Demeter now understood that Hades had kidnapped her daughter, and her grief turned to anger. She called Zeus and said that she would never again make earth green if he did not command Hades to return Persephone. Zeus could not let the world perish, and he sent Hermes down to Hades, bidding him to let Persephone go. Even Hades had to obey the orders of Zeus, and sadly he said farewell to his queen. Joyfully, Persephone leaped to her feet, but as she was leaving with Hermes a hooting laugh came from the garden.
There stood the gardener of Hades, grinning. He pointed to a pomegranate from which a few of the kernels were missing. Persephone, lost in thought, had eaten the seeds, he said. The dark Hades smiled. He watched Hermes lead Persephone up to the bright world above. He knew that she must return to him, for she had tasted the food of the dead.
When Persephone again appeared on earth, Demeter sprang to her feet with a cry of joy and rushed to greet her daughter. No longer was she a sad old woman, but a radiant goddess. Again, she blessed her fields and the flowers bloomed anew and the grain ripened. “Dear child,” she said, “never again shall we be parted. Together we shall make all nature bloom.” But joy soon changed to sadness, for Persephone had to admit that she had tasted the food of the dead and must return to Hades. However, Zeus decided that mother and daughter should not be parted forever. He ruled that Persephone had to return to Hades and spend one month in the underworld for each seed she had eaten.
Every year, when Persephone left her, Demeter grieved, nothing grew, and there was winter on earth. But as soon as her daughter’s light footsteps were heard, the whole earth burst into bloom. Spring had come. As long as mother and daughter were together, the earth was warm and bore fruit.
Demeter was a kind goddess. She did not want mankind to starve during the cold months of winter when Persephone was away. She lent her chariot, laden with grain, to Triptolemus, the youth who had helped her to find her lost daughter. She told him to scatter her golden grain over the world and teach men how to sow it in spring and reap it in fall and store it away for the long months when again the earth was barren and cold.
“Persephone and Demeter”Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire