|“||Demeter is a Mother Earth Goddess from Greek mythology who is associated with fertility, agriculture, the seasons and the sacred laws. One of her most famous epithet is Demeter Chrysaoros, or Demeter of the Golden Sword. Why is she still call that despite not carrying one for the last few thousands years? I have no idea.||„|
|— Matt Wright|
Demeter is the goddess of the harvest and agriculture, daughter of Cronus and Rhea, who presided over grains and the fertility of the earth. Though Demeter is often described simply as the goddess of the harvest, she presided also over the sacred law.
It was believed that Demeter made the crops grow each year; thus the first loaf of bread made from the annual harvest was offered to her. She was the goddess of the earth, of agriculture, and of fertility in general. Sacred to her are livestock and agricultural products, poppy, narcissus and the crane.
Demeter was intimately associated with the seasons.
Powers and Abilities
Her daughter Persephone was abducted by Hades to be his wife in the underworld. In a fit of anger and sorrow at her daughter's loss, Demeter laid a curse on the world that caused plants to wither and die, and the land to become desolate. Zeus, alarmed for the barren earth, sought for Persephone's return.
However, because she had eaten the cursed pomegranate while in the underworld, Hades had a claim on her. Therefore, it was decreed that Persephone would spend four months each year in the underworld. During these months Demeter would grieve for her daughter's absence, withdrawing her gifts from the world, creating winter. Her return brought the spring.
Demeter at Eleusis
Demeter's search for her daughter Persephone took her to the palace of Celeus, the King of Eleusis in Attica. She assumed the form of an old woman, and asked him for shelter. He took her in, to nurse Demophon and Triptolemus, his sons by Metanira. To reward his kindness, she planned to make Demophon immortal; she secretly anointed the boy with ambrosia and laid him in the flames of the hearth, to gradually burn away his mortal self. But Metanira walked in, saw her son in the fire and screamed in fright. Demeter abandoned the attempt. Instead, she taught Triptolemus the secrets of agriculture, and he in turn taught them to any who wished to learn them. Thus, humanity learned how to plant, grow and harvest grain.
Demeter and Iasion
At the marriage of Cadmus and Harmonia, Iasion was lured by Demeter away from the other revelers. They had intercourse as Demeter lay on her back in a freshly plowed furrow. When they rejoined the celebration, Zeus guessed what had happened because of the mud on Demeter's backside, and out of envy killed Iasion with a thunderbolt. However, some say Demeter pled so eloquently that Zeus granted his son immortality, ranking him among the lesser deities. With Demeter, he was the father of twin sons named Ploutos and Philomelus, and another son named Corybas.
Demeter and Erysichthon
Another myth involving Demeter's rage resulting in famine is that of Erysichthon, king of Thessaly. The myth tells of Erysichthon ordering all of the trees in one of Demeter's sacred groves to be cut down. One tree, a huge oak, was found to be covered with votive wreaths, symbols of the prayers Demeter had granted, and so Erysichthon's men refused to cut it down. The king used an axe to cut it down himself, killing a dryad nymph in the process. The nymph's dying words were a curse on Erysichthon.
Demeter punished the king by calling upon Limos, the spirit of unrelenting and insatiable hunger, to enter his stomach. The more the king ate, the hungrier he became. Erysichthon sold all his possessions to buy food, but was still hungry. Finally, he sold his own daughter, Mestra, into slavery. Mestra was freed from slavery by her former lover, Poseidon, who gave her the gift of shape-shifting into any creature at will to escape her bonds. Erysichthon used her shape-shifting ability to sell her numerous times to make more money to feed himself, but no amount of food was enough. Eventually, Erysichthon ate himself.
Myths and Legends
|“||Demeter never really grew out of her... phase, as some might put it. Every time Persephone returns to the underworld with Hades for four months, it's like he kidnapped her daughter all over again. Though the rest of us gods and you mortal folk adapted to the cycle of summer and winter, Demeter never did. No preparation, no self-reflection, nothing. She never sought self-help for the pattern, so I guess it's fair to say that she's a bit of a man-child. It's a vicious cycle of warmth and cooling, and it's way too late to take it back now.||„|