Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Persephone

In Greek mythology, Persephone /pərˈsɛfəniː/, also called Kore (the maiden) /ˈkɔəriː/, is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest-goddess Demeter, and queen of the underworld. Homer describes her as the formidable, venerable majestic queen of the shades, who carries into effect the curses of men upon the souls of the dead. Kore was abducted by Hades, the god-king of the underworld The myth of her abduction represents her function as the personification of vegetation which shoots forth in spring and withdraws into the earth after harvest; hence she is also associated with spring and with the seeds of the fruits of the fields. Similar myths appear in the Orient, in the cults of male gods like Attis, Adonis and Osiris, and later in the cult of Dionysos.

Persephone as a vegetation goddess (Kore) and her mother Demeter were the central figures of the Eleusinian mysteries that predated the Olympian pantheon, and promised to the initiated a reward in a future existence. The mystic Persephone is further said to have become by Zeus the mother of Dionysos, Iacchus, or Zagreus. The origins of her cult are uncertain, but they may be related to the cult of Despoina in isolated Arcadia. In the Mycenean Greek tablets dated 1400-1200 BC , the "two mistresses and the king" are mentioned; John Chadwick believes that these were the precursor divinities of Demeter, Persephone and Poseidon. Demeter and Persephone were the two Great Goddesses of the Arcadian cults.

Persephone was commonly worshipped along with Demeter, and with the same mysteries. To her alone were dedicated the mysteries celebrated at Athens in the month of Anthesterion. In Classical Greek art, Persephone is invariably portrayed robed; often carrying a sheaf of grain. She may appear as a mystical divinity with a sceptre and a little box, but she was mostly represented in the act of being carried off by Hades.

In Roman mythology, she is called Proserpina.

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