Saturday 21 December 2013

Saturday 21st December - Demeter Mourning for Persephone

Morning all.  I'm curled up on the sofa with Lily-Rose waiting for it to get light.  It's not like it's early, it's just very gloomy outside.  Also, today is the Winter Solstice and I'm not overwhelmingly convinced that the sun has come up yet, even though it's half past ten.  Both Lily and I have rotten colds and so we are wrapped in blankets and are watching some Christmas-y telly with hot water bottles.  Never mind, after today the days will start creeping towards Spring, which leads me to today's picture.

Demeter Mourning for Persephone (1906) Evelyn de Morgan

Not immediately Christmas-y, but very relevant for today, as the official start of Winter.  Demeter, sister-wife of Zeus (very complicated family, obviously) had a beautiful daughter called Persephone (or Proserpine, depending on who is telling the story or painting the picture).  One day, Persephone's wicked uncle, Hades, stole her off to the Underworld.  Demeter, beside herself with worry and grief, neglected her duties as goddess of the harvests and all of nature fell into despair with her.

Proserpine (Persephone) Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Meanwhile in the underworld, Persephone knew that she mustn't eat any food because if you did you would be doomed to stay there forever.  But she got so hungry, she ate that staple of Christmas food, pomegranate seeds, 4 or 6 in all, depending who you listen to.  Zeus was a bit worried that all of the world had been plunged into this barren period of cold.  He was concerned that all the people would die and there would be no-one left to worship him, so he sent his top chap, Hermes, off to have a word with Hades.  Obviously when lovely ladies went missing in those days, you didn't have to look very far...

The Return of Proserpine Frederick Leighton

Anyway, Hermes negotiated the beautiful Persephone's release on the condition that she returned to Hades each year for the same number of months as seeds she had consumed.  So every year, Persephone goes back to the underworld and her mother goes into mourning, and that is why we have Winter.

Well, it's now coming up to lunchtime, I'm still on the sofa (Lily has gone off to play with her assortment of brightly-coloured ponies) and it still isn't light.  I think I'll have something comforting for lunch and have a bit of a hibernate.

See you tomorrow...


  1. Thank you Pat. My father has just suggested I sit and swig from the cherry brandy bottle. I'm quite tempted...

  2. A lovely myth and one of my favourites, especially in art. Hope that you feel better now. x


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