Hades and Persephone. The last drawing I made while I was reading The Narcissus and the Pomegranate - An Arcaeology of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter by Ann Suter. Persephone has probably recently returned to the Underworld and tells Hades about all the crazy shit their family has been up to.
As I’ve mentioned, Suter believes that the elements of a coming-of-age initiation that scholars see in the Hymn were originally part of the renewal of the earth’s fertility through the sympathetic magic of a hieros gamos (sacred marriage). One of her arguments seems to be that Hades’s and Persephone’s marriage is quite strange:
"She (Persephone) does not stay in her husband’s oikos (household), rather, she spends most of her time with her premarital family and associates, traveling to and from them while her husband stays at home. She does not spin or weave, the typical occupations of the proper Greek wife, nor are we told that she is ever taught these skills. Finally, she never has children, which is the final stage of female coming-of-age and is essential to the perpetuation of the community."
As I’ve said many times before, these things can only be speculated upon and I mostly read the book for inspiration and entertainment, but that’s one thing that I like about Hades and Persephone. That their relationship was a bit “strange”. Strange and yet quite well-functioning.
Anyway, according to Suter, the sexual union of Hades and Persephone in the Underworld is rather an archetypical act of fertility magic (or rather, the Hymn retain elements from an earlier story about a hieros gamos). Interestingly enough, the inhabitants of Sicily seem to have established the celebration of Persephone’s return to the Underworld at about the time when the fruit of the corn was found to come to maturity, implying that the cause of the maturation of the grain was her reunion with Hades.
Oh, and a funny thing about pomegranates… We often hear that the fruit was a symbol of marriage and fertility and sacred to Hera and Aphrodite as well, but did you know that it was also used in ancient times as an abortificant or contraceptive? There’s actually one theory suggesting that Persephone’s eating the pomegranate seeds indicates her wish not to have children. I just have to use that in my comics some day.