“Can the sun find its equal in anything other than the moon?” Can the heavens lose interest in the earth? Hades pulled away from her and stroked her cheek. “Can death exist without life?
Rachel Alexander, destroyer of light
There is a quality of yearning in being the light of someone’s life, in bringing joy to what seemed dead. We want to be a savior of something, anything, we never want to aspire to be the person who was the destroyer. Modern tales of Hades and Persephone bring a sense of hope to the transformative nature of love. Many today see him as Persephone saving Hades from the loneliness of his own hell, from the obscurity of the role imposed on him, however, in my opinion, the transformation is closer to Persephone herself. The change of the name of the goddess of the underworld itself is indicative of this transformation. Kore, which means girl or maiden, was most likely her original name, but it later became Persephone, presumably from the ancient Greek φερειν φόνον, “to bring” or “to cause death”, a possible symbol of her new status once the goddess of the underworld. Persephone, in modern accounts, is often seen as stifled under the pressure of the expectations that weigh on her, by name, by her mother, and by the role she is meant to play in the world. She, alongside her relationship with Hades, is often viewed with an uplifting air, that she was able to realize who she wanted to be, who she was in the freedom of the underworld. An oxymoron in itself, however, it contributes to the mystical and nearly impossible feat that has inspired and drawn many readers into their tale.
This Hades and Persephone trope is incredibly prevalent in modern literature, and a quick search on Goodreads will show you over 300 books, residing in the Young Adult and Romance genres. The idea that an ancient myth is the central inspiration of novels, whether for young adolescents until the early 1920s or as a source of romance, is a particular concept due to the often very violent and dark nature. ancient mythologies.
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What does it say about us, as people, if we indulge and obsess over a couple whose origin stories include such violence that it seems alien to our modern narratives? Are we more macabre than the stories themselves or is there something deeper going on?
There are many versions of the myth of Hades and Persephone, but a common element in many writings is that Hades requests that she be taken to the Underworld after falling in love with her at first sight. She is taken to the Underworld, which triggers a domino effect of events, in particular, driven by the anger of Demeter, Kore’s mother. This being described as a kidnapping is first mentioned by Hesiod (Hes. Th. 914). There is not much from Persephone’s point of view in these stories and many ancient sources cite this “moving away” from Latin rapio, which further complicates modern understanding of the nature of this relationship as it is. often confused with the modern word, grated. However, many researchers believe that the focus was not on the act of rape, but rather on its abduction and abduction.
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Yet, have we come to a point in history where we see this story as stimulating? Persephone, under the many names to which she has been attributed, is a central figure in many cults and mysteries. The Eleusinian mysteries celebrated it in the month of Anthesterion in Athens. In the mystical theories of the Orphics, also known as the Platonicist, Persephone is described as the “omnipresent goddess of nature, who both produces and destroys everything … and therefore she is mentioned along with … other mystical deities such as ‘Isis, Artemis,’ and many others.
In many ancient mythological stories, women and goddesses can be seen as victims, but Persephone is powerful in her own right, she is an embodiment of the natural cycle of the earth and therefore of life itself. She is both a destroyer and a life giver, which so many people can connect with today, we want to be the best, the loved and the admired but there is a dichotomy within us, the side that wants more and better and the other more omnipresent side that reminds us of our humanity, our faults and our capacity to hurt and destroy when we wake up. Persephone, an all-powerful goddess, strengthens our human side and shows us that it is normal to be a woman of a gentle nature, of sweetness of life but also to be this woman who remains firm in her falls, in her ability to be human, be aggressive and assertive. We can be macabre, we can be fascinated by mythologies with violent accents but that does not denote our humanity, it illustrates it in fact.