The Myth of Hades: Relevance Today

Essay by Shawn1969College, UndergraduateA-, March 2008

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Today Greek mythology tells the story of a dark underworld called Hades, named after its formidable ruler, Hades, the god of death and the dead (Atsma, 2008). According to the surrounding mythology, souls entering Hades had to cross each of five subterranean rivers which flowed through the underworld before facing judgment and being sent to their final resting place. Although the myth of Hades is centuries old, various cultures continue to believe in its premises: the existence of an underworld ruled by an underworld lord.

Belief in an UnderworldMany religions today have their own version of Hades, and according to a 2004 Gallup Poll, 70% of Americans believe in hell (Religion Facts, 2004). The New Testament of the Bible speaks about hell being a place for punishment after the last judgment. Many versions of the Christian religion exist today, and all of them believe in an underworld like Hades as the final resting place for souls to suffer and pay consequences if they have done wrong while living.

Islam is another Abrahamic religion that is practiced today with core beliefs that, if not followed, will place one in its version of the underworld. In the Qur’an, the Islamic version of the Bible, hell is nothing but fire. According to Islam, any disbelief in the Qur’an will cause an afterlife spent in hell; this includes all enemies of Allah. This is a way to keep cultivating piety and humility in all Muslims (Irving, 2002).

These two modern versions of the underworld have many similarities with the Greek version, Hades. These religions speak of fire and internal imprisonment as well as seeing this as a place of punishment, which is similar to the Hades myth. Some individuals still suggest that Hades is only a myth; simply people from the past making up...