Demeter and Persephone: A Story of a Mother’s Enduring Love

Demeter and persephone mother and daughterDemeter and Persephone’s story is one of the most-well known in Greek mythology when it comes to a mother-daughter relationship. It effectively shows how enduring a mother’s love can be and how far she is willing to sacrifice for her daughter. Even if it seemed like a hopeless case, Demeter did everything she could to compel Zeus to intervene and finally get her daughter back, even for just a limited period. 

Continue reading to find out what happened to Persephone and what Demeter did to find and get her back.

Who Are Demeter and Persephone?

Demeter and Persephone are mother and daughter whos love was greatly illustrated in Greek mythology. They are often depicted together, showcasing Demeter and Persephone mother-daughter relationship, and are even called “The Goddesses,” who both symbolize the planet’s vegetation and seasons.

The Story of Demeter and Persephone

In ancient Greece, Demeter was known as the goddess of the harvest. She was the one responsible for making the earth fertile and for allowing crops to grow. This made her a very important goddess for the people, and even Zeus, the king of the gods, acknowledges the major role she plays.

Demeter was never married, but she bore several children, of whom Persephone is the most famous. Persephone, on the other hand, is the daughter of Demeter and Zeus. The Demeter and Persephone story is about her abduction and how Demeter copes with her disappearance is the most known story about them. This story was written in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. It showed Demeter and Persephone relationship, which tapped into a different kind of love than more commonly featured in the stories of Greek mythology.

The Origin of Demeter

Demeter was one of the original Twelve Olympians who were considered to be the major gods and goddesses of the Greek pantheon. She was the middle child of Cronus and Rhea, and Hades, Poseidon, and Zeus were her brothers.

She plays a major role as the goddess of food and agriculture. Demeter was regarded as a mother goddess; hence, her name is frequently linked to the word “mother.” She is associated with the term “Mother Earth” as well.

She is also regarded as the one responsible for the changing seasons and is even included in the Homeric Hymns, which is a collection of heroic poetry devoted to the gods. It features hymns about Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, and many others.

The Hymn to Demeter claims that the genesis of the Eleusinian Mysteries can be traced to two events in Demeter’s life: her separation from and reunion with her daughter. These mysteries are celebrated annually in Eleusis, Greece. It honors the story of Demeter and Persephone. However, since the initiations were pledged in secrecy, it is unclear how the rituals were performed.

Persephone Was Born

Zeus, the king of the gods, had a daughter with his sister, Demeter. Persephone was born and grew up to be a lovely goddess. Her beauty was such that she soon became the center of the attention of the male Olympian gods. However, she rejected them all, and her mother made sure that Persephone’s decision was respected. However, not all of the gods who were interested in her were easily deterred.

Persephone Becomes the Queen of the Underworld

Initially, her role was closely connected to that of her mother—working with nature and tending to the flowers and plants. After being abducted by her uncle, Persephone, or Proserpina, as known in Latin, became the queen of the Underworld and played an integral role in decision-making on matters concerning the realm of the dead.

Almost all of the myths about Persephone take place in the Underworld, despite the fact that she spent the bigger part of her life in the living world. As a result, she was regarded as a goddess of dual nature: a goddess of nature that springs life and a goddess of the dead.

The Abduction of Persephone

Hades, the ruler of the Underworld and king of the land of the dead, rarely went outside, and on one occasion, he saw the beautiful Persephone and instantly fell in love with her. Hades knew that his sister, Demeter, would not permit her daughter to be Hades’ wife, so he consulted his brother and Persephone’s father, Zeus. Together, they planned to kidnap Persephone.

As Persephone is fond of nature and plants, Hades used a very fragrant and beautiful flower to lure her. He used a narcissus flower, which made Persephone effectively drawn to it. On the day that she was out collecting flowers with her friend, the lovely flower caught her attention. As soon as she picked up the flower, the ground opened and Hades emerged riding on his chariot. He swiftly grabbed her, and in the blink of an eye, Persephone and Hades quickly disappeared.

Demeter’s Grief

When Demeter concluded that her daughter was missing, she was devastated. She turned her rage on the nymphs who were supposed to protect Persephone. Demeter transformed them into sirens and then tasked the winged nymphs to look for Persephone.

Demeter herself wandered the earth to look for her daughter. For nine days, she continuously searched the world without consuming ambrosia or nectar but to no avail. No one could give her any leads as to where her daughter might be until Hecate, the goddess of magic and spells told Demeter that she heard Persephone’s voice when she was abducted and brought to the land of the dead. This story was confirmed by Helios, the god of the sun, who sees everything that is happening on earth.

When Demeter finally learned the truth about the disappearance of her daughter, she was no longer depressed but enraged at everyone, particularly Zeus, who seemed to have even helped Hades in abducting her daughter.

Effect of Persephone’s Disappearance

During the time that Demeter was continuously searching for her daughter, she neglected her duties and responsibilities as a goddess of harvest and fertility. Nothing else mattered to her than to find her daughter. Disguised as an old woman while searching for her daughter, Demeter reached Eleusis and was given a job to care for the prince.

As she befriended the royal family, she intended to make the prince immortal by bathing him in the fire every night. However, the queen panicked when she accidentally witnessed the ritual being performed on her son. Demeter revealed herself and gave the order to build a temple. This was where she isolated herself for an entire year after finding out what happened to Persephone.

As a result, the soil became sterile, crops failed to grow, and famine slowly crept in, killing the people from starvation. Zeus realized that humanity can possibly be wiped out with no one left to offer up sacrifices to the gods if he would not intervene.

Moreover, he tasked the gods to go to Demeter and persuade her by giving gifts, but they were all unsuccessful. Finally, Zeus asked the messenger of the gods, Hermes, to go to the Underworld and ask Hades to release Persephone and return her to her mother.

Persephone and the Changing Seasons

Before Persephone was returned to her mother, she had been tricked by Hades to consume the seeds of the pomegranate fruit. According to the old regulations, once someone has consumed food in the Underworld, they will be forced to stay there.

With this, Zeus presented a compromise, knowing that Demeter would not let her daughter be forever bounded to the Underworld. Zeus made an agreement between Demeter and Hades to allow Persephone to spend one-third of the year with Hades and the other two-thirds with Demeter.

The condition of Persephone’s staying with her mother has a huge impact on the changing seasons on earth, as Demeter’s emotions correspond to them. She causes the ground to wither and perish while Persephone is with Hades. It corresponds to the two seasons we know as winter and autumn.

However, when Persephone is reunited with her mother, hope is once again rekindled, and Demeter brings the warmth and sunshine back, which makes the soil rejoice and once again become fertile for growing crops. This season falls between what we know as spring and summer.

Ancient Greek historians believed that it represents agricultural growth and clearly shows the life cycle of a plant. Persephone’s time in the Underworld is viewed much like what happens to a seed—it must be buried first in order to produce an abundance of fruit above it.


Demeter’s motherly love was so strong that even seasons were affected by her emotions during the times when Persephone stayed with her and the gloomy period when she needed to leave her. According to Greek myths, Demeter and Persephone were known to have a very close relationship as mother and daughter. Let us summarize what we have learned from their story:Demeter and persephone all you need to know

  • Demeter is one of the twelve Olympian gods who were major deities in the Greek pantheon, she plays a vital role as the goddess of the harvest. Demeter’s myth is even included in the Homeric hymn, along with stories about her brothers Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades.
  • Persephone is the daughter of Demeter and Zeus. She was abducted by Hades to be his wife and became Queen of the Underworld. Her abduction greatly affected her mother, who neglected her duties and responsibilities as the goddess of the harvest.
  • As a result, people began to die from starvation, and Zeus realized the possible effect on humanity. He intervened by commanding Hermes to go and ask Hades to return Persephone to her mother.
  • Knowing Demeter would not agree with it, Zeus made a compromise for Persephone to stay with Hades for one-third of the year and return to Demeter for the remaining two-thirds of the year. All of these were described in the Demeter and Persephone poem.
  • The Hymn to Demeter claims that the genesis of the Eleusinian Mysteries can be traced to two events in Demeter’s life: her separation from and reunion with her daughter.

The fascinating story of the relationship between Demeter and her daughter centered on a mother’s enduring love for her child, the devastating struggle to find her, and the determination to get her back. It made their story one-of-a-kind among the many tales comprising the Greek myths.

Ancient Literature (September 25, 2023) Demeter and Persephone: A Story of a Mother’s Enduring Love. Retrieved from
"Demeter and Persephone: A Story of a Mother’s Enduring Love." Ancient Literature - September 25, 2023,
Ancient Literature September 13, 2022 Demeter and Persephone: A Story of a Mother’s Enduring Love., viewed September 25, 2023,<>
Ancient Literature - Demeter and Persephone: A Story of a Mother’s Enduring Love. [Internet]. [Accessed September 25, 2023]. Available from:
"Demeter and Persephone: A Story of a Mother’s Enduring Love." Ancient Literature - Accessed September 25, 2023.
"Demeter and Persephone: A Story of a Mother’s Enduring Love." Ancient Literature [Online]. Available: [Accessed: September 25, 2023]

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