Hades, in Greek
mythology, god of the dead. He was the son of the Titans Cronus
and Rhea and the brother of Zeus and Poseidon. When the three
brothers divided up the universe after they had deposed their
father, Cronus, Hades was awarded the underworld. There, with his
queen, Persephone, whom he had abducted from the world above, he
ruled the kingdom of the dead. Although he was a grim and
pitiless god, unappeased by either prayer or sacrifice, he was
not evil. In fact, he was known also as Pluto, lord of riches,
because both crops and precious metals were believed to come from
his kingdom below ground.
The underworld itself was often called Hades. It was divided into two regions: Erebus, where the dead pass as soon as they die, and Tartarus, the deeper region, where the Titans had been imprisoned. It was a dim and unhappy place, inhabited by vague forms and shadows and guarded by Cerberus, the three-headed, dragon-tailed dog. Sinister rivers separated the underworld from the world above, and the aged boatman Charon ferried the souls of the dead across these waters. Somewhere in the darkness of the underworld Hades' palace was located. It was represented as a many-gated, dark and gloomy place, thronged with guests, and set in the midst of shadowy fields and an apparition-haunted landscape. In later legends the underworld is described as the place where the good are rewarded and the wicked punished.