Persephone (Greek: Περσεφόνη, transl.: Persephónē), in Greek mythology, is the goddess of herbs, flowers, fruits, and perfumes. She is the daughter of Zeus with her sister Demeter, the goddess of agriculture and the seasons; having been born after her father's marriage to Métis and before his marriage to Hera.
Raised on Mount Olympus, home of the divine nobility, Persephone was kidnapped by her uncle Hades and moved to the nether world.
Helped by her half-brother Hermes, Persephone lived half the year on Olympus during the spring and summer seasons, when she was called Cora (Koré) by the other Atonic gods. To her were consecrated the teas of plants such as rosemary and sage, as well as bees and honey.
Persephone is described as "the one with white arms" by Hesiod.
Persephone appears in the Iliad simply as the queen of the nether world and wife of Hades. The myth of her abduction was first narrated by Hesiod.
The gods, Hermes, Ares, Dionysus and Apollo all courted her. Demeter rejected all their gifts and hid her daughter away from the company of the gods.
When the signs of her great beauty and femininity began to shine through in her teens, she caught the eye of the god Hades who asked her to marry him. Zeus warned his brother that Démeter does not want any god to come near his daughter.
Hades, impatient, emerged from the earth and kidnapped her while she was picking flowers with the nymphs, among them Leucipe and Aretusa, or according to the Homeric hymns, the goddess was also with her sisters Athena and Artemis. Hades took her to his domains (the underworld or lower world), betrothed her and made her his queen.
Her mother, becoming inconsolable, devoted herself exclusively to finding her daughter, and with that: the land became barren and there was a shortage of food, and Démeter refused to eat any food and began to wither away.
Nobody wanted to tell her what had happened to her daughter, but Demeter after much searching finally found out from Hecate and Helios that the young goddess had been taken to the world of the dead, and together with Hermes, went to fetch her from the kingdom of Hades (or according to other sources, Zeus ordered Hades to return his daughter).
Since Persephone had eaten something in the meantime (six pomegranate seeds) it was concluded that she had not entirely rejected Hades.
So an agreement was made, she would spend half the year with her mother, when she would become Cora (for the Romans), the eternal teenager, and the rest with Hades, when she would become the gloomy Persephone (Proserpine, for the Romans). This myth justifies the annual cycle of the harvest.
The story of Persephone's abduction was part of the initiation rites into the mysteries of Elêusis, rites of initiation into the cult of the goddesses Demeter and Persephone, which were celebrated at Elêusis in ancient Greece.
Persephone is described as a green-eyed brunette woman, described by Opiano of Apameia, possessing a stunning beauty, with whom many men fell in love, among them, Pirit and Adonis.
Persephone was not Adonis' lover but "fell in love" with him when he was still a baby, because Aphrodite asked her to take care of him and she did not want to give him back anymore. Aphrodite becomes her rival, wants to keep the boy all the time and then, when he is a teenager, becomes Aphrodite's lover.
Hades and Persephone had a calm and loving relationship. Fights were rare, with the exception of when Hades was attracted to a nymph named Minta, and Persephone, overcome with jealousy, turned the nymph into a plant, destined to vegetate at the entrances to the caves, or, in another version, at the gateway to the realm of the dead.
Persephone interfered in Hades' decisions, always interceding on behalf of heroes and mortals, and was always willing to receive and attend to mortals who visited the realm of the dead looking for help. Despite this, the Greeks feared her and, with few exceptions, on a daily basis avoided speaking her name (Persephone) calling her the infernal Hera.
Among many rituals attributed to the entity, it is mentioned that no one could die without the queen of the world of the dead cutting the hair that connected him to life. The cult of Persephone was very developed in Sicily, she presided over funerals.
The friends or relatives of the dead would cut their hair and throw it into a bonfire in honor of the infernal goddess. Dogs were immolated to her, and the Greeks believed that Persephone made lost objects find again.
Offspring and consorts
It is told in the Orphic cults that Zeus, Persephone's father, had love with his own daughter in the form of a serpent. Information taken from ancient Greek texts, cites that Persephone had a son and a daughter with Zeus: Melinoe was of remarkable ability and Zagreu, who would be the first reincarnation of Dionysus.
Persephone, with Hades, is the mother of the Erinias, personifications of vengeance. A rare Byzantine source states that she and Hades are also the parents of Macaria, goddess of good death.
Although Persephone had several siblings by her father Zeus, such as Ares, Hermes, Dionysus, Athena, Hebe, Apollo, among others, by her mother Demeter, she had one brother, Pluto, a secondary god who presided over riches. He is a little known god, and is often confused with Pluto, the Roman god who corresponds to Hades.
He also had as sister and brother, children of his mother, a goddess named Despina and an equine named Arion. Despina was abandoned by their mother at birth.
For this reason she was jealous of the goddess of the underworld, not least because Demeter exceeded in her attentions to the queen. In response, the rejected daughter would destroy everything that Persephone and her mother loved, which would result in winter.
The queen is depicted beside her husband, on an ebony throne, holding a torch with black smoke. The poppy was dedicated to her for having served as a soothing to her mother on the occasion of her abduction. Narcissus is also dedicated to her, for she was picking this flower when she was surprised and kidnapped by Hades. Snakes were also associated with it.
Epithets and name
Persephone before she was abducted by Hades was called Cora or Coré (Koré). And, other dialects, she is known by various names: Persephassa (Περσεφάσσσα), Persephata (Περσεφάττα), Persephoneia (Περσεφονεία), Pherephapha (Pherepapha- Φερέπαφα). Her infernal name means "She who destroys light", while Koré means "virgin girl". In Rome, she had several titles including Juno (Hera) Inferna.
Persephone has many epithets, among them are:
Despina, means lady Carpophorus (Karpophoros), means fruitful Ctonic, meaning from the underworld Leptina, means destroyer Megala Thea, means great goddess
Protogoness, means firstborn Scotira, meaning savior Hagne, meaning sacred Deira, meaning wise one Praxidice, means executor of justice Epene, meaning fearful