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Demeter

Posted by: | April 12, 2013 | No Comment |

Demeter was the gracious goddess of the harvest , and made accomplishments that affected all of Greece.  Born into the family of the titans Kronus and Rhea, Demeter lived a childhood with her siblings.  Kronus, her father, was told that one of his children would soon destroy him, so he swallowed all the kids to make sure he wasn’t overpowered.  Devastated, Rhea hid her last son, Zeus, in a protected cave, with a rock in his place.  Kronus ate the rock thinking it was Zeus, and in his stomach it stayed.  Demeter and her siblings lived in his stomach as well until a man named Metis played a trick on Kronus, which caused him to drink poison.  Then, he coughed up all the swallowed children and the rock.  Demeter had accomplished the act of harvesting, and the creation of the seasons.  After she discovered agriculture, she taught the citizens of Greece as well.  When Persephone was away in the underworld, Demeter was too depressed to grow crops, so that period became fall and winter.  When her daughter returned, Demeter happily began harvesting again, and that period became spring and summer.

 

Demeter was said to be the most gracious one out of the gods, though she could become rather moody at times.  She was the only one willing to socialize with mortals, and spare lives regularly.  However, her moody side could get in the way of her job, causing people to starve.  For instance, when Demeter’s daughter went missing, she became so depressed that she couldn’t keep up the harvest.  The food spoiled, leaving all of Greece in poverty.  Demeter had a very important role to the mortals and gods.  This was to maintain the harvest.  Without her, nobody would know how to farm land, so they might have all died out.

 

The most common myth about Demeter was how Persephone, her daughter, was captured.  She loved her so much that she took Persephone everywhere, making sure she was safe.  However, one day when Demeter was taking care of the harvest, Persephone wandered off.  Then, Hades, god of the underworld, came out of the ground and took her away.  He had fallen for her beauty, so he kidnapped young Persephone, forcing her to marry him.  Demeter desperately looked for her daughter, but she was gone.  Nobody had seen what happened to her, and she became depressed.  Too sad to harvest, Demeter let Greece starve as she set off on her journey to find Persephone.  After many months of looking, Demeter finally found out what happened.  Some sources say that the sun god, helio, told her that Hades took Persephone, others say that a shepherd saw her be taken into the ground.  No matter, Demeter finally found out where her daughter went, and begged Zeus to return her.  He denied at first, but then saw how starved the world was.  He said that Persephone was free as long as she didn’t eat any fruit of the dead.  However, being so hungry, she couldn’t refuse a few seeds of a pomegranate.  Zeus compromised by saying that she would have to return to the underworld one month per seed she ate.  One source says that she ate four seeds, yet another said that she ate six.  Exactly how many seeds she ate is a mystery, but we know that Persephone had to go back a few months out of the year.  Demeter was so happy to see her daughter that she was able to harvest again, but every time she went to the underworld, everyone lacked food.  This is the explanation for the cycle of four seasons.

 

 

Like I have mentioned before, Demeter is associated with one main person – Persephone.  Because they do everything together, mortals always think about them together.  The common myth of Persephone going missing has also contributed to this, making Demeter and Persephone a “package deal.”  Also, there are a few symbols that she is associated with.  Some are wheat-ears, and winged serpents, but the most common one was the cornucopia.  Demeter’s always holding this basket-like object, shaped as a horn with food spilling out.  She may be associated with these things to remember her better.

 

Demeter, like everyone else had some kind of love story.  Once, she fell in love with a mortal named Jason, and slept with him on a field.  When Zeus discovered this, he struck him dead with a lightning bolt, making sure gods and mortals don’t intertwine.  Also, Poseidon was in love with her, though she didn’t feel the same way about him.  On Demeter’s search for Persephone, he wanted to sleep with her, though she refused.  That’s why she turned into a mare to hide from Poseidon, but he saw through this disguise.  Enraged, he raped her, and was off.  These disastrous love stories were probably why Demeter remained unmarried.

A.G-L

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