Known to the Romans as Pluto, Hades was the son of Cronus and Rhea. After the defeat of the Titans (the preceding generation of gods) Hades shared in ruling the universe with his brothers. Zeus had dominion over the sky, Poseidon the sea, and Hades the Underworld. 

Hades' name means "the invisible" and he was seldom spoken of directly by the living for fear his anger might be aroused. The relative lack of legends surrounding him may well be explained by the general aversion of death professed by the Greeks. 

In Greek mythology the Underworld was the residence of the dead. It was presided over by the god Hades and in latter times came to be called by that god's name. Good and bad alike traveled here upon death, there being no strict heaven/hell dichotomy as appears in orthodox Christianity. The "pilgrim" which arrived here for Socrates was most likely one's soul, and not an ensouled body. 

    By tradition, this house of Hades was not viewed as a desirable place to be even for the just who did not need to fear punishment. Achilles, for example, having taken up residence upon his death in the Trojan War, said he would have preferred to live as a slave in the world of the living rather than to live free in the Underworld! 

    Socrates' suggested that death was an opportunity for philosophical discussion with the greatest people ever to have lived. Hence, he did not have a pessimistic vision of the afterlife. 

The Story of Persephone

   Persephone was the daughter of Demeter, goddess of the earth 
and harvest. 
Demeter was responsible for the growth of plants  and crops, and Persephone  helped her.  Pluto, god of the Underworld, wanted to marry Persephone  and asked Zeus's permission to do so. Zeus avoided answering Pluto's request, however, knowing that Demeter would never agree. (After all, who would want their daughter to live in the  Underworld?) One day, Pluto found Persephone alone, 
 kidnapped her, and took her down to Hades. As they entered  Hades,  they passed by Cerberus -- the three headed dog who 
guards the gates of the Underworld to keep the dead from leaving. 

 When Demeter discovered that her daughter was missing, she 
stopped taking care of the crops and began to search for 
Persephone. The crops withered and died. Eventually, Demeter 
discovered that Persephone was Pluto's prisoner in 
 Hades. She pleaded with Zeus to make Pluto release her daughter. 
The gods also wanted Zeus to persuade Pluto to let 
 Persephone go, because the humans would starve without any crops.

Zeus ordered Pluto to free Persephone, as long as she hadn't  eaten any food in Hades. Just before he set her free, Pluto 
tempted Persephone to eat a few pomegranate seeds from his garden.  Because Persephone had eaten from Pluto's garden, 
she had to spend part of the year in the Underworld and part on  earth with her mother. 

So, every year when Persephone is in the Underworld, Demeter is sad and lets the plants die. When Persephone
 returns to earth, her mother is happy and tends the plants so  they bloom and flourish.

STYX: daughter of Oceanus and Tethys, married to Titan Pallas. children: Zelus (`Zeal'),  NIKE (`Victory'), Kratos (`Strength'), Bia (`Force')  The inviolable oaths which the gods take are sworn by the River Styx (punishment for violation: one year in a coma, nine years in exile) (fall) (Sunset) (Weariness)
LETHE: (`Forgetfulness') very important in Pythagorean doctrines, which believes in the transmigration of souls; drinking the water must be avoided by Orphics, lest they forget their real divine nature and the secret words by which they can reach Persephone. (Winter) (Midnight) (Sleep)
PHLEGETHON: (River of Flames') (Summer) (Noon) (Passion)
COCYTUS: (`Wailing') (spring) (Dawn) (Desire)
ACHERON: The name of one of the fifth river (occasionally also regarded as a lake) that flow through the realm of Hades. The name means "river of woe", and is often metaphorically used for Hades itself. Here the shades are ferried across by Charon.  the river or Lake that borders the Material world.  (the 13 Th. Hour) (Death)
"Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate,
Sad Acheron of sorrow black and deep;
 Cocytus named of lamentation loud
Heard on the rueful stream; fierce Phlegethon
Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.
Far off from these a slow and silent stream,
Lethe, the river of oblivion, rolls
 Her watery labyrinth, whereof who drinks
 Forthwith his former state and being forgets,
 Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain." 

 The Ferryman:

     Each spirit must pay a coin for transportation across the Styx to the shores of the Fields of Asphodel. The unburied  may not cross. Charon, in Greek mythology, is the ferryman of the dead. The souls of the deceased are brought to him by Hermes, and Charon ferries  them across the river Acheron. He only accepts the dead which are buried or burned with the proper rites, and if they pay him an obolus (coin) for their passage. For that reason a corpse had always an obolus placed under the tongue. Those who cannot afford the passage, or are not admitted by Charon, are doomed to wander on the banks of the Styx for a hundred years. Living persons who wish to go to the underworld need a golden bough obtained from the Cumaean Sibyl. Charon is the son of Erebus and Nyx. He is depicted as a sulky  old man, or as a winged demon carrying a  double hammer. 


   a) Entry gates: open to all, but guarded by descendant of Poseidon, the three headed dog CERBERUS to keep souls from trying to leave. 

   In Classic Wiccan Doctrine  the Goddess travels into the underworld by journeying down a river and passing through seven Gates, which is but the same story of Ishtar passing thorough seven gates on her journey to the land of the Dead. At each of the Seven Gates Ishtar divested her self of her Sacred Jewels. these Jewels might represent the Seven Physic centers, if so it would imply the  need of those centers to be mastered or controlled before the Seeker could attempt to descend into the Underworld and be able to return.

At the First gate Called Nanna  (Moon) the Watcher removes her Crown 
At the Second Gate called Nebo (mercury) the Watcher removes her Wand 
At the Third Gatecalled Inanna (venus) the Watcher removes her Necklace 
At the Fourth Gate called Shammash (sun) the Watcher removes the Jewels  on Her Chest 
At the Fifth Gate called (mars) the Watcher removes the Belt of Jewels around her Hips 
At the Sixth Gate called Marduk (jupiter) the Watcher removes the jewels around her Wrists and Ankles 
At the Seventh Gatecalled Ninib (saturn) the Watcher removes her Robes 

     b) Exit gates; only believed in by some (Homer and Vergil) The Gates of Ivory and Horn, through which false (but pretty) dreams and  true dreams can ascend to the land of the living 

Dante's Inferno

Though not of classic Greek or Roman origin I have included the Nine Hells of Dante, seeing as how the Poet has had such a lasting effect on the christian view of Hell and the Underworld

"Through me is the way into the woeful city;
Through me is the way into the eternal woe;
Through me is the way among the Lost people.
 Justice moved my lofty maker: The divine power,
 The Supreme Wisdom, and the Primal Love made me.
 Before me were no things created, save eternal, and I eternal last.
Leave every hope, ye who enter!"
(Dante: Canto III of Hell

Dante sees Hell below as funnel-shapped depression. He sees this as in the northern hemisphere of the earth, with the smallest part of the funnel being at the core of the earth. Around the edges of the funnel lay ledges, where different punishments are dealt out to the sinners, these ledges Dante calls circles. Dante concluded that all sin is not equal, and God being fundamentally just must have different Hells for each level of sin the 9 hells are:

1. Limbo:
In Limbo lay the Virtuous Pagans, those that led good lives, but were born with out knowing Christ's revelation, and thus cannot reach Paradise. These beings are not punished, but live their lives with out hope of reaching Paradise. Examples of the Virtuous Pagans include Homer, Ovid, Horace, Lucan, and even Virgil.

Dante, along with the Virtuous Pagans, enter the Citadel of Human Reason and see the Master Souls of Pagan Antiquity on a
green. The radiance of Human Reason shines upon them. The site bewilders Dante, for it is the highest state one can reach
without God. Although astonished, he realizes that it pales in comparison to Paradise.

2. Carnal Lust:

Dante and Virgil leave limbo and enter the second circle of Hell. Presented here is the first torment as a punishment. 

Dante and Virgil are then on a shadowy ledge, being swept about by a great wind, much like a tornado. Caugh in the whirlwind are the Carnal, who lost their reason to their passions. As they abandoned themselves to a tempest of lust, so are they swept in the tempest of Hell.

3. Gluttonous:
Dante  sees that he is in the third circle. A disgusting mix of foul-smelling snow and freezing rain falls,
forming slush underfoot. Vile bloated beings lie in the icy slush, while Cerberus, the three headed monster of Hell, guards them, occasionally attacking and devouring them with his claws and monstrous maw.

The disgusting creatures are the Gluttons, in life they spent their time lounging around with food and drink, producing only garbage and filth. Thus in Hell, they are surrounded in filth, and Cerberus devours them as they devoured food and drink in life. Cerberus is the perfect symbol of gluttony. His three heads allow him to devour three times as much.

4.Avaricious & Prodiga:
 Dante and Virgil enter the fourth circle to find the scenes of battle.

The battle is divided among two factions, the Hoarders and the Wasters. The two factions are pulling great weights. The two factions meet, each slamming their weights against the other. The move apart, pushing their weights away from each other, only to begin the cycle again.

They lacked moderation with money in their life, thus destroying the light of God in themselves by only thinking of their funds. So in Hell they are punished by dragging heavy weights, which is the symbol of mundanity.

5. Wrathful & Melancholy:
It is now past midnight of Good Friday, the two reach a black bubbling river, which extends over its banks to form a marsh. This is the River Styx and the Marsh of Styx, Dante and Virgil are now in the fifth circle.

Over the marsh, Dante and Virgil see many beings attacking each other. These are the Wrathful, in life they fought their fellow beings, so in Hell they are punished by eternally attacking and being attacked. Virgil shows Dante that many of the bubbles coming up from deep in the River Styx, are from the souls of the Sullen. They refused to see the sun in life, which is the symbol of Divine Illumination. In Hell they are submerged in the Styx, uttering endless chants, which is a parody of hymn singing.


6. Heretics:
Dante and Vigil enter the sixth circle. They find a rolling country-side resembling a cemetery. Above-ground tombs surround them, each with its lid removed. The tombs themselves are surrounded by flames. Screams of pain come from the dead in the tombs.

These are the Heretics. These beings sinned against God by denying the immortality of the soul. Their punishment is to have an eternal fiery grave of God's wrath.


7. Violence:
Dante and Virgil find themselves in the second round of the seventh circle. This is the Wood of the Suicides. Punished here are those who destroyed their lives and their substance. The Suicides' souls are trapped within thorn trees, whose leaves are being eaten by Harpies. Blood flows from the tree's wounds, and only with the blood are the Suicides able to speak. Those that destroyed their human forms, are thus denied human form in Hell. The expression of their lives was pain, suffering, and self-destruction, so they are only allowed to speak through their pain. The Harpies, who destroy all that they touch, cause eternal wounds for the Suicides.

8. Fraudulent:
Dante and Virgil dismount Geryon, and see before them the eight circle of Hell, called Malebolge, or The Evil Ditches. The Hell of the Fraudulent and Malicious is divided into Upper and Lower sections, for simple fraud and compound fraud respectively Malebolge is the Upper Hell of the Fraudulent and Malicious.

Malebolge is divided into ten ditches. In each ditch is punished one type of the Fraudulent and Malicious. Stone bridges run across the ditches, providing passage for Dante and Virgil.

9. Traitors:
On the bottom of the Central Pit, Dante finds himself standing on a huge frozen lake; the last circle of Hell and last large body of  water, the river Cocytus. Here are the sinners that were Treacherous to Whom They were Bound by Special Ties, and their punishment is to be frozen in darkness within the river Cocytus, with icy winds (the Emanation of Evil) blowing all around them. This circle is marked by four concentric circles, with only differences between the positions of the sinners giving testimony to the boundaries of the circles. This final sin is representative of the sinners' crimes. Their treacheries were cold and denied love (God), so are they denied the love of God and are furthest removed from his warmth. 

The first round is Caina, named for Cain, first son of Adam that slew his brother. Within this round lies those who were treacherous to those with whom they were bonded by blood ties. They have their heads and necks out of the ice, and can bow their heads against the freezing gale, preventing their tears from sealing their eyes shut. Dante sees Alessandro, Napoleone, Degli Alberti, and Camicion, who identifies the other sinners within this round

And finally LUCIFER:
At the center of Judecca, the final round of Cocytus, lies Satan in the center of the earth. He is fixed at the center of the ice to
which flows all the great rivers of Hell, and he beats his great wings as if to free himself from the ice. He has three faces, a
mockery of the Trinity, and has two wings under each face. Each face is of a different color, and is eternally tearing at a brokensinner with rake like teeth. 

The front face is fiery red, and chews on Judas Iscariot. The two faces to either side of the front one is brown and a color
between white and bile, and they chew upon Brutus and Cassius, two conspirators of the assassination of Caesar. 

Having seen all of Hell, the two poets climb through the center of the earth, down Satan's flank, and emerge from Hell. They
ascend the sides of the river Lethe, up to the Mount of Purgatory, and emerge just before dawn on Easter Sunday to view the
stars of Heaven. 

Of special note is the Punishment given to those who seek to foresee the future this punishment is the act od a paranoid God (being a Reader of the Tarot myself, I think you can understand my reaction). 
 Dante and Virgil descend to the fifth Bolgia, the place of the fortune tellers and diviners. Here, they see those who had
attempted to divine the future through forbidden magics, including Amphiareus, Tiresias, Aruns, Manto, Eurypylus, Michael
Scott, Guido Bonatti, and Asdente. 

As dictated by the perverse law of Hell, the fortune tellers must walk backwards with their heads turned backwards upon their
bodies and their eyes blinded by tears. This is significant in that they who sought to see the future cannot even see what is in
front of them. They attempted to move forward in time and so must walk backwards for all eternity, and as their practices
distorted God's law, so are they themselves distorted. 

Topography of Hades

     A murky gloomy plain, covered with these gray plants which produce dead white or pale  yellow flowers with no dramatic scent. Virtually all the dead go to the Field(s) of Asphodel. The exception is HEROES,  who 
     a) very occasionally go to OLYMPUS (Herakles, Asklepios, Ganymede); 
     b) occasionally (according to Hesiod and Homer) go to the ISLES OF THE BLESSED, where the Hesperides guard the 
 golden Apples of Immortality; 
     c) are specially assigned to a punishment in TARTARUS;


  An exclusive suburb of the Underworld, still presided over by Hades and Persephone, but reserved for the Hesiodic 
 'Fourth Generation', the HEROES (offspring of a god and a human). Even at best, however, it is gloomy. ACHILLES (in 
Homer's Odyssey, Book 11) says he would prefer to be a slave of the poorest dirt farmer in Boeotia rather than be King  of the Underworld. In the Elysian Fields there are athletic contests and heroic banquets, distinguishing the place from the FIELDS OF ASPHODEL. 


  A prison area below the ` House of Hades', presided over by KRONOS (Zeus' father and predecessor) who is as much a  prisoner there as anyone else t. The  place is guarded by the Hundred handed Giants. Humans who are guilty of special crimes against the gods and their code are sent here for eternal punishment: 

      Cosmic Place. Tartarus is the lowest abyss beneath the earth where all waters originate; all rivers flow into the chasm of Tartarus and flow out of it again. Tartarus is, they say, a gloomy place as far distant from earth as earth is from the sky. For, it is said, a brazen anvil falling down from heaven nine nights and days  would reach the earth upon the tenth: and again, a brazen 
anvil falling from earth nine nights and days would reach Tartarus upon the tenth. Still others say that  Tartarus yawns deep under the shades, extending down twice as far as the view upward to Heaven. Tartarus and the Underworld are the realm of Erebus, which is pure Darkness.  Tartarus, Place of Punishment.   Tartarus is also a place of punishment. Round it runs a fence of bronze, and night spreads in triple line all about it. Some say that the gates are of iron and the threshold of bronze, and others that there is a threefold wall around it. Around this triple wall flows Pyriphlegethon with its flames and its clashing rocks. The entrance, in which there is an enormous portal has pillars of solid adamant that not even the gods could break. At the top of its tower of Iron sits the Erinye Tisiphone 1, with her bloody robe, and sleepless day and night, guards the entrance. 

  Tartarus, the Being. 
                   Tartarus is, at the same time, a being capable of intercourse. Tartarus is the father of such monsters as Echidna and Typhon . Erebus, the Darkness of the Underworld, possibly existing from the beginning together with Chaos, Nyx (Night) and Tartarus, gave birth, according to some, to the MOERAE, the HESPERIDES, Hypnos, Geras (Old Age), Thanatos (Death) Styx and Hecate. 



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