I'm writing a research paper on Hades, king of the underworld, and I really wanted to know if Hades was really a bad guy.

I have many pages of evidence saying that he isn't. But I would like to know your guys' opinion.

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    This sight isn't really used for opinions, but I like to think he was a good guy. He did few things in Myth that were bad, kidnap his wife/niece, had an affair... But, his wife loves him and the affair did end when Persephone found out. A few things on why Hades is a good guy/god: let Orpheus take his wife back as long as he didn't look back (But thinking Hades was a bad guy in a way that made him think she wasn't behind him, looked back. Not Hades fault.), Heracles comes down for his 12th labor asking Hades if could borrow Kerberos (Cerberus in Latin) (he said yes, as long as he took him back – Andrew Johnson Mar 20 '18 at 17:11
  • Also, when two men came down to claim Persephone as one guy's wife, he was justified in punishing them. Heracles came down and freed one, but was stopped from freeing the other because he was the one who was going to claim Persephone. Completely justified in my opinion. – Andrew Johnson Mar 20 '18 at 17:20
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    The Heracles story, he willingly let him take Cerberus, as long as he wasn't harmed. (so Heracles used no weapons to capture him, then returned him to Hades.) – Aspen the Artist and Author Mar 20 '18 at 17:27
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    He usually had them go on a quest to prove that they deserve what they want, and if they fail, he takes their soul.\ – Aspen the Artist and Author Mar 20 '18 at 17:31
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    Yep, I recently drew a picture depicting what I think he would have looked like, he's a robed skeleton, (much like the American grim reaper). He has a coin in his mouth and is holding one of those really long sticks to push a boat forward. – Aspen the Artist and Author Mar 20 '18 at 17:39

Hades main story involved the abduction of his niece, the Kore (aka Persephone), and subsequent forced marriage. So, from a modern perspective, we could say he is a bad guy. But, it's important to remember that incest among the gods is not a crime--Zeus married his own sister! Forced marriage was also the norm, certainly for nobles, until fairly recently. Hades shared his throne with Persephone, and, through the Eleusinian Mysteries, she becomes a goddess most esteemed.

Hades is often regarded as the "anti-Zeus" [see Diis/Dis Pater] --Zeus' realm is the sky which is filled with light; Hades realm is eternal darkness. So it would be easy to see Hades as "evil", except that Zeus is not strictly "good". (The pagan "Sky Father" is as susceptible to human foibles as anyone, despite his cleverness--Hector has far more dignity than Zeus!)

As Hades transforms into the Roman variant, he is much more associated with the wealth of the subterranean regions--Pluto ("wealth", from the Greek πλοῦτος). In the Orphic Tradition, Eubuleus ("wise in counselor") is associated with both Hades and Zeus. Heraclitus even suggested that Hades and Dionysus are the same god, representing the life/death dichotomy in the context of eternal renewal.

Theoi has a nice compendium of Hades references. My sense is that Hades mostly chilled and did his thing. In terms of bad behavior, Zeus is sort of the poster boy for that, and Hades is, by comparison, pretty well behaved and low-key.

  • Hades is more complex than commonly understood. He is not bad or evil in the Christian sense, but propitiated in that humans tend to fear death.

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