The story of Hades and Persephone tells the origins of Spring, and also can be argued as the first example of Beauty and the Beast archetypes. The interesting thing about the tale of these two "lovers" is that there are vastly differing tellings and translations of how the story goes which will drastically change your perceptions of the main characters. The beginning is rather standard:

Hades is the ruler of the underworld and God of the Dead. He is not, as some may think, the devil. He is not evil. He does not judge the dead, he simply rules over them as they await judgement to be sent either to damnation (Tartarus) or paradise (Elysian Fields). Many souls wait lifetimes to be judged, and must wander aimlessly in the fields of Asphodel or the Vale of Mourning, near his palace.

Hades, being a God, and a moody one at that, had never fallen under the influence of love, and in fact really had no interest in it. He had many concubines to serve his lusts, mainly Minthe, but no wife. Aphrodite didn't much care for this situation and ordered Cupid to strike him in the heart to try and make a fool of Hades, and make him bumbling in love, like a school boy. As usual, her plan worked, and Hades set his eye on the virgin goddess, Persephone, daughter of Demeter and instantly fell hopelessly in love with her. Ignoring the feelings of the two women completely, Hades approached Zeus and asked for Persephone's hand in marriage, instead of trying the flowers and candy, what's your sign sort of approach.

Here is where the story begins to change. In some tellings, Zeus is outraged at Hades' suggestion and refuses to grant permission, but in others, where Zeus is painted in a decidedly less appealing light, he assures Hades that while he knows Demeter will not approve of the marriage, he will look the other way when Perspehone is abducted, washing his hands of the situation. Many others believe that Persephone is actually Zeus' daughter, which makes the abduction all the more horrifying.

Persephone is abducted while in a field on Mount Olympus, picking flowers created specifically to distract her, and she is held in the Underworld as Hades' bride.

Her absence is quickly noticed and causes Demeter much grief, causing the world to "die". Helius, the sun, was the only witness to the abduction, but turned his face away from Persephone's cries. Feeling the pangs of guilt, he informs Demeter as to what happened. The ground becomes cold, nothing grows, and famine and misery overtake the land. Demeter, who usually oversees the passing seasons, has allowed this to happen while she searches for her daughter the world round, by sun during the day and by the flame of torches at night. In a fit of stubborness and desperation, she assures Zeus that she will let the entire world die if her daughter is not quickly found and immediately returned. Not entirely pleased with that prospect, Zeus informs Demeter that Persephone is indeed with Hades in the Underworld, and will be returned pronto.

Hades, being the possessive sort, is not so willing to give Persephone, his bride, sometimes called The Iron Queen or The Barren Goddess, back to the land of the living. But upon strict orders from his brother Zeus, he brings her to Charon the ferryman and as a goodbye gift, offers her a pomegranate. It is said that the sharing of a pomegranate between lovers binds their souls together, and she accepts the gift. In some tellings of the myth, Persephone eats the entire fruit, in others she eats seven seeds, and in still others, she eats only one. The amount does not matter, because what Persephone doesn't know is that once she has eaten the food of the dead, she is condemned to a life beneath the ground.

Zeus, knowing and seeing all, is aware that she was tricked by her husband and changes her sentence to a third of the year beneath the ground, a third on Mount Olympus, and a third to be spent where ever she chooses. Each time Persephone emerges from the Underworld, the Earth flowers and grows again, banishing Winter and bringing new life.

Ahhhhh, that's nice

The story could end here, but actually this is where it takes the most drastic of turns. In some tellings, Persephone is eternally miserable, a brow beaten, abused wife, who feels no love for Hades. In others, they grow to have an amiable marriage, more of a friendship than anything else...but in the most extreme, it is said that Persephone becomes so infatuated with Hades that she turns his concubine Minthe into a plant to keep her from sleeping with her husband. She chooses to spend her free time underground and rules the dead with her husband, even having a grove of Poplars named after her.

In any event, the Myth of Hades and Persephone is one that can teach both a bad lesson to women and a good one. Of course, the good is, don't judge a book by it's cover. A man who is beastly and hideous and cruel on the outside may very well be a loving, gentle man who is misunderstood. But more dangerously, like Beauty and the Beast, it implies that if you love an abusive man enough, you can change him into a prince...which is a dangerous road to travel.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.