Husband, we talked about this. You can't go around incinerating every hero. Besides, he's brave. I like that.

–Persephone, to Hades, about Percy Jackson, in The Last Olympian

Persephone is the Greek goddess of the springtime and vegetation. She is the niece and wife of Hades, therefore being the Queen of the Underworld. Her Roman counterpart is Proserpina.

History

Early life

Demeter, her mother

Persephone was born to Zeus, king of the gods, and Demeter, goddess of the harvest. As she wasn't one of her father's favorite children, she had no position at Olympus and used to live far with her mother's closest nymphs. She mostly passed her days planting seeds and nurturing the flora.

When she reached marriageable age, several gods tried to woo Persephone, but Demeter, who suffered many horrible courtships, rejected all their gifts and hid her daughter away from the company of other deities. Despite this, she said that Persephone could have married the god of doctors.

Kidnapped by Hades

Persephone's uncle, Hades, was very lonely and wanted a wife. One day, he spotted her in the fields and became entranced by her beauty. He asked help to Zeus, despite his estrangement with his brother. One day, Persephone was picking flowers with some of her nymphs in a field in Enna when Hades came to abduct her, bursting through a cleft in the earth. Life came to a standstill as the devastated Demeter searched everywhere for her lost daughter. Hecate, goddess of magic, told Demeter she had heard Persephone scream when she was being kidnapped. Angered and heartbroken, Demeter stopped caring for the Earth, so the land didn't flourish and people began to starve and die.

Hades was determined to make Persephone love him and gave her many gifts and riches. She hated him for snatching her away from her mother until he asked the dead gardeners of the Underworld to make a field of her favourite plants. Pressed by the cries of the hungry people and by the other deities who heard their anguish, Zeus finally forced Hades to return Persephone to her mother. However, it was a rule of the Fates that whoever consumed food or drink in the Underworld was doomed to spend eternity there. Before Persephone was released to Hermes, who had been sent to retrieve her, a servant of Hades tricked Persephone into eating six pomegranate seeds.

In order to calm both Demeter and Hades, Zeus ordered Persephone to return to the Underworld for six months each year. When Demeter and Persephone are together, the Earth flourishes with vegetation in Demeter's happiness. When Persephone is with her husband in the Underworld, the Earth once again becomes barren as Demeter is too depressed to work properly. That is how the seasons came to be.

Meeting Leuke and Minthe

Though he was mostly faithful compared to other gods, Hades was quite lonely during the time Persphone spent with Demeter. This is when he would have some affairs, but they usually ended badly.

When Hades kidnapped the beautiful Oceanid Leuke, a jealous Persephone asked her husband to kill Leuke, but he transformed her into a poplar tree. When the beautiful Naiad Minthe bragged about Hades' love for her and claimed to be more beautiful than Persephone, the infuriated goddess instantly appeared before her and transformed her into the plant mint.

Affair with Adonis

Aphrodite, her rival for Adonis's love.

After a beautiful child was born from a tree, Aphrodite chose Persephone to help her raise him in the Underworld so no one could desire his beauty besides herself. Both goddesses taking turns raising the boy, shuffling him back and forth between Aphrodite's palace on Cyprus and Hades' Palace. The child would eventually grow up into the most handsome man in the world. By this time, the two goddesses fell in love with Adonis and began fighting over him.

With them unable to reach a compromise, the two took Adonis to Mount Olympus, where Zeus decided that it would be best for Adonis to spend a third of each year with each respective goddess, and have the final third to himself. During the time he spent with her, Adonis would have to hide in closets and under Persephone's bed every time Hades entered her chambers, since the god didn't know about his wife's lover. After Adonis decided to spend his third time of the year with Aphrodite, he was stabbed to death by a wild boar of Ares, Aphrodite's immortal lover.

Trials of Psyche

Persephone was visited by Psyche, who had been sent by Aphrodite to retrieve some of Persephone's beauty cream. Still furious at Aphrodite's involvement in her past affair with Adonis, Persephone instead filled Psyche's rosewood box with Stygian sleep, the very essence of the Underworld. She warned Pscyche to not open the box, but the tired woman decided she needed the beauty cream and passed out after opening the box.

Meeting Orpheus

Devastated by the death of his wife, the nymph Eurydice, the demigod musician Orpheus created a new entrance to the Underworld with his beautiful music. He made his way all the way to Hades' Palace, with ghosts, Charon, Cerberus, and even the Furies themselves being brought to tears.

Impressed by the man's love, bravery and skill, the rulers of the dead allowed Orpheus to take Eurydice back on the condition that he would walk in front and not look behind him as he led her back to the upper world. However, Orpheus couldn't resist the temptation the moment he crossed the border and looked back just before Eurydice left the Underworld, losing his wife forever.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

The Titan's Curse

When Percy Jackson talks to Grover how Artemis had been kidnapped and questions how it would even be possible to kidnap a goddess, Grover tells Percy that Persephone was kidnapped. Percy replies by saying that Artemis was far stronger than Persephone, who is " ... like, the goddess of flowers." Being a satyr and as such very into nature, Grover takes offense to this and corrects Percy, telling him that Persephone is the goddess of springtime.

The Demigod Files

The Sword of Hades

When Percy, Thalia Grace, and Nico di Angelo were sent to the Underworld, Persephone appeared above them and told them that her husband's new sword (forged from one of Hades' keys) was stolen during its creation. She gave them a flower (yellow carnation) to point them in the direction of the thief. She stated that its petals will fall and when all of them would have fallen, the thief would have escaped.

After the demigods had recovered the sword, Percy realized that the sword was ordered to be made by Persephone against Hades' orders to make him more powerful. Furious with his wife's actions, Hades swore to Percy that he would never use it against the other gods.

The Last Olympian

While Hades was debating what to do with Percy after he was tricked by Nico to come to his palace, Persephone appeared with her mother. She asked Hades not to kill Percy, stating that it was a shame to kill a hero who was so brave. Hades decided to lock Percy up and Persephone appeared as if to object to her husband's decision, but then let it go, continued arguing with her mother and disappeared.

During the Battle of Manhattan, Persephone appeared with Hades and Demeter on a chariot riding as reinforcements against Kronos outside the Empire State Building. Along with her mother, she turned all the Scythian Dracanae's spears into sunflowers, thus reducing attacks from the foot soldiers.

Appearance

In Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, Persephone was described to be an incredibly beautiful young goddess with tender expression. Before the seasons began, her eyes were sky blue like her father's and her hair was blond like her mother's. Her beauty was enough to attract the attention of Hades, who hardly ever left the Underworld. Even Adonis had trouble choosing between her and Aphrodite.

When Psyche visited the Underworld during the winter in Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes, Persephone had watery gold eyes. She wore a pale gray and green dress, "the color of frost on grass". When Orpheus visited the Underworld, she wore a yellow and grey gown, akin to the sun behind winter clouds.

In The Sword of Hades, Persephone was described to be a tall young woman with a beautiful but deathly pale face. Her hair was dark and long, floating and curling as if it were weightless. Her eyes were multicolored but washed out, as if the Underworld had sapped her life force. Percy had the impression that in the world above, she would be more beautiful and even brilliant. Persephone wore a dress that billowed around her like smoke which made Percy to initially think it was white, but he later realized that it was made of all sorts of changing colors - red, blue, and yellow flowers blooming in the fabric - but it was strangely faded.

In The Last Olympian, Persephone was said to look totally different from the last time Percy had seen her, due to it being summer: She had warm brown eyes and lustrous black hair. Persephone wore a dress that shimmered with colors and flower patterns which changed and bloomed - roses, tulips, and honeysuckle.

The differences in Persephone's physical description throughout the novels could be attributed to the fact that her appearance changes just like the seasons. Furthermore, she has the ability to assume any shape she desires as a goddess, though it must be noted that she retains her stunning beauty no matter what physical manifestation she adopts.

Proserpine

Persephone can change her appearance into her Roman counterpart of Proserpine. As Proserpine, she becomes more disciplined, warlike, and militaristic. The Greeks believed Persephone's return from the Underworld signified the rebirth of crops, whereas the Romans thought that Proserpine preserved their seeds during the winter.

Abilities

As the daughter of two Elder Olympians (one of them from the Big Three) and Queen of the Underworld, Persephone is extremely powerful, more so than a demigod though less so compared to an Olympian. She is considered a minor goddess.

  • Chlorokinesis: As the Goddess of Springtime and Vegetation, Persephone has absolute control and divine authority over plant-life, but not quite as much as her mother.​​​​​​ She can grow healthy plants rather fast, much like Zephyros.
    • Plant Creation: Persephone can create plants with magical properties. As shown in The Sword of Hades, she created roses to transport someone from the Underworld to the world of the living and flowers to track a specific person which will lose petals whenever the person is getting farther away.
    • Plant Transformation: Persephone can transform anything into flowers or anything related to flora. In Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, she turned Minthe into the mint plant. According to Nico in The Sword of Hades​​​​, she once turned him into a dandelion. In The Last Olympian, she used this ability to turn silverware into roses and all the Scythian Dracanae's spears into sunflowers.
  • Season Control (limited to Spring): As the Goddess of Springtime, Persephone has divine authority and absolute control over the season of spring. In Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, her presence enhanced the fertility of the earth along with her mother, encouraging orchards to bear fruit and flowers to bloom.
  • Geokinesis (limited): As an immortal daughter of Demeter and Queen of the Underworld, Persephone can control and manipulate the earth to certain extent, though to a lesser extent than her mother and husband. In The Sword of Hades, she split open the ground beneath Thalia, Percy, and Nico to get them into the Underworld.
  • Necromancy: As Queen of the Underworld, Persephone has absolute control and divine authority over the dead, though to a lesser extent than her husband. In Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, she and Hades resurrected Eurydice with the condition that Orpheus didn't look at his wife until they were in the living world.
    • Stygian Sleep Induction: As shown in Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes, Persephone can manipulate pure Stygian sleep, the Underworld's essence. She filled Aphrodite's box with Stygian sleep, which made Psyche to pass out when she accidentally inhaled it, with her life beginning to ebb.  
  • Umbrakinesis: As the Queen of the Underworld, Persephone has absolute control and divine authority over shadows, though to a somewhat lesser extent than her husband. In The Sword of Hades, she sent a shadow to Nico's location.
    • Shadow Travel: In The Sword of Hades, she forcefully transported Nico to New York City to join Percy and Thalia. 
  • Body Length Manipulation: As a goddess, Persephone has the power to manipulate the height of her body. In Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, she grew 50 feet tall before furiously dealing with Minthe.

Attributes

  • Her sacred plants are the pomegranate, asphodel, narcissus, willow, lily, and mint.
  • Her sacred animals are black rams, bats, monkeys, and parrots.

Relationships

Gods

Demeter, goddess of the harvest and Persephone's mother.

Persephone grew up very close to her mother, to the point that the elder goddess became dependent upon her daughter and is only happy when the two are together. After Hades kidnapped Persephone, she wanted to return home, but she came to value the time away from her mother. Demeter never could accept that her daughter had married Hades and left "her poor mother".

Despite their constant arguing in The Last Olympian, Persephone and Demeter love each other dearly.

Hades, her husband.

When Hades kidnapped her, Persephone didn't want to stay with him and wanted to be rescued, causing tantrums in his palace and destroying his riches. Her attitude started to change after she saw thefields of magnificent plantsHades asked for her. In Hades' order, his gardener Asklaphos tricked her into eating the pomegranate seeds, which would forced her to stay with Hades for half of the year.

Over time, Persephone fell in love with Hades and respects him as she calls him "my lord". She is known for being able to calm down her husband's temper. Though he is rarely unfaithful, Hades' relationships with other women does makes Persephone jealous. She demanded him to kill the ocean nymph Leuke (though he turned her into a poplar instead) and personally turned Minthe into the plant mint. Persephone herself has only ever cheated on her husband with the incredibly handsome mortal man Adonis. However, Persphone did reckless actions on her husband's back, such as ordering a weapon for in his name during the next war, though Hades didn't wanted to do that since it was unwise, since he would have more weapons than his brothers.

Others

Nico di Angelo

Nico di Angelo, her step-son.

Persephone and her stepson Nico mutually dislike each other, as he is a reminder of Hades' affair with Maria di Angelo, the only lover Hades loved as much as his wife (which can suggest she's just as hostile to her husband's demigod children as Hera is to the demigod spawn of Zeus). As stated by him in The Demigod Files, Persephone turned Nico into a dandelion during a "family spat". According to Nico, Persephone is trying to be nice to him. In The Mark of Athena, he carries around some pomegranate seeds from her personal garden in case of an emergency, which he used them when he was trapped by the giants Otis and Ephialtes.

Film

The Lightning Thief

Persephone is played by Rosario Dawson. Unlike in the books where she first appeared in The Last Olympian (and The Demigod Files), she is one of the first of the gods Percy meets in the film. Her personality and relationship with Hades are the exact opposites of what they are in the books and in mythology; Hades apparently keeps her prisoner in the Underworld. When Luke spoke about her, he says, "Needless to say, she hates it there. 'It's hot, he's a weirdo'. So she has...secret 'visitors'." In a deleted scene where Hades describes to Percy the extent of his damnation, he claims: "I'm hungry but cannot taste, I'm tired but cannot sleep..." He then glances at his wife and says, "I'm in love but cannot...fulfill my desires." Although Persephone starts to show some form of emotion as he is talking, when he finishes she merely walks off and mutters, "Excuses." Hades tells her, "Heard that!" and yet Persephone merely says, "I know." She also seems to have feelings of infatuation toward Grover and claims that Hades is 'cruel and abusive'.

Although she only made one appearance, she was vital to the success of Percy's quest in two ways. Unlike in the book, where Percy received the magical pearls from Poseidon through a Nereid, in the film the pearls are owned by Persephone and there are apparently dozens of them around the world, with three currently in the U.S.. Although from a different source, their use is still virtually the same: you crush them under your feet and visualize where you want to be taken. Persephone mainly used them as a way for her 'secret visitors' to escape quickly and easily from the Underworld. The first pearl was located inside Aunty Em's Garden Emporium, which was actually Medusa's lair. Percy manages to behead her and claim the pearl, which somehow ended up on her bracelet. They also take her head with them to retrieve the second pearl, which they find on the crown of Athena's statue in the Parthenon in Nashville. Percy uses Luke's flying shoes to get it and then uses Medusa's head to petrify the Hydra that guards it disguised as the Parthenon's five janitors. The third and final pearl caused their biggest setback; it was held in a roulette wheel in the Lotus Casino in Las Vegas, which was actually the home of the Lotus-eaters. Percy, Annabeth, and Grover are doped by the Lotus flowers and accidentally spend five days there (they thought it was just a few hours), but Poseidon breaks the trance on Percy through telepathy and the trio escape, taking the pearl with them.

The second time she helps them is more direct and takes place in the Underworld. She greets them at the front door to Hades's palace, constantly tries to seduce Grover, and is in the background when Hades is speaking with Percy. When the Master bolt is discovered in Percy's shield, Hades claims it as his own and Persephone summons multiple hellhounds to 'kill' Percy, Annabeth, Grover, and Sally Jackson. She then kisses Hades to distract him, giving her the chance to snatch the bolt away from him and blast him with it. She calls off the hellhounds, and when asked why she did so, she explains that, when confined to the Underworld, the only thing she has to look forward to is her time in the world above with her mother and the other gods, and that if Hades overthrew them all and took control of Olympus, she would be completely alone with the man of her nightmares. She hands the bolt to Percy to take to Olympus and stop the war; however, since there are only three pearls and four quest members (Percy's mom was given permission to leave also), Grover decides to stay with Persephone, much to the goddess's delight. Percy promises to come back for him, and on Olympus he asks Zeus to bring him back, which Zeus agrees to. When Percy and Grover reunite back at camp, he recounts some of the things he and Persephone did together, how much of a great time they had, and about how she might really like him.

Etymology

Her name is speculated to mean "destroyer of light".

Trivia

  • Kore is another title for Persephone, meaning "maiden".
    • Additionally, Kore happens to be a moon of Jupiter.
  • Homer describes Persephone as the venerable queen of the Underworld, who carries into effect the curses of men upon the souls of the dead.
  • Unlike Hera, Persephone doesn't try to kill the children of her husband with other women, though she is unhappy with his affairs and threatens his lovers.
  • Persephone is the only known wife of the Big Three that has cheated her husband.
  • In The Last Olympian, her mother said that Persephone could have married the god of doctors, which could mean Asclepius. Although she said doctors instead of medicine, this could be an error on Riordan's part or just the simple implication of mother-in-law with the son-in-law.
  • In Ovid's version of the myths recounted in his Metamorphoses (Book V), Aphrodite saw Hades riding in his chariot and tasked her son Eros to shoot one of his arrows into Hades' heart and make him fall in love with Persephone.
  • Proserpina, a main belt asteroid 95.1 km in diameter, is named after her Roman counterpart.
  • Her Norse counterpart (in terms of attributes) would be Frey and Idunn.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Core Series: The Lightning Thief | The Sea of Monsters | The Titan's Curse | The Battle of the Labyrinth | The Last Olympian
Main Characters: Percy Jackson | Grover Underwood | Annabeth Chase | Tyson | Clarisse La Rue | Thalia Grace | Nico di Angelo | Chiron | Luke Castellan | Rachel Elizabeth Dare
Minor Characters: Travis Stoll | Connor Stoll | Mrs. O'Leary | Silena Beauregard | Charles Beckendorf | Sally Jackson | Paul Blofis | Blackjack | Zoë Nightshade | Bianca di Angelo | Juniper | Michael Yew | Ethan Nakamura
Olympian Gods: Zeus | Hera | Poseidon | Demeter | Ares | Athena | Apollo | Artemis | Hephaestus | Aphrodite | Hermes | Dionysus | Hades | Hestia
Minor Gods: Amphitrite | Ariadne | Hecate | Iris | Janus | Morpheus | Nemesis | Pan | Persephone | Triton
Titans: Kronos | Atlas | Calypso | Iapetus | Krios | Hyperion | Oceanus | Prometheus
Related Content: Rick Riordan | The Lightning Thief (film) | The Sea of Monster (film) | The Demigod Files | Demigods and Monsters | The Ultimate Guide | The Heroes of Olympus
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