Children’s Myth of Persephone
by Laura M. LaVoie
Upon the dawning of Spring, Persephone was about to celebrate her coming of age. Demeter decided to throw a wonderful party in honor of her daughter. Demeter charged the little goatfoot god, Pan, with the guest list. So Pan traveled the countryside spreading the news to all the Gods and Nymphs and Animals.
After some time, Pan though that he was finished when he heard the soft sound of crying from the Rabbit’s warren. Pan knelt down and called into the tunnels, “hello, Rabbit, is that you?” After a moment the timid Rabbit poked his head out of the den, his fur was matted with his own tears. “What’s wrong?” Pan asked.
“You have invited me to Persephone’s Coming of Age and I wish to go, but I cannot bring myself to show my face. Persephone has been so kind to me, but I cannot think of anything that I can bring her as a gift. I want only to please her.”
Pan couldn’t help himself and he laughed out loud. This only caused Rabbit to sob louder. “No, Rabbit, I didn’t mean to make light of your trouble, but you mustn’t worry so much. Persephone wouldn’t want to see you like this. All you have to do is make her something from your heart – something you yourself have created.” Pan pat the Rabbit on his head, “I will see you tomorrow for the Party.”
After Pan left, Rabbit thought about what he could make. He was good at building warrens, but Persephone had little use for an underground nest. Rabbit’s thoughts were soon interrupted.
“Rabbit! Oh Rabbit!” Hollered Chicken as she came running to his warren with a basket of fresh eggs. “Here are the eggs I promised you for your breakfast.”
“Oh, thank you, Chicken, I am looking forward to enjoying them.”
“Then I will see you at the Party tomorrow?” Chicken asked.
Rabbit nodded, “I suppose you will.” And he hurried back into his nest and placed the basket of eggs in a safe place before going to sleep.
Rabbit woke suddenly as the golden rays of morning light were flooding the warren. He had an idea! He looked into the basket that Chicken has given him and lifted out an egg. He considered the egg very closely. It would certainly make a lovely gift for Persephone. But, he thought, not as it was. Rabbit took the eggs up to the bright sunlight and gathered saffron, grapes and all other manner of things that could be made into vibrant dyes. Rabbit spent most of the morning painstakingly painting elaborate patterns on the eggs. When he was done he admired them – they were all very lovely. Rabbit placed all of the pretty eggs back in the basket.
Just then he noticed everyone headed to the grove for the party. Rabbit carefully carried the basket to the grove and joined the back of the line for presenting gifts to Persephone. One by one, she received each gift of elaborate jewels and garments from all the creatures, nymphs and Gods.
Rabbit waited impatiently at the back of the line. He felt Pan’s hand on his back, “Look at Persephone’s face.” The little God whispered, “she is unhappy with these gifts. They do not come from the heart.”
Finally the Rabbit reached the head of the line. He looked timidly up at the Goddess and said, “Lady, I have made this for you,” and he handed her the basket.
Persephone’s face lit up. “Rabbit, this is the most beautiful gift that I have ever received. The egg is the symbol of life, and you have made it more beautiful than it was. I want everyone to share in this joy!”
So all of the animals and the nymphs and the Gods spent the afternoon painting eggs. Then they made up games to hide the eggs and look for them. No one remembered ever having so much fun.
So each year, upon Persephone’s return from the underworld, she celebrates the spring this way.
When Homer died and arrived in the Underworld, the great Queen, Persephone, met him. The goddess smiled slyly at him and said, “Great Poet, you have written a hymn for all the other Goddesses but none for me. When shall I get my poem?” And Homer knew that if he didn’t want to spend his days like Sisyphus or Tantalus in eternal punishment, he best compose a Hymn for the dread goddess. So on the spot, there in the entrance to the underworld itself, Homer sang the sweetest song only for Persephone to hear. Because the hymn was composed in the underworld for Persephone herself, no mortal ear has ever heard it.