It’s November everyone, the year is almost over, the world in turning bare and brown. It’s time to start reflecting the decisions we have all made this year and start figuring out our resolutions for next year. It’s also time to talk about another villain! This month I decided to discuss an ancient villain who for centuries steals his bride from her mother around this time of year that causes winter to descend up on us all. Say hello to Greek God of the Underworld, Hades!
Now I know that a lot of you are going to say something along the lines of Hades is only depicted as a villain because of the modern correlations to figures like Satan because he guards the underworld. I am here to tell you that almost all Greek Gods and Goddesses, with very few exceptions, can be considered a villain depending on what story you are telling about them. So for the purpose of this article I am going to discuss Hades with the angle that he is the man who steals random young maidens from their mothers for half the year in order to keep her as his Queen and servant. Not very nice.
Anyway, Hades is one of the greater Gods in the pantheon, brother to Zeus, his duty is to guard the Underworld and look after the souls that cross the river Styx and go to the afterlife. The Underworld is guarded by a three headed dog, Cerberus, and Hades himself controls the dark Kingdom alone. That is until he spots Persephone, a young beautiful goddess playing in a field with nymphs. Possessed by her beauty Hades kidnaps her and drags her to the Underworld and crowns her as his Queen. Demeter, Goddess of agriculture, the harvest and Persephone’s mother searches for her young daughter and when she discovers Hades’ dastardly plan, she is too late to really stop him, so she strikes a deal with him. For half of the year, Persephone would be allowed to live in this world with her mother, the other half she would have to live with her husband Hades and rule the Underworld with him. The Greeks used this story as a way to explain the changing of the seasons. The Harvest and fall changing into winter would signify Demeter’s sadness at letting Persephone go to the Underworld with Hades. Spring would signify Persephone’s return and Demeter’s renewed happiness at her daughter’s return.
Hades is depicted in various ways, in ancient art he is seen as a strong looking man with a beard, pretty typical Greek God stuff. Throughout the ages he is often depicted as death itself, almost a grim reaper look and some artists take the Christian influence and add a goat element a la Satan again. I did a little research and there is not a ton of detail on Hades’ personality, unlike his brother Zeus who is described as impulsive and amorous. Although I would say stealing a young girl out of a meadow is both impulsive and amorous. Also unlike his Greek counterparts, for the most part Hades is said to be faithful to Persephone, which is odd since most of the other deities were screwing everyone and everything.
Hades in this story is a pretty evil dude. He steals a young girl away from her mother simply because she is young and beautiful and hey, why not? Back in Greek culture woman were considered a curse, thanks Pandora, but even back then young girls were considered pure and needed to be protected. Kidnapping back then was still a pretty horrible and nasty thing to do, even for a God. Hades, like our previous villain the Headless Horseman also the embodiment of death, being the God that governs it. Hades could decide if it was someone’s time to die if he felt so inclined and that in itself makes him a villain in the eyes of the Ancient Greeks who worshiped the dude. They worshiped and sacrificed to him to delay the inevitability of death, that’s how powerful the guy is. They killed things to make sure he didn’t kill them, bad ass.
Hades is still a popular figure in pop culture. Thanks to various incarnations, including a nod from Disney, Hades is everyone’s favorite Greek God. The story of Hades and Persephone has transformed from a story of kidnapping to a story of love. There are many fan based stories and artwork depicting the couple in a loving fashion. Leave it to us to romanticize this stuff. This lover of villains shouldn’t talk since I would probably have willingly left with Hades and been so ok with becoming Queen of the Underworld, but I digress. This gives Hades staying power and makes him great, decades from now people may not remember this article, but they will remember Hades.
Looking at our characteristics Hades easily fits into each category. We just discussed his relatability since people are still talking about him centuries after his story first appeared. Hades is highly intelligent, being a God he has knowledge that us mere mortals could only dream of. Also, being one of the Olympian Gods, he has to at least match the intelligence of the other Olympian Gods, as they are always competing against each other. Hades morality goes from one side of the spectrum to the other in the blink of an eye. When he is God of the Underworld and caretaker of mortal souls he has to be somewhat moral when taking care of them and not abusing his power. However in today’s story of stealing young maidens, his morality is pretty low. He wanted Persephone so morals be damned, he was going to have her.
Persephone is Hades’ obsession that he wants to conquer. If Hades wasn’t willing to risk everything going against fellow Olympian Demeter he would’ve just hit it and quit it like his brother Zeus did with all of his lovers. No, Hades wanted to possess Persephone, wanted to rule over her. Some romantics may even go as far as to say he wanted to love her, so this led her to capturing her. This is my theory, Hades comes from a not very lovey dovey family, his father Kronos swallowed him shortly after his birth to avoid competition with his children, so when he is rescued by Zeus from his father’s bowels, lovely, he just wants some lovin’. Hades is wounded in the most basic way, he has daddy issues. He needs someone to love him back, so if he has to steal that person then so be it. I’m not saying I agree with his tactics but I get his need for love. Everyone wants love, just don’t steal the person, it doesn’t end well.
Hades is pretty sexy. Hades is lord of the underworld and rules over the whole thing. Power is pretty sexy. Also, the fan art, have you seen this stuff? Holy cow! Someone turn the AC on because it’s getting hot in here! Hades also falls into the category of strangely sexy men who are obsessed with a woman and somehow their creepin is attractive. This goes for other characters like the Phantom, they ride the line between creeper and lost romantic soul very well. If I am the only one who feels this way then please forgive my strange views on what is romantic. It’s ok you’re not the first person to question my views.
Hades is a prime example of what a good story can do to create a villain. Mythology has this great ability to have a lot of stories about the same deity and they transform from a hero in one story to a villain in the next. Enter Zeus, seriously no two stories about the guy are the same except that he nails everything, not everyone everything. It’s scary. But in some stories his nailing is for the greater good and other times he is literally and figuratively screwing everyone involved. Hades is this powerful deity who falls victim to the most basic of human faults, attraction. It’s just another story about how the gods of the day were more human then they let on. Let that sink in for a while. Hades, it was fun visiting you, have a good winter with Persephone and see you next spring!
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