The Abduction of Persephone
Although Hades rarely left his realm to visit the land of the living, the myths say he visited the mortal world at least once. During this visit, he encountered the beautiful Persephone, daughter of Demeter and Zeus.
Hades noticed Persephone as she gathered flowers on a plain in Sicily, accompanied by some nymphs. He was immediately overwhelmed by her beauty and didn't bother to court her. Instead, he abducted her and took her to the Underworld.
Persephone was a prisoner in Hades' realm. Her mother, Demeter, was frantic at the sudden disappearance of her daughter, and she traveled the world searching for her. Demeter was an earth goddess and as she searched, crops failed, causing people to suffer and go hungry. This was when the first winter came to the world. Because of Demeter's great sorrow and the starving people's cries, Zeus refused to allow a marriage between Hades and Persephone.
Zeus sent Hermes to persuade Hades to release Persephone. Hades couldn't bear the thought of giving up Persephone, but the message brought by Hermes was a direct order from Zeus. Hades had little choice but to let the girl go. Before he did, however, he found a loophole.
Hades pretended to comply with Zeus's orders while he created a plan to keep Persephone. According to a law of the all-powerful Fates, anyone who ate food in the Underworld could never return to the land of the living. Knowing this law, Hades tricked Persephone into eating some pomegranate seeds. (The number of seeds varies according to individual myths: either four, seven, or eight.) Because Persephone ate the seeds, she lawfully belonged in the Underworld.
Even though Zeus did not allow the marriage to take place, some myths say that he was partly responsible for Persephone's abduction. According to these myths, Hades did not kidnap Persephone immediately but pined for her before Zeus helped him devise a plan to steal the girl.
Even Zeus could not defy the Fates. However, he worked out a compromise. Persephone would live with Hades in the Underworld for four months of the year and spend the remaining eight months with her mother. (Some myths divide the number of months evenly: six and six.) Thus, the myth explains why the seasons change: When Persephone is with her mother, flowers bloom and crops grow and bear fruit, but when she is with her husband in the Underworld, plants wither and die.
Persephone became the wife of Hades and the Queen of the Underworld. Eventually, she accepted her duties as wife and queen. Some myths even claim that eventually she reciprocated Hades' love.