Hades Life As An Adult

Hades Life As An Adult – Becoming the Lord of the Underworld is not the easiest job. The Greek god Hades often gets an undeservedly bad reputation. This is why he shouldn’t.

Hades in Disney’s Hercules, 1997, via IMDB (left); Pluto and Cerberus, unknown Italian artist, mid-16th century BC, via the Met Museum (right); Crater from Altamura showing Persephone and Hades, unknown artist, c. 350 BC, National Archaeological Museum of Naples, via the Getty Museum (background)

Hades Life As An Adult

Hades is perhaps the most misunderstood and misinterpreted Greek god. Clash of the Titans, Disney’s Hercules, the Percy Jackson movies – the god Hades is the villain. In this adaptation of the Greek god Hades, the infamous god of death, he is often seen committing crimes, devising his latest diabolical plot and wreaking havoc on everyone involved. However, in the Greek mythological canon, Hades causes almost no trouble at all. In fact, he is one of the most peaceful and impartial gods. So why do most adaptations of the Greek myth feature Hades as the villain?

Eat The Fruit: Persephone And Demeter

Painting of Gods in Palazzo Te, Giulio Romano, 1525, via Palazzo del Te in Mantua.

The name of the Greek god Hades, in ancient Greek “᾽Αιδης”, comes from the ancient Greek word for “invisible”. This is only the beginning of the sad story of Hades. The meaning of the name suits Hades because his efforts often go unnoticed. At first, Hades helps his younger brothers Zeus and Poseidon overthrow the giant Titan Kronos in an epic battle for control of the cosmos. When the prize winners were divided, Zeus was given dominion over the sky, Poseidon over the seas, Hades over the underworld. Although some sources say that the god Hades was not pleased with this decision, he never complained or looked for other roles.

Despite being born in the same generation as the other Olympian gods, Hades was excluded from the group, and therefore does not have the title “Olympian”. He has no home or sanctuary on Olympus, but instead is confined to his domain in the underworld. Instead of the title Olympian, Hades has the title ‘Chthonic’, which roughly translates as ‘things related to the underworld’. So, even in the title he stands out from his peers.

Ironically, the Greek god Hades was called Pluto in Roman mythology, and in astronomy Pluto was considered a planet. There is a pattern of unfortunate exceptions here for Underworld Gods.

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The Greek god Hades doesn’t have many shrines compared to the other major gods. He had a sizable sect in Thesprotia, where there was the oracle of the dead. Not many Hades statues have been excavated, indicating that not many were made. While other gods, such as Aphrodite, were known to become angry and cruel when not worshiped, Hades is not recorded in any of the myths as taking revenge on humans for their ignorance.

Despite Hades’ silence about his grievances in Greek myth, films such as Disney’s Hercules characterize Hades as vengeful and plotting to overthrow Olympus. However, in Greek mythology, Hades never tried to usurp any gods, especially Zeus, the king, but other gods did! Poseidon and several other gods felt that Zeus was doing a terrible job of governing the universe and tried to remove him from power. In this case, Hades is not present! Far from being an instigator, Hades is an impartial party.

Even in the epic battle, the Trojan War, Hades was impartial, unlike the gods who enthusiastically took sides causing more havoc than humans. Meanwhile, Hades has to deal with the influx of souls in his domain due to all the deaths caused by his fickle fellow gods. Instead of causing trouble, Hades will have to face the consequences: an overcrowded underworld!

Crater from Altamura showing Persephone and Hades, unknown artist, c. 350 BC, Naples National Archaeological Museum, Naples, via the Getty Museum.

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This impartiality allows Hades to fairly maintain law and order. In one myth, Pirithous wanted Persephone for his wife, so he convinced his friend Theseus to help him try to kidnap the queen of the underworld. When Hades found them, he chained them to the Seat of Forgetfulness. Finally, Theseus was released when Heracles came, but Pirithous, the firebrand, had to stay behind for penance. This was a quite reasonable reaction, as the mastermind behind the plot was punished longer than his co-conspirators. Most gods would instantly kill them for trying to steal their wives!

Hades is very hard to bribe, an ideal quality for guardian of the dead. As the Lord of the Underworld, he must be cold-hearted as many people pray for their lost loved ones to be brought back to life. In some myths, Hades is described as having a heart of iron. Once he was moved to be compassionate for someone else’s grief, he wept iron tears.

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The Greek god Hades was entrusted with judging the dead (along with a jury of his own choosing). Part of this job means that Hades must maintain order in nature and keep the cycle of life in check. When he punished people, it was not out of bitterness, jealousy, or revenge, but simply because they had upset the balance between life and death.

In one myth, Sisyphus first avoids death by claiming he wasn’t properly buried, so Hades lets him leave the underworld to make things right. Sisyphus then avoided death a second time by capturing Death as he came to bring him back to the underworld. This causes chaos because now no one can die with prevented death. Sisyphus was punished by rolling a rock up the hill forever. Ironically, this punishment was meted out by Zeus, again upon Hades.

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The controversial one: Persephone’s kidnapping. But should it be noticed? Hades took Persephone from the mortal world to the underworld to be his wife. But the Homeric Hymn to Demeter actually states that Hades had asked Zeus for permission to marry his daughter. So, by ancient Greek standards, Hades had the right to take Persephone as his wife in the underworld. (Not so fair to the lady, but that’s ancient Greek culture).

Also, in most versions of the myth, Persephone voluntarily chooses to eat a pomegranate which ties her to the underworld forever. But Hades, remembering how annoyed Demeter (Persphone’s mother) was about this, allowed Persephone to leave the underworld for half a year, every year. Hades was under no obligation to do this, but he did.

It paints the god Hades not as a greedy kidnapper, but as a man who follows Greek customs and even compromises to please his mother-in-law. (What a struggle!)

The Greek god Hades was a comparatively better husband than his fellow gods. While Zeus and Poseidon – Hades’ brothers – were widely known for their extramarital affairs, Hades remained loyal to Persephone.

Myths Involving The Greek God Hades

However, there are two instances where Hades’ loyalty is questioned: Minthe and Leuce. However, since there is no clear timeline for these love affairs, they could be placed before Hades’ marriage to Persephone.

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Leuce is a sea nymph that Hades fell in love with and brought to the underworld. When his life ended, Hades turned him into a poplar tree in Elysium. The poplar tree is also a sacred symbol to Hades, showing how Hades respects his relationship with him.

Minthe appears to have been a former lover of the god Hades. Sources are unclear on the timeline, but it seems that when Hades married Persephone, Minthe became jealous. boasted that he would win back Hades as a lover. Hades appears in myths not to respond to his claims. However, Persephone retaliated by turning Minthe into a mint plant.

Pluto and Cerberus, Giovanni Battista at Jacopo, early 17th century, via The Metropolitan Museum, New York

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As Hollywood depictions suggest, Hades was never the villain of any of the Greek myths. On the other hand, Hades helps the heroes when they come to him for help.

For one of his twelve labors, Hercules came to bring Cerberus, the three-headed overseer of Hades, to the land of the living. When Hercules had an audience with Hades, the god allowed the hero to take Cerberus “walking” on the condition that Cerberus was unharmed and brought back safely.

Bonus points for Hades: The name “Cerberus” is considered by some to be related to the Proto-Indo-European word Kerberos meaning “visible”. Hades named his dog ‘Spot’ because it gave him compliments.

In the case of Perseus, the hero who defeated the gorgon Medusa, the god Hades lent him the Helmet of Darkness. Perseus can use this helmet to become invisible and easily slay monsters in his quest. This is a stark contrast to Clash of the Titans which pitted Hades against Perseus!

Hades X Percy Jackson

Orpheus Playing the Lyre to Hades and Persephone, from Orpheus and Eurydice or Metamorphoses, by Wauters Workshop, via The Art Institute of

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