Η Δημιουργία των Εποχών
“You think he took me?
You think I knew not what I did
When I laughed and placed
Those crimson seeds upon my tongue?”
The bright rays of the sun caressed her face gently, drying her tears of anguish and pain. Her eyes were filled with anxiousness and fear as she gazed in the darkness of the cave, trying to distinguish any movement. However, the entrance to the Underworld was covered in blackness, hiding the secrets of the dead away from prying eyes.
Her heart beat wildly in her chest, filled with hope and impatience. Her arms longed to wrap her child in a tight embrace. She leaned against the Messenger for support, not having enough strength anymore. She was extremely tired and exhausted –she grieved a daughter she never lost.
The mighty Goddess of Harvest looked more human than divine -the whole situation had taken a toll on her. Her daughter’s disappearance made her look at things from a different perspective, realizing how demanding and controlling she had been.
She wished things were different –that she was more understanding of her child and less demanding of her. That she appreciated her attempts instead of criticizing her so harshly. That she listened to her more than she spoke to her. That she was more of a mother and less of a Goddess to her.
She had made many mistakes and she had paid for them greatly. She wasn’t proud of her ignorance, but she wished she could move on from her failures and start a new chapter with her flower. She had regretted her actions and would do anything in her power for her daughter to forgive her.
She concluded that nothing really mattered –just her child’s happiness and wellbeing. Everything else was minor details that had little impact in their lives. She had failed to listen to her needs once, but she wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. Her daughter was her whole world –she would start acting like it.
“Are you okay, my Lady?”, Hermes asked the stressed Goddess.
She didn’t say anything, not having the strength to lie. She just squeezed his hand, hoping it assured him enough to let her be.
“They are late.”
Demeter tightened her jaw at the sound of his voice but did not answer him. Hermes began to play anxiously with his fingers as he stood between the two parents. The tension that they both emitted was so thick that it brought new meaning to the word awkwardness.
“You are not supposed to be here”, she said through clenched teeth.
“She is as much my daughter as she is yours”, Zeus stated gazing in the darkness of the cave.
The Goddess of Harvest scoffed.
“The only time you remember your children is when you have something to gain from them.”
Hermes tensed at her words while looking at his father anxiously.
“A man can change his ways”, he tightened his fists in anger.
“A man”, she agreed, “Not you.”
Before he could respond to her insults, something caught their gaze. Something moved in the darkness of the cave, hidden from the sun’s bright rays. As it came closer to where they stood, they could finally distinguish the two shadows.
Demeter felt such a joy at the sight of her daughter that she ignored how much she had changed. She ignored the vibrant red color of her chiton and the crown of asphodelus on her head. She ignored that she held hands with the God of the Dead and the way she was leaning against him. She ignored her eyes –the knowledge and courage the hint as she gazed at her mother.
“Παιδί μου…”, she whispered longingly before running towards her.
Persephone never expected that she would miss her mother –they had become cold and distanced from each other. She thought that she had lost her mother years ago –the woman that lived with her hardly reminded her of the mother she once had. She believed that she would never find that woman again –that she had forever lost her.
But as her mother’s arms wrapped around her shoulders, she felt like she had finally returned back. As she felt the warmth of her skin and the wetness of her tears on her shoulder, she couldn’t help but hug her back. This woman was her mother –the loving and caring mother that Demeter had long ago killed.
“Μητέρα…”, she acknowledged her, closing her eyes in delight as she caressed her hair.
Hades’ silver orbs found his brother’s blue ones. The King of the Gods nodded to him in appreciation. Zeus would never utter the words but he was glad that he let her go. He didn’t know what would have happened if he didn’t.
“You’re back, my flower”, Demeter laughed in happiness, “You’ve finally returned.”
Persephone took her hand in hers, before gazing into her mother’s tired eyes.
“I came back to say goodbye, mother”, she stated firmly.
Her words were like lightning bolt –they hit them fast and strong. Hermes’ couldn’t believe how calm his sister was while uttering them –gazing at her in both awe and fear. Demeter’s smile froze on her tired features as she felt panic filling her whole being. Zeus and Hades remained silent as everything unfolded in front of her.
“Why would you say goodbye, my Kore”, the stressed Goddess asked, “You just returned back home.”
Persephone shook her head in denial.
“That’s the thing, mother”, she smiled down at her, “I’m not your Kore, I am my own Persephone –I do not belong to anyone but myself. My home isn’t here any longer –my place isn’t under the sun. I belong to the Underworld and to the King of my heart.”
Zeus looked at his brother with furrowed eyebrows.
“I cannot let her leave”, he said in a hoarse voice, “She has eaten the food of the dead –she is bound to my Kingdom.”
Demeter gasped in shock, gazing at her daughter with desperation. Turning her attention to Hades, she felt her fury clouding her vision.
“This is your doing!”, she shouted in outrage, “You tricked her! You forced her into this!”
Hermes tried to hold the enraged mother as she continued to yell insults to the God that had stolen her daughter.
“Damn you, Aidoneus”, the mother cried in anguish, “You know she isn’t yours, yet you’ll do anything to keep her.”
Hades’ silver eyes darkened at her words.
“She was mine from the very beginning.”
The sobbing Goddess shook her head in denial –her screams echoed around the field.
“This wasn’t supposed to happen –she was supposed to return back home!”, she cried out, ”She was supposed to return back to me! But you…you cursed her in a life of misery!”
Her voice was steady and strong, nothing like the trembling voice of the scary girl she used to be.
“Don’t you understand, mother?”, she smiled at her sadly, “He never forced me into anything.”
Demeter stared at her daughter in disbelief.
“He crowned me Queen of his Kingdom –Goddess of his Heart. He protected me, loved me, offered his soul to me. He freed me from my miseries, gave me the power to realize who I am and what I want.”
Persephone caressed her mother’s cheek, wiping away her silent tears.
“I was surviving but not living –I was breathing but did not feel. He breathed life into me.”
Her emerald gaze found his softened silver one as the others fell silent around them.
“I love him and he loves me”, she smiled gently at him, “Can’t you understand, mother? He is my home.”
Demeter felt a pang in her heart as she watched her daughter silently. She caressed her beloved’s cheek and he kissed the inside of her palm lovingly. The way they stared at each other –she knew what it meant. She had seen it before –she had felt it before.
Pure, unconditional love.
Although, this time Hades’ returned the gaze of her daughter with the same intensity. And that was the difference between them and between her love for Zeus –he never looked at her like that.
“I placed those pomegranate seeds in my mouth and smiled as I did so, because when I tasted their juice I knew… I was his and nobody would tear us apart.”
Hades leaned down and kissed her forehead lovingly. His arms tightened around her, shielding her away from their gaze. “I love you”, he whispered only for her to hear –his breathing hitching when she rested her face on his chest.
Demeter’s words fluttered at Persephone’s stern gaze.
“Persephone”, she corrected herself, “I’m sorry, my child.”
The raw honesty in her words felt like a weight being lifted from her shoulders.
“For what, mother?”
“For everything”, she whispered tearfully, “I only wanted what’s best for you, but never took consideration of what you wanted. Will you forgive me?”
Demeter’s lip quivered and her heart stopped as she waited for her answer.
“I forgive you.”
She exhaled loudly at her words, stumbling back when Persephone hugged her tightly. She hadn’t expected it, but she didn’t complain. Her daughter was finally in her arms like she always wanted.
“I’m sorry to break this lovely moment, but what’s going to happen now?”, Hermes cleared his throat slightly.
When everyone’s gaze focused on him, he wished to disappear.
“I-I mean”, he stuttered nervously, “The mortals are still dying as does nature around them.”
“You have to stop this, mother”, Persephone stared at her worriedly, “Enough damage has already been made.”
“I can’t, my flower…Not without you”, Demeter shook her head negatively, “I want to see you happy, believe me…I do. But I cannot control the sadness and emptiness I feel because of your absence.”
“Then, she’ll have to return back to her mother”, Zeus stated as he gazed to his brother firmly.
“You know I cannot do that, brother. Rules exist for a reason”, Hades disagreed.
“Rules won’t matter when all mortals are dead and we have no reason for existence!”
He met his blue orbs –they were filled with anger and confusion like his own were. The God of the Underworld clenched his fists –he had nothing to answer.
“You are my mother –you’ll always have a place in my heart. But he…he is my King –my husband…my heart belongs to him”, Persephone let a tear fall from her eyes.
Hermes’ eyes widened in panic as he turned to the God of the Underworld.
“Did you mar-”
That definitely shut him up.
“Please, mother”, she whispered, “Don’t make me choose. I might be your daughter, but I am also his wife. I may be the Goddess of Spring but I am also the Queen of the Underworld. I am the same person –don’t make me choose between sides of myself.”
A long silence followed them –an agonizing period of time where they stared at one another. They didn’t know what to do –what to choose. If she followed Hades in the Underworld, she would live happily ever after but the mortals would perish. If she followed her mother, the mortals would live but her happiness would die.
The situation wasn’t fair –she would get hurt, no matter what she chose.
“How many seeds did you eat?”
She was startled when she heard her father’s strong voice. Her tearful emerald eyes found his, not understanding how could he be so calm. Sighing to herself, she finally answered.
“Six”, she mumbled.
Zeus nodded to himself before a thought came to him.
Life is not a game –there are no clear winners or losers. Some times you are at the top and others you are at the bottom. You make mistakes, learn from them, and move on. You laugh, you cry –you feel both pain and delight. There is no manual to help you live –you just do and hope that at the end of your journey, you made it worth it.
Life is emotions.
Life is experiences.
Life is compromising.
“You ate six pomegranate seeds”, the King of the Gods repeated firmly, “Therefore, you’ll spend six months by your mother’s side and six with your husband.”
Life isn’t fair.
The mother would lose her child for half a year –leaving nature to feel her sorrow and heartbreak.
The husband would rule his kingdom alone for half a year -unable to get a glimpse or speak a word to his beloved.
As for the daughter –she would eventually become happy.
Even if it was only for half a year.
End of chapter 34!!
Title Translation: “The Creation of the Seasons”
1. “Παιδί μου”: My child
2. “Μητέρα”: Mother
3. In another version of the myth, Persephone ate seven seeds. Therefore, she only stayed four months by Hades’ side (the months of winter).
Follow & Comment & Vote
Until next time!!