The Gods of Greek and Roman Mythology - Demeter (Ceres)

Role in the Mythos: Goddess of the Harvest


  • Goddess of the Earth and Fertility
  • Goddess of Sacred Law
  • Patron of Agriculture
  • Giver of Mysteries
  • Mother Earth

Notable Relations: 

  • Parents: Cronus and Rhea
  • Spouse: None
  • Divine Children: Persephone, Despoina, Arion


  • Cornucopia
  • Wheat, barley, and poppy
  • Torch
  • Winged Serpents


  • Caring, Kind, peaceful, patient
  • Golden hair, attractive, radiant

Myths to Know:

The Taking of Persephone

Demeter gives birth to Persephone, one of Zeus’s daughters. The two of them serve as goddesses of fertility and harvest together. However, Hades approaches Zeus with a request to marry one of Zeus’s daughters. Zeus decides to give him Persephone. Since Zeus knows that Demeter will never agree with this arrangement, he and Hades create a plan to steal Persephone away. One day when she is out gathering flowers, she sees one more beautiful than any other. This purple flower, a narcissus, has been placed by Zeus to draw Persephone closer. She leaves her friends to pick the flower, but as she reaches for it, the earth opens around her, and Hades appears in a glittering carriage. He takes her below the earth to the underworld where she will be his bride. Demeter is furious to learn that her daughter has been taken from her. In her grief, she resolves to wander the earth, seeking Persephone and refusing to perform her duties as goddess of the earth. Her willful neglect casts the earth into eternal winter. Eventually, from the cries of humanity, Zeus forces Hades to return Persephone to Demeter and the land of the living, sending Hermes to collect her. Before giving her to Hermes, Hades tricks Persephone into eating pomegranate seeds, and since she has eaten the food of the underworld, she can never fully return to the earth. She has to spend a third of every year in the underworld. During these months, Demeter curses the world with winter. 

The Punishment of Erysichthon

Sometimes called Aethon, Erysichthon is a King of Thessaly. One day, he orders all the trees in one of Demeter’s sacred groves to be cut down. However, his men refuse to cut down one very large oak tree, which covered with wreaths that symbolize the prayers Demeter has granted. Furious at their refusal, Erysichthon takes an axe and cuts down the tree himself, killing a nymph in the act. With her dying words, the nymph places a curse on Erysichthon. Demeter hears the curse and punishes Erysichthon by calling upon Limos, a spirit of insatiable hunger, to enter Erysichthon’s stomach and cause him to voraciously consume more and more food. Because of the spirit, Erysichthon’s hunger only grows the more and more he eats. He sells his possessions to buy more food, but nothing sates his hunger. Eventually, he sells his daughter Mestra into slavery, but she is freed by Poseidon, who gifts her with the ability to shapeshift. Erysichthon uses her new abilities to sell her over and over again in order to get food for himself, but eventually, no amount of food is enough. Erysichthon consumes himself.