Hades, the King of the Underworld

Hades was one of the original six Olympian gods and the eldest son of the Titans, Cronus and Rhea. He was known as the god of death and the King of the Underworld, where the souls of the dead were believed to travel after death.  He was also known as the god of the secret wealth of the earth because of all the wealth that came with cultivating the fertile soil and mining gold, silver and other valuable metals.

The word “hades” means invisible in Greek language and Hades actually had a helmet which made him invisible. Hades is also known as Haides, Adioneus or Aides and the counterpart of Hades in Roman mythology is Pluto.

According to the myth, Hades and his four other siblings were swallowed by their father, Cronus, and Zeus forced Cronus to disgorge all his brothers and sisters. Being released from this captivity, Zeus and his brothers, Hades and Poseidon united their forces, defeated the Titans and gained control of the whole universe. Three brothers shared the cosmos and Zeus got the realm of sky and air whereas Poseidon got to rule the realm of the sea and Hades got to rule the realm of the Underworld and the dead.

Since the phenomenon of death and meeting the god of death has been being perceived as evil, Hades was mostly considered as an evil god.  However, this was a misconception and Hades’ task was only to provide a balance between the world of the living and the world of the dead preventing the living from passing to the Kingdom of the Underworld and vice versa. Since he was the ruler of the realm of the dead, Hades was mostly associated with death but the actual personification of the death was not Hades but Thanatos. Hades only kept the two worlds apart from each other and protected the balance in between. He was known as a greedy, unpitying, cruel and ruthless god but he was fair in character and he was never actually an evil god.

Hades wanted Zeus to find him a wife and Zeus granted him his daughter Persephone. Persephone’s mother was Demeter, the goddess of harvest and she was furious about Zeus’ desire to make their daughter marry Hades. So, Hades abducted Persephone to the underworld.

Demeter brought a great famine on the earth until her daughter was brought back from the realm of the dead. Zeus agreed with Demeter to bring Persephone back but Persephone had to go back to the underworld for a part of every year since she had tasted pomegranate seeds, which were known as Hades’ food.

Persephone’s travel to the underworld also symbolized vegetation cycle on the earth. Spring was known as the time when she came back from the realm of the dead and the earth became fertile and fruitful and winter was known as the time she entered the realm of the dead again after the harvest