Finally we have come to the end of our Mini Marathon, and who else do we end this on other then the very under appreciated Greek God of the Underworld Hades. I say under appreciated, but it is more than just that. He has the short end of all sticks (literally and figuratively). Even now, thousands of years later, Hades will be depicted as a villain in most media that focus on the Greek Gods or Heroes. There is just no escape for Hades from his very shoddy luck.
Hades (or Pluton) is the Lord of the Underworld, God of Riches and the Dead. He was the God of Wealth because gold and minerals come from underground. The name Pluton actually comes from words for wealthy. Though he is the oldest son of Cronus (three sons divided the world into three realms to rule), he gained rule over the worst domain (this domain was dark, depressing, not very loved by the people, often forgotten and feared in a negative way). The story of how they divided the rule will be explained in another post. He is often seen as a large and muscular older male with a full grown beard, the ideal image of a military man. Usually he will be holding a two-pronged pitch fork and be accompanied by Cerberus the Guardian of the Underworld. During the battle with the Titans, each of the three sons of Cronus was given a gift to use in battle. Zeus gained lightening bolts, Poseidon got a Trident, and Hades got the Helmet of Invisibility (even his gift is the quiet less violent one).
Not only did he get the more forgotten realm, the gift that did not allow him to fight in the offensive, and a modern day depiction of evil, but he also had the least amount of temples. People did not want to worship him, mostly since revering him did not promise them they would be judged better. His fairness in assessing souls meant that he would not be bribed with temple worship.
He was fathered by Cronus King of the Titan’s Reign and Rhea the Mother of the Gods. His siblings include Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia, Hera, and Zeus. Hades was the first child to be born, but the last to be vomited back into the world by Cronus. His wife was Persephone, and he had no children (at least some like the Furies are said to be his, but then again they are also said to come from the blood of the castrated Uranus). He had a consort before Persephone, named Leuce. She lived in the underworld till her death. Once she passed, he changed her into a white poplar flower which later became a symbol of Persephone.
Myths with Persephone:
- Of course, I like Hades. We all know that most the Gods have a reputation of being terribly flawed (mostly Zeus, he was a tramp), but Hades was one of few to punish people with no reason or do bad deeds. The one time he maybe had questionable morals was the story of how he gained a wife. The story goes that one day Hades, who does not come to the surface often, and has very little networking skills to obtain a wife (mostly since ladies do not like the idea of being Queen to the Underworld), sees and falls in love with Persephone daughter of Demeter. Instead of doing what most Gods seem inclined to do, *cough* Zeus *cough*, he does not just rape her to get over his lust. Instead he decides that he must marry her. So he abducts her as she was picking flowers in the fields of Nysa. When Demeter could not find her daughter, she went into a horrible fit of depression and cursed all the lands to be barren. A famine began and all life began to die. The Gods beseeched her to lift it, but she refused unless she got her duaghter back. Helios Primordial God of the Sun was the only one who saw what Hades had done (he was considered all knowing cause he was the sun). He told the Gods and Demeter, but also confessed that Hades was a worthy consort to her daughter. Anyways, Zeus sent a message to Hades requesting that he return Persephone, but by then she had already eaten the fruit (pomegranate) of the Underworld (so she could not return). They made a deal that she would go to the Earth to be with her mother for 6 months (summer), and stay with her husband for the other 6 (winter). Lots of the time, modern media will portray Persephone as having harbored anger towards her husband, but for the most part they were god spouses. No one ever cheated on the other, and though the underworld may have been depressing, she loved Hades.
- In another story, a Naiad or water nymph known as Minthe was amazed by Hades’s Golden Chariot. She decided to try and seduce him, but Persephone ended that plot by changing her into a mint plant.
- Persephone would never cheat on Hades willingly. She and Hades were monogamous, but sadly Zeus, being the tart that he is, was neither that nor was he against sleeping with his own daughter. One night he comes to Persephone disguised as Hades. After this she becomes pregnant with his child Melinoe Nymph of Nightmares and Madness. When Hades found out he tore apart Melinoe’s flesh, an act known as sparagmos.
- In a third story, Theseus and Pirithous (hotshots who thought they could just do what ever they wanted) decided that they wanted to marry. But it could not be just any women, they had to be daughters of Zeus. So Theseus picked Helen and Pirithous picked Persephone. After kidnapping a child Helen, they ventured down to the Underworld. Unknowing to them, Hades learned of their plans. So he pretended to treat them with hospitality and held a feast for them. When they sat down, snakes coiled around their bodies and trapped them there. Hercules came later and rescued Theseus, but Pirithous had to stay as punishment for attempting to kidnap the Queen Persephone.
Hades was not evil though. He was actually really altruistic and fair. He had a passive role in most conflicts, feeling no need to kill unnecessarily since all life ends at his domain anyways. To maintain balance was his ultimate goal. So as people are born others must die, and once they leave the realm of the surface they can never return (that is balance). So the few times he is seen as angry is when people try to leave the Underworld, living souls try to enter, or those meant to die try to trick death. Heroes (and Heroine since we learned that Psyche was the same) actually entered while ventured into the Underworld. They all usually come out very displeased with what they see (super depressing place). Even Achilles tells Odysseus that he would rather be a poor man working forever then be King of the Underworld. Hercules as entered multiple times, he even came to take Cerberus as a challenge (one of the 12 labors, but Hades lets him as long as he promised not to harm Cerberus). Hades never gets the chance to get him back for constantly breaking the rules and bringing souls back to life because by the time Hercules dies, he ascends to Olympus.
Hades is both the name of the Ruler of the Underworld and the Underworld itself. He has also been called Plouton, which is how I grew up knowing him. There are many realms in Hades/Underworld and was the place for all souls to go after death whether or not the person was ‘evil’ or ‘good’, but those who were particularly bad and offended the Gods would be sent to Tartarus. Tartarus was a deep abyss were the most vile souls went. The Elysium also known as Isles of the Blessed is the domain for the souls of those related to the Gods, women that had children with Zeus, and heroes. The Asphodel Meadows was were the souls of ordinary men were sent. The entrance was considered to be at a crater called Avernus. The souls would enter and pay Charon to ferry them across the five rivers (that all connected in the center marshlands also called Styx): Styx river of hate, Phelgethon river of fire (that leads to Tartarus), Acheron river of woes, Cocytus river or lamentation, and Lethe river of oblivion (flowed to the Cave of Hypnos). All of the rivers circle and encompass Hades/Underworld. They all have been personified as well. In one story, Zeus promised the Goddess Styx that all oaths would be done in her name and would have to be followed. This was a reward for siding with the gods against the titans. In another story, Goddess Styx was in love with the God Phelgethon. Yet, his flames consumed her, so her soul was sent to Hades. Hades allowed her to flow as a river, and so she was reunited with Phelgethon. It is also said that near Lethe, the location where souls drink the water to lose memories, was a pool called Mnemsyne which was water that allowed them to remember (but few drank from there). Closer to the center is the palace of Hades and Persephone where the three Judges of the Underworld (Minos, Aeacus, and Rhadamanthus) sat. Past them was the trivium of Hecate where three roads met and each led to one of the three previously mentioned realms. Based on how the three judges assessed the soul, it was sent down the road to where it would stay for eternity.
Hades was a stern but fair ruler, who loved his wife and did not partake in much violence. He presided over funerals, and defended the right for the dead to be buried.
Learn more: http://www.greekmyths-greekmythology.com/myth-of-hades-and-persephone/