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Tales of Greek Mythology Based on Nathaniel Hawthorne's Tanglewood Tales.


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The Pomegranate Seeds
Rape of Persephone, by Luca Giordano. 1684-1686.

Rape of Persephone, by Luca Giordano. 1684-1686.

Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Pomegranate Seeds, by Nathaniel Hawthorne | Summary of The Pomegranate Seeds

Proserpina (Persephone) was to play with the sea nymphs while her mother Ceres (Demeter) went off to cause the grains of the world to grow. The nymphs wanted to play along the water and beach, but Proserpina wanted to bring them flowers. She ran off to gather them, but before she could return with her apron laden with flowers, she saw a flowering bush she just knew her mother would want to see, so she tugged it free from the ground, revealing a gaping hole beneath. From the hole sprang a 4-horse chariot led by a handsome, regal, but sullen man. He asked her to join him, but when she refused and tried to call for help, he grabbed her and pulled her into the chariot. He promised not to harm her and to give her gems more beautiful than flowers. Pluto is the name of the strange man. He gave her a tour of the Underworld, which is his kingdom. He ordered a feast for her, but she said she won't eat or drink until she is reunited with her mother.

Ceres returned to find her daughter missing and the sea nymphs ignorant of her fate. Ceres began a frantic search for her daughter. Hecate tells Ceres she heard the girl scream, but it's hopeless, so Ceres might as well join her in her dank cave. Ceres suggested that Hecate help her search and if all fails, she'll consent to be a room-mate, so the wretched pair went off. Ceres figured the sun would have seen what happened, so she asked Phoebus who tells her. Knowing where her daughter is turned out not to help Ceres.

Ceres tried to find the entrance to Pluto's realm. In her travels Ceres was mistaken for a nurse. When a sickly boy was thrust into her arms, she agreed to treat him, but insisted on privacy and autonomy. Ceres made the child strong, but the mother couldn't resist watching how she did it. Ceres was using a raked-over-coals method of conferring immortality on the child, but when the mother of the baby interrupted her, she quit and left, now more depressed than ever, so she forbade all plants to grow.

This was unacceptable, so Quicksilver (Hermes/Mercury) was dispatched to Pluto to ask for Proserpina. All the time Proserpina had been with him, he had tried to cajole her with gems and baked goods, but Proserpina wanted fruit and flowers. When he at this point realized this, he offered her a pomegranate. Proserpina didn't mean to, but she put 6 seeds in her mouth before Quicksilver could get her back to the light. When Ceres and her daughter had their reunion, the daughter confessed to the seeds, so it was determined that Proserpina would spend 6 months with her mother and 6 months with the dour king she had started to love.

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