Have a Nice Triptolemus

Using The House of Hades as inspiration for posts on mythology, I decided a good subject for such an entry would be Triptolemus, god of agriculture and lieutenant of Demeter. I don’t recall having heard of him before reading Rick Riordan’s book, but apparently he was pretty popular at one point. The story has it that, when Demeter was searching for her daughter Persephone, who had been abducted by Hades, the goddess stopped at the home of King Celeus of Eleusis. As a reward for his hospitality, Demeter tried to grant immortality to Celeus’ infant son Demophon by burning away his mortality, but was interrupted by the mother and ended up burning him to death instead. She then turned to Plan B, granting powers to Demophon’s older brother Triptolemus, charging him with spreading knowledge of agriculture throughout the world. He traveled on a flying chariot drawn by winged serpents, distributing grain and teaching about farming. Unfortunately, he ran into a bit of trouble when he visited Scythia. This land’s ruler, King Lyncus, was jealous of Triptolemus, wanting to be the only one who introduced cultural innovations to his country.

Therefore, he killed one of the serpents that drew Triptolemus’ chariot, and tried to stab the minor god in his sleep. As punishment for this, Demeter turned Lyncus into a lynx, and denied agriculture to Scythia. Historically, the Scythians were a nomadic people who obtained food by subjugating neighboring lands in which people farmed, so the Triptolemus myth was partially an attempt to explain why this was so. Triptolemus was commonly associated with the Eleusian Mysteries, secret rites to Demeter practiced in Eleusis. In Riordan’s book, Frank Zhang has to help him out by finding him another flying serpent to replace the one Lyncus killed.

This entry was posted in Authors, Greek Mythology, Heroes of Olympus, History, Mythology, Rick Riordan and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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