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Meet the King of the Underworld

Finally, a list of Hades facts. He’s a god working behind the scenes, supervising souls, and making sure to keep the balance between the living and the dead. Hades is the revered god of the Underworld and King of the Dead. Although repeatedly mistaken as an evil god due to his association with the Afterlife, it’s actually nowhere near to his just and impartial character. Hades is a powerful god, on par with his brothers the thunderer Zeus and god of the seas Poseidon.

Even then, he continued to gain a bad reputation after Zeus allowed him to abduct his daughter with Demeter, the vegetation goddess Persephone. But unlike his brothers who had children scattered all over Greece, Hades remained a faithful and loving husband. Still interested? There are more Hades facts to go!

Though he’s not as strikingly handsome as the sun god Apollo or as intimidating as the war god Ares, the modern media has painted him as both the formidable Greek god Hades and the understanding Roman god Pluto. In the 21st century, the god of the Underworld is continuously gaining popularity. Hades had been present in Disney adaptations, Broadway musicals, movies, Young Adult novels, and online webcomics. Let’s dig deeper and learn these 70 fascinating Hades facts, the King of the Underworld.

Hades means “the one who presides over death.”

His name means many things, whether it comes with the job or not. The most common meaning behind his name is “the unseen one,” and in some translations “his knowledge of all noble things.”

British classical scholar Martin Litchfield West argued that the name Hades’ original meaning is “the one who presides over death,” a fitting name for the god of the Underworld.

pluto, underworld, greek mythology
Photo from: Wikimedia Commons

His most popular epithet is the “god of wealth.”

Though the Earth is abundant with wealth, there’s a lot more undiscovered underneath it. It’s not a surprise that the epithet “god of wealth” fits Hades since everything within his realm is his.

Some of his other epithets are Plouton (the rich one), Clymenus (notorious), and Hesperos Theos (god of death and darkness).

Some of his alternative names start with Zeus.

Hades is just as powerful as his brothers, but his youngest brother took the title of being the chief Olympian god. This is probably the reason why Hades was sometimes called “the second Zeus.”

His alternative names Zeus Eubuleus (good counsel) and Zeus Meilichios (easy-to-be-entreated) came from Orphic hymns and he both Hades’ alternative names.

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Hades bears the surname Polydegmon.

There’s an online debate whether deities have surnames. Norse deities have “-son (son of)” or “-dottir (daughter of)” in theirs, Greek and Roman gods don’t.

Hades is possibly the exception, as articles revealed his surname is Polydegmon or “the one who receives many,” a little similar to his popular epithet. other translations of his surname are Polydectes, Clymenus, and Pankoitēs.

Fear of death caused the Ancient Greeks to avoid saying his name.

“He Who Must Not Be Named” and “You-Know-Who” is Lord Voldemort’s name replacements in Harry Potter when people are too scared to say his name. The god of the Underworld’s name has the same chilling effect to Ancient Greeks. In fact, they avoid saying his name because they fear dying.

Cronos devoured him first among his children.

Scared of dethronement by his own sons as he did to his father Uranus, the Titan Cronos took matters into his own hands. He ate his children once his wife Rhea gave birth.

The first child he devoured was Hades, though others argue that the virgin goddess of hearth Hestia was born first. In the end, the thunderer Zeus rescued his siblings by destroying their father.

cronos, saturn, hades facts
Photo from: Unsplash

Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades defeated their parents’ generation of gods.

It took the Olympians 10 years before they gained the upper hand against the Titans. Cronos’ sons led the Olympians and a few Titans against their father. The Cyclops gave weapons to the new gods.

Hades used the Cap of Invisibility to steal their father’s weapons, Poseidon attacked him with his trident, and Zeus struck the Titan with lightning. They defeated their father and imprisoned the remaining Titans in Tartarus.

He also had powerful older sisters.

It was the men who took on the fight, but it doesn’t mean the women were weak. Hades’ sisters are goddesses in their own right. His eldest sister Hestia is the protector of the home and Demeter is the goddess of agriculture. Meanwhile, Hera the goddess of marriage became the Queen of Olympus.

The gods gave him the Underworld to rule.

After defeating the Titans, the gods realized that the world was too big to rule. The gods were practical in deciding who will rule which. The brothers drew lots, probably using the stick method. Zeus took the sky, Poseidon got the seas, and Hades ended up with the Underworld.

He’s a fair and impartial god, so they say.

Greek mythology paints Hades as a fearsome god due to his association with death and the afterlife. But even so, he’s fair and impartial with everything that’s happening in Olympus.

He didn’t join Hera’s plan to overthrow Zeus, nor did he take sides during the Trojan War. In fact, he only did his job and whatever was necessary. One thing’s for sure, the King of the Underworld doesn’t tolerate drama.

His sacred plants are the narcissus flower and the cypress tree.

Greens don’t grow in the Underworld, but its king has a fondness for it due to sentimental reasons. He abducted his would-be wife, Persephone, when she was picking narcissus flowers (which meant rebirth and renewal in flower language). On the other hand, people lay their sacrifices for the Underworld couple underneath the cypress tree, a symbol of immortality.

narcissus flower, plant
Photo from: Pixabay

His other popular symbols are the pomegranate and white poplar trees.

It’s a little ironic that the pomegranate is a symbol of fertility when nothing lives in the Underworld, but the fruit is important to Hades because he uses it to convince Persephone to stay. The white poplar tree is sacred because it’s a tree of mourning, and also because of the Oceanid nymph Leuce he also fell in love with.

Hades wields a two-pronged spear called Aegis.

There’s no need for weapons in the Underworld, but its king does. The godly brothers’ weapons are their symbols and a progression of who comes first. Zeus’ lightning is a single-pronged weapon, while Poseidon carries the three-pronged trident. Similarly enough, Hades wields a bident (or two-pronged spears) called Aegis.

The Cyclopes gifted him with The Cap of Invisibility.

Before Hades and his brothers defeated the Titans, the one-eyed giants called Cyclopes made their weapons. The King of the Underworld received the Cap of Invisibility, or sometimes called the Helm of Darkness. He used it to distract their father, Cronos, by stealing his weapons. They called him “the Unseen” for this reason.

The horn of plenty symbolizes Hades.

The Underworld is already abundant in soul and earthly minerals, but one item gives Hades more than what he needs. As defined by Merriam-Webster, the Cornucopia (or horn of plenty) is “a receptacle shaped like a horn or a cone… that is used as a decorative motif emblematic of abundance.”

It’s like a horn-shaped basket overflowing with produce. Some say it symbolized his connections to Earth mother Gaia, his grain goddess sister (and mother-in-law) Demeter, and his vegetation goddess wife (and niece) Persephone.

Hades’ sacred animal is the screech owl.

Animals themselves can’t live in the Underworld (aside from Cereberus), but Hades has sacred animals too. The screech owl was his way of honoring the Underworld spirit Ascalaphus who testified that the vegetation goddess Persephone did consume pomegranate seeds. His other sacred animals are serpents, sheep, cattle, horses, and black rams.

screech owl, animal
Photo from: Pixabay

Underworld ferryman, Charon, assists Hades.

Burial rituals in Ancient Greece included putting a gold coin in the mouth of the deceased. The coin is called Charon’s obol and it’s named after the Underworld’s psychopomp. Charon will only allow passage after they pay him.

He’s not an evil god, contrary to popular belief.

Hades has always been painted as an evil god due to his association with the dead, but nothing could be further from the truth. Hades was a humble and benevolent god, but he was often mistaken to be the Greek equivalent of Lucifer or Satan.

He supervised souls in the Underworld.

Hades is not the Grim Reaper. He doesn’t decide the person’s death nor does he collect their soul. Hades doesn’t judge the souls either. What the god does is to make sure that the souls are safely ferried down the Underworld.

Demigods and deities visited him at the House of Hades.

The House of Hades is not just the title of the fourth installment of the Rick Riordan series The House of Olympus. It’s also another name for the Underworld. Demigods and deities are welcome to visit Hades’ realm, not just the dead. Similar to how Psyche once asked Persephone for a drop of beauty for Aphrodite or how Orpheus begged for Eurydice’s soul.

He supposedly kidnapped Persephone.

The stories are mixed on whether Hades kidnapped his vegetation goddess wife or not. But what was entirely clear: his brother (and her father) Zeus allowed it to happen. What’s widely believed is that he snatched Persephone while she was picking flowers. On the other hand, romantics believed he pursued her first before she agreed to be his queen.

hades, persephone, hades facts
Photo from: Wikimedia Commons

Hades was partially responsible for the four seasons.

If her husband hadn’t pursued Persephone, the world could have had experienced eternal spring. The goddess’ disappearance created autumn (and possibly, winter) because her mother, Demeter, refused to nurture the Earth. Persephone spends the first half of the year with her mother, while the other half with her husband.

But the Ancient Greeks also did believe in the Horae or goddesses of the seasons. There’s Kheimon for winter, Kore (later, Persephone) for spring, Theros for summer, and Pthinoporon for autumn.

Though he’s a loyal husband, he also loved two nymphs.

Unlike his brothers, Hades didn’t spend his time seducing every beautiful woman. But that didn’t mean he didn’t fall in love with other women before meeting his wife.

There was the water nymph Menthe whom he used to have a relationship with, but when Persephone found out that she’s urging Hades to have an affair, she turned the nymph into a mint plant. The next one was Oceanus’ daughter, the nymph Leuce, who was also abducted by Hades. He turned her into a white poplar tree after spending her lifespan in the Underworld.

He doesn’t judge the souls, the Furies do.

There’s a common misconception that Hades’ job is to judge the souls as soon it enters the Underworld. But nothing could be further from the truth. It’s the Furies’ job to judge these souls. They are believed to be either the goddesses of vengeance or the personification of curses.

Ancient Greek dramatist Euripides named these three goddesses as Allecto (Unceasing in Anger), Tisiphone (Avenger of Murder), and Megaera (Jealous). Their main job in the Underworld was to pursue the wicked.

Hades kept a large royal court in the Underworld.

The god of the Underworld is nothing but organized. Hades’ thunderer brother wasn’t the only one who kept a royal court. Each one has a role and it fulfills the process of how a person’s soul is released to the Underworld.

First, the Moirai (the goddesses of fate) decides which souls to take. Followed by Thanatos and Keres, whose jobs are to bring the souls to the Underworld. Finally, the Furies will decide whether these souls have lived an honest life or not.

Hades let Heracles capture the three-headed guard dog with his bare hands.

To prepare for his descent to the Underworld, Heracles’ twelfth and last labor was to capture Hades’ three-headed guard dog. Hades permitted the demigod to bring Cerberus to the surface to prove his strength. Heracles successfully slung the creature on its back before it disappeared and returned to Hades’ side.

cerberus, heracles, hercules
Photo from: Pixabay

He punished a man by sending him to the Chair of Forgetfulness.

Hades is a fair and impartial god, but he’s not the type to easily forgive. When the wives of the best friends Pirithous and Theseus died, they thought they might make wives out of the thunderer’s daughters. The former kidnapped Helen, while the latter chose Persephone.

On their way to the Underworld, Hades cheerfully welcomed the two. He asked them to sit and join the feast. But as they sat down, the Chair of Forgetfulness held them down. Only Theseus was freed from the chair after Heracles unbound him. Pirithous’ crime was so grave that he wasn’t allowed to be free.

While Sisyphus was punished for cheating death twice.

King Sisyphus of Ephyra cheated on his own death twice. First, when he asked Thanatos how the chain worked, he relented, and Sisyphus chained him. Second, when Persephone allowed him to leave (with a reminder that he should return) after his wife threw his dead body in the middle of the public square.

Sisyphus thought the gods were fools for believing his lies. As soon as Hades found out, he dragged the king back to the Underworld. His punishment was to roll a huge boulder atop a steep hill. Hades, being crafty himself, made sure Sisyphus would never reach the top. The former king rolled the boulder for all eternity as punishment for his hubris.

Necromanteion is Hades’ main temple.

Most of the Ancient Greeks developed a fear of saying Hades’ name, but some of them worship the god of the Underworld. Necromanteion, meaning “Oracle of the Dead,” was a temple devoted to Hades and Persephone. It was located in the ancient city of Ephyra.

According to Ancient Origins, the temple “was looted and damaged by the Romans” in 167 BCE, and the site became “a monastery dedicated to St. John the Baptist” in the 18th century.

Some worshippers believed that Hades and Dionysus are the same gods.

The two gods have some sort of connection, especially when Hades abducted Persephone on the Fields of Dionysus, or so it says in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Meanwhile, Ionian philosopher Heraclitus says that the two gods are the same because they share epithets (such as Zagreus, Meilichois, Eubuleus, Chthonios, Efklæís), adding the fact that the people honor the dead in one of the god of wine’s chief festival, Anthesteria.

Even the demigod Perseus borrowed the Cap of Invisibility.

Hades lent his Cap of Invisibility on many occasions, like when the goddess of wisdom Athena wore it during the Trojan War and when messenger to the gods, Hermes, fought the giant Hippolytus.

The god of the Underworld was indeed kind and considerate, even to demigods. Perseus, the son of Zeus and one of the greatest Greek heroes, was also lent the Cap. He wore it on a quest to behead the Gorgon, Medusa.

perseus, medusa, greek mythology
Photo from: Wikimedia Commons

Asclepius repeatedly bringing back the dead offended Hades.

Asclepius was a gifted healer, probably even more than his father, the sun god Apollo, ever was. There were stories that he accepted gold to bring someone back to life, but it was his father’s twin sister, the goddess of the hunt Artemis, who requested to bring back her loyal worshipper, Hippolytus, to life.

Hades complained of the theft to Zeus, who was also terrified of the possibility of the healer teaching necromancy to his students and followers. The thunderer struck him down. The sun god was so distraught, he killed the Cyclopes in return.

Scholars consider Zagreus as the product of the Hades and Persephone union.

It’s impossible to conceive in the Underworld since the place deals with the Afterlife. But there are scholars who believe that Hades and Persephone had one child at least. As mentioned in Wikia, Zagreus was the god of hunting and rebirth. There aren’t many records of the god, but his name is similar to the epithet Hades and Dionysus share.

There were three other children believed to be his.

It’s confusing whether these gods were Hades and Persephone’s children or just a passing mention from ancient texts. These children are the embodiment of blessed death Macaria, the nymph Melinoë, and the god of wealth Plutus. Though their names are associated with either Hades or Persephone, it’s still unclear whether they are actually their children.

Hades would only allow black animals as offerings.

No, liking black is not an emo phase. The god of the Underworld has a specific preference for black animals, such as blackbirds and black dog fur, as offerings. Other black items to offer the god include dark chocolates, black coffee, black tea, black candles, black narcissus, and black gemstones.

He turned the daughters of Orion into comets out of pity.

Hades was as merciful as he was just. After the giant huntsman Orion was killed, his daughters Menippe and Metioche were chosen as sacrifices during a plague in their homeland Aonia. The Underworld couple took pity on the young girls and metamorphosed them into comets. A fitting ending as their father was made into a constellation called the Orion’s Belt.

orion's belt, orion constellation, hades facts
Photo from: Unsplash

Ancient Romans worshipped him as Pluto.

It’s common knowledge that the Ancient Romans also worship the same Greek gods, they just have different names. But if Hades was feared for his power over death, Pluto was celebrated for his wealth. But as the Read Riordan staff puts it, the gods “have more in common than not, even sharing the same world-shattering powers and weaponry.”

Hades was also worshipped as the Ancient Roman gods Dīs Pater (who was commonly associated with fertile lands and mineral wealth) and Orcus (the bearded giant regarded as the “punisher of broken oaths”).

His Graeco-Egyptian mythology equivalent is Serapis.

Ancient Egyptians also praised Hades, but not as a Greek god of the Underworld. Pharaoh Ptolemy I Soter pushed forward the cult of Serapis as an attempt to unify the Greeks and Egyptians. He was more of a Sun deity than a god of the Underworld.

Meanwhile, the Etruscan god of the underworld is Aita.

In Ancient Italy, Etruscans also paid homage to Hades, but as the god Aita. They depicted him as a white-bearded man who wore a wig made of snakes and a wolfskin cap. Like the Greek god of the Underworld, he was usually shown with his wife Phersipnai (Persephone’s Etruscan equivalent). There wasn’t much difference between the two gods, except that Aita was a common sight in tomb wall paintings.

Hades appeared in the Bible.

Well, not exactly. The belief in Heaven and Hell is the core of the Christian faith, but It’s surprising that the Bible has a concept of Hades. The New Testament translates it as another word for Hell. In the bible, Hades “was a ‘holding tank’ for people while they waited for the resurrection” and it “would be emptied because all of the dead within it would be raised to life.”

The Rape of Proserpina is the most recognized Hades sculpture.

It’s not “rape” in the sexual sense, but a literal translation of the Latin word raptus meaning “seized” or carried off.” The goddess’ abduction has been translated into paintings, some made by Rembrandt in 1631 and Peter Paul Rubens in 1636-1637. Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini made the most notable sculpture called The Rape of Proserpina from 1621 to 1622.

the rape of proserpina, hades facts
Photo from: Wikimedia Commons

American actor James Woods was the voice behind Hades in Disney’s Hercules.

Disney’s Hercules premiered in 1997, a movie about the famous Greek hero and the demigod son of Zeus. It was a family-friendly attempt to introduce Greek mythology to children, even though it was hardly accurate. The film begins with Zeus and Hera celebrating Hercules’ birth but Hades unexpectedly turns up. It follows the life of mortal Hercules and his quest to become a hero.

In the movie, Hades was Zeus’ rival, Hercules’ kidnapper, and the evil god of the Underworld. American actor James Woods voiced him. The actor even won the Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program category for Hercules: The Animated Series in 2000’s Daytime Emmy Awards.

There is a musical retelling of the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice.

Hadestown premiered on Broadway in 2019. It’s a modernized and (somewhat) humanized musical of the tragic love story of Orpheus and Eurydice. The musical showed marriage in two different lights: Orpheus and Eurydice are in love but struggling to make ends meet, and the Underworld couple is surrounded by wealth but their relationship is strained.

They also bagged eight categories out of 14 nominations in the 2019 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Orchestrations.

VIXX had a 2016 album titled Hades.

K-Pop has taken over the world, and recently even dominated the Underworld. In 2016, Jellyfish Entertainment’s boy group VIXX released the first of their Conception trilogy albums titled Hades. The single Fantasy vaguely describes the god of the Underworld dreaming about Persephone.

He had a daughter with Maleficent in the Descendants.

A movie about the teenage children of Disney villains premiered in 2015. The Descendants follow Mal, the daughter of Maleficent, and her friends on the quest to find the Fairy Godmother’s magic wand and free their villainous parents from captivity.

Though the god of the Underworld briefly appeared throughout the Descendants franchise, they still credited the blue-haired Hades as the absentee father to Mal. American actor and singer-songwriter Cheyenne Jackson portrayed him.

Hades also had three demigod children in the Percy Jackson series.

Though there are deities associated with Hades and Persephone, they couldn’t possibly have children because it goes against the rules of the Underworld. It doesn’t mean the god of the Underworld fictionally can’t.

In Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, Hades had two demigod children named Bianca and Nico di Angelo. Meanwhile, he had a daughter named Hazel Levesque as the Roman god Pluto.

pluto, hades, hades facts
Photo from: Wikimedia Commons

He is the main character in the popular webcomic Lore Olympus.

Webcomics have become popular over the past few years. Aside from being easily accessible online, it’s an easy and fun read. New Zealand artist Rachel Smythe created Lore Olympus, and it currently ranks as LINE Webtoon’s number one top series, followed by True Beauty and Let’s Play.

It’s a retelling of the myth of Hades and Persephone but in a gush-worthy and romantic way. But the webcomic still deals with strong themes, such as Apollo raping Persephone, and how the goddess deals with the trauma.

They named a blind snake after the god of the Underworld.

The serpent is one of Hades’ most sacred animals. Of course, it was only a matter of time before they name a snake after him. Enter the Gerrhopilus hades, one of the 21 genus species found in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Melanesia. It is a small, thin species of Typhlops having a rounded snout and distinct pupil in the eye.







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