The first temples and the cult of Demeter and Persephone

The cult of Demeter and Persephone

The myth tells that Demeter, goddess of the earth and protector of nature, had a beautiful daughter, Persephone, fathered by her brother Zeus. Hades, the god of the dead, fell in love with the girl and kidnapped her, dragging her with him into the underworld .
Demeter then began to look for her daughter everywhere and in desperation, stopped taking care of the plants, causing a great famine of flowers and fruits on Earth.
Nature had fallen asleep and in the meantime, humankind suffered from the lack of her gifts. Zeus then decided to intervene and ordered Hades to return Persephone to Demeter.
Hades agreed, but before he let her go he made her eat six pomegranate seeds, which forced the girl to return to him in the underworld for six months of the year. This is how the ancients explained the cycle of the seasons: when Persephone returned to Earth, Demeter happily reawakened nature (spring and summer). Then, when she returned to the underworld, nature went back to sleep and the land became barren and lifeless again (autumn and winter).
According to Cicero , the two goddesses were the most worshipped deities in all of Sicily. In fact, the island was a land with a strong agricultural vocation, where the wealth and well-being of its inhabitants were closely linked to the cycle of the seasons and the products of the land.
Agrigento in particular was a fertile land for cultivation and pastures, and therefore its inhabitants had erected several sanctuaries for the two deities, so much so that Pindar called it the “abode of Persephone”.

Phalaris, the terrible tyrant

Akragas in the beginning

Sacrifices for the goddesses that made the fields fertile

The Temple of Concordia

The cult of Demeter and Persephone

The lively decorations of the temple

Reinforcement of natural ramparts

Empedocles, the political philosopher

The Akragas building sites

The Temple of Asclepius

From pagan cults to Christian worship: the Church of St. Gregory

The Sanctuary of Asclepius: a place of welcome for the sick

The walls of Akragas in the fifth century BC

The Temple of Demeter

The Twelve Labours of Heracles

Vegetation in the Gardens

The sanctuary of the chthonic deities

The Temple of Heracles

Theron, tyrant of the arts and victories

The most beautiful city of mortals

The Eleusinian mysteries

A monument for the victory over Carthage: the Temple of Olympian Zeus

The Temple of Hera Lacinia

The Kolymbetra Garden