Persephone and that Pomegranate

pomegranate arils Persephone

It’s getting a bit brrrrrr here in Sydney and I’m fighting a losing battle against the autumn leaves heaped up high in our front-yard. The doonas have been aired out of their vacuum-sealed bags, shorts and T-shirts have made way for sweaters and scarves, and hearty stews and slow roasts are on the menu at the Rodericks’ residence…

The changing of the seasons. It’s something I look forward to in Sydney, especially after growing up in Mumbai where we had three seasons: hot, hotter and hottest.

So when C1 brought home this book from the library, I thought I’d share it with you since it’s all about the continual cycle of the seasons.

Persephone Greek myth

C1 immersed in Greek goddesses

The Greek myth of Persephone and the Pomegranate Seeds

While out in the woods one day, Persephone is abducted by Hades, King of the Underworld. He takes her underground and makes her his Queen.

Persephone’s mother Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest, traverses the length and breadth of the earth searching, in vain, for her daughter. Upset and enraged, Demeter curses the earth. It grows cold and barren wherever she walks. Soon enough, it is winter all year round.

Father Zeus, seeing that the earth is dying, asks his messenger Hermes to find and bring back Persephone.

When Hermes descends to the Underworld, he finds Persephone seated at her throne as Queen of the Underworld. Hermes asks Hades to release Persephone, who does so grudgingly. But before she can leave, Hades offers Persephone a bowl of pomegranate arils. She eats a few arils (the exact number is debated: some say three seeds; others, six), their tangy red juice staining her lips.

pomegranate arils

All for the sake of those six pomegranate arils…

Persephone is happily reunited with her mother and the earth blossoms once more in abundant Spring. However, when her mother questions her about her stained lips, she is devastated to find out about the pomegranate arils.

After all, the food of the dead must not be eaten by the living. Like in any Greek tragedy, this small seeingly insignificant act has grave implications. It binds Persephone to the underworld forever.

This is why for (three to) six months each year Persephone leaves the earth to go underground, resulting in the onset of Winter when the land grows bare and barren. And this is why, when Persephone returns every Spring, she brings new life and regeneration wherever she roams.

So now you know the Greek myth behind the changing seasons. The circle of life and death. For every Spring there must be Winter.

Oh, and here’s how you pronounce all those Greek Gods and Goddesses:
Demeter: Di-MEE-ter
Hades: HAY-dees
Hermes: HER-meez
Persephone: Per-SEF-er-nee
Zeus: Zoo-s

So tell me, did you like this Greek myth, or mythology in general? Do you have a favourite season? What’s your best part about autumn/winter? And did you know that pomegranate seeds are called “arils”?

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6 responses to “Persephone and that Pomegranate

  1. Strange that the pomegranate fruit (food) of the dead. In the ancient Indian tradition pomegranate is a symbol of fertility, due to its multitude of seeds – red colour is also associated with life (blood) and thats why red is considered auspicious. I think in the Islamic tradition its called the fruit of paradise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, Vandana, Greeks use pomegranates at all auspicious occasions (New Year’s Eve, marriages and yes, funerals). It guess it connects to the whole circle of life and death.

      Like

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