The Gods of Greek and Roman Mythology - Hades (Pluto)

Role in the Mythos: God of the Underworld, God of Wealth


  • Collector of Souls
  • King of the Dead

Notable Relations: 

  • Parents: Cronus and Rhea
  • Spouse: Persephone   


  • Cerberus, a three-headed dog
  • The Furies
  • Cornucopia
  • Royal scepter
  • Mint
  • White Poplar


  • Unpitying, inexorable, just
  • Not liked by other gods
  • Terrible but not evil

Note: The Greeks feared that if they uttered Hades’s name, they would draw attention to themselves and bring about untimely death; consequently, there are few stories that involve Hades or prayer to Hades. The Romans gave him a new name, “Pluton,” which signified wealth and precious metals that belonged in the earth.

Myths to Know:

Abduction of Persephone

Hades goes to Zeus to request to marry one of Zeus’s beautiful daughters. Zeus decides that he will give him Persephone, daughter of Demeter, the goddess of the harvest. Zeus knows that Demeter will be angry and never consent to the marriage, so he and Hades devise a plan to steal the girl away. One day when Persephone is out gathering flowers with her friends, she sees a flower more beautiful than any other. Zeus has put the purple flower, a narcissus, in the field to entice the young girl. She walks away from her friends to collect the flower, but as she reaches out to grab it, a chasm opens in the earth, and Hades springs from it in a glittering carriage. He snatches her from the earth and takes her to the underworld to be his bride. As Zeus suspected, Demeter is furious that her daughter has been taken from her. Weeping, she wanders the earth looking for her daughter, casting the earth into eternal winter. From the cries of humanity and Demeter, Zeus presses Hades to return Persephone to the land of the living. Before surrendering her to Hermes, Hades tricks Persephone into eating pomegranate seeds, for after eating the food of the underworld, Persephone can never fully return to the earth. She is forced to spend a third of every year in the underworld. During these months, Demeter curses the world with winter. Thus, to the ancient Greeks, Persephone’s abduction explains the seasons. 


Pirithous is King of the Lapithae and best friend to Theseus. The two make a pact to marry two beautiful daughters of Zeus. Theseus decides to capture thirteen-year-old Helen of Troy and wait for her to grow up and become the most beautiful woman in the world, as is her destiny. Pirithous decides to claim Persephone from the underworld, a blasphemous ambition since Persephone is the queen of the underworld and wife of Hades. After kidnapping Helen and leaving her in Athens, Theseus and Pirithous travel to the underworld where Hades is aware of the aim of their journey. When they stop and sit to rest, they find that they cannot rise again; Hades has fashioned a Chair of Forgetfulness, and sitting on it makes it impossible for them to remember or to move. In some versions of the myth, they are bound to the chair by serpents; in other versions, the seat, made of stone, grows into their flesh. Hercules comes to the underworld to rescue them; he frees Theseus, but when he tries to liberate Pirithous, the earth shakes. Knowing that Pirithous has plotted to steal his wife, Hades punishes him for all eternity. Pirithous sits forever in the chair in the underworld. 


Sisyphus is the King of Corinth and known to be a crafty man. He wars with his brother Salmoneus and betrays Zeus’s whereabouts to the father of one of the maidens Zeus has stolen. However, Sisyphus’s chief crime is trying to escape death. On his deathbed, he tells his wife to throw his dead naked body into the town square as a sign of her faithfulness to his words. When he washes up on the shore of the Styx, he complains to Persephone, queen of the underworld, that he has to return to the world of the living because his wife has dishonored him by not giving him a proper burial. Persephone agrees to allow him to momentarily return to speak to his wife. When Sisyphus later refuses to return to the underworld, Hades sends Hermes to drag him back to the land of the dead. As punishment for having tried to cheat death, Sisyphus spends eternity rolling a large boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back down from the top.