Study Guide

Demeter (Ceres)

  • Profile

    Demeter (Ceres) is the goddess of agriculture, grain, and the harvest. Not to be dramatic, but we basically have her to thank for our survival on planet Earth. She taught the art of agriculture to Triptolemus, who then spread this knowledge to the rest of mankind. Since agriculture is kind of necessary for existence, we owe her big time. The most famous myth involving Demeter describes the abduction of her daughter, Persephone, by Hades, the Lord of the Dead. (Don't worry, Shmoop's got you covered for the full scoop on that story). From this myth, we actually get an explanation for the changing of the seasons. So if you live somewhere snowy, you have Demeter to thank... or to blame... your call.

    Basic Information

    Name

    Demeter

    Nickname

    Ceres, Mother Corn, Mama D, Aganippe

    Sex

    Female

    Current city

    Mount Olympus

    Work & Education

    Occupation

    Goddess of Agriculture, Grain, and the Harvest

    Education

    I'm the teacher, not the student. You're welcome, Triptolemus. And mankind.

    Beliefs

    Political views

    The Green Party

    Family & Friends (& Enemies)

    Parents

    Cronus (father), Rhea (mother)

    Children

    With Zeus: My lovely Persephone
    With Poseidon: Despoena, Arion
    With Iasion: Corybas, Philomenus, Plutus

    Friends

    Triptolemus
    Hecate
    Helios
    Demophon
    Phytalos
    Iambe

    Enemies

    Hades (the world's worst son-in-law)
    Erysichthon
    Ascalaphus
    Ascalabus (different guy, both turned into animals by yours truly)
    Minthe

    Relationships

    Relationship status

    Single
    Encounters with Zeus, Poseidon, Iasion

    Interested in

    I've had enough romance. Now my focus is on my daughter.

    Favorites

    Quotations

    "Measure the corn of others by your own bushel."
    – Yiddish Proverb

    "The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread."
    – Mother Teresa

    "There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children."
    – Nelson Mandela

    "Now is the winter of our discontent."
    – William Shakespeare

    "When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child."
    – Sophia Loren

    "Plough deep while sluggards sleep, and you shall have corn to sell and keep."
    – Benjamin Franklin

    "To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven."
    – Ecclesiastes 3:1

    "There are people in the world so hungry that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread."
    – Mahatma Gandhi

    Books

    Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan
    The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
    The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
    Walden by Henry David Thoreau
    in Just- by e. e. cummings
    Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? by Joyce Carol Oates
    The Old Farmer's Almanac
    Demeter and Persephone by Lord Alfred Tennyson
    Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

    Music

    Fields of Gold by Eva Cassidy (originally by Sting, but Eva is just glorious)
    Cornflake Girl by Tori Amos
    Daughters by John Mayer
    Sprout and the Bean by Joanna Newsom
    Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes
    Thank God I'm a Country Boy by John Denver
    This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie
    Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell
    Mother Earth and Father Time (from the Charlotte's Web animated movie)

    Movies

    Rabbit Hole
    Planet Earth
    Mamma Mia!
    The Straight Story
    Pocahontas
    Field of Dreams
    Babe
    Farmageddon

    Activities & Interests

    Likes

    Cornflakes
    Whole Foods
    John Deere
    Torches
    Tractor pulls
    Corn mazes
    Helios
    Harvest festivals
    Jack o' lanterns

    Dislikes

    Sons-in-law
    The underworld
    Candy corn

    Interests

    Agriculture
    Gardening
    Bread making
    Parenting techniques

    Groups

    Gods and Goddesses of Olympus
    Bread Lovers Association
    Food and Agriculture Association of the UN
    Mothers Who Miss Their Daughters

    • Spotter's Guide

      Oh, you're looking for Demeter? She's the pretty lady over there in the field, with the beautiful robes and the wheat in her hair. Most of the time, she's a really nice goddess – emphasis on most of the time. During the winter, you might spot her in a cranky mood because her daughter, Persephone, has to go stay with Hades in the land of the dead. It kind of stinks that the whole world has to be plunged into winter because Demeter is bummed out, but hey, that's the way it goes. Either way, you might want to stick to looking for her in the spring.

      Physical Description

      Sex: Female
      Age: Middle aged
      Build: Slim
      Complexion: Pale
      Hair Color: Blonde or brown
      Facial Hair: None
      Scars/Marks/Tattoos: None
      Jewelry and Accessories: Corn or wheat garlands on her head, a torch in hand
      Clothing: Robes
      Armor: Nope
      Type of Weapon: The power of nature

      Typical Companions

      • Persephone
      • Triptolemos
      • Her followers

      Known Hangouts

      • Fields
      • The Midwest
      • Tuscany
      • PTA meetings
    • Sightings

      Dec 20, 2019

      The Metamorphoses

      In Book 5, Ovid puts a Roman spin on the Greek myth of Persephone's abduction. Demeter's a main player, of course. You know the story already, but don't get confused by the names. Greeks and Romans did it a little differently, but the story's the same.

      Dec 20, 2019 - Dec 20, 2019

      The Tempest

      The character of Ceres shows up looking for her lost daughter in a play within a play in Shakespeare's The Tempest. Leave it to Shakespeare to get all meta.

      Dec 20, 1889

      "Demeter and Persephone"

      This poem by Lord Alfred Tennyson makes us forget that Demeter and Persephone are goddesses. We feel their pain like we would for any human. Now that's poetry.

      Dec 20, 1968

      Avengers #50 - Marvel Comics

      The goddess of grain shows up to lend a hand to Marvel's ultimate team of superheroes. There's nothing a good farming technique can't handle.

      Dec 20, 1999

      "Demeter"

      Carol Ann Duffy's short poem gives the story of Demeter and Persephone a more positive spin than we're used to. She puts aside the nastiness of separation and recounts the moment in which Demeter sees her daughter returning from the Underworld; as you can imagine, the goddess of agriculture is happy as can be.

      Dec 20, 2019 - Dec 20, 2019

      Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series

      Demeter is mentioned in places throughout this series by Rick Riordan, but she only puts in an appearance in two books: The Titan's Curse and The Last Olympian.

      Dec 20, 2019

      Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

      The goddess of agriculture makes a cameo in the Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief movie (keep an eye out for her when Percy gives the Master Bolt to Zeus).