The Greeks began referring to the Underworld as the “House of Hades.” In time, the word “house” was omitted from the phrase and the Underworld itself became known as Hades.
Hades, the Underworld
A black river encircled Hades the Underworld which was called the River "Styx," or "Hateful." The only way to cross the River Styx was in a ferryboat rowed by a terrible, silent boatman named Charon. There were several regions in the realm of Hades, including Elysium (Elysian Fields) (Paradise), the Asphodel Meadows (a ghostly place, where souls of led lives of near equal good and evil rested) and Tartarus (Hell). The Greek god Hades was the ruler of this realm, the King of the Dead, the 'Prince of Darkness'.
Hades (Roman Counterpart was the Underworld and the dead)
When the Roman Empire conquered the Greeks in 146BC, the Romans assimilated various elements from other cultures and civilisations, including the gods and goddesses that were worshipped by the Ancient Greeks. Many of the Greek gods and goddesses, such as Hades, were therefore adopted by the Romans but were given Latin names. The Roman counterpart of Hades was called Pluto.
Facts about Hades
The following facts and profile provides a fast overview of Hades:
Role & Function: The function of Hades is described as being the god of the Underworld and the dead. He was the elder brother of Zeus and Poseidon
Status: Occasionally classed as a major Greek god, although he did not reside on Mount Olympus as his home was the Underworld
Symbols: Cerberus, Cap of invisibility, Cypress, Narcissus and Key of Hades
Roman Counterpart: The Roman name for this god was Pluto
Name of Consort: Persephone (aka Proserpine or Proserpina)
Name of Father: Cronus
Name of Mother: Rhea
Names of Children: Macaria, Melinoe, Zagreus and Plutus
Hades and Persephone
According to the Greek myth Persephone, the daughter of Demeter and Zeus, was abducted by Hades whilst she was picking flowers in the fields of Nysa. In revenge for this act Demeter cast a curse on earth and there was a great famine. Demeter refused to lift the curse until she saw her daughter again. Zeus intervened and sent Hermes to the Underworld to ask Hades to return Persephone. However, Persephone had eaten part of a pomegranate, or love-apple, while she was with Hades so she could only be given back to her mother for part of each year. For two-thirds of the year Persephone was allowed to live with her mother and the remainder of the time she was obliged to stay with Hades as queen of the Underworld. The people believed that when Persephone made her yearly visits she brought spring with her and when the time came that she must return to Hades the bleak winter followed.
Hades in Greek Mythology
Hades, the Greek god of the Underworld and the dead, featured in the stories, myths and legends in Greek Mythology. Sometimes called the 'Prince of Darkness' he preferred living in the Underworld than on Mount Olympus with the other gods. He was fiercely protective of his domain and claimed ownership of all metals and precious stones that were found below the surface of the earth. He also claimed the souls that inhabited his domain and rarely let anyone who had entered the Underworld ever to leave again. Cerberus, a vicious, three-headed watchdog, stood guard at the locked gate, making sure the dead remained in the Underworld. Cerberus permitted all shades to enter, but none to return. Even the gods preferred not to visit Hades in the dark Underworld, only Hermes, the messenger of the gods, would take the journey.
Hades in Greek Mythology - the Furies
People were terrified of Hades and believed it brought bad fortune to even mention the god by name. He was referred to as 'Prince of Darkness' or Aidoneus meaning the “Unseen One” for fear of attracting his attention. His main role was to ensure that punishments of the dead decreed by the gods were carried out. However, such tortures and punishments were usually inflicted by the Erinyes, who were also called the Furies. The Furies were three sisters, always were draped in black, and their hair was twined with serpents.
Hades in Greek Mythology - Orpheus, Adonis and Psyche
Despite the terrors that the Underworld had to offer there are myths about people who chose to make this perilous journey. One of the most famous stories and legends relate to Orpheus in the Underworld. Orpheus went to the Underworld looking for his love Eurydice and lulled Cerberus and Charon with his beautiful music. For details of the story can be found in the Myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. The Story of Adonis who was so badly missed on earth that the gods intervened so that only half of his time was spent in the Underworld. Psyche was bade by Aphrodite to go to the regions of Hades in the Under-world, and ask Proserpine, the consort of Hades for a box of precious ointment.