Persephone The Basics  

Posted by Stella Clark

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In Greek mythology, Persephone (also called Kore) was the Queen of the Underworld, the kore (or young maiden), and a daughter of Demeter and Zeus. In the Olympian version, she also becomes the consort of Hades when he becomes the deity that governs the underworld.

The figure of Persephone is very well-known today. Her story has great emotional power: an innocent maiden, a mother's grief over her abduction, and great joy after her daughter is returned. It is also cited frequently as a paradigm of myths that explain natural processes, with the descent and return of the goddess bringing about the change of seasons.

In Greek art, Persephone is invariably portrayed robed. She may be carrying a sheaf of grain and smiling demurely with the "Archaic smile" of the Kore of Antenor. Her Roman equivalent is Proserpina.

APPEARANCE: Persephone appears as a beautiful young maiden, just on the edge of womanhood.

SYMBOL OR ATTRIBUTE: The pomegranate. The narcissus, which Hades planted in a meadow to entice her to pluck it; pulling on the flower opened up the Underworld and Hades sprang out, carrying her off.

STRENGTHS: Loving and lovely.

WEAKNESSES: Beauty so ravishing it attracts Hades' unwanted attention.

SPOUSE: Hades, with whom she must stay part of each year because she ate a few pomegranate seeds in the Underworld.

SOME MAJOR TEMPLE SITES: The spooky Nekromanteion, still visitable today.

BASIC STORY: Hades springs out of the earth and captures Persephone, dragging her off to be his queen in the Underworld; her dad Zeus told him it was okay to take her as his bride, and Hades took him a bit literally. Hades was also her own uncle, which didn't make this exactly a myth of good family mental health. Her distraught mother Demeter searches for her and stops all foods from growing until she is returned. Even Zeus has to give in and help work out a deal - one myth says Persephone stays one-third of the year with Hades, one-third of the year serving as a handmaiden to Zeus, and one-third with her mother Demeter-... an interesting ancient balancing of family, spouse, and career. The better-known tale equally divides her time just between hanging out with Mom and then ruling the underworld with Hades.

INTERESTING FACT: Persephone is also sometimes known just as Kore, or the Maiden. She was sometimes called "the maiden of the beautiful ankles". While most sources indicate Persephone was not happy to be "married" by Hades, others assert that she ate the pomegranate seed (or seeds) deliberately, as a way of breaking free from Mom, and that she was actually content with the final arrangement.

Sources: Wikipedia, About.com

Art by Corina Chirila



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This entry was posted on 3 April 2011 at Sunday, April 03, 2011 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the .

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