Here you will learn about The Underworld.


The Underworld is the land of the dead. It is ruled by Hades, one of the Twelve Olympians of Greek Mythology.

Many myths were set in the Underworld: the living tried to rescue the dead from their fate, or the gods sent the living there to retrieve an object.

The Underworld (and for some, its ruler) play a big part in these myths:
  • In the Odyssey, Odysseus must travel to the Underworld. For more information on this, click here.
  • The myth of Demeter and Persephone when Persephone is taken to the Underworld can be learned about here and also here.
  • Dionysus is said to have been the only one to bring somebody back from the Underworld, and therefore the dead. Read about him here.


The concept of 'an Underworld' is similiar to:
  • Christian idea of heaven and hell
  • Islamic faith in afterlife
Heracles capturing Cerberus
Heracles capturing Cerberus

The ancient Greeks believed that when you died you went to the Underworld. In the Underworld, spirits could only speak when given blood. The Underworld was divided into two areas - Erebus, where most of the dead were sent, and Tartarus, where the Titans and the extremely wicked were imprisoned. The ancient Greeks believed that your behavior when you were alive and the manner of your death all affected how you were judged in the Underworld. The journey of the dead began with Thanatos, who would cut a lock of hair from them at the moment of death. Their souls were then guided to the Underworld by Hermes, who would lead them to the River Styx. In Greek mythology, The River Styx, among some other rivers like The Acheron, The Cocytus, The Phlegethon, and The Lethe were the rivers which formed the boundary between Earth and the Underworld. Styx was guarded by Phlegyas, who passed the souls from one side of the river to the other side of the river. (In other versions there is said to be a single ferry run by Charon to take the souls across the river. Only those who could pay the fare, with coins placed on their lips when buried, were let across the river.) Those who were ferried across the river would pass Cerberus, the three-headed dog who guarded the Underworld. He prevented the dead from ever leaving. After the Styx was crossed, the dead would travel until they found themselves in the Asphodel Fields, a place where they drifted aimlessly. The dead would then come to a fork in the road, where they would be judged. The judges had a choice: the good would go to Erebus, and the bad would go to Tartarus.
hades2.jpg
The Underworld