Updated: Jan 12
Many know her as the young, powerless girl, unwillingly taken from her home, kidnapped by the lord of the dead, king of the underworld- but every story has a beginning.
Named Kore, meaning the little girl or pure maiden at birth. She was the child of Demeter, the Goddess of Grain and Agriculture. While she found joy in flora and fauna, she soon grew bored of her gift. She would often wander to various parts of the world, creating a habit of worrying for her mother. She craved adventure and excitement to lighten up her boring life as a deity-goddess.
One day, during one of her many journeys, she chanced upon a doorway to the Underworld. Now, bear in mind that, though the underworld was a place where not many living souls would want to voluntarily visit, its king did not want to be completely cut off from the rest of the world- hence the doorway.
It would, therefore, be very mean to call Hades a villainous tyrant. He lost a game of dice that decided the ruler of the three realms and received the fag end of the deal- the underworld. He was the youngest of three brothers, yet he was far more mature and had better observation skills than his brothers. He took on his role with grace and can be said to be the best of the three. Do you ever hear of dead people coming back to life because someone made a mistake, or people not getting the punishment they deserve? No, because he does his job, instead of fooling around.
He put a monster-dog to guard the gates of the underworld, not so that it could rip people apart when it runs into the upper world, but so that it could report back to him if any people who were alive came into the underworld by mistake. It also assisted souls to the ferry across River Styx. The dog, originally named Cerberus in ancient greek, means “Spots”- Hades basically got a puppy and named it Spotty. And yet people like to call him the ultimate villain of any greek themed movie.
Continuing Kore’s story- she wandered into the underworld and saw that, even though it was desolate, it was a change from her boring life on earth. She decided to stay there, despite Hades having protested multiple times, raising points such as her very clear aliveness, that she was a major goddess’s daughter which would hence make Hades her enemy, and that she had no business nor role in the land of the dead. But Kore turned a deaf ear to him and continued to carry out her decision.
After some time, Demeter began to worry- her daughter was a wanderer, yes, but she always returned. This time, she hadn’t returned even though it was time for the spring season. She went to Zeus, the king of Gods, with this concern, but he turned a blind eye to her worrying. Demeter decided to take it upon herself and went out in search of her daughter. She refused to let the grain grow and caused famines and plagues- the first-ever winter humanity experienced since it came to be.
She soon found out that her daughter was in the realm of the dead, with Hades. Her anger overcame logic. She stormed to the Pantheon demanding Zeus to bring her daughter back from the underworld- where she was because she was “kidnapped” by Hades. Zeus, although he was the king of the gods, knew better than to overstep his boundaries and irritate his younger brother. He requested Hades to free Kore, thinking that she had no say in the matter of her “unwilling stay”. In response to his plea, Kore ate a pomegranate from the garden of the underworld king’s palace. Kids, one thing to remember when you go to the underworld; never eat any food, even if it’s offered to you. You’ll be stuck there forever with no hopes of ever returning to earth.
Now Hades, who honestly had no active part in this family fight, proposed that Kore marry him. She could stay in the underworld and bring some sort of peace of mind to Demeter. This idea struck Kore and Zeus as genius, but for Demeter, it was the stupidest thing she had ever heard- her lively, adventurous, and stubborn daughter, marry the pale and straight-laced boring king of the dead? They would never get along well, and Demeter wouldn’t let them either. She raged once again, and Zeus conceded to making a treaty of sorts- Kore would stay in the underworld for half the year and the other half she could spend with her mother up on earth. Both parties agreed to this and went their separate ways to prepare for the wedding.
Although Kore had agreed to marry Hades and live with him, Zeus felt that her name did not suit her position. She wasn’t a young naive girl prancing in fields of flowers anymore; she was the queen of the underworld, the partner to the king of the dead. Her personality didn’t suit her name either, honestly. Zeus bestowed upon her the name “Persephone”- the Bringer of Chaos, the Iron Queen, the Mistress of Death, and the Pale Queen.
Many a time, when soldiers would go to war or when women wanted to exact revenge on someone, they would utter not Ares’s name, but Persephone’s. She was far more widely known, respected, and feared than Hades. She is the Goddess of Spring, yes, but remember- she’s the Goddess of the Dead too.
Just a little fun fact- Persephone loved to wander, remember? Obviously, the sun was the only source of light at that time, and she used to be out there all the time. Although her name means “Pale Queen '', she wasn’t in any way pale. She was dark-skinned.