The Roman Ceres (in Greek myth, Demeter), daughter of Saturn (Cronos) and Ops (Rhea) and sister of Jupiter (Zeus), was goddess of the corn, agriculture, and the regenerative powers of nature. When her daughter, Proserpina (in Greek myth, Persephone) was abducted by Pluto (Hades) and taken to his kingdom in the Underworld, Ceres sought her tirelessly over land and sea. At last, angered by her vain search, she caused the earth to lie barren, until a nymph told her that her daugher was now the sad consort of Pluto.

In response to Ceres' pleas, Jupiter allowed Proserpina to return to earth on condition that she had eaten no food in the Underworld. She confessed that she had innocently placed seven (although accounts vary as to the number) pormegranate seeds in her mouth, so Jupiter resolved that Proserpina should spend equal parts of the year with her mother and new husband. The seasons were thereby created: her stay in the Underworld became autumn and winter, and her return home to her mother was spring and summer.