Fertility goddess of the harvest and the corn, sister of Zeus, Demeter was worshipped all over Greece, mainly in agricultural societies.
The most important of her celebrations were the Thesmophoriae, which took place in autumn and was only for women. Demeter and her daughter Persephone were also worshipped at the Eleusinian mysteries and in Rome they were known as Ceres and Proserpine.
Demeters name is discussed: we know that "meter" means mother, but what exactly "de" stands for is not sure. A common translation is seed, Mother of Seed in other words, or earth, thus Mother Earth.
The best known story about Demeter is the one of Persephone, her daughter. Persephone is also called Kore ("girl" or "daughter") and was very beautiful. She was one day kidnapped by Hades, whose ice-cold heart had melted at the sight of her. Demeter was beside herself, and in her search for Persephone, she forgot all about the earth, and this caused everything to wither and die.
The humans were on the verge of extincion when Zeus heard their prayers, and intervened to negotiate a solution with Hades. The agreement was that Persephone would stay half the year with Hades, and the other half with her mother. Demeter was overjoyed when she saw her daughter again, and everything flourished once again on Earth. When it was time for Persephone to leave, once again everything dried up - thus creating the two seasons winter and summer.
Demeter also had many epithets:
Achaea, Amphictyonis, Anesidora, Cabeirae, Carpophorus, Chamyne, Chloe, Chthonia, Cidaria, Corytheuses, Delia, Eleusinia, Epipole, Erinys, Europa, Hercyna, Malophoros, Megara, Melaenis, Mycalessia, Mysia, Panachaea, Pelasga, Prosymna, Stiria, Thermasia, Thesmia, Thesmophoros