Gabriel Dante Rosetti's Prosperpina (Persephone)
The famous legend of Persephone
comes from Ancient Greek myth; it is a way of explaining the passage of the seasons. Persephone was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, Goddess of the harvest. Hades (or Pluto, as the Romans called him) abducted her and dragged her into his kingdom of the Underworld. Her mother Demeter was so distraught the earth stopped supporting life, and the world became barren. Eventually Zeus ordered Hades to return Persephone, but Hades had tricked her into eating a certain small number of pomegranate seeds. Anyone who consumes the food of the Underworld is doomed to stay there for eternity, so Persephone was forced to return to the Underworld for a season each year from then on. Every time Persephone returns to Hades, Demeter mourns for her, and we have winter.