There were three Horai.

Then, when Demeter started mourning for Persephone, a new season appears (because plants can't grow anymore, and its not autumn.) , winter.

Does that mean that Autumn or Spring had a half year? Or was there a new season completely?

  • Ok, and how about the story of Persephone? She stayed underground for six months, that's two seasons, not one.
    – yannis
    Jan 30 '16 at 20:23
  • Also, the Horai weren't always three. For example, Hyginus names 9 of them, and Nonnus 4. I feel you have a very good question about seasons in Greek myths hidden in there, but I'm not sure we'll be able to bring it to light unless you spend some time researching the Horai yourself.
    – yannis
    Jan 30 '16 at 20:42
  • @Yannis Some earlier versions say she spent one third of the year underground; later writers say she spent a full of the year. From Apollodorus: But Persephone was obliged to spend a third of each year with Plouton, and the remainder of the year among the gods. Good point about the number of the Horai, though.
    – HDE 226868
    Jan 30 '16 at 20:46
  • Ah, thanks for pointing that out @HDE226868.
    – yannis
    Jan 30 '16 at 20:50
  • 1
    In general, there's no real need to always think of the year as having exactly 4 seasons anyway. Many cultures don't do it today, and in the past there have been many kinds of divisions. In many cases a "wet" and a "dry" season are more than enough.
    – oerkelens
    May 4 '16 at 14:24

The use of a triad of seasons may have something to do with the mild winters in Southern Greece. Specifically that they don't have a "proper winter" as those inhabiting northern climes would understand it. As oerkelens points out, some cultures divide the years into two seasons, rainy and dry, which is purely based on climate.

The triad represents the three key aspects of the cycle of seasons in an agricultural context, namely Θαλλώ ("blossom"), Αὐξώ ("grow") and Καρπώ ("fruit").

Triads, particularly involving goddesses, were quite prevalent in Greek Mythology, so that may also have been a factor.

Note that these words can be variously translated, but the translation I choose gives you the gist. I've linked to the lexical entries on Perseus so you can take a look at the range of meanings for each word. It's worth mentioning that Robert Graves in the index to The Greek Myths translates Καρπώ as "withering", which certainly has more of a wintery flavor and would seem to acknowledge Persephone's time in the underworld.


Yes, but this is ancient Greece, they probably didn't feel the need to complicate things in the myths. A lot of the versions I read said half the year, and fall and spring were just another step of Demeter's mood, realizing her daughter was leaving, fall, and awaiting her return, spring. But all in all, hot and cold, summer and spring.

According to Classic Mythology on infoplease.com, Rhea, the mother of the gods suggested six months, no seasons were mentioned.

  • 2
    Can you give evidence?
    – bleh
    Mar 17 '16 at 21:48
  • 1
    You need to link to the article on infoplease
    – DukeZhou
    Oct 14 '16 at 17:11

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