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The myth of Hades and Persephone - Iseult Gillespie

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One day, Persephone was frolicking in a meadow with the nymph, Cyane. As they admired a flower, they noticed it tremble in the ground. Suddenly, the earth split, and a terrifying figure arose. It was Hades, god of the underworld. He wrenched Persephone from Cyane, dragged her into his inky chariot, and blasted back through the earth. Iseult Gillespie shares the myth of the goddess of spring.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Iseult Gillespie
  • Director KERO Animation studio
  • Narrator Susan Zimmerman
  • Storyboard Artist Kyrylo Novikov
  • Animator Elmar Aleskerov, Maria Suhih, Galya Pugach
  • Art Director Elmar Aleskerov
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Associate Editorial Producer Cella Wright
Additional Resources for you to Explore
There are countless versions of the myth of Persephone, with the Homeric Hymn to Demeter and Ovid’s Metamorphosis being two of the most well-known.

As the goddess of agriculture and grain, Demeter tended to Ancient Greek farms and food. You can find more details about classical farming practices here and here.

With her beloved daughter Persephone in tow, Demeter swept through fields ensuring healthy harvests and gleaming grain. But when the God of death and the underworld Hades stole Persephone away, Demeter refused to perform her duties. Farms grew fallow and crops failed, and the Ancient Greeks began to starve.

Persephone knew that she would be doomed to the underworld forever if she ate even a morsel of the dead’s food. But as time wore on, she was forced to sneak six seeds of the pomegranate. You can learn more about the symbolism of the pomegranate in this article. The pomegranate is highly symbolic across many cultures – you can find more information about this, as well as some art inspired by the pomegranate, here. Eavan Boland’s famous poem, “The Pomegranate,” offers a modern reflection on the myth.

The Gods ultimately reached a compromise: as punishment for the six seeds, Persephone would remain in the underworld for six months of the year. Thus the myth of Persephone acts as an explanation for the seasons, with her time in the underworld bringing a quiet period for Demeter and nature itself.

To ensure the safe return of Persephone and the turn of the seasons, the goddess and her mother were highly celebrated. The cult of Demeter held the Eleusinian Mysteries, a secret ceremony, while the Thesmophoria was celebrated by women to encourage fertility. In this way, the myth of Persephone and Demeter resonated with farmers, families and all who celebrated the changeable cycles nature in Ancient Greece.

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Iseult Gillespie
  • Director KERO Animation studio
  • Narrator Susan Zimmerman
  • Storyboard Artist Kyrylo Novikov
  • Animator Elmar Aleskerov, Maria Suhih, Galya Pugach
  • Art Director Elmar Aleskerov
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Associate Editorial Producer Cella Wright