Peeking out from behind its heart-shaped leaves, the humble violet represents shyness and modesty - but also death, for it is the flower of Persephone, a quiet and unassuming goddess who reigns as Queen of the Underworld for half of each year.
It is said that Persephone was walking in a field of violets when she was first spotted by Hades. After Hades took her away to the underworld, Persephone's mother Demeter made the earth barren until Persephone was returned to her. However, while in the Underworld, Persephone had eaten a pomegranate seed, thus binding her to the place. Demeter and Hades struck a bargain, whereby Persephone spent half the year on Earth, and half in the Underworld. The return of the violet each February signifies the return of Persephone to her mother, and Demeter's subsequent lifting of winter.
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