Greek Myth: Journey to the Underworld
In Greek Mythology, the underworld is a kingdom of the dead, hidden in the earth and ruled by Hades, who is a very greedy god (Hunt, 2015). When a soul dies, it is led by Hermes to the entrance of the underworld, crosses river Acheron. Aeacus, Rhadamanthus, and Minos I sentence the soul to a particular part of the underworld. Good men go to Elysian Fields and the others get a different form of treatment.
Dionysus was a demi-god, son of Zeus, and a mortal mother called Semele. He spends a large part of his life going from place to place, teaching humans his religion and how they can cultivate vines. Semele was one of the several lovers of Zeus, and when she got pregnant with Dionysus, Hera, Zeus’ wife kills her. Zeus manages to rescue the child, and when Dionysus grows up, he goes to the underworld and successfully saves his mother (Hunt, 2015). He later makes an arrangement so that Semele can stay on Mount Olympus where all the principal gods hold court and live.
Demeter was sister to Zeus and the goddess of harvest, corn and grain. Hades abducted her daughter Persephone to make her his wife. Demeter got so angry; that she laid a curse on the earth, and it became desolate. Zeus feared this turn and went to claim Persephone back, but she had eaten while there, so Hades could lay a claim on her. They agreed that Persephone should spend four months of every year in the underworld (Hunt, 2015). Demeter still mourns Persephone’s absence during this time, and she withdraws her gifts from the earth, creating winter. Spring marks Persephone’s return to earth.
From these myths, Hades has not been portrayed as a wholly evil person. He rules the world of the dead, and the underworld according to the Greeks is a place for both good and bad people. It is not entirely unpleasant for most souls that go to the underworld, but it is joyless and lacks hope. That is why the gods found it hard to let loved ones stay there after death.
Hunt, J. M. (2015, July 1). Places in the Greek Myths – The Underworld. Retrieved from Stories from the Greek Myths: http://www.desy.de/gna/interpedia/greek_myth/place.html#underworld
Hunt, J. M. (2015, July 1). Stories from the Greek Myths. Retrieved from Zeus Lovers – Semele: http://www.desy.de/gna/interpedia/greek_myth/zeusLover.html#Semele
Hunt, J. M. (2015, July 1). Stories from the Greek Myths. Retrieved from The Lesser Gods – Demeter: http://www.desy.de/gna/interpedia/greek_myth/lessorgod.html#Demeter