Demeter: The Greek Goddess That Brought Us Winter

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Greek mythology is filled with attention-grabbing, sometimes peculiar and scary, stories about Gods who affected mankind’s everyday lives.

Here are 15 fascinating facts about one of the most influential Greek goddesses, Demeter.

Fact 1: Demeter is the Greek goddess of earth, agriculture, fertility and nature. She was the one who taught mankind how to sow and plow and was particularly popular among the rural population.

Fact 2: Demeter is the daughter of Cronus, the youngest of the twelve Titans, and Rhea. She is the sister of Poseidon, Hades, Histia and Hera, as well as Zeus, the supreme ruler of Mount Olympus, with whom she had a daughter, Persephone.

Fact 3: Demeters name can be broken up into two words, De meaning earth and meter meaning mother.

Fact 4: Demeter is one of the twelve Olympian Immortals.

Fact 5: According to Greek mythology, Cronus was given a prophecy by Gaia (Earth) and Ouranos (Heavens) that one of his children would take his throne. In an attempt to defy destiny, Cronus swallowed his children, including Demeter, however, her mother Rhea was able to save the youngest, Zeus. Rhea hid Zeus and once he grew to maturity he sought to avenge his brothers and sisters. Zeus ambushed his father and his advance was so violent that Cronus vomited forth his children, including Demeter. This is how the war of the Titans began.

Fact 6: Demeter protects marriage.

Fact 7: Demeter’s daughter, Persephone was a beautiful woman, admired by many. Hades, the lord of the dead, wanted Persephone for himself. As she was picking flowers, Hades rose from the earth and abducted her. Demeter was heartbroken and roamed the earth looking for her daughter, during this period the earth ceased to be fertile. Zeus, who had known of the abduction, sent Hermes to find Persephone. Before she escaped the underworld, Hades gave her a pomegranate and when she ate it, she became bound to him and his dark surroundings. As a result, Persephone had to spend one-third of each year in the underworld.

Fact 8: During the months that Persephone was in the underworld, Demeter refused to let anything grow and so winter came to be, the bareness of the land reflecting her sadness.

Fact 9: Iconography depicts Demeter as a beautiful woman, dressed in flowing garments; she is a motherly figure and bears a ribbon or a garland of ears of corn on her head. Demeter is often depicted bearing a torch, which reminds us of her search for her daughter.

Fact 10: Thesmophoria was a festival celebrated by women and held in honor of Demeter in Greece.

Fact 11: Homer described Demeter in the Iliad as „golden-haired“.

Fact 12: While searching for her daughter, Demeter became the nurse of the son of Celeus, Demophon, and king of Eleusis. In an act of kindness she tried to immortalize him by burning out his mortal parts, but his mother forced her to stop after believing that Demeter was doing harm to her son. Demophon was thus left susceptible to death.

Fact 13: The most important sanctuary to Demeter was located in Eleusis in Attica, found between Athens and Megara. A religious festival known as the Greater Eleusinian Mysteries was held in this city. The festival lasted for nine days and included a set of mystical rites.

Fact 14: Demeter was given the title Thesmophoros, meaning the giver of customs or legislator.

Fact 15: In Rome, Demeter and her daughter were known as Ceres and Proserpine.

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