(goddess of grain, agriculture, fertility)
Roman name: Ceres
Parents: Cronos and Rhea
Brothers: Hades, Poseidon, Zeus
Sisters: Hestia, Hera
Demeter was one of the original six Olympians, the daughters and sons of Cronos and Rhea. She did not spend all her time on Mount. Olympus, but instead wandered the fields in her role as the goddess of grain and harvest. Though she was away from Mount Olympus, she was still very involved with the happenings of the other Olympic gods, unlike her brother Hades.
Demeter was a very popular goddess in Greece. The harvest was very central to the early Greeks, who held her in high esteem. She was portrayed as being kind and generous. This view came from the need for her to give her blessing of fertility on the earth for all to benefit.
Demeter was most often kind and generous, but she could be very hard when crossed. Two stories illustrate this point very well. The first is the story of Hades kidnapping her daughter Persephone. She stopped her duties of helping the crops grow for almost a year. It was not till Zeus made a deal with her that she allowed the crops to grow. Zeus had to make this deal before the human race was wiped out because of the crop failure she caused.
Another story involved a man named Erysichton. Erysichton decided to cut down a grove of oak trees to build a great hall. The oak trees were sacred to Demeter. A person passing by warned him not to cut down the trees, and Erysichton responded by chopping off that man’s head with an ax. Demeter appeared to Erysichton disguised as a priestess. She attempted to warn him, but he ignored her. She then ordered him to stop the cutting, and he threatened her with his ax. To punish him, Demeter called on Peina, the god of hunger to plague Erysichton. He was plagued by hunger that could never be satisfied. He used all his wealth trying to feed his hunger. He became a poor beggar, and even his daughter sold herself into slavery to help him. So ravaged by hunger, he began to eat his own flesh, which still did not fill his appetite. Eventually he went insane and died.
Demeter’s Love Affairs
Children: Persephone (became Queen of Underworld after being abducted by Hades)
Iasion (met Demeter at a wedding and jealous Zeus attacked him and either killed or crippled him for life)
Children: Plautus (became protector of harvest)
Ceres by Anguier, Michel Victoria Albert Museum, London
Major Gods and Goddesses
Introduction | Creation Story | Olympians VS. Titans | Creation of Man |
Revolt of Giants | Abduction of Persephone | The Underworld
Visitors to Underworld | Amzon Warriors | Ares vs. Athena | Daedalus and Icarus
Echo and Narcissus | Judgement of Paris | Perseus and Andromeda | Trojan War