When I was in college, I was involved in the student pagan group. It was an eclectic group that tended to mix traditions and pantheons. We were planning for an Autumn Equinox ritual and I had suggested that we evoke Persephone along with a God from a different pantheon. “I wouldn’t do that,” someone said. “Hades is a jealous husband”.
I was recently ruminating on that statement when something occurred to me. I realized that it wasn’t Hades who was jealous, but Persephone. The evidence is as follows:
The story I am about to share is referenced most notably in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Minthe was a beautiful nymph. But honestly, have you ever really heard about an ugly nymph? She was so lovely that she caught the eye of Hades himself.
Some versions of the myth say she was enamored with his chariot, admiring the sleek black horses and silver wheels. The solemn king of the underworld had very little color in his life, save for his radiant and terrible queen Persephone. I imagine the story continuing when Persephone was spending the summer with her mother and Hades finds himself tempted by Minthe. He and Minthe made love in the very flower-dappled meadow where Hades had snared his wife. When Persephone learned of Hades’ infidelity, she was enraged. She rushed to the scene of the crime of passion, just as Minthe was leaving Hades behind. Rather than turning her anger to her cheating husband, she found her fury aimed at Minthe herself, just like a classical Greek Jerry Springer episode. Persephone rage transformed Minthe a mint plant. And when the whole ordeal was finished, Hades remained silent.
He remained strangely silent during another situation. Persephone as innocent as her maiden persona would let us believe. Hades did not enact the same form of vengeance when the tables were turned. This story begins when Aphrodite needed hide Adonis from all her above world rivals. She asked Persephone to keep him in safe in the underworld. During his stay, however, Persephone fell madly in love with him. When Aphrodite returned to claim the beautiful youth, Persephone refused to give him back. They fought over him, and eventually it was determined that the year would be split into thirds. Adonis would spend one with Aphrodite, one with Persephone and the last third would be for himself. Adonis chose to spend his final third with Aphrodite. This left Persephone waiting her turn each, just as her mother had to wait for part of the year to see her daughter every year. In this myth both Persephone and Adonis represent the green growing things that return after a long departure. For his part, Hades minded his own business and allowed his wife her plaything for that part of the year.
The stories of Minthe and Adonis give us an interesting insight into the marriage of Persephone and Hades. Though Hades may be dreadful in his business life, his relationship with his wife is very different. It seems Persephone is the jealous partner while Hades is merely grateful for what he has.
"Defiance of Persephone" by Jason Beam at http://jasonbeam.com, used with permission.