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Demeter, Goddess

  • By: Gillian M.E. Alban
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Demeter was the Greek goddess of fertility, vegetation, and harvest, symbolized together with the life symbols of snakes and wheat (note: her Latin name Ceres is the root for the word “cereal”). She was particularly well known as the archetypal loving mother of her daughter, Persephone or Kore, meaning maiden, as recounted in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter II.

Demeter had many powers beyond being the goddess of the harvest: she also controlled the seasons, which meant that she could control all life on Earth. Demeter had a daughter named Persephone, who was abducted while picking flowers by Hades, the god of the underworld. A chasm in the Earth opened, and Hades emerged to abduct her down into the underworld by force. Demeter searched endlessly for ...

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