Greek Gods

Greek Underworld Gods

The Greek Underworld gods comprised the various deities associated with death and the afterlife. Perhaps the most important of these gods were Hades and Persephone, the king and queen of the Underworld.

Greek Underworld Gods Hero

Top Questions

  • Where did the Underworld gods live?

    Most of the Greek Underworld gods lived in the Underworld, a vast and bleak region deep beneath the earth, though the exact location of each god varied. For example, Hades and Persephone had their palace in the area known simply as Hades, a dreary region where most of the dead spent all eternity. Other gods, such as the Erinyes, were often imagined to reside in Tartarus, the deepest, darkest part of the Underworld, reserved only for the most wretched sinners.

  • What were the Underworld gods like?

    The Underworld gods were some of the most dreaded gods of the Greek pantheon—hardly a surprise, since they were responsible for the most dreaded aspects of human experience. Most were associated not only with death but also with darkness and night. Some were even imagined as monstrous creatures.

  • How were the Underworld gods worshipped?

    The Underworld gods belonged to a special group known as the “chthonic gods.” These deities were associated with the earth, death, and night. They were worshiped through special rituals; for example, they could only receive black sacrificial victims.

Overview

Ancient Greek mythology contained a small pantheon of gods associated with death and the Underworld. Their ruler was Hades, elder brother of Zeus and Poseidon, who lent his own name to the Underworld (the Greeks often called it simply “Hades”).

In addition to Hades, the Underworld housed several other deities, both revered and dreaded by the ancients. These included Hades’ queen, Persephone; Charon, the ferryman of the dead; the Erinyes, who mercilessly punished sinners; and the Moirae, who ensured that every mortal lived out his life according to his fate.

In ancient Greek religion, the Underworld gods were classed among the “chthonic” gods. Unlike the Olympians, who were associated with the heavens, the chthonic gods were connected with the earth and everything that lurked beneath it. Accordingly, the two categories of deities were worshipped quite differently. For example, while the Olympians regularly received white sacrificial victims, the chthonic gods received black ones.

List of Greek Underworld Gods

  • Erinyes

    The “Furies”—dogged avengers of criminals and sinners

    The Erinyes (“Furies”) were terrifying sisters who acted as goddesses of vengeance and retribution. From their grim home in the Underworld, the Erinyes punished crimes that violated the natural order—especially offenses against family members.

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  • Hades

    Pitiless Greek god of the dead and ruler of the Underworld

    Hades was a fearsome Greek god and ruler of the Underworld. So dreaded by the Greeks that they didn’t dare speak his name, his most famous act was abducting Persephone, goddess of springtime.

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    Hades, Greek God of the Underworld (3:2)
  • Hecate

    Goddess of magic and witchcraft; associated with the dark Underworld

    Hecate, daughter of Asteria and Perses, was a powerful but mysterious goddess usually associated with magic, witchcraft, and the Underworld. Though often an object of dread, Hecate was sometimes seen as a kind goddess and a protector of justice.

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  • Moirae

    The “Fates,” who ensured that every human life ran its allotted course

    The three Moirae—Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos—were the personifications of fate. They ensured that every being followed the preordained course that had been set for them.

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  • Persephone

    Reluctant bride of Hades and sullen queen of the Greek Underworld

    Persephone was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, the wife of Hades, and the queen of the Underworld. Her most important myth tells of how Hades abducted her, then tricked her into eating something in the Underworld so that she could never leave. Not even her mother, Demeter, could bring her home.

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