Hades is the brother of Zeus and Poseidon, who make up two of the Twelve Olympians. When the Greek gods had defeated the Titans, they needed to decide who would have control over each portion of the world. To decide this, the world was divided into three parts: the skies, the seas, and the underworld.
Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades all drew lots to see which portion of the world they would control. Zeus drew the skies, Poseidon drew the seas, and Hades drew the underworld. Because he ruled the underworld, Hades did not reside on Mount Olympus with the other gods. Hades lived in the underworld and could only hear the voices of those who lived in the underworld or those who spoke his name in the land of the living.
Greeks believed that if they spoke his name, Hades possessed enough power to bring them to the underworld, so Greeks would try not to speak his name.
Cap of Invisibility
Hades possessed the power of invisibility given to him through a magical helmet made by the cyclops. Hades was no stranger to letting Greek heroes borrow his cap of invisibility. Perseus used the cap of invisibility on his mission to behead Medusa. Athena used the cap of invisibility during the Trojan War to assist Diomedes, Greek hero of the Trojan War, in injuring Ares. Hermes used the cap of invisibility in battling the giant, Hippolytus.
Control Over the Earth’s Riches
Because Hades is the ruler of the underworld, he possesses and controls all of the riches that are found within the earth. This includes both natural riches as well as buried riches. He is often considered the wealthiest and richest of all of the gods.
Keeper of the Souls
As Hades is the ruler of the underworld, he will very rarely let a soul leave the underworld. Souls who have entered the underworld most often become permanent residents, as Hades typically does not let anyone leave. If a soul tried to leave, Hades would punish them. Similarly, if someone tried to rescue a soul that was living in the underworld, Hades would punish them as well.
Hades and Cerberus
Hades had a companion to keep him company and help guard the souls in the underworld. Cerberus was a three-headed dog who would stand guard at the entrance to the underworld to ensure that no souls attempted to escape, and that no person attempt to enter to steal a soul.
Stealer of Persephone
In the myth of Hades and Persephone, the ruler of the underworld stole Persephone from the earth when he opened up the earth where she was picking flowers. Persephone is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, goddess of agriculture and harvest. Demeter discovers that Persephone is stolen by Hades, so she brings upon a great drought and famine to the earth.
Demeter vowed she would not restore vegetation until Persephone was returned. Zeus sends his son, Hermes, to go to the underworld and retrieve Persephone. Hermes complies and visits Hades in the underworld with Persephone sitting alongside him. Hermes tells Hades that Zeus and Demeter are requesting Persephone be returned to them.
Hades agrees and gives Persephone a pomegranate to eat before she leaves. When Persephone returns to her mother, her mother asks if she has eaten anything while in the underworld. Persephone confirms that she ate a pomegranate, and Demeter is devastated. Eating food from the underworld binds Persephone to Hades.
With the intervention of Zeus, a compromise is reached between Demeter, Persephone, and Hades. For one-third of the year, Persephone is required to spend this time in the underworld with Hades. During this one-third of the year, the earth experiences a harsh winter falls on the earth to represent Demeter’s sadness over missing her daughter.