My decision to write a story based on the myth of Persephone came from my love of Greek myths. One of the first books my parents gave me was a huge, beautifully illustrated book of mythology, which I still have in my library. The story of Persephone, kidnapped by Hades and forced to live in the Underworld for six months out of the year, captured my imagination. It was not surprising then, that my book started with a kidnapping. Alexander the Great even mistakes Ashley, the time-travelling journalist, for Persephone. She is condemned by his actions to stay in 333 BC – with only one chance to return. In fact, she knows another time-travelling journalist will interview Alexander on his deathbed. If she can stay alive that long she will have the chance to return. But can she survive? And what happens when she falls in love with Alexander – and he with her – and they have children? She knows she cannot change history in the slightest – or the Time Senders will erase her and it will be as if she never existed; her life must become a shadow life, like that of Persephone in the Underworld.
Persephone never fell in love with Hades, one argues. He’s the god of the dead! He’s the bad guy! He kidnapped her! But that is a poor interpretation of the myth of Persephone, and an even poorer interpretation of Hades’ character. In fact, Hades was one of the most reasonable of the gods In ancient times, the Greeks did not think of Hades as being evil. Instead, they thought of him as being coldhearted, but not completely without empathy. In the stories, he is often asked to be a judge, because his decisions are always fair. For example, in The Frogs by Aristophanes, Hades serves as the judge of a poetry competition between Aischylos and Euripides, because everyone trusted his judgement.
As for his relation with Persephone – yes, he kidnapped her – but in ancient times, there was very little wooing or marriage for love. Women were not asked most of the time. In the wedding ceremony, the priest asks the woman’s father if he gives the woman away and then asks the man if he takes the woman. The woman isn’t expected to voice her opinion. So Persephone’s rapt wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. And, the story goes, she and Hades formed a stable, loving couple. In fact, their union was one of the most stable and loving unions of all the pantheon of the gods.
Below is an image from a 5th century BC Attic red figure vase depicting Persephone and Hades in a charming, domestic scene. Hades is portrayed as being very handsome, and here he is, offering what is likely a cup of spiced wine to his beloved wife. Not what you expected, was it?
The Road to Alexander, by Jennifer Macaire
Sex, love, war, & quite a bit of vino – it’s a Greek myth come to life…
Ashley is a time-travel journalist who has fought to prove herself in a world that that believes her road in life was paved by her parents’ fortune. After winning a prestigious award, she is selected to travel through time and interview a historical figure. Choosing her childhood hero, Alexander the Great, she voyages back in time for less than a day to interview a man whose legend has survived to the present day. He mistakes her for Persephone, goddess of the dead, and kidnaps her. Stranded in the past, cold and aloof Ashley has to learn to befriend, to trust…and to love.