A Month of Devotional Thought – Demeter, Day 6

Today is about the other deities and entities associated with Demeter. Here is where I will be discussing the Titan Gods other than Chronos and Rhea who are closely associated with Demeter as well as heroes and mortals who are involved in the myths about Demeter.

During Demeter’s search for Persephone, it was Hekate and Helios who were the (second generation) Titans who helped her get the news that Haides had taken her daughter as his wife, carrying her off in his chariot in a ritual abduction of the bride. Hekate had not seen Haides taking his bride, but Helios had. These were the only two of the Theoi that helped Demeter as the others either did not see what had happened or knew that Zeus had sanctioned the union and did not wish to offend the King of the Gods.

After, Helios told her that Haides had taken Persephone to the Underworld and Demeter, using the name Doso (sorrow) went to the outskirts of the city-state of Eleusis where the daughters of the king saw her and brought her to their parents. As Demeter appeared to be a mortal noblewoman who had fallen on hard times, the king Celeus and his wife Metaneira, offered her the honor of being the nurse of their young son. Various myths give the son various names, with the two most common being Triptolemus (which I tend to favor) and Demophoon. This son, Demeter resolved to make immortal by anointing him with ambrosia by day and placing in the fire during the night. This caused the son to grow in size and beauty like one of the immortals, causing Meteneira one night to spy on Demeter and take her son out of the goddesses care.

It was at this point that Demeter revealed her divinity to the royal family of Eleusis, and demanded of them that they build a temple in her honor where she would teach them her rites. This was the source of the Eleusinian Mysteries. The hero Triptolemus was taught the arts of agriculture by Demeter and given a serpent-driven chariot to use in order to spread these arts to mortals.

The other mortal in the story that I find significant is the woman Iambe, who as the goddess was perpetually sad, resolved to find ways to cheer her up and would tell her jokes which were often ribald. The Stenia festival commemorates these acts and was one of the few festivals that are recorded as being segregated by gender in the Athenian festival calendar.

 

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