Why We Keep Retelling the Hades and Persephone Myth

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P.N. Hinton

Contributing Editor

Born into a family of readers, P.N. gained a love reading as a sort of herd mentality. This love of reading has remained a life long passion, resulting in an English Degree from The University of Houston in Houston, Texas. She normally reads three to four books at any given time, in the futile Sisyphean hope of whittling down her ever growing to be read pile of no specific genre.

Like most people of my generation, there was a not-so-brief period of my life where I was fascinated with the idea of Greek mythology. And by not-so-brief, I mean the fascination is still there.

When I first started this journey, I devoured everything that had to do with it. From Edith Hamilton’s Mythology to watching/recording almost every single episode of Xena and Hercules…I was all about it. And also similar to others in my generation, I gravitated towards the Hades and Persephone myth. One contributing factor to this could be thanks to a personality test I took in one of the teen magazines that said that I embodied Persephone the most and it has stuck with me since.

Nowadays, this is arguably one of the more popular myths from that time, between adult romance retellings such as Hot as Hades, Drag Me Up, and Neon Gods and the popular WebToon comics, Lore Olympus, which is now also available as a bound book. Hades and Persephone are definitely the “it” couple, at least as it relates to Greek mythology, and they completely outshine Zeus and Hera, the self-proclaimed King and Queen of that pantheon.

But why is it this way? Because, let’s be honest: their meet cute wasn’t so much that as it was a kidnapping. It reads more that she was forced into loving him rather than it being an organic development. So, some people may feel this is one of the worst blueprints for a love story. Now, personally, I’m one who feels she fell in love with him over time, since it does happen, inauspicious beginnings aside.

Regardless of what side you land one, one can’t argue that their story has a certain staying power. And a lot of that boils down to this simple fact: they have one of, if not the, most healthy romantic relationships out of entire Greek pantheon, despite its inception. Here’s why.

(Alleged) Lack of Infidelity

Once married, Hades appears to have stayed faithful, even when Persephone wasn’t around. The only other paramour we really know of is Minthe, and it’s unsure as to whether or not the affair continued after Hades was married. So, for the sake of my argument, I’m going to say it stopped once there was a ring on it. We all know Zeus got around and even Poseidon stepped out on Amphitrite. Neither were exactly discreet about it. Hades is a refreshing change to this pattern.

And, on a side note, I feel Minthe got off easy just being turned into a mint plant. You can’t run your mouth about a goddess who is known in some circles as Dark Persephone all the time and not expect some kind of retaliation. That’s just poor decision making.

No Power Struggle

Speaking of Dark Persephone, this was one of the many nicknames that the Greek people bestowed on the goddess, recognizing her power as Queen of the Underworld. And to his major credit, Hades didn’t resent sharing the spotlight Persephone, unlike his power hungry brothers might have with their own wives.

Some Greeks feared her even more than Hades, reportedly using her name to curse enemies. She was in no way weak and was one of the few who personified duality by being able to hold the roles Queen of the Underworld and a Spring Goddess. Part of that was due to Hades supporting her in both roles. Unlike other gods before him, he wasn’t worried about being overthrown. He knew his power wasn’t diminished by hers in any way. Likewise, Persephone never tried to overthrow him and accepted her role by his side as his equal. Which helps to lead to the last point.

They Work Well Together

No matter what side of the myth that you stand on, it cannot be denied that Hades and Persephone made a powerful and terrifying team when it came to co-ruling the Underworld. They both inspired fear when necessary as well as being able to rule the Underworld with a strong and united front. Bluntly put, there aren’t that many marriages that work as well as theirs did in this aspect.

While their initial introduction may have been a not-so-meet-cute, Persephone took her responsibility as Queen of the Underworld very seriously and didn’t shirk her duties. The moment it was time to shed the mantle of being a Spring goddess, she stepped into her Dark Persephone role flawlessly and did it with every fiber of her being.

As I said earlier, I am and will always be a big fan of these two and their story and I’m not alone. I firmly believe that the reasons listed above also contribute to why their story has such staying power and why creative minds are always clamoring to put their own spin on it. Are you also a fan? Why do you think theirs is one of the most adapted myths? Let me know over on social media, along with letting me know some of your favorite Hades and Persephone retellings.