Today’s post is about one of the most prominent deities in ancient Greek religion, Hades. Here is everything you should know about the king of the dead, his family and marriage to Persephone, his symbols, sacred animals, and plants.
Who is Hades in Greek Mythology?
Also known as the king of the underworld, Hades was the god of the dead in Greek mythology. He is also known as the god of “the hidden wealth of the earth” e.g. the metals to be mined from the earth.
The realm of the underworld was given to him while the three brothers were dividing the cosmos and claiming their own pieces. Hades, also known as Haides, took control of the underworld (also mentioned as “the void” in some ancient texts) while his brothers Zeus and Poseidon took control of the sky and the oceans, respectively.
According to the belief, without permission of Hades, no one would be allowed to leave the realm of the dead, the gates of which were protected by the three-headed hound called Cerberus.
The souls of the dead would be carried into the underworld by a ferryman named Charon who would help them cross the river of the dead.
Hades’ Family Tree – Who are Hades’ Parents and Sibling in Greek Mythology?
Titans Cronus and Rhea were the parents of Hades. He had 5 siblings from the same mother and father, namely, Zeus, Hera, Hestia, Poseidon, and Demeter. Chiron, also known as “the justest and wisest of all centaurs”, was his half-brother as he was the son of Cronus and the Oceanid named Philyra.
Hades, Persephone and Demeter – The Kidnapping of Persephone
One of the most important myths involving Hades is about his marriage to Persephone. According to the myth, without the knowledge of her mother, Demeter, Zeus betrothed Persephone to Hades.
One day, the earth was shattered into two and Hades came through it, kidnapped Persephone to the underworld, and made her his wife.
Not knowing what happened to her daughter, Demeter mourned for Persephone. Demeter was the goddess of fertility in ancient Greek religion. So, her sorrow caused a great famine among people.
Seeing his subjects suffering so much from Demeter’s sorrow, Zeus made Hades let Persephone return to earth.
However, Hades did not let go of her easily. He made Persephone eat pomegranates, which are known as the fruit of the underworld, and that, according to the belief, forced her to return to the underworld for some part of the year.
The times Persephone returned to the earth were associated with the spring months when the lands become fertile again while the winter months were associated with the time when she had to go back to the realm of the dead.
Hades’ Symbol List – What are the Symbols of Hades?
Hades’ main symbols were cornucopia and royal scepters.
Hades’ Sacred Animals
Hades’ main sacred animals were screech owls while others include horses, cattle, sheep, and serpents.
Hades Sacred Plants
Pomegranates, with which he tricked Persephone into being forced to return to the underworld, cypress trees, mint, narcissus flowers, and white poplars are known as Hades’ sacred plants.
This wraps up our post on Hades, the god of the dead in Greek mythology, his symbols, sacred animals, and plants. If you enjoyed reading it, you should check out our post on symbols of Hera here. You can also read our round-up article on symbols of all Greek gods here. Thanks for reading.