Obsession or one true love? The myth of Hades and Persephone
The myth of Hades and his wife Persephone whose love story believed to begin in the island of Sicily described the genesis of the four seasons such as Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.
Greek Mythology is always fascinating; it has an unthinkable explanation for almost any phenomenon. It could either be just fallacies or real accounts of the forgotten past. No one will know if myths are true or their characters really did exist. However, the legends of these heroes and heroines, fantasy or not, gave colour to the stories of the past. The divine interventions that watch over the earth and protect nature, space and humanity.
In a fertile land in the middle of the sea, surrounded by mountains and blessed with stunning fields, it was believed that Demeter, the goddess of Agriculture once lived among us and oversaw the vegetation of the Earth with the aid of the nymphs and her only child Kore, the maiden of nature which then later called Persephone, Hades’ wife and the queen of the underworld.
The story of Hades and Persephone in Sicily
Various people told the story of Hades and Persephone in countless versions. Some suspected that it was Hades, the god of the underworld’s obsession to the young deity Persephone. The act is known as The Rape of Proserpina which was briefly mentioned in the ancient Greek hymns, a collection of poems of praises for the gods as well as epic verses. Many arts and literary works portrayed the story for centuries. While others argued that it was perhaps a forbidden love that overcame the test of true love.
Hades, the ruler of the dead, often depicted as distant and cold rather than evil. He seldom leaves his kingdom and assumed to seat on his throne most of the time with his scepter and guarded by his multiheaded hound Cerberus. Even more, he punishes any subjects that escape. On one of his rare visits to the ground, he encountered the charming maiden, Persephone. Everyone close to her dearly calls her Kore. She is the daughter of Hades’ brother Zeus, the divine king of the Greek gods. And furthermore, the daughter of his sister, Demeter, the goddess of the Agriculture.
Persephone helped her mother in fertilising the Earth while leading mankind for harvest. The glimpse of her beauty melted his icy heart. It is as if an inflamed arrow struck his heart. It was love at first sight. Hades sought the agreement of Zeus to marry Persephone. The girl who captured his whole-being. But there was a problem, Demeter was against this idea. She rejected the proposal and made all possible measures to protect her child, assigning nymphs to keep an eye on her.
King and Queen of the Underworld – Hades wife
More determined to unite with his beloved, while the Persephone was enjoying the fields and flowers of Pergusa Lake near Enna, Hades emerged from the volcanic chamber of Mount Etna in Sicily riding a golden chariot carried by four black mystical horses and abducted(or maybe eloped with) Persephone. He brought her to his realm as the new Queen of the underworld and the sole wife of the King of souls. A few believed that intimacy and admiration made Persephone developed feelings to Hades and eventually fell in love.
The disappearance of her daughter fostered the wrath of Demeter, she searched for her day and night, ignoring her duties, causing disorders and famine in humankind and the godly worlds. Zeus and the other deities troubled by this predicament convinced Hades to return Persephone. The master of the darkness forcibly agreed. And he later deceived Persephone into eating pomegranate seeds which symbolise her pledge to her spouse and his domain.
Origin of the seasons myth
Demeter met Persephone. They were reunited, but without their knowledge, it was only for a while. The two goddesses separated again. Persephone, obliged to devote her life to Hades and its kingdom upon eating the seeds of commitment, needed to leave her mother again. Resentful and anxious Demeter could not do anything as it was a strict custom. Zeus went in to get involved and suggested Persephone to dividing her time. It is between ruling the Underworld with Hades as its queen and preserving the Earth with her mother Demeter as the goddess of vegetation. The months she spent with Hades was the Autumn and Winter seasons and the time when flowers were blooming, and there was abundance in the fields were the Spring and Summer. This was the origin of the myth about the 4 seasons.
Places to visit in Sicily connected to the myth of Hades and Persephone’s
Sicily is the largest island on the Mediterranean and also a region in Italy. The island has a rich history dating back thousands of years ago. During the Magna Graecia era or Greater Greece, many areas of Sicily became city-states, from the hilltops to the coasts. Fortresses and dwellings were built, politicians existed. The Greek culture spread across the sea including the beliefs, rituals and stories.
We listed below the fascinating places and ruins you can explore in Sicily related to Greek mythology as well as connected to the myth of Hades and Persephone.
- Mount Etna in Catania – Hades was believed to come out from the volcano’s flaming crater. It was suspected to be one of the doors to Hades kingdom beneath the depths or ends of the earth.
- Lake Pergusa in Enna – The mythological setting connected to the Rape of Proserpina. Perhaps, it could also be the place where Hades and Persephone eloped or their magical meeting spot.
- Greek temples in Agrigento or Selinunte Both are archaeological sites of ancient cities with preserved Doric style temples that perfectly display how earliest people worshipped the gods and goddesses.
- The Aeolian Islands On the north of Sicily, there are a group of small islands with interesting ancient zones as well as folk tales. From narratives about Aeolus, the god of the wind to the secrets of Vulcano and Stromboli.
The photos of Hades and Persephone are courtesy of Castellers d’ Esplugues and Sonse