Ans. She was the daughter of Saturn and Ops, and was worshipped as the goddess of fruits and corn. It is supposed that she first invented and taught the art of tilling the earth, and sowing wheat and other grains, so that men ate wholesome bread, where before they had lived on roots and acorns.
Ques. How is Ceres represented?
Ans. As a beautiful and majestic woman, with golden hair, and crowned with ears of wheat; in her right hand she holds poppies and ears of corn, and in her left, a flaming torch.
Ques. Explain these emblems.
Ans. The hair of Ceres is golden, to represent the color of ripe corn; she holds a lighted torch, because when her daughter Proser´pine was stolen by Pluto, Ceres kindled a torch from the flames of Mount Etna, to light her on her search throughout the world. She holds a poppy, because when she was so grieved that she could neither rest nor sleep, Jupiter gave her a poppy to eat.
Ques. Relate the story of Proser´pine (Perse´phone).
Ans. None of the goddesses were willing to marry Pluto, or share his gloomy kingdom. He determined, nevertheless, to obtain a wife, even if he had to do so by violence. Proser´pine, the daughter of Jupiter and Ceres, was gathering daffodils with her companions in the plains of Enna, when Pluto suddenly appeared among them in a chariot drawn by black horses. As the maidens fled in terror, he seized Proser´pine, and striking the waters of the fountain Cy´ane with his trident, he opened a passage, through which he descended with his prize. Ceres, ignorant of what had occurred, wandered through the world in search of her daughter. At length, arriving at the fountain of Cy´ane, she perceived the girdle of Proser´pine still floating on its waters; and the nymph Arethusa informed her of what had taken place. Ceres repaired immediately to Olympus, where she made her complaint to Jupiter, and demanded that Pluto should restore her daughter. Jupiter promised to grant her request, in case Proser´pine should not have tasted food in the infernal regions. Ceres descended thither, and Proser´pine prepared joyfully to accompany her mother, when Ascal´aphus reported that he had seen her eat some seeds of pomegranate. The hopes of Ceres were thus destroyed, but Proser´pine was so indignant at the treachery of Ascal´aphus, that she changed him immediately into an owl. Jupiter endeavored to appease the resentment of Ceres by permitting Proser´pine to divide the year, spending six months with her mother on earth, the other six with Pluto in the infernal regions.
Ques. What were the most famous solemnities instituted in honor of Ceres?
Ans. The Eleusian or Eleusinian Mysteries. They were named from Eleusis, a town in Greece where they were celebrated.
Ques. What rites were practiced during these mysteries?
Ans. We cannot tell with any certainty. The penalty of death was decreed against any one who should betray the secret, or even witness the ceremonies without having been regularly initiated. Disclosures were made, however, which seem to prove that the person to be initiated was first introduced into a dark subterranean cave, where he was terrified with the most fearful sights and sounds. After this, if his courage did not fail, he was suddenly introduced into a lovely garden, and the ceremonies concluded with feasting and dancing.
Ques. Who were admitted to these rites?
Ans. Athenians only; but Hercules, to whom no one dared refuse anything, was initiated, and after him, other distinguished foreigners were admitted to what were called the Lesser Mysteries. The Athenians were eager to be admitted to these rites, because they believed that the souls of those who had not been initiated were left to wallow in mud and filth in the lower regions.
Ques. What do the early Christian writers say of these mysteries?
Ans. They speak of them as being almost as immoral as the festivals held in honor of Bacchus.
Ques. Who is said to have instituted them?
Ans. Triptol´emus, the foster-child of Ceres.
Ques. Relate the story of Triptol´emus.
Ans. When Ceres was seeking Proser´pine by sea and land, she was kindly entertained by Celeus, king of Eleusis, in Attica. She rewarded his hospitality by taking care of his young son, whom she nourished during the day with celestial food; but in the night, she covered him with fire. Under this extraordinary treatment, the infant, in a few days, became a beautiful young man. His mother, Meganira, wondered at this, and resolved to discover the cause. She watched Ceres at night, and when she saw her covering Triptol´emus with living coals, she cried out in terror, and rushed into the room to save him. Ceres punished her curiosity with death, but she adopted Triptol´emus, and sent him through the world to teach mankind the use of corn. He executed the commands of Ceres, and wherever he went, instructed men in sowing, reaping, and other arts of husbandry. Triptol´emus is usually represented as a young man, seated in a splendid chariot drawn by flying serpents.
Ques. What sacrifices were offered to Ceres?
Ans. Young heifers, swine and ears of corn, wine, milk and honey were used in the libations.
Ques. What were the Ambarvalia?
Ans. They were feasts kept in the beginning of harvest, preparatory to reaping. The animal to be offered in sacrifice, was led around the fields, the husbandmen and country rustics following with shouts and songs. Virgil says of these festivities:
Compiled From Sources In The Public Domain.
Smiles & Good Fortune,
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915