Orphic Hymn #29 — to Persephone
Persephone, blessed daughter of great Zeus, sole offspring
of Demeter, come and accept this gracious sacrifice
Much honored spouse of Pluton, discreet and life-giving,
you command the gates of Hades in the bowels of the earth,
lovely-tressed Praxidike, pure bloom of Deo,
mother of the Erinyes, queen of the nether world,
secretly sired by Zeus in clandestine union.
Mother of loud-roaring, many-shaped Eubouleus.
radiant and luminous, playmate of the Seasons,
revered and almighty, maiden rich in fruits,
brilliant and horned, only-beloved of mortals,
in spring you take your joy in the meadow of breezes,
you show your holy figure, in branches teeming with grass-green fruits,
in autumn you were made a kidnapper’s bride.
You alone are life and death to toiling mortals.
O Persephone, you nourish all, always, and kill them too.
Hearken, O blessed goddess, and send forth the fruits of the earth
as you blossom in peace, and in gentle-handed health
bring a blessed life and and a splendid old age to him who is sailing
to your realm, O queen, and to mighty Plouton’s kingdom.
Many people think of Persephone only in her tie to the story of why we have seasons — with Demeter’s sorrow — and not as a Queen in her own right who wields considerable influence in her own right. The Orphic Hymn however calls her “queen of the nether world” and states that “You alone are life and death to toiling mortals”. These lines bring to mind that the Initiates of Eleusis were said to be able to appeal to Persephone herself for admittance to the Elysian Fields instead of being judged like regular mortals.
Haides has been called the chthonic equivalent to Zeus. If this is the case, then it makes perfect sense that Persephone would be the equivalent to Hera — a Queen splendid in her own right. Although I celebrate in the spring the return of Persephone to the upper world, I also celebrate in the Autumn her ascending her throne beside her spouse — where she rules with a kindly hand.