Hades: God Of The Underworld Ruler Of The Dead

Hades is a god in Greek mythology who rules the land of the dead, called the underworld. He is one of the three most powerful Greek gods (along with his brothers Zeus and Poseidon).

Hades king of the dead
Hades King of the Dead

Who was Hades?

He was the god of the underworld “God of the dead” in charge of receiving the lost souls, to give them their place; in the land where he ruled. Being governor of the underworld he was considered part of the gods of Olympus, although he did not remain on Mount Olympus.


Hades was the son of Cronus and Rhea, the king and queen of the Titans. After he was born, Hades was swallowed by his father Cronus to avoid a prophecy that a son would one day defeat him. Hades was eventually saved by his younger brother Zeus.


Hades is usually depicted with a beard, helmet or crown, and holding a two-pronged pitchfork or staff. Often his three-headed dog, Cerberus, is with him. When he travels, he rides a chariot drawn by black horses.

What powers and abilities did he have?

Hades had total control of the underworld and all his subjects. Besides being an immortal god, one of his special powers was invisibility. He wore a helmet called the Helm of Darkness that allowed him to become invisible. He once lent his helmet to the hero Perseus to help him defeat the monster Medusa.

Hades god of underworld
Hades Ruler of the underworld

How did Hades become the lord of the underworld?

After the Olympian gods defeated the Titans, Hades and his brothers drew lots to divide the world. Zeus drew the sky, Poseidon drew the sea, and Hades drew the underworld. The underworld is where dead people go in Greek mythology. This god wasn’t too happy about getting the underworld at first, but when Zeus explained that all the people of the world would eventually be his subjects, he decided it was okay.

Hades’ Creatures in the Underworld

  • Cerberus: To protect his kingdom, Hades had a giant three-headed dog named Cerberus. Cerberus guarded the entrance to the Underworld. He prevented the living from entering and the dead from escaping.
  • Charon: Another helper of Hades was Charon. He was Hades’ ferryman. He would take the dead in a boat across the Styx and Acheron rivers from the world of the living to the underworld. The dead had to pay a coin to Charon to cross or they would have to wander the banks for a hundred years.

Relation with Persephone

Hades felt very lonely in the underworld and wanted a wife. Zeus said he could marry his daughter Persephone. However, Persephone did not want to marry him and live in the underworld. This God kidnapped Persephone and forced her to go to the Underworld.

Hades and Persephone
Hades and Persephone

Hades in the Underworld

He had rarely left the underworld. Even if he did, few would know, because he had created a helmet that made him invisible. He sat on an ebony throne holding a bird-tipped scepter.

This god always chose to sit there when he was supposed to meet a newcomer, because he knew how fearsome and imposing he looked. Because he lived in darkness, Hades developed a rather morbid personality, which was not much appreciated by the other gods.

He made a dark chariot, drawn by four dark black horses; his awesome and detestable sight would frighten anyone in his path.

Because he lived in darkness, this god developed a rather morbid personality, which was not much appreciated by the other gods or by humans, especially since he seemed to like to be feared. Not surprisingly, the Underworld was his realm and sanctuary, but almost no temples were built for Hades on Earth.

The attributes and symbols of Hades

Hades decided to appoint a guardian for the underworld. This guardian was Cerberus, the three-headed dog that would tear apart anyone who was not supposed to be in the underworld. Cerberus was one of the mythological creatures associated with the God of the Dead, along with the cypress.

A common attribute to the god was Narcissus and the Key of Hades, implying that he was carefully guarding anyone who entered his domain and that no one could escape without his permission.

Although he was the god of the underworld and the dead, he was not the god of death, as many people falsely believe. Thanatos was the god of death and brother of Hypnos.

Hades was ruling the underworld and the souls that resided in it, but he was not choosing who would have that fate. People tend to associate him with death because he was so fearsome, but in fact, he was one of the most righteous of the Dodecathode gods.

Hades was basically a way for the Greeks to accept the idea of death and the afterlife. It was more like the continuation of life, somehow “housing” the souls once the bodies died.

Hades Videogame

Myths of Hades

The fearsome god of the dead appears in few tales (it was better not talk too much about him). But Hesiod tells the most famous story of the Greek god, which is about how he stole his queen Persephone.

Daughter of Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, Persephone caught the rich man’s eye on one of his infrequent trips to the surface world. He abducted her in his chariot, taking her far below the earth and keeping her secret. As her mother wept, the world of humans withered: The fields became barren, the trees crumbled and shriveled.

When Demeter learned that the abduction was Zeus’ idea, she complained loudly to her brother, who urged he to free the maiden. But before returning to the world of light, Persephone partook of a few pomegranate seeds.

Having eaten the food of the dead, she was forced to return to the underworld. The agreement made with Hades allowed Persephone to spend a third (later myths say half) of the year with her mother, and the rest in the company of her friends. Thus, for the ancient Greeks, it was the cycle of the seasons and the annual birth and death of crops.

Greek Myths
Hades Myths

Hades in Roman mythology and the Christian religion

This God was associated in Roman mythology with Pluto and Orcus, and became a very important term in many religions; the Roman religion associated this god with purgatory.

Since the name Hades was synonymous with the underworld itself, Christians used this term to describe a place like hell, where souls fallen from grace would go. In the book of Revelation, Hades and Death are directly associated, while the New Testament uses the word Hades to refer to the temporary abode of the dead.

Interesting facts about the Greek god Hades

  • The Greeks did not like to say the name Hades. Sometimes they called him Pluto, which means “the lord of riches.”
  • Hades was very angry with anyone who tried to cheat death.
  • In Greek mythology, the personification of death was not him, but another god named Thanatos.
  • This god fell in love with a nymph named Minthe, but Persephone found out and turned the nymph into the mint plant.
  • There are many regions in the underworld. Some were pleasant, like the Elysian Fields, where heroes went after death. Other areas were terrible, such as the dark abyss called Tartarus, where the wicked were sent to be tormented for eternity.
  • He is sometimes considered one of the 12 Olympian gods, but he did not live on Mount Olympus.
  • Hades was the Greek god of the underworld, the ruler of the dead. He was an important god, because he embodied the concept of “other worldliness” and sometimes the idea of good and evil.

More Greek myths about this god

  • This god in Greek means the invisible. Although the name Hades was the name of the God himself, it soon became synonymous with the place where the dead would go, so he soon became synonymous with the Underworld.
  • He was swallowed by Cronus along with the rest of his brothers. Zeus was the only one who managed to escape, and when he reached adulthood, Zeus managed to force his father to slit the throats of his brothers and sisters.
  • The six children joined forces with other deities and initiated the Titanomachy against Cronus and the other Titans, in which the latter lost.
  • The gods took their place in the Pantheon of Olympus and cast lots to determine who would rule the different parts of the world. Hades thus became the god of the Underworld.
  • The Greek myths associated with this casting of lots suggest that Hades was quite dissatisfied with his lot, but since he could do nothing else, he went to the Underworld.

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