Other names: Pluto (3),[1] Pluton,[1] the Rich Man[1]

God of the dead who reigned over the dead in the Underworld (Hades).[2] Plato observes that people preferred calling him Pluton (the giver of wealth) to pronouncing the dreaded name of Hades or Aides. Hence we find that in ordinary life and in the mysteries the name Pluton became generally established, while the poets preferred the ancient name Aides or the form Pluteus. The Roman poets use the names Dis, Orcus, and Tartarus as synonymous with Pluton, for the god of the lower world.[2]

In the division of the world between Hades and his brothers, Hades obtained 'the darkness of night', the abode of the shades, over which he rules. Hence he is called the infernal Zeus, or the king of the shades. As, however, the earth and Olympus belonged to the three brothers in common, he might ascend Olympus, as he did at the time when he was wounded by Heracles. But when Hades was in his own kingdom, he was quite unaware of what was going on either on earth or in Olympus and it was only the oaths and curses of men that reached his ears, as they reached those of the Erinnyes.[2]

He possessed a helmet which rendered the wearer invisible, and later traditions stated that this helmet was given him as a present by the Cyclopes after their delivery from Tartarus. Ancient story mentions both gods and men who were honoured by Hades with the temporary use of this helmet. Being the king of the lower world, Pluton is the giver of all the blessings that come from the earth. He is the possessor and giver of all the metals contained in the earth, and hence his name Pluton.[2]

His character is described as fierce and inexorable, whence of all the gods he was most hated by mortals. He kept the gates of the lower world closed, that no shade might be able to escape or return to the region of light. When mortals invoked him, they struck the earth with their hands, and the sacrifices which were offered to him and Persephone consisted of black male and female sheep, and the person who offered the sacrifice had to turn away his face. The ensign of his power was a staff, with which, like Hermes, he drove the shades into the lower world where he had his palace and shared his throne with his consort Persephone. When he carried off Persephone from the upper world, he rode in a golden chariot drawn by four black immortal horses. Besides these horses he was also believed to have herds of oxen in the lower world and in the island of Erytheia, which were attended to by Menoetius.[2]

The account of him abducting Persephone is not mentioned by Homer. He simply refers to her as his wife and queen. Hesiod first mentions the abduction, and that Pluto decided on this course of action because he was in love with Persephone, but knew that her mother would not allow her to got to Hades with him.[2B]

Hades was worshipped throughout Greece and Italy. In Elis he had a sacred enclosure and a temple, which was opened only once in every year and we further know that he had temples at Pylos Triphyliacus, near Mount Menthe, between Tralles and Nysa, at Athens in the grove of the Erinnyes, and at Olympia.[2]


Families | Lands | Abbreviations and Symbols | Sources

© 2020 The Universal Compendium