Spring has sprung!
Although the Ides of March are eight days past, I still feel traces of its grip. Historically, the Ides represent the day of Julius Caesar’s murder. What followed for ancient Rome was a period of sociopolitical upheaval. Plebeians and the proletariat alike experienced side effects from the sudden power vacuum. I envision wintry claws grasping at the desperate hearts of those who betrayed their emperor.
Personally, the Ides of March marks a transitional part of the year. On winter’s edge and spring’s doorstep, the air hangs pregnant, bloated with impatient expectation. There’s the anxiety of constant inclement weather, as well as the humdrum of still-sleeping flora and fauna. Even humans seem impacted by this odd time of year, thus a general sense of joy when winter truly breaks.
It may yet again be a seasonal affectation or my natural opposition to change. Either way, my writing’s been rather undone, whatever the cause. Not writing, as I repeatedly express, is bad for me. It’s so ordinarily human to resist those things which are good for us. Regrettably, my travels and personal travails deprive the world of my words. I’d like to think the world is worse off for it. Theoretically, my verbosity positively impacts those few, wonderous readers I have.
Today’s post is a bit of a return to the swing of things. I’ve started to feel like myself again. I feel less unsettled and more ready to write than ever. I also feel the gaping hole in the minor routine I’ve developed with my mythical posts. Although I’ve yet to return to the in-depth, comparative analysis of Platonic muthos standards–I still remain fascinated with its impact on humanity. Mondays remain mythical, but that doesn’t exclude other weekdays.
The Woman: Persephone
Daughter of Zeus and Demeter, wife of Hades, goddess of spring, growth, and rebirth. Also known as Kore and Proserpina, she’s become a convoluted character over time. At times, she exclusively serves as queen of the underworld. She holds court with Shades, or spirits of the dead, as well as Greek heroes like Orpheus and Hercules. She is often interpreted as a wellspring of immortality and the “all-pervading goddess of nature, who both produces and destroys everything” (Atsma). She literally rules above and below. It’s no wonder she’s been attributed so much power.
Time and again, this mythical lady has sprung forth in a multitude of adaptations. Recent interpretations of her in graphic literature series such as The Wicked + The Divine, among other “lit” adaptations by greats like Mary Shelley and more, show the implications of her duality. Various tellings of the myth reveal further characterizations of her.
The myth varies based on storyteller and translation. Homer’s version does not depict a kidnapping (Atsma). In other versions, Hades was so captivated by her beauty and innocence, he abducted her and brought her to the underworld. Zeus, in another play for power, consented to his brother’s request for Persephone’s hand. Upon discovering his treachery, Demeter refused to allow plants’ growth.
Held captive, Persephone made the grave mistake in consuming a number of pomegranate seeds. Some variations involve Hades’ show of hospitality, which she cannot refuse–even as a captive. Others maintain her naivete as a young goddess, thus her ignorant consumption of the fruit. (The actual number varies from four to six seeds, depending on the winter’s regional variability.) For each seed consumed, Demeter keeps the ground barren, mirroring her grief. Upon her daughter’s return, flowers bloom and bear fruit. This marks winter’s end and spring’s beginning.
Much can be said for a character as complex as Persephone, goddess of spring and queen of the underworld. I’d like to believe that we all have the potential for new growth and the solemnity which comes with knowing we die. Embracing your inner “spring” means making the most of every moment.
We, unlike many figures from Greek tragedy, have the power and privilege of choice. We choose to see our environments as dark, dank, and hellacious. We also choose to see the light at the end of the tunnel. One of the best things about the myriad interpretations of Persephone’s fate is the revelation of different types of choice.
In some versions, her agency is removed when Hades kidnaps her. As an abductee, she loses the volition to decide her fate when tricked into eating the pomegranate. Other versions portray her curiosity and willful entrance into the underworld. As a goddess of spring, and a young one at that, she chooses to explore the contrast to her power. I, too, am fascinated by those things in opposition to my nature. A being of life connecting with one of death reveals the thin line between the two.
This dichotomy speaks to us all. In any given moment, we have the power of choice. When we feel like captives by something external–such as employment, relationships, living situations, personal developments–we have ourselves to blame. If you spend all your time and power focusing on those chains which bind you to your certain circumstance, they become all the heavier.
The same can be said for choosing to appreciate your circumstances. Whether your current predicament is of your own making or not (e.g., abducted vs. curious Persephone), you can choose to make the most of it. Sure, Persephone’s stuck in the underworld for a few months every year. There, she’s still a queen and it is only part of the year. Upon her return, you can be certain Demeter is overjoyed.
Atsma, Aaron J. “PERSEPHONE”. Theoi.Com, https://www.theoi.com/Khthonios/Persephone.html.