30 Days of Devotion
Day 4: Members of the Family – genealogical connections
Hades’ parents are the Titan gods Kronos and Rhea. Fearing a prophecy that he would be deposed by one of his own children, Kronos swallowed them all just after their birth (with the exception of Zeus). Hades was his firstborn, thus swallowed first, and regurgitated last:
“But Rhea was subject in love to Kronos (Cronus) and bare splendid children, Hestia, Demeter, and gold-shod Hera and strong Haides… and the loud-crashing Earth-Shaker [Poseidon], and wise Zeus… These great Kronos swallowed as each came forth from the womb to his mother’s knees with this intent, that no other of the proud sons of Ouranos (Uranus, Heaven) should hold the kingly office amongst the deathless gods.” (Hesiod, Theogony 453, Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C., trans. Evelyn-White)
Rhea, Hades’ mother, was Queen of the Heavens and mother of gods. Her name relates to “flow” and “ease” — and being the spouse of Kronos, whose name relates to “time” — she further represents the endless flow of generations through time, and the physical manifestations of motherhood: menstrual blood, birth waters and breast milk.
Hades’ Olympian siblings are Hestia, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter and Zeus.
Wife and Offspring
Hades is married to Persephone, the daughter of Demeter. Unlike his siblings, Hades does not produce many offspring — some are recorded in fragments of myth and poetry, but their true parentage remains in question.
Melinoe: A frightening Underworld goddess presiding over ghosts, specters and offerings made to the dead. She is said to be terrifying in appearance; one side of her body dark and the other light, to represent her dual nature. This dual nature arises from the lineage of Hades/Persephone, or Persephone/Zeus, depending on which version of her myth you encounter.
Makaria: A counterpoint to her frightening sister, Makaria is the goddess of a blessed death. The dead who lived well, and were properly prepared at the hour of their death, were said to have “gone to blessedness”. Warriors in battle were encouraged to look to Makaria, and not fear their mortality.
The Erinyes: Some extant writings describe the Enrinyes, also known as the Furies, as the daughters of Hades and Persephone; other myths claim their parentage resulted from drops of Uranus’ blood impregnating Gaia. They live deep in Tartarus, in mystical and mysterious Erebus (“Darkness”), until which time they are called upon to perform their sacred duties of avenging unjust crimes. The three sisters, Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone, operate at the behest of Hades and are only appeased when the offending parties have completed appropriate and/or assigned acts of ritual purification and atonement. Personally, I like to think of the Enrinyes as beloved foster-daughters of the Underworld King and Queen.
Hades on Theoi: https://www.theoi.com/Khthonios/Haides.html
(accessed September 4, 2019)
Featured photo credit: Yann Schaub via Unsplash. Ghostly image “A Creepy Song for You” by Chris Lunetta of Expose Me Photography.