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Dria El
June 8th, 2001, 01:56 AM
An Interpretation of the Persephone Myth
FireWind

Daughter played in the sunlight. A Goddess child, she radiated the sunlight which sparkled about her. Kore, the center of her mother's existance. Innocence shone from her lovely clear eyes that laughed in the summer air. Flowers, flowers to fill her home with the sweet scent of springtime. Only one more: that red one on the hilltop. Mother said to never play there, but it was just too beautiful to resist. Making her way there, Kore thought about her mother. One day, she would be just like her, warm and full of giving. She stood at the edge of a short drop, feeling the wind on her face, and the weight of the flower basket on her arm. Hunger touched her briefly, a reminder of the late hour and the setting sun. The chariot would be nearing the end of its run soon, and the horses would be tired. Kore was tired, but the flower was too tempting. A simple pluck...but the flower would not give. Perplexed, the virgin set her flower basket down, and prepared for a sharper jerk. Nothing? Confused, and annoyed, she grabbed on with both hands and leaned back with all her might. Straining to take a simple backward step, she gathered all her will into her hands. With heavenly strength, she determined to have that flower. The very earth rent itself in two, opening a gulf between them. Angered beyond reason, Kore stood astride the chasm and summoned the All within her to pull. But her hands were slick with strain, and suddenly; balance was gone, and dazed, she slipped into the darkness of the gaping earth.

Darkness ensued. How many days to fall within the earth? How many times did Apollo ride across the sky before a light seeped up below her? And how long before that light grew enough to see by?

Sharp, sudden, hard splash into foul ugly water. Kore choked on the slime of nightmares and selfish desires. She shivered violently as a wave of rightiousness passed over her. Disgusted and afraid, she fought down queasiness as she splashed about in the darkness, unsure of which direction to swim to. An oar suddenly appeared in front of her, and a cloaked figure in a graceful boat peered at her in the darkness. Clambering in, she realized in a flash that this was Charon, ferryman on the Styx. The Styx... Softly she apologized, "I have no money, I cannot pay..." He only nodded in reply, and continued on down the river.

Was she dead? she wondered as she was herded to the inner chambers of the Underworld. Along the way, she passed people, so many people, playing cards, revelling, fighting, dancing, making love. Of course, she had heard stories; none of which appeared to be true. They stopped at a Golden door. Charon said nothing, but held out a hand and pointed. "In here?" she asked, "I thank you for your kindness". The boatman paused a moment, then nodded and slowly turned away. Kore paused herself to examine the structure in front of her. Made of solid gold, it seemed out of sync in this vast rounded place. But so beautiful, it seemed crafted with exquisite care; the architect must be highly praised. Sighing, she entered. What lay before her was a warm room, with a fireplace and a dinner table set with ripe fruits. Lilies adorned the room, and warm lamplight beckoned her within. She took a place by the fire, wating for, something.

"My dear, you must be cold; here, let me help you", a strong voice called out. She turned just in time to feel a warm ermine robe placed on her shoulders. Oh pleasure, what was this place? She turned to face her benefactor, and caught her breath sharply. By Helicon, she had never seen such a one as this before. Tall, solid, he would mask even Aeneas. Smooth, olive skin, deepest eyes of golden fawn, and deapths within deapths. Jet hair, glossy in the lamplight, curled and silky sheened. Gentle features, but strong and self assured. Here, she knew, was strength, but fairness; hard will but tenderness. But a Goddess child is not caught off guard for long. "I thank you for your hospitality", she gracefully began. "I am not sure of how I got here, but I am grateful for your care". He smiled in reply and motioned for her to sit. "I cannot say how you arrived" he began, "but I cannot say I am dismayed you are here. Tell me, what is the last thing you remember before your fall?" "A flower" she replied, "I was trying to pick a flower but it would not move". Light dawned through the gold in his eyes. "Ah, I understand. You could not have that bloom; you see, it's roots bear down all the way to my kingdom. I am sorry to have caused you inconvenience". "Not at all" she replied; and the look conveyed between them spoke of more than simple lillies.

Demeter paced, and the ground shook. Her daughter lost, and not returned! No-one knew, no-one cared, no-one at any rate, was telling. If one hair on her head ws misused, one scratch, to Hades with all of them! Lightning scorched the parched land; rain fell but burned the scathing earth. Fire burned her every step, as the land she loved fell to cinder and ashes. Winds blew from all directions, and the very trees shook with the terror of a Goddess gone mad.

And a Goddess gone mad fails to bless her chosen care. The grain died, the earth grew cold, and winds unknown blew throughout the land. Even the sun retreated, as if dismaying the sight before him. Clouds covered the sky, and darkness reigned. Bitter rains brought poison to the earth, and animals died in their tracks. People began to fight over bread, over ale, over anything at all. Then came death, like a shadow in the land, picking and choosing almost at random. Darkness filled the hearts of the people, and night usurped the day. Death in the land of the living, and nothing would be the same.

A council on the mount. What was to be done? Some gods said wake up old Gaia, let her take care of it. Ares and Artemis suggested forcing Demeter to fix her mess. Aphrodite suggested putting love in her life. Athena said, Let her be, she would come around in time. Even Pan jumped in, saying he could fix her in a hurry. Zeus knew something had to bedone quickly. Why not return the girl to her? Ares agreed. But Athena bowed away and reported the happiness between the two. "Besides", she added, "they've already married. How will Demeter react when her daughter is returned to her as Queen Persephone?" Murmers throughout, and the group split again. "Enough!" Zeus' voice rang through the palace. "The people are dying. The girl will be returned, and things will get back to normal. I've had enough of this constant whining, and 'Zeus help me this' and 'Zeus forgive me that'; the girl will be returned.

Hades turned to his wife and sighed quietly. Never a moment to drop guard. As soon as a moment of pleasure is presented, another snatches it away. He softly touched his beloved's face and sadly smiled. Hermes had come and told them the news. To ignore them all would be to cause...complications. She understood, and quietly they leaned on one another in the silence.

Persephone clutched the tiny seeds he had given her. He had told her they were for the journey; to enjoy them on the boatride back to shore. As she sat tasing the pomegranite, she was filled with new strength, and knew that things would never be the same. But enough; mother was waiting, and oh how she missed the safety of her arms.

Life returned to the world. Grain grew, sun shined, people flourished. But one thing remained: an old law, but a binding one. Persephone had eaten in the underworld, and therefore must return. Demeter swore on the river Styx that the world would die a slow and painful death if he rdaughter was taken from her. The Gods, knowing this to be a binding curse, could not decide which fate to tempt. Time passed, and no resolution. Tensions rose, and tempers flared, but the issue was unresovled. Zeus consulted with legions of ideas, and it was not until the last day that a consensus could be reached. The girl herself had proposed it.

To the relief and audible joy of all, Demeter agreed to let her daughter go to the underworld for half the year. During this time, she could mourn as she saw fit. The other half would be spent together with her daughter, and the land would be rich once again. Persephone was free to rule the underworld with her husband, and to enjoy the comforts of home. The world would not die, and darkness would not bring fear into the hearts of the people. The very sky wept tears of joy.