Classic Myths

Page: 48

Mercury, the wing-footed messenger, and Flora, the goddess of Spring, sought the center of the earth to bring back Proserpina to Ceres.

Pluto loved his stolen prize as much as Queen Ceres did; and, being unhappy because she refused to eat, succeeded at last in making her taste one of the beautiful pomegranates that are both food and drink.

Even while she was tasting it Mercury and Flora stood at Pluto's gate with the command to return her to Ceres. What was to be done? Mercury, quick-witted as well as quick-footed, decided that if she dwelt with Ceres for half the year and with Pluto the other half, Jupiter's commands would be satisfied. This proved to be as Jupiter wished.

So, arrayed in shining green, Proserpina swiftly set out with Flora and Mercury to find Queen Ceres. Ceres saw her the minute her bright head appeared above the brown earth and knew her through her disguise. You remember when Proserpina was taken she wore a plain brown suit.

They lived together, the mother and daughter, through the bright spring days and the warm summer weather. When autumn came Proserpina donned her brown suit again and Pluto claimed her. There, in his underground realm, she reigns all the cold winter months. She is happy now because Queen Ceres is happy. The mother knows that when spring breathes over the earth again Proserpina will come back to her.

Can you guess who Proserpina is? You have seen her a thousand times. Yes, and when you see her next you will say how strange that the Greeks could tell such a story of only a little brown seed.

APOLLO. From a statue in Rome.

But Clytie never would obey. Sometimes she would answer:

"Oh, mother, let me stay. He was so beautiful. I have no heart for work."