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Demeter - By Her Brothers Betrayed

The Abduction of Persephone (The Rape of Proserpina)


Demeter's daughter, Persephone

Persephone - Daughter of Demeter


The story of the abduction of Persephone is more a story about Demeter than it is about her daughter Persephone, so we're starting this re-telling of the rape of Persephone beginning with her mother Demeter's relationship with one of her brothers, her daughter's father, the king of the gods, who refused to step in to help -- at least in a timely manner.

Demeter, goddess of the earth and grain, was sister to Zeus, as well as Poseidon and Hades. Because Zeus betrayed her by his involvement in the rape of Persephone, Demeter left Mt.Olympus to wander among men. Hence, although a throne on Olympus was her birth right, Demeter is sometimes not counted among the Olympians. This "secondary" status did nothing to lessen her importance for the Greeks and Romans. The worship associated with Demeter, the Eleusinian Mysteries, endured until it was suppressed in the Christian era.

Demeter and Zeus Are Parents of Persephone

Demeter's relationship with Zeus had not always been so strained: He was the father of her much-loved, white-armed daughter, Persephone.

Persephone grew up to be a beautiful young woman who enjoyed playing with the other goddesses on Mt. Aetna, in Sicily. There they gathered and smelled the beautiful flowers. One day, a narcissus caught Persephone's eye, so she plucked it to get a better look, but as she pulled it from the ground, a rift formed....

Demeter had not been watching too carefully. After all, her daughter was grown. Besides, Aphrodite, Artemis, and Athena were there to watch -- or so Demeter assumed. When Demeter's attention returned to her daughter, the young maiden (called Kore, which is Greek for 'maiden') had vanished.

Where Was Persephone?

Aphrodite, Artemis, and Athena didn't know what had happened, it had been so sudden. One moment Persephone was there, and the next she wasn't.

Demeter was beside herself with grief. Was her daughter dead? Abducted? What had happened? No one seemed to know. So Demeter roamed the countryside looking for answers.

Zeus Goes Along With Persephone's Abduction

After Demeter had wandered for 9 days and nights, searching for her daughter as well as taking out her frustrations by randomly torching the earth, the 3-faced goddess Hekate told the anguished mother that while she had heard Persephone's cries, she had not been able to see what had happened. So Demeter asked Helios, the sun god -- he had to know since he sees all that happens above the ground during the day. Helios told Demeter that Zeus had given their daughter to "The Invisible" (Hades) for his bride and that Hades, acting on that promise, had taken Persephone home to the Underworld.

Next page Demeter Wants her Daughter Back

Introduction to Greek Mythology

Myth in Daily Life | What Is Myth? | Myths vs. Legends | Gods in the Heroic Age - Bible vs. Biblos | Creation Stories | Uranos' Revenge | Titanomachy | Olympian Gods and Goddesses | Five Ages of Man | Philemon and Baucis | Prometheus | Trojan War | Bulfinch Mythology | Myths and Legends | Golden Fleece and the Tanglewood Tales, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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