Page last updated on: April 4th, 2021
Goddess Demeter and the Wrath of Nature
An allegorical myth that teaches us to respect nature
Erysichthon, the Cruel Hero
In ancient times there was a hero from Thessaly in Central Greece, whose name was Erysichthon. He didn't exactly have a reputation for being kind, but rather an abuser, a very arrogant and greedy person who thought only of himself.
The Sacred Grove and the Disdain of the Hero
At that time in Thessaly there was a grove dedicated to the goddess Demeter, and in the middle of it stood a huge oak tree so high that it could reach the sky. This tree was dedicated to Demeter and the people of Thessaly loved it very much. They decorated it and used it to make vows to the goddess.
But Erysichthon is different from all the others- consumed by greed, he orders his slaves to destroy the grove and cut down the tree to build a banquet table. But none of the slaves dare commit such an outrage, so Erysichthon takes on the task himself.
At his first blow, the goddess appears to him disguised as a priest and begs him to stop his destructive work, but to no avail...Seeing that Erysichthon will not compromise, she throws off the disguise and appears in all her divine glory. All the slaves are terrified, but Demeter takes away their fear and sends them away. Then she turns to the sacrilegious Erysichthon and punishes him without mercy.
The Fatal Curse
From that moment on, Erysichthon is cursed with a never-ending appetite, craving everything edible in his path. He begins eating in his own home, but still cannot satisfy his hunger. Then he continues to search the streets for food, craving any food he can find, even that which is consecrated to the gods. Yet his longing seems invincible. Not knowing what to do, he decides to sell his daughter Mystra, who has the powers of a witch and, by transforming into various guises, always escapes and returns to her father.
Soon Erysichthon finds nothing to eat and he ends up eating his own flesh until he dies.