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Hades - Greek God of the Underworld


Hades and Persephone

Hades on Attic red-figure at the Louvre, by the Oionokles painter (c. 470 B.C.). Persephone is on the left.

Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia. From the Louvre.
Persephone and Hades, With Cerberus

Persephone and Hades, With Cerberus

Persephone and Hades

Persephone and Hades


Who Is Hades?:

Although Hades (the Unseen One) is an Olympian god, he is the Lord of the Underworld and ruler of the dead. He is not the god of death, however -- that's Thanatos. Hades rules those deceased mortals who have been given proper funeral rites and brought over from the land of the living to the other side, ferried there by Charon.

Hades complained about Apollo's son, the healer Asclepius, because he restored people to life, thereby reducing Hades' dominions.

The Underworld god 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. He is a feared and hated deity. An oath taken on his name is especially binding, and not just for us mere mortals.

There are few stories about Hades since he spends most of his time among the non-living.

The people of Elis had a temple for him, but this was unusual.



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:

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. Besides, someone as feared as Hades, like his children, the Erinyes, is often addressed by euphemism. (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 it. 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. A three-headed dog (Cerberus) is often in his company. He owns a helmet of invisibility and a chariot.


Ancient sources for Hades include: Apollodorus, Cicero, Hesiod, Homer, Hyginus, Ovid, Pausanias, Statius, and Strabo.

Myths With Hades:

Myths about Hades (Pluto) re-told by Thomas Bulfinch include:


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