Hades (Άδης or Ἀΐδας; from Greek ᾍδης, Hadēs, originally
Ἅιδης, Haidēs or Άΐδης, Aidēs, meaning "the unseen")
refers both to the ancient Greek underworld, the abode of
Hades, and to the god of the underworld. Hades in Homer
referred just to the god; the genitive ᾍδου, Haidou, was an
elision to denote locality: "[the house/dominion] of Hades".
Eventually, the nominative, too, came to designate the abode
of the dead...
or PLUTON (Ἅιδης, Πλούτων or poetically Ἀΐδης, Ἀἵδωνεύς and
Πλουτεν́ς), 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 α-ιδεῖν, whence it would signify "the god who makes
invisible," and others from ἅδω or χάδω; 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. ]. § 5,
2.1.) Hence he is called the infernal Zeus (Ζεὺς
καταχθόνιος), or the king of the shades (ἂναε ἐνέρων, Hom.
Il. 9.457, 20.61. 15.187, &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. 5.395; comp. Paus. 6.25.3; Apollod. 2.7.3;
ind. Ol. 9.31.) But when Hades was in his own kingdom, he
was quite unaware of what was going on either on earth or in
Olympus (Il. 20.61, &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. 5.845), and later traditions stated
that this helmet was given him as a present by the Cyclopes
after their delivery from Tartarus. (Apollod. 1.2.1.)
Ancient story mentions both gods and men who were honoured
by Hades with the temporary use of this helmet. (Apollod.
1.6.2, 2.4.2.) His character is described as fierce and
inexorable, whence of all the gods he was most hated by
mortals. (Il. 9.158.) He kept the gates of the lower world
closed (whence he is called Πυλάρτης, Il. 8.367; comp. Paus.
5.20.1.; 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.
9.567), 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. 10.527; Serv. ad Virg. Georg. 2.380.)
The ensign of his power was a staff, with which, like
Hermes, he drove the shades into the lower world (Pind. O.
9.35), 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. 5.404; 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.
2.5. §§ 10, 12.) Like the other gods, he was not a faithful
husband; the Furies are called his daughters (Serv. ad Aen.
1.86); the nymph Mintho, whom he loved, was metamorphosed by
Persephone into the plant called mint (Strab. viii. p.344;
Ov. Met. 10.728), 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. 7.61.) 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,
Παγκοίτης, &c. (Hom. Hymn. in Cer. 9; Aeschyl. Prom. 153 ;
Soph. Antig. 811; Paus. 2.35.7.) 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. 6.25.3) ; 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.
1.28.6, 5.20.1.) 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. (Hirt, Mythol. Bilderb. i. p. 72, &c.)
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. - A
Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology,
William Smith, Ed.