The daughter of Cronus and Rhea, Demeter (meaning "earth mother") was one of the earliest Olympians. She oversaw the growth of crops and all aspects of fertility, including childbirth. Her daughter, Persephone (Roman Proserpina), was abducted by Hades and became queen of the underworld. Griefstricken, Demeter stopped all growth across the earth. As she searched for her daughter, she disguised herself as an old woman. She spent some time in Eleusis, where, in gratitude, she tried to bestow immortality on the king's infant son, Dernophon-an effort that backfired.She continued her search until she discovered Persephone's whereabouts and demanded her release. As a compromise, Zeus allowed Persephone to spend part of the year with Demeter and part with Hades, providing a mythological reason for the changing seasons.
In a more sublime sense, Demeter and Persephone were worshipped in the Eleusinian Mysteries (secret initiation ceremonies) as goddesses who eased the transition between life and death. Although she was generally seen as a benevolent figure, she could be dangerous if insulted. When Erysichthon cut down trees in her sacred grove, Demeter punished him with an insatiable craving for food. He ate and ate but remained insatiable.by Emma Griffiths, 30 Second Mythology