A relief from Eleusis, c. 430 BC, Demeter offering the ears of corn to the young Triptolemus in the center. On the right side Persephone holding a torch, National Archaeological Museum of Athens
While Demeter was searching for her daughter, having taken the form of an old woman called Doso, she received a hospitable welcome from Celeus. 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 immortal by burning his mortal spirit away in the family hearth every night. She was unable to complete the ritual because Metanira walked in on her one night. Instead, 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.
Later, Triptolemus taught Lyncus, King of the Scythians the arts of agriculture, but he refused to teach it to his people and then tried to kill Triptolemus. Demeter turned him into a lynx.
In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, Triptolemus was one of the original priests of Demeter, one of the first people to learn the secret rites and mysteries of her cult. Diocles, Eumolpos, Celeus and Polyxeinus were the others of the first priests.
Triptolemus is depicted as a young man with a branch or diadem placed in his hair, usually sitting on his winged chariot, adorned with snakes. His attributes include a plate of corn, a pair of ears and a scepter.
Triptolemus, drawing based on a Vatican Vase.
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