Greek mythology is the source for many great works of literature, art and theater. It has inspired people working in the fields of psychology, sociology and anthropology. As in many ancient religious systems, the gods of Greek mythology were both male and female. Greek goddesses often celebrated the feminine divine in nature, as did Demeter, Persephone, Aphrodite and Gaia.
Demeter and Persephone
Demeter is the goddess of fertility and agriculture and the mother of corn, which she invented on the island of Sicily. While Demeter bestows fertility upon the Earth, she also can also withhold it, as she did after Hades kidnapped her daughter Persephone and spirited her away to the Underworld. Demeter searched the world for nine days, carrying a torch and refusing to eat, drink or bathe until she found her child. She learned her husband, Zeus, had given their daughter to his brother Hades without telling her, so she left the company of the gods on Olympus and walked the Earth, where she worked as a nursemaid for Metanira, the wife of King Celeus, caring for their son, Demophon. The gods tried to persuade her to return home, but she refused and declared that famine would remain upon the Earth until she got Persephone back. While Hades eventually released Persephone, he tricked her into eating a pomegranate before she left. Demeter knew this meant her daughter would have to return to the Underworld, but since she had only eaten part of the fruit, she would only have to stay there for one-third of the year. Demeter allowed the Earth to become fruitful again, but during the time when Persephone had to return to the Underworld each year, the crops would not grow.
Persephone, also known as the Maiden and the Goddess of Twofold Name, had been gathering flowers with her friends when she was abducted by her uncle. Hades took her to the Underworld, where instead of colorful flowers, she had groves of black poplar and willow trees. So Persephone unwillingly became the Queen of the Underworld, or "the fair young goddess of the netherworld," according to Greek Mythology Link.
Aphrodite is the goddess of love and sexual passion. She had a number of lovers, some gods and some men, including Hephaestus, Ares, Dionysus, Hermes, Phaethon, Anchises, Butes and Adonis. From these unions she gave birth to many children. Aphrodite often intervened in human affairs, especially when love was involved. She helped Melanion win the hand of Atalanta, the virgin huntress. But she also caused calamities to fall upon those who refused to worship her, such as the Lemnian women. As a punishment for their snub, Aphrodite made their husbands fall in love with the Thracian women and leave the Lemnians on their own.
In Greek mythology, Gaia is the Earth. She bore Uranus, the sky and heavens, and he became her mate. Together they had formed the Titans, the Cyclopes, and the Hecatoncheires, but Uranus hated his children and cast them into the Underworld, which was inside Gaia. Gaia convinced the Titans to attack their father, which they did, and overtook him. Later she had a falling out with the gods and gave birth to giants who attacked the heavens.
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