Evan Schatz

Of all the gods of ancient Greece, from all mighty Zeus to Poseidon lord of the raging seas, none are more hated and feared as Hades, ruler of the Underworld and of the dead. Also known as the Rich one for possession of the Earth, he lets no mortal pass his watchful gaze while he sits on his throne ruler of. Hades is the most hated god in Greek mythology; why people worshiped him, and how he impacted society and culture then and now. He was involved with much of the Gods and Goddesses of Greek mythology both negatively and positively, and how this God was looked at in myths in legends.

A broken statue of Hades and Cerberus

King of the Dead, Lord Hades rules the Netherealm (Mass). Having his fate decided when he and his brothers, Zeus and Poseidon, drew lots to see who ruled what kingdom. Hades received the Underworld. Sitting on his throne made of ebony with his abducted wife Persephone, he rules his kingdom with an iron fist. Also called 'The Rich One' for possessing all of Earths fine minerals, and also for enriching himself with our sigh and our tears (Lindermans). According to one of my sources he is feared by all and that even the gods of Olympus have an aversion to him. Another source told me that according to Greek mythology he is ever growing hungrier for power and that need has driven him to be greedy and bitter over what he has (Lindermans). In several legends involving heroes that must journey through the Underworld, the heroes must outsmart or evade Hades in order to get what they came for. Orpheus the great musician had to play for Hades in order to take his wife Eurydice who died from a snake bite, however the quest fell short when Eurydice was not able to leave the Underworld

Before ancient Greece was invaded and switched to Christianity the Greeks worshiped many gods on their everyday basis, you probably know this already though. However when they pass away, the family places a gold coin under their tongue so that they may peacefully travel through the River Styx to the Underworld, also called Hades, where they spend the rest of eternity living in 3 realms. The fiery pits of Tartarus for the damned, Asphodel Fields for those that have not committed any sins but did not worship the gods, and Elysium; the home of heroes and the innocent that have been praised for their good deeds. In this way, you prayed to Hades so that your loved ones may have a proper afterlife. For those that were not given a proper burial had to wait at the gates of Hades for 100 years until the gatekeeper Charon let them through (Mass). For the citizens of Greece, this was a horrible fate of life after death. Since they also did not believe in being born after death they made sure to worship the Gods everyday and not to commit acts of evil so that when they died they would not be sent to the fiery pits of Tartarus.
An apothecary jar adorned with Hades giving Persephone a pomegranate

In our modern day of technology we have almost no room for old religions like the Greek gods to be remembered now, but they have influenced us more than you have imagined. Most of what we consider the afterlife to be is based off of the interpretation of Dante Alighieri who saw it as 3 parts: Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. This in turn is based off of the Greek belief of the Underworld which consisted of Tartarus (Hell), Asphodel Fields (Purgatory), and Elysian Fields (Heaven). Leaving our deceased loved ones with tokens and offerings are also part of the Greek way of letting the soul traverse to the Underworld. In a way a lot of our architecture also comes from the depiction of the Underworld, a hallway or a road leading to the main part of the building or campus.

The Goddess Demeter, Goddesses of harvest had a beautiful daughter with Zeus named Persophone (Keenan). One day while Persophone was playing in a field when a giant whole swallowed her up, this whole led to her to the Underworld and to Hades (Glossary). After eating a pomegranate she had to eternally become the wife of Hades and forever live in the Underworld for half the year which gave birth to winter. This is one of the reasons why Hades is so disliked among the Gods of Mt. Olympus. Another reason is because when the gods fought and beat the titans, Hades didn’t take part in the battle until the very end. Although looked upon as an “evil” god he is fairly neutral. In Homers “The Odysssey” Hades allowed Odyseus to contact his dead mother and find out about how his home, Ithaca, is.

Like mentioned, Hades is looked at by heroes and other mortals with neutrality (Hunt). In Orpheus’s legend he defeats Hades by going into his realm and almost freed his wife Eurydice. However in Heracles challenge he must capture Cerberus and bring him back to the King’s palace alive. In both cases Hades is looked negatively (Glossary). However researchers have found in myths that Hades was regarded as passive. Being the god of the Underworld puts many negative views on him.

Hades was hated but worshipped as lord of the Underworld in order to give the deceased love ones of the Greeks closure, and impacted our society more than we may know. He is also in many of Greek society ancient myths and instead of being god that was looked at negatively was instead passive. My final thought is that researching Hades has been an interesting made me learn more about how societies work around the world and how societies were history was influenced by religion.

Works Cited

Hunt, J. M. "Greek Mythology Gods Olympians." Deutschlands Größtes Beschleunigerzentrum - Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY. Web. 16 Dec. 2011. <http://www.desy.de/gna/interpedia/greek_myth/olympian.html>.

Lindermans, Micha F. "Hades." Encyclopedia Mythica: Mythology, Folklore, and Religion.5 Mar. 2004. Web. 16 Dec. 2011. <http://www.pantheon.org/articles/h/hades.html>.

"Glossary of the Greek Gods and Goddesses, Deities and Literary Characters - Mythology of Greece and Minoan Crete." Find Crete Holidays, Hotels and Apartments, Car Hire and Internet Services Links. Greek Islands Travel and Tourism. Web. 16 Dec. 2011. <http://www.makeitcrete.com/crete_mythology.html>.

Mass, Wendy. Gods and Goddesses. San Diego, CA: Lucent, 2002. Print.

Keenan, Sheila. Gods, Goddesses, and Monsters: an Encyclopedia of World Mythology. New York: Scholastic, 2000. Print.