Espoused in Autumn — The Orphic Hymn to Persephone

“Daughter of Jove [Zeus], almighty and divine,
 come, blessed queen, and to these rites incline:

Only-begotten, Pluto’s [Plouton’s] honor’d wife,
 O venerable Goddess, source of life:

‘Tis thine in earth’s profundities to dwell,
 fast by the wide and dismal gates of hell:

Jove’s [Zeus’] holy offspring, of a beauteous mien,
 fatal [Praxidike], with lovely locks, infernal queen:

Source of the furies [Eumenides], whose blest frame proceeds
 from Jove’s [Zeus’] ineffable and secret seeds: 

Mother of Bacchus [Eubouleos], Sonorous, divine,
 and many-form’d, the parent of the vine:

The dancing Hours [Horai] attend thee, essence bright,
 all-ruling virgin, bearing heav’nly light:

Illustrious, horned, of a bounteous mind,
 alone desir’d by those of mortal kind.

O, vernal queen, whom grassy plains delight,
 sweet to the smell, and pleasing to the sight:

Whose holy form in budding fruits we view,
 Earth’s vig’rous offspring of a various hue: 

Espous’d in Autumn: life and death alone
 to wretched mortals from thy power is known:

For thine the task according to thy will,
 life to produce, and all that lives to kill.

Hear, blessed Goddess, send a rich increase
 of various fruits from earth, with lovely Peace;

Send Health with gentle hand, and crown my life
 with blest abundance, free from noisy strife;

Last in extreme old age the prey of Death,
 dismiss we willing to the realms beneath, 

To thy fair palace, and the blissful plains
 where happy spirits dwell, and Pluto [Plouton] reigns.”

This hymn is about both the Persephone of the upper world and the Persephone who is Queen of Hades. She, as the Goddess who bridges the worlds, is the one that rewards the initiate of the mysteries in the afterlife. It is interesting that she is called “Mother of Bacchus” as most people do not know that version of the mythology and consider Dionysus as being the son of Semele instead. She is also called the source of the Eumenides (in the Orphic view she may have been their mother), who in other stories are some of the children born from the blood of Ouranos which fell upon Gaia when he was castrated. 

Persephone is both the vernal queen and espoused in autumn to the king of the underworld. It is perhaps for this reason that she is asked to allow the original writer to come to her palace “where happy spirits dwell” because it is (at least in the view of this hymn) HER power that determines when it is a person’s time to die. Like others of the Olympians (as she is counted by some) she is asked for health, abundance and peace. This more than anything else marks her as being more important in the lives of the people than merely a goddess of the seasons……

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