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Persephone/Hades theme in Buffy?

Moggin

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What elements of the Persephone/Hades relationship do you see in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, if any?
 
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thrasherpix

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I'm on the tired side, and I've neglected the Greek myths (I know the basics, and just enough to find your question intriguing and relevant, but can't think of an answer off the top of my head), but I thought I'd point out this book again in regards to Ishtar (who descended to the underworld and Buffy was used as an example of how the ancient trope still manifests in our fiction):

 

TriBel

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What elements of the Persephone/Hades relationship do you see in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, if any?
Death/Rebirth works (literally and figuratively) and I suppose the light/dark binary of S6/7 maps onto it particularly since S7 disturbs the opposition and so kinda mirrors the fact Persephone is a creature of both light and dark (as figured in Touched). But, generally, I find it easier (and more useful) to think structurally rather than mythically. That's not a criticism of the question - just that my mind seems to prefer form over content (form's neater and I think in shapes). Dawn/Sweet is probably a direct reference.
 
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Moggin

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How about the vampires themselves as Hades? Both arrive from underground to snatch the pretty girl (Buffy/Persephone). Buffy, of course, is not helpless, but a force to be reckoned with. To me, it's the Persephone/Hades theme with a twist.

Buffy and the Master is visually pretty obvious, but later, Buffy's relationship with Angel seems to imitate the same. Angel lives in darkness. Buffy lives in light, but her work makes her travel amongst the dead (vampires) dispensing justice (staking them). Angel descends into Hell but returns to Buffy.

Much later, Buffy dies herself but is returned to earth by Willow. Though I think Tara is a better model for the earth goddess symbolism, I believe there is a Demeter component here.

Very much later, Spike and Buffy seem to have a Hades/Persephone relationship. He is always tempting her to the darkness, and of course there is the controversial Seeing Red episode.

I even think an argument could be made for William having been Persephone, while Drusilla was his Hades. I'm sure there are other incidents as well.
 

thrasherpix

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From my limited understanding, Persephone had to return over and over again even if she didn't want to. So I wasn't thinking of resurrection. I was thinking of Buffy and her obsession with vampire lovers, making her both of the light and dark, innocent and grim, mortal and (especially mixed with her Slayer quality) supernatural.

I actually think Darla and the Master fit the story better (since the Master pretty much abducted her into his cult, it's not like Darla could resist, and she kept leaving only to come back), though Darla being unrepentant does make that a hard fit as well. Angel with Darla might fit better in a gender-flipped way.
 

TriBel

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Much later, Buffy dies herself but is returned to earth by Willow. Though I think Tara is a better model for the earth goddess symbolism, I believe there is a Demeter component here.
Tara Ma-clay = Terra = Gaia. IIRC, Demeter (Goddess of the Harvest?) is a variant of the earth mother. In Lessons Willow says she's learning about Gaia from the Coven. I agree with the Tara parallel (in fact, I'd be lost without it).

Willow's spell involves killing a fawn (not really the act of a nurturing earth mother...a child for a child); the Urn of Osiris and a snake. The symbolism here suggests she's drawing on male or phallic power, which gives Giles another reason for being annoyed (and explains the infantilization in Lessons)...as opposed to the spell at the end of Chosen which is coded female (Goddess). I'm dubious about this figuring Hades/Persephone without tweaking it...though you probably could with reference to Jung/Freud and the archaic/phallic/castrating mother (which ties the beginning of S6 to the end of S6).

Very much later, Spike and Buffy seem to have a Hades/Persephone relationship. He is always tempting her to the darkness, and of course there is the controversial Seeing Red episode.
He starts by suggesting she try his world (which at that stage seems to be Willie's or anywhere else that serves drink 🙄). She initially goes to him...in OMWF he makes a point of saying "The sun sets and she appears"; the implication being, it's a frequent occurrence (which is why he asks her to leave him in peace). Buffy S6 isn't entirely comfortable in the light; she flinches at bright street lights in Bargaining (kinda understandable) and, in After Life complains "Everything here is ... hard, and bright, and violent". Point: she's not entirely at home in the light...she seeks out the dark for various reasons: some positive, some not (there's an Eros/Thanatos, creative/destructive thing going on). It's only with SR (very brightly lit) that Spuffy is totally negative (Clem: "Come on now, Mr. Negative. You never know what's just around the corner. Things change") and the situation totally black/white (there are all sorts of binarisms activated here).

Thing is, we can equate light with good but the Slayer, by default, is also a creature of the night/dark. She inhabits both spaces...and the night is traditionally female (the moon has a 28 day cycle; so do women). Lunar deities tend to be female: Artemis and Diane (both hunters?) are moon goddess; Christianity subsumes their roles into Mary - who figures in both the church in Beneath You and the Mission where the secret of the scythe is revealed. Aside from mythology (perhaps because of mythology - I dunno), society tends to associate night with unruly women and deviant sexuality. "Nightwalker" is another term for prostitute. The Yorkshire Ripper murders in the UK engendered a movement called Reclaim the Night. In S6 Buffy was worried about her relationship with Spike being not just Slayer deviant but also sexually deviant...they make her feel a "Dirty Girl" All these things connect. Just as she redefines what a Slayer is, so she redefines woman...you could say she reclaims the night on her terms.

In Get it Done, the Shadow Men give her knowledge: the light accompanying it is blinding.
In Touched (the turning point in her mission), she's wearing pinstripe trousers and a white see-through top with a black vest beneath. Simultaneously light and dark. There are 7 or 8(?) light sources in the room where she and Spike spend the night (none of them are lit) and a painting that could be of the sun or the moon. The objects on the night stand change their appearance as the light changes and shadows emerge. Spike blends with the shadows (or I have a crap monitor). At one stage his shadow falls on her.

In short, S7 changes the light/dark dichotomy - partly by equating light with reason as a form of Enlightenment which, when it becomes totalizing can be oppressive (for men, but particularly for women and the other). Sigh...it's all related to phallogocularcentrism, which is an ugly portmanteau word I didn't invent (blame Martin Jay). TBH, I don't think the later seasons are characterized by "either/or" but by "and/both". It's a more complex dialectical structure and it's the structure we get with Spuffy...which is why I get behind the ship. So yeah...you could apply it to Spuffy but with caveats, inversions and the acknowledgement that Spuffy's a dynamic relationship.

I was thinking of Buffy and her obsession with vampire lovers, making her both of the light and dark, innocent and grim, mortal and (especially mixed with her Slayer quality) supernatural.
I think I'd agree with this.
 

Moggin

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@TriBel not to hammer too much on Willow as Demeter, because I too like Tara as the earth goddess, but when Persephone was taken from the Demeter, the earth goddess stopped being nurturing, adopted the appearance of a mad old crone, and quite literally ruined the earth during her grief. Perhaps Willow fulfills the vengeful side of Demeter, and being Tara's other half, one could argue they go together to make one.

As for the original premise of the Hades/Persephone relationships, I initially hit on the idea because traditionally vampire literature seems to have an origin in the Hades/Persephone myth. Buffy as a show purposefully turned vampire stories on their heads by making her the one to be feared by the monsters, so I would expect the Hades/Persephone relationship to also get a massive tweaking. I wouldn't be looking for direct correlations to the original story
 
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TriBel
TriBel
Yeah...that would work.
AnthonyCordova
AnthonyCordova
Interesting

AlphaFoxtrot

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Eh, I just assumed it was garden variety late 90s Christ imagery. No greater love has a man than this, that a man hath laid down his life to save to his friends, and to conquer death, and preferably put your arms at a 45 degree angle at some point. The core symbolism with, well, Kore, is that her release represents the end of winter, and her bondage represents the end of summer. There’s no self sacrifice, Kore was raped, in the older use of the word, of course, and Demeter abandoned her responsibilities, and Zeus condoned the whole thing until the Earth was plunged into chaos. Oh, and surprise, eating pomegranate seeds binds gods to hell, which seems like the oddest piece of god related trivia in the whole of Indo-European religion. In any case, it seems more like Demeter's issue, not her daughters. And the main issue is, Buffy saves peoples. Kore does not save Hades, if anything, she becomes tainted by the Underworld, never has children, and her mother’s mourning never diminisheds. Buffy saved both Angel and Spike, literally from hell. If anything, she is more like Orpheus (more Faith's thing) or Heracles, both of whom bent Hades to their will.

Of course, now I kind of want to see the episode where Lord Sweet returns from the special hell for the cast of Glee, to take Dawn or Xander as his bride in his chariot, and Buffy has to get them back. See, why couldn’t the comics show stuff like that? “Nine trillion four billion five million ten thousand minutes, that’s how long you’ve been down here.”
 
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