Percy Jackson's Persephone: An Analysis
Pssh, Persephone, right? Queen of the Underworld, Bringer of Death, the one Hades will do anything for? She's awesome!
Except... Not so much in the PJO universe. Not to say she isn't awesome there either, but Persephone doesn't appear much there.
(the movies don't count. Fuck the movies)
In fact, her major appearance in the books, is in the short story The Sword of Hades, which centers around Persephone sending Nico, Percy and Thalia to retrieve a stolen sword that was meant to be a new symbol of power for Hades. This is important because a symbol of power has great status in the Olympian world, and could be seen as Hades trying to gather up more power than his brothers.
We find out at the end of the story, that Hades didn't ask for that sword to be made. In fact, it was made even though he had forbidden it. Because Persephone believed that he deserved more power. This was a ploy by Persephone to get more power for them.
Does this make her a selfish person? Or even a remotely bad person? I mean, the story makes it seem that way. But I believe Persephone was acting on a pretty well established characterization of herself. So that's what I'm doing here, defending her actions, or at the very least rationalizing them, and giving input as to what kind of person she is in the Percy Jackson lore.
Please remember that the gods aren't always nice people, and are capable of doing very amoral things, but you still like them, okay?
Okay, so, chronologically, her story starts with her mother. Most importantly, how Demeter is incredibly doting on her, to a worrying extent. In fact, in Percy Jackson and the Greek Gods, it's mentioned because of this, she has the general disposition of a bratty child. And it's only when Hades takes her away that she actually starts making mature decisions.
We see this sort of thing happening in front of us in The Last Olympian, where Demeter's constantly ripping into her for all her choices, despite Persephone's attempts at making her stop.
Mythologically speaking, Persephone isn't even called Persephone when she's with her mother on the surface. She's called Kore, or Maiden. She's literally another person when she's in her presence.
Then comes the problem of her children. Now, Persephone doesn't have many children in the mythology itself. She has four possible children, one of whom (Makaria, goddess of blessed death) is only offhandedly mentioned. Though it should be considered that she's a psychopomp, or person who guides souls to the afterlife, and has been since she was very young.
Zagreus is another child, he's kinda well known, though he doesn't appear in the books. Hera gets the Titans to eat him when it turns out that Zagreus was probably gonna be the next Olympian king. They have to get a mortal woman to give birth to him again. (Long story)
Melinoe, actually does appear in the books, and funnily enough it's in the same Sword of Hades short story Persephone's first major role was in. She's jumped ship to the Titans and actually helped Ethan Nakamura to get away with her father's new sword.
Then there's Ploutos, who's parentage is heavily debated on to this day. (It probably contains either Tyche, Demeter, Persephone, Zeus, Hades) but he's the god of wealth, and Zeus ends up blinding him to ensure he can't discriminate in distribution of wealth.
I feel like we're sensing a pattern here. Time and time and time again, politics has taken over to prevent Persephone from being happy.
Her husband is constantly shat on by the rest of the pantheon. Her children become stepping stones or pawns or traitors. Her mother treats her like a child.
So why shouldn't she be allowed to be bitter?? Why should she be condemned for being ambitious?? For wanting power???
Underneath all the poise and grace, I think she's just hurt, and bitter, and understands more than Hades that conflict is necessary.
The Underworld is a difficult place to manage. It's larger and more expensive than the domain of the other two. He's having trouble keeping up, and needs that extra power. Being the firstborn son, Hades has the right to rule Olympus. He's more suited to, in fact. But he doesn't. And that makes her angry. Because Zeus is a terrible ruler.
So she's doing it for him. She has the ambition that Hades is missing. She dabbles in the politics Hades refuses to participate in. So why would shouldn't she have that power??? It doesn't make her a bad person.