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Greek Red Figure Triptolemus, Demeter and Persephone from c. 470 B.C.

Greek red figure pottery vessel from c. 470 B.C. showing Triptolemus in a chariot with Demeter on the left who teaches him about grain cultivation and Persephone handing him a drink. Getty Villa.

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Definition: Persephone was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter. While she was playing, Persephone was abducted by Hades who had come for her in a chariot. He quickly and secretly dragged her down to his kingdom, where she stayed unwillingly, refusing to eat. Finally, after Persephone's mother Demeter persuaded Zeus to make Hades return her daughter to her, Persephone relaxed and ate a bit (a few pomegranate seeds). Because of this, Persephone was compelled to spend part of her life there with Hades. During this time, Demeter mourns, and so, Earth experiences winter. When Persephone returns, it becomes spring. This story lies behind the Eleusinian mysteries.

Persephone is often called kore, the maiden. She is also called the queen of the Underworld. Theseus was involved in an attempt to steal Persephone from the Underworld.

Also Known As: Kore
The name Persephone may come from words meaning Sheaf-Beater, according to [URL = caelestis.info/sauvagenoble/2005/11/persephone.html] Sauvage Noble - Persephone.


DAUGHTER of Jove, almighty and divine,
Come, blessed queen, and to these rites incline:
Only-begotten, Pluto's honor'd wife, 3
O venerable Goddess, source of life:
'Tis thine in earth's profundities to dwell, 5
Fast by the wide and dismal gates of hell:
Jove's holy offspring, of a beauteous mien,
Fatal, with lovely locks, infernal queen:
Source of the furies, whose blest frame proceeds
From Jove's ineffable and secret seeds: 10
Mother of Bacchus, Sonorous, divine,
And many-form'd, the parent of the vine:
The dancing Hours attend thee, essence bright,
All-ruling virgin, bearing heav'nly light:

Illustrious, horned, of a bounteous mind, 13
Alone desir'd by those of mortal kind.
O, vernal queen, whom grassy plains delight,
Sweet to the smell, and pleasing to the sight:
Whose holy form in budding fruits we view,
Earth's vig'rous offspring of a various hue: 20
Espous'd in Autumn: life and death alone 21
To wretched mortals from thy power is known:
For thine the task according to thy will, 23
Life to produce, and all that lives to kill.

Hear, blessed Goddess, send a rich increase 25
Of various fruits from earth, with lovely Peace;
Send Health with gentle hand, and crown my life
With blest abundance, free from noisy strife;
Last in extreme old age the prey of Death,
Dismiss we willing to the realms beneath, 30
To thy fair palace, and the blissful plains
Where happy spirits dwell, and Pluto reigns.

From: The Hymns of Orpheus
Translated by Thomas Taylor

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