Known as CERES to the Romans, she taught nomadic mankind how to plow the fields and settle down, thus making civilization possible. Very popular with the rural folk.
The daughter of CRONUS and RHEA, she was rather beautiful and the object of many Gods’ affections. But she had a liaison with a mortal prince called Iasion by whom she had two children; PLUTUS, who went on to do well from a financial point of view, and PHILOMENUS who either went on the wagon or invented it.
ZEUS, who’d admired DEMETER from afar, was not happy. When DEMETER sloped off at a Godly Wedding to begin the fling thing, he flung a furious thunderbolt where Iasion happened to be standing. But before ZEUS could take advantage, the equally horny POSEIDON leapt in.
To escape, DEMETER changed into a mare and hid in the herd of King Oncus. But POSEIDON changed into a stallion and she didn’t resist. The result was ARION, a little horse who could speak and had feet. There was also a daughter named DESPOENA, who became something of an Eleusinian mystery.
Jealous ZEUS could stand it no longer and managed to pin DEMETER down for a liaison of his own. A daughter was duly born, the beautiful PERSEPHONE. Now it was the turn of HADES to be jealous. One day while PERSEPHONE was playing, the Earth swallowed her up.
When DEMETER found her daughter missing she became demented. Tearing her hair, she ran round in the dark with flaming torches, but could shed no light on what had happened. Then HELIOS, the Sun God and right old nosy parker, had a quick word in DEMETER’s ear. He’d seen everything and told her that PERSEPHONE was now the consort of HADES in the Underworld.
Weeping and wailing, DEMETER wandered far and wide. She refused to send as much as a postcard to the Gods and in her absence crops became crestfallen, wheat withered and livestock limped to a breeding halt. The Gods gnawed their fingers and beseeched her to return. But she refused to capitulate unless she could see her daughter.
One day she stopped for a breather on the palace steps of kindly King Celeus of Eleusis, who, not realizing who she was, employed the poor miserable creature as a nurse and didn’t ask for references.
DEMETER tended to Demophon, the son of King Celeus and Metaneira, who were amazed at how bonny the child became — and were even more amazed when they found DEMETER about to wrap him in flames.
She tried to explain this was only to make the child immortal — but they were not convinced until she turned on a bit of radiance and revealed her Godliness. Thereupon she was held in great esteem and installed in her own temple at Eleusis. Here she started her very own Secret Society and Mystery Club. It’s no good asking about it. Nobody knows. Not even HELIOS managed to peep through the keyhole.
She taught TRIPTOLEMUS, the eldest son of Celeus, to plow and sow and harvest, and gave him air miles vouchers for dragon-powered chariots to spread the news.
Meanwhile, the starving ZEUS sent HERMES to the Underworld for negotiations with HADES and PERSEPHONE. A mother and daughter meeting was agreed, but HADES had a trick in hand. Because PERSEPHONE had eaten the mystic Underworld pomegranates, she was tied to the realm of death. But a deal was struck and she was allowed out for half the year.
DEMETER was so pleased to see her that flowers bloomed and summer was born. But when PERSEPHONE was summoned back to HADES six months later, DEMETER became very depressed. Leaves fell off the trees and along came the first winter. And it’s been that way each year ever since.