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Triptolĕmus

Τριπτόλεμος). The son of Celeus, king of Eleusis, and Metanira or Polhymnia. Others describe him as a son of King Eleusis by Cothonea, or of Oceanus and Gaea, or of Trochilus by an Elensinian woman. Triptolemus was the favourite of Demeter and the inventor of the plough and agriculture, and of civilization, which is the result of it. He was the great hero in the Eleusinian Mysteries. According to the common legend, he hospitably received Demeter at Eleusis, when she was wandering in search of her daughter. (See Demeter; Eleusinia, p. 578.) The goddess, in return, wished to make his son Demophon immortal, and placed him in the fire in order to destroy his mortal parts; but Metanira screamed out at the sight, and the child was consumed by the flames. As a compensation for this bereavement, the goddess gave to Triptolemus a chariot with winged dragons and seeds of wheat. In this chariot Triptolemus rode over the earth, making man acquainted with the blessings of agriculture (Ovid, Met. v. 646; Pausan. i. 38, 6). On his return to Attica, Celeus endeavoured to kill him; but by the command of Demeter he was obliged to give up his country to Triptolemus, who now established the worship of Demeter, and instituted the Thesmophoria. (See Thesmophoria.) Triptolemus is represented in works of art as a youthful hero, sometimes with the petasus, on a chariot drawn by dragons, and holding in his hand a sceptre and corn ears.

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