The Story Of Persephone.

  This story is one of the tales that the ancient Greeks told about their gods. It is the story of Persephone, the lovely daughter of Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest.
  Demeter travelled around the world with Persephone, visiting all the trees and plants that produce food. As she passed by, they grew and flourished, and their fruit ripened. On hot days as she walked through a field of corn, the husks would swell and the corn would turn golden. Whenever she visited orchards and vineyards, the apples, peaches, pears and grapes would be sweet and ready to eat. Persephone would dance with joy to see how lovely the flowers looked when Demeter touched them.

  One day Persephone asked her mother if she could go and play with her friends on the mountainside. Demeter agreed, but warned her not to stray too far. While Demeter visited some valleys where the harvest was late, Persephone and her friends scrambled happily over the mountainside. They found many flowers growing in the mountain meadows, and began to pick them to make garlands and chains. Further and further they wandered, until they were a long way from the valley where they had started.
  Soon the meadows were shimmering in the hot mid-day sun, Persephone grew tired and dropped behind her friends. She sat down on the grass to rest while she finished the garland she was making.
  Suddenly there was a great crack and a roar. The side of the mountain seemed to split open and out galloped six great black horses, pulling a gleaming black chariot. Persephone was terrified and called out, "Mother, Mother, help me!" But even as she called, the man driving the chariot leant out and swept Persephone up into the chariot. He pulled at the reins to turn the horses and they galloped back into the mountain. With another roar and a crash the gap closed, leaving no trace of what had happened.
  Persephone's friends soon missed her and came back to look for her. They hunted everywhere and called and called, but there was no sign of her anywhere. At last they gave up and went back to tell Demeter.

  Together they searched for hours up and down the mountain, but could find no trace of Persephone until, in the evening, they came upon a fading garland of flowers lying in the grass. Now Demeter knew that something dreadful must have happened to her daughter.
  Something terrible had happened indeed. Persephone had been snatched by Hades, God of the Underworld, in his great black chariot. He drove her back to his palace of dark caverns deep inside the earth. The palace was full of beautiful things but Persephone was very unhappy there. She missed the sunlight and the flowers, and all the colours of the world she had known, and most of all she longed to see her mother. She was so unhappy that she refused to eat. She just sat in a corner, pining for her old home. Hades loved her and hoped to marry her, but Persephone time and again refused, saying that she wished only to return to the world above and her mother.
  Meanwhile, Demeter continued to look for her daughter from one end of the world to the other. While she searched, she gave no thought at all to the harvest. Everywhere the crops failed and the farmers watched in despair as their corn failed to ripen and their fruit withered on the trees.
  Even Zeus, the King of the Gods, was worried. He did not wish to see the people on earth go hungry, so when Demeter asked him to help her find Persephone, he agreed to do what he could. His messengers soon came back with the information that she was with Hades in the Underworld. Zeus had no power over those who lived in the Underworld but there was a chance that Persephone might he saved. She had not yet eaten anything there and so had not yet become part of the Underworld. Each day Hades' servants brought her tempting dishes of exquisite fruit and sweets, but Persephone over and over again refused to touch them because she was so unhappy.
  Zeus's messengers arrived in the Underworld once more and demanded that Persephone be returned to her mother. Hades knew that unless he could make her eat he would lose the lovely girl he wanted to marry. He ordered his servants to prepare a bowl of beautiful fruit and he himself carried it to Persephone. On the top he put a sweet-smelling pomegranate which he knew was her favourite fruit. Persephone, after much coaxing, reluctantly ate six seeds from the pomegranate, for she felt Hades had been kind to her and did not want to hurt his feelings. Then she turned her head away and refused to eat any more, for the taste reminded her of the warm sunshine and the happy life that she missed so much. But Hades was triumphant, knowing that, because she had eaten food, she belonged forever to the Underworld.
  Demeter was heartbroken. She grieved so much at the loss of her daughter that she had no heart to travel the earth as Goddess of the Harvest, and people began to grow hungry. Zeus was sorry for Demeter and for the people of the earth, so he sent his messengers to Hades once more to make a bargain: Persephone should spend six months of each year in the Underworld, one for each pomegranate seed she had eaten, but for the remaining six months she should return to the earth and join her mother.
  And so it has been ever since. You will know when Persephone is in the Underworld with Hades as leaves fall and plants wither and die. During the six months we call Autumn and Winter Demeter is too unhappy to give any thought to the harvest. But when Persephone returns to the earth her mother is overjoyed and in her happiness makes the flowers open and new shoots spring from the ground. Crops flourish and fruit ripens to produce food. These six months when Persephone once more dances through the fields and orchards with her mother we call Spring and Summer.