The Myth of Hades and Persephone

The myth of Hades and Persephone is one of the well known Greek myths.

Hades was the brother of Zeus and the god of the underworld.

Persephone was the daughter of Demeter, the Goddess of nature.

The myth of Hades and Persephone is one more myth of love and abduction in the Greek mythology.

Hades and Persephone: the beginning of the myth

Hades fell in love with Persephone and decided to kidnap her. The myth says that in one of the rare times he left the Underworld, he traveled above ground to pursue her, while she was gathering flowers in a field.

myth of persephone and hadesOne day Hades, God of the Underworld, saw Persephone and instantly fell in love with her.

Ades (Hades) confided his secret in his brother Zeus, asking for help, so the two of them concocted a plan to trap her. As the girl (Persephone) played with her companions, they caused the ground to split underneath her.

Persephone slipped beneath the Earth and Hades stole her to the Underworld where he made her his wife.

The myth says that Persephone was very unhappy, but after much time, she came to love the cold-blooded Hades and lived happily with him.

A different version of the myth of Hades and Persephone

The myth of Hades and Persephone also has a different version; in this one Demeter was present when Persephone was kidnapped by God Hades but was tricked by Zeus and Hades.

That morning when Demeter descended on Earth with her daughter Persephone , she left her to play with the sea nymphs called Nereids and the Naiads who were the freshwater nymphs of the lakes, springs and rivers.

Persephone and flower Narcissus

Demeter went to supervise her bountiful crops. As Persephone engaged in play and with the rest of the group, her attention fell upon the potently fragrant valley nearby and she couldn’t take her eyes of the yellow flower narcissus. She called upon her playmates to accompany her, but they couldn’t possibly go with her as leaving the side of their water bodies would result in their death.

The flower Narcissus was planted there by Gaia, who was following the orders of Zeus. The goal was to enchant Persephone and attract her, away from her guides.

So, Persephone danced her way to the garden alone and tried to pluck the narcissus from the bosom of Gaia. It drained her energies as the narcissus only came out after a lot of pulling. But suddenly, to her utter fright, she saw the tiny hole from which she had drawn out the flower shaft, began to rapid grow in size until it started to resemble a mighty enormous chasm.

Hades Kidnapping Persephone

myth of Hades and PersephoneFrom this came the vigorous galloping sounds of multiple horses and such sudden happenings only froze the frail beauty to her feet. Out of all her friends only the naiad Cyane tried to rescue the crying Persephone but she was no match for the powerful Hades. Bereaving her friend’s kidnap, Cyane melted into a pool of tears and formed the river Cyane at the spot.

Goddess Demeter trying to find Persephone

Demeter rushed back to where she had left her daughter and found only the Cyane river there with the other nymphs weeping. Worried as she was, she asked all as to the whereabouts of her beloved daughter.

Nobody could tell her anything at all and furious that they couldn’t protect her child, she cursed all the nymphs into becoming heinous women with plumed bodies and scaly feet, called the sirens. It was only the river Cyane who helped her by washing over the belt of Persephone, indicating that something gravely wrong had happened.

Demeter went mad and hunted for her daughter everywhere. The myth says that she even disguised herself  as an aged lady and with lighted torched in her hands roamed the Earth for nine long days and nine long nights.

Finally, she met Hekate, the deity of magic, witchcraft, spirits and crossroads, at the dawn of the 10th day who had pity at her dismal condition and asked her to seek help from the all seeing Helios, the sun god. Helios told Demeter all about how Hades had dragged Persephone into the underworld.

Persephone in the Underworld

Persephone’s mother, Demeter, begged her brother Hades to allow Persephone to come back to the livings, denoting that the young Persephone was not supposed to live in the underworld. Hades consulted with Zeus and they both decided to allow Persephone to live on earth for six months each year, while the rest of the time she would be on his side in the Underworld.

Before leaving the underworld, Persephone had been persuaded to eat four seeds of a pomegranate. In ancient mythology, to eat the fruit of one’s captor meant that one would have to return to that captor or country, so Persephone was doomed to return to the underworld for four months of the year. But she was allowed to spend the remaining two-thirds of the year with her Earth Mother, Demeter.

The myth of Hades and Persephone is associated with the coming of Spring and Winter: When Persephone comes to the Earth, it’s springtime. When she descends to Hades, it is winter.

Celebrating the myth of Persephone

The disappearance and the return of Persephone were the occasions of great festivals in ancient Greece, among them the Elefsinian rites, whose secrets were so closely guarded that little is known about them today.

Some experts believe the rites or mysteries fostered the idea of a more perfect life after death, and thus helped to lay the groundwork for the coming of Christianity, which upholds the idea of everlasting life.

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18 comments on “The Myth of Hades and Persephone

  1. Travis Yafai on said:

    I dislike the fact that everyone shadows Hades over the true god of death, Thanatos.
    I guess it’s the fact that Thanatos didn’t have as much authority as Hades. All well. Other than that, I am very interested in this article.

    • M.Poulos on said:

      Hades was not the god of death, fake or otherwise, he was the god of the Underworld

      • False,

        Hades is the god of the earth (lowercase ‘e’) and everything in it, which include minerals, gems, the Underworld, and everything in between.

        After the Titanomachy, when the three brothers were dividing up the world, Zeus chose the sky and everything in it, Hades chose the earth and everything in it, and Poseidon was left with the Mediterranean Sea (not to be confused with the sea beyond the isle, which is ruled by Oceanus, or the deep sea which is ruled by his wife, Tethys.)

        Because both Hades and Zeus grabbed the sky and earth respectively, they’re power never diminished. Everything is born under the sky and everything gets put back into the ground, so their respective kingdoms continue to grow. Whereas Posiedon’s has barely anything in it that worship him, thus why his temper is terrible, why he’s the father of earthquakes, and why no one really likes it when he comes of parties.

        Since the Greeks don’t really have a “good” god or an “evil” god, Poseidon is really close to being the “evil” god because everyone was terrified of the sea.

        Hades, Thanatos, Eris, Cronus; these gods were never feared as they were just part of the cycle.

        Well, maybe Eris was. She did cause the War of Troy after all.

    • Becca B on said:

      Thanatos was the god of death, but Hades was the lord of the underworld. There is a difference, also, Thanatos is the god who ferries the dead to where they will be judged

  2. Ariana on said:

    True, but Hades has the underworld in general, including death its self

  3. monte on said:

    i dont like the fact that everyone treats Hades with no respect, he is not an evil god as everyone expects. The underworld was draw for with water and the sky by his brother Zeus and Poseidon.

  4. Austin on said:

    Thanks for the information! I needed this for my Greek Mythology project in school about Hades. Helped a lot! Again, Thanks

  5. Celeste on said:

    Reading the story of Hades and Persiphone has made me recall that Hades has been known as Hell as long as I can remember. Why is that? Hades/Hell is supposedly is a cruel, torturous place eternally filled with excruciating pain and anguish.

    • Actually, Hell is the place of eternal damnation, and Hades is the God of the Underworld. There is a Hell in the underworld, but there is often a place of reward (Heaven?) As I recall. Hades was just above both of these things in the Greek myths. Hades isn’t even supposedly that evil, as far as I know -he drew straws and ended up with the Underworld. He’s equal to his brothers

    • David Morgan, Jungian Analyst, NYC on said:

      “Hell” is a Christian punishment for sin during one’s life (Dante’s, ‘Inferno.) In Greek mythology everyone went to the underworld or Hades upon their death. There they lived eternally as a “shade” (soul?). It was not a punishment and in fact was not a bad place as Persephone found out in time which is the reason she stayed there every year during the winter and with her mother in the summer. Furthermore she had to stay there cause she broke the rules and ate a pomegranite which was not allowed in Hades, Like all adolescent girls she broke the rules of “eating” and asserted her womanhood (as opposed to girlhood) by eating in the underworld and being “bad.” She loved Hades in time and he always honored her and respected her. She literally become his equal as the Queen of Hades. This was hardly the behavior of a “rapist” but more like a loving male partner.

    • Marika on said:

      Because of the Bible and Christianity. They would refer to their own Hell as Hades (meaning Tatarus). It soon became synonymous with Hell (even though Hades is like Heaven, Limbo, and Hell combined into one place).

  6. Endel Bendel on said:

    A mistake to be so linear. This story is about the sexual maturation of the young female, moving into erotic relationship with men despite the perfectionistic demands of the man-hating matriarchy.

  7. I like the info but there is one problem and that would be, that it does not mention the actual god of death Thanatos.
    Other then that, it helped me to finish my mythology project for school

  8. David Morgan, Jungian Analyst, NYC on said:

    The aspect of the Persephone / Hades story that women seem to not realize, is that Hades did not “rape” Persephone. He took her away from Demeter her Mother. Every woman has to be separated from her Mommy (mother) sooner or later, if she is to go from being a girl to a full-fledged woman.

    Hades symbolizes the archetypal energy necessary to perform that act for and with a woman. Hence a compromise was announced by Zeus, the leader of the Gods, that Persephone would spend the summer with her Mother and the winter with her husband as the Queen of Hades. She in time welcomed this arrangement as a mature woman does the presence of a strong man in her life.

    That’s the way it goes Ladies!

    • Um, no, ladies, that is not ‘the way it goes.’
      Sure, maybe he didn’t physically rape her, but he did kidnap her and force her to marry him, and that is /not/ okay to glorify or romanticize. Persephone did not require Hades to achieve womanhood. It is not for a man to decide when or how, or even /if/ a woman reaches maturity, it’s the woman’s.

      • Emma Shippen on said:

        In many versions, Persephony grew to love Hades. You are right about a woman’s choice, but remember how long ago the myth of Hades and Persephony was written! Women did not have the opertunities men had and would need a husband in order to have a good life. If the story was written now it would be different I hope, like you say it should be the woman’s choice. In most versions, Persephony has a choice whether to stay with her mum forever or visit Hades, she WANTS to go back and see Hades. The story is about a girl growing into a woman in their society.

  9. Tom on said:

    Hades is not evil!!! He just does his job.

  10. Evelyn Morgan on said:

    Thanks for the interesting story. I had known that Hades was the king of the underworld, but I was not completely familiar with the story of Persephone. I wanted the info for a poem that I am writing. It is good that Persephone learned to love Hades eventually and still got to spend time with her mother (so the earth doesn’t have to suffer eternal winter.)

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