A Month of Devotional Thought — Demeter, Day 7

Today’s topic in the month is Demeter’s more common epithets. These typically refer to her in one of three ways. These are: Demeter as goddess of agriculture and growing things, Demeter as a Ruler, and Demeter as a beautiful goddess.

As a Goddess of agriculture and growing things, Demeter is referred to as Horaphorus (Ὡρηφορος) — Bringer of Seasons (lit. bringer of times). She is also referred to as Polyphorbus (Πολυφορβος) — meaning All-nourishing, or Bountiful — which I take to refer to her role as giver of the crops. Her titles of Aglaocarpus (Αγλαοκαρπος) and Aglaodorus (Αγλαοδωρος) meaning Giver of Goodly Fruit and Bestower of Splendid Gifts respectively. These titles could equally be applied to Demeter as ruler in that rulers were in ancient times expected to give gifts as marks of favor.

As a ruler, Demeter is called Potnia (Ποτνια) and Anassa (Ανασσα), both of which can be translated as Queen. She is titled Callistephanus (Καλλιστεφανος) — or Beautifully Crowned — and Eustephanus (Ευστεφανος) — or Lovely Crowned — both of which include the word “stephanus” (στεφανος) which is still used in Modern Greek to mean crown. Cyanopeplus (Κυανοπεπλος) — meaning Dark Veiled/Cloaked — is a reference to how “respectable” women of the time were expected to be veiled and could also refer to her as being a ruler of the Great Mysteries of Eleusis. The last epithet that I consider to be in this category is Chrysaorus (Χρυσαορος) — of the Golden Sword — can be included because typically rulers were expected to go to battle with their armies and, as a goddess, a golden one would not be forced to be merely a symbol of rank.

The third group includes Eucomus (Ευκομος) meaning Lovely Haired, Xanthe (Ξανθη) meaning Blonde or Golden-Haired, and Callisphyrus (Καλλισφυρος) meaning Trim-Ankled. These are ones that I am least likely to use myself, but these are still some that people used in ancient times.


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