Ceres a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships, was listed among the Di Consentes, Rome 's equivalent to the Twelve Olympians of Greek mythology. Ceres ' known mythology is indistinguishable from Demeter 's. Her virgin daughter Proserpina (Persephone) was abducted by Pluto (Hades) to be his wife in the underworld. Ceres (Demeter) searched for her endlessly lighting her way through the earth with torches. While Ceres searched, preoccupied with her loss and her grief, the seasons halted; living things ceased their growth, then began to die. Some say that in her anger she laid a curse that caused plants to wither and die, and the land to become desolate. Faced with the extinction of all life on earth, Jupiter (Zeus) sent his messenger Mercury (Hermes) to the underworld to bring Proserpina back.  However, because Proserpina had eaten while in the underworld, Pluto had a claim on her. It was decreed that she must spend four months each year in the underworld. During these months Ceres grieves for her daughter 's absence, withdrawing her gifts from the world, creating winter. Proserpina 's return brings the spring.


Please add updates or make corrections to the NumisWiki text version as appropriate.

CERES, daughter of Saturn and Cybele, was the Goddess of Agriculture.--The abode usually assigned to her by the poets was in a delicious district of Sicily, denominated Enna.  She was called Legifera, or the legislatrix, as being the instructor of mankind in the salutary art of tillage, which made it needful to enforce laws for the demarcation of fields. Ceres appears generally, on coins and other ancient monuments as a vigorous woman, crowned with corn ears and holding in her hand a bunch of poppies: a circumstance allusive to her arrival in Greece, when some grains of that narcotic plant were not enjoyed since her daughter Proserpine had been carried away by Pluto; and because the poppy is extremely fertile.  The first fruits of the earth were offered to this goddess: at her altars sheep were sacrificed, and above all the sow, because that animal is very destructive to seeds.  Ceres appears on a great number both of consular and imperial coins.  The empresses are often represented under the type of that divinity.--See p. 99 of this dictionary.

Ceres and a Colonist.--on a denarius of the Maria gens, the obverse legend, CAPITo XXXXIII has for it accompanying type the head of Ceres crowned with corn ears, and with ear-pendants.  One of the various arbitrary mint-marks to these coins of Capito, being in this instance a trident before the face of Ceres.  On the reverse we read Caius MARIus Caii.  Filius.  Senatus Consulto.  The type is a man driving two oxen, with a goad in his hand.

It will readily be agreed by numismatists, that the head of Ceres alludes to abundance; and that the yoke of oxen, guided by a cultivator.; indicates the planting of a colony.  Perhaps, in praise of his ancestral house, the moneyer who struck this coin refers to some colony established in Gaul, or elsewhere, by the famous C. Marius.--See Riccio, on the Maria gens, p. 141.

Ceres, the symbol of fertility, is exhibited standing, sometimes before an altar, with corn ears, torch, serpent, poppies, cornucopia, or hasta, on coins of Nero, Julia Titi, Domitian, Trajan, Hadrian, etc.

Ceres appears sitting (sometimes on the cista), with the same attributes, on coins of Vespasian, Nerva, Trajan, Faustina senior and junior, and also Crispina, and Julia Severi.--She is also present with Annona.

Ceres walking, with a lighted torch in each hand, as if in the act of searching for her daughter Proserpine, and hence called taedifera, is seen denarii of the Claudia and Manlia families, accompanied by a hog; or with a plough before her, in the Vibia gens.  See the respective notices of those families in this dictionary.

Ceres drawn in a biga by dragons or serpents, sometimes winged, at others not, in which the goddess stands with a  lighted torch in each hand, or with corn ears and poppies, appears on denarii of the Vibia, Vipsania, and Volteia families.--Se them suis locis.

The head of Ceres, crowned with corn ears, is also found on the family coins of those Ediles who had the care of Annona, or distribution of wheat and other grain amongst the people--such as Cassia, Critonia, Flaminia, Furia, Junia, Manlia, Memmia, Mussidia, etc. in which denarii, however, Ceres does not always designate the edileship, but occasionally some province fertile in produce, to which a pretor was appointed.  (Spanheim).--See head of Ceres, adorned with corn ears, on a denarius of the Fannia gens. engraved in p. 12 of this dictionary.

CERES.--The goddess sitting, with the usual attributes.--This epigraph and type appear on coins of Tiberius, Faustina senior and junior, Lueilla, Crispina, Severus and Julia Domna.

View whole page from the |Dictionary Of Roman Coins|