In Greek mythology, the House of Hades was the world of the dead, Underworld or the netherworld. A place where Hades and his consort, Persephone, ruled over the souls of the departed.

Below, there are descriptions of the Underworld and the deities who dwelled in this realm.



  World of the Dead
  Deities of the Netherworld








  Underworld      
  Elysian Fields
  Tartarus



Underworld
 

The world of the dead or the netherworld was commonly viewed, by the ancient religions, to be a subterranean realm, ruled by a god or goddess, or both. Almost all mortals would reside in the netherworld, after their death. Few gained godhood and fewer still gained places in the Olympus, the home of the Olympian gods and goddesses.

For people who read about the afterlife in Greek mythology, you must ignore the Christian and Islamic concepts of heaven and hell scenarios that are so common in medieval and modern religions. For the Greeks and Romans, death was inevitable and all men were allotted to their fates, and all were given places in the Netherworld.

In the Greek mythology, the rulers of the Underworld were Hades and Persephone, which the Romans called Pluto (or Dis Pater) and Prosperina.

In classical mythology, the world of the dead or the netherworld has many different names. Though, the ruler of the Underworld was named Hades, the netherworld itself was popularly called Hades.

The domain of Hades has many different names, such as Underworld, Hades, House of Hades, Erebus, Tartarus, Elysium and Isles of the Blessed. Hades is a popular name and it is often used interchangeably with the Underworld, for the entire subterranean realm.

Hades (Underworld) was the named after its ruler, Hades, who was the son of Cronus and Rhea, and brother of Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Demeter and Hestia. Hades was known in the Roman myths, as Pluto. His wife and consort was Persephone or Prosperina (Prosperine) according to the Roman myths.

After the war between the Titans and Olympians, Hades and his two brothers decided to divide the universe between them. Zeus receive the sky or Olympus, Poseidon became lord of the sea, while Hades ruled the Underworld. The Earth was shared by all, but Zeus became the supreme ruler of the universe.

See Hades under Deities of the Netherworld section, for more detail about the god of the dead.


As I have said, the Underworld was subterranean domain of Hades, where the sunlight never shined, and the climate was either cold or chilling. The entire domain was divided into several regions, and having several different types of landmarks.

Hades (Underworld) could also refer to Hades' residential palace, which was called the House of Hades, where he lived with Persephone. His palace seemed to be separate from other parts of his realm.

There were five subterranean rivers flowing through the Underworld. They were called Acheron ("Woe"), Cocytus ("Wailing"), Lethe ("Forgetfulness"), Phlegethon or Pyriphlegethon ("Fiery"), and Styx ("Abhorrence"). The shades must cross all five rivers before they can be judged and sent to their final resting place.

The river Styx was named after the river-goddess Styx, the eldest daughter of Oceanus and Tethys. Charon ferried the shades across the river Acheron or Styx, for a fare of one coin (obol). Those few mortals who ventured into Hades were also required to pay a toll to the ferryman. Only the singer Orpheus didn't pay for a toll, because his music from his lyre had charmed Charon. However, Charon barred Orpheus from entering the Underworld a second time. In The Aeneid, Charon wanted to refuse passage for the hero Aeneas and the prophetess Sibyl, until she revealed the sacred Golden Bough.

The Stygian water of Styx seemed to burst from Mount Aroanius, in Arcadia. The oath sworn by the name of Styx was the most sacred of oaths to the gods.

The Underworld was divided into two or more main regions. Erebus was the upper region, while Tartarus was the lowest region, where most of the Titans were imprisoned.

There were three minor gods in the Underworld, who acted as judges and presided over the souls of the dead. These three were Minos and Rhadamanthys, sons of Europa, and Aeacus, the son of Aegina.

Most mortals who died will find their final resting place in the Plain of Asphodel, which was part of the Erebus region. The shades that dwelled here have no memories of their former lives. The place was gray and gloomy, but the shades who populated this region will experience neither joy, nor sorrow. Only a few mortals will ever gain entry to the Elysian Fields. The Elysian Fields was also part of the region in Erebus. See Elysian Fields for more description.

Others, who led a wicked life, were sent down to Tartarus and punished for their crime or sin. Among the notable figures to be punished in Tartarus, were Tityus, Ixion, Sisyphus and Tantalus.

Both Erebus and Tartarus were said to be the primordial gods, who became personifications of these two regions. Erebus (Darkness) was the son of Nyx (Night) and perhaps of Chaos. While Tartarus was born or came into existence at the same time as Gaea or Ge (Earth) and Eros (Love).

See Erebus and Tartarus in the Ancient Deities for these two personifications; and in the next article on the region of Tartarus.

There are many deities who lived in the Underworld, apart from Hades and Persephone, such as Styx, Hecate, and the brothers Hypnos (Sleep) and Thanatos (Death). You will find all these Underworld deities in Deities of the Netherworld.

The Roman myths about the Underworld were no different from that of the Greeks, except the deities may have Roman names instead of Greek.


Only a few people had bravely or foolishly entered the infernal realm while they were still alive.

Theseus and his rash companion, Peirithous went to the Underworld, with the intention of abducting Persephone, wife of Hades. Heracles, who was performing one of his famous labours, to fetch Cerberus, Hades' hound, he had managed to free Theseus from the Chair of Forgetfulness. Heracles entered the Underworld through Alcyonian Lake, near Lerna, Argolis, as did Dionysus.

Orpheus, on the other hand, sought entry at Cape Taenarum, in southern Peloponnesus. Orpheus, the famous singer/bard, had tried to bring his wife Eurydice to life, but failed because he had broken the condition Hades had set upon him.

Psyche was the only woman I know of, who entered the Netherworld and return back to the surface. She had to perform an errand for Venus (Aphrodite), mother of Cupid (Eros), to fetch cosmetic box from Persephone, had almost died in this undertaking.

Odysseus only went to the Underworld to receive counsel from the dead Theban seer, Teiresias, but he met other shades. Odysseus was given specific instruction on how to enter the Underworld. Unlike, others who dare to venture into the land of the dead, Odysseus sailed his ship to the stream Oceanus, until the ship reached the grove of Persephone, a grove of poplars and willows.

Similarly, the Trojan hero Aeneas visited his father, Anchises, also for advice. Both of these heroes weren't required to enter the very depth of the Netherworld. The entry to the Underworld was at Avernus, a lake near Naples. The Sibyl instructed Aeneas to fetch the Golden Bough, which allowed Aeneas safe passage through the netherworld. The bough was sacred to Persephone/Prosperine.

The beautiful youth Adonis spend a third of his life in the Underworld with Persephone, while the other two-third was spend on the surface with Aphrodite, because the two goddesses were in love with him. But when he died during hunting, he had to spend the rest of his afterlife in the Underworld.

Sisyphus was more successful in coming back to life, because the wily king had duped Hades into sending him back. However, when Sisyphus had eventually died in his old age, he was punished by the gods, where he had to toil endlessly, rolling a large boulder to the top of the hill.

 
Related Information
Name
Underworld, Hades.

Regions of the Underworld
Erebus.
Tartarus.

Plain of Asphodel, Asphodel Fields.

Elysium, Elysian Fields, Isle of Blessed, Blessed Isles, White Island.

Rivers of Underworld
Acheron ("Woe")

Cocytus ("Wailing")

Lethe ("Forgetfulness")

Phlegethon or Pyriphlegethon ("Fiery")

Styx ("Abhorrence").

Related Articles
Nyx, Gaea, Tartarus Erebus.

Hades, Persephone, Hecate, Styx, Charon, Thanatos, Hypnos, Somnus, Morpheus.

Three Judges - Minos, Rhadamanthys, Aeacus.

Titans.

Elysian Fields, Tartarus.



Elysian Fields
 

Hesiod called the Elysium – the Isle of Blessed. Those mortals, who were lucky to be favoured by the gods, will dwell in the Elysium, or Elysian Fields, were indeed blessed. The majority of the shades of the departed go to Plain of Asphodel.

In The Aeneid, Virgil gave several other names, such as Land of Joy, the Fortunate Wood and the Home of the Blest.

Here the shades were allowed to retain their memories of past lives. The environment in Elysium was peaceful and joyous, able to enjoy the pleasures they experience when alive, such as hunting, sports, music and feasts. The shades were able to reside in Elysium in eternal bliss. Rhadamanthys, son of Zeus and Europa, ruled the Elysian Fields.

Some say that Elysium, was not located in the Underworld, but on earth. Most who wrote about it, says Elysium was situated on the White Island, which was called Leuke, near the mouth of the Danube River, in the Black Sea. The Isles of the Blessed was something like the Valhalla for the heroes, in Norse myths. Or it was like the Otherworld or Sidhe of the Celtic myths, where the region was filled with sunlight, it never rain, yet the vegetation remained green.

Among those who lived there was Achilles, who married to Helen of Troy or to the Colchian sorceress Medea, in the afterlife. Other heroes, who lived in White Island, were his Achilles' cousin Ajax, and his two beloved friends - Patroclus and Antiochus, son of Nestor. The hero Aeneas found his father, Anchises in Elysium.

According to the Orphic Mysteries, the main goal of the believer is that to reach the Elysium, but it may take at least three lifetimes of living a virtuous life. The Orphic cult was influence by the Eastern belief of reincarnation. Only by living virtuous life, avoiding wine and eating meat, and abstinence from sex, could one gain entry to Elysian Fields.

 
Related Information
Name
Elysian Fields, Elysium.
Isles of the Blessed.
White Island, Leuke.

Related Articles
Rhadamanthys, Europa, Achilles, Ajax, Helen, Medea.



Tartarus
 

Tartarus was the deepest region of the Underworld that it was said that it took nine days and nine nights for an anvil to fall from the earth surface to the very bottom of Tartarus. Tartarus was the area where the Zeus and the Olympians had confined Cronus and the other male Titans.

Originally Uranus (Ouranos) had confined the Hundred-Handed and the Cyclopes in Tartarus, but Zeus had freed them, during the war against the Titans. They were instrumental to Zeus' victory. With the Titans confined in Tartarus, the Hundred-Handed guarded the prison as warders. It was described that Tartarus was surrounded by bronze fence with iron gates.

See War in Heaven and on Earth in the Creation page.

Only the most wicked of mortals were punished in Tartarus. This place was known as the Abode of the Accursed.

Tantalus, son of Zeus, had to stand in a pool of water, with a large rock suspended over his head. Tantalus had thought that he could dupe the gods, who were his guests, into feeding on the flesh of his own son, Pelops. For this hideous crime, he could not drink from the pool of water that he was standing in, nor could he eat the fig that was just out of his reach.

Several reasons were given for Sisyphus, king of Corinth and son of Aeolus. One of them was that he told Asopus that Zeus had abducted Aegina, Asopus' beloved daughter. While another says that Sisyphus had imprisoned Thanatos, god of death, so that for a time, no one could die. Though, Ares had rescued Thanatos, Sisyphus tricked Hades into letting him returned to the surface. The other reason for his punishment is that having learned from oracle that he might disclose all the secrets of the gods. Whatever was the cause of his punishment, Sisyphus had to toil in Tartarus, forever having to roll a large boulder uphill. Each time, before he reached the summit, the boulder would roll back down the bottom of the slope.

The giant Tityus had tried to rape the Titaness Leto, mother of Apollo and Artemis, who was travelling to Delphi. Apollo and Artemis had not only killed with their arrows, he was punished in Hades, where two large vultures feed on his liver. (See Leto about Tityus.)

Ixion, king of the Lapiths, was similarly punished for attempt of rape. The object of his lust was Hera, consort of Zeus. Zeus had suspect the king's lust, created phantom made out of cloud, to resembled Hera. Zeus caught Ixion in bed with the bogus Hera. Zeus punished Ixion, by chaining him to a fiery revolving-wheel.

Then, there were the fifty daughters of Danaüs, king of Argos. His daughters were known the Danaïdes. Danaüs' brother, Aegyptus, had fifty sons who had wanted to marry the Danaïdes. Danaüs was forced to accept his nephews' proposals of marriage to his daughter, but on their wedding nights, Danaüs gave a dagger to each of his daughter with instruction to murder their new husbands in their sleep. Only Hypermnestra disobeyed her father's order, saving Lynceus. The Danaïdes, except Hypermnestra, were punished their husbands' murder, after their death, forever drawing water in leaky buckets.


According to classical myths, Tartarus was an offspring of Chaos, and born at the same time as Gaea (Earth) and Eros (Love). Tartarus was nothing more than a personification of the region, yet it had mated with Gaea, producing monstrous offsprings, including Typhon amd Echidna.

See also Tartarus in Ancient Deities.

 
Related Information
Name
Tartarus, Tartaros.

Related Articles
See also Tartarus in Ancient Deities.

Chaos, Gaea, Eros, Hades, Zeus. Sisyphus, Ixion, Danaus, daughters of Danaus.

Titans, Creation.









  Hades (Pluto)
  Persephone (Kore)      
  Hecate      
  Styx
  Plutus
  Thanatos
  Hypnos
  Morpheus
  Three Judges
  Other Deities



Ἅιδης
Hades (Pluto)
 

Lord of the Underworld. Hades was the son of the titans, Cronus and Rhea. Hades was the god of the dead, and ruled his world with more absolute power and authority than Zeus. Hades was a grim god, not an evil one.

His other name Aïdoneus (Aidoneus) means the "Unseen One". To the Romans, he was known as Pluto (wealth) and Dis Pater or Dis. Pluto is the name of the ninth planet in the solar system. Charon is Pluto's moon or satellite.

Hades was among the children of Cronus, to be swallowed by their father, and later disgorged. Hades was armed with the Cap of Darkness (invisibility), in which he used to aid Zeus in the war against the Titans.

After aiding brothers Zeus and Poseidon, in overthrowing Cronus and sending the other Titans to Tartarus, he received the world of the dead, known as Underworld, as his domain.

Hades rarely left the Underworld. He drove his chariot drawn by black horses, and abducted Persephone, daughter of Zeus and his sister, Demeter. He wanted Persephone as his wife and queen of the Underworld. He was forced to compromise with his sister, Demeter: he allowed Persephone to lived two-third of the year on earth with her mother and a third with him in the Underworld.

In the war between Heracles and the people of Pylus, for some reasons, Hades left his realm and took side of Neleus and the Pylians, so he received a wound from the hero.


The Underworld was a place where the souls of human find their resting places. In the deepest region called Tartarus, it was a place of punishment for mortal who committed the worse sins or crimes. Tartarus also served as a prison for the Titans and other gods. The Underworld was guarded by a three-headed hound, named Cerberus. Cerberus kept the living and the dead apart. Cerberus had only allowed few of the living to pass through the gate of Hades: Heracles, Theseus, Orpheus, Aeneas and Psyche.

In the last labour of Heracles, freed Theseus and dragged the Cerberus to the surface (see the Twelfth Labour of Heracles). Theseus was there because he was aiding his rash friend Peirithoüs, who wanted to abduct Hades' wife, Persephone, and marry her. Knowing of their plan, Hades trapped them in the Chairs of Forgetfulness. Heracles failed to free Peirithoüs. (See also Theseus.)

During the war between Heracles and Neleus, king of Pylos, Hades came to the surface, take the side of the Pylians, and Heracles wounded him with an arrow. Hades returned to his domain, suffering from his wound with the dead.

Hades and Persephone were charmed by the music and song of Orpheus, who had lost his wife Eurydice. Hades allowed Orpheus to bring his wife back to life, on the strict condition that Orpheus doesn't look at his wife until they reached the light on the surface. Orpheus looked back at his wife too soon, and her shade returned to the abode of the dead. Hades refused Orpheus entrance a second time. (See Orpheus and Eurydice.)

Psyche, wife of Cupid (Eros), was on an errand for her mother-in-law Venus (Aphrodite). She was told to fetch the make-up box from Persephone.

According to Ovid and the geographer Strabo, Hades took the nymph Menthe or Minthe as his mistress. Persephone jealously trampled the unfortunate girl, transforming her into a plant, known as mint.

Hades and Persephone weren't the only one to live in the Underworld. There were Thanatos (Death), the winged-brother Hypnos (Sleep), and Morpheus (Dream), who was the son of Hypnos. Styx was the river goddess of one of the Underworld rivers, and the goddess Hecate, had also dwelled in this domain.

Hades has cattle which he kept near the cattle of Geryon, near Erytheia. Hades' herdsman was named Menoetes. When Heracles (10th labour) arrived and stole Geryon's cattle, Menoetes went directly to the three-headed king with the news of cattle. Menoetes met Heracles again in the 12th labour, where he wrestled the hero, and would have been crushed to death had not Persephone not intervened.

Elis was the only city that built a temple to Hades in one of its precincts. The Eleans were the only one to worship him. The construction was built after Heracles' war against Neleus in Pylos. Only once a year, the doors to the temple of Hades would open, but no one would enter the temple except the priests.

For more detail about the Underworld, Tartarus and Elysian Fields, go to Underworld.

 
Related Information
Name
Hades, Aïoneus, Ἅιδης – "Unseen One" or "Invisible One" (Greek).
Pluto, Πλούτων – "Rich One" (Greek).

Pluto ("wealth"), Dis, Dis Pater, Orcus (Roman).

Sources
Homeric Hymns.

The Iliad was written by Homer.

Theogony was written by Hesiod.

Library was written by Apollodorus.

Metamorphoses was written by Ovid.

Fabulae was written by Hyginus.

Related Articles
See also Pluto.

Cronus, Rhea, Persephone, Styx, Charon.

Creation, Underworld.

See also Demeter and Persephone in the Mother Goddesses.

Facts and Figures: Astronomy.


Persephone and Hades in the Underworld
Marble relief, 480-450 BC
Museo Nazionale, Reggio Calabria (Italy)



Περσεφόνη (Κόρη)
Persephone (Kore)
 

A goddess of the underworld. Persephone was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter. She is known (or by her title) as Kore (Κόρη, "maiden"). The Romans called her Proserpina.

Before she was abducted, she was perhaps the personification of spring and goddess of corns, fruits and flowers. After her abduction, she became known as the dreaded goddess of the Underworld.

Persephone was playing in the meadow with her companions, the Oceanids (daughters of Oceanus), when Hades saw and fell in love with her.

It was said that Hades had made arrangement with his brother Zeus, over the abduction and marriage of Persephone without Demeter's prior knowledge. It was Hecate and Helius who revealed to Demeter who had abducted her daughter.

Her uncle, Hades, made Persephone his wife and queen. Hades had tricked Persephone into eating the pomegranate seeds, so that she could not leave the Underworld for very long. Since she had eaten the seeds in the Underworld, she had to stay with her husband. However, Zeus or Hermes made Hades and Demeter compromise of where and when Persephone should live. Persephone was to live a third of the year with new husband Hades, and the rest with her mother Demeter.

A more detailed myth of her abduction and her mother Demeter can be found in the Mother Goddesses page, under the title, Demeter and Persephone.

In the Underworld, Hecate became her companion. Persephone was the half-sister of Despoina, the goddess of horses, whom she was sometimes confused with.

A slightly different version of her abduction can be found in Ovid's Metamorphoses and in Hyginus Fabulae.


Some accounts called her the daughter of Zeus and Styx, the Underworld river goddess. This suggests that she had always lived in the Underworld. In some myths, Persephone appeared to be more of the ruler of the Underworld than Hades himself, and in some cases Hades doesn't appeared at all.

According to Ovid and the geographer Strabo, Persephone transformed the nymph, named Menthe or Minthe, into a plant, known as mint, when Persphone discovered that Hades was having an affair with the nymph.

In the myth about the youth Adonis, Persephone was a rival to Aphrodite, for the young man's affection. Like Hades and Demeter, Persephone and Aphrodite had to compromise, so that Adonis lived part of his time with her and the other with the love goddess. The other third of Adonis' time was to be freely spent on his own.

The Athenian hero Theseus tried to help his best friend, Peirithoüs, king of the Lapiths, to abduct Persephone, because the rash king wanted to marry a daughter of Zeus. Hades knew of their plot, and had cleverly welcomed them into his home. The moment, Theseus and Peirithoüs sat on Hades' chairs, they forgot everything, including the abduction of Hades' wife. Heracles had managed to save Theseus, but had to leave Peirithoüs behind.

In the Roman poem, Venus (Aphrodite) had sent her daughter-in-law Psyche, to fetch make-up box from Proserpina (Persephone). Only an immortal could use the content in the cosmetic box, so the moment Psyche opened the box, she fell into a deathly slumber. Cupid (Eros) went into the Underworld, to rescue his wife from the unnatural slumber.

The Homeric Hymn to Demeter, it says that Persephone was the lady of the golden sword and glorious fruits, which artists had sometimes depicted her carrying a sword in one hand and a basket of fruits in another.

Her favourite woods were poplars and willows.

According to one source, Persephone bore Plutus the god of wealth, to Hades. And Plutus was one of Eleusinian gods. Though, Hades and Persephone were usually considered to be childless couple. Plutus was usually said to be Persephone's half-brother and the son of Demeter and Iasion.


Usually Persephone was referred to as the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, but in a few accounts, her mother was Rhea. There is either some confusion with Demeter and Rhea, or Rhea and Demeter was one goddess, but Demeter represented a different aspect of Rhea.

According to the Orphic myth, Rhea, daughter of Uranus and Rhea, was the wife and consort of Cronus. When Zeus was born, her name changed to Demeter. When Zeus became the new supreme ruler of the world, he raped his mother Rhea/Demeter, and she gave birth to Persephone.

According to the Orphic poems, written by the Neoplatonic philosophers (3rd-4th century AD), Zeus had slept with his own daughter, while he was in the form of a snake, so Persephone became the mother of Dionysus or Zagreus. Through the machination of his jealous consort, Hera, the Titans killed and devoured Zagreus (Dionysus). Zeus destroyed the Titans with his thunderbolts. Mankind was created from the ashes of the Titans. Zagreus' heart was saved, which Zeus had swallowed. Zagreus was reborn when Zeus seduced a mortal woman, Semele, where Zagreus became known as Dionysus. Most of the time, writers had simply called Zagreus as Dionysus.

According to the Orphic myth, it is Persephone, who was the final judge, to decide if a person gains entry to Elysium. Those who failed to please her, they would either be punished in Tartarus or the shade would be reincarnated, to live another life among the living. Only those who lived a virtuous life can gain entry to Elysium.

 
Related Information
Name
Persephone, Περσεφόνη, Persephoneia (Greek).
Proserpina, Proserpine (Roman).

Kore, Korē, Core, Κόρη – "maiden"; Cora, Κόρα (Greek).
Libera (Roman).

Sources
Homeric Hymns.

Library was written by Apollodorus.

Metamorphoses was written by Ovid.

Fabulae and Poetica Astronomica were written by Hyginus.

Theogony was written by Hesiod.

The Iliad and the Odyssey were written by Homer.

Argonautica was written by Apollonius.

Related Articles
See also Proserpina.

Demeter (Ceres), Hades, Styx, Rhea, Plutus, Zeus.

See also Demeter and Persephone in the Mother Goddesses.


The Rape of Persephone
(titled "Pluto abducting Proserpine")
Bernini
Statue, 17th century



Ἑκάτη
Hecate
 

Hecate was the daughter of Perses or Persaeüs (Persaeus) and Asteria, both of whom were offspring of the Titans. She had also been called a daughter of Demeter. The Romans identified her with Trivia, goddess of the crossroads or of the "Three Ways". However, Trivia may well be a title.

Hesiod had repeatedly said in his Theogony that Zeus had given Hecate honour above all. Hecate can bestow wealth on anyone who prayed and sacrificed to her. Hecate has shares of all the wealth in heaven (Olympus), earth and in the Underworld. This is because she have a role to play as moon-goddess, earth (fertility) goddess and goddess of the Underworld.

She was sometimes confused with Rhea, Demeter and Persephone as an earth-goddess and goddess of fertility.

Again she is confused with Persephone as goddess of the Underworld. She was goddess of night and known as the invisible goddess, where she was accompanied by hell-hounds. Speaking of Persephone, Hecate tried to comfort Demeter, when Hades abducted her daughter. Hecate told Demeter that she had heard Persephone's cry, but could not identify the abductor. It was she who suggested that Demeter speak with Helius, the sun god who sees everything that happened below him.

Later, when Persephone was to stay with her husband for part of the year in the Underworld, Hecate would be Persephone's companion, so that Persephone would not be lonely.

Like Artemis and Selene, she was goddess of the moon, but she was associated with dark side of the moon.

Hecate had also being identified with Iphigeneia, daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. According to the Catalogues of Women, Hesiod says that when the Greeks sacrificed Iphigeneia, Artemis transformed the maiden into the goddess Hecate. See Sacrifices at Aulis, Trojan War.

She was also identified as the goddess of magic and witchcraft. The sorceress, Medea, was one of her high priestesses in her temple in Colchis. In the war against the Giants, she killed Clytius with her torch (see also the War of the Giants).

According to the Sicilian historian, Diodorus Siculus, in his account about Jason and the Argonauts, Hecate was not a goddess, but a Taurian sorceress, daughter of Perses, king of Tauric Chersonese, and grand daughter of Helius. Hecate was known for her cruelty, and she had poisoned her father and married her uncle, Aeetes, king of Colchis. Hecate became the mother of Circe and Medea. As a high priestess of the Taurian Artemis, she advocated the sacrifices of all strangers who come to Colchis.

 
Related Information
Name
Hecate, Hekate, Ἑκάτη.
Trivia.

Iphigeneia, Iphigenia?

Related Articles
See also Artemis, Selene, Iphigeneia.

Perses, Asteria, Demeter, Persephone, Hades, Helius, Medea, Circe.

War of the Giants.


Hecate
Marble statue, date unknown



Στύξ
Styx
 

An Underworld river-goddess. Styx was an Oceanid; the eldest daughter of Oceanus and Tethys. She was the only female river goddess. She married the Titan Pallas, and bore him four children (personifications): Bia (violence), Cratus (strength), Nike (victory) and Zelus (emulation). See Nike in the Minor Greek Deities.

According to one writer, Styx was said to be the mother of Persephone, by Zeus. But more commonly Persephone was the daughter of Demeter and Zeus.

When the younger gods fought against the Titans, Styx sends her own children to aid Zeus. For this aid, Styx became honoured by the Olympians, that an oaths sworn by the gods in her name was the most inviolable of all oaths.

 
Related Information
Name
Styx, Στύξ.

Related Articles
Oceanids, Oceanus, Tethys, Pallas, Persephone.



Πλοὓτος
Plutus
 

God of wealth. Plutus was the son of the corn goddess Demeter and the mortal Iasion.

Iasion was the son of Zeus and the Pleiad Electra, which make Iasion the brother of Dardanus, ancestor of the Trojan people. Iasion was farmer from the island of Samothrace, whom Demeter had fallen in love with. Iasion made love to the goddess on a thrice-plowed field. Zeus killed his own son for sleeping with the goddess, but Demeter had already fallen pregnant. Demeter gave birth to Plutus.

Plutus was usually seen in art, together with Demeter and Persephone, as a boy holding in his hand, either a cornucopia or stalks of grains. According to one source, Plutus was the son of Hades and Persephone. Plutus was worshipped as one of the deities in the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Originally, he was god of wealth, but it meant the wealth or abundance of crops or grains. Later the wealth also means precious metals and stones. To prevent Plutus from bestowing wealth to one person or another as he choose, Zeus blinded the young god, so that he would give wealth to a person, no matter if the person was good or wicked.

 
Related Information
Name
Plutus, Πλοὓτος – "Wealth".

Related Articles
Demeter, Iasion, Dardanus, Electra, Persephone, Hades, Zeus.



Θάνατος
Thanatos
 

Thanatos was the Greek god of death. Thanatos was the son of Nyx (Night) and brother of Hypnos (Sleep), as well of Moros (Doom), Nemesis and Fates.

At Troy, Thanatos and Hypnos carried the body of Sarpedon home in Lycia, when Patroclus killed Sarpedon.

When Alcestis was fated to die in her husband's place, Heracles restored her to Admetus, by wrestling with Thanatos.

Heracles had probably wrestled with Thanatos again in the Underworld, during Heracles' twelfth labour. Heracles only spared Thanatos at Persephone' request.

 
Related Information
Name
Thanatos, Θάνατος – "Death".
Mors (Roman).

Related Articles
Nyx, Hypnos, Persephone, Nemesis, Fates. Heracles, Admetus, Alcestis, Sarpedon, Patroclus.



Ὕπνος
Hypnos
 

Hypnos was the Greek god of sleep. The Romans identified Hypnos with Somnus, the Roman god of sleep.

Hypnos was the son of Nyx. Hypnos was the brother of Thanatos, as well of Moros ("Doom"), Nemesis and Fates. Hypnos was the father of Morpheus, the god of dreams. Hypnos dwelled in a cave beside the Lethe river.

At Troy, according to the Iliad, Zeus was helping the Trojans. Hera hated the Trojans, and was angry when she could not help the Greeks. Hera devised a plan to turn the tide against the Trojans. Hera asked Hypnos to make Zeus fall to sleep.

Hypnos was very reluctant to aid Hera, because he done this all before. The last time he caused Zeus to fall sleep; Hera had Heracles' ship wrecked on the island of Cos, after Heracles had conquered Troy. When Zeus woke and found out what had happened to his son, the enraged ruler of Olympus would have destroyed Hypnos. The terrified god of sleep fled to his mother Nyx (Night), where he sought protection against Zeus. The only deity that Zeus truly feared was Nyx.

Hera bribed Hypnos with the promise of allowing the god of sleep to marry the Grace Pasithea. Hera seduced Zeus, and with Hypnos' aid, lulled her husband to sleep. The tide immediately changed in favour of the Greeks, and Hector was almost killed by Ajax in the fighting.

Again at Troy, Hypnos and Thanatos carried the body of Sarpedon home in Lycia, when Patroclus had killed Sarpedon.

 
Related Information
Name
Hypnos, Ὕπνος – "Sleep".

Somnus (Roman).

Related Articles
See also Somnus.

Morpheus, Nyx, Thanatos, Nemesis, Fates, Zeus, Hera. Sarpedon, Patroclus.



Μορφεύς
Morpheus
 

The Greek god of dreams. Morpheus was the son of Hypnos or the Roman Somnus ("Sleep"). Morpheus was seen as a black-winged god.

In the Roman myths, he was only just one of the gods of dreams, known as the Oneiroi (Dreams). There are 999 other sons of Hypnos/Somnus, who were all gods of dream. Only two other gods are known by names – Icelos or Phobetor and Phantasos.

Morpheus could change his appearance to look like any mortal, while Icelos could take on the form of any animal. And Phantasos could only change into any form of nature, such as the earth, rocks, trees or water.

Morpheus appeared in Alycone's dream, in the shape of her husband, Ceyx, king of Trachis. Ceyx had drowned when his ship sank in the storm. Alycone went to the shore and threw herself into the sea, where she perished. Alycone and Ceyx were transformed into kingfishers. See Ceyx and Alycone.

 
Related Information
Name
Oneiroi, Ὄνειρος – "Dreams" (sons of Hypnos).

Morpheus, Μορφεύς (Roman).

Icelos, Phobetor.

Phantasos.

Related Articles
Hypnos, Ceyx, Alycone.

Oneiroi.



Χάρων
Charon
 

The ferryman of the Underworld river. Charon's only duty was to ferry the shades across the Underworld river of Styx. I am not certain if Charon was a minor god, spirit or just an immortal being.

Charon required only fare of one coin (obol) from each shade, to ferry the dead across. It was Greek custom to put a coin in the dead, before burial. The others, who couldn't pay, would wander restlessly for over hundred years before allowed across.

Normally Charon would allow the livings to cross. Psyche paid Charon to ferry her across Styx, as did Theseus and Peirithoüs. Heracles got away from paying Charon, by threatening the ferryman. Orpheus had also got a free ride, because of his enchanting music and voice.

Charon was often described as ancient looking man, clothed in loincloth.

In astronomy, Charon is Pluto's moon or satellite.

 
Related Information
Name
Charon, Χάρων (Greek).

Related Articles
Hades, Persephone, Styx, Psyche, Heracles, Theseus, Peirithoüs, Orpheus.



Ἐρινύες
Erinyes (Furies)
 

Female spirits who punished offenders against blood kin. The Erinyes (Ἐρινύες) were named Alector, Tisiphone and Megaera. They were born together with the Giants and the Meliae, from the earth where blood landed from the severed genitals Uranus. They were better known as the Furies, by the Romans.

The Erinyes seemed to reside in the Underworld, the World of the Dead. It was Erinyes who brought condemned souls to Tartarus for their punishment, after the judgement of Themis.

One of their more famous victims was Orestes. When Orestes murdered his own mother, Clytemnestra, the Erinyes persecuted him for many years, inflicting him with madness.

With Orestes, the oracle from Delphi and the god Apollo (Orestes' protector), ordered the young man to kill his mother. To avenge his father, Orestes faced persecution and madness from the Erinyes. Failure to avenge his father's death will also result in persecution and madness. Orestes was in a "no-win situation". Which ever choice Orestes made he would be haunted by the Erinyes.

Similarly, Alcmeon had killed his mother and was driven mad by the Erinyes. Alcmeon had a choice of ignoring his father's order – to kill his mother; Orestes was not given this choice.

When Athena and the Athenian jury acquitted Orestes, Athenians appeased the Erinyes, by offering to build a temple to them within their city. Their name was changed to Eumenides (Εἐμοδπος), which means the "Kindly Ones".

 
Related Information
Name
Erinyes, Ἐρινύες
Eumenides, Εἐμοδπος ("Kindly Ones").
Furies (Roman),
Semnai Theai ("Venerable Goddesses").

E-RI-NU? (Minoan).

Goddesses
Alector – "Unceasing in Anger",
Tisiphone – "Avenger of Murder"
and Megaera – "Jealous".

Related Articles
Uranus, Athena, Orestes.



Three Judges
 

There were three mortals, who had earned the favours of the gods; they earned immortality after their death. These three judges were powerful rulers, and all three were the sons of Zeus.

Aeacus (Αἄάκός) was the son of Zeus and the nymph, Aegina, daughter of the river god Asopus. Aeacus was king of the island of Aegina, where he was known for his piety and wisdom. It was this wisdom and piety that earned him immortality and become one of the three judges of the underworld.

Rhadamanthys (´Ραδάμανθυν) was the son of Zeus and Europa, and brother of Minos, who became a fellow judge in the Underworld. Rhadamanthys was known as the lawgiver in Crete, because of his wisdom and justice. For this reason, he was given immortality as a judge in the Underworld. It was said that Rhadamanthys became the ruler of the Elysium. See Minos and his Brothers in the Minoan Crete page, for more detail about Rhadamanthys.

Minos (Μίνως) as a choice as one of the three judges, it bit of mystery, because he was a most unlikely candidate. Minos, like his brother Rhadamanthys, was the son of Zeus and Europa. Rhadamanthys was chosen because of his love law and justice, while Aeacus was a very pious man. Minos, on the other hand, did not possess any of the qualities of the other two judges. Minos was the most powerful ruler of the time. He was an arrogant ruler of Crete, who had offended Poseidon, the powerful god of the sea. See Minos in Minoan Crete.

 
Related Information
Related Articles
Aeacus, Rhadamanthys, Minos, Europa, Aegina, Zeus.



Other Deities
 

There are many other minor gods who dwelled in the Underworld. These include many of the children of Nyx:

Cer goddess of violent death.
Moros goddess of doom.
Mors god of death.
Oneiroi, Ὄνειρος gods of dreams - Icelos or Phoebetor, Morpheus and Phantasos.
 
Related Information
Related Articles
Thanatos, Hypnos.









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