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Proserpina
Goddess of fertility, wine, agriculture
Dante Gabriel Rossetti - Proserpine - Google Art Project.jpg
A Pre-Raphaelite Proserpine (1873–1877) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (Tate Gallery, London)
Symbol pomegranate
Temples Aventine Hill (with Liber and Ceres)
Festivals Liberalia
Personal information
Consort Liber, Dis Pater (various traditions)
Parents Ceres
Siblings Liber (various traditions)
Greek equivalent Persephone, Ariadne
Roman equivalent Libera

Proserpina is the goddess of Spring and queen the Underworld in Roman mythology. She was the wife of Dis pater, Roman king of the underworld.

In Greek mythology, there was a goddess who was like Proserpina called Persephone. It is likely that her name comes from the Latin word "proserpere," which means "to emerge" or to come out, in English. She was the daughter of Ceres and Jupiter. Proserpina replaced or was combined with the ancient Roman fertility goddess Libera. They were worshipped in the Aventine temple of the grain-goddess Ceres, along with the wine god Liber.

Myths

Marble Statue of Persephone, 2nd Century AD (41410710410)
Marble Statue of Persephone, 2nd Century AD

The best-known myth surrounding Proserpina is of her abduction by the King of the underworld, named variously in Latin sources as Dis or Pluto, and in Greek sources as Hades or Pluto.

Proserpina's mother, Ceres, seeks her daughter across the world, but in vain. The sun sinks and darkness falls as Ceres walks the earth, stopping the growth of crops and creating a desert with each step. Jupiter sends Mercury to order Dis to free Proserpina; but Proserpina has melted Dis' hard heart, and eats "several" of the pomegranate seeds he offers her; those who have eaten the food of the dead cannot return to the world of the living. Pluto insists that she had willingly eaten his pomegranate seeds and in return she must stay with him for half the year. Virgil asserts that Proserpina agrees to this, and is reluctant to ascend from the underworld and re-unite with her mother. When Ceres greets her daughter's return to the world of the living, the crops grow, flowers blossom, and in summer all growing crops flourish, to be harvested in Autumn. During the time that Proserpina resides with Pluto, the world goes through winter, when the earth gives no crops. The earth can only be fertile when she is above.

Orpheus and Eurydice

The most extensive myth of Proserpina in Latin is that of Orpheus and Eurydice. Orpheus' beloved wife, Eurydice, died from a snake-bite; Proserpina allowed Orpheus into Hades without losing his life; charmed by his music, she allowed him to lead his wife back to the land of the living, as long as he did not look back during the journey. But Orpheus could not resist a backward glance, so Eurydice was forever lost to him.


Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Proserpina para niños

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