In the myth Pluto abducts Persephone to be his wife and the queen of his realm.Pluto ( Πλούτων,Ploutōn) was a name for the ruler of the underworld; the god was also known as Hades, a name for the underworld itself. The name Pluton was conflated with that of Ploutos ( Πλούτος Ploutos, "wealth"), a god of wealth, because mineral wealth was found underground, and because Pluto as a chthonic god ruled the deep earth that contained the seeds necessary for a bountiful harvest.Plouton is lord of the dead, but as Persephone's husband he has serious claims to the powers of fertility.
Hades abducting Persephone, wall painting in the small royal tomb at Vergina. Macedonia, Greece
Goddess of Spring, Queen of the Underworld and Wife of Hades
In a Linear B (Mycenean Greek) inscription on a tablet found at Pylos dated 1400–1200 BC, John Chadwick reconstructs the name of a goddess *Preswa who could be identified with Persa, daughter of Oceanus and finds speculative the further identification with the first element of Persephone.Persephonē (Greek: Περσεφόνη) is her name in the Ionic Greek of epic literature. The Homeric form of her name is Persephoneia (Περσεφονεία, Persephonēia). In other dialects she was known under variant names: Persephassa(Περσεφάσσα), Persephatta (Περσεφάττα), or simply Korē (Κόρη, "girl, maiden"). Plato calls her Pherepapha (Φερέπαφα) in hisCratylus, "because she is wise and touches that which is in motion". There also the forms Perifona (Πηριφόνα) and Phersephassa(Φερσέφασσα). The existence of so many different forms shows how difficult it was for the Greeks to pronounce the word in their own language and suggests that the name has probably a pre-Greek origin.
An alternative etymology is from φέρειν φόνον, pherein phonon, "to bring (or cause) death".
Another mythical personage of the name of Persephione is called a daughter of Minyas and the mother of Chloris, a nymph of spring, flower and new growth. The Minyanswere a group considered autochthonous, but some scholars assert that they were the first wave of Proto-Greek speakers in the second milemnium BC.
The Roman Proserpina
The Romans first heard of her from the Aeolian and Dorian cities of Magna Graecia, who used the dialectal variant Proserpinē (Προσερπίνη). Hence, in Roman mythology she was called Proserpina, a name erroneously derived by the Romans from proserpere,("to shoot forth")and as such became an emblematic figure of the Renaissance.
At Locri, perhaps uniquely, Persephone was the protector of marriage, a role usually assumed by Hera; in the iconography of votive plaques at Locri, her abduction and marriage to Hades served as an emblem of the marital state, children at Locri were dedicated to Proserpina, and maidens about to be wed brought their peplos to be blessed.
In a Classical period text ascribed to Empedocles, c. 490–430 BC, describing a correspondence among four deities and the classical elements, the name Nestis for water apparently refers to Persephone: "Now hear the fourfold roots of everything: enlivening Hera, Hades, shining Zeus. And Nestis, moistening mortal springs with tears."
Of the four deities of Empedocles's elements, it is the name of Persephone alone that is taboo—Nestis is a euphemistic cult title—for she was also the terrible Queen of the Dead, whose name was not safe to speak aloud, who was euphemistically named simply as Kore or "the Maiden", a vestige of her archaic role as the deity ruling the underworld.
The Abduction of Proserpine
Illustrated by Albrecht Dürer
This wonderfully evocative image was prepared by Dürer as one of six experimental etchings made on iron plates.
While he did not continue using that medium, the prints produced from those etchings exhibit interesting characteristics of line arising from the texture of the metal (being less uniform when compared to copper).
Mrs Charles W Heaton (The History of the Life of Albrecht Durer of Nurnberg with a Translation of His Letters and Journal and Some Accounts of His Work: Seeley, Jackson and Halliday, London; 1881), in an early comprehensive biographical work, provides the following description of this wonderful illustration:
It is called by Bartsh, Le Ravissement d'une jeune Femme, and by others Pluto carrying off Proserpine. It is a wild, weird conception, and produces a most uncomfortable, shuddering impression on the beholder.
As noted by Strauss (The Complete Engravings, Etching and Drypoints of Albrecht Durer: Dover Publications, New York;
1972), The Abduction of Proserpine is considered to be the most dramatic and inventive of Dürer's experimental etchings.
Strauss provides his own description of the illustration, thus:
By eliminating accessory figures and by arranging the terrain so as to suggest a leap into the void, by diffusing the scenery with a lurid, flickering light, and by transforming the horse of the preparatory drawing into a fabulous unicorn evocative of the ideas of night, death and destruction, Dürer invested a violent but perfectly natural scene with an infernal character unparalleled in representations of the subject except for Rembrandt's early picture in Berlin.
The head of the unicorn was sketched separately by Dürer. Pluto here appears as the leader of the wild hunt, riding a unicorn. Wild men, according to ancient belief, were the only creatures capable of overcoming the unicorn's ferocity. The idea probably derives from an illustration in the Nuremberg Chronicle (folio CLXXXIX) relating to an event during the reign of Emperor Henry III (1017-1056). According to a report a wicked English sorceress, the Berkeley Witch, was hauled off by the Devil on a hideous horse - her fearful and terrifying cry was heard for miles around.
Pluto and Proserpina by Gian Lorenzo Bernini
The large marble group of Pluto and Proserpina by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, shows Pluto, powerful god of the underworld, abducting Proserpina, daughter of Ceres. By interceding with Jupiter, her mother obtains permission for her daughter to return to earth for half the year and then spend the other half in Hades. Thus every spring the earth welcomes her with a carpet of flowers.
The group was executed between 1621 and 1622. Cardinal Scipione gave it to Cardinal Ludovisi in 1622, and it remained in his villa until 1908, when it was purchased by the Italian state and returned to the Borghese Collection. In this group Bernini develops the twisting pose reminiscent of Mannerism, combined with an impression of vital energy (in pushing against Pluto's face Proserpina's hand creases his skin and his fingers sink into the flesh of his victim).
Seen from the left, the group shows Pluto taking a fast and powerful stride and grasping Proserpina, from the front he appears triumphantly bearing his trophy in his arms; from the right one sees Proserpina's tears as she prays to heaven, the wind blowing her hair, as the guardian of Hades, the three-headed dog, barks. Various moments of the story are thus summed up in a single sculpture. http://www.galleriaborghese.it/borghese/en/eproserp.htm
Ratto di Proserpina (Bernini)
Il soggetto è tratto dalle Metamorfosi di Ovidio e legato al tema del ciclo delle stagioni. Proserpina figlia di Giove e Cerere, dea della fertilità fu notata da Plutone, Re degl’inferi, che invaghito la rapì mentre ella raccoglieva fiori, secondo il mito, al lago di Pergusa presso Enna.
Cerere per il dolore abbandona i campi, causando la carestia, mentre Giove interviene trovando un accordo con la mediazione di Mercurio; Proserpina avrebbe trascorso nove mesi con la madre favorendo l’abbondanza dei raccolti, per i restanti mesi dell’anno, quelli invernali, sarebbe rimasta con Plutone all’inferno.
In ambito cristiano il mito rappresentava il ritorno dell’anima umana dal mondo dei morti alla speranza della vita e la possibilità di redenzione dal peccato e per questo fu rappresentato nelle porte bronzee di San Pietro dallo scultore quattrocentesco Filarete.
Plutone è riconoscibile dai suoi attributi regali, la corona e lo scettro, mentre dietro di lui Cerbero figura mostruosa controlla che nessuno ostacoli il percorso del suo padrone girando le tre teste in tutte le direzioni.
L’intento di Bernini è quello di bloccare l’azione al culmine del suo svolgimento, per rendere attraverso l’espressività corporea dei personaggi il loro carattere e il dramma che vivono.
La composizione del gruppo segue delle direttrici dinamiche sottolineate dai movimenti degli arti e delle teste, accentuato da quello dei capelli e del drappo che scopre il corpo giovanile e sensuale della Ninfa sul cui volto rivolto all’indietro è visibile una lacrima.
Il corpo di Plutone è invece possente e muscolare la sua virilità è accentuata dal complicatissimo brano della barba e dei capelli, le ciocche creano delle pieghe profonde in cui è riconoscibile un abbondante uso del trapano.
Bernini si compiace di offrire agli spettatori brani di scultura virtuosistica e particolari che rendono figure reali i personaggi mitici, ma quello che da il senso dell’artificiosità della scena è la natura del movimento. L’atteggiamento dei due è piuttosto improbabile, sembrano quasi danzare, con uno spiccato senso teatrale l’artista offre una “rappresentazione” del Mito, oltre ad un andamento a spirale di gusto ancora manierista.
Proserpina lotta inutilmente per sottrarsi alla morsa spingendo la sua mano sul volto di Plutone, il quale affonda letteralmente le mani sulla coscia e sul fianco della donna con un effetto virtuosistico eccezionale: il marmo dà la sensazione della morbidezza della carne.
L’opera, un capolavoro del Barocco, ha un punto di vista privilegiato, quello frontale, che rende riconoscibili i personaggi e comprensibile la scena, ma è anche perfettamente rifinita in tutte le sue parti, piena di particolari anche minimi, che invitano l’osservatore ad un esame più approfondito.
Alessandra Buccheri, Bernini, collana "I Classici dell'Arte", Milano, Rizzoli/Skira, 2005, pp. 80 - 83
Πινακίδα από τους Λοκρούς, που απεικονίζει τον Πλούτωνα και την Περσεφόνη, Εθνικό Μουσείο της Μεγάλης Ελλάδας, Ρέτζιο, Ιταλία.
Pinax from Locris: Persephone and Hades sitting on the throne
Οι Επιζεφύριοι Λοκροί ήταν αρχαία ελληνική αποικία της Κάτω Ιταλίας στην χερσόνησο της Καλαβρίας, βορειοδυτικά του Ρήγιου. Ιδρύθηκε κατά τον δεύτερο ελληνικό αποικισμό από Λοκρούς, από τους οποίους πήρε και το όνομά της. Σήμερα στην περιοχή της αρχαίας πόλης βρίσκεται χτισμένη η Ιταλική κωμόπολη Λόκρι (Locri).
Epizephyrian Locris (from Greek Επιζεφύριοι Λοκροί - epi-Zephyros, "under the West Wind") was founded about 680 BC on the Italian shore of the Ionian Sea, near modern Capo Zefirio, by the Locrians, apparently by Opuntii (East Locrians) from the city of Opus, but including Ozolae (West Locrians) and Lacedaemonians. Strabo suggests that it was the Ozolae who were the main founders.
The keys of Pluto
Attributes of Pluto mentioned in the Orphic Hymn to Pluto are his scepter, keys, throne, and horses. In the hymn, the keys are connected to his capacity for giving wealth to humanity, specifically the agricultural wealth of "the year's fruits."
Pausanias explains the significance of Pluto's key in describing a wondrously carved cedar chest at the Temple of Hera in Elis. Numerous deities are depicted, with one panel grouping Dionysus, Persephone, the nymphs and Pluto. Pluto holds a key because "they say that what is called Hades has been locked up by Pluto, and that nobody will return back again therefrom. Natale Conti cites Pausanias in noting that keys are an attribute of Pluto as the scepter is of Jove (Greek Zeus) and the trident of Neptune (Poseidon).
A golden key (chrusea klês) was laid on the tongue of initiates by priests at Eleusis and was a symbol of the revelation they were obligated to keep secret. A key is among the attributes of other infernal deities such as Hecate, Anubis, and Persephone, and those who act as guardians or timekeepers, such as Janus and Aion. Aeacus (Aiakos), one of the three mortal kings who became judges in the afterlife, is also a kleidouchos(κλειδοῦχος), "holder of the keys," and a priestly doorkeeper in the court of Pluto and Persephone.
Vegetation and color
According to the Stoic philosopher Cornutus (1st century AD), Pluto wore a wreath of phasganion, more often called xiphion,traditionally identified as a type of gladiolus. Dioscorides recorded medical uses for the plant. For extracting stings and thorns, xiphion was mixed with wine and frankincense to make a cataplasm. The plant was also used as an aphrodisiac and contraceptive. It grew in humid places. In an obscure passage, Cornutus seems to connect Pluto's wearing of phasganion to an etymology for Avernus, which he derives from the word for "air," perhaps through some association with the color glaukos, "bluish grey," "greenish" or "sea-colored," which might describe the plant's leaves. Because the color could describe the sky, Cornutus regularly gives it divine connotations. Pluto's twin sister was named Glauca
Ambiguity of color is characteristic of Pluto. Although both he and his realm are regularly described as dark, black, or gloomy, the god himself is sometimes seen as pale or having a pallor. Martianus Capella(5th century) describes him as both "growing pale in shadow, a fugitive from light" and actively "shedding darkness in the gloom of Tartarean night," crowned with a wreath made of ebony as suitable for the kingdom he governs. The horses of Pluto are usually black, but Ovid describes them as "sky-colored" (caeruleus, from caelum, "sky"), which might be blue, greenish-blue, or dark blue.
The Renaissance mythographer Natale Conti says wreaths of narcissus, maidenhair fern (adianthus), and cypress were given to Pluto.In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, Gaia (Earth) produced the narcissus at Zeus's request as a snare for Persephone; when she grasps it, a chasm opens up and the "Host to Many" (Hades) seizes her. Narcissus wreaths were used in early times to crown Demeter and Persephone, as well as the Furies (Eumenides). The flower was associated with narcotic drugginess (narkê, "torpor"), erotic fascination, and imminent death; to dream of crowning oneself with narcissus was a bad sign. In the myth of Narcissus, the flower is created when a beautiful, self-absorbed youth rejects sexuality and is condemned to perpetual self-love along the Styx.
Conti's inclusion of adianthus (Adiantum in modern nomenclature) is less straightforward. The name, meaning "unmoistened" (Greek adianton), was taken in antiquity to refer to the fern's ability to repel water. The plant, which grew in wet places, was also called capillus veneris, "hair of Venus," divinely dry when she emerged from the sea. Historian of medicine John Riddle has suggested that the adianthus was one of the ferns Dioscorides called asplenon and prescribed as a contraceptive (atokios). Samuel Beckett alludes to the associations of Proserpine (Persephone) and the maidenhair in a poem, published 1946, in which the self is a Platonic cave with capillaires, in French both "maidenhair fern" and "blood vessels".
The cypress (Greek cyparissus, Latin cupressus) has traditional associations with mourning In ancient Attica, households in mourning were garlanded with cypress, and it was used to fumigate the air during cremations In the myth of Cyparissus, a youth was transformed into a cypress, consumed by grief over the accidental death of a pet stag. A "white cypress" is part of the topography of the underworld that recurs in the Orphic gold tablets as a kind of beacon near the entrance, perhaps to be compared with the Tree of Life in various world mythologies. The description of the cypress as "white" (Greek leukē), since the botanical tree is dark, is symbolic, evoking the white garments worn by initiates or the clothing of a corpse, or the pallor of the dead. In Orphic funeral rites, it was forbidden to make coffins of cypress.
The tradition of the mystery religions favors Pluto as a loving and faithful partner to Persephone, in contrast to the violence of Hades in early myths, but one ancient myth that preserves a lover for him parallels the abduction and also has a vegetative aspect. A Roman source says that Pluto fell in love with Leuca (Greek Leukē, "White"), the most beautiful of the nymphs, and abducted her to live with him in his realm. After the long span of her life came to its end, he memorialized their love by creating a white tree in theElysian Fields. The tree was the white poplar (Greek leukē), the leaves of which are white on one side and dark on the other, representing the duality of upper and underworld. A wreath of white poplar leaves was fashioned by Heracles to mark his ascent from the underworld, an aition for why it was worn by initiates and by champion athletes participating in funeral games. Like other plants associated with Pluto, white poplar was regarded as a contraceptive in antiquity. The relation of this tree to the white cypress of the mysteries is debated.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluto_(mythology)