddess. Surprisingly, there was a mutual attraction between them and they have a peaceful relationship. They are very open to each other.

Hades offered her position, power and riches which she refused at first. She changed her mind days after when she realized that she could no longer be under her mother’s shadow and she could do a lot of things as the Queen of the Underworld.

At first, when Hades offered her to eat, she refused for she knew from the start that eating in the underworld will bound her to him which is why she punished him by not eating anything for days. She only ate at the supposedly last day in the Underworld before Hermes could her back. In fact, it was Hermes who gave Hades the idea. Hades told Persephone, “If you love me, you will remember me by eating this (handing her the pomegranate.”

She ate the seeds one by one, telling him at the same, “(I love you)very much, very, very much.”

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Below is somewhat close version to the original. There are so many versions and spin-offs that people are not aware of the real story.

Who are the women in Hades life and who are the men in Persephone’s life?

According to Servius: Leuce, a nymph, is Hades first love. He abducted her and when she died, he turned her to a Poplar tree in Elysium also known as sacred crown (Poplar leaves). Poplar leaves is also sacred to Persephone. A reason was never shared.

According to Oppian, Minthe, also a nymph, fell in love with Hades. In the past, she would always seduce Hades. However when she heard about the abduction of Persephone and that she became the Queen of the Underworld, she was so jealous and boasted that she was more beautiful than Persephone and that she could never please Hades. He will eventually go back to her. It invoked the wrath of Demeter and especially Persephone, thinking no one else should share Hades’ bed but her. She was so jealous and angry for seducing her husband. She stomped Minthe and she was turned to a Mint plant. There is another version of this.

In return, this is what Hades did to one of Persephone’s suitor. Another person who took an interest in Persephone is Primithous. He brought his friend, Theseus, to the Underworld and announce his intentions to abduct Persephone and make her his wife. Hades already knew of his plans. He prepared them a feast and asked them to take a seat on the chair of forgetfulness. And the chair entwined with their flesh. Theseus was rescued by Heracles (Hercules), but Hades kept Primithous in the Underworld as punishment for planning to take what’s his. Another version of this is Primithous was able to leave the Underworld after so many years.

Now Adonis is a different story. Aphrodite gave the baby under Persephone’s care. She felt maternal to the child. When Adonis grew up, Persephone refused to give him up for she treats him as his son, and Aphrodite was in love with Adonis. There was an argument between them and Zeus solved it by ordering Adonis to spend one third of his time in the Underworld, one third with Aphrodite and he can do whatever he wants on the other one third. Hades treated Adonis as his son too. The arrangement didn’t well with Ares, Aphrodite’s other lover. Out of jealousy, he created a boar while Adonis was hunting. He was killed and Aphrodite was distraught. In other versions, Persephone fell for Adonis charms too.

That concludes what I know about Hades and Persephone. I’ve changed my mind with regards to Hades and Zelena. I love them but I love Hades and Persephone story more because they have a better relationship and Hades wasn’t portrayed as a villain. Hades might also have a sour or snobbish personality at first, but Persephone was raised with all the love she could get. She was sensible, well-rounded and she didn’t have any issues to fix. Which is why she was able to change Hades, but not Zelena. I was really hoping that the Once Upon A Time writers had given Hades and Zelena a happy ending.

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