ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Bernini's Pluto and Proserpina

Updated on September 14, 2014

I love Bernini's Pluto and Proserpina

I fell in love in Rome, not with any flesh and blood man, but with Bernini's Pluto and Proserpina marble statue.

In my opinion, pictures do not do the Pluto and Proserpina sculpture justice. To truly understand the beauty of this piece you must visit it in the Galleria Borghese in Rome, Italy.

Below find details, pictures and my impressions of the Pluto and Proserpina Group sculpture.

Photo Credit: focused shot of Bernini 's Pluto & Prosepina derived from photo from Web Gallery of Art

Sprung out of the earth

on his glittering terrible

carriage, he claimed his due.

It is finished. No one heard her.

- Rita Dove's "Persephone Falling"

Bernini's Pluto and Proserpina - Sculpture at the Borghese Gallery

Photo from the Web Gallery of Art

About Bernini's Pluto and Proserpina - Quick facts about Bernini's Sculpture

  • Gian Lorenzo Bernini created the Pluto and Prosepina sculpture between 1621-1622.
  • In 1622 Cardinal Scipione gifted the marble group to Cardinal Ludovisi.
  • The sculpture remained in Cardinal Ludovisi's villa until 1908 when it was returned to the Galleria Borghese.
  • The Group is chiseled out of marble.
  • Proserpina, Pluto and Cerebus are the 3 mythical characters featured in this Bernini work

Let's Play the Name Game

Proserpina is also referred to as Persephone

Pluto is also referred to as Hades

Cere is also referred to as Demeter

The first category is the Roman name and the second set of names are from the Greek.

Mythology Behind Bernini's Pluto and Proserpina

Proserpina's Story

Pluto came up to earth on buisness and was seen by Venus and Cupid. Cupid shot Pluto with an arrow and fell in love with Proserpina (the daughter of Ceres).

Venus and Cupid wanted to extend their reign into Hades and put Ceres in check because they believed she was on course to defy them much like Diana had.

The Rape of Proserpina, "rape" meaning abduction, depicts the moment when Pluto grabs Proserpina. It is obvious from the statue, her pushing against Pluto and her tears, Proserpina does not want to go with Pluto. Pluto is the god most disliked by mortals.

Ceres, heart broken by her daughter's abduction, refuses to bring life to the greenery and this is when Jupiter (Zeus) interceeds on her behalf. Pluto reluctant to let Proserpina go, but unwilling to disobey Jupiter, tricks Proserpina into eating pommengrate seeds. Thus, binding her to the underworld.

The Result: 4 months of the year Proserpina remains in Hades and half on earth with her mother. When Proserpina is walking the earth flowers bloom but when she is in the underworld nothing grows. This explains the seasons.

The Rape of Proserpina - The story of Proserpina

Photo from the Web Gallery of Art

From this angle we see Proserpina pushing against Pluto trying to get him to loosen his grasp so she can get away from him. You feel the intensity of the struggle as you see how hard Pluto is holding on to Proserpina. His fingers are pushing in to Proserpina's flesh. We see the indents he makes on her leg. Looking at Bernini's work it is easy to forget that 1) This is a statue and 2) It is made out of stone.

At this angle Bernini places Proserpina as the central figure. We cannot help but feel her terror and hopelessness at the hands of Pluto. The anguish in her face, her lips parted as if she is crying out for help, create a feeling of panic in the audience. You want to help Proserpina escape a horrible fate, but as this piece is set in marble you know their is nothing you can do to help Proserpina escape her fate; hence, you are invited to share in Proserpina's terror, anguish and helplessness.

Pluto's Perspective: Bernini's Pluto and Proserpina Group - Bernini's Pluto and Proserpina Sculpture

Photo from Wikipedia

Frozen in mid step we get a sense of movement with Bernini's Pluto and Proserpina Group. From this angle we are confronted with Pluto's powerful determination. We see his muscles bulge as he takes a masterful stride towards the fulfillment of his desire.

From this angle Proserpina hand pushing against Pluto's head seems to be little more than an annoyance that PLuto has to deal with. There is no regard for Proserina has her importance is minimized at this perspective. What we see is Pluto's strength, his power and his determination.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Pluto and Proserpina

Cereberus: The Guardian of Hades - The Three Headed Dog

Photo from Wikipedia

Cereberus, the 3 headed dog, guardian of the underword is depicted in the sculpture to represent Pluto and the place where he is taking Proserpina.

With all the sense of movement and emotion it can be possible to overlook Cereberus positioned behind Pluto and Proserpina, but he is an an important symbol of Hades and the terror that awaits there.

Bernini's Pluto and Proserpina - What do you think?

When I saw Bernini's Pluto and Proserpina group it changed by prospective on sculptures and Bernini's works. In art history class I had always been drawn to painting by the masters. Bernini's works were presented on slides easily blurred together with the next. I was not expecting to be as captivated by the statue as I was. A work of art becomes more powerful when directly consumed rather that seeing a limited picture of a 3 dimensional sculpture.

Have you seen Bernini's Pluto and Proserpina at the Galleria Borghese?

See results

Tell me what your impressions of Bernini's Rape of Proserpina is? Do you love the statue as much as I do? Leave your comments below or just say hi.

Are Your a Fan of Bernini's Pluto and Prosepina? - Sign the Guestbook

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 

      10 years ago from Royalton

      I can hardly wait to travel back to Italy to see Bernini's Pluto and Proserpina. This lens has brought the statues to life and your descriptions are written with such passion that I feel I simply must go see it.

      Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Good lens keep up the good work

    • Mix Mafra profile image

      Michelle Mafra 

      10 years ago from Corona CA

      Great Lens. Loved the legend and the pictures you taken of the statue. I found it amazing.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)