Hades | Greek God

Hades Greek Mythology

Hades (classical Greek: Ἅιδης or Άͅδης; romaniz.: Haides or Hades), in Greek mythology, is the god of the nether world and of the dead. Equivalent to the Roman god Pluto, meaning the rich one and which was also one of his Greek epithets, his name was often used to designate both the god and the kingdom he rules, underground on earth. He is also said to be called Serapis (god of obscure Egyptian origin).

He is considered a god of the "second generation" by scholars, coming as he did from Cronos (Saturn in Roman theogony) and Reia, he formed with his five siblings, children of Cronos and Reia: his daughters Hestia, Demeter and Hera, and his sons Posidon and Zeus.

He is also known to have abducted the goddess Persephone (Koré or Core) daughter of Demeter, to whom he would have been faithful and with whom he never had children. The symbolism of this union brings two major natural forces and resources into communication: the richness of the subsoil which provides the minerals, and causes the seeds - life and death - to spring from its core.

Hades usually presents a secondary role in mythology, since the fact that he is the ruler of the World of the Dead causes his work to be "divided" among other deities, such as Tangatus, god of death, or the Keres (Ker) - the latter depicted in the Iliad greedily collecting the souls of warriors, while Tangatus appears in the myths of the kindly Alceste or the cunning Sisyphus.

  As the implacable and invincible lord of death, Hades is the god most hated by mortals, as recorded by Homer (Iliad 9.158.159). Plato accentuates that the fear of speaking his name made them use euphemisms instead, such as Pluto (Crat 403a).

The myth has little modern influence. However, it has been the subject of analysis by psychology and film adaptations; among the latter, Disney recreated it at two separate times, one in 1934 in an experimental form.

Origin: titan war

Fearing a prophecy that said he would be defeated by one of his sons, Kronos proceeded to devour his children as soon as his wife, Reia, had them. This had happened to all the sons he had, with the exception of Zeus who, to be spared, was in a maternal ruse exchanged by his mother for a stone.

According to Apollodorus (i.1.5) and Hesiod (Theogony 453-67) Kronos devoured them in the following order: first Hestia, then Demeter and Hera, and later Hades and Posidon.

Growing up, the young god again had maternal help to assist him: Reia caused her husband to swallow a drink that forced him to vomit out his children trapped inside.

Once freed, the brothers stood in solidarity with Zeus in the fight against their father. They then posted themselves on Mount Olympus and, with the help of the Hecatonian titans, fought the other titans, who posted themselves on Mount Ótris, in a battle that lasted ten years.

The Cyclopes gave the Olympians - Briareu, Coto and Giges - gave the three brothers their weapons: to Zeus the thunderbolts, to Posidon the trident; to Hades fell a helmet, which made him invisible.

The defeat of Kronos came about through the use of the three weapons: Hades, invisible with his helmet, stole his father's weapons, and while Posidon distracted him with the trident, Zeus fulminated him with his thunderbolts

The world being divided into three parts, Zeus proceeded to divide the kingdoms by lot between himself and his two brothers: to himself remained the Earth and the Heaven, to Posidon fell the seas and rivers, while to Hades remained the dominion over the subterranean world and the beings of the shadows.

Later Hades betrothed Persephone (the Proserpine of the Romans, also called Core or Kore), daughter of her sister Demeter (Ceres, to the Romans), and who by her side became the queen of the dead. The couple had no children.

Hades and Persephone

The union was narrated by Thomas Bulfinch as stemming from the struggle that took place between the gods and the giants Typhon, Briareus, Enceladus, and others: after being imprisoned on Etna, the cataclysms caused by their struggles for freedom caused Hades to fear that his world would be exposed to the Sun.

So, in order to check out what was going on, finally Hades decides to leave his kingdom, riding his black coruscated chariot. Aphrodite, at that moment, was sitting on Mount Érix next to her son Eros (then personified as Cupid) and challenged him to launch his arrows at the lone god when, over there, the daughter of Demeter was transiting the valley of Ena (a Sicilian prairie), equally single.

Arrowed by Love, Hades kidnaps the beautiful niece who, terrified, cries out for help to her mother and her friends but, having no way to react, ends up resigning herself. Hades excites the horses to flee as fast as possible until they reach the river Cyano, which refuses to give them passage. The god then smote its bank, opening up the land and creating an entrance to Tartarus.

Other variants of the myth place Hades' niece and beloved on the banks of the river Cephysus in Elêusis, or at the foot of Mount Cilene in Arcadia, where a cave led to Hell; in others, near Knossos in Crete. It is also told that Zeus, to aid his brother in capturing Persephone, while she was picking flowers, placed a daffodil (or a lily) on the edge of a chasm and she, in picking the flower, fell, for the earth opened, as Hades appeared to capture her.

Demeter sets out on a futile search for her daughter, going from Eos (the Aurora) to the Hesperides (in the west). On her pilgrimage she saves a boy, whom she entrusts to teach agriculture to men. Desperate, she stops on the bank of the same river Cyano where her daughter had been taken.

The nymph who lived there remains hidden, fearing reprisals from the god of Hell, but lets flow over the waters the garland that Persephone had dropped when she was taken away. Upon seeing it the goddess rebels, blaming the earth for her suffering: the curse she casts causes the infertility of the soil and the death of the cattle.

Seeing the desolation caused by the goddess' revenge, the fountain Aretusa decided to intercede. Seeking Demeter, she tells her story - of how she had been pursued by Alpheus in the course of the river of the same name and, helped by Artemis, who had opened an underground path for her escape to Sicily, she then saw Persephone being taken away by Hades - still sad, but already bearing the semblance of Queen of the Underworld.

A variant tells the story as follows: after ten days Demeter was helped by Hecate, goddess of the new moon, who took her to Helios, the Sun, who told her what had happened, adding that the abduction had been consented to by Zeus. He also told her to accept what had happened, because Hades "was not a worthless son-in-law.

But the mother, in her despair, refused the advice and, hurt by Zeus, left Olympus and wandered the earth like an old woman.
The goddess immediately goes to Olympus, where she pleads with Zeus to have her daughter restored.

The Lord of the Gods consents, but on the condition that Persephone had not eaten any food in the nether world - a condition which would cause the Chares to block her exit. Hermes, the guide of souls, is sent as a messenger to Spring. Hades agrees to the request but, in a ruse, offers Persephone a pomegranate, from which the young girl sucks some grains, thus sealing her fate, as she could never free herself from the Hells.

(Pierre Grimal, however, adds that Zeus had obliged Hades to return Demeter's daughter, but that by the possible ruse of the Cthonian god, she had been prevented from doing so by having ingested a single pomegranate seed. Also with regard to the time she would spend with her mother, the author says that the sources differ: sometimes it would be half a year, sometimes a third.)

Despite having his wife forever bound to the Underworld, the god of shadows makes a deal with his mother-in-law, agreeing that Persephone should spend some of her time with him and some with her mother. Demeter agrees to the arrangement, and returns the earth to its fertility.

The monarchs Hades and Persephone not only ruled over the souls of the dead, but had the role of judges of mankind after life. In this they were aided by three heroes who were, in life, renowned for their sense of justice and wisdom: Minos, his brother Radamanthus, and Aeacus who, in a later version, was in charge of the gates of the lower world.

Philip Wilkinson and Neil Philip say the time Persephone spends on earth with her mother, causing plants to germinate and grow, is the equivalent of spring and summer; conversely, when she returns to Hades, one has winter - when the earth is forced to suffer a temporary death.

Roots of the myth

Alexander Murray justifies, when discussing the division of kingdoms among the three brother Chronids, that for the ancient Greeks, who had an acute sense of observing natural forces, a powerful god was needed to govern the underground world; after all, a force "from below" drove the growth of plants; from the depths of the earth precious metals were extracted; all living beings returned to it.

This god had to possess a dual character: first, as the source of all riches (which is suggested by his Latin name Pluto), then as the monarch of the dark realm, dwelt in by the shadows of the dead (suggested by the Greek name Hades).

While the first attribution - that of giving energy to vegetables to rise from the seed plunged into the darkness of the soil, Hades is even seen as a friend of men, the second denoted a severe character, where he appears as a ruthless and relentless god, for he does not allow anyone to leave his realm once he has entered there - this the inexorable fate of all men: to return to the realm of Hades.

In the earliest versions, there was no possibility of a better fate after life: Hades simply claimed back what he had given.

Later, however, the possibility of a better afterlife arose, where the hope of a happier future life formed the basis of the so-called Eleusinian mysteries; this sense derived directly from Hades' marriage to Persephone, his wife representing the personification of emerging life and youth.

The pomegranate, the fruit that had caused Persephone to be bound to Hades, is also called the apple of love. The use of this fruit in symbolism is, because of the large number of seeds, as a sign of fertility; however, there is no descent from the union of Hades and Core: the pomegranate, in contradiction to its meaning, had condemned the goddess to infertility.


Hacquard records that Hades remained faithful to his wife Persephone, except on two occasions: the first when he would have allowed himself to become enamored with the nymph of the Scythian, Minta; pursued by Queen Core, she was transformed by the god into a mint. The second would have been his love for an oceanid.

The first myth would be linked to Persephone's own abduction: Minta (or Minte), a nymph who inhabited the Underworld, had a relationship with Hades, interrupted by her marriage; the nymph then, seeking to recover her lover, began to boast, claiming to be more beautiful than her rival, arousing fury in Demeter, Core's mother. Demeter then punished the presumptuous girl, causing the mint to appear in her place.

In another passage, he is said to have fallen in love with Leuce, daughter of Ocean, and was therefore transformed into the silver poplar.

Wilkinson and Philip record that when Hades came to the surface, he was unable to subdue his desires for the unfortunate nymphs. Persephone, however, always acted to restrain these urges, and so when her husband had fallen in love with Minte, she transformed her into the mint; when the same had occurred to Leuce, she transformed her into the poplar.

Attributed descent

Although the vast majority of accounts give Hades as infertile, some random passages attribute sporadic paternity to him, without details being known.

Thus, according to the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, the following have had paternity attributed to Hades: Zagreu (according to Aeschylus, he was Zeus himself from the Underworld and resembled Hades), Macaria, the Erinias (they were originally indeterminate in number; later consolidated into three: Alecto, Tisiphone, and Megera) and Melinoe (or Melina).

Epithets and etymology

The name Hades comes from á (a - not) and 'ideîn (idêin - to see), a "false etymology given to him by the Greeks" (according to Junito Brandão), in allusion to the helmet of invisibility given to him by the Cyclops. This sense of unseen fits both the god and his kingdom.

Junito Brandão says that the name Pluto or Pluto (meaning rich and consecrated among the Romans), is of Greek origin, being closely linked in its origin to the episode of the pomegranate seed - uniting the agrarian (to Demeter) and death (to Hades) cults which, in their origins, were quite close. About this, he informs: "Pluto is the projection of this seed.

If truly the god of agrarian wealth was eclipsed in the Hymn to Demeter by the pathetic evocation of Core lost and then found again, a close relationship has always existed, from time immemorial, between agrarian cults and the religion of the dead, and it is thus that the Rich in wheat, Pluto, eventually became confused with another rich one, the Rich in guests, polydégmōn, who are compressed in the infernal palace.

Well then, this Rich in wheat, with an unheard-of desinence, became transmuted, under the word Ploútōn, Pluto, into a euphemistic and cultural double of Hádēs."

Among the many euphemistic forms that Greek authors used to call the God of the Dead, the main ones were:

Edoneus - A variant form of Aïdês. (Hom. Il. v. 190, xx. 61.)
Ctonia - Has the same meaning as Ctonia, and is therefore applied to the gods of the lower world, or of the shadows (Hom. II. ix. 457; Hesiod. Op. 435; Orph.

Hymn. 17. 3, 69. 2, Argon. 973), and to beings who are regarded as born of the earth. (Apollodorus iii. 4. § 1; Apollon. Rod. iv. 1398.) It is also used in the sense of "gods of the place," or "native deities." (Apollon. Rod. iv. 1322.)

Eubuleu - Eubuleu occurs also as a surname of various deities, and describes them as gods of good counsel, such as Hades and Dionysus.(Schol. ad

Nicandro. Alex. 14; Hin. Orf. 71. 3; Macrob. Sat. i. 18; Plat. Sympos. vii. 9.)
Eubulus - This name occurs as a surname of various deities who were regarded as authors of good advice, or as well-wishers although, when applied to Hades it is, like Eubuleus, a mere euphemism. (Hin. Orf. 17. 12, 29. 6, 55. 3.)

Isodetes - from deô, the god who treats all equally, is used as Hades' surname to express his impartiality. (Hesíq. s. v.), and Apollo. (Bekker, Anecdot. p. 267.)

Pluto - was first used as an epithet of Hades, god of the lower world, and later used as his own name. In the latter sense it first occurs in the giver of wealth, in a first nickname for Hades, the god of the nether world, and later also used as the god's real name. In the last sense it occurs for the first time in Euripides.(Herc. Fur. 1104 ; comp. Lucian, Tim. 21.)

Polidegmus or Polidectes - i.e. "he who receives many," occurs as a surname of Hades.(Hom. Hin. in Cer. 431; Aesq. Prom. 153.)


The cult of Hades was widespread, both among the Greeks and later by the Romans (in the variant of Pluto). Brandão says however that "the inscriptions show that even then he was very little worshipped on Earth, possessing certainly only a temple in Elêusis and another smaller one in Élis, which was opened only once a year and by a single priest."

However, he was so feared that his name was uttered only rarely. There was a fear that naming him would attract his wrath. So they preferred to refer to him by euphemisms, like Pluto - "the rich one", because of the riches coming from underground (hence he is represented by a cornucopia with treasures).

Among the epithets with which he was referred to, the following are found in Homer (Iliad 9, 457): "the Strong One", "the Invincible One" and the already mentioned "Zeus of Hell".

In Greece, his most important temples were in Pilos, Athens, Olympia and Elida. In these people dedicated to the god the daffodil, the cypress, and the boxwood. The temple at Pilos was a magnificent construction, and near the Corellus River in Beotia, it had an altar that, for mystical reasons, was shared with Athena.

In Rome, a great festival took place in February - the februationes - that lasted twelve nights. It was also called Caristia, since oblations were made at death. In it, bulls and black goats were sacrificed, while the priest who presided over the ceremonial sported a crown with cypress leaves.

Once every hundred years the so-called Secular games were held in his honor and tribute to the dead. Daytime sacrifice was illicit, for the god had an aversion to light.

Hacquard records that he was invoked in a ritual where he was beaten on the earth with his hands or sticks, and bulls or black sheep were also sacrificed to him at night. In addition to the Romans, the Etruscans borrowed from the Greeks the couple who ruled the Underworld, calling them Aita and Persipnei.

Analysis of the cult

Otto records that the view of the god in the view of Greek religion had two distinct moments: the early and the later, recorded by Homer.

Although the god figures in several passages in the Homeric work, and is related to many other myths of gods and heroes, Hades is not the object of any worship, nor is greater care reported with regard to the memory of the dead - unlike in earlier times. There the afterlife turns the souls into mere spectres or shadows, without memory or personality; in pre-Homeric times, however, as in all other peoples, there was in the afterlife the maintenance of individuality, and a possible form of connection of those with the world of the living - this connection, in Homer, is practically non-existent.

Eleusinian Mysteries

Most important among the Greco-Roman cults were the Mysteries of Elêusis, which were based on the myth of Demeter and her daughter Core/Perséphone, kidnapped by the god of the dead. This veneration took place in Greece for several centuries, only disappearing in the 6th century when the shrine was destroyed by invading barbarians.

Orphic cults

In the cult that would have been initiated by Orpheus, his rebirth (with previous catabasis - or return to the lower world) was the basis for the belief in metempsychosis, a kind of reincarnation (in this case, transmigration of souls) in which the dead return to experience new existences until they reach purification.

Having fulfilled two incarnations the soul would descend to the realm of Hades, where it would purge its sins, and be ready to enjoy a happy destiny alongside the gods. For this, it would need to be initiated into the orphic mysteries; without this knowledge, however, it would be trapped in an eternal cycle of rebirths, hence the initiation rite is important.

The orphic doctrine had penetration throughout Greek culture, even influencing the doctrines of philosophers such as Pythagoras and Plato, and the works of Ancient Greek poets and sculptors.


Depictions of Hades present the same face as Zeus and Posidon, his brothers. The ancient works of art differentiate him only by a few "tears of expression," as Murray recorded. Thick beards and hair shade his face. He appears ordinarily seated on his throne beside his wife or standing in a chariot next to her.

His distinguishing attributes were a scepter, similar to that of Zeus, and a helmet which, like the cloud helmet of the Norse myth of Sigrid, conferred invisibility on whoever wore it. His helper is the three-headed dog , Cerberus.

His figure is rather sober, without ornaments: besides the somber expression by the frown, the scruffy beard and unkempt hair on a pale face complete the picture of the Zeus inferi. His robes consist of a heavy red robe and tunic; his throne is represented by an owl.

Despite this, Wilkinson and Philip record that he was never depicted by artists. This was because, in addition to invisibility, the fear and mystery that Hades inspired in them reigned. As for the helmet of invisibility William F. Hansen recorded that it is not a helmet of invisibility.

Hansen has recorded that this is not exactly a tool of the god, despite the popular etymology reinterpreting its Greek name (aidos kyneè) as Hades' helmet: apart from the passage that says the helmet was gifted to him by the Cyclops, no other says that the god makes use of it, and when it is mentioned that other gods or heroes make use of its powers, there is no mention that they borrowed it directly from him.

Hades and other myths

Several other myths incorporate the presence, direct or indirect, of Hades, as in the case of Admetus who, in order to escape death, gives the god his wife Alceste, or even in variants with avowed kinship connections, as to the Cabiros. Also in the myth of Psyche his presence is alluded to, for one of the tasks of the Soul is precisely to obtain in a jar some of Persephone's beauty.

Hermes himself was a herald of Hades, charged with calling the dying gently, and depositing in them the golden spectacles in their eyes. In the gigantomachy the god is said to have worn the helmet of invisibility so that he could kill Hippolytus.

Along with Aphrodite and Eris, Hades was among the only gods who did not hate Ares, god of war; the reason was in the voracity with which the god of the dead welcomes the souls of young warriors slaughtered in battle.

Gods and men further benefited from the privileged powers of Hades' magic helmet. Young gods have used its powers, as well as the trident of Posidon. This was the case of Hermes who, during the Gigantomachy, used the helmet of invisibility to slay the giant Hippolytus.

In Egypt, next to Dionysus, Hades was identified with the god Osiris.

Adonis: the faithless Persephone

Adonis, a mortal fruit of incestuous relationship, fell in love with and was loved by Aphrodite - but he also aroused love in Persephone, who was furious that she did not enjoy the young man's preference.

The goddess of spring then sought out Ares who, she knew, loved Aphrodite. The god then killed the young warrior, so that he would thus be obligingly sent to the Underworld, where his ruler was waiting for him.

Unhappy with such a fate, Aphrodite seeks out Zeus who deliberates to have Adonis stay six months with Persephone and the remaining half of the year with his beloved.

Zagreus/Dionysus: identity with Hades

Brandão informs that the myth of Zagreus is much older than that of Dionysus himself, and that it has a possible origin in Crete, from where, due to the similarity, it was absorbed into that of the orgiastic god.

In this mythical fusion he had been transformed, in the Orphic cults, into the first life of Dionysus - and had become the son of Zeus and Persephone. After being murdered by the Titans, he reappears from Sêmele.

Analyzing the story of Zagreus - a kind of reincarnation of Dionysus (the Roman Bacchus) - Walter Otto narrates that Zeus seeks to repair the injustice of Dionysus' cruel death (killed by the Titans, after having transmuted into a bull); while his flesh was being devoured, Zeus intervened, managing to save alive still his heart).

The author points out that this death links him to the world of the dead, to the powers of the underworld. Zagreus is reborn from the mortal Sêmele - he enters Hades just as he will enter Olympus. This version also explains E. Rohde's claim that the realm of the dead was part of the Dionysian realm.

Otto recalls the Orphic Hymns 46 and 53, where it is explicitly stated that Dionysus slept in Persephone's house and that Hades and Dionysus-for whom the women go mad and become enraged-would be the same person. This, according to the author, can be read in Heraclitus, who had recorded, "...Hades and Dionysus, for whom they go mad and angry, are one and the same." and concludes that "We can now understand why the dead were honored at several of the major festivals of Dionysus."

Jean Shinoda Bolen, appreciating the feminine archetype of Persephone, alludes that the goddess can indulge in sexual pleasures. Among the ancient Greeks, the psychiatrist points out, there was a belief that the intoxicating powers of Dionysus drove women to sexual ecstasy, transforming them into ménades full of passion and delirium. Ancient traditions told of the god of wine spending seasons in the house of Hades' wife, or returning there in the intervals of his appearances.


In the fight against the giants commanded by Alcioneus and Porphyry, Hercules has the help of Hades. An image of his return to the Hades after the victory was depicted on the ceiling of the Palace of Te in Mantua.

In a passage from the Iliad (V, 402), Homer records that Hades was wounded by Hercules - only to soon clarify that he was easily healed by Apollo, "because he (Hades) had not been born mortal!"

The twelfth of the Twelve Labors of Hercules, the catabasis (katábasis), the going to the world of the dead to apprehend there the monstrous dog Cerberus, charged with preventing the living from entering that realm and from leaving having entered it except by order of their King, the hero enlists the help of Hermes and Athena, not to miss his course and to clear the darkness, respectively, by order of Zeus.

In this task, Hercules demonstrates his humane character by taking pity on some of the prisoners who were there, and seeks to help them in their suffering. Among these were Pyritho and Theseus, still alive (as will be seen later), and Ascephalus.

Askephalus was the son of a nymph from the River Styx with the boatman Akeron, and in the episode of Persephone's rescue by her mother, when Hades had made her eat the pomegranate kernel, he was the one who had denounced her to the god of the dead.

In a first variant of this myth, Demeter had turned him into an owl as punishment; in another, the goddess had made him trapped under a great rock - and it would have been from this suffering that Hercules spared him, but the relief did not last long, for Demeter finally turned him into an owl, maintaining the punishment. Bulfinch adds that the enchanted rock that held them was at the entrance to the palace of the kings of the underworld.

Finally, arriving in Hades' presence, the hero asks that he be allowed to take Cerberus into the presence of his cousin Eurystheus, who had set him the impossible tasks. Hades agrees, provided that the son of Alcmena did not use any of his weapons, but only the cloak made of the Lion of Nemeia, which he did. After accomplishing the job, Cerberus was returned to the Attic world.


The hero Theseus, who had already kidnapped Hippolyta (queen of the Amazons) and Ariadne, had agreed with his friend Piritoo, whose ties had tightened after the Centauromachy, that they would kidnap for their wives only daughters of Zeus and humans, since both were themselves of divine origin: Theseus son of Zeus and Piritoo of Poseidon.

After casting lots, they agreed that Theseus would get Helen, and the other the Queen of Hell herself, Persephone. Both would assist each other in the task, but Theseus - then in his fifties, finds Helen still impubescent, and hides her. Together with Pyritho, he descends into the Realm of the Dead.

In the Underworld, they were welcomed by Hades. They then committed two of the most reckless acts there: cunningly invited to a banquet by the infernal god, they sat down and ate: sitting means, there, intimacy and permanence; eating, fixation. They were, therefore, stuck to their chairs.

At the time of Hercules' catabasis, the hero tries to free them, but the gods allowed only Theseus to be freed, with Pyritho remaining trapped in the Chair of Forgetfulness.


In his campaign to kill the Gorgon (or Medusa), Perseus receives the help of Athena and Hermes; he manages to penetrate the stronghold of the Grecian sisters, who, since they had only one eye, were guarding one of them while the other two slept.

Impotent, the three sisters hand him what is necessary to reach the nymphs and to win, as revealed to him by an oracle: the winged sandals, the saddlebag called quibísis (to hold Medusa's head) and the helmet of invisibility, from Hades.

Hades and Serapis

Menard narrates a story in which the infernal Zeus is thought to be the same Egyptian god Serapis, whose origin and attributes remain obscure.

Ptolemy II Philadelphus was ruling the city of Alexandria, which he sought to beautify when, in a dream, he was commanded by Serapis to seek in Pontus a statue to be dedicated to him.

There was such a monument in Sinope, dedicated to the infernal Zeus. The king of Sinope acquiesced to the request, but the people of the place rose up and surrounded the temple to prevent the removal of the image: the statue then rose and went, walking, to the ship which carried it to Egypt.

Given its great resemblance to Hades, the Emperor Julian, seeking to know the distinctions between Pluto and that god, obtained the following answer from the Oracle of Delphi: "Jupiter Serapis and Pluto are the same deity."

Hades and Asclepius

Aesculapius (Asclepius) was still a mortal when, by restoring life to a dead man, he aroused the wrath of Hades. As punishment, Zeus granted his brother's request and struck him with his thunderbolt.

Since the doctor is Apollo's son, the god decides to take revenge by attacking the Cyclops who, in Etna, manufactured the Olympian's weapons. Zeus, on account of this, punishes his son by condemning him to spend a year as a slave of Admeto, king of Thessaly. After his death, however, Zeus himself admits Asclepius as a god.

Hades and Orpheus' song

Another son of Apollo ends up having his story linked to the king of the dead: Orpheus, who had won a lyre from his father and played it with such perfection and charm that even the stones were moved. Having married Eurydice, he soon loses it because, fleeing the harassment of the shepherd Aristeus, the young woman dies bitten by a snake.

Orpheus descends into the Infernos and goes before the thrones of Hades and Persephone. There he intones a song so fascinating that the ghosts shed tears; Tantalus forgets his thirst; the vulture ceases its attack on Prometheus' liver; Sisyphus has stopped rolling his stone down the mountain, sitting on it to listen; the Danaids have stopped collecting water with sieves, and Ixion stops spinning his wheel.

The sovereigns of the underworld are also moved and grant him the wish to bring his beloved wife back to life, on the condition that he not look at her until they leave the Cthonic realms - which eventually occurs, with Eurydice dying a second time.

The World of the Dead and famous punishments

The ancient authors are not agreed on the location of the nether world; while some place it below the earth's surface, others place it to the west, in the middle of the ocean.

Its entrance was also controversial, being located in some dark and frightening spot, such as Cumas - but one of the passages was always open so as to allow entry without retreat. Its guard was left to the dog Cerberus, who was docile to those who arrived, but ferocious to those who wished to leave.

The entrance was separated from the interior by several rivers, of turbulent waters, of which the most famous was the Styx, so reliable that the gods themselves evoked it as a witness to oaths.

Its passage was made by the ferryman Charon, for whose payment the Greeks placed a coin (dânaca) in the mouth of the deceased. Other rivers were the Aqueron (river of eternal affliction), Lethe (the river of forgetfulness), Pyrphlegeton (river of fire), Cocytus (river of weeping and lamentation).

Besides the realm of the dead itself, two other regions presented themselves: the Elysian Fields, where an island of bliss received the happy souls, and Tartarus - so deep that it was as far from the earth as the earth was from the heavens. On the island of Erithia, where Geryon kept his flock under the care of the shepherd Eurystion and the dog Ortro - the target of one of the Herculean labors - the shepherd Menetes tended the flocks of Hades.


Tantalus was a king of Phrygia and ruled with despotism and treachery, even against his own son. Condemned to the remotest region of Tartarus, his punishment consisted in holding a great stone over his head, and, overcome by immense thirst and hunger which he could not quench, he sought to assuage it by picking some of the fruit that sprang up above him; but the fruit drifted away just as he was about to pick it.


Sisyphus had been a king of Corinth, and sought to deceive and take advantage of the greater gods themselves: first, he had witnessed Zeus kidnapping Aegina, the daughter of Asopos, and in return for revealing the kidnapper's name to his father, he obtained favors from him.

To take revenge, Zeus sent him Tangatos, Death, but Sisyphus bound him with chains, so that during this time no one else died - which prompted Hades to call for action. Zeus then releases Death, who initially takes Sisyphus himself, but Sisyphus cleverly orders his wife not to give him the funeral honors.

Since he could not remain in the world of the dead without the rituals, he asked the god of the underworld to come back to life and punish his wife, which he was allowed to do - but it was another trick. The Cthonian god then sent him back to Tangatus, who kills him for good.

He was taken to Tartarus, where his task was to push a rock to the top of a hill; but, as he spent all day in this endeavor, when he rested at night the rock would roll back to the bottom of the mountain - so that he had to start all over again, every day. It gave rise to the expression Sisyphean labor to denote endless tasks.


King of Thessaly had also outraged the gods, and was therefore condemned to be tied, having serps by ropes, to a mill wheel, which a wind made turn eternally.


The daughters of King Dannao, condemned for murdering their husbands, had for punishment the work of carrying water to a point, using for this purpose sieves, or pierced jugs, so that the task was never accomplished.

Hades, Zeus and Posidon: hypothesis of the trinity

For René Menard, the figure of Hades represents, together with his brother Posidon, a mere unfolding of the personality of Zeus. He has in support of such a premise the writings of Proclotus, according to whom they were a demiurgical triad, forming a single and triple god at the same time; being the post-Christian author, however, the idea of the trinity could be put in suspicion - but it finds support in ancient accounts by Pausanias and by Aeschylus, son of Euphorius.

Thus, according to Pausanias, there was an archaic wooden statue that he had seen in the temple of Zeus in Lárissa and that had previously belonged to Priam, then to Stenellus as spoil, representing the major god with three eyes, explaining such uniqueness: "all agree that Jupiter reigns in the heavens.

He also reigns over the earth, at least according to what Homer states in the following verse: 'Jupiter subterranean and the august Proserpine'. Finally, Aeschylus, son of Euphorius, also gives the name Jupiter to the god who rules the sea.

The one who represented Jupiter with three eyes thus evidently wanted to make it understood that it is the same divinity that governs the three parts of which the empire of the world is composed."

Menard concludes that ancient artists did not agree to represent a "triform god" because their "strange conception more closely resembles the temperament of India than that of Greece."

But he emphasizes that, nevertheless, all the representations made are of individuals showing the same identity: in statuary, although representing the three in isolation, he gave them a uniform complexion; one vase carried painted a triple Zeus: three equal characters side by side, with the same age and clothes.

The author concludes that the distinction between Zeus and his two brothers is possible in the ancient works only if one appreciates the accompanying attributes: for Posidon, the trident; for Zeus, the thunderbolt; and, for Hades, the company of the three-headed dog. But all with the same age, features, physiognomy.

Robert Graves also says that they resemble the Vedic male trinity formed by Mithra, Varuna, and Indra, which, he reports, appear in a Hittite manuscript of about 1,380 B.C.; he points out, however, that these myths seem to reflect the three Hellenic invasions: Ionia, Aeolia, and Achaia.

In another work Graves suggests the theory that this trinity derives from the process of invasion by some Aryan tribe of people who worshiped the "mother-goddess" personified by the Moon: the invading chieftain married the Moon priestess and queen of the conquered people - the Moon, with its three phases (crescent, full and waning), revealed goddesses in a triad which forced the division of the invading god into a triad as well.

This theory would explain figures such as the three-bodied Geryon, and who was the first king of Spain, the three-headed Cernuno of the Gauls, the Irish Brian, Iuchar and Iucharba, and finally the Greek brothers Zeus, Posidon and Hades. These three married the pre-Greek female deity of the Moon, represented in her triple aspect as Queen of Heaven, Queen of the Sea, and Queen of the Underworld.

Modern influences

The myth of Hades presents some recent cultural interpretations and uses.


Brazilian writer Monteiro Lobato brought the Greek myth to children's literature, creating a trip back in time to The Twelve Labors of Hercules, in a version with the participation of the boys from Sítio do Picapau Amarelo and the doll Emília.

In this work Lobato defines Hades, in the mouth of the character Minervino: "He is the brother of Zeus and Posidon, of Hera and Demeter. Son of the Titan Kronos, which is Time. In the repartition of the world fell to him the realm of the subterranean hells, from which he left only once here to abduct Persephone, daughter of Demeter, whom he married."

When they finally enter the Kingdom of the Dead Lobato describes the underground palace and its sights. In front of Hades the doll Emilia feels afraid - "It was one of the rare times she was really afraid."

Hades is one of the characters in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, by US author Rick Riordan which, brings the mythical Greek world to present times. The title character is the "half-blood" or "demigod" son of Posidon, and, since he is not an ordinary mortal has problems at school, which somehow leads him to attend a camp for young demigods, among which are Annabeth, daughter of Athena, and Grover, a young satyr.


Psychoanalyst Joseph Henderson associates the myth of Persephone's abduction by Hades with a gypsy legend, in which a woman meets a stranger and, despite having predicted in a dream that she would die if she knew who he was, insists on knowing his identity.

For him, the two stories reflect the role of animus in restraining in women the contact with the things of the world, the reality of life, and which is passed on to them by the father figure.

If the figure of Hades did not inspire a psychoanalytic typification, it was appreciated from an analytical point of view, in the work of Fábia Rímini. According to her, according to Myers typology, the god of the inferiors has an INTJ description - where IN reveals that the internal function is predominant;

N, who lives not the concrete reality, but the intuitive plane, of images, speaking through allegories, being faithful to the subterranean world and Persephone; T, is thought: Hades is the judge of judges, rational, his goal is objective reality. Like all introverts, the god uses intuition combined with reasoning, finding logical and ingenious solutions. J is the judgmental attitude, where he "isolates perception, orders life, believing that it should be guided and decided."

Film and television

Hades and his role as king of the nether world is depicted in several cinematic works.

Allusions are made in films such as Covert One: The Hades Factor (br/en: The Fa(c)tor Hades), 2006 science fiction, or in the 1981 British epic, Clash of the Titans (br: Fury of Titans / pt: Clash of Titans) and its 2010 remake, Clash of the Titans (br: Fury of Titans / pt: Clash of Titans), where the hero Perseus wanders in the underworld.

Also in 2010 Hades reappears in the film, based on the book of the same name, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. The god, played by Steve Coogan, is one of the main characters, and the nether world, ruled by his genial host, does not prove to be so frightening.


In 1934 Walt Disney made an animated short film in order to prepare his studios for the animation of the human figure, in order to realize the filming of the Brothers Grimm's tale, Snow White; thus, in the Silly Symphonies series, he made The Goddess of Spring, where he recreates the abduction of Persephone, and features Hades personified as the devil.

The 1997 Walt Disney Pictures animated film Hercules features Hades as the main antagonist of the Greek hero; unlike the real myth, where the god is confused and/or was always Zeus' ally, in this fiction he plans his domination of Olympus, even freeing the titans - his former adversaries. This antagonistic role was also maintained in the animated series that followed it - Hercules. In this fiction Hades, an irascible, cruel and ambitious god, plans to dethrone Zeus, relying on two mischievous sidekicks - Pain and Panic - whom he sends to get Hercules out of his way.

The anime (and also its manga variant) Knights of the Zodiac features a series of episodes entitled Hades Saga, with chapters such as World of the Dead, featuring characters known as Specters of Hades, created by Masami Kurumada and Shiori Teshirogi.