The Rape of Persephone series highlights a number of beloved Greek gods, all of whom had significant mentions by Homer. The Homeric Hymn to Demeter includes a mighty cast of characters. The Rape of Persephone brings them “down to earth,” so to speak, depicted in their hypothetical human forms. As deities, their stories create timeless myths.
Persephone was called Kore before she became goddess of the underworld. In actuality, during ancient Greek times, a kore was the term for maiden or young lady. Prior to the abduction, Persephone was simply Kore; and once snatched by the god of the underworld, she became Persephone, consort of Hades. Myth posits that when Kore walked the earth, the world was in eternal spring and summer; however, once she vanished into the underworld, the seasons of fall and winter resulted.
Hades, god of the underworld, was the god of the dead, but not the god of death. He claimed no control over who died, but he was in charge of the fate of those souls that found themselves at his throne. Although notoriously serious, Hades was one of the few gods who remained smitten and faithful to his own wife.
Demeter, goddess of the harvest, was the sister of both Zeus and Hades in Greek mythology. Even though she bore his child, Zeus went on to marry Hera, leaving Demeter to parent Persephone on her own. Demeter’s fierce loyalty to her daughter caused her to challenge a male-dominated godhood, ultimately making even Zeus relent and bend to her wishes.
Hecate, the goddess of the crossroads, was associated with boundaries and entrance-ways. She was the holder of the keys that could unlock the gates between the upperworld and the underworld; in fact, she was one of the few deities allowed to visit the underworld. Most often, Hecate was represented as three-formed or triple-bodied woman, insinuating that the goddess Hecate was the incarnation of maiden-mother-crone, the cycle of womanhood. Interestingly enough, she was the only one who saw Persephone’s abduction and who was willing to help Demeter.
Zeus, god of gods, was brother to Hades, Demeter, and Poseidon. When their father, Cronus, gobbled up his children in fear of being overthrown, Zeus was the only one who escaped. His mother birthed and hid him in Mt. Dikte to be raised by a goat named Amalthea. Once old enough, Zeus rose up and poisoned Cronus until he vomited all of Zeus’ siblings, including Hades and Poseidon. Once the titan gods were overthrown, Zeus and his brothers drew lots: Zeus got rule of the earth, Poseidon got the sea, and Hades, the underworld.
Hermes, messenger god, was responsible for transporting the dead to the entrance of the underworld. With his winged sandals, Hermes could move freely between the upperworld and the underworld, one of the few deities allowed to do so. This was not his only role in mythology, however. Hermes doubled as a trickster and was known for his crafty, clever one-uppance over his brother, Apollo. He also wore other godly hats, making him sometimes known as the god of travel, of heralds, and of merchants.