Hades: Of Riches And Death

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Born to the Titans: Cronus and Rhea, Hades was the eldest amongst the five siblings, two brothers – Zeus, Poseidon and three sisters – Hestia, Hera and Demeter.

Known as the “King of the Underworld”, Hades, according to Plato, was considered one of the Olympian Gods, the Greek God of the Dead.

Hades and his brothers fought a war with their own father and the Titans to end their reign, and claimed possession over the cosmos. To split their kingdoms they drew lots. Hades drew poorly which resulted in him becoming lord of the underworld and ruler of the dead. Zeus became the god of the skies and Poseidon god of the seas.

Hades thus became the supreme ruler of the underworld, which he rarely left. He is said to have possessed a gloomy temperament, surrounded by darkness and silence of the underworld. He was mainly interested in increasing his subjects, and anyone whose deeds resulted in people dying was favored by him. The Erinnyes (the Furies), who were infamous for torturing the guilty, were welcomed guests in his kingdom. Upon entering his kingdom, no one was ever allowed to leave.

Hades’ helper was Charos, the angel of dead. Charos had the duty to transfer the souls of the dead with a boat over the River Acheron from the world of the living to the world of the dead.

Another permanent companion was a three headed dog Cerberus, who helped Hades protect his realm.

Hades was married to Persephone, who was the only daughter of his sister Demeter. Hades kidnapped her and took her to the underworld with him and made her his queen. She is supposed to have been the most carefully guarded lady in the whole universe.

However, two men, Pirithoüs and Theseus, two friends, journeyed to the underworld to rescue Persephone as Pirithoüs was in love with Persephone and was determined to have her as his wife.

Hades thwarted their plan by making them sit on the chair of forgetfulness, which was known to make the occupant forget everything. Theseus was later rescued by Hercules but Pirithoüs forever remained Hade’s prisoner, a punishment for trying to steal his queen.

He is said to have fathered three children: Macaria, Melinoe and Zagreus

Hades was also associated with Sisyphus, the man who was condemned to roll a boulder uphill forever in the underworld. Legend has it that Hades allowed this condemned man to return to earth to arrange for his own funeral.

The symbols associated with Hades are the throne that he sat, made of ebony. He held a scepter in his that had the shape of a pitchfork. Much like Poseidon’s trident, he too used his pitchfork to cause earthquakes. The other symbols which link him to earth’s fertility are the Narcissus, the Cyprus and the drinking horn. A gift that Hades had been given by Cyclopes was his helmet of invisibility, the one that rendered the wearer invisible. He had used this during the war with the Titans. The Greek meaning of the word “Hades” is invisible.

With his abode below the earth, Hades dominion was also considered the richest…with its precious metals, gems and stones. Hence he was also called the God of Riches ….possessor of the precious metals of the earth.

Hades kingdom was said to have been separated from the world of The Living by the rivers Styx, Lethe, Acheron, Phlegethon and Cocytus.

Being associated with Death and Underworld, Hades was not welcomed to the world of The Living. In fact, the Greeks referred to him as Pluto in order to avoid taking the name “Hades” and supposedly preponing their own death.

In modern science too, Hades is used to define the deepest and the darkest places on the earth ….for example….”The Hadal Zone”, comprising primarily deep ocean trenches and troughs, represents the deepest marine habitat on Earth (6000 to 11,000 meters or 3.7 to 6.8 miles).

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