DEMETER (dee-MEE-tur; Roman name Ceres) was the goddess of agriculture. Demeter as the sister of Zeus and the mother of Persephone. Persephone was gathering flowers in a meadow one day when a huge crack opened up in the earth and Hades, King of the Dead, emerged from the Underworld. He seized Persephone and carried her off in his chariot, back down to his his realm below, where she became his queen. Demeter was heartbroken. She wandered the length and breadth of the earth in search of her daughter, during which time the crops withered and it became perpetual winter.
At length Hades was persuaded to surrender Persephone for one half of every year, the spring and summer seasons when flowers bloom and the earth bears fruit once more. The half year that Persephone spends in the Underworld as Hades’ queen coincides with the barren season.
When depicted in art, Demeter is often shown carrying a sheaf of grain.
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