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Persephone



Other names: Persephonia, Phersephone, Persephassa, Phersephatta, Persephone Soteira and Persephone Despoena, Proserpine, Proserpina. Persephone means either "Dazzling Brilliance" or "Destroyer of Light"

Also Called: Kore, the Maiden, the Mistress, the Iron Queen, the Pale Queen, etc.

Parents: Usually Zeus and Demeter. (with Demeter as his forth consort) Occasionally Zeus and Styx or Poseidon and Demeter

Children: None. In some stories she and Zeus are the parents of Zaegrus or Dionysius. In several stories she rasises Dionysius, and in many she gives some care to Adonis when he is young. In most stories Persephone is barren.

Spouse: Hades. Occasionally she is also the consort of Adonis, Zeus, and/or Dionysius.

Important other relations: Identified with the Roman Goddess Libera, the consort of Liber Pater (a vaugely Dionysius like figure) Also mistaken for the Roman Goddess Libitina, the Goddess of funerals. Anytime anyone died, someone had to take a coin to her temple. Persephone is also mistaken for/associated with Hecate, the Goddess of Witchcraft and magic. Hesiod thinks very highly of her, and gives her the ability to grant almost anyone's wishes. She is pictured usually with her mother, Demeter, or her husband, Hades. She also has some connections with Dionysius, Hera, and Aphrodite. She is refered to as "Juno of the nether worlds", and as reigning "second only to Juno" (another name for Hera). She argues with Aphrodite over Adonis (who they both want as a lover), and wins him for a third of the year. The two women share a pomegranant (also a symbol of Hera and Aphrodite) over the decision.

Symbols: Bat, the narcissus, the poppy, the white rose, the pomegranate, young grain, flowers, mint, poplars, aconite, etc.

Major Stories: Persephone's biggest story is that of her marriage. She is kidnapped by Hades, and brought to the underworld to become his queen. Her mother, Demeter, became furious, and refused to let anything grow on earth until her daughter was returned to her. Eventually Zeus was compelled to ask Hades to return Persephone, which he did on the condition that she had eaten nothing in the underworld. She had eaten a number of pomegranant seeds, so she was forced to dwell in the underworld for one half or one third of the year. (see Stories)

She is also briefly seen in Orpheus and Euridice where she is made to sob by Orpheus' song, and begs Hades to release Euridice.

She appears often in Hercules. She welcomes him when he appears in the underworld on his twelvth labor, and asks Hades to let Hercules have Cerebrus. She also deals with him again in regards to Alcetis, who, in some stories she sets free after death. (Beautiful women should not die for selfish husbands! Go home!) In other stories, Hades frees Alcetis (who died for her husband) with a pointed remark that "She was a good, loving wife" (a jab at Persephone).

Speaking of Hercules, while in the underworld he tries to save his friends Theseus and Peirithous who were there for trying to kidnap Persephone.

Persephone argues with Aphrodite over the love of a young man in Adonis. Both win a third of the year with him, until Ares kills him off. (Now, why is it that neither of their husbands seemed to care about this?)

Persephone appears again with Aphrodite (Venus) when she sends her daughter-in-law to the underworld to ask for some of Persephone's beauty. When Psyche (the daughter-in-law) opens the box that Persephone gives her, she falls into a coma.

Persephone also has a tale about what happened to Homer after he died. Apparently he had written a hymn for every Goddess but Persephone, and she was quite determined that she would get one now. The bard wroter her hymn, and it was sent into someone's dream. According to the story I read (I believe the hymn was lost), it was by far the greatest of Homer's hymns.

Persephone appears in Orphism as the mother of Zagreus-Dionyisus. She (as Kore) plays a Virgin Mary like role as she gives birth to the divine savior who is killed by the forces of evil (the Titians) at the usually jealous Hera's command.

Hera and Persephone may have had a few other problems. In one story, Hera banish's Orion's bride, Pomegranate for being more beautiful than her. Many scholars believe that it is a verision of the Persephone myth.

For better descriptions of these, please see Stories.

Personality: The personality of any Goddess depends on the teller. In some cases she always rather dislikes her husband, Hades, and is a very grim, queen who'd rather be doing anything other than sitting in the underworld being married to a monster. In some cases she gets to rather like her husband, and not especially mind being in the Underworld. In the most extreme case, she becomes so infatuated with Hades that she demands to spend all her time with him, which rather gets rid of the cute little season story, but works well considering that all heroes meet Persephone when they descend into the Underworld. (not one sees, off for now. Come back in a season). Originally Persephone was probably only a Goddess of the Underworld and the Kore, her alterego, was only a Goddess of youth and spring. However they were probably molded together to produce a wonderful myth. Persephone is apparently very beautiful. Venus commands Psyche (it's a Roman fairy tale, therefore why use Greek names?) to gather beauty from Persephone. Perithous attempted to kidnap her, and failed. Persephone is linked both as Hera's opposite (see pomegranante from the stories section) and as Venus's opposite. She is often mistaken for Hecate, and the two probably came from similar sources. She is usually displayed in pictures with either black or blonde hair. She had "slim ankles", and her personality is usually as grim as that of her husband. She has no children in most cases, and is as faithful to her husband as he is to her. Adonis, Aphrodite's lover, interests Persephone, but aside from that she shows very little interest in philandering. Persephone is a Goddess with duality...a rare thing.

Pictures: Statue of Persephone
Statue of the Rape of Persephone

Persephone Texts: From the Lesbia Brandon
Archetypes
From Ovid's Metamorphasis
Hymn to Proserpine
Chase of the Beasts
Death on Proserpina
Demeter and Persephone
Infernal Repast
Persephone
Persephone in the Underworld
Persephone Sets the Record Straight
Proserpina
From Persephone in Hell, IV
Hades' Pitch
Weiderkehr
The Bistro Styx
The Rape of Persephone
Beyond Eternity
Persephone's Mask
Six Seeds of Seperation
Cursing Pomegranates
Hades
Modern Persephone

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