Thursday, January 6, 2011

January 6

January 6 was the festival day for Proserpina. 

Venus, in order to bring love to Pluto, sent her son Amor also known as Cupid to hit Pluto with one of his arrows. Proserpina was in Sicily, at the Pergusa Lake near Enna, where she was playing with some nymphs and collecting flowers, when Pluto came out from thevolcano Etna with four black horses named Orphnaeus, Aethon, Nycteus and Alastor[4]. He abducted her in order to marry her and live with her in Inferi, the Roman Underworld, of which he was the ruler. Notably, Pluto was also her uncle, being Jupiter's (and Ceres's) brother. She is therefore Queen of the Underworld.
Her mother Ceres, the goddess of agriculture or of the Earth, went looking for her in vain to every corner of the earth, but wasn't able to find anything but a small belt that was floating upon a little lake (made with the tears of the nymphs). In her desperation Ceres angrily stopped the growth of fruits and vegetables, bestowing a malediction on Sicily. Ceres refused to go back to Mount Olympus and started walking on the Earth, making a desert at every step.
Worried, Jupiter sent Mercury to order Pluto (Jupiter's brother) to free Proserpina. Pluto obeyed, but before letting her go he made her eat six pomegranate seeds, because those who have eaten the food of the dead could not return to the world of the living. This meant that she would have to live six months of each year with him, and stay the rest with her mother. This story was undoubtedly meant to illustrate the changing of the seasons; When Ceres welcomes her daughter back in the spring the earth blossoms, and when Proserpina must be returned to her husband it withers.
In another version of the story, some people believe that upon her abduction, Proserpina ate only four pomegranate seeds, and she did so of her own accord. When Jupiter ordered her return, Pluto struck a deal with Jupiter, saying that since she had stolen his pomegranate seeds, she must stay with him four months of the year in return. For this reason, in spring when Ceres received her daughter back, the crops blossomed, and in summer they flourished. In the autumn Ceres changed the leaves to shades of brown and orange (her favorite colors) as a gift to Proserpina before she had to return to the underworld. During the time that Proserpina resided with Pluto, the world went through winter, a time when the earth was barren.

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