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Persephone: Queen of the Underworld

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Persephone is one of the most compelling characters in Greek mythology.

Persephone is one of the most compelling characters in Greek mythology.

Daughter, Wife and Mother of Gods

This article covers all of the known Greek mythology on Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter, and the wife of Hades, god and king of the underworld. The sections of this article are as follows.

Table of Contents

  1. Who Is Persephone in Greek Mythology?
  2. Top 10 Facts About Persephone
  3. Who Were Persephone's Parents?
  4. Who Was Persephone Married to?
  5. The Rape of Persephone
  6. What Did Hades Do to Persephone?
  7. Demeter's Search for Persephone?
  8. Did Persephone Love Hades?
  9. What Was Persephone's Role in the Story of Orpheus and Eurydice?
  10. Why Did Psyche Visit Persephone in the Underworld?
  11. What Was Persephone's Role in the Story of Theseus and Pirithous?
  12. What Was Persephone's Role in the Story of Adonis?
  13. What Was Persephone's Role in the Story of Heracles?
  14. What Was Persephone's Role in the Story of Sisyphus?
  15. What Was Persephone the God of?
  16. Who Is Persephone's Daughter?
  17. Who Is Persephone's Son?
  18. What Is the Meaning of the Name Persephone?
  19. Was Persephone Raped by Apollo?
  20. Conclusion

Who Is Persephone in Greek Mythology?

In Greek mythology, Persephone ("Proserpina," in Latin) is the daughter of Zeus, the god of gods, and Demeter, the goddess of agriculture. As the wife of Hades, king of the underworld, Persephone is considered a Greek goddess and is often coined the queen of the underworld.

In the Homeric "Hymn to Demeter," the story is told of Persephone's abduction by Hades. While picking flowers in the Vale of Nysa, she was seized by Hades and dragged down to the underworld. Upon learning of her daughter's abduction, Demeter became distraught and neglected her role as the goddess of agriculture, and widespread famine ensued.

Seeing the need to take action, Zeus tried to negotiate his daughter's return, but because Persephone had eaten the seeds of a pomegranate from the underworld, she could not be completely freed. For the rest of her life, she would be required to spend half of every year in the underworld. Thereafter, Persephone's return to the underworld accounted for the barren appearance of the Greek fields during mid-summer, when, after harvest, the crops dried up until the return of the autumnal rains.

Top 10 Facts About Persephone

  1. Persephone is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter
  2. Persephone is the wife of Hades.
  3. Persephone was raped by her father, Zeus, twice, and bore two kids by him.
  4. The name Persephone is thought to mean "destroy" and "murder."
  5. Persephone is the goddess of the spring season.
  6. Persephone was abducted by Hades while picking flowers.
  7. Persephone spends half of the year in the underworld and half of the year in the human world.
  8. Because Persephone ate six pomegranate seeds from the underworld, she is required to spend six months there.
  9. Persephone came to love her husband Hades.
  10. Persephone's mother, Demeter, is the goddess of agriculture.

Who Were Persephone's Parents?

Little is known of Persephone from the time of her birth until her fourteenth year. We know that her mother was Demeter, goddess of agriculture, and her father was Zeus, god of gods and Demeter's youngest brother.

One night, while Demeter was in bed asleep, Zeus went to her. We can only assume that she gave herself willingly to her brother that night. Persephone was conceived shortly after.

Who Was Persephone Married to?

At fourteen, Persephone, who was the joy of her mother, had reached the age of marriage. Eros, the god of love, in all his mischief, shot all of the gods with his golden arrow causing them to fall in love with the beautiful Persephone. All of the male gods then lined up for their chance of taking the hand of Demeter's daughter.

Hermes asked for her hand and offered his golden caduceus as a bridal gift. Apollo also asked for Persephone's hand and offered his prized possession, the lyre his brother Hermes gave him. Ares was willing to give up his sneaking around with Aphrodite to marry his father's daughter. He offered a spear and a cuirass, armor that covers the torso. What girl wouldn't love that? Even Hephaestus, the god of the forges, wanted to divorce his wife, Aphrodite (who was caught fooling around with his brother Ares) and threw his hat into the ring for the hand of Persephone. He offered a necklace that he had made at his forge.

Demeter was distraught over the fact that so many suitors were after her young daughter. Of all those who applied, she was especially worried about her innocent girl ending up with the crippled Hephaestus, so she went to see the astrologer, Astraeus, who was the son of the Titans Krios and Eurybia.

After hearing of Persephone's predicament, Astraeus considered Persephone's time of birth and the alignment of the planets. After his deliberation, he told Demeter that she needed to beware that her daughter's groom would steal the girl, but not before another would steal her innocence.

Demeter then devised a plan to protect her daughter. She gathered her up in her chariot and fled to Sicily. She found a cave and hid Persephone away. She spent her days there weaving as Athena had taught her. Demeter left drakons at the entryway to watch over her daughter while she returned to her duties tending the agriculture of the world. Persephone, in the meantime, took to her work without care. Little did she know that she was unable to escape the lustful eyes of the one god her mother feared the least.

The Rape of Persephone

Zeus, Persephone's father, was unable to control growing passion for his own daughter. He watched her as she worked at her spinning wheel. When she finally took a break to wash the sweat from her body at a nearby stream, Zeus was watching. He watched her undress and splash around in the water. He could not help himself. He took the form of one of the drakons Demeter had left to protect their daughter and, after putting Persephone to sleep, had his way with her.

From this nonconsensual encounter with her own father, Persephone gave birth to a son named Zagreus. The infant boy, born with the horns of the drakon, was quickly taken to Zeus's throne. He was so powerful that even as a newborn, he was able to send lightning bolts from his tiny fingers.

As with the other children her husband sired outside of their bed, Hera, Zeus's wife, was furious. Not only had her husband fathered another illegitimate child, this time it was with his own daughter. Not only that, but he had the nerve to bring the child home and sit him on his throne.

Out of spite, she allowed the Titans, having not yet been overthrown, into the throne room to see the baby. There they tricked the little one into trading his lightning bolts for toys. Once he was defenseless, they tore the baby up and sliced him to pieces.

When the Titans were gone, Athena collected the heart of tiny Zagreus and took it to her father, Zeus. He took all that remained of his beloved son and churned it into a potion. He then descended to Earth and found his latest love interest, the Theban princess Semele. Upon drinking the potion from her lover, she became pregnant with Dionysus.

Hades abducts Persephone, who was picking flowers in a field.

Hades abducts Persephone, who was picking flowers in a field.

What Did Hades Do to Persephone?

One part of Astraeus's prediction had come true. Persephone's innocence had been taken by a monster, but Demeter was still afraid that her daughter would be stolen from her.

She continued to hide the girl away from the other gods. The goddess tried to watch over her child as best she could, but she had to continue working. One day, while Demeter was gone, Persephone was left to play with the other maiden goddesses Athena and Artemis, as well as the nymph daughters of Oceanus. No one expected what would happen next.

Persephone spied the rare narcissus flower and wandered from her playmates to collect it for herself. It was not a mere coincidence that the narcissus flower was there for Persephone to see, as Zeus had placed the delicate flower there at the request of his brother Hades.

The Abduction of Persephone

Hades, the god of the underworld, had also been struck by the arrow of Eros and was in love with the fair Persephone. Knowing he had to marry his Persephone off in order to appease his wife Hera, Zeus decided that making her a queen, albeit a queen of the Underworld, was the greatest honor he could provide for her. He agreed to her marriage to Hades, but they both knew that their sister Demeter would object. It was decided between the brothers that Hades would abduct the girl and bring her to his realm.

Once Persephone was separated from the other girls, Hades split the earth in two and drove his chariot, pulled by his immortal horses of death, into the upper world. He quickly grabbed Persephone before either Athena or Artemis could move to protect her.

Persephone cried out for help, but her father Zeus, being involved in the abduction, did nothing to protect her. The young goddess Hecate heard the screaming and appeared from her cave to witness Hades riding off with the girl. Helios, the Titan of the sun who had not yet retired his post to the younger Apollo, had also witnessed the abduction. Persephone did not stop her cries for help as long as the sunlight was upon her face, and just before her capturer descended with her to the Underworld, her mother heard her cries.

Demeter quickly returned to the fields where she left her daughter, but Persephone was gone. The goddess cried out in fury that the second part of the prophecy had now come true. She cried out to Zeus to help her find her daughter, but Zeus ignored her cries since he was involved in the abduction. For nine days, Demeter would search for her daughter, but during that time, much would happen to the grieving mother.

During this time period, King Tantalus, the demigod son of Zeus who ruled Anatolia, threw a dinner party for the Olympians where he served his infant son Pelops as the main course.

Perhaps Demeter should have begged out of the dinner, for in her state of depression, she was the only one who ate, eating the left shoulder of the boy. Hephaestus replaced the missing body part when Zeus commanded that the boy be resurrected. It is clear, however, that in her right mind, Demeter would never have eaten the boy.

After the events of the dinner party, the goddess returned to the search for her daughter. This time she was not searching alone. Having caught wind of the situation during the dinner party, Poseidon started following his sister Demeter.

She may have given in to her brother Zeus's passions, but she did not have time to waste on Poseidon. She found a field of mares grazing in Arcadia and assumed their form to hide from her brother. Poseidon being the god of horses, however, recognized the disguise and took the form of a stallion. It was not long before he got what he was after. As a result of this nonconsensual union, the goddess of the harvest became pregnant with twins.

When the time came for her to deliver them, she gave birth to a daughter whose name was unknown for a long time except to the followers of Demeter's cult. We have since learned her name was Despoina. Her son assumed the form his parents had taken when he was conceived and was born as the immortal horse Arion.

Demeter's Search for Persephone

During her search, Demeter came upon a cottage. She realized that she had had nothing to drink during her journey, so she knocked on the door of the cottage and asked for water.

The old woman who came to the door brought her beer instead. Demeter began to drink. While she was drinking, a young boy, Ascalabus, came to the door and started laughing at the woman who was gulping down the drink. He called her greedy for the way she was consuming the entire thing so quickly. Demeter became enraged and threw the remaining drink in the boy's face, barley and all. The boy instantly stopped laughing when his face started blotching and his arms started to transform. The goddess turned him into a lizard. The old woman who had given Demeter the drink reached for the boy with tears in her eyes, but he ran into a nearby hole.

Finally, after nine days of pain and searching, young Hecate, the daughter of Asteria and Perseus, went to Demeter to tell her all that she had seen. She told Demeter that she had heard Persephone's screams, but admitted that she did not see who took the young girl. She thought there might be someone else who did. Hecate then lead Demeter to Helios, the Titan of the sun.

Helios, upon hearing the sad tale of Demeter, told her that since he is the sun, he sees all, including what had happened to Persephone. What he told her, however, not only shocked the goddess but filled her with more anger than she had ever felt. Hades had taken her daughter, and Zeus had helped him.

Demeter left her meeting with Helios and Hecate and went straight to Zeus where she scolded him. She demanded that he bring their daughter back but Zeus refused. He had given Hades permission to marry Persephone, and he was not going back on it.

Demeter Becomes a Nurse

Demeter now had no choice. Zeus was not going to help her get her daughter back, and she could not go to the Underworld and retrieve her. All she had left was her sorrow. She fled to Eleusis and hid in a cave. Then, she travelled from town to town disguising herself as an old woman. One afternoon, she was sitting near a well in Eleusis when four girls came to draw water for their mother. Not recognizing the goddess, they asked about her well-being. The girls were the daughters of a man named Keleos, and his daughters were Kallidike, Kleisidike, Demo, and Kallithoe. Demeter decided to tell them who she was and why she was there, but she didn't tell them the truth.

She told the girls that she had been taken by pirates who had intended to sell her into slavery, but she managed to escape. Now, she was here in Eleusis looking for someone that would take her into their home where she could be a house cleaner or a nurse. Kallidike told her that there were many honorable families in town, and any of them would take the old woman in. If she would stay where she was, they would go ask their father to accept the old woman into their home, as their mother had recently given birth to a son and could use the help of a nursemaid. Demeter agreed to wait, and soon the girls returned to bring the old woman to their mother, Metaneira.

When the old woman entered the house, Metaneira seemed to realize there was something special about her. She quickly rose and offered the stranger her seat, but Demeter refused to take it. When another seat was brought forth, the old woman took a seat and sat in silence. She was offered wine, but refused to drink it and asked only for water mixed with meal and mint. Metaneira then told the old woman that she was too noble to work for her. Demeter insisted that Meteneira was the noble one, and that she would be honored to help her raise her son. Demeter then took the infant into her arms, and he grew content to stay there.

Demeter knew she could do much more than just help raise the boy, whose name was Demophoon. She had the power to make him immortal, and that is what she set out to do. She cared for him in a normal fashion when people were around, but in secret, she covered the boy in ambrosia. At night, she placed Demophoon in the fire to burn away his earthly restraints. (This was the same process that would later be used by Thetis to try to save her son Achilles from the possibility of death.)

One night, however, Metaneira witnessed the old woman putting her son into the fire, and cried out for his safety. Demeter was upset at being caught. She would not be allowed to continue her duties or provide immortality to the boy she had grown so close to.

Out of anger, Demeter threw the boy to the ground. She then scolded the family, telling them they had no idea what they have or do not have in life. She could have given their son immortality, but now he is doomed to die. She continued by telling them that if they built a temple to her and made sacrifice, she would teach them her secrets and favor them with her blessings. At this, Demeter removed her disguise and revealed that she was in fact the goddess of the harvest. As the girls rushed to their brother who was lying on the floor, they found that no one could comfort him. He only wanted to be held by Demeter.

The girls soon told their father Keleos all that the goddess had said. He quickly gathered the men of the town including Triptolemos, a young boy of the town who, in sickness, was nursed by the breast of the goddess and instantly became a healthy grown man. They built a temple and altar to Demeter. Every man gave sacrifice to the goddess, and she made the sight the home of her permanent cult. Triptolemus was then taught by the goddess and became the first priest of her temple at Eleusis.

For a year, Demeter kept herself hidden away in Eleusis. All the while, no plants were growing around the world. The mortals were not able to eat or make sacrifices to the other gods. Everyone, mortal and god alike, was praying to Zeus to relieve their suffering, to make Demeter favor the harvest once again. Zeus finally knew he had to do something, so he sent Iris, goddess of the rainbow and a messenger, to find Demeter and arrange a meeting with him on Mt. Olympus. Iris followed Zeus's orders and sped down to Eleusis. She gave Demeter the message and begged her to obey the god of the gods, but Demeter refused.

Zeus then told the gods to go to his sister in Eleusis themselves to talk her into allowing the seeds to grow once again. Each of them went to Demeter and begged her to return to work. The people were starving without her. One by one she refused, telling them she would not return to Olympus until she had her daughter Persephone. The gods then returned to Zeus and pleaded with him to return Persephone to her mother. The king of the gods knew he had no choice, he sent Hermes to the underworld to bring his daughter home.

King and Queen of the Underworld Hades and Persephone sitting on their thrones.

King and Queen of the Underworld Hades and Persephone sitting on their thrones.

Did Persephone Love Hades?

Meanwhile, in the underworld, Hades had offered Persephone all the riches he had to offer if she would only stay and love him. In time, the girl did come to love her husband, though she did miss her mother and the flowers of the world above. During her time with Hades, she bore him a daughter, Melinoe, goddess of ghosts and nightmares (although, according to Greek mythology, Melinoe is in fact Zeus's daughter, as he was disguised as Hades during the time of conception). The baby girl was born with one side of her body colored black in honor of her father, and one side of her body colored white in honor of her mother. Their time together was not complete bliss, however.

Before falling in love with Persephone, Hades had kept another lover in the underworld. Her name was Mint, and when Hades cast her from his bed back into the world above, she was unhappy to have lost her place. She told anyone who would listen that Hades would be back for her. He would grow tired of the silly girl and send her back to her mother because she, Mint, was more beautiful and nobler than Persephone. When word of the woman's comments reached Demeter, the goddess found her and stomped her to death, creating the plant that bears her name today. Apparently, this had happened before the goddess Demeter went to Eleusis, as she asked for mint in her drink.

The Eating of the Pomegranate Seeds

What happened next, however, differs depending on who is telling the tale. Some say that Hades tricked Persephone when he learned that Hermes was being sent to retrieve the girl. Others say that Persephone, looking for a way to stay with her husband, took matters into her own hands. Still, others say it was a simple accident.

Whatever the case, Persephone picked a pomegranate from the garden her loving husband had planted for her just outside of their palace. She had eaten no food from the underworld in her time there, but on this day, she ate six seeds from the fruit.

When Hermes arrived to return his father's daughter to her mother Demeter, the truth came out about what Persephone had done. Zeus now had a dilemma, as it was common knowledge that anyone who consumed food from the underworld was doomed to remain there for all eternity. But if he did not return Persephone, Demeter would starve the world.

Zeus finally came up with an answer. Since Persephone had eaten six seeds, she would spend six months of each year with her husband in the underworld, and the other six with her mother in the world above. Hades was not happy with this solution, nor was Demeter, but each accepted the terms as the only way to make peace between the gods.

The Return of Persephone

Hermes then brought Persephone back to the world above. Demeter was so happy when her daughter was returned to her that she allowed the plants to grow and bear fruit. The plants continued to grow during the six months the mother and daughter were together.

During the six months each year that Persephone spends with her husband, the Earth lies barren. Persephone then became the goddess of springtime as well as the queen of the underworld, since her return each year marked the start of the growing season.

Demeter and Persephone returned to Eleusis where they joined Despoina in building the cult of followers they would maintain for centuries to come.

Hermes returns Persephone to her mother, Demeter.

Hermes returns Persephone to her mother, Demeter.

What Was Persephone's Role in the Story of Orpheus and Eurydice?

Each year, Persephone returned to her husband in the underworld and resumed her role as queen, and there are many times when she made an impact on decisions regarding the dead. One such story involves the fate of Orpheus, who lost the love of his life, Eurydice, to a snake bite.

Eurydice and Orpheus were newlyweds and very much in love, but one day she was chased by a satyr and fell into a pit of vipers. Before her husband could find her, she had gone to meet Charon the ferryman, who carried the souls of the deceased to the underworld.

Orpheus did the only thing he could: He went to the Underworld and begged for her return. For most people, this would be a waste of time, but Orpheus had a special talent as the son of Calliope, the muse of music. He was personally taught to play the lyre by Apollo, and he was exceptionally good.

When he reached the underworld, he lulled Cerberus, the multi-headed dog that guarded the gates of the underworld, to sleep with his music. Then, he found the king and queen and begged for their understanding.

After informing them that his wife's death had been a terrible mistake, Hades was unmoved. After all, everyone who loses a loved one claims the same thing. But as Orpheus played his lyre, both Hades and Persephone were moved to tears by the beauty of his playing. He began to sing, and the spirits of the dead began to gather around. One of these was his own dear wife, Eurydice.

Persephone was so touched by the music and the love between the pair that she pleaded with her husband to let the two of them be together. Uncharacteristically, Hades agreed, but only under the condition that Orpheus was to leave the underworld just as he had entered and to trust that Eurydice was following close behind him. If he doubted Hades and turned to look back, Eurydice would be returned to the underworld forever.

Orpheus agreed and set off back the way he came, but, of course, the further he traveled into the world above, the more he worried that his wife was not behind him. Just before he reached the world above, he turned to make certain she was there. She was, but just as his eyes gazed upon her, she slipped back into the underworld just as Hades had warned that she would. He begged to return once more to speak with Persephone, but Charon refused to let him cross. He sat down on the bank of the River Styx for seven days and cried.

Psyche obtaining the Elixir of Beauty from Persephone.

Psyche obtaining the Elixir of Beauty from Persephone.

Why Did Psyche Visit Persephone in the Underworld?

Another instance of Persephone in her role of queen of the underworld involved the young Psyche, who had been sent by her mother-in-law Aphrodite to obtain some beauty cream from the queen of the dead.

Psyche was being punished for loving Eros. While disobeying him, she looked upon his face and burned it in the process. Persephone took the box Aphrodite had sent and had something placed inside, but when curiosity got the better of Psyche, she found that within the box was the sleep of death. Not to worry, Eros's love revived the girl and Zeus allowed them to be married a second time. He even turned Psyche into a goddess.

What Was Persephone's Role in the Story of Theseus and Pirithous?

Another story of Queen Persephone involved two kings, one from Lapiths in Thessaly, and the other from Athens in Attica. The two men, Pirithous and Theseus, set out to obtain daughters of Zeus for their wives. Theseus wanted Helen of Sparta as his queen, and Pirithous wanted Persephone to share his throne in Lapiths.

It was not very difficult to kidnap the thirteen-year-old Helen. After all, Sparta was just another city in Greece. The difficult part would be taking Persephone. They kept Helen with Theseus's mother and set out for the underworld to kidnap Persephone. Arriving there, they sat down to rest. When it was time to continue, however, they were not able to stand. When they noticed the Furies flying overhead, they knew they had been caught. Hades had both of them chained to a rock by the River Lethe.

What Was Persephone's Role in the Story of Adonis?

Smyrna was the daughter of Theias, the Assyrian king, and as many beautiful women were known to do, she ran afoul of Aphrodite.

In order to punish her, Aphrodite caused her to fall in love with her own father. Although it was apparently fine for Zeus to mate with his daughter, the same was not the case for a mortal, even a king.

After Smyrna snuck into her father's bedroom and lay with him, he learned of her depravity and was devastated. After giving birth to a boy, Smyrna was turned into a myrtle tree, while her father killed himself for what he had done, despite being unaware of it at the time. The baby, Adonis, was now abandoned, but he was so beautiful that Aphrodite fell desperately in love with him.

She feared what might happen to the orphaned boy, so the goddess of love took the boy to Persephone and begged her to raise him in the underworld. Persephone agreed, but as the boy grew, she was also taken by his beauty. When Aphrodite returned sometime later to collect the boy, Persephone refused to give him up to her rival.

The goddesses got into such a terrible disagreement that Zeus himself had to moderate. He thought back to how he had settled the dispute between his brother and sister over Persephone, then decided that Adonis would spend four months of the year with Persephone, and four months with Aphrodite. Since he was not a slave, he would have four months on his own to spend however he chose. Eventually, Adonis fell in love with Aphrodite and decided to attach his four months to hers, allowing them to spend eight months of the year together.

But then Adonis was killed by a wild boar. Why this happened is highly disputed, but when you consider that he was having an affair with Aphrodite, and the boar is Ares's sacred animal, it doesn't take much to put two and two together. The version that makes the boar Ares in disguise makes the most sense since he would want to kill his rival.

Aphrodite grieving the Death of Adonis.

Aphrodite grieving the Death of Adonis.

What Was Persephone's Role in the Story of Heracles?

Heracles's twelfth labor took him into the underworld to retrieve the multi-headed guard dog Cerberus. When he entered Hades's palace, Persephone welcomed him with open arms. As they were both the children of Zeus, she called him brother. Some say she hugged him so hard that she broke his ribs, which is interesting considering this is Heracles we are talking about. She was ready to give him anything he asked for.

When he asked to take Cerberus to the above world, Persephone agreed. However, the dog was her husband's, and she needed to ask his permission before giving it away. She sweet-talked Hades into helping her brother. Hades told Heracles that if he could overpower and control the dog with his bare hands, he could take him. Persephone also agreed to let her brother return Theseus to the above world.

Heracles managed to pull Theseus free from a rock, though he could not free Pirithous who had sought to kidnap Persephone. Despite Hades's doubts that it could be done, Heracles also overpowered Cerberus and took both the dog and the king of Athens to the world above. He quickly returned Cerberus, however, after proving his point.

Sisyphus pushing a rock up a hill as punishment.

Sisyphus pushing a rock up a hill as punishment.

What Was Persephone's Role in the Story of Sisyphus?

One additional story that involved Queen Persephone shows that she could be fooled.

Sisyphus was the king of Ephyra, and he was not the nicest of people. In fact, he loved to kill people. Eventually, Zeus had had enough of this behavior and ordered Thanatos, the god of death, to chain the Sisyphus in Tartarus. Thanatos is not easily deceived, but Sisyphus was extremely crafty and devious. He pretended to be curious as to how the chains worked. When Thanatos showed him, he turned the tables on the god and chained Thanatos instead. With the god of death chained, mortals could no longer die and Sisyphus simply walked back to Ephyra to resume his life. (Ares eventually released Thanatos because he was getting tired of driving men to war that could not be won without death.)

Now that death was possible again, Hades ordered Sisyphus returned to the underworld. But before he died, Sisyphus instructed his wife to toss his body into the main concourse of the city and leave him lying there. This gave Thanatos a problem once Sisyphus arrived at Hades's doorstep.

Some, probably Persephone's followers, say that Sisyphus pleaded with Hades to allow him to return to his kingdom just long enough to scold his wife for not providing him with a proper burial. Others, probably Hades, say that Sisyphus complained to Persephone that his dying a second time was a mistake, and he had to be returned.

Regardless of which of them allowed him to leave, he got away a second time, but it would not last. Hermes was sent to retrieve the trickster for a third time, and since it was the god of tricks bringing him to the underworld this time, there would be no getting away.

Sisyphus was sentenced to the punishment of pushing a boulder up a hill every day. Once he reached the top, the boulder would roll back down and he would have to start over again. He would continue this cycle for eternity.

Persephone and Spring

Persephone is the Greek goddess of the spring season. This is because Persephone spends a portion of the year in the underworld and a portion of the year in the human world. Persephone's return each year marks the beginning of spring when the plants and crops begin to grow again.

Persephone's role as the goddess of spring has a lot to do with her mother, Demeter, who is the goddess of agriculture. When Demeter was abducted by Hades, her mother was so distraught she stopped initiating the harvest season. Thus, the world was barren and no crops grew. But when Demeter was returned to her mother, life returned to the country in the form of bountiful crops and gardens, giving the people food again so they could feed themselves and their livestock and offer sacrifices to the gods.

Who Is Persephone's Daughter?

The goddess of ghosts and the bringer of nightmares, Melinoe is said to be the daughter of Persephone and Hades, but her true father is Zeus.

Zeus came to Persephone in the form of Hades, and from that, Melinoe was conceived.

Melinoe is generally described as having a pale complexion and being "clothed in saffron," an attribute given to her and the goddess of magic Hecate. Melinoe is also considered the moon goddess and is described as "half black and half white" to represent the duality between Zeus (god of gods) and Hades (god of the underworld).

Who Is Persephone's Son?

Zagreus is the son of Persephone and her father Zeus. As with Melinoe, Zagreus was born after Zeus, Persephone's father, raped her while disguised as a drakon.

The infant boy was taken to Zeus's throne, but Hera, Zeus's wife, was furious and had the boy sliced to pieces by a group of Titans. Athena, finding the remnants of the boy, took them to her father Zeus. He took what remained of his son and churned his body parts into a potion. Descending to Earth with the potion, he gave it to his latest love interest, the Theban princess Semele. Upon drinking the potion, she became pregnant with Dionysus.

What Is the Meaning of the Name Persephone?

The meaning of the name Persephone (classical Greek pronunciation, PER-SE-PO-NE) is unknown. However, the name is likely related to the Greek περθω (pertho) meaning "destroy," and φονη (phone) meaning "murder."

Was Persephone Raped by Apollo?

No, Persephone was not raped by Apollo. Apollo was merely an interested suitor when Persephone became of age and was actively looking for a husband.

But Persephone was raped by her father not once, but two times. In both occurrences, she bore a child. Her first child was the boy Zagreus. Her second was the girl Melinoe.

A Fascinating Goddess

Queen Persephone, from her birth as a young goddess, lived a life of privilege, but she was also very sheltered by her parents.

Eventually, she found a loving husband who allowed her to be a part of his world and share his power, though she did not let her rule over death deter her warm and friendly disposition.

Somehow, Persephone blended death and life in a well-balanced fashion, capturing the hearts of ancient Greeks along the way.

© 2014 Anita Smith


Raz on May 11, 2020:

This is disgusting. She got abducted by Hades and you ask us who she should have chosen as a suitor? Is this the only question that could have been thought of? Talk about sexist

Mayrewq on January 16, 2019:

Actually, those were originally the children of Hades and Persephone.

And Persephone is actually a faithful wife and so is Hades, since the so-called “Greek” tales that claim otherwise are Roman fabrications. Not actual Greek tales.

braelyn on October 17, 2018:

what is her real age