Persephone is the goddess of spring and summer, and the Queen of the Underworld. She is often pictured with pomegranate seeds and deer.
Persephone was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter. She was beautiful and joyful, and was often out in the fields picking flowers and enjoying nature. One day, she was picking narcissus flowers by the water’s edge when a great chariot raced out of the earth, carrying Hades. Hades stopped just long enough to grab Persephone and throw her into his chariot. The earth opened again and the chariot disappeared into the Underworld.
Persephone was so depressed when she reached the Underworld that she refused to eat or drink. However, as time went on, Hades began to win her over, and she became accustomed to her surroundings. Yet, she knew that how she was taken was wrong, and she knew her mother would be worried sick about her, so she continued her fast. Meanwhile, Demeter was so enraged at her daughter’s kidnapping that she went to Zeus, but found he had a new thunderbolt, courtesy of Hades. Demeter refused to allow anything to grow, causing famine on the earth below. Zeus finally persuaded his brother to allow Persephone to leave on one condition: that she hadn’t eaten anything while in the Underworld. Unfortunately, just that morning she quickly snuck six pomegranate seeds when no one was looking. Zeus pronounced that Persephone must spend six months in the Underworld, and she can spend the other six on earth. During her time in the Underworld, Demeter does not allow vegetation to grow as she anxiously awaits her daughter’s return. This accounts for the four seasons each year, and the spring and summer vegetation upon Persephone’s return.
The Sirens were supposed to be Persephone’s protectors, but after her kidnapping, Demeter cursed them and banished them to the sea. Their songs often include lyrics of lament and longing for Persephone to return to earth.
Zeus and Demeter
Be sure to check out the lesson plans on the Olympians!
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