• Unveiling the queen of the underworld: images of Persephone in Greece and southern Italy

      Ferguson, Teresa C. (2020-05)
      During antiquity, Persephone, the storied “Queen of the Underworld,” assumed multiple forms throughout the Greek world. The most famed myth involving Persephone details the goddess’ abduction by Hades and her later reunification with her mother, Demeter. For the inhabitants of mainland Greece, Persephone was known simply as Kore, the “maiden”; her significance as a goddess relied heavily on her familial connection to Demeter and the role that she played in the Eleusinian Mysteries. However, within certain Greek settlements in Southern Italy (often referred to as Magna Graecia or “Great Greece” due to the number of its Greek sites), Persephone had a distinct identity separate from that of Demeter, and she was more commonly associated with marriage and the salvation of the deceased. This contrast in the beliefs held about Persephone can be observed in visual depictions of the goddess from sites in Greece and Southern Italy. The goal of this paper is to explore the multivalent nature of Persephone by examining her representation in objects from various areas around mainland Greece and Magna Graecia. This paper will focus on material evidence in varying media from four different locations, two in Greece (Eleusis and Corinth) and two in Southern Italy (Locri Epizephyrii and Sicily) Through this study, I hope to discover how geography and differing religious beliefs can inform the way in which a particular deity is represented in art.