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Hades: Feared Ruler of the Underworld

Among the pantheon of Greek gods and goddesses, one figure stands out for his immense power and influence: the Lord of the Underworld. His dominion over the afterlife and his pivotal role in the creation of the seasons, through the abduction of his wife, Persephone, make for a fascinating narrative.

Hades' father was Cronus, the titan lord, and his mother was Rhea. Cronus overthrew his father and, in fear that his children would do the same, decided to swallow them—Hestia, Hades, Poseidon, Demeter, and Hera. One of Cronus’ children, Zeus, was hidden away, but years later, he returned to free his siblings. Cronus coughed up each child. Hades landed in a crater, symbolizing that he would rule the Underworld.

The Titans, siblings of Cronus, ignited a ten-year war known as the Titanomachy, driven by their fear of the Olympians (Cronus’ children) usurping their power. In a quest for victory, Zeus embarked on a perilous journey to Tartarus, seeking the aid of their cousins, the Cyclops, and the Hecatonchires. The Cyclops forged Zeus’ lightning bolt, Poseidon's trident, and Hades’ helm of darkness, turning the tide of the war. The Olympians emerged triumphant, imprisoning the Titans in Tartarus. This epic conflict marked the dawn of a new age, with the gods reigning peacefully for a time and siring their children.

However, peace did not last long. Gaia the Earth and Tartarus the Abyss created the Giants by lurking in the shadows. Each Giant was born to oppose each of the Olympians. It was the Giant's destiny to start a war called the Gigantomachy. The Giants were eventually killed, not by gods alone, but with the help of demigods.

After the war, Hades went his own way, isolated from the other gods. While walking in a field in the mortal realm, he saw Persephone, the goddess of spring, and instantly fell in love. He rode in his chariot, grabbed her, and took her to the Underworld. When Demeter, Persephone’s mother, discovered this, she searched the whole world for her daughter. As the goddess of harvest and agriculture, she sent out a global drought in her grieving. She learned that her daughter was with Hades and told Zeus, the king of the gods. Zeus then sent Hermes, the messenger of the gods, to retrieve Persephone. Before Persephone left with Hermes, Hades convinced her to eat pomegranate seeds, meaning she would have to stay in the underworld for half a year because she ate six pomegranate seeds, then with her mother in the mortal world for the other half of the year. This created fall and winter seasons when she was in the Underworld, as well as spring and summer with her mother.

Persephone and Hades had two daughters, Macaria, the goddess of blessed death, and Melinoe, the goddess of ghosts and nightmares. Hades was mainly loyal to Persephone. One day, the hero, Orpheus, lost his wife due to a snake bite. In his grief, he played such a lonely song that it charmed Hades and Persephone, so they let him lead his wife back to the mortal realm. He was told not to look back until he left the Underworld. Despite this warning, Orpheus decided to look back, causing him and his wife to be trapped in the Underworld forever.

Hades is the god of the underworld and precious gems and minerals. Unlike his brothers, he had no other children but those with Persephone. He was feared by most because of his control of the underworld.

[Source: World History Encyclopedia]

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