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Pærsæphóni (Persephone; Gr. Περσεφόνη, ΠΕΡΣΕΦΟΝΗ. Pronounced: payr-say-FOH-nee.) 

The daughter of Dimítir (Δημήτηρ) and Zefs (Ζεύς) [1], Pærsæphóni is one of the most important deities of Ællinismόs (Hellenismos; Gr. Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion, and is strongly connected with the foremost of the Mystery Cults, the Mysteries of Ælefsís (Ἐλευσίς).


The Birth of Pærsæphóni

Pærsæphóni is the offspring of Dimítir and Zefs [1] . According to the mythology, Dimítir was pursued by her own son Zefs. In order to escape him, she transformed herself into a snake. Zefs also became a serpent and they entwined into a Knot of Iraklís (Ἡρακλῆς), thus producing Pærsæphóni, destined to become the mother of Zagréfs (Ζαγρεύς). This story may be found in the Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony.


The Abduction of Pærsæphóni by Ploutohn

The story of the abduction of Pærsæphóni
 by Ploutohn (Πλούτων[2], while gathering flowers in a meadow, is the most familiar mythology of both Dimítir and Pærsæphóni. 

According to the mythology, Zefs had secretly promised Pærsæphóni to Ploutohn in marriage and allowed her to be kidnapped by him. Ploutohn is Zefs Khthónios (χθόνιος), i.e. Zefs of Earth; khthónios means terrestrial, earthy; so Zefs has promised Kóri (the Daughter) to the Earth. As Pærsæphóni descended into Ploutohn's realm, Dimítir, who heard the echo of her daughter's voice, began to search for her, despondent. On the tenth day of her search she met Ækáti (Ἑκάτη), who had also heard Pærsæphóni's cries. They inquired of Ílios (Ἥλιος) the Sun, who had seen all and now revealed the details of the abduction to Dimítir. The angry Goddess caused famine by not allowing the earth to produce fruit. She refused to ascend to the Olympian Heavens but, rather, took up her residence on earth, particularly at Ælefsís (Ἐλευσίς). Zefs feared for the future of earth, so he retrieved Pærsæphóni, but before she left the realm of Ploutohn, he had given her some pomegranate seeds to eat (the pomegranate being symbolic of the richness and fruitfulness of the Earth), a trick requiring her to return. Zefs agreed to allow Pærsæphóni to stay with her mother for most of the year, but in winter she must return to Ploutohn. Dimítir agreed to this, returned fruitfulness back to the earth, and prepared to depart back to the Heavens. Before she left, Dimítir instructed Triptólæmos (Τριπτόλεμος), King Kælæós (Κελεός) of Ælefsís, Évmolpos (Εύμολπος), and Dioklís (Διοκλῆς) in her Mysteries, the greaÆlefsinian (Eleusinian) Mysteries.


Pærsæphóni is the Queen of the Mortals and the Queen of Earth

Pærsæphóni is Khthónia (Χθόνια), the "earthy" or terrestrial Goddess. Khthonic means "of the earth" in contrast to ypokhthonic (ὑποχθόνιος), which means "under the earth." Pærsæphóni rules alongside Ploutohn as Queen of the Earth with all its verdure and richness. She is also known as the queen of the dead, but this is not quite correct: Pærsæphóni is the queen of those who are subject to death, i.e. the mortals. So the mythology concerning her abduction is poetic and symbolic. Pærsæphóni helps to free the mortals from the cycle of births and deaths. 

Pærsæphóni is the Mother of Diónysos-Zagréfs

As told in the Orphic Rhapsodic TheogonyPærsæphóni was pursued by her father Zefs who united with her in the form of a snake, producing the child Zagréfs (Zagreus; Gr. Ζαγρεύς), the Sixth King.

From the Orphic hymn to Pærsæphóni, she is called the mother of Efvouléfs (Εὐβουλεύς), one of the many names of Diónysos:

"Mother of Bacchus (Εὐβουλεύς), sonorous, divine,..." (Taylor translation) [3]

From the Orphic hymn to Diónysos:

"Of Jove and Proserpine, occultly born." (Taylor trans.) [4]


Pærsæphóni is parallel to Diónysos

Diónysos follows in the line of Kings: Ouranós, Krónos, Zefs, and finally Diónysos. Likewise, Pærsæphóni holds a similar role following the line of Queens: Yaia, Rǽa, Íra, and 
Pærsæphóni.


The etymology of Pærsæphóni

There are various etymologies proposed regarding the name Pærsæphóni which undoubtedly have some validity, but in regards to the Mysteries there is a particular etymology: πῦρ (fire) + ς (ancient symbol of Ζεύς) + φονεύω ("kills" = transforms). Pærsæphóni is the fire, the thunder and lightning of Zefs which transforms the soul.


Pærsæphóni in Iconography

"(ed. Pærsæphóni) is generally represented at the side of Pluto, either on a throne of ebony, holding a torch which emits a smoky flame; in a car, drawn by black horses, holding narcissus flowers; in the garb of a huntress; or with a basket on her head, emblematical of the basket which she was filling with flowers when borne away by Pluto. The poppy and the narcissus were sacred to her, and dogs were sacrificed on her altars."  [5] 

Pærsæphóni is frequently represented in the company of Dimítir, her mother, and Ækáti, holding a torch and sheaves of grain, with Triptólæmos by her side.



For a list of names of Pærsæphóni please visit this page: Pærsæphóni: The Epithets.



The story of the birth of the GodsOrphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.
How do we know there are Gods? Experiencing Gods.


 
NOTES:

[1] Ἡσίοδος Θεογονία 912, Ὅμηρος Ἰλιάς xiv. 326 and Ὀδύσσεια xi. 216Ἀπολλόδωρος Βιβλιοθήκη i. 5. § 1.

[2] Homeric Hymn Εἲς Δημήτραν. 

[3] Orphic Hymn 29. Ὕμνος Περσεφόνης, line 11, trans. Thomas Taylor, 1792.

[4] Orphic Hymn 30. Διονύσου, line 10, trans. Thomas Taylor, 1792. 

[5] A Classical Manual, Being a Mythological, Historical, and Geographical Commentary on Pope's Homer, and Dryden's Æneid of Virgil, 1833. (no author or editor mentioned), published by John Murray, Albemarle St. (London, England), p. 203.



The logo to the left is the principal symbol of this website. It is called the CESS logo, i.e. the Children of the Earth and the Starry Sky. The Pætilía (Petelia; Gr. Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kozmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara; Gr. κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus; Gr. Ὀρφεύς).



PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this website, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. These narratives are known as mythology, the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes. While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally. A literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result. The meaning of the myths is concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level. Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation.


The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

SPELLING: HellenicGods.org uses the Reuchlinian method of pronouncing ancient Greek, the system preferred by scholars from Greece itself. An approach was developed to enable the student to easily approximate the Greek words. Consequently, the way we spell words is unique, as this method of transliteration is exclusive to this website. For more information, visit these three pages: 

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