Persephone, Ascalaphus and the pomegranate tree... Picture

....Persephone was the daughter of Demeter and Zeus... In the Olympian telling, the gods Hermes, Ares, Apollo and Hephaestus had all wooed Persephone; but Demeter rejected all their gifts and hid her daughter away from the company of the Olympian deities...

...Persephone was innocently picking flowers in a field in Enna, when Hades came to abduct her, bursting through a cleft in the earth, and carrying her off to the Underworld to be his Queen.

...Life came to a standstill as the devastated Demeter, goddess of the Earth and seasons, searched everywhere for her lost daughter. Helios - the sun - who sees everything, eventually told Demeter what had happened.

Finally, Zeus, pressed by the cries of the hungry people and by the other deities who also heard their anguish, forced Hades to return Persephone. However, it was a rule of the Fates that whoever consumed food or drink in the Underworld was doomed to spend eternity there....
Before Persephone was released to Hermes, who had been sent to retrieve her, Hades tricked her into eating pomegranate seeds, (six, seven, eight, or perhaps four according to the telling), which forced her to return to the underworld for a season each year.

Ascalaphus – son of a river spirit - and who tended the gardens of Hades, informed the other deities that Persephone had eaten the pomegranate seeds. In her anger and grief, Demeter flung water from the River Phlegethon over Ascalaphus, transforming him into an owl...

When Demeter and her daughter were united, the Earth flourished with vegetation and colour, but for some months each year, when Persephone returned to the underworld, the earth once again became a barren realm.

~ Adapted slightly from Wikipedia's article on Persephone
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