i think that’s a complicated issue
first of all, we have to take into account the context of ancient greece. within the ancient greek context, a marriage was seen of a ‘kidnapping’ of a girl from her home with her parents to her new home with her husband, and seen as almost a kind of death - laments were sung at both funerals and weddings, for example. so when we take into account the myth of persephone, within an ancient greek context, it makes a lot more sense as a myth exploring the passage from girlhood to womanhood in an ancient greek context, and the pain that comes along with it as well.
there is no word for #rape in ancient greek, so i think saying that persephone and hades is a definitive rape narrative is a bit of a misnomer, and doesn’t take into account how the people of that culture would have viewed it - which isn’t as a rape narrative, but rather a marriage narrative (but of course, there’s a lot that can be said about how messed up the view of marriage as a kidnapping is, and the lack of agency that a woman in ancient greece would have had in her choice of husband, which more or less is reflected in the persephone narrative, and also how messed up it is that ancient greek doesn’t have a word for rape in general)
i think the view of her being “miserable being owned by hades”, though, is one that just doesn’t make sense looking at the evidence we have. persephone was the “dread queen of hades” - there is nothing that suggests she is a miserable slave girl, rather she is feared and honored on the same level, if not more, than her husband. it is clear that even if persephone starts out as a frightened girl, that is not how she ends. the view of persephone as a frightened wilting flower is not at all accurate, especially since she is mostly referenced as the powerful, terrifying queen of the underworld.
it’s also important to remember that all the sources we have about persephone come from men, and her cultus was primarily women. the eleusinian mysteries were an initiation rite for girls to womanhood, and presided over by persephone. we have no sources from these women, and have no idea how they viewed persephone’s myth, but it’s clear that something about her resonated deeply with ancient greek women in particular.
one way to interpret persephone’s myth is a venture from weakness to power - that is, she goes from being a lesser goddess of spring to the queen of the underworld. i’m not sure if i entirely agree with that interpretation since i don’t really think the ancient greeks generally were into woman-empowering narratives, but i do like modern reinterpretations that spin it that way.
anyway, tl;dr: i think we need to take into account the culture at the time, and realize that persephone’s story was not at the time viewed as a #rape story but a typical marriage story, and was mostly meant for young girls who were transitioning into womanhood, and it’s clear from other sources that persephone is a powerful figure and not a wounded flower.
Wonderful post! I’d like to add only that scholars believe that the Eleusinian Mysteries were practiced by people of all sexes and occupations (even slaves, scandalously), not only young women. Though they were in honor of Demeter in her search for Persephone and how she came to Eleusis, we know very little about their rites beyond a grand procession of initiates (mystai) and initiated, of something secret (possibly sacred objects) being revealed to those mystai during their initiation, and some fasting and other symbolic actions related to the myth of Demeter and Kore.
hey, i actually didn’t know that! thanks for the knowledge drop. i knew very little was known about them, but i didn’t know anyone could be involved