Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: The Dinner Party: Heritage Floor: Kore

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Luca Giordano. The Rape of Persephone, 1684–86. Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Florence

Kore
Mythic, worshipped in ancient Greece, dates vary, beginning circa 1600 B.C.

Kore ("maiden") is the name by which Persephone, goddess of the underworld, was celebrated in the Eleusinian Mysteries (see Demeter). Persephone was abducted by Hades, ruler of the underworld. Grieving for her lost daughter, Demeter, goddess of the harvest, retreated in despair and the earth became barren. Zeus sent Hermes to retrieve Persephone, but before letting her go Hades bound her to him by feeding her pomegranate seeds. Henceforth, Persephone had to return to the underworld for one-third of every year. During that time, Demeter refused to let anything grow, thus creating the season of winter.

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