Pop quiz: Name the goddess most associated with the harvest, worshipped for her beauty, and infamous for being the most overbearing mother of all time. Of course, only one name comes to mind. Wait, you’re saying two came to mind? Okay. Let’s settle this once and for all.
Started at the Bottom
Like several of the major Greek gods, Demeter was born to the Titan Kronos, which means she spent most of her childhood trying to avoid being digested in his stomach. Ceres had a much more carefree upbringing, since Kronos’ Roman counterpart, Saturn, made it a point to devour only his male children. Sure, Ceres got a better deal, but it still feels kinda sexist.
Room for Growth
As they matured, both Ceres and Demeter spent time on earth, introducing the concept of agriculture to mortals. Ceres is also credited with the creation of modern art and culture. Pretty substantial accomplishments, we think, especially compared to those of their siblings. Poseidon was probably just hanging out on a beach somewhere, drinking margaritas and telling people to stay out of his ocean.
It’s Not Easy Being Beautiful
And especially not when Zeus/Jupiter get involved. As with most of his romantic pursuits, Zeus won Demeter over by taking the form of animal. In this case, a serpent. Against all odds, it worked, and the two eventually had a daughter, Persephone (also known as Proserpine). That’s when the trouble really started.
Reason for the Seasons
When Demeter’s/Ceres’s favorite daughter was held captive in the Underworld by a lovesick Hades/Pluto, the goddess of the harvest unleashed her despair on the earth. This gave us dark, chilly autumns and bitterly cold winters. Both the Greeks and Romans have legends about their goddess going on a quest to retrieve Persephone/Proserpine, but only Ceres got to ride in on a chariot pulled by dragons.
Not-So-Jolly Green Giant
Demeter and Ceres are the subject of numerous stories that depict the goddesses’ immense power. Like that time Demeter grew to over 100-feet tall to defend her sacred grove from lumberjacks. That was the last time anyone mistook her for just another harmless hippie farmer.
Demeter and Ceres are as unexpected and temperamental as the seasons themselves. But without them, we might not have the most important meal of the day. Where do you think the word “cereal” came from? Demeter may appear in more myths, but only Ceres is part of a well-balanced breakfast. Another point to the Romans.