The Greek Gods of Death and the Underworld
The Greek Gods of Death inhabited the terrifying realm of Hades, the Underworld. This was the dark domain of the god Hades the Prince of Darkness, his consort Persephone and other Death gods and Death goddesses who were also associated with all things mysterious and inexplicable including nightmares, sleep, ghosts, dreams, witchcraft, spells and enchantments.
Facts about the Gods of Death and the Underworld
Many Gods of Death and the Underworld feature in Ancient Greek mythology. The following list details some of the famous inhabitants of the infernal region.
Hades was the Ruler of the Underworld, the 'Prince of Darkness'
Persephone was Queen of the Underworld
Charon, the boatman ferried souls over the River Styx
Eris the goddess of Discord, quarrels and feuds
Nemesis was the avenging goddess of Divine Retribution
The god of peaceful Death
God of Dreams
Hypnos was the god of Sleep who also brought nightmares to mortals.
The Oneiroi were the sons of Hypnos and the gods of dreams, called Morpheus, Icelus, and Phantasos
The Furies, Megaera, Tisiphone and Alecto, were the tormentors and punishers of the souls in Tartarus
Oizys, goddess of misery distress, anxiety and worry
God of fear, terror and panic
Goddess of magic and witchcraft
The Keres, or “Death Fates” were 'scavengers who defiled the dead'
Geras the malevolent god of loathsome Old Age
Deimos was the God of terror
Momus was the evil-spirited god of blame
Moros was the god of Impending Doom
The Fates (Moirai) presided over destiny and kept records in the Archives of the Fates
Nyx was the primordial dark goddess of Night and wife of Chaos, the mother of Erebus
Erebus was the first god of the Underworld, a primordial deity associated with darkness
Tartarus was a primordial deity who the abyss used as the dungeon of torment that resides beneath the underworld was named after
The name of the Titan god Iapetus means 'piercer', and is an apt name as he was regarded as the god who brought forth violent deaths to mortals
Titan God of warfare and warcraft
Perses was the Titan god of destruction and the father of Hecate
Goddess of ghosts
Epiphron the demon of shrewdness
Achlys the spirit of the death-mist
Alastor the spirit of blood feuds and vengeance
The Algea were the spirits of pain and suffering: Achos, Ania and Lupe
Achos (trouble, distress) a spirit of pain and suffering
Ania (ache, anguish) a spirit of pain and suffering
Lupe (pain, grief, sadness) a spirit of pain and suffering
Phrike the spirit of horror and trembling fear
Greek Gods of Death - Psychopomps
Deities of the underworld, commonly called death deities or death gods, are referred to as Psychopomps who rule over the dead.
The Gods of Death - Hades the Underworld
Hades the Underworld consisted of different parts where the souls of dead mortals resided. The River Styx was a great black river that encircled the Underworld. Crossing the River Styx was the only route to the afterlife that was taken in a ferryboat rowed by a terrible, silent boatman, one of the gods of death named Charon the Ferryman. The souls of mortals who had led good lives were sent to the Elysian Fields, part of Elysium (equivalent to paradise). The souls of mortals who had led both good and evil lives on earth were sent to the Asphodel Meadows, where they were faced an eternity of endless toil. Those mortals that had led evil, unworthy lives were confined in the dark depths of Tartarus (Hell), in the rancid bowels of the earth, where no sunshine nor gleam of daylight ever appeared. The souls of the wicked suffered endless torture and punishments in Tartarus that were delivered by the Goddesses and Gods of Death. There was no escape from the gods of death and Tartarus which was surrounded by the River Phlegethon which flowed with fire that burned but did not devour fuel and was made of boiling blood.
Gods of Death in the Underworld
The imaginary world of the Underworld, with its different provinces, including Gods of Death, was believed to be located in a subterranean region, the world of the dead where all souls passed after their time on earth. Gods of Death was the most feared of all the realms. The River Styx was the great black river that encircled the Underworld, one of five rivers in the Underworld. The only way to cross the River Styx was in a ferryboat rowed by a terrible boatman named Charon the Ferryman. After facing judgement those souls who had committed evil deeds were sent to Gods of Death (Hell). Gods of Death was said to be surrounded by massive, solid walls of unyielding strength surrounded by the river Phlegethon. The waves of which rolled flames of fire, and lit up, with their lurid glare, the awful realm of Gods of Death. The River Phlegethon (meaning flaming) was described as "a stream of fire, which coils round the earth and flows into the depths of Gods of Death". According to some myths the River Phlegethon flowed with fire that burned but did not devour fuel, other legends say that it was made of boiling blood.
Gods of Death & the Underworld - the Journey of the Dead
The trials and journey of the dead were taken by all souls, both good and evil. On this journey they encountered many of the gods of death and spirits of the Underworld.
Charon the Ferryman & Cerberus: The journey to the underworld began by crossing the River Styx requiring payment to Charon, the ferryman. The realm of the dead was guarded by Cerberus the grotesque three-headed hound who permitted all shades to enter, but none to return. The sight of the massive, monstrous Cerebus was the first to confront the souls of the dead when they alighted from the ferryman's boat
The Judges of the Dead Minos, Rhadamanthus and Aeacus: The shades then faced the 'Judges of the Dead' who judged whether the life of a mortal had been good or evil. The names of the three judges were Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Aeacus. Europa was the mother of the three judges. Minos, who became king of Crete, was celebrated for his justice and moderation, and after death he was created one of the judges of the lower world, which office he held in conjunction with his brothers.
The Keres (Death Spirits): The souls made their confessions about their life on earth and their 'Ker', or life force was weighed by the Keres (the Death Spirits)
The Three Fates (The Moirai): The Judges of the Dead and the gods pronounced the precise torments and punishments of the evil and the Fates (Moirai) entered complete record of their mortal lives in the Archives of the Fates, on indestructible tablets of brass and iron
Hecate: The evil and wicked souls were sent to the Crossroads of Hecate and directed to Tartarus, literally the 'Road to Hell'
The Furies: The wretched sinners were seized by the terrible goddesses, called the Furies, who scourged them with their whips, and dragged them along to the the bronze Gates of Tartarus, literally the 'Gates of Hell', into whose awful depths they were hurled to suffer endless tortures and punishments.