The Goddess Demeter: Mythology, Overview

Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson we explore the ancient Greek goddess, Demeter. She was the goddess of agriculture and grain, and homage to Demeter was extremely important in Greece's agricultural communities.

Society's Building Blocks

If you live in a big city, chances are you have no real idea where your food comes from. Sure, the broccoli has a sticker that says 'Product of U.S.A.' and the tomatoes claim they are from Mexico, but you got those vegetables from the supermarket, not a field. Your ability to walk down to the local supermarket and have the world's vast array of agricultural production at your fingertips is what our modern cities depend on.

Whereas we give credit to the hard work of our farming communities and the scientific advances behind high crop yields for making our modern societies possible, the ancient Greeks looked to the gods to give thanks for the massive agricultural production which allowed their budding city-states to flourish. The god which Greeks attributed their farming abilities to was Demeter, the Olympian god of agriculture, grain, and bread.

Who Was Demeter?


Demeter was the daughter of Cronus and Rhea. She and her siblings (Poseidon, Hades, Hera, and Hestia) were all swallowed whole by their father except for the youngest, Zeus. Eventually, Zeus freed his siblings, defeated Cronus, and began ruling the world of the gods and mortals with his siblings from Mt. Olympus.

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