Demeter

Demeter

Overview
In Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, Demeter (d; Attic
Attic Greek
Attic Greek is the prestige dialect of Ancient Greek that was spoken in Attica, which includes Athens. Of the ancient dialects, it is the most similar to later Greek, and is the standard form of the language studied in courses of "Ancient Greek". It is sometimes included in Ionic.- Origin and range...

  Dēmētēr. Doric
Doric Greek
Doric or Dorian was a dialect of ancient Greek. Its variants were spoken in the southern and eastern Peloponnese, Crete, Rhodes, some islands in the southern Aegean Sea, some cities on the coasts of Asia Minor, Southern Italy, Sicily, Epirus and Macedon. Together with Northwest Greek, it forms the...

  Dāmātēr) is the goddess of the harvest, who presided over grain
GRAIN
GRAIN is a small international non-profit organisation that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems. Our support takes the form of independent research and analysis, networking at local, regional and...

s, the fertility
Fertility
Fertility is the natural capability of producing offsprings. As a measure, "fertility rate" is the number of children born per couple, person or population. Fertility differs from fecundity, which is defined as the potential for reproduction...

 of the earth, and the season
Season
A season is a division of the year, marked by changes in weather, ecology, and hours of daylight.Seasons result from the yearly revolution of the Earth around the Sun and the tilt of the Earth's axis relative to the plane of revolution...

s (personified by the Hours
Horae
In Greek mythology the Horae or Hours were the goddesses of the seasons and the natural portions of time. They were originally the personifications of nature in its different seasonal aspects, but in later times they were regarded as goddessess of order in general and natural justice...

). Her common surnames are Sito (: wheat) as the giver of food or corn/grain and Thesmophoros
Thesmophoria
Thesmophoria was a festival held in Greek cities, in honor of the goddesses Demeter and her daughter Persephone. The name derives from thesmoi, or laws by which men must work the land. The Thesmophoria were the most widespread festivals and the main expression of the cult of Demeter, aside from the...

  as a mark of the civilized existence of agricultural society. Though Demeter is often described simply as the goddess of the harvest, she presided also over the sanctity of marriage
Marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

, the sacred law
Religious law
In some religions, law can be thought of as the ordering principle of reality; knowledge as revealed by a God defining and governing all human affairs. Law, in the religious sense, also includes codes of ethics and morality which are upheld and required by the God...

, and the cycle of life and death
Life expectancy
Life expectancy is the expected number of years of life remaining at a given age. It is denoted by ex, which means the average number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged x, according to a particular mortality experience...

.
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Encyclopedia
In Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, Demeter (d; Attic
Attic Greek
Attic Greek is the prestige dialect of Ancient Greek that was spoken in Attica, which includes Athens. Of the ancient dialects, it is the most similar to later Greek, and is the standard form of the language studied in courses of "Ancient Greek". It is sometimes included in Ionic.- Origin and range...

  Dēmētēr. Doric
Doric Greek
Doric or Dorian was a dialect of ancient Greek. Its variants were spoken in the southern and eastern Peloponnese, Crete, Rhodes, some islands in the southern Aegean Sea, some cities on the coasts of Asia Minor, Southern Italy, Sicily, Epirus and Macedon. Together with Northwest Greek, it forms the...

  Dāmātēr) is the goddess of the harvest, who presided over grain
GRAIN
GRAIN is a small international non-profit organisation that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems. Our support takes the form of independent research and analysis, networking at local, regional and...

s, the fertility
Fertility
Fertility is the natural capability of producing offsprings. As a measure, "fertility rate" is the number of children born per couple, person or population. Fertility differs from fecundity, which is defined as the potential for reproduction...

 of the earth, and the season
Season
A season is a division of the year, marked by changes in weather, ecology, and hours of daylight.Seasons result from the yearly revolution of the Earth around the Sun and the tilt of the Earth's axis relative to the plane of revolution...

s (personified by the Hours
Horae
In Greek mythology the Horae or Hours were the goddesses of the seasons and the natural portions of time. They were originally the personifications of nature in its different seasonal aspects, but in later times they were regarded as goddessess of order in general and natural justice...

). Her common surnames are Sito (: wheat) as the giver of food or corn/grain and Thesmophoros
Thesmophoria
Thesmophoria was a festival held in Greek cities, in honor of the goddesses Demeter and her daughter Persephone. The name derives from thesmoi, or laws by which men must work the land. The Thesmophoria were the most widespread festivals and the main expression of the cult of Demeter, aside from the...

  as a mark of the civilized existence of agricultural society. Though Demeter is often described simply as the goddess of the harvest, she presided also over the sanctity of marriage
Marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

, the sacred law
Religious law
In some religions, law can be thought of as the ordering principle of reality; knowledge as revealed by a God defining and governing all human affairs. Law, in the religious sense, also includes codes of ethics and morality which are upheld and required by the God...

, and the cycle of life and death
Life expectancy
Life expectancy is the expected number of years of life remaining at a given age. It is denoted by ex, which means the average number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged x, according to a particular mortality experience...

. She and her daughter Persephone
Persephone
In Greek mythology, Persephone , also called Kore , is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest-goddess Demeter, and queen of the underworld; she was abducted by Hades, the god-king of the underworld....

 were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries
Eleusinian Mysteries
The Eleusinian Mysteries were initiation ceremonies held every year for the cult of Demeter and Persephone based at Eleusis in ancient Greece. Of all the mysteries celebrated in ancient times, these were held to be the ones of greatest importance...

 that predated the Olympian pantheon. In the Linear B
Linear B
Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, an early form of Greek. It pre-dated the Greek alphabet by several centuries and seems to have died out with the fall of Mycenaean civilization...

 Mycenean Greek tablets of circa 1400-1200 BC found at Pylos
Pylos
Pylos , historically known under its Italian name Navarino, is a town and a former municipality in Messenia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Pylos-Nestoras, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit. It was the capital of the former...

, the "two mistresses and the king" are identified with Demeter, Persephone and Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

. Her Roman
Roman mythology
Roman mythology is the body of traditional stories pertaining to ancient Rome's legendary origins and religious system, as represented in the literature and visual arts of the Romans...

 equivalent is Ceres
Ceres (mythology)
In ancient Roman religion, Ceres was a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships. She was originally the central deity in Rome's so-called plebeian or Aventine Triad, then was paired with her daughter Proserpina in what Romans described as "the Greek rites of Ceres"...

.

Etymology


The earliest attested form of Demeter's name is Da-ma-te, written in Linear B
Linear B
Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, an early form of Greek. It pre-dated the Greek alphabet by several centuries and seems to have died out with the fall of Mycenaean civilization...

 (Mycenean Greek). Her character as mother-goddess is identified in the second element of her name meter derived from PIE
Pie
A pie is a baked dish which is usually made of a pastry dough casing that covers or completely contains a filling of various sweet or savoury ingredients....

 "mater" (mother). In antiquity, different explanations were already proffered for the first element of her name. It is possible that Da (which became Attic De ), is the Doric form of Ge ; the old name of the chthonic
Chthonic
Chthonic designates, or pertains to, deities or spirits of the underworld, especially in relation to Greek religion. The Greek word khthon is one of several for "earth"; it typically refers to the interior of the soil, rather than the living surface of the land or the land as territory...

 earth-goddess and Demeter is "Mother-Earth". This root also appears in the Linear B
Linear B
Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, an early form of Greek. It pre-dated the Greek alphabet by several centuries and seems to have died out with the fall of Mycenaean civilization...

 inscription E-ne-si-da-o-ne, "earth-shaker", as an aspect of the god Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

. However, the dā element is not so simply equated with "earth" according to John Chadwick
John Chadwick
John Chadwick was an English linguist and classical scholar most famous for his role in deciphering Linear B, along with Michael Ventris.-Early life and education:...

:

The element De may be connected with Deo, a surname of Demeter probably derived from the Cretan word deai , Ionic zeai meaning "barley", so that she is the Corn-Mother and the giver of food generally. Arcadian cult to Demeter links her to a male deity (Greek: Paredros), who accompanied the Great Goddess and has been interpreted as a possible substitution for Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

; Demeter may therefore be related to a Minoan
Minoan civilization
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century BC to the 15th century BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of the British archaeologist Arthur Evans...

 Great Goddess.

An alternative, protoeuropean etymology comes through Potnia
Potnia
Potnia , Ancient Greek for "Mistress, Lady", title of a goddess. The word was inherited by Classical Greek from Mycenean Greek with the same meaning and it was applied to several goddesses. A similar word is the title Despoina, "the mistress", which was given to the nameless chthonian goddess of...

 and Despoina
Despoina
In Greek mythology, Despoina, Despoena or Despoine, was the daughter of Demeter and Poseidon and sister of Arion. She was the goddess of mysteries of Arcadian cults worshipped under the title Despoina,"the mistress" alongside with her mother Demeter,one of the goddesses of the Eleusinian mysteries...

; where "De" is a derivative of PIE
Pie
A pie is a baked dish which is usually made of a pastry dough casing that covers or completely contains a filling of various sweet or savoury ingredients....

 "dem" (house, dome), and Demeter is "mother of the house" (from PIE
Pie
A pie is a baked dish which is usually made of a pastry dough casing that covers or completely contains a filling of various sweet or savoury ingredients....

 *dems-mater).

Greek mythology


In some of the earliest accounts Demeter was triune goddess representing the Virgin (Kore), the Mother (Pluto "Abundance"), and the Crone ('Persephone the Destroyer'), representing the cycle of birth, life, and death. In later legends, the name Pluto was transferred to the god of the underworld, and elements of Kore and the name Persephone became associated as her daughter.

Another aspect of Demeter, was known as the Aganippe "the Mare who destroys mercifully", a black winged horse worshiped by certain cults. In this aspect her idols (such as one found in Mavrospelya, the Black Cave, in Phigalia) she was portrayed as mare-headed with a mane entwined with Gorgon Snakes. This aspect was also associated with Anion (or Arion)
Arion (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Arion or Areion is a divinely-bred, extremely swift immortal horse which, according to the Latin poet Sextus Propertius, was endowed with speech....

 whom Heracles
Heracles
Heracles ,born Alcaeus or Alcides , was a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon and great-grandson of Perseus...

 rode, who later inspired tales of Pegasus
Pegasus
Pegasus is one of the best known fantastical as well as mythological creatures in Greek mythology. He is a winged divine horse, usually white in color. He was sired by Poseidon, in his role as horse-god, and foaled by the Gorgon Medusa. He was the brother of Chrysaor, born at a single birthing...

. Aganippe
Aganippe
Aganippe was a name or epithet of three figures in Greek mythology.*Aganippe "the Mare who destroys mercifully" was an aspect of Demeter. In this form she was a black winged horse worshiped by certain cults...

 became associated with a spring, where Pegasus was born according to one legend, and the nymph of the same name.

Demeter as an agricultural goddess appears rarely in the epic poetry. In Homer's Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

 she is the blond-haired goddess who is separating the chaff from the grain. The harvesters must pray to Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

-Chthonios (chthonic
Chthonic
Chthonic designates, or pertains to, deities or spirits of the underworld, especially in relation to Greek religion. The Greek word khthon is one of several for "earth"; it typically refers to the interior of the soil, rather than the living surface of the land or the land as territory...

 Zeus) and Demeter
so that the crop will be full and strong. In the Theogony
Theogony
The Theogony is a poem by Hesiod describing the origins and genealogies of the gods of the ancient Greeks, composed circa 700 BC...

 of Hesiod
Hesiod
Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and...

 she is the daughter of Cronus
Cronus
In Greek mythology, Cronus or Kronos was the leader and the youngest of the first generation of Titans, divine descendants of Gaia, the earth, and Uranus, the sky...

 and Rhea
Rhea (mythology)
Rhea was the Titaness daughter of Uranus, the sky, and Gaia, the earth, in Greek mythology. She was known as "the mother of gods". In earlier traditions, she was strongly associated with Gaia and Cybele, the Great Goddess, and was later seen by the classical Greeks as the mother of the Olympian...

. At the marriage of Cadmus
Cadmus
Cadmus or Kadmos , in Greek mythology was a Phoenician prince, the son of king Agenor and queen Telephassa of Tyre and the brother of Phoenix, Cilix and Europa. He was originally sent by his royal parents to seek out and escort his sister Europa back to Tyre after she was abducted from the shores...

 and Harmonia
Harmonia (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Harmonia is the immortal goddess of harmony and concord. Her Roman counterpart is Concordia, and her Greek opposite is Eris, whose Roman counterpart is Discordia.-Origins:...

, Demeter lured Iasion
Iasion
In Greek mythology, Iasion or Iasus was usually the son of Electra and Zeus and brother of Dardanus. Iasion founded the mystic rites on the island of Samothrace. With Demeter, he was the father of twin sons named Ploutos and Philomelus, and another son named Korybas...

 away from the other revelers. They proceeded to have intercourse in a ploughed furrow
Ridge and furrow
Ridge and furrow is an archaeological pattern of ridges and troughs created by a system of ploughing used in Europe during the Middle Ages. The earliest examples date to the immediate post-Roman period and the system was used until the 17th century in some areas. Ridge and furrow topography is...

 in Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

; she later gave him a son, Ploutos
Plutus
Ploutos , usually Romanized as Plutus, was the god of wealth in ancient Greek religion and myth. He was the son of Demeter and the demigod Iasion, with whom she lay in a thrice-ploughed field. In the theology of the Eleusinian Mysteries he was regarded as the Divine Child...

.

Persephone
Persephone
In Greek mythology, Persephone , also called Kore , is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest-goddess Demeter, and queen of the underworld; she was abducted by Hades, the god-king of the underworld....

, Queen of the underworld, is daughter of Zeus and Demeter. The myth of the rape of Persephone seems to be pre-Greek. In the Greek version Ploutos (πλούτος, wealth) represents the wealth of the corn that was stored in underground silos or ceramic jars (pithoi). Similar subterranean pithoi were used in ancient times for funerary practices and Pluto is fused with Hades
Hades
Hades , Hadēs, originally , Haidēs or , Aidēs , meaning "the unseen") was the ancient Greek god of the underworld. The genitive , Haidou, was an elision to denote locality: "[the house/dominion] of Hades". Eventually, the nominative came to designate the abode of the dead.In Greek mythology, Hades...

, the King of the underworld. During summer months the Greek Corn-Maiden (Kore
Persephone
In Greek mythology, Persephone , also called Kore , is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest-goddess Demeter, and queen of the underworld; she was abducted by Hades, the god-king of the underworld....

) is lying in the corn of the underground silos, abducted by Hades
Hades
Hades , Hadēs, originally , Haidēs or , Aidēs , meaning "the unseen") was the ancient Greek god of the underworld. The genitive , Haidou, was an elision to denote locality: "[the house/dominion] of Hades". Eventually, the nominative came to designate the abode of the dead.In Greek mythology, Hades...

 (Pluto
Pluto (mythology)
In ancient Greek religion and myth, Pluto was a name for the ruler of the underworld; the god was also known as Hades, a name for the underworld itself...

) as it is described in Theogony. Kore is fused with Persephone, the Queen of the underworld. At the beginning of the autumn, when the corn of the old crop is laid on the fields she ascends and is reunited with her mother Demeter, for at this time the old crop and the new meet each other.

In the myths of isolated Arcadia
Arcadia
Arcadia is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the administrative region of Peloponnese. It is situated in the central and eastern part of the Peloponnese peninsula. It takes its name from the mythological character Arcas. In Greek mythology, it was the home of the god Pan...

 in southern Greece Despoina
Despoina
In Greek mythology, Despoina, Despoena or Despoine, was the daughter of Demeter and Poseidon and sister of Arion. She was the goddess of mysteries of Arcadian cults worshipped under the title Despoina,"the mistress" alongside with her mother Demeter,one of the goddesses of the Eleusinian mysteries...

 (Persephone), is daughter of Demeter and Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

 Hippios, Horse-Poseidon. These myths seem to be connected with the first Greek-speaking people who came from the north during the Bronze age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

. Poseidon represents the river spirit of the underworld and he appears as a horse as it often happens in northern-European folklore. He pursues the mare-Demeter and she bears one daughter who obviously originally had the form or the shape of a mare too. Demeter and Despoina were closely connected with the springs and the animals. They were related with the God of the waters Poseidon and especially with the mistress of the animals Artemis
Artemis
Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name and indeed the goddess herself was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: "Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals"...

 who was the first nymph
Nymph
A nymph in Greek mythology is a female minor nature deity typically associated with a particular location or landform. Different from gods, nymphs are generally regarded as divine spirits who animate nature, and are usually depicted as beautiful, young nubile maidens who love to dance and sing;...

.

In another tale, Demeter punished Erysichthon
Erysichthon
In Greek mythology, Erysichthon can refer to two different personages:-Erysichthon of Thessaly:...

 of Thessaly by inflicting him with insatiable hunger after he cut down a tree in a sacred garden which killed a dryad and the other dryads informed Demeter of this.

Corn mother at Eleusis



According to the Athenian rhetorician Isocrates
Isocrates
Isocrates , an ancient Greek rhetorician, was one of the ten Attic orators. In his time, he was probably the most influential rhetorician in Greece and made many contributions to rhetoric and education through his teaching and written works....

, the greatest gifts which Demeter gave were cereal
Cereal
Cereals are grasses cultivated for the edible components of their grain , composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran...

 (also known as corn in modern Britain), the cultivation of which made man different from wild animals and the Mysteries which give the initiate higher hopes in this life and the afterlife.

In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, dated to about the seventh century BC, she is invoked as the "bringer of seasons", a subtle sign that she was worshipped long before she was made one of the Olympians
Twelve Olympians
The Twelve Olympians, also known as the Dodekatheon , in Greek mythology, were the principal deities of the Greek pantheon, residing atop Mount Olympus. Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia, and Hades were siblings. Ares, Hermes, Hephaestus, Athena, Apollo, and Artemis were children of Zeus...

. She and her daughter Persephone
Persephone
In Greek mythology, Persephone , also called Kore , is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest-goddess Demeter, and queen of the underworld; she was abducted by Hades, the god-king of the underworld....

 were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries
Eleusinian Mysteries
The Eleusinian Mysteries were initiation ceremonies held every year for the cult of Demeter and Persephone based at Eleusis in ancient Greece. Of all the mysteries celebrated in ancient times, these were held to be the ones of greatest importance...

 that also predated the Olympian pantheon.

Demeter's emblem is the poppy, a bright red flower that grows among the barley.

Titles and functions



Demeter's epithet
Epithet
An epithet or byname is a descriptive term accompanying or occurring in place of a name and having entered common usage. It has various shades of meaning when applied to seemingly real or fictitious people, divinities, objects, and binomial nomenclature. It is also a descriptive title...

s show her many religious functions. She was the "Corn-Mother" who blesses the harvesters. Some cults interpreted her as "Mother-Earth". Demeter may be linked to goddess-cults of Minoan
Minoan civilization
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century BC to the 15th century BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of the British archaeologist Arthur Evans...

 Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

, and embody aspects of a pre-Hellenic Great Goddess. Her other epithets include:
  • Aganippe
    Aganippe
    Aganippe was a name or epithet of three figures in Greek mythology.*Aganippe "the Mare who destroys mercifully" was an aspect of Demeter. In this form she was a black winged horse worshiped by certain cults...

     ("the Mare who destroys mercifully", "Night-Mare")

  • The Crone, Persephone the Destroyer. Representing her role as bringer of death. The name was later transferred to her daughter.

  • The Virgin, Kore. Representing her role as bringer of life. The name was later associated with her daughter Persephone.

  • Potnia
    Potnia
    Potnia , Ancient Greek for "Mistress, Lady", title of a goddess. The word was inherited by Classical Greek from Mycenean Greek with the same meaning and it was applied to several goddesses. A similar word is the title Despoina, "the mistress", which was given to the nameless chthonian goddess of...

     ("mistress") in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter
    Homeric Hymns
    The Homeric Hymns are a collection of thirty-three anonymous Ancient Greek hymns celebrating individual gods. The hymns are "Homeric" in the sense that they employ the same epic meter—dactylic hexameter—as the Iliad and Odyssey, use many similar formulas and are couched in the same dialect...

    . Hera
    Hera
    Hera was the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of Greek mythology and religion. Her chief function was as the goddess of women and marriage. Her counterpart in the religion of ancient Rome was Juno. The cow and the peacock were sacred to her...

     especially, but also Artemis
    Artemis
    Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name and indeed the goddess herself was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: "Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals"...

     and Athena
    Athena
    In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

    , are addressed as "potnia" as well.

  • The Mother, Pluto ("Abundance") representing her role as long life and harvest. The name was later transferred onto a separate god of the underworld, who married her daughter Persephone.

  • Despoina
    Despoina
    In Greek mythology, Despoina, Despoena or Despoine, was the daughter of Demeter and Poseidon and sister of Arion. She was the goddess of mysteries of Arcadian cults worshipped under the title Despoina,"the mistress" alongside with her mother Demeter,one of the goddesses of the Eleusinian mysteries...

     ("mistress of the house"), a Greek word similar to the Mycenean
    Mycenaean language
    Mycenaean Greek is the most ancient attested form of the Greek language, spoken on the Greek mainland, Crete and Cyprus in the 16th to 12th centuries BC, before the hypothesised Dorian invasion which was often cited as the terminus post quem for the coming of the Greek language to Greece...

     potnia. This title was also applied to Persephone, Aphrodite
    Aphrodite
    Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia....

     and Hecate
    Hecate
    Hecate or Hekate is a chthonic Greco-Roman goddess associated with magic, witchcraft, necromancy, and crossroads.She is attested in poetry as early as Hesiod's Theogony...

    .

  • Thesmophoros
    Thesmophoria
    Thesmophoria was a festival held in Greek cities, in honor of the goddesses Demeter and her daughter Persephone. The name derives from thesmoi, or laws by which men must work the land. The Thesmophoria were the most widespread festivals and the main expression of the cult of Demeter, aside from the...

     ("giver of customs" or even "legislator"), a role that links her to the even more ancient goddess Themis
    Themis
    Themis is an ancient Greek Titaness. She is described as "of good counsel", and is the embodiment of divine order, law, and custom. Themis means "divine law" rather than human ordinance, literally "that which is put in place", from the verb τίθημι, títhēmi, "to put"...

    , derived from thesmos, the unwritten law. This title was connected with the Thesmophoria
    Thesmophoria
    Thesmophoria was a festival held in Greek cities, in honor of the goddesses Demeter and her daughter Persephone. The name derives from thesmoi, or laws by which men must work the land. The Thesmophoria were the most widespread festivals and the main expression of the cult of Demeter, aside from the...

    , a festival of secret women-only rituals in Athens
    History of Athens
    Athens is one of the oldest named cities in the world, having been continuously inhabited for at least 7000 years. Situated in southern Europe, Athens became the leading city of Ancient Greece in the first millennium BCE and its cultural achievements during the 5th century BCE laid the foundations...

     connected with marriage customs.

  • Erinys
    Erinyes
    In Greek mythology the Erinyes from Greek ἐρίνειν " pursue, persecute"--sometimes referred to as "infernal goddesses" -- were female chthonic deities of vengeance. A formulaic oath in the Iliad invokes them as "those who beneath the earth punish whosoever has sworn a false oath"...

     ("implacable"), with a function similar with the function of the avenging Dike
    Dike (mythology)
    In ancient Greek culture, Dikē was the spirit of moral order and fair judgement based on immemorial custom, in the sense of socially enforced norms and conventional rules. According to Hesiod In ancient Greek culture, Dikē (Greek: Δίκη, English translation: "justice") was the spirit of moral...

     (Justice), goddess of moral justice based on custom rules who represents the divine retribution, and the Erinyes
    Erinyes
    In Greek mythology the Erinyes from Greek ἐρίνειν " pursue, persecute"--sometimes referred to as "infernal goddesses" -- were female chthonic deities of vengeance. A formulaic oath in the Iliad invokes them as "those who beneath the earth punish whosoever has sworn a false oath"...

    , female ancient chthonic
    Chthonic
    Chthonic designates, or pertains to, deities or spirits of the underworld, especially in relation to Greek religion. The Greek word khthon is one of several for "earth"; it typically refers to the interior of the soil, rather than the living surface of the land or the land as territory...

     deities of vengeance and implacable agents of retribution.

  • Chloe
    Chloe
    Chloe is a first or given name for girls, especially popular in England. The name comes from the Greek , meaning "young green shoot" and is one of the many names of the Greek goddess Demeter...

     ("the green shoot"), that invokes her powers of ever-returning fertility, as does Chthonia.

  • Chthonia
    Chthonic
    Chthonic designates, or pertains to, deities or spirits of the underworld, especially in relation to Greek religion. The Greek word khthon is one of several for "earth"; it typically refers to the interior of the soil, rather than the living surface of the land or the land as territory...

     ("in the ground"), chthonic
    Chthonic
    Chthonic designates, or pertains to, deities or spirits of the underworld, especially in relation to Greek religion. The Greek word khthon is one of several for "earth"; it typically refers to the interior of the soil, rather than the living surface of the land or the land as territory...

     Demeter in Sparta.

  • Anesidora
    Pandora
    In Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman. As Hesiod related it, each god helped create her by giving her unique gifts...

     ("sending up gifts from the earth") applied to Demeter in Pausanias 1.31.4, also appears inscribed on an Attic ceramic a name for Pandora
    Pandora
    In Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman. As Hesiod related it, each god helped create her by giving her unique gifts...

     on her jar.

  • Europa
    Europa (mythology)
    In Greek mythology Europa was a Phoenician woman of high lineage, from whom the name of the continent Europe has ultimately been taken. The name Europa occurs in Hesiod's long list of daughters of primordial Oceanus and Tethys...

     ("broad face or eyes") at Lebadaea of Boeotia
    Boeotia
    Boeotia, also spelled Beotia and Bœotia , is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of Central Greece. It was also a region of ancient Greece. Its capital is Livadeia, the second largest city being Thebes.-Geography:...

    . She was the nurse of Trophonios to whom a chthonic
    Chthonic
    Chthonic designates, or pertains to, deities or spirits of the underworld, especially in relation to Greek religion. The Greek word khthon is one of several for "earth"; it typically refers to the interior of the soil, rather than the living surface of the land or the land as territory...

     cult and oracle
    Oracle
    In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination....

     was dedicated. Europa was a Phoenecian princess who Zeus abducted, transformed in a white bull, and carried her to Creta.

  • Kidaria in the mysteries of Pheneos in Arcadia where the priest put on the mask of Demeter kept in a secret place. It seems that the cult was connected with the underworld and with an agrarian magic.

Demeter might also be invoked in the guises of:
  • Malophoros ("apple-bearer" or "sheep-bearer", Pausanias 1.44.3)
  • Lusia ("bathing", Pausanias 8.25.8)
  • Thermasia ("warmth", Pausanias 2.34.6)
  • Achaea, the name by which she was worshipped at Athens
    Athens
    Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

     by the Gephyraeans who had emigrated from Boeotia
    Boeotia
    Boeotia, also spelled Beotia and Bœotia , is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of Central Greece. It was also a region of ancient Greece. Its capital is Livadeia, the second largest city being Thebes.-Geography:...

    .

  • Poppy goddess
    Poppy goddess
    The name poppy goddess was given to a large female figurine which is believed to represent a Minoan goddess, discovered in a sanctuary of the Post-palace period at Gazi of Crete.The teraccota figurine has raised hands and seeds of opium poppies on her head...

    :


Theocritus
Theocritus
Theocritus , the creator of ancient Greek bucolic poetry, flourished in the 3rd century BC.-Life:Little is known of Theocritus beyond what can be inferred from his writings. We must, however, handle these with some caution, since some of the poems commonly attributed to him have little claim to...

, wrote of an earlier role of Demeter as a poppy goddess:
For the Greeks Demeter was still a poppy goddess
Bearing sheaves and poppies in both hands. — Idyll vii.157


In a clay statuette from Gazi (Heraklion Museum, Kereny 1976 fig 15), the Minoan poppy goddess wears the seed capsules, sources of nourishment and narcosis, in her diadem. "It seems probable that the Great Mother Goddess
Mother goddess
Mother goddess is a term used to refer to a goddess who represents motherhood, fertility, creation or embodies the bounty of the Earth. When equated with the Earth or the natural world such goddesses are sometimes referred to as Mother Earth or as the Earth Mother.Many different goddesses have...

, who bore the names Rhea and Demeter, brought the poppy with her from her Cretan cult to Eleusis
Eleusinian Mysteries
The Eleusinian Mysteries were initiation ceremonies held every year for the cult of Demeter and Persephone based at Eleusis in ancient Greece. Of all the mysteries celebrated in ancient times, these were held to be the ones of greatest importance...

, and it is certain that in the Cretan cult sphere, opium was prepared from poppies" (Kerenyi 1976, p 24).

In honor of Demeter of Mysia a seven-day festival was held at Pellené in Arcadia
Arcadia
Arcadia is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the administrative region of Peloponnese. It is situated in the central and eastern part of the Peloponnese peninsula. It takes its name from the mythological character Arcas. In Greek mythology, it was the home of the god Pan...

. Pausanias passed the shrine to Demeter at Mysia on the road from Mycenae
Mycenae
Mycenae is an archaeological site in Greece, located about 90 km south-west of Athens, in the north-eastern Peloponnese. Argos is 11 km to the south; Corinth, 48 km to the north...

 to Argos
Argos
Argos is a city and a former municipality in Argolis, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Argos-Mykines, of which it is a municipal unit. It is 11 kilometres from Nafplion, which was its historic harbour...

 but all he could draw out to explain the archaic name was a myth of an eponymous Mysius who venerated Demeter.

Major cults to Demeter were located at Eleusis (in Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

), Hermion (in Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

, Megara
Megara
Megara is an ancient city in Attica, Greece. It lies in the northern section of the Isthmus of Corinth opposite the island of Salamis, which belonged to Megara in archaic times, before being taken by Athens. Megara was one of the four districts of Attica, embodied in the four mythic sons of King...

, Celeae, Lerna
Lerna
In classical Greece, Lerna was a region of springs and a former lake near the east coast of the Peloponnesus, south of Argos. Its site near the village Mili at the Argolic Gulf is most famous as the lair of the Lernaean Hydra, the chthonic many-headed water snake, a creature of great antiquity...

, Aegila, Munychia, Corinth
Ancient Corinth
Corinth, or Korinth was a city-state on the Isthmus of Corinth, the narrow stretch of land that joins the Peloponnesus to the mainland of Greece, roughly halfway between Athens and Sparta. The modern town of Corinth is located approximately northeast of the ancient ruins...

, Delos
Delos
The island of Delos , isolated in the centre of the roughly circular ring of islands called the Cyclades, near Mykonos, is one of the most important mythological, historical and archaeological sites in Greece...

, Priene
Priene
Priene was an ancient Greek city of Ionia at the base of an escarpment of Mycale, about north of the then course of the Maeander River, from today's Aydin, from today's Söke and from ancient Miletus...

, Akragas, Iasos
Iasos
Iasos or Iassos was a city in Caria located on the Gulf of Iasos , opposite the modern town of Güllük, Turkey. It was originally on an island, but is now connected to the mainland...

, Pergamon
Pergamon
Pergamon , or Pergamum, was an ancient Greek city in modern-day Turkey, in Mysia, today located from the Aegean Sea on a promontory on the north side of the river Caicus , that became the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamon during the Hellenistic period, under the Attalid dynasty, 281–133 BC...

, Selinus, Tegea
Tegea
Tegea was a settlement in ancient Greece, and it is also a former municipality in Arcadia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Tripoli, of which it is a municipal unit. Its seat was the village Stadio....

, Thoricus
Thoricus
Thoricus was an ancient Greek city in southern Attica, where lead and silver was mined. There is a theatre dating from ca. 525-480 BC.-History:...

, Dion (in Macedonia) Lykosoura
Lycosura
Lycosura was a city of Arcadia said by Pausanias to be the oldest city in the world, though there is no evidence for its existence before the fourth century BCE...

, Mesembria, Enna
Enna
Enna is a city and comune located roughly at the center of Sicily, southern Italy, in the province of Enna, towering above the surrounding countryside...

, and Samothrace
Samothrace
Samothrace is a Greek island in the northern Aegean Sea. It is a self-governing municipality within the Evros peripheral unit of Thrace. The island is long and is in size and has a population of 2,723 . Its main industries are fishing and tourism. Resources on the island includes granite and...

.

She was associated with the Roman
Roman mythology
Roman mythology is the body of traditional stories pertaining to ancient Rome's legendary origins and religious system, as represented in the literature and visual arts of the Romans...

 goddess Ceres
Ceres (mythology)
In ancient Roman religion, Ceres was a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships. She was originally the central deity in Rome's so-called plebeian or Aventine Triad, then was paired with her daughter Proserpina in what Romans described as "the Greek rites of Ceres"...

. When Demeter was given a genealogy, she was the daughter of Cronos
Cronus
In Greek mythology, Cronus or Kronos was the leader and the youngest of the first generation of Titans, divine descendants of Gaia, the earth, and Uranus, the sky...

 and Rhea
Rhea (mythology)
Rhea was the Titaness daughter of Uranus, the sky, and Gaia, the earth, in Greek mythology. She was known as "the mother of gods". In earlier traditions, she was strongly associated with Gaia and Cybele, the Great Goddess, and was later seen by the classical Greeks as the mother of the Olympian...

, and therefore the elder sister of Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

. Her priestesses were addressed with the title Melissa
Melissa
Melissa is a given name for a female child. The name comes from the Greek word μέλισσα , "honey bee" and from μέλι , "honey". Compare Hittite melit, "honey"....

.

Demeter taught humankind the arts of agriculture: sowing seeds, ploughing, harvesting, etc. She was especially popular with rural folk, partly because they most benefited directly from her assistance, and partly because rural folk are more conservative about keeping to the old ways. Demeter herself was central to the older religion of Greece. Relics unique to her cult, such as votive clay pigs, were being fashioned in the Neolithic. In Roman times, a sow was still sacrificed to Ceres following a death in the family, to purify the household.

Demeter and Poseidon


Demeter and Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

's names are linked in the earliest scratched notes in Linear B
Linear B
Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, an early form of Greek. It pre-dated the Greek alphabet by several centuries and seems to have died out with the fall of Mycenaean civilization...

 found at Mycenaean Pylos
Pylos
Pylos , historically known under its Italian name Navarino, is a town and a former municipality in Messenia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Pylos-Nestoras, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit. It was the capital of the former...

, where they appear as DA-MA-TE and PO-SE-DA-O-NE in the context of sacralized lot-casting.

In one myth, Poseidon once pursued Demeter, the Earth Mother, in her archaic form as a mare-goddess. She resisted Poseidon, but she could not disguise her divinity among the horses of King Onkios. Poseidon became a stallion and covered her. She bore a daughter Despoina
Despoina
In Greek mythology, Despoina, Despoena or Despoine, was the daughter of Demeter and Poseidon and sister of Arion. She was the goddess of mysteries of Arcadian cults worshipped under the title Despoina,"the mistress" alongside with her mother Demeter,one of the goddesses of the Eleusinian mysteries...

 (: the "Mistress"), whose name should not be uttered outside the Arcadian Mysteries
Sacred Mysteries
The term sacred mysteries generally denotes the area of supernatural phenomena associated with a divinity or a religious ideology.-Pre-Christian religious mysteries:...

, and a horse named Arion
Arion (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Arion or Areion is a divinely-bred, extremely swift immortal horse which, according to the Latin poet Sextus Propertius, was endowed with speech....

, with a black mane and tail.The title Despoine was also given to Persephone
Persephone
In Greek mythology, Persephone , also called Kore , is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest-goddess Demeter, and queen of the underworld; she was abducted by Hades, the god-king of the underworld....

.

In Arcadia
Arcadia
Arcadia is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the administrative region of Peloponnese. It is situated in the central and eastern part of the Peloponnese peninsula. It takes its name from the mythological character Arcas. In Greek mythology, it was the home of the god Pan...

, Demeter was worshiped in her archaic form into historical times. Her xoanon
Xoanon
A xoanon was an Archaic wooden cult image of Ancient Greece. Classical Greeks associated such cult objects, whether aniconic or effigy, with the legendary Daedalus. Many such cult images were preserved into historical times, though none have survived to the modern day, except where their image...

 of Phigaleia shows how the local cult interpreted her: a Medusa type with a horse's head with snaky hair, holding a dove and a dolphin, probably representing her power over air and water. Most of these are symbols of the Minoan
Minoan civilization
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century BC to the 15th century BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of the British archaeologist Arthur Evans...

 Great Goddess.

Demeter Erinys: Vengeful Demeter


Outraged by Poseidon, Demeter was literally furious (Demeter Erinys) at the assault, but washed away her anger in the River Ladon, becoming Demeter Lousia, the "bathed Demeter". "In her alliance with Poseidon," Karl Kerenyi
Karl Kerényi
Károly Kerényi was a Hungarian scholar in classical philology, one of the founders of modern studies in Greek mythology.- Hungary 1897–1943 :...

 noted, "she was Earth
Gaia (mythology)
Gaia was the primordial Earth-goddess in ancient Greek religion. Gaia was the great mother of all: the heavenly gods and Titans were descended from her union with Uranus , the sea-gods from her union with Pontus , the Giants from her mating with Tartarus and mortal creatures were sprung or born...

, who bears plants and beasts, and could therefore assume the shape of an ear of corn
GRAIN
GRAIN is a small international non-profit organisation that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems. Our support takes the form of independent research and analysis, networking at local, regional and...

 or a mare." In her period of eclipse, the Grain Goddess brought desiccation and death to the croplands of which she was the patroness. Pausanias explicitly connects the neglect of her festival with the barrenness of Phigalia. The rites at Phigaleia noted by Pausanias remained local; by contrast, the specifically Eleusinian mythic theme of Demeter and Persephone, accounting in another way for the annual eclipse of Demeter, was given the widest conceivable currency through the Eleusinian Mysteries
Eleusinian Mysteries
The Eleusinian Mysteries were initiation ceremonies held every year for the cult of Demeter and Persephone based at Eleusis in ancient Greece. Of all the mysteries celebrated in ancient times, these were held to be the ones of greatest importance...

 that celebrated and recreated it, and passed into the mainstream tradition, as it was carried by literary sources.

Demeter and Persephone



In Mycenaean Pylos
Pylos
Pylos , historically known under its Italian name Navarino, is a town and a former municipality in Messenia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Pylos-Nestoras, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit. It was the capital of the former...

, Demeter and Persephone were potnia
Potnia
Potnia , Ancient Greek for "Mistress, Lady", title of a goddess. The word was inherited by Classical Greek from Mycenean Greek with the same meaning and it was applied to several goddesses. A similar word is the title Despoina, "the mistress", which was given to the nameless chthonian goddess of...

i (the mistresses). In classical Greece, they were invoked as tō theō ('the two Goddesses') or hai despoinai
Despoina
In Greek mythology, Despoina, Despoena or Despoine, was the daughter of Demeter and Poseidon and sister of Arion. She was the goddess of mysteries of Arcadian cults worshipped under the title Despoina,"the mistress" alongside with her mother Demeter,one of the goddesses of the Eleusinian mysteries...

 ('the Mistresses'). Myths and cults to Demeter as Mother and Persephone as Maiden (Kore
Persephone
In Greek mythology, Persephone , also called Kore , is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest-goddess Demeter, and queen of the underworld; she was abducted by Hades, the god-king of the underworld....

) lay at the heart of the Eleusinian Mysteries
Eleusinian Mysteries
The Eleusinian Mysteries were initiation ceremonies held every year for the cult of Demeter and Persephone based at Eleusis in ancient Greece. Of all the mysteries celebrated in ancient times, these were held to be the ones of greatest importance...

.

Demeter controlled seasonal growth and regeneration. When her virgin daughter Persephone was abducted to underworld by Hades
Hades
Hades , Hadēs, originally , Haidēs or , Aidēs , meaning "the unseen") was the ancient Greek god of the underworld. The genitive , Haidou, was an elision to denote locality: "[the house/dominion] of Hades". Eventually, the nominative came to designate the abode of the dead.In Greek mythology, Hades...

, Demeter searched for her ceaselessly, preoccupied with her loss and her grief. The seasons halted; living things ceased their growth, then began to die. Faced with the extinction of all life on earth, Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 sent his messenger Hermes
Hermes
Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology and a guide to the Underworld. Hermes was born on Mount Kyllini in Arcadia. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of the cunning of thieves, of orators and...

 to the underworld to bring Persphone back. Hades
Hades
Hades , Hadēs, originally , Haidēs or , Aidēs , meaning "the unseen") was the ancient Greek god of the underworld. The genitive , Haidou, was an elision to denote locality: "[the house/dominion] of Hades". Eventually, the nominative came to designate the abode of the dead.In Greek mythology, Hades...

 agreed to release her if she had eaten nothing while in his realm; but Persephone had eaten a number of pomegranate
Pomegranate
The pomegranate , Punica granatum, is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree growing between five and eight meters tall.Native to the area of modern day Iran, the pomegranate has been cultivated in the Caucasus since ancient times. From there it spread to Asian areas such as the Caucasus as...

 seeds
SEEDS
SEEDS is a voluntary organisation registered under the Societies Act of India....

 (one, three, four, or seven seeds are eaten.. This bound her to Hades and the underworld for certain months of every year. According to some modern writers such as Walter Burkert
Walter Burkert
Walter Burkert is a German scholar of Greek mythology and cult.An emeritus professor of classics at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, he also has taught in the United Kingdom and the United States...

, this corresponds with the dry Mediterranean summer, during which plant life is threatened by drought. Winter, autumn, and spring by comparison have heavy rainfall and mild temperatures in which plant life flourishes. However the ancient commentary by Porphyry
Porphyry (philosopher)
Porphyry of Tyre , Porphyrios, AD 234–c. 305) was a Neoplatonic philosopher who was born in Tyre. He edited and published the Enneads, the only collection of the work of his teacher Plotinus. He also wrote many works himself on a wide variety of topics...

 did not understand the myth in this way and saw Persephone's descent as connected with the autumn and winter months. It was during her trip to retrieve Persephone from the underworld that she revealed the Eleusinian Mysteries
Eleusinian Mysteries
The Eleusinian Mysteries were initiation ceremonies held every year for the cult of Demeter and Persephone based at Eleusis in ancient Greece. Of all the mysteries celebrated in ancient times, these were held to be the ones of greatest importance...

. In some versions of the myth, Persephone is tricked into eating the pomegranate seeds but chooses to eat them, moments before her return to the upper world with Hermes. seen Hades' gardeners, claimed to have witnessed her do so, at the moment that she was preparing to return with Hermes. Her return to the upper world signals the advent of spring. In another version, Hecate
Hecate
Hecate or Hekate is a chthonic Greco-Roman goddess associated with magic, witchcraft, necromancy, and crossroads.She is attested in poetry as early as Hesiod's Theogony...

 rescues Persephone.

According to the personal mythology of Robert Graves
Robert Graves
Robert von Ranke Graves 24 July 1895 – 7 December 1985 was an English poet, translator and novelist. During his long life he produced more than 140 works...

, Persephone is not only the younger self of Demeter, she is in turn also one of three guises of the Triple Goddess
Triple deity
A triple deity is a deity associated with the number three. Such deities are common throughout world mythology; the number three has a long history of mythical associations. C. G...

 — Kore (the youngest, the maiden, signifying green young grain), Persephone (in the middle, the nymph, signifying the ripe grain waiting to be harvested), and Hecate (the eldest of the three, the crone, the harvested grain), which to a certain extent reduces the name and role of Demeter to that of groupname. Before Persephone was abducted by Hades, an event witnessed by the shepherd Eumolpus and the swineherd Eubuleus
Eubuleus
In ancient Greek religion and myth, Eubuleus is a god known primarily from devotional inscriptions for mystery religions. The name appears several times in the corpus of the so-called Orphic gold tablets spelled variously, with forms including Euboulos, Eubouleos and Eubolos...

 (they saw a girl being carried of into the earth which had violently opened up, in a black chariot, driven by an invisible driver), she was called Kore. It is when she is taken that she becomes Persephone ('she who brings destruction'). Hecate was also reported to have told Demeter that she had heard Kore scream that she was being carried off.

Demeter's stay at Eleusis


Demeter was searching for her daughter Persephone (also known as Kore). Having taken the form of an old woman called Doso, she received a hospitable welcome from Celeus
Celeus
Celeus or Keleus was the king of Eleusis in Greek mythology, husband of Metaneira and father of several daughters, who are called Callidice, Demo, Cleisidice and Callithoe in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, and Diogeneia, Pammerope and Saesara by Pausanias.In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, Celeus was...

, the King of Eleusis in Attica. He asked her to nurse Demophon
Demophon of Eleusis
In Greek mythology, Demophon sometimes written in English as Demophoon, was a son of King Celeus and Queen Metanira. While Demeter was searching for her daughter Persephone, having taken the form of an old woman called Doso, she received a hospitable welcome from Celeus, the King of Eleusis in...

 and Triptolemus
Triptolemus
Buzyges redirects here. For the genus of grass skipper butterflies, see Buzyges .Triptolemus , in Greek mythology always connected with Demeter of the Eleusinian Mysteries, might be accounted the son of King Celeus of Eleusis in Attica, or, according to the Pseudo-Apollodorus , the son of Gaia and...

, his sons by Metanira
Metanira
In Greek mythology, Metanira was a queen of Eleusis and wife of Celeus. While Demeter was searching for her daughter, having taken the form of an old woman called Doso, she received a hospitable welcome from Celeus, the King of Eleusis in Attica. He asked her to nurse Demophon, his son by Metanira...

.

As a gift to Celeus, because of his hospitality, Demeter planned to make Demophon as a god, by coating and anointing him with ambrosia
Ambrosia
In ancient Greek mythology, ambrosia is sometimes the food or drink of the Greek gods , often depicted as conferring ageless immortality upon whoever consumes it...

, breathing gently upon him while holding him in her arms and bosom, and making him immortal by burning his mortal spirit away in the family hearth every night. She put him in the fire at night like a firebrand or ember without the knowledge of his parents.

Demeter was unable to complete the ritual because his mother Metanira walked in and saw her son in the fire and screamed in fright, which angered Demeter, who lamented that foolish mortals do not understand the concept and ritual.

Instead of making Demophon immortal, Demeter chose to teach Triptolemus the art of agriculture and, from him, the rest of Greece learned to plant and reap crops. He flew across the land on a winged chariot
Chariot
The chariot is a type of horse carriage used in both peace and war as the chief vehicle of many ancient peoples. Ox carts, proto-chariots, were built by the Proto-Indo-Europeans and also built in Mesopotamia as early as 3000 BC. The original horse chariot was a fast, light, open, two wheeled...

 while Demeter and Persephone cared for him, and helped him complete his mission of educating the whole of Greece in the art of agriculture.

Later, Triptolemus taught Lyncus
Lyncus
In Greek mythology, King Lyncus of the Scythians was taught the arts of agriculture by Triptolemus but he refused to teach it to his people and then tried to kill Triptolemus. Demeter turned him into a lynx...

, King of the Scythia
Scythia
In antiquity, Scythian or Scyths were terms used by the Greeks to refer to certain Iranian groups of horse-riding nomadic pastoralists who dwelt on the Pontic-Caspian steppe...

ns the arts of agriculture but he refused to teach it to his people and then tried to murder Triptolemus. Demeter turned him into a lynx
Lynx
A lynx is any of the four Lynx genus species of medium-sized wildcats. The name "lynx" originated in Middle English via Latin from Greek word "λύγξ", derived from the Indo-European root "*leuk-", meaning "light, brightness", in reference to the luminescence of its reflective eyes...

.

Some scholars believe the Demophon story is based on an earlier prototypical folk tale.

Portrayals

  • Demeter was usually portrayed on a chariot, and frequently associated with images of the harvest, including flowers, fruit, and grain. She was also sometimes pictured with her daughter Persephone.

  • The Black Demeter, a sculpture made by Onatas
    Onatas
    Onatas was an ancient Greek sculptor of the time of the Persian Wars and a member of the flourishing school of Aegina. Many of his works are mentioned by Pausanias; they included a Hermes carrying the ram, and a strange image of the Black Demeter made for the people of Phigalia; also some elaborate...

    .

  • Demeter is not generally portrayed with a consort: the exception is Iasion, the youth of Crete who lay with Demeter in a thrice-ploughed field, and was sacrificed afterwards – by a jealous, and envious Zeus with a thunderbolt, Olympian mythography adds, but the Cretan site of the myth is a sign that the Hellenes knew this was an act of the ancient Demeter.

See also

  • 1108 Demeter
    1108 Demeter
    1108 Demeter is a main-belt asteroid orbiting the Sun. It was discovered by Karl Reinmuth in Heidelberg, Germany on May 31, 1929. Its provisional designation was 1929 KA. It was named after the Greek goddess of fruitful soil and agriculture....

    , a main belt
    Asteroid belt
    The asteroid belt is the region of the Solar System located roughly between the orbits of the planets Mars and Jupiter. It is occupied by numerous irregularly shaped bodies called asteroids or minor planets...

     asteroid
    Asteroid
    Asteroids are a class of small Solar System bodies in orbit around the Sun. They have also been called planetoids, especially the larger ones...

     26 km in diameter, which was discovered in 1929 by Karl Wilhelm Reinmuth
    Karl Wilhelm Reinmuth
    Karl Wilhelm Reinmuth was a German astronomer.He was a prolific discoverer of asteroids , beginning with 796 Sarita in 1914, working at the Landessternwarte Heidelberg-Königstuhl astronomical observatory on the Königstuhl hill above Heidelberg, Germany from 1912 to 1957.His most notable...

     at Heidelberg
    Heidelberg
    -Early history:Between 600,000 and 200,000 years ago, "Heidelberg Man" died at nearby Mauer. His jaw bone was discovered in 1907; with scientific dating, his remains were determined to be the earliest evidence of human life in Europe. In the 5th century BC, a Celtic fortress of refuge and place of...

    .
  • Despoina
    Despoina
    In Greek mythology, Despoina, Despoena or Despoine, was the daughter of Demeter and Poseidon and sister of Arion. She was the goddess of mysteries of Arcadian cults worshipped under the title Despoina,"the mistress" alongside with her mother Demeter,one of the goddesses of the Eleusinian mysteries...

  • Greek mythology in popular culture
  • Isis and Osiris
  • Poppy goddess
    Poppy goddess
    The name poppy goddess was given to a large female figurine which is believed to represent a Minoan goddess, discovered in a sanctuary of the Post-palace period at Gazi of Crete.The teraccota figurine has raised hands and seeds of opium poppies on her head...

  • Potnia
    Potnia
    Potnia , Ancient Greek for "Mistress, Lady", title of a goddess. The word was inherited by Classical Greek from Mycenean Greek with the same meaning and it was applied to several goddesses. A similar word is the title Despoina, "the mistress", which was given to the nameless chthonian goddess of...


External links