48. Ceres, Pluto and Proserpine

Once upon a time, Venus told her son Cupid, to strike his keenest arrow at the breast of Pluto, so that Pluto may desire and marry his niece Proserpine, daughter of Ceres and Jupiter. Cupid did accordingly, and Pluto burned for Proserpine’s love.

Along with her friends, Proserpine, unaware of Pluto’s passion for her, was gathering sweet violets and white lilies in a pleasant grove, when Pluto abducted her in his chariot. On his way, Pluto came across the Cyane pool, whose nymph, also called as Cyane, blocked his way. Pluto struck the Cyane pool with his royal scepter, due to which the nymph Cyane changed to many rivulets. The smitten earth, opened a wide basin for Pluto’s black-steeds drawn chariot, which plunged deep into Stygian domains.

Meanwhile, the anxious Ceres, after searching far and wide, saw Proserpine’s girdle, which by chance Proserpine had dropped, floating on the Cyane pool. Convinced that her daughter had been abducted, in rage, Ceres the goddess of agriculture, made the fertile land barren. Thereafter, the nymph Arethusa told Ceres that while she was fleeing from Alpheus and gliding past Stygian streams, she had seen Proserpine, ruling as the queen of Pluto.

When Ceres heard these words, as if thunderstruck, she remained motionless, until great amazement changed to great despair. Then as a suppliant, she requested Jupiter, to bring their daughter back. Jupiter said that Proserpine can return to Heaven, only if she had never tasted Stygian food. However, Proserpine had eating seven pomegranate seeds, which only Ascalaphus, son of Orphne and Acheron, had witnessed and told. The angry Queen of Erebus, changed the tell-tale Ascalaphus, to a lazy owl.

On one side urged by Pluto and on the other by Ceres, Jupiter as the mediator, decided to let Proserpine stay with Pluto for six months, and with Ceres for six months. Thus, Proserpine, stayed equally with both during a year.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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