All About Hades and the Underworld

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After Zeus and his brothers, Poseidon and Hades, defeated the Titans they divided up the world. Zeus became the God of the Skies, Poseidon became the God of the Sea, and Hades became the God of the Underworld and was known as the King of the Dead. He ruled the Underworld, also known as the Kingdom of the Dead, which was down below the surface of the Earth and had no sunlight. The souls of people who had died were sent here.

When a person died, Hermes led their soul to the Underworld. However, the journey is much more complex than that. First, they need to cross the River Styx. The ferry to cross was operated by Charon. People needed to pay him in gold coins to cross, which is why the Greeks buried the dead with gold coins under their tongue. If someone didn’t have any coins, they were left to wander the shoreline for 100 years. Eventually, they were allowed in through the entrance for poor people and had to row the boat.

Once across the river they met a three headed dragon tailed dog-named Cerberus who guarded the gates. No one was allowed to leave the Underworld for all of eternity. Cerberus would eat anyone who tried to leave.

Next came the Dividing Road where three judges stood. These judges were Minos, Aeacus, and Rhadamanthus. They decided where the final destination for the soul would be of three places. The first option was Elysian Fields, which was the closest thing the ancient Greeks had to a “heaven”. It was a happy island for good people and heroes. It featured green grass, music, and games. The second option was Asphodel Fields. This is where the souls of the ordinary were sent. It was neither a good nor a bad place to be. Every day here was exactly the same for all of eternity. The last option was Tartarus. This was where the worst sinners were sent and it was deep beneath the Underworld. The Furies, three sisters that punished the souls of Tartarus with whips and snakes, tortured those in Tartarus.

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This post was written by Greek Boston

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