Mythman's Major Olympian Gods






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Hades ruled the dead, assisted by demons over whom he had complete authority. He strictly forbade his subjects to leave his domain and would become quite enraged when anyone tried to leave, or if someone tried to steal his prey from him.

Very few people ever visited the Underworld and were permitted to leave - In Homer's Iliad, we are told that Heracles (Hercules) was forbidden by Hades to enter his kingdom, but the great Greek hero wounded Hades with an arrow and attained victory, even managing to capture the three headed hound of Hades called Cerberus.

Besides Heracles, warriors named Er, Achilles, Odysseus, Aeneas, and Theseus are among those who descended to Hades while they were still living. None of them was especially pleased with what they witnessed in the realm of the dead. In particular the Trojan War hero Achilles, whom Odysseus met in Hades (although some believe that Achilles dwells in the Isles of the Blest), said:

"Do not speak soothingly to me of death, glorious Odysseus. I should choose to serve as the hireling of another, rather than to be lord over the dead that have perished."

(Achilles' soul to Odysseus, Homer, Odyssey)

Hades' weapon was a two-pronged fork, which he used to shatter anything that was in his way or not to his liking, much like Poseidon did with his trident. This ensign of his power was a staff with which he drove the shades of the dead into the lower world.

His other ordinary attributes are the Key of Hades and Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guarded the gates of the Underworld. Click here for more info on Cerberus.

Hades was known on occasion to let both mortals and god temporarily borrow his helmet of invisibility to perform their tasks, showing that he wasn't all bad news.

For the most part Hades would spend his time in the Underworld, oblivious to the happenings on earth or on Olympus, except for the news that reached his ears through the oaths of men and gods, sworn at the infernal river Styx, or by rumors that made their way to the lower regions.

He kept the gates of the lower world closed, that no shade might be able to escape or return to the region of light. When mortals invoked him, they struck the earth with their hands, and the sacrifices which were offered to him and his queen Persephone consisted of black male and female sheep.

The person who offered the sacrifice had to turn away his face, just in case he appeared insolent and incurred Hades' wrath.

When he carried off Persephone from the upper world, he rode in a golden chariot drawn by four black immortal horses. Besides these horses he was also believed to have herds of oxen in the lower world and in the island of Erytheia, which were attended to by his servant called Menoetius.

Like his brother Zeus and other ancient gods, Hades wasn't the most faithful of husbands. He pursued and loved the nymph Mintho and to punish her for this, his jealous wife Persephone turned Mintho into the plant called mint.

Likewise, the nymph Leuce, who was also ravished by him, was metamorphosed by Hades into a white poplar tree after her death.

Hades was worshipped throughout Greece and Italy. In Elis he had a sacred enclosure and a temple, which was opened only once a year.

Hades also had temples at Pylos, Triphyliacus, near Mount Menthe, between Tralles and Nysa, at Athens in the grove of the Erinnyes, and at Olympia.

Even though Hades initially was only the name of the god, in later times it was transferred to his domain, his abode or kingdom, so that Hades eventually became a name for the lower world itself. 

In works of art, Hades resembles his brothers, Zeus and Poseidon, except that his hair falls over his forehead, and his appearance is portrayed as dark and gloomy. The god of the Underworld, whose name mortals dared not utter, was one scary dude!

Persephone Myth Here!
Cerberus Info Here!
Tartarus Info Here!

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