The Ancient Library

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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, 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 the Zeus of the lower world, as well as upon Demeter.


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.

The word Hades is also a general term for the lower regions. By the Romans Hades was identified partly with Orcus, partly with Dls pater.

Hades, Realm of. According to the belief current among the Greeks, the world of the dead, or the spacious abode of Hades, with

its wide doors, was in the dark depths of the earth. In the Odyssey, its entrance and outer court are on the western side of the river Oceanus, in the ground sacred to Persephdne, with its grove of barren wil­lows and poplars. Here is the abode of the Cimmerians, veiled in darkness and cloud, where the sun never shines. The soil of this court, and indeed of the lower world in general, is a meadow of asphodel, an unattrac­tive weed of dreary aspect usually planted on graves. The actual abode of the subter­ranean powers is Er8b6s, or the impenetrable darkness. In later times entrances to the lower world were imagined in other places where there were cavernous hollows which looked as if they led into the bowels of the earth. Such places were Hermtone and the promontory of Taenarum in the Peloponnese, Heraclea on the Euxine, and Cumae in Italy, where the mythical Cimmerli were also localized. The lower world of Homer is intersected by great rivers, the Styx, the Acheron (river of woe), Cocytus (river of cries), a branch of the Styx, Phlfigethon and PyrlphlSgSthon (rivers of fire). The last two unite and join the waters of the Acheron. In the post-Homeric legend, these rivers are represented as surround­ing' the infernal regions, and another river appears with them, that of Lethe, or ob­livion. In the waters of Lethe the souls of the dead drink forgetfulness of their earthly existence. The lower world once conceived as separated from the upper by these rivers, the idea of a ferryman arose. This was Charon, the son of Erebos and of Nyx, a gloomy, sullen old man, who takes the souls in his boat across Acheron into the realm of shadows. The souls are brought down from the upper world by Hermes, and pay the ferryman an SbOlOs, which was put for this purpose into the mouths of the dead. Charon has the right to refuse a passage to souls whose bodies have not been duly buried. In Homer it is the spirits them­selves who refuse to receive any one to whom funeral honours have not been paid. At the gate lies the dog Cerberus, sou of Typhaon and Echidna. He is a terrible monster with three heads, and mane and tail of snakes. He is friendly to the spirits who enter, but if any one tries to get out he seizes him and holds him fast.

The ghosts of the dead were in ancient times conceived as incorporeal images of their former selves, without mind or con­sciousness. In the Odyssc.y the seer Tire-slas is the only one who has retained his

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