Hades the Underworld
Hades the Underworld was a mysterious and supernatural realm. It was the domain of the god Hades and other gods and goddesses associated with the inexplicable, such as death, disease, sleep, ghosts, dreams, witchcraft and enchantments. The realm of Hades the Underworld consisted of different areas where the souls of dead mortals also resided. Mortals who had led a good life were sent to the Elysian Fields, part of Elysium, the province of the gods and goddesses of the Underworld. The souls of mortals who had been both good and evil on earth were sent to the Asphodel Meadows. Those mortals that had led evil lives were confined in the dark depths of the mysterious Underworld, in the bowels of the earth, called Tartarus where no ray of sunshine nor gleam of daylight or healthy life ever appeared and the souls of the wicked suffered endless torture.
Geography of Hades the Underworld
The imaginary world of Hades the Underworld was believed to be located in a subterranean region. It was the world of the dead where all souls passed after their time on earth. The River Styx was a great black river that encircled Hades the Underworld. The only way to cross the River Styx was in a ferryboat rowed by a terrible, silent boatman named Charon the Ferryman. In the dominions of Hades there were several main areas:
The Five Rivers of Hades the Underworld
Five rivers flowed through Hades the Underworld:
- The River Styx
- The River Acheron
- The River Cocytus
- The River Phlegethon
- The River Lethe
Facts about Hades the Underworld
The realms of and facts about Hades the Underworld are described in the following list, a second list details interesting information and facts about the residents of Hades the Underworld.
The Underworld: The Underworld, also known as the Infernal region, was believed to be inhabited by the shades or spirits of the dead and their keepers
River Styx: The River Styx (meaning Hateful) was a great black river that encircled Hades the Underworld. The only way to cross the River Styx was in a ferryboat rowed by a terrible boatman named Charon
River Acheron: The River Acheron (meaning sorrow) was also known as the River of Pain that flowed from the River Styx and believed to carry pains for mortals. It also carried the good souls from the Underworld that were sent back to earth after 1000 years to be born again into living beings
River Cocytus: The souls that had committed a terrible sin in a moment of passion but had lived in repentance for the rest of their earthly lives were sent to Tartarus. But after one year suffering the torments of hell were sent down the River Cocytus (meaning lamentation) to face a further judgement. The souls of the unburied dead were said to wander along its marshy banks
River Phlegethon: The River Phlegethon (meaning flaming) was described as "a stream of fire, which coils round the earth and flows into the depths of Tartarus".
River Lethe: The good souls of the dead had to drink from the River Lethe (meaning oblivion & forgetfulness) which made them forget all they had done and suffered when they were alive
Elysium: Elysium was described as a Paradise and domain of the good souls of the dead and where many of the gods and goddesses of the Underworld resided
City and Palace of Hades: The golden Palace of Hades was located in Elysium and was the seat of power over the Underworld that was ruled by the god Hades, the King of the Underworld and his wife, Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld. Hades held court in the palace which was located in Elysium beside the Pool of Lethe and this, and the City of Hades, was the abode of other important gods and goddesses who resided in Hades
Cerberus: Hades the Underworld was guarded by Cerberus the monstrous three-headed dog whose howls could be heard across the realm. Cerberus permitted all shades to enter, but none to return. The sight of the huge and monstrous Cerebus confronted the souls of the dead when they alighted from the ferryman's boat following their journey across the River Styx.
The Judges of the Dead: In the forecourt of the Palace of Hades sat the three judges of the Dead called Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Aeacus, guarded by Cerberus the three-headed dog, who judged whether the life of a mortal had been good or evil.
The Death Fates (the Keres): The Death Fates, or Keres, were present at the judgement when the ultimate fate of a mortal was about to be decided and after their confessions weighed the person's 'Ker', or life force.
The Crossroads of Hecate: When the judgement was made the souls were sent to the crossroads, sacred to Hecate, where three roads meet. The souls were then directed to the Fields of Asphodel if they had lived neither virtuous nor evil lives, sent by the road to Tartarus if they were evil, or sent to Elysian Fields (Paradise)
Archives of the Fates: The Fates (Moirai) kept the Archives of the Fates that contained the complete records of all mortals and events, on indestructible tablets of brass and iron
Elysian Fields: The Elysian Fields was the residence of the good souls. "Elysian the fields of the blessed, where flowers of gold bloomed in beautiful meadows"
Fields of Asphodel: The souls of mortals who had been both good and evil on earth were sent to the Asphodel Meadows in the Underworld for unending toil and hardship. Hades possessed a herd of immortal, sable-black cattle which roamed the asphodel fields under the care of the evil, supernatural herdsman Menoetes.
Tartarus: The infernal regions, described in the Iliad as situated as far below Hades as heaven is above the earth. It was the place of punishment for the spirits of the wicked.
Facts about the Inhabitants of Hades the Underworld in Greek Mythology
Discover interesting information and facts about the inhabitants of Tartarus and Elysium. The facts about Hades the Underworld provides a list detailing fascinating additional info to increase your knowledge about Hades the Underworld in Greek Mythology.
Hades, god of the Underworld: The god of the underworld, the brother of Zeus and husband of Persephone in ancient mythology
Persephone: Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld, daughter of Zeus and Demeter and wife of Hades
The Keres (Death Spirits): The Keres were the primordial goddesses who personified violent deaths especially on the battlefield
Hecate: Hecate was another creature of darkness and the Underworld and the patron of magic and witchcraft
The Fates: The Three Fates were the death goddesses, the personification of destiny
The Furies: The Furies (Erinyes) were the three infernal goddesses of vengeance and retribution, the punishers
Apate: Apate was the goddess of Deception
Lyssa: Lyssa was the goddess of the spirit of mad rage and frenzy
The Judges of the Dead: The Judges of the Dead. Minos, the head judge, Rhadamanthus, who declared to each wicked soul the precise torments which awaited him in Tartarus and Aeacus who held the keys to Hades
Cerberus: Cerberus, the three-headed monster hound, that guarded Hades ensuring that that no one who had once passed into the kingdom of the dead could ever come out again
Epiphron: Epiphron the demon of shrewdness
Nemesis: Nemesis was the goddess of Divine Retribution
Charon the Ferryman: Charon was the brother of the Keres, the boatman who ferried souls across the River Styx to the Underworld
Geras: Geras was believed to be an evil spirit who personified old age
Moros: Moros was the god of Doom
Hypnos: Hypnos was the God of sleep who also brought nightmares
Eris: Eris, the goddess of Discord, confusion and strife
Oizys: Oizys was the goddess of distress who personified worry and anxiety
Momus: Momus was the evil-spirited god of blame
Thanatos: Thanatos was a god of Death, hated as the enemy of mankind
Plutus: Plutus, was the god of wealth
Tityus: Tityus one of the earth-born giants, had insulted Hera. Zeus flung him into Tartarus, where he suffered dreadful torture, inflicted by two vultures, which perpetually gnawed his liver.
Tantalus: Tantalus insulted Zeus and was tortured with an ever-burning thirst
Sisyphus: Sisyphus was a tyrant condemned to incessantly roll a huge block of stone up a steep hill, which, always rolled back again
Ixion: Ixion offended Zeus and Hera and was bound to an ever-revolving wheel.
The Danaides: The Danaides were the 50 daughters of Danaus who married and murdered their 50 cousins. Their punishment was to fill with water a vessel full of holes, a never-ending and useless task.