The Greek myth about the Queen of the Underworld might explain why we have seasons.

Have you ever wondered how seasons come? Good question. You’re probably thinking of some geoscience to explain this one, but we’re not interested in science today. Sorry! The story of Persephone — the ever-loving daughter of the goddess Demeter — who was kidnapped by Hades, and later became the Queen of the Underworld, was used by the ancient Greeks to explain the change of the seasons, the eternal cycle of Nature’s death and rebirth. Dear friends, it’s story time, but beware and don’t eat any pomegranates.


Related media: Hades and Persephone – The Story Of The Seasons


The Things We Do For Love

Persephone was a naive little girl who flows between the protection of her mother, Demeter, goddess of harvest and fertility, and the love of her husband, Hades, god of the underworld.

According to Greek Mythology, Persephone, the queen of the underworld, was the daughter of Zeus, the god of the heavens, and Demeter. She was also called Kore, which means “girl.” Hey girls! And grew up to be a lovely girl attracting the attention of many gods; but Demeter was obsessed with her only daughter and kept all men away from her.

Hades was the most persisting suitor of Persephone. He was a hard, coldhearted man who lived in the dark pits of the underworld, among the souls of the Dead. But he had his heart softened when he saw the enchanting youth, beauty, and freshness of Persephone; and his love for her grew beyond bonds.

He finally asked Demeter for Persephone’s hand in marriage, but Demeter got so furious and said that was never going to happen. Hades was heart-broken and decided to get Persephone no matter what. One fateful day, while Persephone was playing and picking flowers together with her friends in a garden, she came across the most beautiful narcissus she had ever seen.

As she stooped to pluck the flower, the ground beneath her feet suddenly cleaved open and emerged Hades riding on his dark chariot with dark horses. He snatched Persephone before she could call for help and descended back into the underworld together with her never to return her back.


What Desperate Moms Do

All this happen in just a flash and the girls that were with Persephone didn’t have any clue for her sudden disappearance. However, this was witness by Zeus her father, as well as Helios, god of the Sun, but Zeus decided to keep quiet about it, while Helios sought to mind his own business and not concern himself with this.

This made Demeter desperate as she wandered the earth in search for her daughter until she finally asked her friend Hecate, goddess of wilderness and childbirth. Hecate advised her to ask Helios, the all-seeing Sun god, maybe he’d seen where she is. Helios felt Demeter’s pity for her daughter and revealed to her that Persephone had been kidnapped by Hades.

Upon hearing this, Demeter got really furious and sought vengeance against Hades, but Helios thought that it was not bad for Persephone to be wife of Hades and queen of the underworld. Demeter couldn’t let this go, she took this as an insult that Hades had done such a thing, and was not the right husband for her lovely daughter.

Demeter was also mad at Zeus for not letting her know. So she decided to to take a long and indefinite leave from her duties as the goddess of harvest and fertility, with devastating consequences. The whole earth began to dry up, crops didn’t yield, animals were dying, which resulted in a severe famine.


Oh Olympus, Whence Shall Thee Weep

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Olympus heard the cry of the people, so Zeus sought to do something about the wrath of his wife, or else all humanity would disappear. He promised Demeter to restore Persephone to her if it can be proved that the maiden stays with Hades against her will. Otherwise, Persephone belongs to her husband.

Hades knew about this, so he tricked Persephone to eat six pomegranate seeds — this was the fruit of the underworld. Whenever someone ate some, they would miss living in the underworld. So when Zeus arranged to claim Persephone back, she said she want to be with her husband.

Demeter then threatened to never make the earth fertile again. Zeus suggested that Persephone would spend six months (representing the six pomegranate seeds she ate) with her husband in the underworld, and the other six with her mother on Olympus. This didn’t please neither Demeter nor Hades, nevertheless, they had no other option but accept it.


What’s The Myth About?

Persephone became the wife of Hades and Queen of the Underworld. During the six months that she spent in the underworld, her mother would let the earth barren. According to ancient Greeks, these were the months of Fall and Winter, when the season is not fertile for farming; whereas the remaining six that Persephone spent on Olympus with her mother, Demeter would let the earth be fertile and bountiful with harvest. These were the months of Spring and Summer. Thus, this myth explains the change of the seasons, the eternal cycle of Nature’s death and rebirth.


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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Fri, Apr 19, 2019.

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