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Demeter is the goddess of the harvest, and she is often represented by sheaves of wheat.

Demeter was the goddess of the fields and the harvest, and was the goddess the Greek people appealed to in times of famine or poor crop yields. She was once pursued by Poseidon, and he created horses to impress her. Together, they had two children: Arion and Despoena. Demeter was later pursued by Zeus, and together they had Persephone.

Persephone was the joy of Demeter’s life, and the two are often depicted together in ancient Greek art and poetry. When Persephone was kidnapped by Hades and brought to the Underworld, Demeter caused the fields and earth to dry up and stop growing until Zeus agreed to help her get her daughter back. Zeus finally agreed, with the stipulation that if Persephone has eaten anything in the Underworld, she will have to stay there. Demeter insisted that Persephone would be too sad to have eaten anything, and indeed that was the case—right up until just before Hermes arrived to bring her home. Persephone ate six pomegranate seeds, which leads Zeus to decree that she will have to return to the Underworld for six months every year.

Demeter was so devastated that she declared that nothing on the earth will grow for the six months that Persephone is gone each year; this created the seasons of fall and winter, until the seasons of spring and summer which celebrate Persephone’s return to earth.

Demeter Quick Reference

Parents

Cronos and Rhea


Power / Domain

The harvest


Symbols

Sheaves of wheat


Notable Myths

  • Abduction of Persephone
  • Triptolemos
  • Birth of Arion

Be sure to look at our lesson plans on the 12 Olympian Gods!

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