Greece: Mythology
The Story of Persephone
Persephone Sculpture Persephone was the daughter of Demeter, goddess of the earth and harvest. Demeter was responsible for the growth of plants and crops, and Persephone helped her.

Pluto, god of the Underworld, wanted to marry Persephone and asked Zeus's permission to do so. Zeus avoided answering Pluto's request, however, knowing that Demeter would never agree. (After all, who would want their daughter to live in the Underworld?) One day, Pluto found Persephone alone, kidnapped her, and took her down to Hades. As they entered Hades, they passed by Cerberus -- the three-headed dog who guards the gates of the Underworld to keep the dead from leaving.


When Demeter discovered that her daughter was missing, she stopped taking care of the crops and began to search for Persephone. The crops withered and died. Eventually, Demeter discovered that Persephone was Pluto's prisoner in Hades. She pleaded with Zeus to make Pluto release her daughter. The gods also wanted Zeus to persuade Pluto to let Persephone go, because the humans would starve without any crops.

Zeus ordered Pluto to free Persephone, as long as she hadn't eaten any food in Hades. Just before he set her free, Pluto tempted Persephone to eat a few pomegranate seeds from his garden. Because Persephone had eaten from Pluto's garden, she had to spend part of the year in the Underworld and part on earth with her mother.

So, every year when Persephone is in the Underworld, Demeter is sad and lets the plants die. When Persephone returns to earth, her mother is happy and tends the plants so they bloom and flourish

Play the Persephone Game!

© 2005 Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University,
Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester and Dallas Museum of Art
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Last Update: Tuesday, 15-Jun-04, 11:58:18