In Greek mythology, Demophon (Template:Lang-grc or Δημοφόων) sometimes written in English as Demophoon, was a son of King Celeus and Queen Metanira. While Demeter was searching for her daughter Persephone, having taken the form of an old woman called Doso, she received a hospitable welcome from Celeus, the King of Eleusis in Attica. He asked her to nurse Demophon and Triptolemus, his sons by Metanira.

As a gift to Celeus, because of his hospitality, Demeter planned to make Demophon as a god, by anointing and coating him with Ambrosia, breathing gently upon him while holding him in her arms and bosom, and making him immortal by burning his mortal spirit away in the family hearth every night. She put him in the fire at night like a firebrand or ember without the knowledge of his parents.

Demeter was unable to complete the ritual because his mother Metanira walked in and saw her son in the fire and screamed in fright, which angered Demeter, who lamented that foolish mortals do not understand the concept and ritual.

Instead of making Demophon immortal, Demeter chose to teach Triptolemus the art of agriculture and, from him, the rest of Greece learned to plant and reap crops. He flew across the land on a winged chariot while Demeter and Persephone cared for him, and helped him complete his mission of educating the whole of Greece on the art of agriculture.

In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, there is reference to a ritual mock-battle at Eleusis, a quasi-athletic event known as the Ballêtus [1], which was held on a seasonal basis to compensate for the death of the baby cult-hero Demophon. This mock-battle seems to have been the ritual kernel of a whole complex of events known as the Eleusinian Games.[2]

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References Edit

  1. Bell, John, "Bell's New pantheon; or, Historical Dictionary of the gods, Demi-gods, Heroes and fabulous personages of Antiquity", v.1, 1790. Cf.p.124 entry on Balletus: "A feast observed at Eleusis, in Attica, to the honour of Demophoon, the son of Celeus".
  2. Text of Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Cf. line 265 and on: "At the right hôrâ, every year, the sons of the Eleusinians will have a war, a terrible battle among each other. They will do so for all days to come." Cf. also Richardson's commentary p.246. Also, confer the reference to Demophon and the story on line 248.

el:Δημοφών ο Ελευσίνιος es:Demofonte#Demofonte de Eleusis fr:Démophon fils de Céléos it:Demofoonte pl:Demofon ru:Демофонт (сын Келея) fi:Demofon (Eleusis) sv:Demofon i Eleusis uk:Демофонт (син Келея) zh:得摩丰#厄琉息斯王子

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