The Titans (giant gods) Kronos and Rhea had many children and one of them was Hades who became the Greek Lord of the Underworld and god of the dead.
In Greek mythology, Hades is famous for kidnapping and marrying Persephone; the daughter of Demeter- the goddess of agriculture.
Hades is often called the ‘Keeper of Souls’ due to his job. He and his brothers, Zeus and Poseidon, drew lots to see who would become the ruler of the three main parts of the Earth - the sky, the sea, and the Underworld. Hades drew the short straw and became the ruler of the dark realm. Mysterious and not often seen at Mount Olympus (the seat of the gods), or in the mortal world, Hades is a bit of an enigma (a person that is difficult to understand).
Hades is often associated with his three-headed dog, Cerberus, a helmet of invisibility, serpents, the colours of black, gold, and silver, stones and metal, and drinking horns. Pomegranates are also a common symbol for him because he convinced Persephone to eat six seeds of the fruit which meant she was doomed to spend six months of every year in the Underworld, forever.
The Fate of Persephone by Walter Crane, painted in 1877. The painting shows Persephone (a goddess of spring), being kidnapped by Hades.
The worship of Hades in Ancient Greece
Hades had one notable cult following- the Oracle of the Dead in Thesprotia, in Western Greece. Worshippers of Hades would try to avoid saying his name or angering him as it was said that if he was enraged he could bring any soul to the Underworld - even if they were still alive! He was certainly one of the most powerful gods.
CREATE: Mapping the Underworld
Hades’ land is mostly unmapped, due to its grim and mysterious nature. Certain parts and locations are mentioned in myths, such as Hades’ palace, and Tartarus.
But there are always new souls travelling to the land, and they need your map!
Create your map of the spooky Underworld:
Click the following links to read about the features and geography of the Underworld. Then use a grey lead pencil to draw these features or places in the Underworld and label them. You can imagine what they look like. Some features you may include are the River Styx, Tartarus and Hades’ palace.
Read this short description of the geography of the underworld:
Read this longer description of the geography of the underworld:
Add some details and colour! Though the Underworld was always depicted as dark and gloomy, there are always spots of colour where Persephone, Hades' wife, can be found. She liked flowers very much.
Give it to someone. See if they would be able to find their way around the Underworld!
A detail from the painting ‘Charon’ (1684-1686) painted by Luca Giordano. This painting shows Charon the ferryman delivering souls in a boat over the Styx and Acheron rivers to the entrance of the Underworld, guarded by the many-headed dog Cerberus.