Hades Definition and Meaning

Hades Definition and Meaning

Hades is the god of the underworld in Greek mythology. Its name comes from Aïdēs , which in ancient Greek means “the invisible”, alluding to the kingdom that ruled, which was outside the underworld.

Hades was the son of the gods Cronos and Rhea and brother of Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Demeter and Hestia. In mythology, Cronos ate his children and they could only return to the world when Zeus, who managed to get rid of his father’s plan, rescued them, by forcing Cronos to regurgitate his offspring.

Subsequently, Zeus, Poseidon and Hades led the Titanomaquia, a battle against the elder gods that lasted 10 years and in which they emerged victorious, which allowed them to divide the kingdoms to rule. The Olympus or kingdom of the gods corresponded to Zeus, to Poseidon the kingdom of the seas and to Hades the kingdom of the dead, which is also called as the god who rules it.

Hades and the Underworld

Hades has been portrayed as an especially cruel god with those who tried to escape his kingdom. However, beyond the punishments he could impose, he had no power over who could enter the underworld, since that task was for Tanatos, the god of death.

According to mythology, the kingdom of Hades was structured in three parts:

  • the fields of Asphodels, where souls lived that had not been good or bad during their lifetime,
  • Tartarus, where those deserving of punishment were sent, and
  • Elysées, the place reserved for heroes.

Hades was guarded by two mythical figures: Charon, who was transporting the dead across the Aqueronte river for the price of an oil, a coin that relatives or friends should put in the mouth of the deceased, and Cerberus, a three-headed dog that he received the dead at the gates of Hades, and watched that they could never leave.

Hades and the myth of Persephone

Hades had a consort named Persephone, daughter of Démeter, goddess of agriculture and fertility and, in turn, sister of Hades.

However, this union happened violently, since Hades, falling in love with his niece, cheated and kidnapped her to take her to the underworld. When this happened, Demeter toured the world looking for her, and her desolation caused the earth to become infertile.

Zeus intervenes so that Persephone is returned to the world of the living, but she had eaten pomegranate seeds during her stay in the realm of the dead, which condemned her to remain there forever. To solve the situation, he decides that Hades’ now wife spends half the year in the realm of the dead and the other half, in the world of the living.

It is said that this fact is the mythological origin of the seasons, because when Persephone is in Hades, the earth becomes gray, sad and barren (autumn and winter), and when it returns to the world of the living, the earth blooms and The trees bear fruit (spring and summer).

From the union of Hades and Persephone there was no mythical offspring. It is believed to be related to the fact that new life cannot emerge from death.