Demeter (Ceres)
Modern Word: Cereal
This can be derived from the Roman goddess Ceres, goddess of agriculture/wheat/grain, which is the equivalent of the Greek goddess Demeter.

Pictures of Demeter

In Greek mythology, Demeter is the goddess of agriculture and fertility. She is usually depicted with a scepter (tool used in farming, or a symbol of power) in one hand, grain or fruit in the other, and often with a wreath of corn encircling her head. The torch is also a common symbol related to Demeter.

There is a mythological story that connects Demeter to farming, the fertility of the Earth, and the changing of the seasons, in which all relate to the kidnapping of Persephone - daughter of Demeter and Zeus. Persephone was kidnapped by Hades, ruler of the underworld, presumably with the help of Zeus. When Persephone’s mother Demeter learns of this, she roams Earth in search of Persephone by torchlight, at which time the fields are made barren. Zeus realizes that something must be done, and demands the return of Persephone. However, before Persephone leaves, Hades gives her pomegranate to eat, which ties her to the underworld forever. Persephone is reunited with her mother, and at this point in time Demeter allows everything to start growing once again (hence the seasons of spring and summer). Unfortunately, because of the eating of the pomegranate, Persephone must return to the underworld in autumn each year for four months. Consequently, in the season of winter, growth stops when Persephone leaves in autumn, and growth begins only upon her return from the underworld, when she is reunited with her mother.


Roman mythology holds an almost identical story of Demeter and Persephone. Ceres (Demeter) is the goddess of agriculture and the wife of Jupiter, who have a daughter Proserpina. Proserpina is kidnapped by Pluto, ruler of the underworld. Ceres roams Earth disguised as an old woman, and causes famine by not allowing the crops to grow. Persephone is ordered back by Jupiter, but not before she eats the pomegranate offered to her by Pluto. Persephone must return to the underworld for four months out of the year, and spends the rest of the time with Ceres.
There is a festival in honor of Ceres called Cerealia. Games and competitions are held, and the celebration is concluded with a torch ceremony. The torch in this version is said to come from foxes let loose with torches attached to their tails, or from women running with torches during the competitions of the festivities.

More Information:
Demeter in Eleusis

This video should look familiar, because we watched many of the summaries of the Greek gods and goddesses from the Troy DVD in class. This is a short video describing Demeter as the Greek goddess of agriculture and fertility, as well as the one responsible for the changing of the seasons.

This video clip illustrates the story of Demeter and Persephone through dance and narrative. The clip is almost ten minutes long, but it may be hard to hold one’s attention for even the first few minutes. However, the video does a good job of incorporating key elements of the mythology of Demeter and her daughter Persephone by means of an interpretive narration. In the beginning we hear about Demeter assisting the rural farmers (the gift of wheat and ability to plant seeds, cultivate, and harvest), Persephone walks and causes flowers to grow wherever she has stepped, and Demeter roams the Earth in search of her daughter. If we continue on to the end, important concepts of the mythological story can be observed, such as the underworld, the symbol of the torch and pomegranate, barren fields from a sorrow stricken Demeter, and the changing of the seasons according to Persephone’s absence or return.