Persephone and Prosperine

Pluto Abducting Persephone, 1530, PMA Oct. 2015-1

Pluto abducting Persephone.   Maiolica made between 1525-35 by the circle of Nicola da Urbino, died 1537/38.   Philadelphia Musuem of Art. 2015

Her companions point aghast to the abyss in the earth from which Pluto emerged.  The gods are clever:  Pluto’s horses are usually black but here he has made them white. He is whispering in Persephone’s ear:  I’ll make you queen of your own kingdom.  Look at her face: she is charmed. For the moment.  The abyss is not in her line of sight.

Her mother, Demeter, turned the earth to waste in her grief.  After much time and anguish, she reached a compromise:  Persephone was to remain with Pluto in Hades for the 3 months of every winter.  Then she would rejoin her mother on the earth’s surface.

The story is that it was Demeter who made a gift of agriculture to humans and asked Triptolemus to go out and teach the art and science of it.


Persephone Rises

Celia Gilbert, American, poet. 1985

How to describe the heaviness of earth?
I endure the indifferent probe and sting
of many-armed, many-footed creatures, the hum
of white little grubs,
larvae shiny blind as tiny moons,
Persephone Judith Schaecter 2015-2
bits of life and gritty death, root tangle
and leaf mold.  I become a mole
and pray for large flat hands with sickle nails.
Reborn this way, I think my way through
to learn a passage
that moves only in inches –
to arrive finally, to suck the air.
Persephone Judith Schaecter 2015-5
Headfirst, eyelids unsealed, I
accept the shock of blues and greens,
the gaudiness of day.
Persephone Judith Schaecter 2015-3
But even as light weaves me new robes,
even as mother reaches for me,
Persephone Judith Schaecter 2015-4
I remember the ecstasy of my descent –

the golden narcissus clutched in my hand –


The images are Judith Schaecter’s  Persephone, 2015;   stained glass, cut, sandblasted, engraved, painted, fired and assembled with copperfoil. 2015


Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882, British) a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood painted his lover, Jane Morris (1839-1914, British) into this myth in 1874.  Prosperine;  Tate, London; oil on canvas.

 Here is Prosperine (Persephone) in Hades.  Jupiter agreed to have Prosperine released from Hades if she had not eaten of its fruits.  But she had bitten into a pomegranate, the symbol of marriage.  For this she was to remain in Hades every year for the 3 months of winter.  In the corner is a sonnet created by Rosetti in Italian describing the scene.

Rossetti is illustrating Jane’s unhappy marriage to the socialist and designer, William Morris.


DSC00133_edited-1Persephone No. 1; Megan Kelly;  an inkjet print exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in 2016. 

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