As far as the Greek gods go, Hades is one of the least dickish. Being the god of the underworld, and thus someone a lot of folks wanted to be around, he mostly just kinda keeps to himself. Of course, that doesn’t stop him from kidnapping Persephone.
Hey, I didn’t say Hades was a great guy, just that he was less of an asshole than, say, Zeus or Poseidon. That’s a very low bar to clear.
So, it all starts off when Hades sees Persephone, goddess of spring, traipsing about a meadow picking flowers, as she was wont to do. Now, Persephone is super super gorgeous. Just ridiculously beautiful. Hades, of course, takes notice of this, and decides that he would very much like to hit that.
There’s just one tiny problem: Persephone is the daughter of Demeter, the goddess of the harvest. Demeter is extremely protective of her daughter, and isn’t super likely to let Hades just tap that ass. So Hades goes to Zeus, and asks for his advice.
Zeus, who probably isn’t the best person to ask for love advice, is just like, “Bro, just kidnap her.”
So he does. By opening the earth beneath her while she’s about doing her thing.
Afterwards, Demeter notices that her daughter is missing and starts frantically looking for her. Eventually, she comes to Hekate, the goddess of magic. Hekate feels really, really sorry for her, and points her in the direction of the sun hod Helios, who probably saw what happened to Persephone. What with being the sun and all.
So Demeter takes Hekate’s advice, and goes to Helios. Helios is like, “Yup, saw the whole thing. Hades took Persephone to the underworld.”
Demeter, as you can probably imagine, is absolutely furious. And when mama’s not happy, everything on planet Earth stops growing.
She then storms down to the underworld, and demands he give her her daughter back. Hades is like, “Wish I could help you out with that, sis, but she ate a bunch of pomegranate seeds, so she can’t go back up topside. She has to stay with me.”
As an aside, eating the food of the dead usually has this consequence in a lot of different mythologies. This was a big part of the story of Izanami and Izanagi as well. It doesn’t really have anything to do with this particular tale; I just think it’s neat.
Anyway, the two start to negotiate, and eventually come to a compromise. Persephone can stay up top with her mother six months out of the year, but has to return to the underworld (which is also called Hades, for some reason) for the other six months. Most versions of the myth state that Persephone eventually comes to love Hades, but that sounds more like Stockholm syndrome to me.
And that, my friends, is why winter happens.
So, as you’ll notice, this particular myth is kinda skeevy. As a note, a lot of more modern interpretations of the story have tried to smooth things out to make things a bit more…consensual on Persephone’s part. One example is an episode of Hercules: The Lengendary Journeys, where the “abduction” isn’t really an abduction, as Persephone went willingly. Another is the webcomic Lore Olympus, where Persephone’s kidnapping is orchestrated by a jealous Aphrodite.
Still, kidnapping isn’t really the basis of a stable, healthy relationship.
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