Books have been written and films made, images painted onto canvas and statues chiseled in marble, they all give us a romantic ideal of a heroic time.
Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the seventeenth century sculptor, has given us sculptures of mythical characters such as Apollo and Medusa and his magnificent work, The Abduction of Persephone, seen here in my the image below.
Hades spots the beautiful Persephone and asks Zeus for her. The mighty king of the gods, knowing that Demeter would not allow it, suggests that he take her without permission and this Hades does, swooping on the poor girl through a opening in the earth and carries her away kicking and screaming. On finding her daughter gone, Demeter searches and not finding her she leaves in her wake, a barren land where nothing will grow.
Over time Zeus sees how hungry his people were becoming and orders Persephone to be returned home. The quick thinking Hades, forces Persephone to eat from a pomegranate knowing full well that those who eat in the underworld were doomed to stay, but the strong willed Demeter had other ideas and a deal was struck where her beloved daughter is allowed to leave if she returns for a few months every year.
Once Persephone is home, the barren lands became fruitful and the hungry fed.
This is a wonderful story that has its roots in the seasons. Demeter can easily be viewed as Mother Nature, her daughter Persephone's absence from the world is representative of autumn and winter and her return is seen as spring and summer.