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 help of the nymphs and her only child Kore, the maiden 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 recognised as The Rape of Proserpina. It was portrayed in many arts and literary works 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 even more punishes any subjects that escape. On one of his rare visits to the ground, he encountered the charming maiden, Persephone. Everyone close to her especially called her as Kore. She is the daughter of Hade’s brother Zeus, king of the Greek gods. And furthermore, the daughter of his sister, Demeter, the goddess of Agriculture.
Persephone assisted her mother in fertilising the Earth while supporting its inhabitants 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 the Persephone. The girl who captured his whole-being. However, Demeter was against this proposal. She made all possible measures to protect her child, assigning nymphs to guard her.
King and Queen of the Underworld – Hades wife
More determined to unite with his dear Persephone, while the maiden 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 reunited, but without their knowledge, it was only temporary. 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 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 known as the Autumn and Winter seasons and the time when flowers were blooming, and there were abundance in the fields were called Spring and Summer.
Places to visit in Sicily connected to myth of Hades and Persephone’s
- Mount Etna in Catania
- Lake Pergusa in Enna
- Greek temples in Agrigento or Selinunte