Being a main Olympian deity, Demeter was the goddess of agriculture, vegetation, land and fertility in the Greek Mythology. Bearing the fruits of earth and protecting marriage and maternity, Demeter taught men hot to sow and plough and therefore she is also considered the goddess of organized society.
Demeter was daughter of Cronos and Rea, and sister of Zeus, Hera, Hades and Poseidon. Immediately after they were born, Cronos swallowed Demeter and all her siblings apart from Zeus, who later rescued all of them with the help of Rhea. Later, Zeus led his siblings to a war against Cronos and the other Titans.
As a character, Demeter was distant and humble and she disliked love and romance. The first god, who fell in love with her, was her brother Zeus. Zeus was transformed into bull in order to make love with her. Later on, feeling regrets for his action, Zeus castrated a goat and put his genitals in Demeter’s arms as an expression of repentance. Demeter accepted his apology and several months afterwards she gave birth to her only daughter Persephone. Poseidon also expressed sexual interest for his sister. In order to avoid his siege, Demeter transformed herself into young female horse and hided among the royal flocks of Oknios, son of Apollo, the god of the sun and light. As soon as Poseidon realized it he transformed himself into a horse and he finally managed to have intercourse with Demeter. The fruit of this intercourse was a daughter, Despina, whose name should not be pronounced and a horse with feathers and black mane, Arion. Demeter’s wrath for her rape from Poseidon gave her the name Erinya, which in Ancient Greek means “remorse”. In order to appease her, Poseidon sent the Nymphs to wash her hair in the river Ladonas, thus being renamed to Lucia.
Demeter and her daughter Persephone were the central characters of the Eleusinian mysteries and most likely they were deities that were worshiped before pantheon. In many cases the two deities are confused for one or considered on deity with two faces.
The abduction of Persephone from her uncle Hades made Demeter extremely sad. She abandoned Olympus and she began to wander silent, dressed in black clothes among people looking for Persephone. Her youth and beauty were quickly replaced by grey hair and bereavement. Soon she arrived at Eleusis , where she was found exhausted at Kallichoron by the four daughters of king Keleos. Demeter did not reveal her divine identity and said to them that she had come from Crete having escaped from pirates. The daughters offered her to look after their newborn brother Demofontas, as their parents were old and they could not undertake the upbringing of their newborn. Demeter accepted their offer and all together went to the palace to pay respect to the spouse of Keleos, Metaneira. As soon as they entered the room a strange light was spread, which made Metaneira to offer her throne to the unknown old woman. Demeter denied and she undertook the upbringing of Demofontas. However, Metaneira was upset on seeing Demeter putting ambrosia on the baby and putting him into the fire in order to burn his mortal members. Demeter had to reveal her identity, asked Keleos to build an altar for her at Kallichoron and she isolated herself there mourning for Persephone.
Her sadness and rage for the abduction of Persephone led Demeter to decide not to allow any seed to sprout on the ground. Humanity got infested from famine and therefore Zeus decided that it was time to intervene. He initially sent Iris and then many gods with gifts to convince Demeter to allow the proliferation of the ground and to return to Olympus . Demeter denied unless Persephone was found. Zeus sent Hermes, the messenger god, to Hades ordering him to set Persephone free. Hades agreed, but he first gave Persephone to eat six of pomegranate in order to tie her with the Under World for ever. Persephone returned to Demeter and the goddess allowed the ground to seed. After four months of being confined to Hades, Persephone and Demeter returned to Olympus .
The biggest celebration to honour Demeter was Thesmoforia, from mid-September to mid-October, the season of seeding. They were taken place all over Greece and it was a feast that only married women could participate. As long as Thesmoforia lasted, women had to abstain from carnal enjoyments, they fasted and they were talking obscenely jokes. The feast was completed with Kalligeneia where the women had fun. From the feasts of Thesmoforia the names Thesmoforos (in Greek, “thesmos” means customs and “fero” means “to bring”), and Kalligeneia were attributed to Demeter. The emblems of Demeter were the cranes, corn, narcissus, myrtle and crocus. The bees were considered her priestesses and in the sacrifices men were offering bulls, calves, and honey.