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Demeter and Persephone
Demeter and Persephone
Zeus, King of all the Gods, had three sisters: Hera, Queen of the Gods, was also his wife and the Goddess of Marriage; Hestia was the Goddess of Home and Hearth and Demeter was Goddess of the Harvest, responsible for the crops and for feeding the people. Demeter was loved by all humans for her gift of soil and gentle, mild weather to grow their crops. They worshipped her for her caring and kindness. She was very much a ‘hands on’ and ‘happy to help’ sort of Goddess. Persephone was Demeter’s only child. Like her mother, she was kind and caring, with a happy nature and the most dazzling smile. She was the sort of person who spread light and happiness wherever she went and so, naturally, she was loved by everyone but most especially by her mother.
Hades, mighty ruler of the Underworld, had spied her on one of his trips to the world above. He was dazzled by her beauty, her elegance and her charm. He decided that he must have her as his wife. Knowing that Demeter would never agree to her daughter living with him in his gloomy world of the dead, he decided to visit his brother, Zeus, to discuss the matter. Surprisingly, the great god Zeus agreed to Hades’ plan, to abduct the young woman and take her to his realm. He rode his chariot to the upper world and kidnapped her. At first, Persephone cried and cried, until she had no more tears left to weep. She refused all offers of food, for she had heard the legend that those who eat in the Underworld can never return. So she determined not to let a morsel of food pass her lips.
In revenge on Zeus, Demeter withdrew all of her fertility power from the earth, so the earth turned dry and barren, and people began to die. Finally, Zeus agreed to allow Persephone to come back to the living world. But Hades made Persephone feel sorry for him because of his loneliness in the underworld. Before Hermes could come and get her, Hades held a pomegranate in his hand and said, “Persephone, my love, I am so worried that you will fade away if you do not eat. Look at this sweet fruit, taste just a little for pities’ sake.” Looking deep into his eyes, the girl carefully reached out her hand and took the luscious fruit to her lips. Deliberately, she swallowed a few seeds, just six.
That is why Persephone can only come back to the living world six months out of the year and the rest of the time she keeps Hades company in the underworld for the othr six months.