Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Persephone and Hades

From the moment I first studied Greek mythology in middle school, I fell in love with it.  So many wonderful stories and twisted, fantastical themes.  Below, I will summarize my favorite Greek myth - the story of Hades and Persephone.  Love, abduction, incest, changing seasons...what's not to love? 

But first, some background information. 

Cronus was the leader of the Titans.  With his wife, Rhea, he fathered six children (Hades, Poseidon, Zeus, Hera, Hestia and Demeter).  Since Cronus was worried about being overthrown by his children, he ate the first five of them when they were born.  Rhea was able to trick Cronus when Zeus was born, and thus he lived into adulthood.  Zeus was able to force his father to regurgitate his siblings and together they killed him.  Now with no Cronus, there were three areas that needed to be ruled, the underworld, the air and the sea.  The three brothers, Hades, Zeus and Poseidon basically drew straws.  Zeus became ruler of the air, Poseidon was the ruler of the sea and Hades took the underworld.  The earth was not ruled by anyone, and all were free to be there.

Now on to Hades and Persephone.

One day, Persephone, the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, was picking flowers in a field with her friends.  Hades caught a glimpse of Persephone and immediately fell in love with her.  So he rode into the field and abducted her.  Hades took Persephone back to his realm, the underworld.

Demeter, goddess of the harvest, became very worried because she couldn't find her daughter.  So she went in search of her and when Demeter couldn't find Persephone, she forbid the earth to grow and live.  (Yes, this would make the season of  winter).  This eternal winter of course brought cause for alarm as it had the ability to wipe out all of humanity.  After some searching, Zeus was able to find out what happened to Demeter's daughter. 

Since no one ever returned from the underworld, Zeus made an exception (the lives of men were at stake).  As long as Persephone didn't eat anything while she was with Hades, she could return to her mother.  So of course, when Hades heard of the exception, he gave Persephone a pomegranate seed to eat, making her the queen of the underworld.  Since Persephone ate the seed, Zeus decided that she could not go back to her mother for the entire year, but she could go back for a while and then return to Hades after.

So each year when Persephone returns to the earth to be with Demeter, spring is born.  The two women love and play and are so happy that summer develops.  But soon, Demeter realizes that Persephone will need to return to Hades.  So Demeter loses a little of her happiness and leaves and flowers begin to die with the coming of fall.  When Persephone must return to the underworld, Demeter again gets so depressed that winter comes until Persephone can return to the earth.

If you know me, then I'm sure you can see why this is my favorite Greek myth.  Love and death combine in this story to create a wonderful tale that is not far off from a vampire romance.  Are you familiar with Greek myths?  Mythology from another culture?  What's your favorite myth?   

 

8 comments:

  1. I totally agree. I too love Greek Mythology and other tales from the past. I honestly believe with the birth of education we've pulled away from these great stories, but they are every where and in every ancient culture repeating themselves over and over again. There must be some truth in them, Right? I guess that's my enjoyment, trying to figure out what's the truth and what's the entertaining part. Thanks for reminding me of another great story from the past.

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    1. You're welcome, Shonda. And thanks for your comment! I think that with religions, people are always looking for ways beliefs are different. If more of those people took the time to listen, they'd understand that belief systems are not all that different after all.

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  2. I've been reading a bit of Greek Mythology lately for research (using the term loosely) for an anthology. ANYway - I'm not in agreement with the Greek God version of love. It's very unhealthy. That's what I have to say about that.

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    1. Yes Mardra, I think many people would agree with you on that one. I didn't go into it directly for this blog, but I may have had another purpose for listing all of Cronus' and Rhea's kids!

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  3. I personally love the story of Pygmaleon and Galatea. It's the one with the sculptor who tried to create the perfect woman, and fell in love with the statue he made.

    Great post! :)

    -Kimi of Geeky Chiquitas
    www.geekychiquitas.blogspot.com

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    1. I'm not as familiar with that one, but I think I have heard it at some point. Thanks for piquing my interest!

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  4. Theseus forever. He's my favorite. But I also love Pirithous! The two of them have the most excellent of bromances, and I just get this sense of their relationship as Pirithous constantly getting Theseus into trouble, and Theseus constantly having to rescue Pirithous every time he gets into something over his head. What we actually have of their story isn't that much, but it's pretty awesome all the same!

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    1. Awesome, indeed. Thanks for your comment!

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