; Attic, Ἅιδης
or ᾄδης [ἀϊδής
]). 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 Persephoné 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 Persephoné, he was sometimes represented in a
milder light, being called Pluto (Πλοῦτων, Πλοῦτος
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.
Hades. (Palazzo Chigi, Rome.)
The most celebrated of the myths referring to Hades is that of the rape of
Persephoné. 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.