Hades, Apulian krater C4th B.C.,
HAIDES (Aides, Aidoneus, or Hades) was the King of the Underworld, the god of death and the dead. He presided over funeral rites and defended the right of the dead to due burial. Haides was also the god of the hidden wealth of the earth, from the fertile soil with nourished the seed-grain, to the mined wealth of gold, silver and other metals.
Hades was devoured by Kronos as soon as he was born, along with four of his siblings. Zeus later caused the Titan to disgorge them, and together they drove the Titan gods from heaven and locked them away in the pit of Tartaros. When the three victorious brothers then drew lots for the division of the cosmos, Hades received the third portion, the dark dismal realm of the underworld, as his domain.
Hades desired a bride and petitioned his brother Zeus to grant him one of his daughters. The god offered him Persephone, the daughter of Demeter. However, knowing that the goddess would resist the marriage, he assented to the forceful abduction of the girl. When Demeter learned of this, she was furious and caused a great dearth to fall upon the earth until her daughter was returned. Zeus was forced to concede lest mankind perish, and the girl was fetched forth from the underworld. However, since she had tasted of the pomegranate seed, she was forced to return to him for a portion of each year.
Haides was depicted as a dark-bearded, regal god. He was depicted as either Aidoneus, enthroned in the underworld, holding a bird-tipped sceptre, or as Plouton, the giver of wealth, pouring fertility from a cornucopia. The Romans named him Dis, or Pluto, the Latin form of his Greek title Plouton, "the Lord of Riches."
HADES or PLUTON (Haidês, Ploutôn or poetically Aïdês, Aidôneus and Ploutens), the god of the lower world. Plato (Cratyl. p. 403) observes that people preferred calling him Pluton (the giver of wealth) to pronouncing the dreaded name of Hades or Aides. Hence we find that in ordinary life and in the mysteries the name Pluton became generally established, while the poets preferred the ancient name Aides or the form Pluteus. The etymology of Hades is uncertain: some derive it from a-idein, whence it would signify "the god who makes invisible," and others from hadô or chadô; so that Hades would mean "the allembracer," or "all-receiver." The Roman poets use the names Dis, Orcus, and Tartarus as synonymous with Pluton, for the god of the lower world.
Hades is a son of Cronus and Rhea, and a brother of Zeus and Poseidon. He was married to Persephone, the daughter of Demeter. In the division of the world among the three brothers, Hades obtained "the darkness of night," the abode of the shades, over which he rules. (Apollod. i. 1. § 5, 2. § 1.) Hence he is called the infernal Zeus (Zeus katachthonios), or the king of the shades (anae enerôn, Hom. Il. ix. 457, xx. 61. xv. 187, &c.). As, however, the earth and Olympus belonged to the three brothers in common, he might ascend Olympus, as he did at the time when he was wounded by Heracles. (Il. v. 395; comp. Paus. vi. 25. § 3; Apollod. ii. 7. § 3; Pind. Ol. ix. 31.) But when Hades was in his own kingdom, he was quite unaware of what was going on either on earth or in Olympus (Il. xx. 61, &c.), and it was only the oaths and curses of men that reached his ears, as they reached those of the Erinnyes. He possessed a helmet which rendered the wearer invisible (Il. v. 845), and later traditions stated that this helmet was given him as a present by the Cyclopes after their delivery from Tartarus. (Apollod. i. 2. § 1.) Ancient story mentions both gods and men who were honoured by Hades with the temporary use of this helmet. (Apollod. i. 6. § 2, ii. 4. § 2.) His character is described as fierce and inexorable, whence of all the gods he was most hated by mortals. (Il. ix. 158.) He kept the gates of the lower world closed (whence he is called Pulartês, Il. viii. 367; comp. Paus. v. 20. § 1.; Orph. Hymn. 17. 4), that no shade might be able to escape or return to the region of light. When mortals invoked him, they struck the earth with their hands (Il. ix. 567), and the sacrifices which were offered to him and Persephone consisted of black male and female sheep, and the person who offered the sacrifice had to turn away his face. (Od. x. 527; Serv. ad Virg. Georg. ii. 380.)
The ensign of his power was a staff, with which, like Hermes, he drove the shades into the lower world (Pind. Ol. ix. 35), where he had his palace and shared his throne with his consort Persephone. When he carried off Persephone from the upper world, he rode in a golden chariot drawn by four black immortal horses. (Orph. Argon. 1192, Hymn. 17. 14; Ov. Met. v. 404; Hom. Hymn. in Cer. 19; Claudian, Rapt. Proserp. i. in fin.) Besides these horses he was also believed to have herds of oxen in the lower world and in the island of Erytheia, which were attended to by Menoetius. (Apollod. ii. 5. §§ 10, 12.) Like the other gods, he was not a faithful husband; the Furies are called his daughters (Serv. ad Aen. i. 86); the nymph Mintho, whom he loved, was metamorphosed by Persephone into the plant called mint (Strab. viii. p. 344; Ov. Met. x. 728), and the nymph Leuce, with whom he was likewise in love, was changed by him after her death into a white poplar, and transferred to Elysium. (Serv. ad Virg. Eclog. vii. 61.) Being the king of the lower world, Pluton is the giver of all the blessings that come from the earth: he is the possessor and giver of all the metals contained in the earth, and hence his name Pluton. (Hes. Op. et Dies, 435; Aeschyl. Prom. 805; Strab. iii. p. 147; Lucian, Tim. 21.) He bears several surnames referring to his ultimately assembling all mortals in his kingdom, and bringing them to rest and peace; such as Polydegmon, Polydectes, Clymenus, Pankoitês, &c. (Hom. Hymn. in Cer. 9; Aeschyl. Prom. 153 ; Soph. Antig. 811; Paus. ii. 35. § 7.) Hades was worshipped throughout Greece and Italy. In Elis he had a sacred enclosure and a temple, which was opened only once in every year (Paus. vi. 25. § 3) ; and we further know that lie had temples at Pylos Triphyliacus, near Mount Menthe, between Tralles and Nysa, at Athens in the grove of the Erinnyes, and at Olympia. (Strab. iii. p. 344, xiv. p. 649 Paus. i. 28. § 6, v. 20. § 1.) We possess few representations of this divinity, but in those which still exist, he resembles his brothers Zeus and Poseidon, except that his hair falls down his forehead, and that the majesty of his appearance is dark and gloomy. His ordinary attributes are the key of Hades and Cerberus.
In Homer Aides is invariably the name of the god; but in later times it was transferred to his house, his abode or kingdom, so that it became a name for the lower world itself. We cannot enter here into a description of the conceptions which the ancients formed of the lower world, for this discussion belongs to mythical geography.
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
BIRTH OF HADES
Hesiod, Theogony 453 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"But Rhea was subject in love to Kronos and bare splendid children, Hestia, Demeter, and gold-shod Hera and strong Haides, pitiless in heart, who dwells under the earth . . . and the loud-crashing Earth-Shaker [Poseidon], and wise Zeus . . . These great Kronos swallowed as each came forth from the womb to his mother's knees . . . Therefore he kept no blind outlook, but watched and swallowed down his children [all except Zeus] . . .
As the years rolled on, great Kronos the wily was beguiled by the deep suggestions of Gaia (Earth), and brought up again his offspring, vanquished by the arts and might of his own son [Zeus], and he vomited up first the stone which he had swallowed last."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 4 - 6 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"He [Kronos] then married his sister Rhea. Because both Ge (Earth) and Ouranos (Heaven) had given him prophetic warning that his rule would be overthrown by a son of his own, he took to swallowing his children at birth. He swallowed his first-born daughter Hestia, then Demeter and Hera, and after them Plouton [Haides] and Poseidon . . .
[Zeus alone escaped] When Zeus was grown, he engaged Okeanos’ daughter Metis as a colleague. She gave Kronos a drug, by which he was forced to vomit forth first the stone and then the children he had swallowed."
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5. 68. 1 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"To Kronos and Rhea, we are told, were born Hestia, Demeter, and Hera, and Zeus, Poseidon, and Haides."
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5. 70. 1 :
"There was delivered to Kronos an oracle regarding the birth of Zeus which stated that the son who would be born to him would wrest the kingship from him by force. Consequently Kronos time and again did away with the children whom he begot; but Rhea, grieved as she was, and yet lacking the power to change her husband’s purpose, when she had given birth to Zeus, concealed him in Ide."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Preface (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"From Saturnus [Kronos] and Ops [Rhea]: Vesta [Hestia], Ceres [Demeter], Juno [Hera], Jupiter [Zeus], Pluto [Hades], Neptunus [Poseidon]."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 139 :
"After Opis [Rhea] had borne Jove [Zeus] by Saturnus [Kronos], Juno [Hera] asked her to give him to her, since Saturnus and cast Orcus [Hades] under Tartarus, and Neptunus [Poseidon] under the sea, because he knew that his son would rob him of the kingdom."
Ovid, Fasti 4. 197 (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Saturnus [Kronos] received this oracle : `Best of kings, you shall be knocked from power by a son.’ Jabbed by fear, he devours his offspring as each was born, and entombs them in his bowels. Rhea often complained of much pregnancy and no motherhood, and mourned her fertility."
Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3. 17 (trans. Rackham) (Roman rhetorician C1st B.C.) :
"You reckon Jupiter [Zeus] and Neptunus [Poseidon] gods, therefore their brother Orcus [Haides] is also a god."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 27. 50 (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Kronos who banqueted on his own young children in cannibal wise."
For MORE information on the birth and devouring of the gods see KRONOS
HADES & THE WAR OF THE TITANES
Haides and his brothers Zeus and Poseidon battled the Titanes for the rule of the cosmos.
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 6 - 7 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"When Zeus was grown, he engaged Okeanos’ daughter Metis (Counsel) as a colleague. She gave Kronos a drug, by which he was forced to vomit forth first the stone and then the children he had swallowed. With them Zeus fought a war against Kronos and the Titanes. After ten years of fighting Ge (Earth) prophesied a victory for Zeus if he were to secure the prisoners down in Tartaros as his allies. He thereupon slew their jail-keeper Kampe, and freed them from their bonds. In return the Kyklopes gave Zeus thunder, lightning, and a thunderbolt, as well as a helmet for Plouton [Haides] and a trident for Poseidon. Armed with these the three gods overpowered the Titanes, confined them in Tartaros, and put the Hekatonkheires in charge of guarding them. The gods then drew lots for a share of the rule. Zeus won the lordship of the sky, Poseidon that of the sea, and Plouton the rule of Haides’ realm."
For MORE information on the Titanomachia see THE TITANES
HADES & THE DIVISION OF THE COSMOS
After the Titanes were vanquished the three brothers, Zeus, Haides and Poseidon drew lots for the division of the cosmos. Haides received the underworld as his share.
Homer, Iliad 15. 187 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"We are three brothers born by Rheia to Kronos, Zeus, and I [Poseidon], and the third is Aides [Haides] lord of the dead men. All was divided among us three ways, each given his domain. I [Poseidon] when the lots were shaken drew the grey sea to live in forever; Aides drew the lot of the mists and the darkness, and Zeus was allotted the wide sky, in the cloud and the bright air. But earth and high Olympos are common to all three."
Homeric Hymn 2 to Demeter (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th - 4th B.C.) :
"Aidoneus Polysemantor (Ruler of Many), is . . . your [Demeter's] own brother and born of the same stock : also, for honour, he has that third share which he received when division was made at the first, and is appointed lord of those among whom he dwells."
Plato, Gorgias 523a ff (trans. Lamb) (Greek philosopher C4th B.C.) :
"By Homer's account, Zeus, Poseidon, and Plouton [Haides] divided the sovereignty amongst them when they took it over from their father [Kronos]."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 7 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"The three gods [Zeus, Poseidon and Haides] overpowered the Titanes, confined them in Tartaros . . . The gods then drew lots for a share of the rule. Zeus won the lordship of the sky, Poseidon that of the sea, and Plouton the rule of Hades’ realm."
Ovid, Fasti 4. 443 (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[Zeus :] `My rank is no greater [than Haides]. I hold court in the sky; another rules the sea [Poseidon], and one the void [Haides].'"
Seneca, Hercules Furens 53 (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :
"Dis [Haides] himself, who drew a lot equal to Jove’s [Zeus's]."
Seneca, Hercules Furens 833 :
"The king [Haides] of the third estate."
Seneca, Phaedra 1210 :
"Heaven, hell, and ocean . . . there remains no further lot; three kingdoms know me."
Statius, Thebaid 8. 21 (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"The third hazard [drawn lot] hurled me [Haides] defeated from the mighty heaven, and I guard the world of guilt." - Statius, Thebaid 8.21
Statius, Thebaid 11. 444 ff :
"The Warden of the Larvae (Shades) [lord Haides] and the third heir of the world, after the lot’s unkind apportioning, leapt down from his chariot and grew pale, for he was come to Tartarus and heaven was lost for ever."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 31. 56 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Lord Zeus holds the starry hall on Olympos; he has given the briny sea to his brother [Poseidon] the water king for his prerogotive; he has given the cloudy house of darkness to your [Persephone's] consort [Haides]."
HADES & THE MONSTER TYPHOEUS
When the monster Typhoeus battled Zeus for heaven, Haides remained in the underworld.
Hesiod, Theogony 820 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"And through the two of them [Zeus battling Typhoios] . . . through the thunder and lightning, and through the fire from the monster, and the scorching winds and blazing thunderbolt . . . Haides trembled where he rules over the dead below."
For MORE information on this giant see TYPHOEUS
HADES & THE RAPE OF PERSEPHONE
Zeus betrothed his daughter to Haides without the prior consent of her mother Demeter. The god seized the girl as she was playing in a flowery meadow and carried her off to his Underworld realm. Demeter later compelled Zeus to return her for part of the year with the threat of earthly famine.
HADES & THE APPOINTMENT OF THE JUDGES OF THE DEAD
Plato, Gorgias 523a ff (trans. Lamb) (Greek philosopher C4th B.C.) :
"Sokrates : Give ear then, as they say, to a right fine story, which you will regard as a fable, I fancy, but I as an actual account; for what I am about to tell you I mean to offer as the truth. By Homer's account, Zeus, Poseidon, and Plouton [Haides] divided the sovereignty amongst them when they took it over from their father [Kronos]. Now in the time of Kronos there was a law concerning mankind, and it holds to this very day amongst the gods, that every man who has passed a just and holy life departs after his decease to the Isles of the Blest (Nesoi Makaron), and dwells in all happiness apart from ill; but whoever has lived unjustly and impiously goes to the dungeon of requital and penance which, you know, they call Tartaros. Of these men there were judges in Kronos' time, and still of late in the reign of Zeus--living men to judge the living upon the day when each was to breathe his last; and thus the cases were being decided amiss. So Plouton [Haides] and the overseers from the Isles of the Blest came before Zeus with the report that they found men passing over to either abode undeserving. Then spake Zeus : `Nay,' said he, `I will put a stop to these proceedings. The cases are now indeed judged ill and it is because they who are on trial are tried in their clothing, for they are tried alive. Now many,' said he, `who have wicked souls are clad in fair bodies and ancestry and wealth, and at their judgement appear many witnesses to testify that their lives have been just. Now, the judges are confounded not only by their evidence but at the same time by being clothed themselves while they sit in judgement, having their own soul muffled in the veil of eyes and ears and the whole body. Thus all these are a hindrance to them, their own habiliments no less than those of the judged. Well, first of all,' he said, `we must put a stop to their foreknowledge of their death; for this they at present foreknow. However, Prometheus has already been given the word to stop this in them. Next they must be stripped bare of all those things before they are tried; for they must stand their trial dead. Their judge also must be naked, dead, beholding with very soul the very soul of each immediately upon his death, bereft of all his kin and having left behind on earth all that fine array, to the end that the judgement may be just. Now I, knowing all this before you, have appointed sons of my own to be judges; two from Asia, Minos and Rhadamanthys, and one from Europe, Aiakos. These, when their life is ended, shall give judgement in the meadow at the dividing of the road, whence are the two ways leading, one to the Isles of the Blest (Nesoi Makaron), and the other to Tartaros. And those who come from Asia shall Rhadamanthys try, and those from Europe, Aiakos; and to Minos I will give the privilege of the final decision, if the other two be in any doubt; that the judgement upon this journey of mankind may be supremely just."
OFFSPRING OF HADES
Haides was usually regarded as an infertile god, for a god of the dead should, by his very nature, be incapable of siring children.
In Orphic myth, it is heavenly Zeus rather than Haides who impregnates Persephone, sometimes in the guise of an earthly dragon, sometimes in the form of her own husband.
I) THE ERINYES
The three goddesses of earthly wrath were sometimes represented as daughters of Haides. The usual account, however, describes them as earth-born.
Orphic Hymn 70 to the Eumenides (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :
"[Erinyes] from Zeus Khthonios [Haides] born, and Phersephone, whom lovely locks adorn."
Statius, Thebaid 12. 557 (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"[Hades] the father of the Eumenides."
Aeschylus, Fragment 124 Sisyphus (from Etymologicum Gudianum 227. 40) (trans. Weir Smyth) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
"Now [I came] to bid farewell to Zagreus and to his sire, the hospitaler."
[N.B. In this fragment Sisyphos describes his departure from the lower world. Haides, the “hospitaler of the dead,” is the husband of Persephone, and so the "father" of the chthonic Zagreus. His putative father however was Zeus.]
Melinoe was a chthonian goddess identified with Hekate. In Orphic myth she was born when Persephone was seduced by Zeus in the guise of her husband Haides.
Orphic Hymn 71 to Melinoe (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :
"Melinoe, saffron-veiled, terrene, who from Phersephone dread venerable queen, mixt with Zeus Kronion, arose, near where Kokytos’ mournful river flows; when, under Plouton’s [Haides’] semblance, Zeus divine deceived with guileful arts dark Phersephone. Hence, partly black thy limbs and partly white, from Plouton [Haides] dark, from Zeus ethereal bright."
Suidas s.v. Makariai (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek Lexicon C10th A.D.) :
"Makaria (Blessed). Death. A daughter of Haides. And a proverb : `Go to blessedness', instead of go to misery and utter destruction. Or `Go to blessedness' is said by euphemism. Since even the dead are called `blessed ones.'"
HADES LOVES : MINTHE
Strabo, Geography 8. 3. 14 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Near Pylos, towards the east, is a mountain named after Minthe, who, according to myth, became the concubine of Haides, was trampled under foot by Kore [Persephone], and was transformed into garden-mint, the plant which some call Hedyosmos. Furthermore, near the mountain is a precinct sacred to Haides."
Ovid, Metamorphoses 10. 728 (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Persephone of old was given grace to change a woman’s [Mintha’s] form to fragrant mint."
Oppian, Halieutica 3. 485 (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd A.D.) :
"Mint (Mintha), men say, was once a maid beneath the earth, a Nymphe of Kokytos, and she lay in the bed of Aidoneus; but when he raped the maid Persephone from the Aitnaian hill [Mount Aitna in Sicily], then she complained loudly with overweening words and raved foolishly for jealousy, and Demeter in anger trampled upon her with her feet and destroyed her. For she had said that she was nobler of form and more excellent in beauty than dark-eyed Persephone and she boasted that Aidoneus would return to her and banish the other from his halls: such infatuation leapt upon her tongue. And from the earth spray the weak herb that bears her name."
For MORE information on this nymphe see MINTHE
HADES LOVES : LEUCE
R. E. Bell, Women of Classical Mythology (sourced from Servius on Virgil's Eclogues 4. 250) (C20th Mythology encyclopedia) :
"Leuke was a nymph, a daughter of Okeanos, who was carried off by Hades. After her death she was changed into a white poplar in Elysium. The white poplar was sacred to Hades. When Herakles returned form the underworld, he was crowned with poplar leaves."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 5. 14. 2 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Herakles found the white poplar (leukê) growing on the banks of the Akheron, the river in Thesprotia . . . It is no wonder that the white poplar grew first by the Akheron."
For MORE information on this nymph see LEUKE
HADES & THE HERO ORPHEUS
When Orpheus came to the underworld seeking the return of his dead love Eurydike, Haides and Persephone were moved by his pleas and agreed to let her return.
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 14 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"When his [Orpheus'] wife Eurydike died from a snake-bite, Orpheus descended into Haides’ realm with the desire to bring her back up to earth, and persuade Plouton [Hades] to release her. Plouton promised to do this if on the return trip Orpheus would not turn round before reaching his own home. But he disobeyed, and turned to look at his wife, who thereupon went back down again."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 7 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Orpheus . . . was passionately devoted to music. It is thought that by his skill he could charm even wild beasts to listen. When, grieving for his wife Eurydice, he descended to the Lower World, he praised the children of the gods in his song."
Ovid, Metamorphoses 10. 8 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The new-wed bride [Eurydike, wife of Orpheus] . . . fell dying when a serpent struck her heel. And when at last the bard Rhodopeius [Orpheus] had mourned his fill in the wide world above, he dared descend through Taenaria’s dark gate to Styx to make trial of the Umbrae (Shades); and through the thronging wraiths and grave-spent ghosts he came to pale Persephone and him, Dominus Umbrarum (Lord of the Shades) [Haides], who rules the unlovely realm, and as he struck his lyre’s sad chords he said : `Ye deities who rule the world below, whither we mortal creatures all return, if simple truth, direct and genuine, may by your leave be told, I have come down not with intent to see the glooms of Tartara, nor to enchain the triple-snaked necks of Medusaeum [Kerberos], but for my dear wife’s sake, in whom a trodden viper poured his venom and stole her budding years. My heart has sought strength to endure; the attempt I’ll not deny; but love has won, a god whose fame is fair in the world above; but here I doubt, though here too, I surmise; and if that ancient tale of ravishment is true, you too were joined in love. Now by these regions filled with fear, by this huge Chaos, these vast silent realms, reweave, I implore, the fate unwound too fast of my Eurydice. To you are owed ourselves and all creation; a brief while we linger; then we hasten, late or soon to one abode; here on road leads us all; here in the end is home; over humankind your kingdom keeps the longest sovereignty. She too, when ripening years reach their due term, shall own your rule. The favour that I ask is but to enjoy her love; and, if fate will not reprieve her, my resolve is clear not to return: may two deaths give you cheer.’ So to the music of his strings he [Orpheus] sang, and all the bloodless spirits wept to hear; and Tantalus forgot the fleeing water, Ixion’s wheel was tranced; the Belides [Danaides] laid down their urns; the vultures left their feast, and Sisyphus sat rapt upon his stone. Then first by that sad ringing overwhelmed, the Eumenides’ [Erinyes’] cheeks, it’s said, were wet with tears; and the queen [Persephone] and he whose sceptre rules the underworld could not deny the prayer, and called Eurydice. She was among the recent ghosts and, limping from her wound, came slowly forth; and Rhodopeius [Orpheus] took his bride and with her this compact that, till he reach the world above and leave Valles Avernae [Valleys of Hell], he look not back or else the gift would fail. The track climbed upwards, steep and indistinct, through the hushed silence and the murky gloom; and now they neared the edge of the bright world, and, fearing lest she faint, longing to look, he turned his eyes--and straight she slipped away. He stretched his arms to hold her--to be held--and clasped, poor soul, naught but the yielding air. And she, dying again, made no complaint (for what complaint had she save she was loved?) and breathed a faint farewell, and turned again back to the land of spirits whence she came. The double death of his Eurydice stole Orpheus‘ wits away . . . He longed, he begged, in vain to be allowed to cross the stream of Styx a second time. The ferryman [Kharon] repulsed him. Even so for seven days he sat upon the bank, unkempt and fasting, anguish, grief and tears his nourishment, and cursed Erebus’ cruelty."
Seneca, Hercules Furens 569 ff (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :
"Orpheus had power to bend the ruthless lords of the shades [Haides and Persephone] by song and suppliant prayer, when he sought back his Eurydice. The art which had drawn the trees and birds and rocks, which had stayed the course of rivers, at whose sound the beasts had stopped to listen, soothes the underworld with unaccustomed strains, and rings out clearer in those unhearing realms. Eurydice the Thracian brides bewail; even the gods, whom no tears can move, bewail her; and they [the Erinyes] who with awful brows investigate men’s crimes and sift out ancient wrongs, as they sit in judgment bewail Eurydice. At length death’s lord [Haides] exclaims : `We own defeat; go forth to the upper world, yet by this appointed doom--fare thou as comrade behind thy husband, and thou, look not back upon thy wife until bright day shall have revealed the gods of heaven, and the opening of Spartan Taenarus shall be at hand.' True love hates delay and brooks it not; while he hastes to look upon his prize, ‘tis lost. The realm which could be overcome by song, that realm shall strength have power to overcome."
Statius, Thebaid 8. 21 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"Must I [Haides] so oft endure the profanation of Chaos by living strangers? . . . It shames me too, alas! how Tartarus opened a way to the Odyrsian plaint [Orpheus]; with my own eyes I saw the Eumenides [Erinyes] shed base tears at those persuasive strains, and the Sisters [the Moirai or Fates] repeat their allotted task; me too--, but the violence of my cruel law was stronger."
HADES & THE ADVENTURES OF HERACLES
Haides played a role in several of the adventures of Herakles.
I) HERAKLES & KERBEROS
Haides permitted Herakles to fetch Kerberos from Hell, when the hero presented him with his petition.
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 125 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"[Herakles on his journey to the underworld] Desiring to supply the souls with blood, he slaughtered one of Haides' cattle. Their keeper Menoites, son of Keuthonymos, challenged Herakles to a wrestling match. Herakles hugged his torso and broke his ribs, but set him down at the request of Persephone . . .
Herakles asked Pluto [Haides] for Kerberos, and was told to take the hound if he could overpower it without using any of the weapons he had brought with him."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 79 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"When Hercules came to lead out the three-headed dog, they [Peirithoos and Theseus, trapped in the underworld] begged his promise of protection. He obtained the favor from Pluto [Haides], and brought them out unharmed."
Seneca, Hercules Furens 45 ff (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :
"[Hera complains about Herakles :] `Nor is earth vast enough for him [Herakles]; behold, he has broken down the doors of infernal Jove [Haides], and brings back to the upper world the spoils of a conquered king [i.e. the hound Kerberos]. I myself saw, yes, saw him, the shadows of nether night dispersed and Dis [Haides] overthrown, proudly displaying to his father [Zeus] a brother’s spoils. Why does he not drag forth, bound and loaded down with fetters, Pluto [Haides] himself, who drew a lot equal to Jove’s? Why does he not lord it over conquered Erebus and lay bare the Styx? It is not enough merely to return; the law of the shades has been annulled, a way back has been opened from the lowest ghosts, and the mysteries of dread Death lie bared. But he, exultant at having burst the prison of the shades, triumphs over me, and with arrogant hand leads through the cities of Greece that dusky hound."
Seneca, Hercules Furens 760 ff :
"Now tell my son’s [Herakles] famous struggle. Is it [the hound Kerberos] his willing uncle’s [Haides'] gift, or his spoil, he brings? . . .
There appears the palace of greedy Dis [Haides]. Here the savage Stygian dog frightens the shades . . . At last the dog, vanquished [by the club of Herakles] ceases his threatenings and, spent with struggle, lowers all his heads and yields all wardship of his cavern. Both rulers [Haides and Persephone] shiver on their throne, and bid lead the dog away. Me [Theseus] also they give as boon to Alcides’ [Herakles'] prayer."
Seneca, Hercules Furens 830 ff :
"Eurystheus . . . had bidden thee [Herakles[ explore the world’s foundations; this only was lacking to thy tale of labours, to despoil the king [Haides] of the third estate."
Seneca, Hercules Furens 888 ff :
"He [Herakles] has crossed the streams of Tartarus [i.e. Haides], subdued the gods of the underworld [Haides and Persephone], and has returned. And now no fear remains; naught lies beyond the underworld."
Seneca, Troades 721 ff :
"He [Herakles], fierce warrior, to whose vast strength all savage creatures yielded, who burst through the doors of Dis [Haides] and made the dark retraceable."
Statius, Thebaid 8. 21 (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"Must I [Haides] so oft endure the profanation of Chaos by living strangers? . . . fierce Alcides [Herakles], when the iron threshold of Cerberus’ gate fell silent, its guardian removed."
For the story of Herakles' rescue of Theseus from the underworld, at the same time as the Kerberos adventure, see:
Haides Wrath: Peirithoos (below)
For MORE information on Herakles and the Hound of Haides see KERBEROS
II) HERAKLES & ALKESTIS
Herakles was sometimes described as battling Haides for the life of Queen Alkestis, who had agreed to die in place of her husband Admetos.
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 106 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"[Apollon] obtained from the Moirai (Fates) a privilege for [King] Admetos, whereby, when it was time for him to die, he would be released from death if someone should volunteer to die in his place. When his day to die came . . . [his wife] Alkestis died for him. Kore [Persephone], however sent her back, or, according to some, Herakles battled Haides and brought her back up to Admetos."
III) HERAKLES & THE SIEGE PYLOS
Herakles wounded Haides during his seige of the town of Pylos. The god was probably originally imagined present collecting the souls of the battlefield dead, though he was later depicted as a defender of the town.
Homer, Iliad 5. 382 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"[Dione consoles her daughter Aphrodite after the goddess is wounded :] `For many of us who have our homes on Olympos endure things from men, when ourselves we inflict hard pain on each other . . . Hera had to endure it when [Herakles] the strong son of Amphitryon struck her beside the right breast with a tri-barbed arrow, so that the pain he gave her could not be quieted. Haides the gigantic had to endure with the rest the flying arrow when this self-same man, the son of Zeus of the aigis struck him among the dead men at Pylos, and gave him to agony; but he went up to the house of Zeus and to tall Olympos heavy at heart, stabbed through and through with pain, for the arrow was driven into his heavy shoulder, and his spirit was suffering. But Paieon, scattering medicines that still pain, healed him, since he was not made to be one of the mortals. Brute, heavy-handed, who though nothing of the bad he was doing, who with his archer hurt the gods who dwell on Olympos!"
Pindar, Olympian Ode 9 str 2 (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"The hands of Herakles could wield his club against the Trident’s power, when by the walls of Pylos stood Poseidon and pressed him hard; and with his silver bow Phoibos Apollon menaced him close in battle; and Haides too spared not to ply him with that sceptred staff, which takes our mortal bodies down along the buried road to the dead world."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 142 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"In the course of the battle [against the polis of Pylos] Herakles wounded Haides as he helped out the Pylians."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 6. 25. 2 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"It is said that, when Herakles was leading an expedition against Pylos in Elis, Athena was one of his allies. Now among those who came to fight on the side of the Pylians was Hades, who was the foe of Herakles but worshipped at Pylos. Homer is quoted in support of the story, who says in the Iliad: And among them huge Haides suffered a wound from a swift arrow, when the same man, the son of aegis-bearing Zeus, hit him in Pylos among the dead, and gave him over to pains."
Seneca, Hercules Furens 559 ff (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :
"He [Haides] who as king lords it o’er countless peoples, what time thou [Herakles] wast making war on Pylos, Nestor’s land, brought to combat with thee his plague-dealing hands, brandishing his three-forked spear, yet fled away, with but a slight wound smitten, and, though lord of death, feared he would die."
HADES FAVOUR & WRATH : SISYPHUS
Aeschylus, Sisyphus the Runaway (lost play) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
Weir Smyth (L.C.L.) discusses the plot of this lost play : "Sisyphos drapetês (the Runaway) was satyric; its theme, the escape from Haides of the crafty Korinthian king. According to the fabulous story told by Pherekydes (Frag. 78 in Müller, Fragmenta Historicum Graecorum) . . . [Zeus] sent Thanatos (Death) against the babbler [Sisyphos]; but Sisyphos bound Thanatos (Death) fast, so that men ceased to die, until Ares came to the rescue, released Thanatos, and gave Sisyphos into his power. Before he died, however, Sisyphos directed his wife Merope to omit his funeral rites, so that Haides, being deprived of his customary offerings, was persuaded by the cunning trickster to let him go back to life in order to complain of his wife’s neglect. But, once in the upper world, he refused to return, and had to be fetched back by Hermes.--The Satyroi forming the Chorus were probably represented as initiates if the play was a parody of the Dionysiac-Orphic mysteries.
Sisyphos petrokylistês (the Stone-Roller) is probably identical with the Sisyphos drapetês; and the conclusion of the single drama may have been the famous punishment inflicted on the 'craftiest of men.'"
HADES WRATH : PIRITHOUS & THESEUS
The hero Peirithoos sought to abduct Persephone, the bride of Haides. As punishment the god trapped him on a stone chair and eternal torment. Theseus, who accompanied him on the expedition, was freed at the request of Herakles.
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca E1. 23 - 24 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Theseus and Peirithoos agreed with each other to marry daughters of Zeus, so Theseus with the other’s help kidnapped twelve-year-old Helene from Sparta, and went down to Haides’ realm to court Persephone for Peirithoos . . . Theseus, arriving in Haides’ realm with Peirithoos, was thoroughly deceived, for Haides on the pretense of hospitality had them sit first upon the throne of Lethe (Forgetfulness). Their bodies grew onto it, and were held down by the serpent’s coils. Now Peirithous remained fast there for all time, but Herakles led Theseus back up."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 124 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"As he [Herakles] approached the gates of Haides’ realm [in his quest to fetch Kerberos], he came across Theseus along with Peirithoos, who had courted Persephone with matrimonial intentions and for this reason was held fast as was Theseus. When they saw Herakles they stretched forth their hands as if to rise up with the help of his strength. He did in fact pull Theseus up by the hand, but when he wanted to raise Peirithoos, the earth shook and he let go."
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 63. 4 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"Peirithoos [after helping Theseus abduct Helene] now decided to seek the hand of Persephone in marriage, and when he asked Theseus to make the journey with him Theseus at first endeavoured to dissuade him and to turn him away from such a deed as being impious; but since Peirithoos firmly insisted upon it Theseus was bound by the oaths to join with him in the deed. And when they had at last made their way below to the regions of Haides, it came to pass that because of the impiety of their act they were both put in chains, and although Theseus was later let go by reason of the favour with which Herakles regarded him, Peirithoos because of the impiety remained in Haides, enduring everlasting punishment; but some writers of myths say that both of them never returned."
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 26. 1 :
"Herakles then, according to the myths which have come down to us, descended into the realm of Haides, and being welcomed like a brother by Persephone brought Theseus and Peirithoos back to the upper world after freeing them from their bonds. This he accomplished by the favour of Persephone, and receiving the dog Kerberos in chains he carried him away to the amazement of all and exhibited him to men."
Plutarch, Life of Theseus 31.2 & 35. 1 (trans. Perrin) (Greek historian C1st to C2nd A.D.) :
"[Theseus] to return the service of Peirithoos, [who helped him abduct Helene] journeyed with him to Epiros, in quest of the daughter of Aidoneus the king of the Molossians. This man called his wife Phersephone, his daughter Kora, and his dog Kerberos, with which beast he ordered that all suitors of his daughter should fight, promising her to him that should overcome it. However, when he learned that Peirithoos and his friend were come not to woo, but to steal away his daughter, he seized them both. Peirithoos he put out of the way at once by means of the dog, but Theseus he kept in close confinement . . .
Now while Herakles was the guest of Aidoneus the Molossian, the king incidentally spoke of the adventure of Theseus and Peirithoos, telling what they had come there to do, and what they had suffered when they were found out. Herakles was greatly distressed by the inglorious death of the one, and by the impending death of the other. As for Peirithoos, he thought it useless to complain, but he begged for the release of Theseus, and demanded that this favour be granted him. Aidoneus yielded to his prayers, Theseus was set free, and returned to Athens, where his friends were not yet altogether overwhelmed."
Aelian, Historical Miscellany 4. 5 (trans. Wilson) (Greek rhetorician C2nd to 3rd A.D.) :
"Benefits were remembered, and thanks for them given, by Theseus to Herakles. Aïdoneus king of the Molossians put Theseus in chains when he came with Pirithous to kidnap the king’s wife [i.e. Persephone]. Theseus did not want to marry the woman himself but did this as a favour to Pirithous. Herakles came to the country of the Molossians and rescued Theseus, in return for which the latter set up an altar to him."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 79 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"When Jove [Zeus] saw that they [Theseus & Peirithous] had such audacity [kidnapping Helene] as to expose themselves to danger, he bade them in a dream both go and ask Pluto on Pirithous’ part for Proserpina [Persephone] in marriage. When they had descended to the Land of the Dead through the peninsula Taenarus, and had informed Pluto [Haides] why they had come, they were stretched out and tortured for a long time by the Furies. When Hercules came to lead out the three-headed dog, they begged his promise of protection. He obtained the favor from Pluto, and brought them out unharmed."
Ovid, Heroides 2. 67 ff (trans. Showerman) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"With record of his [Theseus'] deeds. When men shall have read of . . . the knocking at the gloomy palace of the darksome god."
Seneca, Phaedra 93 ff (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :
"Through the deep shades of the pool which none recrosses is he [Theseus] faring, this brave recruit of a madcap suitor [Peirithoos], that from the very throne of the infernal king [Haides] he may rob and bear away his wife [Persephone]. He hurries on, a partner in mad folly; him nor fear nor shame held back. And there in the depths of Acherontis [i.e. the underworld] he seeks adultery and an unlawful bed."
Seneca, Phaedra 147 ff :
"Suppose that Theseus is indeed held fast [in the underworld], hidden away in Lethean depths, and must suffer Stygia [i.e. the underworld] eternally."
Seneca, Phaedra 222 ff :
"Trust not in Dis [Haides]. Though he bar his realm, and though the Stygian dog [Kerberos] keep guard o’er the grim doors, Theseus alone finds out forbidden ways."
Seneca, Phaedra 625 ff :
"The overlord of the fast-holding realm and of the silent Styx has made no way to the upper world once quitted; and will he let the robber [Theseus] of his couch go back? Unless, perchance, even Pluton sits smiling upon love!"
Seneca, Phaedra 951 :
"[Theseus was] in depths of Tartarus, in presence of dread Dis [Haides], and imminent menace of hell’s lord."
Seneca, Phaedra 1149 ff :
"Theseus looks on sky and upper world and has escaped from the pools of Stygia, chaste one, thou owest naught to thine uncle, the all-devouring; unchanged the tale remains for the infernal king [i.e. he keeps his bride]."
Seneca, Phaedra 1217 ff :
"[Theseus returned from the underworld laments his unhappy lot :] `Alcides, give back his boon to Dis [Haides]; give me up again to the ghosts whom I escaped. Impiously, I make vain prayers for the death I left behind.; "
Statius, Thebaid 8. 21 (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"Must I [Haides] so oft endure the profanation of Chaos by living strangers? The rash ardour of Pirithous provoked me, and Theseus, sworn comrade of his daring friend [when the pair attempted to abduct Persephone]."
HADES WRATH : ASCLEPIUS
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 71. 3 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"It was believed that he [Asklepios] had brought back to life many who had died. Consequently, the myth goes on to say, Haides brought accusation against Asklepios, charging him before Zeus of acting to the detriment of his own province, for, he said, the number of the dead was steadily diminishing, now that men were being healed by Asklepios. So Zeus, in indignation, slew Asklepios with his thunderbolt."
Aesop, Fables 133 (from Chambry & Babrius, Fabulae Aesopeae 75) (trans. Gibbs) (Greek fable C6th B.C.) :
"[This fable by Aesop contains an allusion to the story of Asklepios :] There was once a doctor who knew nothing about medicine. One of his patients was feeling quite weak, but everyone insisted, 'Don't give up, you will get well; your illness is the sort that lasts for a while, but then you will feel better.' The doctor, however, marched in and declared : `I'm not going to play games with you or tell you lies: you need to take care of all your affairs, because you are going to die; you are not going to last more than another day.' Having said this, the doctor did not even bother to come back again. After a while the patient recovered from his illness and was venturing out of doors, although he was not yet fully steady on his feet. When the doctor ran into the patient, he greeted him, and asked how all the people down in Haides were doing. The patient said, `They are taking it easy, drinking the water of Lethe. But Persephone and the mighty god Plouton [Haides] were just now threatening terrible things against all the doctors, since they keep the sick people from dying. Every single doctor was denounced, and they were ready to put you at the top of the list. This scared me, so I immediately stepped forward and grasped their royal sceptres as I solemnly swore that this was simply a ridiculous accusation, since you are not really a doctor at all."
For MORE information on the medicine-god see ASKLEPIOS
HADES WRATH : THEBES & FAVOUR : THE CORONIDES
Haides and Persephone inflicted Thebes with a deadly plague, probably as punishment for King Kreon's refusal to allow the burial of the dead warriors of the army of the Seven Against Thebes. When the maiden Koronides sacrificed themselves to appease the gods, they were pitied and transformed into a pair of comets.
Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses 25 (trans. Celoria) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"When plague seized Aonia and many died, there were sent officers to consult Apollon’s oracle at Gortyne. The god replied that they should make an appeal to the two gods of the underworld [Haides and Persephone]. He said that they would cease from their anger if two willing maidens were sacrificed to the two.
Of course not one of the maidens in the city complied with the oracle until a servant-woman reported the answer to the daughters of Orion [the two Koronides]. They were at work at their loom and, as soon as they heard about this, they willingly accepted death on behalf of their fellow citizens before the plague epidemic had smitten them too. They cried out three times to the gods of the underworld saying that they were willing sacrifices. They thrust their bodkins into themselves at their shoulders and gashed open their throats.
And they both fell down into the earth. Persephone and Hades took pity on the maidens and made their bodies disappear, sending them instead up out of the earth as heavenly bodies. When they appeared, they were borne up into the sky. And men called them comets."
- Homer, The Iliad - Greek Epic C8th B.C.
- Hesiod, Theogony - Greek Epic C8th-7th B.C.
- The Homeric Hymns - Greek Epic C8th-4th B.C.
- Pindar, Odes - Greek Lyric C5th B.C.
- Aeschylus, Fragments - Greek Tragedy C5th B.C.
- Plato, Gorgias - Greek Philosophy C4th B.C.
- Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
- Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History - Greek History C1st B.C.
- Strabo, Geography - Greek Geography C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
- Pausanias, Guide to Greece - Greek Geography C2nd A.D.
- Plutarch, Lives - Greek Historian C1st-2nd A.D.
- Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
- The Orphic Hymns - Greek Hymns C3rd B.C. to C2nd A.D.
- Aelian, Historical Miscellany - Greek Rhetoric C2nd-3rd A.D.
- Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd A.D.
- Hyginus, Astronomica - Latin Mythography C2nd A.D.
- Ovid, Metamorphoses - Latin Epic C1st BC - C1st A.D.
- Ovid, Fasti - Latin Epic C1st BC - C1st A.D.
- Ovid, Heroides - Latin Poetry C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
- Cicero, De Natura Deorum - Latin Philosophy C1st B.C.
- Seneca, Hercules Furens - Latin Tragedy C1st A.D.
- Seneca, Phaedra - Latin Tragedy C1st A.D.
- Seneca, Troades - Latin Tragedy C1st A.D.
- Statius, Thebaid - Latin Epic C1st A.D.
- Oppian, Halieutica - Greek Poetry C3rd A.D.
- Suidas - Byzantine Lexicographer C10th A.D.
Other references not currently quoted here: Argonautica Orphica 1192; et al