The Greek god Hades

Hades (the Roman Pluto) was the god of the Underworld, the abode of the dead, which took his name. When the three brothers, Zeus, Poseidon and Hades, drew lots for the realms they were to control, the Underworld fell to Hades. He spent most of his time there, only emerging to ask for permission to marry Persephone, the daughter of Zeus and Demeter. Zeus knew Demeter would not approve, so encouraged his brother to carry Persephone off by force. He gathered her up into his chariot as she was picking flowers. Demeter insisted that the girl be returned, but first Hades induced her to eat some pomegranate seeds. Having eaten the food of Hades she had to return and spend four or six months of each year in the Underworld. During this time Demeter, goddess of corn, mourned and the earth was bare.

The Athenian hero Theseus and his friend Peirithoos attempted to steal Persephone away. Hades locked them immovably onto magic seats, though he was later persuaded by Herakles to let Theseus free. He allowed Herakles to take his guard-dog Cerberus from the Underworld as one of the hero's labours, though Herakles instantly returned him. In spite of his reputation as a stern and unbending guardian of the dead, Hades would have restored Orpheus' wife Eurydice to life, had Orpheus been able to obey his injunction not to look behind him on their journey from the dark realm.

Hades was revered but was scarcely worshipped by the Greeks. He appears very little in art, but is shown, like his brothers, as a mature, bearded god.

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