King’s Shadow is out! The extra story–which I had the most fun EVER writing–is also out. Sooo the only thing left to do is to wait impatiently for King’s Queen, right? No! We’re a community! We’re going to wait in misery together, and I’m going to attempt to entertain you during the wait! So I thought I’d begin with my infamous practice of sarcastic summarization, and sarcastically retell the myth I loosely based Gates of Myth and Power on, Hades and Persephone!
Important: I love to use sarcasm and modern humor in my summaries–I poke fun of the stuff I love. I’m more interested in entertaining you all and giving you a base idea of the original myth than aiming for 100% accuracy.
Additionally, this is more than likely going to be the only Greek myth I ever retell. Some of the Greek myths make even the creepiest fairy tales–like Donkeyskin–look mild in comparison, and that’s not my jam. Hades and Persephone’s story is possibly the happiest myth with the healthiest relationship, which is saying something considering it all started with a kidnapping, which is why I wanted to retell it in the first place.
Now, with that out of the way, let’s begin my sarcastic–and hopefully funny–summery!
Our two main characters are Persephone–according to the Greek mythology, the goddess of spring and the daughter of Demeter, who was the goddess of harvest/cultivation AKA growing things–and Hades–King of the underworld, and god of death. (He sounds like a fun guy, right?)
Hades was a shockingly good king considering the antics most of the Greek gods and goddess got up to in their spare time. He was also a bit of a workaholic, so he didn’t leave the underworld a whole lot and thus was a bachelor–unlike his brother, Zeus, who I’d consider enemy number one of women everywhere due to his creeptastic ways that I wouldn’t get into to save my life.
On one of his rare trips out of the underworld, Hades saw Persephone and instantly fell in love. Despite being a decent king, Hades apparently lacked common sense, because instead of trying to talk to Persephone, he decided to consult Creepy-Crawler-Bro, Zeus. Zeus–who was also Persephone’s father–was like “Nifty, you should abduct her! I’ve got some mad tips for you since I do a lot of kidnapping, lol.” (See? Public enemy #1!)
There are a few variations of how our budding Father-of-the-Year and Good-King-Bad-At-Boundaries bros exactly captured Persephone, but the general consensus is that one way or another they split the ground open underneath her, and she fell into Hades’ kingdom where he trapped her and married her.
Some variations say the goddess Hecate heard the Persephone’s kidnapping, but didn’t see who took her, but the sun god Helios. Depending on the story, Hecate and Helios help Demeter figure out what happened, but that’s on Demeter’s side of the myth.
Most variations make it clear that initially Persephone was not happy about her kidnapped status, but she came to love her new hubby and actually enjoyed her life in the underworld–possibly because her mother was famously domineering and Hades had given Persephone power and called her his queen, which was a big deal in the mythos and didn’t happen that often. (So Hades’ romance skills are bad, and I’m still displeased about the kidnapping thing, but at least he was aiming for the end result to be a balanced relationship!)
Back on the ranch, Demeter–Persephone’s mother–lost it. Since she couldn’t find Persephone, she didn’t let anything grow, and actually went off on an adventure on her own, dressed as an old woman, but we’re not going to get into that since Hades and Persephone are our focus. Eventually, Demeter figured out where Persephone was–the exact method depends a lot on the variation, sometimes Helios tells her, sometimes Hecate guides Demeter to Helios who tells her, there’s a lot going on, but basically Demeter gets help and figures out where Persephone is.
Demeter demands Hades release Persephone, and her refusal to let things grow gets Zeus to actually do something useful for once, moving him to tell Hades that Persephone needs to be released.
Now, we don’t exactly know how Persephone felt about this–there is a really old written version of this legend and this specific part sustained some damage–but it’s relatively agreed upon that Persephone was not thrilled with this turn of events as she seemed to truly love Hades. Keeping that in mind, I’d like to think that she chooses to fall for Hades’ obvious ploy when he gets her to eat pomegranate seeds–which the Greeks considered to be the fruit of the dead, which would have been a flashing warning light to our intrepid heroine. There is some basis for this theory, as other Greek myths and stories note that Greek gods and goddess didn’t have to eat, so it’s not like she was hungry and wanted a snack.
The number of pomegranate seeds she eats changes drastically in each story. I looked all over the internet and I different sources said she ate three, four, six, or seven seeds. As you’re probably guessed, there isn’t a truly correct number due to all the variations of this story, although one website I used for research mentioned the different numbers are possibly because of different calendars/ways of recording seasons and months.
Regardless, she ate some fruit, which then tied Persephone to Hades so she had to return to the underworld for several months every year, aka, winter! (Again, the span of time she has to return to the underworld changes greatly per variation.)
Demeter wasn’t very happy about this, but there was no other choice, so Persephone split her time between serving as the goddess of spring and the queen of the underworld. Demeter got her for spring/summer, and Hades was rejoined with his wife for Fall/Winter while Hecate–the goddess who usually helps Demeter find Persephone–ends up serving as Persephone’s companion and goes to the underworld with Persephone every year.
Circling back, when Hades gives Persephone the seeds, and Persephone chooses to eat them, Hades gives Persephone a touching speech about how much he loves her, that he’ll give her all his wealth, and she’s his queen–it’s basically an adorable confession scene that is also threaded with Hades essentially giving Persephone power in his kingdom. This little confession is what sold me on this myth as a kid. There are fairy tale princes who could stand to learn a thing or two from Hades in terms of healthy relationship dynamics, despite his rocky start.
So, that’s the original source material I worked with! Eventually I’ll go over what I used from this source material, but until then, what did you spy from the original myth, Champions?