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The daughter of Zeus and Demeter, Persephone ("she who destroys the light") (also Kore, "maiden;" Roman equivalent: Proserpina) became the goddess of the underworld when Hades abducted her from the Earth and brought her into the underworld.

She was innocently playing with some nymphs (or Leucippe) or Oceanids) in a field in Enna when he came; the nymphs were changed into the Sirens for not having interfered. Life came to a stand still as the depressed Demeter (goddess of the Earth) searched for her lost daughter; Helios, the sun, who sees everything, finally told her what had happened.

Finally, Zeus could not put up with the dying earth and forced Hades to return Persephone. But before she was released, Hades tricked her into eating six pomegranate seeds, which forced her to return six months each year. In some versions, Ascalaphus told on Persephone eating the pomegranate seeds. When Demeter and her daughter were together, the Earth flourished with vegetation. But for six months each year, when Persephone returned to the underworld, the earth once again became a barren realm. In alternate version, Hecate rescued Persephone. She is a life-death-rebirth deity.

Persephone, as Queen of Hades, only showed mercy once, because the music of Orpheus was so hauntingly sad. She allowed Orpheus to bring his wife, Eurydice, back to the land of the living as long as she walked behind him and he never tried to look at her face until they got to the surface. Orpheus agreed but failed and lost Eurydice forever.

Persephone also figures into the famous story of Adonis. Once Adonis was born, Aphrodite took him under her wing, seducing him with the help of Helene, her friend, and was entranced by his unearthly beauty. She gave him to Persephone to watch over, but Persephone was also amazed at his beauty and refused to give him back. The argument between the two goddess' was settled either by Zeus or Calliope, with Adonis spending four months with Aphrodite, four months with Persephone and four months of the years with whomever he chose. He always chose Aphrodite because Persephone was the cold, unfeeling goddess of the underworld.

When Hades pursued a nymph named Mintho, Persephone turned her into a mint plant.

Persephone was the object of Pirithous' affections. Pirithous and Theseus, his friend, pledged to marry daughters of Zeus. Theseus chose Helen and together they kidnapped her and decided to hold onto her until she was old enough to marry. Pirithous chose Persephone. They left Helen with Theseus' mother, Aethra and travelled to the underworld, domain of Persephone and her husband, Hades. Hades pretended to offer them hospitality and set a feast; as soon as the pair sat down, snakes coiled around their feet and held them there.


  1. Unknown father (Some say Zeus)
    1. Iacchus

See also Proserpina

Alternatives: Kore, Despina, Core, Cora

Persephone was also a character in the movie trilogy "The Matrix".