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Greek myth- the abduction of Persephone

Updated on June 19, 2011


The Goddess Demeter had powerful relations. She was the sister of Zeus, Poseidon and Hades and her role was as the Goddess of grain and agriculture.

Demeter hada much loved daughter whom she named Persephone, a young girl who enjoyed simple pursuits and one day, when she was out with her friends picking flowers, she was captured by her uncle Hades and taken by him to the Underworld.

Grief Stricken

Demeter was sik with grief and wandered all over the earth searching for her beloved daughter. She travelled for nine days neither eating nor sleeping whilst she searched.On the tenth day Demeter met Helios the sun god who told her that her brother Hades, with the permission of her other brother Zeus had abducted her daughter. Devastated by this blow Demeter disguised herself as an old woman named Doso and continued her wanderings, Demeter went to the court of King Celeus who had some kind daughters who persuaded their father to take the old woman in and give her a job. Demeter was employed by the King's wife Queen Metaniera as an attendant, but the Queen quickly saw through her disguise as she bore herself with a certain poise and flair, and thinking she was a noble woman (rather than a Goddess) she invited Demeter to sit with her and take some refreshments.

Demeter the nurse

Demeter stayed with the Queen and nursed the baby prince Demphroon. She developed such a love for the baby that she made plans to make him immortal. Her plan was to feed the baby the food of the Gods, Ambrosia and to place him in the fire at night. She did this quietly every evening as she had sole care of the baby at night. One night Queen Metaneiro happened to come into the nursery just as the baby was being put into the fire. Obviously the Queen screamed as she thought her baby was going to die. Demeter snatched the baby from the fire, giving him to his mother declaring that his chances of immortality were now over.

Re united

Demeter left the palace and was even more upset- she had lost her beloved daughter and now also a baby boy that she had come to love. In her grief Demeter refused to let the land be cultivated and ensured that no crops would grow. As the human beings started to die of starvation Zeus intervened and tried to barter Persephone's return to her mother. He said that as long as Persephone had not eaten anything whilst she was in the Underworld she would be allowed to return to her mother. However, Hades had forced Persephone to eat some pomegranate seeds and so could not return. Zeus arranged a compromise in that Persephone could spend eight months of the year with her mother and four months in Hades. Myth has it that every year when Persephone goes back to Hades, Demeter goes into mourning and stops the cultivation of the ground and the growth of the crops. This time of the year is called "winter".

The Complete World of Greek Mythology
The Complete World of Greek Mythology
Engrossing and lavishly illustrated, this survey demonstrates once again why Greek mythology is so enduringly popular

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