Friday, December 17, 2010

Who is Hades?

While many people tend to think of Hades as a place of punishment, the fact is that Greek mythology has a completely different application for the term. Hades is understood to be the Greek god who eventually won the right to be named the god of the underworld, and the chief caretaker of the abode of the dead. Here is some background on Hades, and the role he played within the pantheonAccording to the legends of the Greeks, Hades was not originally the ruler of the underworld. Ancient beings known as the Titans were in control of all known creation. However, three brothers challenged their sovereign rule of all things. Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades determined that they were to be the rightful rulers of the three main sections of all things, namely the underworld, the sky, and the sea. The three brothers engaged in war with the Titans, eventually defeating them. At this juncture, the victors chose to assume specific areas that each brother would oversee. Hades was the brother who chose the task of overseeing the underworld, and ruling over the spirits of those who had died and crossed over into the next life.
Hades at times has been portrayed as a fearsome figure, designed to strike terror into the hearts of mean. Within this version of Hades, the god is one who is ready to punish the wicked for the lightest infraction, and delights in administering justice that is not tempered with mercy. Often, this concept of Hades was used to bring persons who were involved in activities that were considered on the fringe of acceptable traditions and morals to abandon those practices, and engage in rites that were meant to win the favor of all the gods, including Hades.
At other times, Hades has been portrayed as the merciful and just ruler of the underworld, seeing to the needs of both those dwelling in a state of happiness and paradise, as well as those who have been damned. This concept of Hades is sometimes attributed to reading between the lines in the tales of Greek mythology, especially in instances when the god appears to offer persons a chance to step back and reverse a wrong action taken.
of Greek gods
Although Hades (the Unseen One) is an Olympian god, he is the Lord of the Underworld and ruler of the dead. Hades is not the god of death, however -- that's Thanatos. Hades rules those given proper funeral rites and brought over by Charon. Hades complained about Apollo's son, the healer Asclepius because he restored people to life, thereby reducing Hades' dominions. Hades inflicted Thebes with plague probably because they weren't burying the slain and therefore were denying bodies for Hades to have dominion over.
The name Hades is generally applied to the realm of the Underworld: Hades = Hades' realm.
Hades is feared and hated. An oath taken on his name is especially binding.
There are few stories about Hades since he spends most of his time among the non-living.



Family of Hades:

Hades was a son of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. His brothers are Zeus and Poseidon. Hestia, Hera, and Demeter are Hades' sisters.

Children of Hades

  • The Erinyes (Furies),
  • Zagreus (Dionysus), and
  • Makaria (goddess of a blessed death)

Other Names for Hades:

Sometimes people say Pluto is the Roman equivalent of Hades, but Pluto was a god of wealth, not of the Underworld. Sometimes, however, the Greeks themselves called Hades Plouton (Pluto is the Latin for the Greek word Plouton), so it seems prissy to demand greater precision. (More on the names Hades, Pluto, and Dis.) Hades is also called Haides, Aides, Aidoneus, Zeus Katachthonios (Zeus under the earth), and Orcus (Roman).


Hades is best known for abducting Demeter's daughter Persephone, keeping her with him in the Underworld where no one knew where she was, and then, when found out, tricking her into eating some pomegranate seeds. By eating in the land of Hades, Persephone was bound to Hades. A deal was made to let Persephone join her mother half the year, but she always returns.


Hades is shown as a dark-bearded man, with a crown, scepter, and key. He has a three-headed dog (Cerberus). Hades has a helmet of invisibility and a chariot.

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