An Introduction to Hades

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Hades is lord of the dead, ruler of the underworld to whom all the earth’s subterranean treasures belong.

His wife and the queen of his realm is Persephone, daughter of Demeter.

Myths and Stories

Hades is best known for his marriage to Persephone. With the permission of her father Zeus (but with neither the permission nor the knowledge of her mother Demeter), he took her away to his kingdom under the earth. Demeter, in mourning for her lost daughter, made the earth barren until her daughter was returned; however, since Persephone had eaten several pomegranate seeds while in Hades’ realm, from then on she spent part of each year with Hades and part with her mother.

Hades also appears in the story of the apportioning of the earth between his brothers and himself. Zeus received the earth, Poseidon the sea, and Hades the underworld–which displeased him until he learned that he would also receive all precious gems and metals under the earth, making him a god of wealth as well.

A number of Hades’ other mythic appearances have to do with visits to his realm from mortals such as Orpheus.

Names and Epithets

Hades was called on as Plouton with reference to his role as granter of abundance.

Festivals

Hades did not have many temples or festivals, compared to many of the other gods. He did, however, play a part in the mysteries (along with his wife and mother-in-law) and in the rites of the dead.

Symbols

Hades was often depicted in art holding the keys to his realm. He carried a sceptre with which he could kill with a touch, and wore a helmet of invisibility.


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