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Myths Featuring the Greek God Hades


Fragment of Terracotta Relief Depicting Hades abducting Persephone

Fragment of terracotta relief depicting Hades abducting Persephone South Italian (from Locri); Greek, 470-460 B.C. New York; Metropolitan Museum.

Paula Chabot, 2000 Vroma
Hades, son of Cronus and Rhea, received the Underworld for his realm, when his brother gods, Zeus and Poseidon, received dominion of the sky and sea. Hades is the enemy of all life, gods, and men. Since nothing will sway him, he is rarely worshiped. There are, however, a few myths in which he plays a major role.

Hades and Persephone:

Perhaps the most infamous story about Hades is his abduction of Persephone. Hades was the brother of Persephone's mother Demeter. While the girl Persephone was playing, Hades and his chariot emerged briefly from a crack in the earth to seize her. While in the Underworld, Hades tried to win Persephone's affections. Eventually Hades tricked her into staying with him by offering her a tempting pomegranate to eat.

Hades and Heracles (Hercules):

As one of his labors for King Eurystheus, Heracles had to bring Hades' watchdog Cerberus back from the Underworld. Heracles had divine help -- probably from Athena. Since the dog was only being borrowed, Hades was sometimes portrayed as willing to lend Cerberus -- so long as Heracles used no weapon to capture the fearsome beast. Elsewhere Hades was portrayed as injured or threatened by a club and bow-wielding Heracles.

Theseus Attempts to Abduct Persephone:

After seducing a young Helen of Troy, Theseus decided to go with Perithous to take the wife of Hades -- Persephone. Hades tricked the two mortals into taking seats of forgetfulness from which they could not get up until Heracles came to rescue them.

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