Hades Day 5

30 Days of Devotion
Day 5: The Underworld Retinue

Charon is the ferryman of the dead, serving to carry souls across the river Acheron to the Underworld. In order to board Charon’s ferry, a soul must receive a proper burial and have one coin to pay for passage — in the ancient world, these coins were placed under the tongue of the dead as part of funeral rites. If these conditions were unmet, the dead could not cross to Hades, and were fated to walk the earthly side of the Acheron as ghosts.

The enormous, three-headed hound of Hades guards the gates of the realm. Often seen accompanying Hades in art and statuary, Cerberus remains his master’s ever-faithful canine(ish) companion.

It is a common misconception that Hades is the god of death. Hades is the Host of Many, the Lord of the Dead, but not actually death itself. Thanatos, the son of Nyx (Night) and Erebus (Darkness), is the god of death, bringing its finality with a quiet, non-violent touch. His twin brother, Hypnos, is the god of sleep.

The Keres
Unlike Thanatos, the vicious Keres bring violent deaths: plague, famine, wars, accidents, murder and other cruelties. The Keres are agents of the Moirai (Fates); some versions of myth claim the Keres were the terrible forces unleashed when Pandora infamously opened the forbidden box. Their power is not absolute, however, and the gods can intervene to protect mortals from the Keres.

The Moirai (Fates): Klotho, Lachesis and Atropos
The three Moirai oversee the interwoven destinies of humankind. Klotho (“Spinner”) spinning the thread of life, Lachesis (“Apportioner of Lots”) measuring the thread, and Atropos (“She who cannot be turned”) cutting the thread once a life is finished.

The Judges: Minos, Aiakos (Aeacus) and Rhadamanthys
Hades himself does not actually judge the dead who enter His realm — this job belongs to the trio of Minos, Aiakos and Rhadamanthys. Aiakos is also known to occasionally hold the keys of Hades, functioning as doorman to the realm.

The River Gods
The gods of the five Underworld rivers attend Hades, among them Acheron (pain), Cocytus (grieving), Styx (unbreakable oaths), Phlegethon (fire) and Lethe (oblivion).

Styx (“Estigia”) by Arbetta on Deviantart

The Underworld daimon (spirit) that tends Hades’ orchards — including His orchard of pomegranate trees. Ascalaphus is transformed into an owl for telling the gods about Persephone consuming seeds from the Underworld fruit trees.

The Underworld daimon (spirit) that tends Hades’ herd of black cattle.


Hades on Theoi: https://www.theoi.com/Khthonios/Haides.html
(accessed September 5, 2019)

Featured photo credit: Uwe Baumann via Pixabay.