God of the Dead & King of the Underworld
The oldest son of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. He was the last son regurgitated by his father, who then with his two brothers Zeus (God of Sky & Thunder) and Poseidon (God of the Sea, Earthquakes, Storms & Horses) triumphed over him, ending the reign of the mighty Titans. The men decided to split up the heavens, earth and underworld. Zeus would receive the heavens, Poseidon the sea and Hades the underworld.
Contrary to modern belief Hades wasn’t overly upset by his charge and certainly wasn’t the grim reaper portrayed in books. In fact he was misunderstood because of the feelings one has about death. He wasn’t spoken of because people didn’t want to draw attention to themselves. He was portrayed as dour, gaunt and grim reaper like because of what he represented. Hades himself didn’t view death as evil. He was even more altruistic than other gods.
Hades job was jailer, he supervised and imprisoned them, with the help of his three-headed dog, Cerberus. He was not a judge, that belonged to the Furies (Erinyes), three cronies, Tisiphone, avenger of murder, Megaera, the jealous and Alecto, constant anger, responsible for vengeance and retribution on the dead. He was also not death itself that belonged to Thanatos. The only time Hades would lose it was when a soul tried to escape, someone tried to cheat death or when someone would try to steal a member from his realm.
Hades didn’t like to leave the underworld much, he wasn’t treated warmly and ostracized. When he did venture to the Upperworld he usually donned a helmet that made him invisible.
The most important tale of Hades was how he acquired his wife Persephone. She was the daughter of Zeus and his sister Demeter (Goddess of Agriculture, Fertility & Harvest). Hades saw Persephone gathering flowers in a field and immediately fell in voracious love with her. He went to Zeus and professed his love. The brothers created a plan to capture her. As she played in the field with her friends, the ground beneath her feet began to tremble and cleave leaving her to slip into the Underworld, where Hades forced her to become his wife. It’s said that at first she was inconsolable with grief but in time she came to love her husband very deeply.
Persephone’s mother Demeter was distraught and furious to discover her daughter missing and went to confront her dark brother, Hades to persuade him to release her daughter. Insisting that the beautiful girl didn’t belong in the dark depths. He refused and Demeter took her plight to Zeus, who told Hades he must release the girl but his brother had already given Persephone pomegranate seeds, thus binding her to the Underworld forever. Regretful Hades, Demeter and Zeus all came to agree that Persephone would spend four-month of the year with Hades and the rest of the year with Demeter. And so the four months she spent with her husband, Demeter called Winter. When her daughter returned Demeter would begin to let the Earth create nourishment spring forth, creating Spring and Summer. As the time drew near to Persephone’s return to the Underworld, Demeter would begin to let the nourishment fade and die, thus creating Autumn.
When Persephone would return to her mother great festivals were held in her honor but her heart belonged to her husband, Hades and sat beside him on a throne of ebony, carrying their sceptres.
The narcissus and cypress were scared of him
His kingdom was separated by rivers, the Styx, Lethe, Acheron, Phlegethon and Cocytus
His sacred animal was Ceberus
His sacred plant and tree were the narcissus and cypress
His symbols were the cornucopia, his scepter and a key
He had three children with Persephone Macaria (Goddess of Blessedness), Melinoe (Goddess of Ghosts) and Zagreus (God of Orphic Mysteries), although there’s some speculation to who his father was, Hades or Zeus.