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Born to Die: Hades & Persephone

Updated: Mar 9

The figures of Greek mythology are known worldwide, though out history and modern-day. These divine subjects continue to inspire generations of artists hoping to preserve and resurrect these majestic primordial beings. The mainstream Greek Olympians consists of twelve divine gods: Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hermes, Apollo, Artemis, Athena, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Hestia and Dionysus. One important god not mentioned in this roundup of the ancient Greek pantheon was Hades.


Hades is the oldest son of the six children of Kronos & Rhea, brother to Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Demeter and Hestia. Hades brothers are notorious through out mythology for their philandering habits, whereas not much is known about Hades’ lovers. When we think of Hades and his lovers one person comes to mind and that is Persephone. Some people paint Hades as the villain in the tale of her capture in the Homeric Hymn of Demeter but through further analysis we find out that Hades had permission from Zeus to steal her away to his kingdom. Hades fell ‘in love’ with Demeter’s daughter, the goddess of spring and asked her father Zeus if he could have Kore. Persephone has two names; when in the mortal realm with her mother she is known as Kore but when she sits alongside Hades in the underworld she is known as Persephone. (1) Considering the fates of other females in the Greek myths who caught the eyes of gods, Persephone got the better end of the royal scepter. Hades a) got permission from Zeus who neglected to tell Demeter which could have avoid the whole plague on man kind and b) he made a bargain with the of goddess of harvest to share Persephone during the year. There are still some questionable actions by Hades but in the bigger picture he acted in a civil manner which does not qualify him to be a villain.


Hades and Persephone are a unique love story which depicts the perfect example of “opposites attract”. The god of the dead marries the goddess of spring, a cosmic union that covers the full cycle of life. Aside from the lingering myths of nymph Minthe, Hades was a dedicated husband to Persephone unlike his disloyal brothers who shared many beds while married. One can assume that the king and queen of the underworld had a beautiful relationship that reviled all the other gods. Together their union could have the potential to produce a powerful spawn that could shake the order of the gods. One has to stop and think, how could the god of the dead have the ability to create life if all he knows is death? There are no ancient myths that indicate the birth of a child from Hades, we are left to ponder the idea of what could have been if Hades and Persephone where successful in joining their powers to create a new era of gods.


I guess us mortals have waited long enough and took matters into our own hands. Countless people have been intrigued with the rulers of the underworld and started to rewrite or continue the story of the forbidden Greek divine love. Over the past decade, a wave of novels and comics that have been created to try and fill in the missing pieces of the Hades and Persephone puzzle. Some writers and artists have drawn inspiration for the original myths to spin their own version of this legendary morbid couple.


Below I will list some myth adaptations that I have enjoyed and other stories that I plan to read in the future. If you like the tales of Hades and Persephone along with many other figures of classical mythology, get your notepad ready because I have some interesting book recommendations coming your way.


The Goddess Test – Amiee Carter

This book is friendly for young adults and is a wonderful sequel to the original tales of Hades and Persephone. This book will have you in suspense from start to finish. A unique aspect of this adaptation is the contribution of the Aphrodite, Persephone and Adonis myth which alters the outcome of the crossed lovers. Get ready to meet a humanized version of Hades and understand his personal trials and tribulations.

(Tap image to read more book reviews on Goodreads)


Lore (Webtoon) – Rachel Smythe

This is a wonderful graphic novel full of captivating colours and concepts. Get ready to see the Greek gods in a lens you have never seen before. Rachel Smythe does a phenomenal job honoring the ancient legends while adding some modern flair to the Olympian palette. The Greek gods live in a modern divine environment while the mortal realm is still set in ancient times. While in the mortal realm Persephone is called Kore but she prefers to be called by her mature name when in the underworld. Hades does not whisk her away but rather he helps her get out of a tough situation while developing a beautiful friendship. In this adaptation Zeus is not the father of Persephone to avoid an awkward storyline. This graphic novel brings a special twist to the myth of Minthe as well. If you get the chance check out this wonderful story, you will find yourself binge reading two years worth of comics in one night.

(Tap image to read full episodes on Webtoon)


A Touch of Darkness – Scarlett St. Clare

If you are on the #BookTok side of TikTok you would have come across a video or two on this adaptation. Scarlett St. Clare novels have taken the adult fiction fandom by storm starting in 2020 and is continuing to gain momentum as the series begins to expand. A Touch of Darkness Series shares a modern retelling of the Hades and Persephone story. The Greek gods live amongst mortals in New Athens controlling commerce and economy. Hades is a wealthy businessman known throughout the city for his unforgettable bargains. The sheltered Persephone finds herself making a bargain with the god her mother has warned her against her whole life. Discover how these two come to a resolution while sparking an eternal flame that could never be extinguished. Any who threaten to destroy this flame will find themselves facing the wrath of these two powerful gods.

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More Hades & Persephone Book Recommendations:

Below you can find further recommendations on more adaptations of the Hades and Persephone tale. If you get a chance to read these before I do, share your thoughts in the comments.

(Tap image to read more book reviews on Goodreads)


Neon Gods – Katee Robert

UPDATE: I read this book in December 2021 and was not satisfied. This story had a unique twist to the legends of Hades & Persephone. It paid tribute to the Greek tales but a modern twist and characters were added to the storyline. Was not a fan of the ‘New Hera’ element and did not grasp or connect with any character. Overall I know many people enjoyed this book but it was not one for me.

Punderworld (Webtoon) - Sigeel


Promises & Pomegranates – Sav R. Miller


The Hades Trials - Eliza Raine & Rose Wilson


Hades – Carly Spade



References:

(1) Cartwright, M. (2016, March 24). Persephone. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.worldhistory.org/persephone

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