|Goddess of agriculture, harvest, fertility and sacred law.|
A marble statue of Demeter, "National Roman Museum
|Other names||Sito, Thesmophoros|
|Symbol||"Cornucopia, "wheat, "torch, "bread|
|Consort||"Iasion, "Zeus, "Oceanus, "Karmanor, "Poseidon and "Triptolemus|
|Children||"Persephone, "Despoina, "Arion, "Plutus, "Philomelus, "Eubuleus, "Chrysothemis, and "Amphitheus I|
|Parents||"Cronus and "Rhea|
|Siblings||"Hestia, "Hera, "Hades, "Poseidon, "Zeus, "Chiron|
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In "ancient Greek religion and "mythology, Demeter ("//; "Attic: Δημήτηρ Dēmḗtēr, pronounced "[dɛːmɛ́ːtɛːr]; "Doric: Δαμάτηρ Dāmā́tēr) is the goddess of the harvest and agriculture, who presided over "grains and the "fertility of the earth. Her cult titles include Sito (Σιτώ), "she of the Grain", as the giver of food or grain, and "Thesmophoros (θεσμός, thesmos: divine order, unwritten law; φόρος, phoros: bringer, bearer), "Law-Bringer", 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 "sacred law, and the cycle of life and death. She and her daughter "Persephone were the central figures of the "Eleusinian Mysteries that predated the "Olympian pantheon. In the "Linear B "Mycenean Greek tablets of c. 1400–1200 BC found at "Pylos, the "two queens and the king" may be related with Demeter, "Persephone and "Poseidon. Her "Roman equivalent is "Ceres.
It is possible that Demeter appears in "Linear A as da-ma-te on three documents ("AR Zf 1 and 2, and "KY Za 2), all three apparently dedicated in religious situations and all three bearing just the name (i-da-ma-te on AR Zf 1 and 2). It is unlikely that Demeter appears as da-ma-te in a "Linear B ("Mycenean Greek) inscription ("PY En 609); the word 𐀅𐀔𐀳, da-ma-te, probably refers to "households". On the other hand, 𐀯𐀵𐀡𐀴𐀛𐀊, si-to-po-ti-ni-ja, ""Potnia of the Grain", is regarded as referring to her "Bronze Age predecessor or to one of her "epithets.
Demeter's character as "mother-goddess is identified in the second element of her name meter (μήτηρ) derived from "Proto-Indo-European *méh₂tēr (mother). In antiquity, different explanations were already proffered for the first element of her name. It is possible that Da (Δᾶ), a word which corresponds to Ge (Γῆ) in Attic, is the Doric form of De (Δῆ), "earth", the old name of the "chthonic earth-goddess, and that Demeter is "Mother-Earth". This root also appears in the "Linear B inscription E-ne-si-da-o-ne, "earth-shaker", as an aspect of the god "Poseidon. However, the dā element in the name of Demeter is not so simply equated with "earth" according to "John Chadwick.
The element De- may be connected with Deo, an "epithet of Demeter probably derived from the Cretan word dea (δηά), Ionic zeia (ζειά)—variously identified with "emmer, "spelt, "rye, or other grains by modern scholars—so that she is the Mother and the giver of food generally. "Wanax (wa-na-ka) was her male companion (Greek: Πάρεδρος, Paredros) in "Mycenaean cult. The Arcadian cult links her to the god "Poseidon, who probably substituted the male companion of the "Great Goddess ; Demeter may therefore be related to a "Minoan "Great Goddess ("Cybele).
An alternative Proto-Indo-European etymology comes through Potnia and "Despoina, where Des- represents a derivative of "PIE *dem (house, dome), and Demeter is "mother of the house" (from "PIE *dems-méh₂tēr).
According to the Athenian "rhetorician "Isocrates, Demeter's greatest gifts to humankind were agriculture, particularly of cereals, and the Mysteries which give the initiate higher hopes in this life and the afterlife. These two gifts were intimately connected in Demeter's myths and mystery cults. In Homer's "Odyssey she is the blond-haired goddess who separates the chaff from the grain. In Hesiod, prayers to "Zeus-Chthonios ("chthonic Zeus) and Demeter help the crops grow full and strong. Demeter's emblem is the poppy, a bright red flower that grows among the barley.
In "Hesiod's "Theogony, Demeter is the daughter of "Cronus and "Rhea. At the marriage of "Cadmus and "Harmonia, Demeter lured "Iasion away from the other revelers. They had intercourse in a "ploughed furrow in "Crete, and she gave birth to a son, "Ploutos. Her daughter by Zeus was "Persephone, Queen of the Underworld.
Demeter's two major festivals were "sacred mysteries. Her "Thesmophoria festival (11–13 October) was women-only. Her "Eleusinian mysteries were open to initiates of any gender or social class. At the heart of both festivals were myths concerning Demeter as Mother and "Persephone as her daughter.
Demeter's virgin daughter Persephone was abducted to the underworld by "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 sent his messenger "Hermes to the underworld to bring Persephone back. "Hades agreed to release her if she had eaten nothing while in his realm; but Persephone had eaten a small number of "pomegranate "seeds. This bound her to Hades and the underworld for certain months of every year, either the dry Mediterranean summer, when plant life is threatened by drought, or the autumn and winter. There are several variations on the basic myth. In the "Homeric hymn to Demeter, "Hecate assists in the search and later becomes Persephone's underworld attendant. In another, Persephone willingly and secretly eats the pomegranate seeds, thinking to deceive Hades, but is discovered and made to stay. Contrary to popular perception, Persephone's time in the underworld does not correspond with the unfruitful seasons of the ancient "Greek calendar, nor her return to the "upper world with springtime. Demeter's descent to retrieve Persephone from the underworld is connected to the "Eleusinian Mysteries.
Demeter and her daughter Persephone were usually called:
The myth of the capture 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. 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.
According to the personal mythology of "Robert Graves, Persephone is not only the younger self of Demeter, she is in turn also one of three guises of the "Triple Goddess – 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 group name. Before her abduction, she is called Kore; and once taken she becomes Persephone ('she who brings destruction').
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. The myth has several versions; some are linked to figures such as "Eleusis, "Rarus and "Trochilus. The Demophon element may be based on an earlier folk tale.
Demeter and "Poseidon's names appear in the earliest scratched notes in "Linear B found at "Mycenae and Mycenaean "Pylos; e-ne-si-da-o-ne (earth-shaker) for Poseidon, and si-to-po-ti-ni-ja, who is probably related with Demeter. Poseidon carries frequently the title wa-na-ka ("wanax) in "Linear B inscriptions, as king of the underworld, and his title E-ne-si-da-o-ne indicates his chthonic nature. In the cave of "Amnisos (Crete) Enesidaon is related with the cult of "Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth. She was related with the annual birth of the divine child. During the Bronze Age, a goddess of nature, dominated both in Minoan and Mycenean cult, and Wanax (wa-na-ka) was her male companion (paredros) in Mycenean cult. She and her paredros survived in the "Eleusinian cult, where the following words were uttered : " Mighty Potnia bore a strong son" However, there is no evidence that originally the name of "Potnia was Demeter.
Tablets from "Pylos record sacrificial goods destined for "the Two Queens and Poseidon" ("to the Two Queens and the King" :wa-na-ssoi, wa-na-ka-te). The "Two Queens" may be related with Demeter and "Persephone, or their precursors, goddesses who were not associated with Poseidon in later periods. An exception is the myth of isolated "Arcadia in southern Greece. "Despoina, is daughter of Demeter and "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. 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 springs and animals, related to Poseidon as a God of waters and especially with "Artemis, the mistress of the animals and the goddess of, among others, the Hunt.
Demeter as mare-goddess was pursued by Poseidon, and hid from him among the horses of King "Onkios, but could not conceal her divinity. In the form of a stallion, Poseidon caught and covered her. Demeter was furious ("erinys) at Poseidon's assault; in this furious form, she is known as Demeter Erinys. But she washed away her anger in the River "Ladon, becoming Demeter Lousia, the "bathed Demeter". "In her alliance with Poseidon," "Karl Kerenyi noted, "she was "Earth, who bears plants and beasts, and could therefore assume the shape of an ear of "grain or a mare." She bore a daughter "Despoina (Δέσποινα: the "Mistress"), whose name should not be uttered outside the Arcadian "Mysteries, and a horse named "Arion, with a black mane and tail.
In "Arcadia, Demeter's mare-form was worshiped into historical times. Her "xoanon 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.
The second mountain, Mt. Elaios, is about 30 stades from "Phigaleia, and has a cave sacred to Demeter Melaine ["Black"]... the Phigalians say, they accounted the cave sacred to Demeter, and set up a "wooden image in it. The image was made in the following fashion: it was seated on a rock, and was like a woman in all respects save the head. She had the head and hair of a horse, and serpents and other beasts grew out of her head. Her "chiton reached right to her feet, and she held a dolphin in one hand, a dove in the other. Why they made the "xoanon like this should be clear to any intelligent man who is versed in tradition. They say they named her Black because the goddess wore black clothing. However, they cannot remember who made this xoanon or how it caught fire; but when it was destroyed the Phigalians gave no new image to the goddess and largely neglected her festivals and sacrifices, until finally barrenness fell upon the land.— "Pausanias, Description of Greece 8.42.1ff.
Demeter's "epithets 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 "Crete, and embody aspects of a pre-Hellenic "Mother Goddess. It is possible that the title "Mistress of the labyrinth", which appears in a "Linear B inscription, belonged originally to Sito ("[she] of the grain"), the "Great Mother Demeter and that in the "Eleusinian mysteries this title was kept by her daughter "Persephone (Kore or "Despoina). However, there is no evidence that the name of "Potnia in "Eleusis was originally Demeter. Her other epithets include:
Demeter might also be invoked in the guises of:
"Theocritus, wrote of an earlier role of Demeter as a poppy goddess:
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, who bore the names Rhea and Demeter, brought the poppy with her from her Cretan cult to "Eleusis, and it is certain that in the Cretan cult sphere, "opium was prepared from poppies" (Kerenyi 1976, p 24).
Major "cults to Demeter are known at "Eleusis in "Attica, Hermion (in "Crete), "Megara, Celeae, "Lerna, Aegila, "Munychia, "Corinth, "Delos, "Priene, "Akragas, "Iasos, "Pergamon, "Selinus, "Tegea, "Thoricus, Dion (in Macedonia) "Lykosoura, "Mesembria, "Enna (Sicily), and "Samothrace.
Demeter of Mysia had a seven-day festival at Pellené in "Arcadia. Pausanias passed the shrine to Demeter at Mysia on the road from "Mycenae to "Argos but all he could draw out to explain the archaic name was a myth of an eponymous "Mysius who venerated Demeter.["citation needed]
|Demeter's family tree |
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