Persephone’s story actually focuses more on her mother, Demeter, and what happens when Persephone disappears. The young goddess is also the daughter and niece of Zeus, and the wife and niece of Hades when she becomes the queen of the Underworld.
Daughter of Demeter
Persephone is truly a child of nature because she is the daughter of the goddess of the harvest. Her mother is affectionately know as Mother Nature. Persephone is the living image of youth, beauty and life. It isn’t long before she draws the attention of the king of the dead – Hades. While picking flowers one day she found the most beautiful and sweet-smelling blooms she has ever experienced. As she attempts to gather them a great chasm opens in the earth and Hades appears, riding on his monstrous chariot pulled by magnificent black stallions. He gathers her in his arms and sweeps her away to the depths of the kingdom of the dead.
Demeter looks everywhere for her child, causing mayhem and destruction as far as she goes. At first Zeus does not see the need the confront Hades but when Demeter’s terrible sadness causes the earth to start to die he knew that he must talk to Hades. He requests Hades to let Persephone go but there was more to the problem that meets the eye.
The underworld has a rule that if a mortal consume anything while there the mortal cannot leave – and Persephone has swallowed several pomegranate seeds. Zeus usually keeps to the rules but this time the world’s fate is in peril. So he decrees that Demeter and Hades must share Persephone. They each get six months of the year with her.
When Hermes guides her out of the underworld and back to her mother, the earth begins to thaw. The earth experiences spring and summer while Persephone and Demeter are together. While she is with Hades, the earth feels Demeter’s lament during autumn and winter. There is also a story about these two seasons that concerns Persephone as the queen of the Underworld.
Queen of the Underworld
While Persephone is more reasonable and compassionate than her fierce, but fair husband, she causes conflict when she does a favor for Aphrodite. Apparently the goddess of love has fallen with the beautiful youth Adonis. Aphrodite gives him to Persephone for safekeeping, but the goddess falls in love with him herself. When she refuses to give him up, Zeus must again intervene with a similar resolution. The two goddesses must share him for six months out of the year, with Persephone claiming him during the autumn and the winter.
Adonis was the mortal lover of the goddess Aphrodite in Greek mythology. In Ovid‘s first-century AD telling of the myth, he was conceived after Aphrodite cursed his mother Myrrha to lust after her own father, King Cinyras of Cyprus. Myrrha had sex with her father in complete darkness for nine nights, but he discovered her identity and chased her with a sword. The gods transformed her into a myrrh tree and, in the form of a tree, she gave birth to Adonis. Aphrodite found the infant and gave him to be raised by Persephone, the queen of the Underworld. Adonis grew into an astonishingly handsome young man, causing Aphrodite and Persephone to feud over him, with Zeus eventually decreeing that Adonis would spend one third of the year in the Underworld with Persephone, one third of the year with Aphrodite, and the final third of the year with whomever he chose. Adonis chose to spend his final third of the year with Aphrodite.
In ancient Greek religion and mythology, Demeter is the goddess of the grain, agriculture, harvest, growth, and nourishment, who presided over grains and the fertility of the earth.
Though Demeter is often described simply as the goddess of the harvest, she presided also over the sacred law, and the cycle of life and death. She and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries, a religious tradition that predated the Olympian pantheon, and which may have its roots in the Mycenaean period c. 1400–1200 BC. Demeter was often considered to be the same figure as the Anatolian goddess Cybele, and in Rome she was identified as the Latin goddess Ceres.
Hades in the ancient Greek religion and myth, is the god of the dead and the king of the underworld, with which his name became synonymous. Hades was the eldest son of Cronus and Rhea, although the last son regurgitated by his father. He and his brothers, Zeus and Poseidon, defeated their father’s generation of gods, the Titans, and claimed rulership over the cosmos. Hades received the underworld, Zeus the sky, and Poseidon the sea, with the solid earth, long the province of Gaia, available to all three concurrently. Hades was often portrayed with his three-headed guard dog Cerberus.
Zeus is the sky and thunder god in ancient Greek religion, who rules as king of the gods of Mount Olympus. His name is cognate with the first element of his Roman equivalent Jupiter. His mythologies and powers are similar, though not identical, to those of Indo-European deities such as Jupiter, Perkūnas, Perun, Indra and Thor.
Zeus is the child of Cronus and Rhea, the youngest of his siblings to be born, though sometimes reckoned the eldest as the others required disgorging from Cronus’s stomach. In most traditions, he is married to Hera, by whom he is usually said to have fathered Ares, Hebe, and Hephaestus. At the oracle of Dodona, his consort was said to be Dione, by whom the Iliad states that he fathered Aphrodite. Zeus was also infamous for his erotic escapades.
He was respected as an allfather who was chief of the gods and assigned the others to their roles: “Even the gods who are not his natural children address him as Father, and all the gods rise in his presence.” He was equated with many foreign weather gods, permitting Pausanias to observe “That Zeus is king in heaven is a saying common to all men”. Zeus’ symbols are the thunderbolt, eagle, bull, and oak. Zeus is frequently depicted by Greek artists in one of two poses: standing, striding forward with a thunderbolt leveled in his raised right hand, or seated in majesty.
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