The Greeks believed that their Gods were in control of the seasonal changes. So they made up different myths on how and why the seasons changed.
Greeks thoughts on how the Seasons changed.
The Greeks had many stories on how the seasons changed in their yearly process. Here is one of those myths/stories.
One bright sunny morning in Mount Olympus, Demeter said goodbye to her daughter Persephone. “I’ll be back for supper.” she said. As goddess of harvest, she took care of all the plants in the world. The weather was always fine and there were harvests all year long.
Demeter had hidden Persephone from the gods so that no one would be able to marry her.
After her mother had gone, Persephone and her friends went to pick flowers. Trying to find the best daisies, Persephone wandered away from her friends and was soon on her own.
All of a sudden, Persephone heard a noise and looked up into the sky. She saw a chariot pulled by four black horses driven by Hades, the god of the underworld. Hades had fallen in love with Persephone but knew that Demeter would not allow him to marry her daughter.
Before Persephone could scream, Hades dragged her into his chariot and raced away. As they raced across the ground, a humungous cleft appeared on the ground. Hades drove straight down through it and the ground closed behind them. Hades and Persephone disappeared into the underworld.
When Demeter went home that evening, she called out to Persephone saying that she brought back some corn and that she was going to make some soup for dinner. When there was no reply, Demeter went around the house calling Persephone’s name. Then she realized that the house was empty. She decided to wait, thinking that Persephone was outside and had not yet returned. She waited until it was midnight, when she began to grow worried. For nine days and nine nights, Demeter searched and searched for her missing daughter, not even stopping to rest or eat.
Dressed in black instead of her usual bright and sunny dresses, Demeter went all over the country, searching for Persephone as an old woman.
Since she no longer took care of the crops, nothing grew anymore. The corn rotted in the fields no fruit ripened on the trees and the grass turned brown. There was nothing for cows, sheep and goats to eat and the people of the world were near to starving.
One day, Zeus called a meeting for all the gods and goddesses. “This is serious.” Zeus said in a thundering voice. “If we don’t persuade Demeter to look after the crops of the world, people will die.
A goddess, who heard that Hades captured Persephone said: “Hades must let Persephone leave the underworld, only then will Demeter save the earth.
Zeus called Hermes, messenger of the gods, to go to the underworld and ask Hades to let Persephone leave the underworld. Hermes flew off at once. Only gods and goddesses could go into the underworld, the home of the dead people and come out again.
“I will never let Persephone go.” growled Hades. “I love her and want to marry her.” “Please be reasonable Hades.” Hermes begged. “You know that Persephone doesn’t love you.”
“Fine.” roared Hades angrily, “I will let her go if she does not eat anything here. You know the rules. If she does then she must stay here forever.”
“That’s easy, lets just ask her.” said Hermes.
“I did not eat anything!” Persephone cried. “I haven’t even touched a single crumb of food!”
A misty ghost of a gardener was listening. “Oh yes you did” he said. “I saw you pick a pomegranate and eat it.”
“No,” cried Persephone. “I didn’t eat the whole thing, I was just so thirsty I just swallowed four seeds.”
“That’s enough!” roared Hades.
“Please Hades,” begged Hermes. “Let her go, a few seeds isn’t that much.”
“Fine then!” shouted Hades. “Persephone may be with Demeter for half of the year while she stays with me in the underworld.”
Hermes held Persephone’s hand and took her away from the underworld and back to Demeter. Demeter was so happy, that she turned back into herself and wore bright and sunny clothes again. She also made sure that everything in the world grew again. “Oh my darling daughter.” she had said when Persephone had arrived. “You have come back to me” “Yes, but I may only stay with you for half a year.” Persephone sobbed. “I’ll have to spend the rest in the underworld.” Demeter was sad but knew that she had to accept this.
All through the summer Demeter was happy and busy, but when Persephone had to go back to the underworld she was sad and it became autumn. Then the weather would turn cold and it will be winter. But when Persephone returned Demeter was happy and it would be spring again.
This is how the Greek’s explained the changes of seasons.