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The Myth of Hades and Persephone: The Origins of the Seasons

The Myth of Hades and Persephone: The Origins of the Seasons

Hades is the god and ruler of the Underworld he is the elder brother of Zeus and Poseidon and the younger brother of Hestia, Demeter and Hera. Son of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. After the Titanomachy, the divine war between the gods and the Titans, the three brothers took in to their rule the realms. Zeus got the sky, Poseidon the sea and Hades took the underworld.

Hades was serious about his job and duties and rarely visited the land of the living and Olympus. His seat on Olympus was always empty.

Here I want to narrate to you the love story of Persephone and Hades. There are some different versions of them and I will explain one of them, which is well known and personally my favorite.

Persephone’s Abduction

We start with Persephone. She is the goddess of Spring with her beaty only rivaled by Aphrodite. She is the daughter of Demeter and Zeus. Persephone was a cheerful soul and everyone on Olympus adored her. But Demeter wished her daughter to stay pure and maintain her virginity like the goddesses Athena, Artemis and Hestia. This annoyed Aphrodite as she did not wish to have Persephone out of her influence, so she schemed a plan.

Hades and Persephone ChriStories Blog Mythology post

The God of the Underworld Hades was too out of the influence of Aphrodite. He was always focused on his work and duties as the ruler of the realm of the dead. One time there was a great disturbance in his domain from a vibration of the living world above his. He went above to check it. A Volcano was erupting, but when he entered the living realm, he heard a voice singing. It was Persephone, laying in the woods. Aphrodite then did not miss her chance!

She had her son Eros hit Hades with one of his love-arrows. That way Aphrodite would take under her influence two gods at the same time. Hades’s interest for Persephone instantly became love after Eros’s arrow struck him. He started flirting with her, but she was distant and afraid of his presence as the lord of the dead. Hades did not hesitate and abducted her into his domain.

Demeter’s agony

Hades and Persophone myth, Demeter agony

There he tried to make her feel welcome and tried to support all of her needs. No one can tell but in time, Persephone fell in love for the God of the Dead as well. He was not a cruel husband to her by any means. He was gentle, supportive and made her the Queen of the Underworld!

Demeter was not so happy as them though. She could not find her daughter anywhere. She searched for her endlessly and ignored her duties as the goddess of the earth’s fertility. Doing so, the land of the living was perishing as the humans could not harvest the land. The human realm was crumbling and Zeus commanded her to not ignore her tasks, but she commanded in return to find her missing daughter. She pleaded Helios, the god of the Sun to look for her as he was always present in the daylight and could see everything that happened.

Helios confessed to Demeter that he had seen Hades abducting her daughter, and she is now in the underworld, but he tried to comfort her. Hades is not an unsuitable son-in-law among the gods, as the Lord of the many dead and Demeter’s own brother. But Demeter’s heart was already broken and never-ending winter, cold and frost ruled the human realm. The humans were starving and fighting for survival, praying to the gods.

Deal between Zeus and Hades

Zeus heard their prayers and commanded his son Hermes to send a message to his brother Hades, asking for a deal. Hermes as the only god knowing his way to the realm of the Dead swiftly appeared before Hades and delivered the message. Hades was not cruel; he did not wish others to suffer for what he did. So, he accepted the deal only with the term that Persephone would return to the Underworld again! He asked Persephone to eat the Pomegranate that grew in the underworld

Hades and Persophone in Underworld throne, ChriStories Blog

By eating fruit that grows in the underworld, it bounded Persephone to the realm. That way Hades could summon Persephone to him.

When exiting the Underworld Persephone rushed to Demeter’s hug. They cheerfully embraced each other, while Spring arrived to the human realm and the winters cold faded away.

The deal Hades and Zeus agreed upon, was for three quarters of the year Persephone would be allowed to roam into the land of the living. That period Demeter was happy and looked after the earth and performed her duties. But for the one quarter that Persephone had to enter the Underworld, Demeter was devasted and ignored her tasks, making the land hostile and cold.

The Seasons, and the meaning of the myth

This is how the seasons were created.

Winter: the period when Persephone was at the underworld and Demeter’s sadness made the earth cold.

Spring: the period when Persephone, the goddess of Spring arrived the living world.

Summer: the period when the first Pomegranates are starting to appear, around the month of August, reminding Persephone of her return to the underworld.

Autumn: the period when Persephone and Demeter bit their farewells as she is ready to enter back in the Underworld and her husband.

Myth Synopsis, Hades love story

There are other versions of this story. One of them suggests that Hades and Zeus had made a deal before any events. Zeus gave Hades a wife as a gift, his daughter Persephone. There are others that suggest Aphrodite took no part in Hades and Persephone love-story. But in all of them, non suggest that Hades was cruel nor bad husband to Persephone. He truly loved her and when she was at the Underworld, she was basically ruling, as the Queen of the dead and Hades followed her every command and wish.

The story is a metaphor for the cycle of life and death, as well as the changing of the seasons. The abduction of Persephone represents the descent into the underworld, and her return to the land of the living symbolizes the emergence of spring. The agreement between Hades and Zeus for Persephone to spend part of the year in the underworld and part of the year on earth explains why we have four seasons.

It is interesting to note that the story has many variations, depending on the region and time period in which it is told. The role of Demeter, for example, varies greatly in different versions of the myth. In some versions, she is an angry and vengeful goddess, while in others she is a sympathetic mother searching for her lost daughter.

Regardless of the variations, the story of Persephone and Hades remains a powerful and enduring myth that continues to captivate and inspire people around the world.

Myth Saturday

Me and Spyros had an idea, we love mythology and we are constantly talking about them, the stories that inspired traditions and ancient religions. As Greeks, we have a personal experience with the ancient Greek Mythology, so do expect more of them for sure! Every Saturday we will narrate a myth for you, with its purpose and explanation, as well with our personal opinion and thoughts about it.

Not to mention that Spyros’s own book “The Argive: Gates of Hades” is taking a lot of mythological facts in its story!

This was the love story, of my favorite god, Hades with his wife Persephone. Hades is vastly known in stories, books, movies as the bad guy. Personally, I never understood why to be honest. He is strict but not cruel. He is a justful God that performs his duty and extremely hard tasks. Death frightens all, maybe that is why Hades is portraited as a villain. But evil he is not, I believe he is the most misunderstood God in the Greek Pantheon, much like Hel in the Norse myths.

Not to forget to mention the Youtube channel of “See you in History/Mythology”, it has great content with awesome art followed by a narration of the myth. This channel inspired me to do my own research in the stories of mythology and much more. We hope to create this type of content in our Youtube channel as well in the near future.

Story- Analysis

Explore more stories, myths, books, movies and much more in the Story Analysis Section!

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