Proserpina (also known as Proserpine) is a goddess of Ancient Rome, often known as the goddess of springtime. Her mother is Ceres, Roman goddess of agriculture, fertility and the earth. Her father Jupiter (or Jove), is the king of all the gods, and the god of the sky and of thunder.
Proserpina is associated with a myth about springtime and the changing of the seasons: Whilst playing in a field with some nymphs, Proserpina was abducted by the god Pluto, ruler of the Underworld. Pluto took Proserpina back to his realm in order to marry her and make her Queen of the Underworld. Her mother, Ceres, searched for her daughter but was unable to find her, and in anger stopped the earth’s crops from growing. Her father, Jupiter, then sent Mercury to order Pluto to set Proserpina free from the Underworld. Pluto let her go, but first he tricked Proserpina into eating pomegranate seeds. Anyone eating food from the Underworld, the land of the dead, would be unable to return permanently to the land of the living. So Proserpina was allowed to go home to her mother, but had to return for a period each year to live with Pluto in the Underworld. Each year, when Proserpina returns to the Underworld, her mother mourns for her, and the earth becomes barren as the crops stop growing. And each time that they are reunited the crops flourish and the earth becomes rich and fertile again. This story is thought to represent the cycle of the seasons, spring and winter; the growing of grain and its return to beneath the earth. In some versions of this story, Proserpina has a garden in the Underworld, full of flowers that are always in bloom.
A longer, and extremely eloquent version of her story, can be found here.