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Tales beyond belief

Discover the legends and myths and religious beliefs surrounding Proserpina, the Roman goddess of the Underworld who was famously abducted by
Pluto the god and king of the Underworld. Her mother was Ceres and her father was Jupiter. The goddess was also associated with spring as she passed half her time with Pluto in the Underworld but she returned to earth every Spring to be with her mother.

This connection also led to her being referred to the goddess of Springtime. The Greek counterpart of this ancient Roman deity was Persephone.

Who was Proserpina?
Proserpina was the Roman goddess of the Underworld. The mythology relating to the abduction of the daughter of the goddess Ceres was taken from Greek legend. It is this story that Proserpina is most famous. Proserpina was abducted by Pluto whilst she was picking flowers. In revenge for this act Ceres cast a curse on earth causing a great famine. Ceres refused to lift the curse until she saw her daughter again. Jupiter, the king of the gods and the brother of Ceres, intervened and sent Mercury to the Underworld to ask Pluto to return Proserpina. However, Proserpina had eaten part of a pomegranate whilst she was with Pluto. The pomegranate was known as the "fruit of the dead", and anyone who ate the food of the dead had to stay in the underworld. A compromise was reached and Proserpina could only be given back to her mother for part of each year. For two-thirds of the year she was allowed to live with her mother and the remainder of the time she was obliged to stay with Pluto as queen of the Underworld. The ancients believed that when Proserpina made her yearly visits to the mortal world she brought spring with her and when the time came that she must return to Pluto the bleak winter followed.  Refer to the mythical stories of Proserpine and Ceres and Proserpine.

The Return of Proserpina, accompanied by Mercury, to her mother Ceres

Facts about Proserpina
The following facts and profile provides a fast overview of Proserpina:

  • Roman Name: Proserpina

  • Role & Function: The function of Proserpina is described as being the goddess of the Underworld

  • Status: Minor Roman goddess

  • Symbols: Bat, the poppy, torch, white rose and the pomegranate

  • Alternative Names: Proserpine

  • Gender: Female

  • Greek Counterpart: The Greek name for this goddess was Persephone

  • Name of Husband: Pluto, king of the Underworld and the elder brother of Jupiter and Neptune

  • Name of Father: Jupiter

  • Name of Mother: Ceres

Facts about Proserpina in Roman Mythology
Discover interesting information and facts about the Roman goddess of the Underworld.

  • She was the daughter of Jupiter and Ceres and the wife of Pluto

  • Her name derives from the Latin word "proserpere" meaning "to emerge,"

  • Her symbol of the pomegranate was also known as the "fruit of the dead" and anyone who ate the food of the dead had to stay in the underworld.

  • A variety of pomegranate is called Proserpina

  • She is represented in art as a beautiful woman, enthroned, with a sad, stern and melancholy appearance.

  • Her role in the Underworld was to prepare the spirits of worthy women to enter Elysium, strewing flowers along the path she would travel

  • She was the emblem of the seed corn, which lies in the earth during the winter, but sprouts in the spring, and in summer bears fruit.

  • One of the most ancient and important among the festivals observed by the ancients was that of the Eleusinian Mysteries, which was celebrated in honour of Ceres and her daughter, Proserpine.

  • She is often depicted as a young goddess holding sheaves of grain and a flaming torch.

Gods and Deities
Roman Gods and Goddesses

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