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The Cottage July/Lammas 2001 Issue

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Demeter Goddess of the Harvest

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Name | Demeter

Role | goddess of agriculture and fertility

Symbols | torch

She is mother nature; goddess of the harvest, fertility, and she is specificially associated with wheat. She has a gentle character, but once her ire brought about a disaster. Hades fell in love with Demeter's daughter, Persephone, and went to Zeus for permission to marry her. Zeus would not offend his brother with an outright refusal, but knowing that Demeter would not wish her daughter committed to Tartarus, he answered that he neither gave nor withheld his consent. This was enough for Hades. As Persephone was picking flowers newar Eleusis, the earth opened, and Hades in his chariot drawn by black hors es carried the shrieking girl down to Tartarus. Demeter searched in vain for her daughter, until Triptolemus, who had seen the abduction, told his story. Demeter was so angry, that instead of returning to Olympus, she wandered about the earth forbidding any plants to yield fruit, until the race of humans approached extinction.

Zeus sent Hermes with a message to Hades, "Return Persephone, or we are all undone!" and another message to Demeter, "You may have your daughter back, if she has not tasted the food of the dead." Persephone had not eaten anything since the abduction. Hades hid his anger at the message and told her, "You seem unhappy here, and your mother cries for you. So, I have decided to send you home."

Just as she was setting off for Eleusis in Hermes' chariot, one of Hades' gardeners said he had seen Persephone pick a pomegranate and eat seven seeds. Hades grinned, for he knew she had tasted the food of the dead and must eventually return to Tartarus .

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At Eleusis Demeter joyfully greeted her daughter; but on hearing of the pomegranate, she declared that she would never return to Olympus, nor remove the curse from the land. But Zeus finally settled the dispute by ruling that Persephone spend three months of each year with Hades, as Queen of Tartarus, and the remaining nine with Demeter.

Demeter then partially lifted the curse; hence we have three months of winter. So that mankind would not starve during the winter she supplied Triptolemus with seed corn, a plough, and a chariot drawn by snakes; and sent him all over the world to teach t he art of agriculture. Triptolemus became King of Eleusis.

From The Olympians by James W. Jackson, 1995

http://jcccnet.johnco.cc.ks.us/~jjackson/deme.html