The myth of Demeter (Demetra) and Persephone is one of the most interesting in Greek mythology, showing the strong bond between mothers and daughters. It’s also an effort to explain, through mythology, the origin of the seasons. At its core, this is a rather dark mythological story involving an abduction and most likely a rape.
Who is Persephone?
Persephone is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, goddess of the earth. Persephone, as a vegetation goddess, and her mother Demeter were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries, which promised the initiated a more enjoyable prospect after death.
Who is Hades?
Hades is the brother of Zeus and god of the underworld.
What did Hades do to Persephone?
Hades abducted the young goddess Persephone one day as she was gathering flowers by a stream. Demeter went in search of her daughter, but she was unable to find her. Demeter’s grief causes the earth to die – crops fail, and famine comes upon the land. Zeus intervenes and commands Hades to return Persephone. Reluctant to release her, Hades forces Persephone to eat a pomegranate seed, food of the dead. As a result, she can spend only six months out of the year with her mother; the other six months she is destined to spend in the realm of Hades.
To the Greeks, the return of Persephone from the underworld symbolized the return of life in the spring. Each spring, as the earth returned to life, some Greeks observed a sacred ritual in which the story of Demeter and Persephone was enacted.