About this Story
A hilarious and satirical retellling of the myth of Persephone and Hades. Social media users will die of laughter as the Greek gods tweet, post, and hashtag each other's actions.
A hilarious and satirical retellling of the myth of Persephone and Hades. Social media users will die of laughter as the Greek gods tweet, post, and hashtag each other's actions.
In the time of the Ancient Greeks, all the gods and goddesses had technology, but chose to keep it away from mortals until they were ready for it. They spent most of their time on their phones or other electronic devices with screens, and barely spent any time doing other things.
Except for Hades, god of darkness.
He was not on any such electrical device, but hunting for someone (the pair of binoculars he was using proved that). Not just anyone; she had to be better than all others! What he was searching for was a wife. His brothers always bragged about their wives! He wanted a wife to brag about to his brothers! But he had wasted so much time already and still couldn’t find one. He was starting to believe that he’d never find the most followed woman in the world-
Crash! A skeleton from the Underworld crashed into him. Hades smacked him with the binoculars.
“What are you doing?” Hades demanded, raising the binoculars to strike again.
The skeleton apologized quickly, “I’m sorry, Lord Hades! I-I was trying to find you! We found someone who suits your expectations! She’s in Demeter’s garden!”
Hades lowered the binoculars.
“You have?” he asked, mostly in disbelief because his skeletons were terrible at finding things. Without waiting for an answer, he climbed into his black chariot, grabbed the skeleton, and sped away.
“So,” the Lord of the Underworld began as they hurtled through the darkness, “is she very followed?”
“The most, my lord.” The skeleton said, “As I said, we found her in the garden of the goddess of the harvest. In fact, my lord…” here he hesitated, “...the girl is the goddess’ daughter.”
“WHAT?!” Hades pulled the chariot to a grinding stop and turned to the skeleton. “She’s the daughter of-” he stopped. The garden stretched out before him, and he could see a beautiful girl dressed in a sleeveless tie-dye gown. Of course, Hades would have liked her more if she hadn’t been on her iPhone.
“What is her name, skeleton?” Hades said, crossing his arms, and adding silently to himself, “Too much phone-time can be amended…”
“She is called Persephone, my lord.” the skeleton whispered, looking around nervously in case someone was listening.
“Persephone,” Hades breathed, “that’s quite the name. And she’s pretty and followed… people follow her?”
“Our last count was seventy thousand, nine hundred ninety-nine, my lord.”
“Well…that’s got to be the most in the world! She fits the requirements!” Hades beamed, “Now then, let’s bring our new queen home!”
With a smile he turned to where the girl was standing. Persephone was chewing bubblegum and posting pictures on Instagram… and, not far off, her mother was busy giving advice to someone about the proper care of cherry trees. Since Demeter was occupied and Persephone was distracted, Hades figured that he could easily make off with his queen-to-be.
He stood up and cautiously stepped past the bushes lining the edge of the garden. Once within, he marched right up to Persephone and tapped her shoulder. She didn’t seem to notice him. Standing in front of her, he stuck out his tongue and pulled his cheeks into a funny face. Still no response.
“Wow. All right, let’s go.” Hades sighed, taking her in his arms and returning to the chariot. Casually blowing a hole in the ground, he placed Persephone in the chariot. Almost immediately, the girl slouched in the seat.
“Posture can also be corrected…” Hades grumbled to himself, and got in the chariot. After he slapped the reins, the horses snapped into action and slipped down the hole, dragging the chariot with them.
During the descent, Persephone’s phone fell from her grasp, and the bubble she had just blown popped, covering her face with the sticky pink stuff. She pulled it from her face.
“My–” she gasped, saw Hades and the guard, then screamed. Hades closed the hole with one hand and covered Persephone’s mouth with the other.
“We’ll have none of that.” he said, using his free hand to hold the reins, “Let’s go home, shall we, my dear? After all, there’s nothing like a romantic ride while plummeting through darkness to help bond two lovers together!”
He was answered by a slap from Persephone. She stood up.
“Whatever do you think you’re doing with me?” she demanded.
“Sit down, we’re just about to-” Hades’ warning had no effect.
“You’ll hear from my mother about this-” The chariot screeched to a stop, sending Persephone flying out of it and into a skeleton guard who had been awaiting his lord.
“You sure you want her?” he asked with a skeletal grimace. “You could probably find one that’s…not so whiny?”
“She’s the most followed woman in the universe, so Persephone it is!” Hades replied.
“Wait half a minute…isn’t this Demeter’s girl? You know what she’ll say!” the guard gave a gravelly chuckle.
“Demeter won’t say anything because she doesn’t know that I’m the one who took her!” Hades looked down at the girl, who was still sitting at the guard’s bony feet. She had crossed her arms and was glaring at him. Giving an uneasy smile, Hades turned and began to walk away.
“Bring her to the throne room after she puts on something less…happy.”
“And what about my phone?” Persephone demanded, still glaring at him..
“And someone fetch her phone.” Hades left with a groan. The guard looked at Persephone with evil glee and then turned to the other skeleton, who had just dismounted from the chariot.
“You fetch the phone and I’ll bring her to the suite that Hades has been planning for his queen. This is going to go so badly!”
“Why is that?” the other guard asked, remembering that it had been his recommendation that Hades marry Persephone.
“The girl is spoiled rotten, and how do you think our impatient Lord Hades is going to take that?”
Meanwhile, Hades was sitting on his throne and waiting for his queen to be brought to sit with him. He had prepared a special throne for her right next to his, hoping that it might change the terrible attitude which the girl had exhibited so far.
“A girl who whines is definitely nothing to brag about.” he told a passing servant, “I’ll have to make her happy so that she’ll be worth bragging about, or else this will never work!”
The skeleton nodded, and offered him a goblet of wine. As soon as Hades had lifted it to his lips, the skeletal guard brought Persephone into the room. The god of darkness had only a second to appreciate the fact that she’d exchanged her tie-dye gown for a darker one, before he realized:
She was, once again, on her phone.
Persephone was grumbling about why she couldn’t have seventy-one thousand followers, and muttering ideas for gaining that last follower.
“My queen,” Hades said, trying to remember how compliments were supposed to sound, “...you do not look dreadful.”
Persephone didn’t respond.
Hades waved his hand dismissively. “Take her to my garden and keep her entertained.” he thought for a moment, and then smiled wickedly. “Oh, and offer her something to eat. After the long trip here she must be starving.”
The guard leered a death’s-head grin, and led Persephone to the Underworld garden. Hades went to a tower overlooking the garden, and watched his queen.
At first, she simply sat and stared at her phone, oblivious to the garden around her. Then she grumbled something and put the phone in her pocket. As Hades watched, she walked right up to the guard and started yelling at him. The Lord of Darkness caught a few words like “No Internet,” and “ought to have better reception” and “should be ashamed of yourselves.”
He found her amusing now that she had finally stopped whining and focusing on her iPhone. She was even yelling at the guards like he always did. Maybe this would work out after all.
Persephone sulked off to one corner of the garden and sat on a bench beneath the only tree in the garden: a rather sickly, blackened pomegranate tree. After a few moments, the palace gardener came out and plucked a pomegranate from the tree. Hades smirked as the gardener offered the fruit to the hungry Persephone.
Unfortunately, she must not have been as hungry as the Lord of the Underworld had guessed.
“Why would I ever eat one of your lousy, rotten pomegranates?” she huffed, “I’m not hungry for boring old Underworld food! Besides, if I ate food from the Underworld, I’d never be able to leave here!”
“Clever girl,” Hades mused, still smirking.
“I desire the sweet fruit from my mother’s garden,” Persephone went on. “In fact, I think I will order a pomegranate from her garden!”
“Allow me to handle that for you, your majesty,” the gardener groveled. “I will Doordash one immediately, if you wish.”
“Very well. Make sure it comes ASAP,” Persephone snapped without so much as a thank you before going back to her phone.
It was all Hades could do to keep from throwing back his head and laughing evilly. If only his darling bride hadn't gone straight to her phone, she might have noticed the gardener stuffing the Underworld pomegranate into his pocket before he left the courtyard.
Within a few minutes, the gardener returned with a paper bag and a receipt. “Your Doordash, oh Queen of the Realm of Darkness.”
“Give that here!” Persephone snatched the bag from the gardener, but threw the receipt on the ground. “It will email me the receipt, I’m sure,” she told herself as she opened the bag and withdrew a slightly smushed pomegranate.
“Is something the matter?” the gardener asked nervously as Persephone frowned at the fruit.
“This is the ugliest pomegranate I’ve ever seen!” the whiny queen exclaimed. “Now I don’t know if I even want to eat it! I am still dreadfully hungry…”
“Your majesty, there is an easy solution.” The gardener tried to wink up at Hades, but because he was a skeleton, he had no eyelids, and the gesture failed. “Why don’t you only eat some of the seeds? Like, I dunno, six seeds couldn’t hurt, right? Just to take the edge off of your appetite?”
“I shall eat only six of the seeds,” Persephone decided as if it had been her own idea. “–You there, why are you still standing around? Don’t you have gardening to do?”
Hades watched as the gardener moved a short distance away and pretended to rake the grass. Persephone also watched the gardener, and then she broke the pomegranate open and removed six of the seeds. The gardener shot Hades a bony thumbs-up, which he returned with a triumphant smile.
The unwitting Persephone ate the six pomegranate seeds and then, predictably, returned to her phone.
Suddenly, a booming voice echoed from the front gates of Hades’ palace. “HADES! IT IS I, HERCULES THE MAGNIFICENTLY AWESOME!!!”
“I’d know that bellow anywhere,” Hades grumbled, moving away from the courtyard. “It’s my brother’s foolish hero, Hercules. Now what is he doing down here? And how did he even get in? I have a three-headed guard dog just to keep riffraff like him out!”
He hadn’t walked very far before Hercules made an overdramatic entrance. It wasn’t like the dunce had to slam open the doors and walk slowly into the room, his lion’s-skin swaying dramatically around his ripped muscles.
“To what do I owe this intrusion, nephew?” Hades sneered. It was bad enough that the bonehead was Zeus’ personal hero, but he was also family. That made it worse.
“Hi, Uncle Hades,” Hercules replied, sweeping back his hair and taking a selfie, “Daddy sent me to get Persephone back for Demeter. He says she’s driving him bananas.”
“Good, he deserves it,” Hades replied automatically. “But no dice, pal; if you want to talk to my wife, why don’t you follow her on Instagram. The Underworld is currently closed to visitors–”
“Okay, thanks,” Hercules replied, not paying attention and walking past Hades towards the garden.
“Hey, WAIT!” Hades started, but then he stopped himself. Let the lamebrain try and take the Queen of the Underworld. She had eaten the food of the Underworld, and not even precious Hercules’ beefy biceps could undo that!
Hercules, the mighty hero sent by Zeus to bring Persephone back to her mother (who was destined for failure), strode into the garden like he owned the place. Instead of immediately speaking to Persephone, he pulled out his phone and began…taking selfies.
After what seemed like the millionth picture, Hercules stopped and put the phone away in the folds of his lion’s-skin. “Lady Persephone,” he said to her, bowing, “I have come on behalf of Daddy Zeus–who is in a Zoom call right now, so he sent me–to take you back to your mother Demeter, who is driving Daddy bananas. Let us be off!”
Hades watched as Hercules took her by the hand, and begin to lead her in the direction of the door. Then the dopey hero heard a rather dreadful squishing sound, and looked down at his sandals. Lifting one foot, he saw the squashed remains of a pomegranate and a thin, very damaged and stained piece of paper.
Taking the paper in his hands, he saw Persephone’s name and what she purchased. She hadn’t taken the time to read the receipt, or she would have known where the pomegranate came from. Hades thoroughly enjoyed the ‘deer-in-headlights’ expression that appeared on Hercules’ face.
“-What is this?!” Hercules demanded awkwardly, pointing to a particular area on the receipt. Persephone looked at where he was pointing, and found six words that brought misery to her heart: Fresh from The Gardens of Hades. She let out a wail and sat down on the garden grass, crying.
Hercules remained in the garden for a while, and Hades could tell what was going on in the hero’s mind. He couldn’t go back to Zeus empty-handed, but at the same time, he couldn’t just stand around! He had to be out adventuring, doing mighty deeds and taking mighty selfies!
With an evil smile, Hades walked up to the gardener and gave him a very satisfied high-five.
“...Well,” Hercules began after a short period of time, “I suppose this means that I cannot bring you home then.”
Persephone let out another wail and sobbed into her gown, soaking the front of it with her tears.
Just then, a trumpet sounded, and Zeus entered his brother’s garden. Demeter was right behind him, with a very grumpy expression on her crabapple face.
Hades was not pleased, and eyed the newcomers warily. He didn’t want any trouble with his wife, especially trouble caused by people who could actually boss him around.
Zeus turned to Persephone with an inquiring expression. “Why hasn’t Hercules brought you to your mother by now, child? She was waiting for you… and she hasn't given me a moment of peace in the meantime!”
He turned to Hercules. “You! Why aren't you doing your job? Why should I give you mighty deeds to do if you aren't going to do them?!”
Hercules bent his knee in reverence and tried to avoid eye contact with his father. “She ate food from the Underworld, Daddy– I mean– my lord,” he explained, adding in a mutter, "and it wasn't my fault..."
“Did you indeed?” Zeus stuck out his bottom lip and faced Persephone again. “You know you cannot ever leave if this accusation is true!”
Hades regained his evil smile, hissed a low “YES!”, and pumped his fist. Persephone sobbed and ran to her mother’s arms.
“Isn’t there any exception you can make this time, Lord Zeus?” Demeter held her daughter near to her, and watched Zeus closely.
Hercules, probably still looking for a way to not seem like a total failure, held up the squashed pomegranate. “She only ate some of the seeds, Daddy.”
“What’s that? Only a few of them?” Zeus examined the squashed remains of the pomegranate. He curled his beard with his finger as he thought hard. “...If she’s only eaten a very small portion of the pomegranate, not enough to consider ‘eating food from the Underworld’, she might not have to stay here forever, per se…”
Hades was not pleased with the way this was starting to go. Before he could interrupt, Zeus rounded on Persephone. “How many seeds did you eat?”
“Six.” she answered, rubbing her eyes and smearing mascara all over her face.
“Six, hmm?” he continued, still stroking and curling his lame facial hair. “If you only ate six of the seeds, you may remain in the world above for six months of each year. Because there are twelve months in a year, right?”
Persephone gave a happy squeal, and hugged her mother tightly.
“-But! You must also stay with me for the other six months,” Hades interjected, silently vowing to pay his brother back for this fiendish decision. “And that includes leap years!”
Persephone nodded glumly and sighed.
“Zeus,” Demeter interrupted, “whatever shall I do without her during the other six months?”
“You can start a gardening blog for all I care.” Hades interrupted grouchily, rolling his eyes and smirking.
“... Perhaps during that time, you can let the animals and trees rest while you await her return?” Zeus suggested, giving Hades a stink-eye for having interrupted.
After much thought, Demeter nodded. “Very well.”
Persephone gave a sigh and accepted her fate, perhaps a little begrudgingly, and stayed with Hades for the remaining five months and twenty-nine days. As a present to her, the Lord of the Underworld became her seventy-one thousandth follower on Instagram. Many of the gods wondered how he could put up with such a demanding wife, and to be honest, Hades didn’t know how he did it. He had fought to keep her simply because he didn’t like his brother bossing him around, but now that he had half-won, he didn’t know if victory was a good thing.
Now Hades was stuck with a whiny wife for half of the year. The worst part of it was that his brothers didn’t care when he bragged about his new wife, his nephew was driving him crazy by sending him selfies entitled “Hercules in the Underworld”, and Hades himself didn’t really learn anything from his wife-hunting escapade, except that maybe popularity is a terrible selling point for a spouse.