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Hades

Hades (hā´dēz), in Greek and Roman religion and mythology. 1 The ruler of the underworld: see Pluto. 2 The world of the dead, ruled by Pluto and Persephone, located either underground or in the far west beyond the inhabited regions. It was separated from the land of the living by the rivers Styx [hateful], Lethe [forgetfulness], Acheron [woeful], Phlegethon [fiery], and Cocytus [wailing]. The newly arrived dead were ferried across the Styx by the avaricious old ferryman Charon, whom they paid with the coin that was placed in their mouths when they were buried. Unauthorized spirits who tried to enter or leave Hades were challenged by the fearful dog Cerberus. The honey cake that the Greeks buried with the dead was intended to quiet him. All the dead drank of the river of forgetfulness. The judges of the dead—Minos, Aeacus, and Rhadamanthus—assigned to each soul its appropriate abode. The virtuous and the heroic were rewarded in the Elysian fields; wrongdoers were sent to Tartarus; and most wandered as dull shadows among fields of asphodel.

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Hades

Hades

Greek god of the underworld and of wealth, also identified with Pluto. Hades abducted Persephone (daughter of the corn goddess Demeter) and made her his wife. In his intimidating character as lord of death, Hades was mysterious and terrifying, but in his benign aspect he was the generous god of wealth. His attention could be secured by striking the ground, and he could be propitiated by an offering of a black-fleeced sheep.

Entrance to the domain of Hades was through the groves of Persephone, where the gates were guarded by the great dog Cerberus, who admitted visitors without difficulty but would not let them leave. After passing through the gate, one had several rivers to cross, including Lethe, the river of forgetfulness. For a small fee, the ferryman Charon would take the traveler across.

In later history, the domain of Hades became synonymous with hell, although Hades' domain was not referred to as a place of torment.

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Hades

Hades

In Greek mythology, Hades was the god of the underworld, the kingdom of the dead. (The Romans called him Pluto.) Although the name Hades is often used to indicate the underworld itself, it rightfully belongs only to the god, whose kingdom was known as the land of Hades or house of Hades.

Hades was the son of Cronus* and Rhea, two of the Titans who once ruled the universe. The Titans had other children, the gods Zeus* and Poseidon* and the goddesses Demeter*, Hera*, and Hestia. When Hades was born, Cronus swallowed him as he had swallowed his other children at birth. However, Zeus escaped this fate, and he tricked Cronus into taking a potion that made him vomit up Hades and his siblings.

Together these gods and goddesses rebelled against the Titans and seized power from them. After gaining control of the universe, Hades, Poseidon, and Zeus drew lots to divide it among themselves. Zeus gained control of the sky, Poseidon took the sea, and Hades received the underworld.


The Underworld Kingdom. The kingdom of the dead was divided into two regions. At the very bottom lay Tartarus, a land of terrible blackness where the wicked suffered eternal torments. Among those imprisoned there were the Titans, who were guarded by giants with a hundred arms. The other region of the underworld, Elysium or the Elysian Fields, was a place where the souls of good and righteous people went after death.

To reach Hades' kingdom, the dead had to cross the river Styx. A boatman named Charon ferried the dead across the river, while the monstrous Cerberus, a multiheaded dog with a serpent's tail, guarded the entrance to the underworld to prevent anyone from leaving. Four other rivers flowed through the underworld: Acheron

Titan one of a family of giants who ruled the earth until overthrown by the Greek gods of Olympus

* See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.

(river of woe), Lethe (river of forgetfulness), Cocytus (river of wailing), and Phlegethon (river of fire).

Hades supervised the judgment and punishment of the dead but did not torture them himself. That task was left to the Furies, the female spirits of justice and vengeance. Although portrayed as grim and unyielding, Hades was not considered evil or unjust. Still, the ancient Greeks rarely spoke his name aloud because it was thought to be unlucky. Moreover, they built no temples to honor Hades, and few Greeks or Romans worshiped the god of the underworld.


Hades and Persephone. Hades appears in very few myths. The best known concerns his kidnapping of Persephone, daughter of Demeter, the goddess of fertility and the earth. Hades saw the beautiful Persephone while he was riding in a chariot on earth and fell in love with her. When Hades asked Zeus for permission to marry Persephone, Zeus told him that Demeter would never agree. However, Zeus did agree to help Hades seize her.

One day while picking flowers, Persephone reached for a fragrant blossom, and the earth opened up before her. Hades emerged in a chariot, grabbed Persephone, and carried her to the underworld. When Demeter discovered that her daughter was missing, she searched all over, causing drought and devastation wherever she went. After finally learning what had happened, she threatened to starve all mortals as punishment to Zeus and the other gods.

Fearing the consequences of Demeter's anger, Zeus sent word to Hades that Persephone must be returned to her mother. Before letting her go, however, Hades gave Persephone a piece of fruit to eat. Persephone ate the fruit, not realizing that anyone who ate food in the kingdom of the dead must remain there.

Zeus intervened again and arranged for Persephone to spend part of every year with her mother and part with Hades. During the growing and harvest season, she may live on earth, but during the barren winter months she must return to Hades' kingdom and reign there as queen of the underworld.

See also Cerberus; Demeter; Elysium; Furies; Greek Mythology; Lethe; Persephone; Styx; Titans; Underworld.

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Hades

Ha·des / ˈhādēz/ Greek Mythol. the underworld; the abode of the spirits of the dead. ∎  the god of the underworld, one of the sons of Cronus. Roman equivalent Pluto. DERIVATIVES: Ha·de·an / ˈhādēən/ adj.

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Hades

Hades In Greek mythology, the world of the dead, ruled by Pluto and Persephone; also another name for Pluto.Charon ferried the dead across the river Styx to Hades. In Hades, the virtuous went to Elysium, while the wicked were condemned to Tartarus – the bottomless pit.

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Hades

Hades in Greek mythology, the underworld; the abode of the spirits of the dead. Also, the god of the underworld (also called Pluto, see Pluto1), one of the sons of Cronus.

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Hades

Hades XVI. — Gr. Háidēs, of unkn. orig.

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Hades

Hades •Andes •Hades, Mercedes •Archimedes • Thucydides • aphides •Eumenides, ParmenidesMaimonides, Simonides •Euripides • cantharides • Hesperides •Hebrides •Aristides, bona fides •Culdees •Alcibiades, Hyades, Pleiades •Cyclades • antipodes • Sporades •Ganges • Apelles •tales, ThalesAchilles, Antilles •Los Angeles • Ramillies • Pericles •isosceles • Praxiteles • Hercules •Empedocles • Sophocles • Damocles •Androcles • Heracles • Themistocles •Hermes • Menes • testudines •Diogenes • Cleisthenes •Demosthenes •Aristophanes, Xenophanes •manganese • Holofernes • editiones principes • herpes •lares, primus inter pares •Antares, Ares, Aries, caries •antifreeze • Ceres • Buenos Aires

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Hades

HADES

HADES is the Greek name for the underworld and its ruler. The spelling of the name sometimes varies (Aides, Hades, Aïdoneus), but the etymology seems now reasonably clear. Appropriately, it is linked to the root *a-wid- (invisible, unseen): Hades' wolf's cap is worn by the goddess Athena in the Iliad and makes her invisible (5.844845). Most likely, Hades first denoted a place name and was personified only later.

Hades is a shadowy god in Greece. He has few myths, fewer cults, and is not even represented with certainty on archaic Greek vases. Homer (Iliad 15.187193) mentions that Hades acquired the underworld through a lottery with his brothers Zeus and Poseidon. The passage is one more example of the increasingly recognized Oriental influence on early Greek literature, since it ultimately derives from the Akkadian epic Atrahasis. There is an obscure allusion in the Iliad (5.395397) that Hades was wounded by Heracles "at Pylos among the dead." This myth is probably part of Heracles' function as Master of Animals and suggests that the personification of Hades dates back to the Bronze Age.

However, the most famous myth of Hades is his abduction of Persephone, which was localized at various spots in the Greek world. The oldest version is related by the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, which probably dates from the first half of the sixth century bce. When Persephone was frolicking with her friends, "the deep-bosomed daughters of Ocean," on a meadow, picking flowers, Hades carried her off on his golden chariot. Her mother, Demeter, went everywhere to search for her daughter, but eventually it was Hermes who persuaded Hades to release Persephone. However, before doing so, he tricked her into eating seeds of the pomegranate. This meant that she had to spend part of the year with Hades in the underworld and part of the year with her mother in the upper world. The couple became worshiped as Plouton and Kore or, as in Eleusis, Theos and Thea. Understandably, the Greeks could not imagine them to be with children, as the underworld was imagined to be an infertile place. As Persephone was also associated with love and marriage and an abduction was part of Spartan wedding rites, the myth would originally have been a narrative representation of prenuptial girls' rites, although at some point it had become connected with the Eleusinian mysteries.

A god like Hades could hardly receive a cult, and Elis seems to have been the only place that worshiped him in a temple, which could be opened only once a year, with only the priest having access to the temple. Hades was indifferent to offerings and not moved by prayer. His connection with the underworld made him "horrible" (Iliad 8.368) and even an eater of corpses (Sophocles, Electra 542543). Fear made people euphemistically refer to him as, for example, "Zeus of the Underworld" (Iliad 9.457), "the chthonian god" (Aeschylus, Persians 629), or even "the god below" (Sophocles, Ajax 571).

Evidently, there was not an authoritative tradition about Hades' appearance. In his Alcestis (259262) Euripides lets the homonymous heroine exclaim: "He stares at me from under his dark-eyed brow. He has wings: it's Hades," but normally Hades was wingless in Greek art. In representations of the kidnapping of Persephone, Hades is sometimes depicted as a young man, but he can equally be mature or even old. His positive side comes to the fore in later representations through his holding the cornucopia. Typically, he is sometimes looking away from the other godseven they did not like him.

In the Iliad a soul of the dead goes straight to the underworld, whose gates are guarded by the canine Kerberos (Iliad 5.646). The underworld is situated under the earth, but also in the westperhaps a sign of a conflation of different ideas about the underworld; its deepest part is called the Tartaros. The soul can reach this "mirthless place" (Odyssey 11.94) only by crossing a river, the Styx. The picture of the underworld is bleak and somber, as dead Achilles says: "do not try to make light of death to me; I would sooner be bound to the soil in the hire of another man, a man without lot and without much to live on, than be ruler over all the perished dead" (Odyssey 11.489491). It is only somewhat later that we hear of the old (youth is out of place in the gloomy underworld) ferryman of the dead, Charon, and of Hermes as the guide of the dead.

Death was considered to be "common to all men" (Iliad 3.236238). In contemporary mythology, personified death (Thanatos) is the brother of personified sleep (Hypnos). This appears to be another way to express the feeling that death is something natural. Yet these rather bleak pictures could not satisfy everybody, and in Book 4 of the Odyssey we already hear of an abode for select dead, "the Elysian Plain at the ends of the earth" (563567). The somewhat later Hesiodic Works and Days (167173) mentions the Islands of the Blessed, the destination of many heroes at the end of their lives on earth. This changing conception of the underworld went concomitant with a growing interest in the afterlife that reflected itself in accounts of a descent into the underworld, as in the myths of Heracles, Theseus, and Orpheus.

In the same process the underworld also gradually became "upgraded." At the Eleusinian mysteries there had long been a promise of a better life in the hereafter, as is illustrated by Sophocles' words: "Thrice blessed are those mortals who have seen these rites and thus enter Hades: for them alone there is life, for the others all is misery" (frag. 837, Radt). In Pythagorean and Orphic circles, however, the idea arose of a "symposium of the pure" (Plato, Republic 2.363c). At the same time, the Orphics developed the idea of a kind of hell, where sinners had to wallow in the mud. Hades only now developed into a judge of the dead.

This revaluation of the afterlife reflected itself also in the early fifth century when Hades became identified with an originally different god, Plouton, "wealth" personified, who was related to the Eleusinian cult figure Ploutos, and in this capacity even received a priestess. Hades now became the god who sent up "good things" to the mortals from below. The connection between the underworld and material wealth also reflected itself in new terms to denote the dead. Whereas in Homer the dead were preferably called the "feeble heads of the dead," they now become the "blessed" in a materialistic sense: the dead were people blessed with material goods and better off than the living. In the later fifth century these ideas about the "good life" in the underworld were even exploited by Athenian comedy, which portrayed the world of Hades as a Land of Cockaigne with beautiful maidens and boisterous banquets.

Yet on the whole the Athenian public did not firmly believe in rewards or punishments after death. In fact, they do not seem to have expected very much at all. "After death every man is earth and shadow: nothing goes to nothing," states a character in Euripides' Meleagros (frag. 532, Nauck, 2d ed.). In Plato's Phaedo Simmias even claims that it is the fear of the majority that their soul is scattered at death "and this is their end" (77b). Most Athenians may therefore have agreed with the statement in Euripides' Hypsipyle that: "One buries children, one gains new children, one dies oneself. Mortals do take this heavily, carrying earth to earth. But it is necessary to harvest life like a fruitbearing ear of corn, and that the one be, the other not" (vv. 234238, in the edition by J. Diggle).

The early Greek ideas about the afterlife remarkably resemble those of Rome and ancient Israel. In ancient Rome people seem hardly to have believed in a life after death at all, even if they worshiped their ancestors at certain festivals; the Etruscans certainly took over Hades from the Greeks in the shape of their Aita, but lack of texts (albeit plenty of illustrations) does not allow us to reconstruct their "infernal" ideas. It was perhaps not that different in ancient Israel. In historical times the hereafter was called Sheʾol, which in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint, normally is translated as Hades. Yet in the oldest Israelite ideas the grave must have played an important role, since "to go down into the grave" (Ps. 16:10, 28:1, etc.) is equivalent to "to go down into Sheʾol" (Gn. 37:35, 42:38, etc.). Sheʾol was located beneath the earth (Ps. 63:10), filled with worms and dust (Is. 14:11, 26:19), and impossible to escape from (Jb. 7:9ff). Its shadowlike (Is. 14:9) inhabitants no longer thought of the living (Jb. 21:21), or even of God himself (Ps. 88:13). It is only in a relatively late prophet like Ezekiel (Ez. 32:1928) that we hear about different areas of Sheʾol for different orders of dead. However, it would still be quite a while before radical new ideas about the resurrection from the dead would take shape.

The dominant idea of the underworld in the ancient Mediterranean, then, seems to have been a relatively dim underworld with people focusing on life on this earth. This attitude proved to be highly tenacious, and, even if minority views existed about a happier hereafter, it lasted well into Byzantine times before the more joyful ideas about the Christian heaven started to prevail over the traditional, grimmer views of the ancient Hades.

See Also

Afterlife, overview article, article on Greek and Roman Concepts; Death; Demeter and Persephone.

Bibliography

For the older literature, see the excellent bibliography of Marlene Herfort-Koch, Tod, Totenfürsorge, und Jenseitsvorstellungen in der griechischen Antike (Munich, 1992); as well as Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood, "Reading" Greek Death: To the End of the Classical Period (Oxford, 1995); and, with a new synthesis, Jan N. Bremmer, The Rise and Fall of the Afterlife (London and New York, 2002).

For Hades, see Ruth Lindner et al., Lexicon iconographicum mythologiae classicae (LIMC ) 4, vol. 1 (1988) s.v. Hades; for Aita, Ingrid Krauskopf, LIMC 4, vol. 1 (1988) s.v.; Kevin Clinton, LIMC 7 vol. 1 (1994) s.v. Ploutos. See also Albert Henrichs, "Hades," in Simon Hornblower and Anthony S. Spawforth, eds., The Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3d ed. (Oxford, 1996), pp. 661662 (a rich collection of passages from classical literature). For the geography of Hades, see David M. Johnson, "Hesiod's Descriptions of Tartarus (Theogony 721819)," Phoenix 53 (1999): 828. For the Styx, see Albert Henrichs, "Zur Perhorreszierung des Wassers der Styx bei Aischylos und Vergil," Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 78 (1989): 129.

For Israel and the ancient Near East, see Nicholas J. Tromp, Primitive Conceptions of Death and the Netherworld in the Old Testament (Rome, 1969); Klaas Spronk, Beatific Afterlife in Ancient Israel and in the Ancient Near East (Neukirchen-Vluyn, Germany, 1986); and Richard E. Friedman and Shawna Dolansky Overton, "Death and Afterlife: The Biblical Silence," in Judaism in Late Antiquity, Vol. 4: Death, Life-After-Death, Resurrection, and the World-to-Come in the Judaisms of Antiquity, edited by Alan J. Avery-Peck and Jacob Neusner, (Leiden, 2000), pp. 3559.

Jan N. Bremmer (2005)

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Hades

HADES

Hades was originally the name of the Greek god (ιδης, unseen) of the nether world, but later applied to the abode of the dead itself. The Septuagint generally adopted the term to render the Hebrew word s e ôl (sheol), the final resting place of the dead.

In the New Testament, Hades, formerly translated as hell, has a neutral character in contrast to gehenna, which is the place where the wicked are punished. The New Testament, like the Old Testament, locates Hades in the depths of the earth (Mt 11.23; Lk 10.15; 16.23) in contrast to heaven above the earth. Hence, passage to Hades involves a descent (Mt 11.23; Eph 4.9). The expression "the gates of Hades" in the wellknown Petrine text (Mt 16.18) refers not to diabolical powers but to the kingdom of death. Peter's power reaches even into the kingdom of death; death will never overcome it. The phrase "gates of the nether world" occurs also in the Old Testament (Is 38.10; Jb 17.16; Wis 16.13). It shows that Hades was envisaged as a city, which is not so strange in view of the fact that Hades, like Sheol, death, and the rest, lends itself also to personification (Rv 6.8;20.1315). From the New Testament it is evident that Hades is not to be equated with Gehenna, for the good as well as the bad descend to Hades (Mt 12.40; Acts 2.27, 31; Rom 10.7; Eph 4.9); Christ, too, descended into Hades (Acts 2.24; 1 Pt 3.19); (see descent of christ into hell). With the resurrection of the dead on the last day, Hades will cease to exist (Rv 20.1314). There seems to be only one reference in the New Testament to Hades as a place of punishment for the wicked (Lk 16.22), but even here the Hades in which the rich man is in torment may be regarded as merely a general term for the abode of all the dead, even though "a great chasm" (16.26) separates him from the other part of Hades where Lazarus is in abraham's bosom.

Bibliography: j. jeremias, g. kittel, Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Neuen Testament (Stuttgart 1935) 1:146150. Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible, tr. and adap. by l. hartman (New York 1963), from a. van den born, Bijbels Woordenboek, 922923. m. saller, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 4:1305.

[i. h. gorski]

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Hades

Hades

Nationality/Culture

Greek

Pronunciation

HAY-deez

Alternate Names

Pluto (Roman)

Appears In

Hesiod's Theogony, Homer's Iliad, Greek and Roman creation myths

Lineage

Son of Cronus and Rhea

Character Overview

In Greek mythology , Hades was the god of the underworld , the

kingdom of the dead. Although the name Hades is often used to indicate the underworld itself, it rightfully belongs only to the god, whose kingdom was known as the land of Hades or house of Hades.

Hades was the son of Cronus (pronounced KROH-nuhs) and Rhea (pronounced REE-uh), two of the Titans who once ruled the universe. The Titans had other children as well: the gods Zeus (pronounced ZOOS) and Poseidon (pronounced poh-SYE-dun) and the goddesses Demeter (pronounced di-MEE-ter), Hera (pronounced HAIR-uh), and Hestia (pronounced HESS-tee-uh). When Hades was born, Cronus swallowed him as he had swallowed his other children at birth. However, Zeus escaped this fate, and he tricked Cronus into taking a potion that made him vomit out Hades and his siblings.

Together, these gods and goddesses rebelled against the Titans and seized power from them. Each was given a special weapon or magic item by the Cyclopes (pronounced sigh-KLOH-peez) to help them win the battle; Hades was given a helmet that would allow him to become invisible. After gaining control of the universe, Hades, Poseidon, and Zeus drew lots to divide it among themselves. Zeus gained control of the sky, Poseidon took the sea, and Hades received the underworld.

The kingdom of the dead was divided into two regions. At the very bottom lay Tartarus (pronounced TAR-tur-uhs), aland of terrible blackness where the wicked suffered eternal torments. Among those imprisoned there were the Titans, who were guarded by giants with one hundred arms. The other region of the underworld, Elysium (pronounced eh-LEE-zee-um) or the Elysian Fields, was a place where the souls of good and righteous people went after death.

To reach Hades' kingdom, the dead had to cross the river Styx (pronounced STIKS). A boatman named Charon (pronounced KAIR-uhn) ferried the dead across the river, while the monstrous Cerberus (pronounced SUR-ber-uhs), a multiheaded dog with a serpent's tail, guarded the entrance to the underworld to prevent anyone from leaving. Four other rivers flowed through the underworld: Acheron (pronounced AK-uh-ron; river of woe), Lethe (pronounced LEE-thee; river of forget-fulness), Cocytus (pronounced koh-SEE-tuhs; river of wailing), and Phlegethon (pronounced FLEG-uh-thon; river of fire).

Hades supervised the judgment and punishment of the dead but did not torture them himself. That task was left to the Furies (pronounced FYOO-reez), the female spirits of justice and vengeance. Although portrayed as grim and unyielding, Hades was not considered evil or unjust.

Major Myths

Hades appears in very few myths. The best known myth concerns his kidnapping of Persephone (pronounced per-SEF-uh-nee), daughter of Demeter, the goddess of fertility and the earth. Hades saw the beautiful Persephone while he was riding in a chariot on earth and fell in love with her. When Hades asked Zeus for permission to marry Persephone, Zeus told him that Demeter would never agree. However, Zeus did agree to help Hades seize her.

One day while picking flowers, Persephone reached for a fragrant blossom, and the earth opened up before her. Hades emerged in a chariot, grabbed Persephone, and carried her to the underworld. When Demeter discovered that her daughter was missing, her despair distracted her from her duties as a goddess of fertility and growth, and drought and devastation plagued the lands. After finally learning what had happened, she threatened to starve all mortals as punishment to Zeus and the other gods.

Fearing the consequences of Demeter's anger, Zeus sent word to Hades that Persephone must be returned to her mother. Before letting her go, however, Hades gave Persephone a piece of fruit to eat. Persephone ate the fruit, not realizing that anyone who ate food in the kingdom of the dead must remain there.

Zeus intervened again and arranged for Persephone to spend part of every year with her mother and part with Hades. During the growing and harvest season, she lived on earth, but during the barren winter months she had to return to Hades' kingdom and reign there as queen of the underworld.

Hades in Context

In ancient Greece, Hades was generally feared enough that his name was not often spoken out loud. Instead, the name Pluton, meaning “giver of wealth,” was used and understood as a more positive substitute. However, fear did not translate to worship; the ancient Greeks built no known temples to honor Hades. The Greeks' treatment of Hades reflects their attitude toward the afterlife: they did not view the afterlife as something glamorous, fun, or beautiful, but as something dark and frightening.

Key Themes and Symbols

Unhappiness and isolation are often associated with Hades in ancient Greek myths. Although he is a brother to Zeus and the other Olympian gods, he cannot reside on Mount Olympus as they do. He is separated from the land of the gods and the land of the living, and has no companions other than his part-time queen Persephone.

Hades in Art, Literature, and Everyday Life

In ancient art, Hades was often depicted with his queen Persephone or accompanied by his guardian hound, Cerberus. He was usually shown holding a scepter. Although Hades was not as popular with later artists as many other gods were, depictions of the god were created by Rubens, Annibale Caracci, and the sculptor Bernini. The operetta Orpheus in the Underworld by composer Jacques Offenbach (1858) features Hades as a main character. Hades is also memorably voiced by James Woods in the 1997 animated Disney film Hercules. Hades lent his Roman name— Pluto—to the pet dog of Walt Disney's signature cartoon character, Mickey Mouse. In the realm of astronomy, Pluto is the name given to what was once referred to as the ninth and most distant planet in our solar system. In 2006, it was reclassified as a dwarf planet.

Read, Write, Think, Discuss

What do you think the myth of Hades suggests about how ancient Greeks and Romans viewed the afterlife? How does this compare with other, more modern views of the afterlife?

SEE ALSO Cerberus; Demeter; Furies; Greek Mythology; Lethe; Persephone; Titans; Underworld

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