Month of Love - Forbidden Fruit


Forbidden Fruit. Pencil, graphite & white charcoal. 7.5" x 11.5".

My very belated drawing for the last Month of Love challenge: "forbidden fruit". I wanted to take my time with this piece because the myth of Hades and Persephone is one of the most heart-wrenching in all of Greek myth.

Persephone was the gentle goddess of spring leaves and new birth, had many suitors, but her stern mother, Demeter, refused them all.  She hid her daughter far away from the other gods.

Hades, god of the dead, passionately loved Persephone, but had no hope that Demeter would ever give her to him.  But Zeus told Hades that if he could find a way to take her, he could keep her.

Apart from Demeter, lady of the golden sword and glorious fruits, [Persephone] was playing with the deep-bosomed daughters of Okeanos and gathering flowers over a soft meadow, roses and crocuses and beautiful violets, irises also and hyacinths and the narcissus…a snare for the bloom-like girl…

[Hades] caught her up reluctant…and bore her away lamenting. Then she cried out shrilly with her voice, calling upon her father, [Zeus] the Son of Kronos, who is most high and excellent. But no one, either of the deathless gods or mortal men, heard her voice…

So Hades took her, and when Demeter discovered her daughter was missing:

Bitter pain seized Demeter’s heart, and she tore the covering upon her divine hair.  She sped, like a wild-bird, over land and sea, seeking her child. But no one would tell her the truth, neither god nor mortal man; and of the birds of omen none came with true news for her.

Then for nine days she wandered over the earth with flaming torches in her hands, so grieved that she never ate nor drank.  Then she came to Helios, the sun, who is watchman of both gods and men, and enquired of him:

`Helios, if ever I have cheered your heart and spirit, answer me.  With your beams you look down from the bright upper air over all the earth and sea.  Tell me truly of my dear child, if you have seen her anywhere, what god or mortal man has seized her against her will and mine.'

So said she. And Helios answered her: `Queen Demeter, I will tell you the truth; for I greatly reverence and pity you in your grief for your daughter. None other of the deathless gods is to blame, but only cloud-gathering Zeus who gave her to Hades, to be his wife. And Hades seized her and took her loudly crying in his chariot down to his realm of mist and gloom.’

Grief yet more terrible and savage came into the heart of Demeter, and thereafter she was so angered with Zeus that she vowed that she would never let fruit spring out of the ground until she beheld with her eyes her own fair-faced daughter.

And so the earth knew its first winter.

I'm in the process of turning this drawing into a painting, and I will post the conclusion of the myth along with the finished painting.


The text of the myth is adapted & abridged from the Homeric Hymns, based on the translation by Hugh Gerard Evelyn-White.