OIL PAINTING: Return of Persephone, c.1891
Here is the story behind Return of Persephone of Leighton:
In the Olympian pantheon, Persephone is given a father: according to Hesiod's Theogony, Persephone was the daughter produced by the union of Zeus and Demeter. "And he [Zeus] came to the bed of bountiful Demeter, who bore white-armed Persephone, stolen by Hades from her mother's side".
Persephone lived a peaceful life before she became the goddess of the underworld, which, according to Olympian mythographers, did not occur until Hades abducted her and brought her into the underworld. She was innocently picking flowers with some nymphs—and Athena and Artemis, the Homeric hymn says—, or Leucippe, or Oceanids— in a field in Enna when he came, bursting up through a cleft in the earth; the nymphs were changed by Demeter into the Sirens for not having interfered. Life came to a standstill as the devastated Demeter (goddess of the Earth) searched everywhere for her lost daughter. Helios, the sun, who sees everything, eventually told her what had happened
Finally, Zeus, pressured by the cries of the hungry people and by the other gods who also heard their anguish, could not put up with the dying earth and forced Hades to return Persephone.