I think I’m not quite right in the head. I don’t see Hades as a kidnapping dickwaffle. I honestly see how the Lord of the Dead could fall in love, but be helpless to bring the woman who lights up his world into his life. He went to Zeus for advice and it was Zeus’ idea to kidnap Persephone and he helped Hades do it. They even got Gaia involved in one version of the story as she planted the flower Narcissus to draw Persephone away from her guardians.
In every version, Persephone is either raped (note: as far as the Pantheon is concerned, sadly normal) or somehow tricked into marriage to Hades. Although he takes her by force, Hades’ purpose is marriage, where his brother Zeus takes only a night’s pleasure from the women he abducts. This difference shows an actual desire for a relationship, for love in his lonely existence. And he does treat her well once she is his wife- in all but one version I have read, Persephone falls in love with Hades of her own accord.
And then there’s the issue of Demeter. She was known to be frighteningly overprotective of her fully grown daughter. It is possible, though not likely, that Hades may have been able to approach her in a more conventional manner if this was not true. She went on a rampage of destruction for 10 days, and once she learned her daughter had been taken, she held the world hostage. The mortal world nearly froze and starved to death entirely. Most blame Hades for this, but ultimately it was Demeter’s fault as it was her responsibility.
There is other evidence that Hades has true love in his heart for his queen, and potentially she for him. In Orpheus and Eurydice, he empathizes with Orpheus’ agony at losing his beloved and allows her to return to the mortal realm. There are numerous ways to interpret his condition that Orpheus never look back, but I prefer the idea that it was a test of his love and commitment. The fact that Orpheus could somehow forget the most important thing and lose Eurydice again would only be proof that he was not worthy of the favor in Hades’ eyes. Although severe, this interpretation shows that Hades upholds the ideal of a perfect love, unquestioned.
The mythos recognizes the occurrence of particularly long winters, but doesn’t explain why Persephone would be in the Underworld for a longer period of time than absolutely required (by whichever means that requirement is dictated in your favorite version). This is part of why I support the theory that Persephone loves Hades as well. Hades is one of the most powerful gods in the Pantheon, but he would always yield to Zeus and knows that Zeus would put the mortal realm first. Even if he locked up Persephone, he couldn’t keep her forever. I believe he’d be smart enough not to try it, either. Therefore Persephone must be staying of her own volition- and why would she remain in the land of the dead if there weren’t something between them? There is nothing else for her there, as in almost every character description she is described as loving all things living.
I am aware that it is nowhere explicitly stated that they were a traditional romantic couple and that in no myth was there any warmth displayed. In addition, no children exist to suggest regular or even intermittent coupling. However, to be fair, they appear very seldom, and almost always in an official capacity as rulers of Tartarus. There is no guarantee that a god with power over the dead could produce a life from his loins, and somehow I doubt that any offspring would be allowed to leave Tartarus even if they did exist. Furthermore, I know that these stories are not real. But they have helped to shape our culture and bear reflection, especially when such beautiful pieces as the one above are encountered.
I hate people who hear “Hades and Persephone” and respond with “Stockholm Syndrome” as though that explains everything. It’s so much more complex and beautiful than that.
I cannot find the artist for the illustration above, and would appreciate it if someone could tell me who to credit. Thank you.