Describe and analyze the goddess of the harvest and agriculture, Demeter.

Quick answer:

Demeter is one of the six immortal children of Kronos and Rhea, though she is not typically listed as one of the twelve Olympians because she spends most of her time on the earth. She is a tragic goddess, the mother of the annually-doomed Persephone, the goddess of spring. When Demeter mourns for her daughter each year, the earth experiences winter and nothing grows.

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Demeter is a daughter of the Titans Kronos and Rhea the sister of Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Hestia, and Hera, though she is not considered one of the twelve Olympians because she spends the majority of her time on the earth as the goddess of harvest and agriculture. She is often associated with the god of wine and the vine, Dionysus, though she is older than he, in part because they are both so strongly linked to the earth and are associated with tragedy.

Demeter is a tragic goddess because she is the mother of Persephone, who was kidnapped by Hades and carried down to the Underworld. For a long time, she did not know where Persephone, the goddess of spring, was, and Demeter allowed the crops to fail and for winter to consume the earth. Finally, Zeus ordered Hades to release Persephone, but Hades offered her something to eat and, because she ate a few pomegranate seeds in the Underworld, she must return each year for several months (and this is why we have winter).

Each year, then, Demeter must watch her daughter "die" as she returns to the darkness and gloom of the Underword, which has a sort of mysterious effect on Perspephone's personality. When Demeter mourns, we have winter. The ancient worship of Demeter is shrouded in mystery, and we actually refer to her festival as the Eleusinian Mysteries: because everything was kept so secret, we don't have really concrete ideas about what took place during her festival, but it was associated with harvest time and, therefore, was likely characterized by joy and abundance.

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