The probable origin of her name comes from the Latin, "proserpere" or "to emerge," in respect to the growing of grain. Proserpina was subsumed by the cult of Libera, an ancient fertility goddess, wife of Liber and is also considered a life–death–rebirth deity.
Venus, in order to bring love to Pluto, sent her son Amor also known as Cupid to hit Pluto with one of his arrows. Proserpina was in Sicily, at the Pergusa Lake near Enna, where she was playing with some nymphs and collecting flowers, when Pluto came out from the volcano Etna with four black horses named Orphnaeus, Aethon, Nycteus and Alastor. He abducted her in order to marry her and live with her in the underworld of which he was the ruler.
Her mother Ceres, also known as Demeter, the goddess of agriculture or of the Earth, went looking for her in vain to every corner of the earth, but was not able to find anything but a small belt that was floating upon a little lake (made with the tears of the nymphs). In her desperation Ceres angrily stopped the growth of fruits and vegetables, bestowing a malediction on Sicily. Ceres refused to go back to Mount Olympus and started walking on the Earth, making a desert at every step.
Worried, Jupiter sent Mercury to order Pluto (Jupiter's brother) to free Proserpina. Pluto obeyed, but before letting her go he made her eat six pomegranate seeds, because those who have eaten the food of the dead could not return to the world of the living. This meant that she would have to live six months of each year with him, and stay the rest with her mother. This story was undoubtedly meant to illustrate the changing of the seasons: when Ceres welcomes her daughter back in the spring the earth blossoms, and when Proserpina must be returned to her husband it withers.
In another version of the story, Proserpina ate only four pomegranate seeds, and she did so of her own accord. When Jupiter ordered her return, Pluto struck a deal with Jupiter, saying that since she had stolen his pomegranate seeds, she must stay with him four months of the year in return. For this reason, in spring when Ceres receives her daughter back, the crops blossom, and in summer they flourish.
In the autumn Ceres changes the leaves to shades of brown and orange (her favorite colors) as a gift to Proserpina before she has to return to the underworld. During the time that Proserpina resides with Pluto, the world goes through winter, a time when the earth is barren.
Orpheus and Eurydice
The myth of Proserpina, the most extensive Latin version of which is by Claudian (4th century AD), is closely connected with that of Orpheus and Eurydice. In Virgil's writings; it is Proserpina, as Queen of Hades, who allows Orpheus to enter and bring back to life his wife Eurydice after she is killed by a venomous snake. Proserpina played her cetra to quiet Cerberus, but Orpheus did not respect her order never to look back, and Eurydice was lost.
Proserpina's figure inspired many artistic compositions, eminently in sculpture (Bernini, see The Rape of Proserpina (Bernini) ) in painting (D.G.Rossetti, a fresco by Pomarancio, J.Heintz, Rubens, A. Dürer, Dell'Abbate, Parrish) and in literature (Goethe's Proserpina and Swinburne's Hymn to Proserpine and The Garden of Proserpine) The statue of the Rape of Prosepina by Pluto that stands in the Great Garden (more correctly, Großer Garten) of Dresden, Germany is also referred to as "Time Ravages Beauty". Kate McGarrigle's song about the legend was one of the last things she wrote prior to her death, and received its only performance at her last concert at Royal Albert Hall in December 2009.
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- "American English Dictionary: Definition of Proserpina". Collins. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
- "Persephone: Greek Goddess of Innocence and Queen of the Underworld". Goddessgift.com. Retrieved 2011-09-06.
- "Suggestions for names of Pluto's moons - The Planetary Society Blog | The Planetary Society". Planetary.org. 2006-02-21. Retrieved 2011-09-06.
- "Online Etymology Dictionary". Etymonline.com. Retrieved 2011-09-06.
- "LacusCurtius • Claudian — The Rape of Proserpine: Book I". Penelope.uchicago.edu. Retrieved 2011-09-06.
- Jimmy Joe (2000-06-22). "Tales of Lovers". Timelessmyths.com. Retrieved 2011-09-06.
- Claudius Claudianus De Raptu Proserpinae, on Divus Angelus. See also Milo De Angelis (transl.), Claudio Claudiano "Il rapimento di Proserpina", Enrico Casaccia Publ. (2010) (Italian)
- "Bernini - Plutone e Proserpina". Thais.it. Retrieved 2013-03-27.
- "Proserpine by Dante Gabriel Rossetti". artmagick.com. 2008-07-31. Retrieved 2013-03-27.
- O. Centaro (email@example.com): ideazione, progetto, contenuti, webmastering; F. Ingala (firstname.lastname@example.org): progetto ed implementazione software, ricerca e sviluppo.; G. Latino (email@example.com): progetto ed implementazione grafica.). "OCAIW – The Nude in Art History: Peter Paul Rubens". Ocaiw.com. Retrieved 2013-03-27.
- "ARTEHISTORIA – Genios de la Pintura – Ficha Rapto de Proserpina". Artehistoria.com. Retrieved 2013-03-27.
- "Genios de la Pintura - Ficha Rapto de Proserpina". Artehistoria. Retrieved 2011-09-06.
- "Rape of Proserpina". Webpages.ursinus.edu. Retrieved 2011-09-06.
- "Proserpina, aka Sea Nymphs- Maxfield Parrish Gallery". Maxfieldparrish.info. Retrieved 2013-03-27.
- Johann Wolfgang Goethe (2006-04-26). "Projekt Gutenberg-DE - SPIEGEL ONLINE - Nachrichten - Kultur". Gutenberg.spiegel.de. Retrieved 2011-09-05.
- Marcus Tullius Cicero, De natura deorum II,66 (Latin)
... Diti patri dedicata est, qui dives ut apud Graecos Plouton, quia et recidunt omnia in terras et oriuntur e terris, Cui Proserpinam (quod Graecorum nomen est, ea enim est quae Persefone Graece nominatur) — quam frugum semen esse volunt absconditamque quaeri a matre fingunt. (With Dis Pater is connected Proserpina (whose name is of Greek origin, being that goddess the Greeks call Persephone) who symbolises the wheat seed and whose mother looked for her after her disappearance...)—Marcus Tullius Cicero, De natura deorum II,66
- Valerius Maximus Factorum et dictorum memorabilium libri IX II 4,5 (Latin)
- Saint Augustine of Hippo, De Civitate Dei IV,8 (Latin)
- Claudius Claudianus De Raptu Proserpinae, full text on Divus Angelus (Latin)
- Milo De Angelis (transl.), Claudio Claudiano "Il rapimento di Proserpina", Enrico Casaccia Publisher (2010) (Italian)
- John Ruskin (1886). Proserpina: Studies of Wayside Flowers while the Air was Yet Pure among the Alps and in the Scotland and England Which My Father Knew.
- Claudian, De raptu Proserpinae ("The Rape of Proserpine"), three books, in Latin and English, Bill Thayer's edition of the Loeb Classical Library text at LacusCurtius
- The Pomegranate Seeds adapted as a children's tale by Nathaniel Hawthorne, in Tanglewood Tales
- "Proserpina" on the Mythology Guide
- Proserpina, Goddess of Sicily, article by S. Colombo.
- Proserpina, Proserpina.net.
Accessed 27 January 2012
- Il Ratto di Proserpina (Italian)