Demeter & Persephone
Persephone was a beautiful young immortal, daughter of Zeus and Demeter, Goddess of the Earth. Everyone admired Persephone’s beauty, especially Hades, King of the Underworld. One day, while collecting flowers on the plain of Enna, she strayed from her friends. Suddenly the earth opened and Hades appeared in a chariot drawn by four black horses. He pulled Persephone into the chariot and with her descended into the Underworld where he promised to make her his Queen.
Demeter was stricken with grief at the loss of her daughter. She wandered the earth for months, distraught and searching for the lost Persephone. Consumed by sadness, she forgot her duties to the harvest and the plants of the earth began to wither and die.
Eventually Demeter wandered to the town of Eleusis, where she rested. Stripped of all joy, she appeared old and wrinkled. She was offered lodging and a position caring for a family’s young son. Wishing to reward them for their kindness, Demeter began to breathe immortality into the child, resting him in the fire each night. When the boy’s mother found him in the flames, she asked Demeter to leave their home at once. Outraged, Demeter reclaimed her heavenly body. The family begged forgiveness and built a temple in her honor, which Demeter blessed before continuing on her journey.
Revived but still desperate to find her daughter, Demeter called on Zeus who, realizing that the earth would die without Demeter’s blessings, dispatched a messenger to the Underworld to retrieve Persephone. Hades had come to love his bride but would not make her stay against her will. Before she left, Hades offered her fruit, the seeds of a pomegranate, which she took and ate before climbing into his chariot to return to her mother.
Finally reunited, Demeter and Persephone walked the earth and everywhere they went, flowers bloomed and crops grew in their path. When her mother asked if she was hungry, Persephone replied that all she had eaten were those pomegranate seeds. Demeter was forlorn knowing once Persephone ate the food of the Underworld she was forever bound to return to Hades for part of each year. Each spring, Persephone returns to earth and brings with her flowers and fertility and each fall, when she must again descend into the Underworld, Demeter mourns and winter comes.