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Homeric world (34)

Gods & demigods

Hades & Persephone

Hades, the third child of Cronus and Rhea, received the dominion of the lower world and his brothers Zeus and Poseidon became lords respectively of the sky and sea (Il. 15.187).
Persephone, the daughter of Zeus by Demeter, was his wife (Od. 10.509, 11.217).

   Hades (Aides; Attic, Haides or haides [aides]). In Greek mythology, the son of Cronus and Rhea, who received the dominion of the lower world at the division of the universe after the fall of Cronus, his brothers, Zeus and Poseidon, being made lords respectively of the sky and sea. With his queen Persephone he held sway over the other powers of the infernal regions, and over the ghosts of the dead. The symbol of his invisible empire was the helmet that made men invisible. This was given to him by the Cyclopes to aid him in the battle of the gods with the Giants. Originally he was, to all appearance, conceived as bringing down the dead himself to the lower world in his chariot, or as driving them down with his staff; but in the later belief the office of conductor of souls belonged to Hermes. Hades is the enemy of all life, heartless and inexorable, and hated, accordingly, by gods and men. Sacrifice and prayer are of no avail with him, and he is therefore only worshipped on exceptional occasions. But, like Persephone, he was sometimes represented in a milder light, being called Pluto (Plouton, Ploutos), or the giver of wealth. This because it is from the depths of the earth that corn and its attendant blessings are produced. As old as Hesiod is the advice to the plougher to call upon Zeus of the lower world, as well as upon Demeter. He is also styled Polydectes and Polydegmon, as receiving at last all men in his realms.
    The most celebrated of the myths referring to Hades is that of the rape of Persephone. In works of art he is represented as resembling his brothers Zeus and Poseidon, but with gloomy features and hair falling over his brow, the key of the infernal world in his hand, and the dog Cerberus at his side. Sometimes he appears as a god of agriculture, with a cornucopia, or a two-pronged pickaxe. The plants sacred to him were the cypress and the narcissus; black sheep were offered to him in sacrifice. When mortals invoked him, they struck the earth with the hand.
    By the Romans Hades was identified partly with Orcus, partly with Dis.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Hades or Pluton (Haides, Plouton or poetically Aides, Ahidoneus and Ploutens), 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 a-idein, whence it would signify "the god who makes invisible," and others from hado or chado; 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 (Zeus katachthonios), or the king of the shades (anae eneron, Hom. Il. ix. 457, xx. 61. xv. 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. v. 395; comp. Paus. vi. 25.3; Apollod. ii. 7.3; ind. Ol. ix. 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. xx. 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. v. 845), and later traditions stated that this helmet was given him as a present by the Cyclopes after their delivery from Tartarus. (Apollod. i. 2.1.) Ancient story mentions both gods and men who were honoured by Hades with the temporary use of this helmet. (Apollod. i. 6.2, ii. 4.2.) His character is described as fierce and inexorable, whence of all the gods he was most hated by mortals. (Il. ix. 158.) He kept the gates of the lower world closed (whence he is called Pulartes, Il. viii. 367; comp. Paus. v. 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. ix. 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. x. 527; Serv. ad Virg. Georg. ii. 380.)
  The ensign of his power was a staff, with which, like Hermes, he drove the shades into the lower world (Pind. Ol. ix. 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. v. 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. ii. 5.10, 12.) Like the other gods, he was not a faithful husband; the Furies are called his daughters (Serv. ad Aen. i. 86); the nymph Mintho, whom he loved, was metamorphosed by Persephone into the plant called mint (Strab. viii.; Ov. Met. x. 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. vii. 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.; 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, Pankoites, &c. (Hom. Hymn. in Cer. 9; Aeschyl. Prom. 153 ; Soph. Antig. 811; Paus. ii. 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. vi. 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., xiv., Paus. i. 28.6, v. 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.)
  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.

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Nov 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

   (Persephone), called Proserpina by the Romans; the daughter of Zeus and Demeter. In Homer she is called Persephonia (Persephoneia); the form Persephone first occurs in Hesiod. But besides these forms of the name, we also find Persephassa, Phersephassa, Persephatta, Phersephatta, Pherrephassa, Pherephatta, and Phersephonia, for which various etymologies have been proposed. The Latin Proserpina is only a corruption of the Greek, though the Romans derive it from proserpo. In Attica she was worshipped under the name of Cora (Kore, Ion. Koure). --that is, "the Daughter," namely, of Demeter; and the two were frequently called "the Mother and the Daughter" (he Meter kai he Kore). Being the infernal goddess of death, she is also called a daughter of Zeus and Styx. In Arcadia she was worshipped under the name of Despoena, and was called a daughter of Poseidon Hippius and Demeter, said to have been brought up by the Titan Anytus. Homer describes her as the wife of Hades, and the formidable, venerable, and majestic queen of the Shades, who rules over the souls of the dead, along with her husband. Hence she is called by later Roman writers Iuno Inferna, Averna, and Stygia; and the Erinyes are said to have been her daughters by Pluto. Groves sacred to her are placed by Homer in the western extremity of the earth, on the borders of the lower world, which is itself called the house of Persephone. The story of her being carried off by Hades or Pluto against her will is not mentioned by Homer, who simply describes her as the wife and queen of Hades. Her abduction is first mentioned by Hesiod. The account of it, which is the most celebrated part of her story, and the wanderings of her mother in search of her, and the worship of the two goddesses in Attica at the festival of the Eleusinia, are related under Demeter and Eleusinia. In the mystical theories of the Orphics, Persephone is described as the all-pervading goddess of nature, who both produces and destroys everything; and she is therefore mentioned along, or identified with, other mystic divinities, such as Isis, Rhea, Ge, Hestia, Pandora, Artemis, and Hecate. This mystic Persephone is further said to have become by Zeus the mother of Dionysus, Iacchus, Zagreus, or Sabazius.
    Persephone frequently appears in works of art. She is represented either with the grave and severe character of an infernal Here or as a mystical divinity with a sceptre and a little box, in the act of being carried off by Pluto. Her symbols are a torch or torches, a cornucopia, ears of corn, pomegranates, or a cock as heralding the dawn (i. e. a new life).

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Surnames of Hades & Persephone

Hades Agesander or Agesilaus

Agesander or Agesilaus (Agesandros or Agesilaos), from agein and aner or laos, a surname of Pluto or Hades, describing him as the god who carries away all men (Callim. Hymn. in Pallad. 130, with Spanheins's note; Hesych. s. v.; Aeschyl. ap. Athen. iii.). Nicander (ap. Athen. xv.) uses the form Hegesilaos.

Persephone Deione

Deione, that is, the daughter of Deo or Demeter, is used as a name for Persephone. (Callimach. Fragm. 48). It occurs also as a proper name of the mother of Miletus. (Ov. Met. ix. 442.)

Persephone Epaene (Epaine)

Epaine, that is, the fearful, a surname of Persephone (Hom. Il. ix. 457). Plutarch (de Aud poet.) derives the name from ainos, which suggests, that it might also be understood in a euphemistic sense as the praised goddess.

Thanatos (Death)

The god of death and twin brother of Sleep (Il. 14.231, 16.454 & 672).

Nyx (Night)

The goddess of the night (Il. 14.258).

   Nyx (Nux), by the Romans called Nox. One of the most ancient deities, daughter of Chaos. From her union with her brother Erebus, she gave birth to the Day and the Light. She was also the mother of the Moerae, Hesperides, Hypnos, Nemesis, Discord, Thanatos, Momus, Fraus, etc. She is called by some of the poets the mother of all things, of gods as well as of men, and was wor shipped with great solemnity. A black sheep and a cock, the latter as announcing the approach of day, were sacrificed to her.
    Night was represented under various forms: as riding in a chariot preceded by the constellations, with wings, to denote the rapidity of her course; as traversing the firmament seated in her car, and covered with a black veil studded with stars. Sometimes her veil seems to be floating on the wind, while she approaches the earth to extinguish a flaming torch which she carries in her hand. She has often been confounded with Artemis, or the moon; and her statue was placed in the temple of that goddess at Ephesus.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Nyx: Various WebPages

Cronus (lat. Saturnus)

The son of Uranus by Gaea, husband of Rhea, father of Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Hera, Demeter and Hestia (Hes. Theog. 452). At first, he was the king of the world until he was dethroned by his sons and was thrown down into Tartarus with the Titans (Il. 8.479). Afterwards, Zeus, Poseidon and Hades split among themselves their father 's kingdom (Il. 15.187).

Cronus (Time), Titan and son of Uranus (“Heaven”) and Gaea (“Earth”) who ruled during the Golden Age. His wife was Rhea, his sister, and they had six children: Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, Poseidon and Zeus.
  Cronus had taken the power by mutilating his father and according to the ancient Greeks, time started when Cronus took over.
  Because Cronus had been told by his father Uranos that one of his children would take his throne, he swallowed each child his wife gave birth to, making Rhea more and more desperate. She finally wrapped a stone into a blanket and offered it to Cronus, who mistook it for a child and swallowed it immediately. The child, Zeus, she had brought up on Crete, in the holy cave Dicte, and when old enough, Zeus defeated his father and made him throw his five brothers and sisters up, as well as the stone, which was taken to Delphi.
  The gods then declared war against the Titans, whom they defeated and sent to the deepest cave of the underworld, Tartarus. Cronus was one of the oldest gods worshipped by the Greeks, and his time was often referred to as the golden age. He was pictured with a sickle, and was connected to the harvest.
  The Athenians would celebrate him after the harvest, and the masters and slaves would be equals for a few days, joking with each other.
  The Romans took over this worship, naming the festivities Saturnaliae, after the Latin name for Cronus: Saturnus.

This text is cited Sept 2003 from the In2Greece URL below.

Cronus, (Kronos). In Greek mythology, the youngest son of Uranus and Gaea, who mutilated Cronus and overthrew his father, and, with the assistance of the Titans, made himself sovereign of the world. He took his sister Rhea to wife, and became by her father of Hestia, Demeter, Here, Hades, Poseidon, and Zeus. But his mother prophesied that one of his children would overthrow him. He accordingly swallowed them all except Zeus, whom Rhea saved by a stratagem. Zeus, when grown up, obtained the assistance of the Ocean-nymph Thetis in making Cronus disgorge his children, and then, with the help of his kinsfolk, overpowered Cronus and the Titans. According to one version of the fable, Cronus was imprisoned in Tartarus with the Titans; according to another, he was reconciled with Zeus, and reigned with Rhadamanthus on the Islands of the Blessed. Cronus seems originally to have been a god of the harvest; whence it happens that in many parts of Greece the harvest month was called Cronion. His name being easily confused with that of Chronos (Chronos, "Time"), he was afterwards erroneously regarded as the god of time. In works of art he was represented as an old man, with a mantle drawn over the back of his head and holding a sickle in his hand. The Romans identified him with Saturnus, their god of sowing.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Cronus Kronos), a son of Uranus and Ge, and the youngest among the Titans. He was married to Rhea, by whom he became the father of Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, and Zeus. Cheiron is also called a son of Cronus (Hesiod. Theog. 137, 452, &c.; Apollod. i. 1.3, &c.). At the instigation of his mother, Cronus unmanned his father for having thrown the Cyclopes, who were likewise his children by Ge, into Tartarus. Out of the blood thus shed sprang up the Erinnyes. When the Cyclopes were delivered from Tartarus, the government of the world was taken from Uranus and given to Cronus, who in his turn lost it through Zeus, as was predicted to him by Ge and Uranus. The Romans identified their Saturnus with the Cronus of the Greeks.

Cer, Keres

The personified necessity of death, described by Homer as formidable, dark, and hateful beings, because they carry off men to the joyless house of Hades. According to Hesiod, they are the daughters of Night (Nyx), and sisters of the Moerae and punish men for their crimes.

Cer (Ker), the personified necessity of death (Ker or Keres Danatoio). The passages in the Homeric poems in which the Ker or Keres a appear as real personifications, are not very numerous (Il. ii. 302, iii. 454, xviii. 535), and in most cases the word may be taken as a common noun. The plural form seems to allude to the various modes of dying which Homer (Il. xii. 326) pronounces to be muriai, and may be a natural, sudden, or violent death (Od. xi. 171, &c., 398, &c.). The Keres are described as formidable, dark, and hateful, because they carry off men to the joyless house of Hades (Il. ii. 859, iii. 454; Od. iii. 410, xiv. 207), The Keres, although no living being can escape them, have yet no absolute power over the life of men: they are under Zeus and the gods, who can stop them in their course or hurry them on (Il. xii. 402, xviii. 115, iv. 11; Od. xi. 397). Even mortals themselves may for a time prevent their attaining their object, or delay it by flight and the like (Il. iii. 32, xvi. 47). During a battle the Keres wander about with Eris and Cydoimos in bloody garments, quarrelling about the wounded and the dead, and dragging them away by the feet (Il. xviii. 535, &c.). According to Hesiod, with whom the Keres assume a more definite form, they are the daughters of Nyx and sisters of the Moerae, and punish men for their crimes (Theog. 211, 217; Paus. v. 19.1). Their fearful appearance in battle is described by Hesiod (Scut. Here. 249, &c.). They are mentioned by later writers together with the Erinnyes as the goddesses who avenge the crimes of men (Aesch. Sept. 1055; comp. Apollon. Rhod. iv. 1665, &c..) Epidemic diseases are sometimes personified as Keres (Orph. Hymn. xiii. 12, lxvi. 4, Lith. vii. 6; Eustath. ad Hom.).

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Nov 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Place-names according to Homer


Personification of the dark abyss in the underworld, son of Aether and Gaea. According to Homer, Tartarus was a place beneath earth and Hades, from where it was as far as heaven was above earth (Il. 8, 13 etc.). It was closed by iron gates and there dwelt Iapetus, Cronus and others (Il. 8, 480).

Tartarus, a gloomy place in Hades as far distant from earth as earth is distant from the sky.
Perseus Project - Apollodorus, Library and Epitome (ed. Sir James George Frazer) 1.1.2)

Son of Aether and Gaea, and by his mother Gaea the father of the Gigantes, Typhoeus, and Echidna. In the Iliad, Tartarus is a place beneath the earth, as far below Hades as Heaven is above the earth, and closed by iron gates. Later poets use the name as synonymous with Hades.

Tartarus: Perseus Encyclopedia

Tartaros: Various WebPages


A river in Hades (Od. 10.513).

Gods & demigods

Titans, Titanes

The sons of Uranus and Gaea (= Earth) (Il. 14.279). In the Iliad, they are also called "the sons of heaven" (Il. 5.898).

   (Titanes, sing. Titan). (1) The sons and daughters of Uranus and Ge or Gaea (Earth), originally dwelling in heaven, whence they are called Ouraniones or Ouranidai. They were twelve or thirteen in number who fall generally into pairs, viz., Oceanus and Tethys representing the sea; Hyperion and Theia (sun and moon); Coeus and Phoebe (light or star deities); Creios and Eurybia (deities of strength); Cronus and Rhea (heaven and earth); Themis and Mnemosyne, and Iapetus who was to produce mankind. It is said that Uranus, the first ruler of the world, threw his sons, the Hecatoncheires (Hundred-Handed)--Briareus, Cottys, Gyes--and the Cyclopes--Arges, Steropes, and Brontes--into Tartarus. Gaea, indignant at this, produced iron, persuaded the Titans to rise against their father, and gave to Cronus an iron sickle. They did as their mother bade them, with the exception of Oceanus. Cronus, with his sickle, mutilated his father. From the drops of his blood there sprang the Erinnyes, Alecto, Tisiphone, and Megaera. The Titans then deposed Uranus, liberated their brothers who had been cast into Tartarus, and raised Cronus to the throne. But Cronus hurled the Cyclopes back into Tartarus, and married his sister Rhea. Having been warned by Gaea and Uranus that he should be dethroned by one of his own children, he swallowed successively his children Hestia, Demeter, Here, Pluto, and Poseidon. Rhea therefore, when she was pregnant with Zeus, went to Crete, and gave birth to the child in the Dictaean Cave, where he was brought up by the Curetes. When Zeus had grown up he availed himself of the assistance of Thetis, the daughter of Oceanus, who gave to Cronus a potion which caused him to bring up the stone and the children he had swallowed. (See Cronus; Zeus.) United with his brothers and sisters, Zeus now began the contest against Cronus and the ruling Titans. This contest (usually called the Titanomachia) was carried on in Thessaly, Cronus and the Titans occupying Mount Othrys, and the sons of Cronus Mount Olympus. It lasted ten years, till at length Gaea promised victory to Zeus if he would deliver the Cyclopes and Hecatoncheires from Tartarus. Zeus accordingly slew Campe, who guarded the Cyclopes, and the latter furnished him with thunder and lightning. The Titans then were overcome, and hurled down into an abyss below Tartarus, and the Hecatoncheires were set to guard them. It must be observed that the fight of the Titans is sometimes confounded by ancient writers with the fight of the Gigantes.
    The myth of the Titans grew out of an attempt to reconcile the Greek religion with that of other non-Greek nations who had occupied the Greek lands before them. Hence many of its features, especially the account of the wounding of Uranus, are not of a Greek character, and are ignored by Homer, but preserved by Hesiod. The Titan dynasties represent primitive alien supreme deities who have been brought into connection with the supreme Zeus of the Greeks and the other Olympian deities. In the Greek conception of the story, the Titans express the more terrible forces of nature, and also the struggle against the will of Zeus--i. e. against the lawful and orderly course of things.
    (2) The name Titanes is also given to those divine or semi-divine beings who were descended from the Titans, such as Prometheus, Hecate, Latona, Pyrrha, and especially Helios (the Sun) and Selene (the Moon), as the children of Hyperion and Thia, and even the descendants of Helios, such as Circe.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

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