Tuesday, 23 September 2008

MYTHOLOGY: Ceres, Goddess of Agriculture (Demeter)


The protector of all the fruits of the earth was known as Demeter in Greek mythology, and known to the Romans as Ceres.
The early Greeks were much struck by the changing of the seasons. Fruitful summer seasons would turn into desolate grey and bleak winter seasons and questions were asked as to what caused this transition from bountiful times to times of need.
They found their answer in the stories of the goddess of Agriculture, Ceres or Demeter.
She was the sister of Zeus (Jupiter), king of the gods, and was one of their greatest deities.
At first, according to these stories, there was no winter. The earth was always green and lush with an abundance of produce. It was everlasting summer.
Then one day while Ceres’ daughter was out at play with her playmates collecting flowers, the earth opened up and Pluto, the god of the dead, appeared and carried her off into the depths of the earth to be his wife.
Ceres was inconsolable; with torch in hand she searched the whole earth for her missing daughter. During her search she did not allow the earth to produce any of her fruits until such time as her daughter had been found.
For a year the earth did not produce a grain of wheat, and mankind was facing starvation. At this point Zeus intervened and persuaded Pluto to let Ceres’ daughter free. There was one condition, and that was that Persephone, Ceres’ daughter must not have had anything to eat during her stay in the underworld. She had however eaten a pomegranate seed, and therefore could not stay away forever.
An arrangement was made that she would spend 9 summer months of the year with her mother and the gods, and the remaining 3 winter months of the year would be spent with Pluto in the world of the dead.
Her 3-month stay in the world of the dead related to the winter months when seeds are dormant. When she returns to her mother she is the corn rising from the earth.
The word cereal originated from her Roman name
Source: Book of Knowledge
Update 17 November 2008
Ceres was absent so long that Zeus sent Iris ) Messenger of the gods to look for her and to instruct her to return.
" First Zeus sent golden-winged Iris to call rich-haired Demeter, lovely in form(to return to the gods on Olympos). So he commanded."
" ..and there finding dark-cloaked Demeter in her temple spake to her and uttered winged words: 'Demeter, father Zeus, whose wisdom is everlasting, calls you to come join the tribes of the eternal gods: come therefore, and let not the message I bring from Zeus pass unobeyed"
HOMERIC HYMN 2

1 comment:

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