Hey! Hallie here!
It’s pretty late in the day on Valentine’s Day, but I couldn’t leave you guys without a Valentine’s Day post. Today I’m going to be talking about my favorite fictional couple, Hades and Persephone. Calling this a book adaptations post is a bit of a stretch considering all of the texts that come together to give us the original mythos of Hades and Persephone. Regardless, their story is so incredibly interesting that many authors and artists have decided to try their hand at an adaptation. So in honor of this, and the fact that they’re one of the only couples in Greek mythology to have any sort of healthy relationship, I’m going to talk about my favorite adaptations of this couple!
This one might be the most popular adaptation of Hades and Persephone right now. In it Persephone is a young college student with a very overbearing mother and Hades is a businessman in a toxic relationship with his secretary. They both attend one of Zeus’ parties where Aphrodite hears Hades remark that Persephone is more beautiful than Aphrodite. Which never ends well in any story Aphrodite is a part of. She arranges for her son to get Persephone drunk and promptly dump her in the back of Hades’ car, where she hopes Persephone will make a fool of herself and make Hades regret his words. However, both of them become immediately interested in one another. Throughout the series Persephone struggles with her feelings for Hades. Especially because her college scholarship was given to her by a group of virgin goddesses called The Goddesses of Eternal Maidenhood, who expect Persephone to eventually join them. Persephone also has a few dark secrets, one of which being that she lost control of her powers and killed a mortal after a group of mortals killed a few nymphs she grew up with. Hades, on the other hand, has to balance his feelings for Persephone over his attempts to be loyal to the nymph Minthe, despite her constant unkindness and gaslighting. Hades and Persephone are a very cute couple in this adaptation and there’s no kidnapping involved! They’re interested in each other the first time they meet, but it takes them a long time to admit their feelings for one another given how many other things they have to deal with. The web-comic is a nice slow burn and it’s free to read! I definitely recommend it!
If you’ve been on this blog recently, you’ve seen me talk about my love for ‘Hadestown’. To be honest, the adaptation of Hades and Persephone in the show is one of the reasons I was drawn to it in the first place. This adaptation isn’t a retelling of the original mythos, unlike “Lore Olympus”. Instead, it’s an exploration of what Hades and Persephone’s relationship might be like hundreds of years after they married. In the original mythos, Hades fears that Persephone will never come back if she leaves to help her mother bring Spring and Summer back to the world. So he has her eat pomegranate seeds to bind her to the Underworld. ‘Hadestown’ takes this action as a majorly informative part of Hades and Persephone’s relationship. Hades becomes so concerned that Persephone will refuse to return to him every time she leaves, that he keeps bringing her back to the Underworld earlier and earlier. As a result, the weather in the mortal realm becomes harsh and unpredictable. Many people starve without crops or freeze to death in the cold. Persephone becomes so upset with the turn of events, and feels so trapped in the Underworld, that she becomes an alcoholic. Meanwhile, Hades turns his attention to making the Underworld like the mortal realm so Persephone will be happier in the Underworld. He overworks and dehumanizes the souls he sets to work on these projects, however, which makes Persephone more upset. By the end of it, most of the characters rightfully blame Persephone’s alcoholism and Hades’ blinding fear of losing Persephone for much of their misfortune. And for most of the show Persephone and Hades can be seen arguing. But Orpheus and Euridice’s plight makes Persephone decide to sober up, and Orpheus’ song opens Hades eyes to the mistakes he’s been making. By the end of the musical they haven’t fully forgiven one another, but they promise to work on their relationship once it’s all over. This adaptation is one of the most creative and interesting versions of Hades and Persephone’s relationship and I can’t recommend this musical enough.
There are many more adaptations of Hades and Persephone, and many books retelling their story in various settings, but these two adaptations have stood out to me as especially exceptional. I see a lot of authors, especially Young Adult authors, portraying Persephone as helpless and naïve and Hades as a brooding bad boy. But I think those adaptations miss the point. Many times in mythology Persephone is presented as an intimidating and frightening queen of the Underworld. She’s considered Hades’ equal in the Underworld and sometimes she’s even mentioned more than him. Hades, on the other hand, is more lenient than many other Greek gods. Any adaptation that shows Persephone’s power and allows Hades to be more laid back than the insane villain most media has portrayed him as, has my immediate respect. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Don’t do anything fun until I get back!