Study Guide

Persephone (Proserpine)

  • Profile

    Poor Persephone—this girl really got the short end of the stick. Sure, she's the beautiful daughter of Demeter, goddess of agriculture, and Zeus, king of the gods. But she's also very unhappily married to Hades, king of the Underworld, who kidnapped her and forced her to be his queen. Demeter threw a total fit about her daughter's abduction and in protest, she made it so nothing would grow on Earth. Things got so bad that Zeus stepped in, and a compromise was reached. Now, Persephone is allowed to return to her mother for part of the year. When she's with Demeter, flowers bloom and crops are plentiful. But when Persephone heads back down to the Underworld, Demeter won't let anything grow. And that, dear Shmoopers, is why we have the seasons.

    P.S. Like her mother, Persephone was a chief goddess of the Eleusinian Mysteries—a cult which celebrated the cycle of death and rebirth—and promised its initiates a blessed afterlife.

    Basic Information

    Name

    Persephone (Proserpine)

    Nickname

    Proserpina, Despoina, Core, Kore, Flower Child

    Sex

    Female

    Current city

    The Underworld (most of the time)

    Work & Education

    Occupation

    Queen of the Underworld, Goddess of Spring
    General Duties: (Unwillingly) ruling the Underworld at Hades' side

    Education

    Demeter's School of Frolicking and Flower Picking (valedictorian)
    Hades' School of Soul Herding (last in the class)

    Beliefs

    Political views

    Anti-Hades

    Family & Friends (& Enemies)

    Parents

    Zeus, Demeter (love you, Mom!)

    Children

    (These are all maybes...)
    The Erinyes (by Hades)
    Zagreus, Iaachus, Dionysus (by Zeus)
    Melinoe (by Zeus)

    Friends

    Demeter
    Hecate
    Hermes

    Enemies

    Hades
    Aphrodite
    Hades
    Cerberus (who farts and barks too much)

    Relationships

    Relationship status

    (Unwillingly) married to Hades, major crush on Adonis

    Favorites

    Quotations

    "in Just-
    spring when the world is mud-
    luscious"
    e. e. cummings

    "Some of them want to use you
    Some of them want to be used by you
    Some of them want to abuse you
    Some of them want to be abused"
    – The Eurythmics

    "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
    Old time is still a-flying:
    And this same flower that smiles to-day
    To-morrow will be dying."
    Robert Herrick

    "Regrets collect like old friends
    Here to relive your darkest moments
    I can see no way, I can see no way
    And all of the ghouls come out to play

    And every demon wants his pound of flesh
    But I like to keep some things to myself
    I like to keep my issues strong
    It's always darkest before the dawn"
    – Florence and the Machine

    Books

    Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
    A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen
    "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time (Gather ye rosebuds)" by Robert Herrick
    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
    "in Just" by e. e. cummings
    Antigone by Sophocles
    "I felt a Funeral in my Brain" by Emily Dickinson
    Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll
    The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
    Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee

    Music

    Shake it Out by Florence and the Machine
    Us by Regina Spektor
    Poison and Wine by The Civil Wars
    Video Games by Lana del Rey
    Set Fire to the Rain by Adele
    Sweet Dreams by The Eurythmics
    Rite of Spring/Persephone by Stravinsky
    No Light, No Light by Florence and the Machine
    Summertime performed by Norah Jones

    Movies

    Death and the Maiden
    Desperate Housewives (TV show)
    Taken
    The Secret Garden
    Pan's Labyrinth
    Not Without My Daughter
    Bridesmaids
    Tangled
    Thelma and Louise
    Alice in Wonderland
    True Blood (TV show)

    Activities & Interests

    Likes

    Garden tours
    Flower arranging
    Spring rain
    Seeds
    New sprouts
    Corn on the cob (lots of butter)

    Interests

    Floral design
    Meteorology
    Botany
    Divorce Law

    Groups

    Beauty Queens
    Flower Lovers
    Damsels in Distress

    • Spotter's Guide

      You might want to wait until spring before you try to have a convo with Persephone. See, she's the wife of Hades, the King of the Underworld, and she has to hang in the Land of the Dead all winter. Persephone totally hates it down there, so even if you do manage to make it through the dangers of the Underworld, you'll find her in a pretty awful mood.
      But she packs her bags and heads home to hang out with her mom, Demeter, every spring. She's usually bursting with joy by the time she gets back up here to Olympus. So here's our suggestion: in the springtime, head over to Demeter's place and look for the pretty young goddess covered in flowers—and whatever you do, don't mention the Underworld.

      Sex: Female
      Age: Forever young
      Build: Petite
      Complexion: Pale
      Hair Color: Blonde
      Facial Hair: None
      Scars/marks/tattoos: None, except the scar on her heart because of how much she misses her mom (aw)
      Jewelry and accessories: Flowers
      Clothing: Pretty robes
      Armor: None
      Type of Weapon: None

      Typical Companions:

      Hades
      Demeter
      Hecate
      Nymphs

      Known Hangouts:

      The Palace of Hades
      Demeter's Garden
      Flower Shops

    • Sightings

      Dec 20, 2019 - Dec 20, 2019

      The Library by Apollodorus

      Persephone's abduction by Hades made its way into this super-old text—and it's just as tragic now as it was then.

      Dec 20, 2019

      The Metamorphoses by Ovid

      An unassuming Persephone (known in Ovid's poem as Proserpina) is minding her own flower-picking business when Hades (Pluto) snatches her up.

      Dec 20, 2019

      Perséphone by Igor Stravinsky

      The late, great composer created the music for this piece that combines dancers, chorus, and spoken word to tell the story of Persephone. Take that, Ovid.

      Dec 20, 2019

      Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series by Rick Riordan

      She doesn't get a lot of page time, but Persephone is pretty likeable in this series—she even tries to convince Hades not to kill Percy.

      Dec 20, 2019

      Demeter and Persephone: Spring Held Hostage by Ron Fontes, illustrated by Steve Kurth

      Persephone takes on the illustrated world in this comic book about her adventures with her mom. Quite the dynamic duo!

      Dec 20, 2019

      God of War II: Chains of Olympus

      Persephone teams up with Atlas and the dream god, Morpheus, to destroy the world in this video game. You go, girl… or not.

      Dec 20, 2019

      Persephone by Sally Pomme-Clayton

      Now early readers can have their chance to read Persephone's story for themselves. And it doesn't hurt that this children's book comes chock full of colorful illustrations.

      Dec 20, 2019

      Persephone the Phony by Joan Holub

      In this kids' book, Persephone falls for the bad boy in school. Yep, you guessed it: Hades.

      Dec 20, 2019

      The Lightning Thief

      Persephone—played by the lovely Rosario Dawson—makes a cameo in the film version of the first book of the Percy Jackson series. Keep your eye out for her in the rest of the series, too.