Today it is assumed that the oldest form Περσόφαττα is a compound of pertho , destroy, and -phatta , related to the Vedic parsha "sheaf", and has the meaning "those who strike the sheaves" (who thresh the grain).
Her own father Zeus fell in love with Kore. In the shape of a snake he crawled into her and fertilized her. She gave birth to Zagreus , who was to become Zeus' successor.
The central myth of Persephone appears for the first time in the Homeric hymn for Demeter . It is reported that Hades , god of the underworld and brother of Zeus, fell in love with Kore. He therefore asked Zeus for Kore as a wife. Knowing that Kore would not willingly go to the sunless underworld, Zeus neither agreed nor refused. Hades interpreted this as consent. When Kore was picking flowers on the plain of Nysa , Hades rose from the underworld and kidnapped Kore on his team. Their cries for help were ignored by Zeus. Kore, now referred to as Persephone, submitted to her fate. Her mother Demeter was now wandering about in despair and in her grief prevented all plants from growing, which Zeus forced to intervene, since there was a danger that the whole world would perish of hunger. Eventually an agreement was reached that Persephone would only spend part of the year in the underworld. Accordingly, it comes to winter when Kore rules as Persephone in the underworld, and summer when Kore lives with her mother.
In the Theseus saga, Theseus and Peirithoos try to free Persephone because Peirithoos wants to marry her. The project fails, whereupon Theseus is rescued from the underworld by Heracles , while Peirithoos remains behind.
The meaning of the myth is an allegorical representation of the cycle of the seasons. In the Eleusinian Mysteries , the myth was understood as the image of a higher idea, namely the immortality of the soul, and was celebrated every year with a festive occasion. According to Orphism , she sits veiled on a chair in Hades and has a wreath of poppies on her head.
Persephone is closely related to her mother Demeter. In addition to Eleusis , she was usually venerated with her in Boeotia , the Peloponnese and Sicily . Among the Orphics of later times, Persephone is an all-ruling nature deity and is often confused with other mythical deities, Hecate , Gaia , Rhea , Isis . She was depicted together with Hades, as the daughter of Demeter or as the strict wife of Hades, with royal insignia and the torch, the symbol of the Eleusinian consecrations. In particular, it is often difficult to determine whether a representation of the Demeter or the Kore is available, since their ideal types are practically identical, only that Kore is always perceived as more youthful.
In one group she formed Praxiteles , in a relief (together with Hades, Dionysus and two nymphs ) Kolotes . It occurs more often in larger representations, especially in descriptions of the sending of the triptolemus , their abduction by Hades and their return to earth. The Roman sarcophagus reliefs treat this object with preference , but the robbery of the kore was also the subject of a painting by Nicomachus . The ascent of Persephone from the underworld is beautifully depicted on a vase painting (fragment of the Marchese del Vasto). In Roman times, their union with Dionysus (as Liber and Libera ), the bridal procession of both, accompanied by bacchanically frenzied satyrs and maenads, is very often treated on sarcophagi.
In modern times there are adaptations of the subject of the robbery of Persephone by Albrecht Dürer (1516), Rembrandt van Rijn (1631) and Peter Paul Rubens (1636), as well as a very well-known painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1874) in which she appears as a melancholy figure holding a bitten pomegranate in her left hand.
Rape of Proserpine (painting by Joseph Heintz the Elder , between 1598 and 1605)
Proserpina by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1874)
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe : Proserpine . A poetic adaptation of the Persephone legend, the triumph of sensitivity switched on monodrama (see Ludwig Preller)
- Stephen King : Wahn , original title Duma Key . One of the main characters, a demonic figure named Perse , also the name of a death ship that also plays a role, has strong references to Persephone.
- An episode of the television series Hercules is based on the Persephone saga. Theseus and Peirithoos are left out, an agreement of Persephone and Hades postulated, the story enriched with set pieces from the Orpheus saga and the whole thing underlined with Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings .
- In the film Matrix Reloaded , Persephone appears as the wife of the Merovingian, who in turn programmed her and thus takes on Zeus' role as father.
- In the film Percy Jackson - Thieves in Olympus, Persephone helps the young heroes to escape from the underworld out of sheer vengeance on Hades.
- Proserpine - tragic-lyric opera in 2 acts by Jean-Baptiste Lully (1680)
- Perséphone - melodrama by Igor Stravinsky in 3 scenes by André Gide , for speaker, tenor, four-part choir and orchestra (1934)
- Persephone or the Balancing of the Worlds - Opera by Günter Neubert , Libretto Carl Ceiss , (1990–1995)
- Core - concept album by progressive metal band Persefone (2006)
- Proserpina - opera / monodrama by Wolfgang Rihm (2009)
- Leo Bloch : Kora and Demeter . In: Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher (Hrsg.): Detailed lexicon of Greek and Roman mythology . Volume 2.1, Leipzig 1894, Col. 1284-1379 ( version ).
- Christiane Brehm: The Rape of Proserpine. Studies on the iconography and iconology of an Ovid myth from antiquity to the early modern period. Dissertation, University of Münster 1996 ( ).
- James George Frazer : The Golden Branch. The secret of the beliefs and customs of the peoples. Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1994, ISBN 3-499-55483-6 , pp. 572-581.
- Robert Graves : Greek Mythology. Sources and Interpretation. Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1984, ISBN 3-499-55404-6 , pp. 77-83.
- Gudrun Güntner: Persephone . In: Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC). Volume III, Zurich / Munich 1986, pp. 956-978.
- Berthold Hinz : Persephone. In: Maria Moog-Grünewald (Ed.): Mythenrezeption. The ancient mythology in literature, music and art from the beginnings to the present (= Der Neue Pauly . Supplements. Volume 5). Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2008, ISBN 978-3-476-02032-1 , pp. 563-566.
- Valentia Hinz: The cult of Demeter and Kore in Sicily and in Magna Graecia. Reichert, Wiesbaden 1998, ISBN 3-89500-052-3 .
- Karl Kerényi : Kore. To the mythologist of the divine girl. In: Paideuma . Volume 1, 1940, pp. 341-380.
- Karl Kerényi: The Mythology of the Greeks. The stories of gods and mankind. Volume 1, dtv, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-423-30030-2 , pp. 183-193.
- Ruth Lindner : The robbery of Persephone in ancient art. Triltsch, Würzburg 1984, ISBN 3-87825-039-8 .
- Persephone in the Theoi Project
- Rape of Proserpine ( Memento of March 23, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Gianlorenzo Bernini (Museo della Villa Borghese, Rome)