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Persephone is a figure from Greek mythology, her story being one of many examples in mythology used to explain naturally occuring phenomenon - in this instance, the change of seasons.


The Tale of Persephone's Kidnapping

As the daughter of Demeter (and, as some versions of the story argue, Zeus), she was Demeter's beloved. At that time the earth was bountiful and farmers had plenty of harvest. But Hades, the god of the underworld, became jealous and lusted after Persephone. One day as Persephone was walking, Hades rode in a chariot up through a giant crack in the earth that appeared before her feet, stealing her and taking her to the land of the dead. There, she ate the seeds of a pomegranate. Once Demeter discovered the kidnapping she searched frantically, but found Persephone too late. By eating of the fruit in the underworld Persephone had unwittingly bound herself there. In anguish Demeter dried up the bounty of the earth, and plant would grow. The people cried out to the gods for an end to the wasting of the earth and famine,and eventually intervention was made for Persephone. ALthough she could not permanently leave the underworld, Hades agreed to allow her to be on the surface for six months of the year, and then spend the remaining six months in his domain. Demeter now rejoices when her daughter is with her, and the world is in sunmer, but as the end of the six months draws close she grows sorrowful, and the world begins to die once more, entering freezing winter as Persephone rejoins her husband as Queen of the Underworld.


Linguistic History

Traditionally the name Persephone is thought to have arisen in Ionic Greek (Περσεφόνη, or "Persephónē"). Dialectal variations of her name include: Persephassa, Persephatta, and, in Roman mythology, Proserpina.


Other instances of the Queen of the Dead

Persephone appears in a few other myths, the most notable being the tale of Orpheus, where she agrees to allow Orpheus to bring his wife Eurydice back from Hades on the condition that he does not look at her throughout the entire trip back, and her striving with Aphrodite to be the lover of Adonis.


Recommended Reading

Wikipedia

[www.pantheon.org/articles/p/persephone.html]

After the Fall: The Demeter-Persephone Myth in Wharton, Cather, and Glasgow by Josephine Donovan

Gods and Heroes of the Greeks: The Library of Apollodorus by Michael Simpson, Leonard Baskin, Apollodorus;