Hades and Poseidon

An overview of the myths of Hades and Poseidon and the worship of these supreme deities.

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The Greek gods Hades and Poseidon were said to be the brothers of the king of the gods, Zeus. In the Titanomachy or the war between the Titans and the Olympians, Zeus led the charge against the Titans alongside Hades and Poseidon.

After this war, these three brothers drew lots to decide who would claim dominion over the world’s different shares – the sky, the sea, and the underworld.


Zeus drew the best lot, claiming dominion and authority over the sky and taking a seat at the highest point on Mount Olympus, the home of the gods. Poseidon drew a lot that claimed his authority over the sea and water. Hades was out of luck and drew the worst lot leaving him authority over the underworld.


Hades and Poseidon were devoutly worshiped and highly revered by the Ancient Greeks for their important dominion over the sea and the underworld. The authority these two gods exerted over these important spaces was seen as demonstrations of their might and power and their role in defeating the Titans further cemented these gods as figures of authority and power in Ancient Greece.

Sea, sky, and spirit

While the drawing of lots may seem arbitrary when discussing how these gods came to claim authority, these three spaces – the sky, sea, and underworld – were considered the most important to the ancient Greeks.

Consider for a moment the importance of rain and sunshine to the farmer or the importance of sea travel for an archipelago nation such as Greece. Similarly, consider the importance of the afterlife in a world in which death was such a constant presence.

These three spaces were of the utmost importance to the Ancient Greeks, and these three gods with dominion over them were therefore seen as the highest or most supreme of all the ancient deities.

While modern man has lost touch with the importance of rain or the need for peaceful, calm seas to travel, these elements were essential parts of the lives of many in Ancient Greece and in order to help humanity find an explanation and place against these natural and supernatural forces, the mythology of Hades, Poseidon, and Zeus did just that.

Introduction to Poseidon

Just as the sea can be violent and destructive it can nourish. These ill-tempered and unpredictable features are seen in the Ancient Greek god Poseidon who claimed dominion over the sea.

One of the twelve Olympians, Poseidon is known for his power and temper but also his fertility. He is often depicted riding a chariot of horses over the waves with a fierce trident in hand – another symbol of his power and fertility.


Although he is almost exclusively known and referred to today as the god of the sea, Poseidon was also known to the Ancient Greeks as the god of earthquakes and horses. It was Poseidon’s temper that led to his association with earthquakes as it was said that his fury had been known to bring earth-shaking havoc.

Poseidon was the second son of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. Cronus, afraid his son would one day overthrow him, devoured Poseidon as an infant. However, Poseidon grew strong in Cronus’ belly and when Zeus overthrew Cronus, Poseidon emerged from the Titan and fought alongside Zeus.

Just as the god Zeus’ origin demonstrates his power, these brutal beginnings demonstrate the volatile nature of Poseidon.

The equestrian connection

Poseidon was also known as the god of horses. According to mythology, during the war with the Titans, Poseidon struck a rock with his trident and created the first horse, Skyphios.


This mighty god was worshiped by the ancient Greeks because of the importance of sea travel and the many dangers associated with it as well as for the ill-temper in nature through natural disasters such as earthquakes. The striking of his trident in a fury could cause earthquakes and reduce a city to rubble.

By assigning Poseidon’s might to these dangerous and untameable forces, it provided the Ancient Greeks with a sense of understanding and control of the world. Proper worship and reverence would hopefully please this volatile god and bring peace to sea journeys and keep the people free of natural disasters.

Poseidon’s Many Conflicts

Known for his temper and hot-headedness, the Ancient Greek god Poseidon had many well-documented conflicts with other gods and goddesses as well as Greek heroes.

Tired of his brother, Zeus’ rule, he challenged Zeus to physical tournaments and attempted to overthrow him many times. Zeus easily avoided and overcame these challenges and punished Poseidon by forcing him to serve the king of the Greeks, Laomedon. During the Trojan War, Poseidon sided with Greek forces and sent his sea monster, Cetus, to torment the Trojans.


While siding with the Greeks in the Trojan War, Poseidon decided the fortified walls he’d built for the city were the only ones of value and knocked down all other fortifications in the middle of the Trojan War with mighty earthquakes.

When the Greek hero Odysseus blinded Poseidon’s son Polyphemus after Polyphemus mocked and ridiculed his guests, Poseidon turned his wrath onto Odysseus, hampering his journey home for ten long years.

Worship of the god Poseidon was important, especially for sailors and sea merchants who sacrificed and venerated Poseidon before embarking on sea voyages because of the volatile nature of the sea.

Introduction to Hades

The god Hades was rarely known to leave this spiritual domain. In fact, his name means ‘the unseen one.’ The underworld was a complex realm where all the spirits of the dead were held and it was up to Hades to keep watch on these souls and ensure that divine justice was served for their lives.


Today, we tend to imagine the underworld as a hell-like place. That interpretation is not wrong but it’s not a full picture either. The Ancient Greeks did see the underworld as one of challenge and torment for the unjust, but they also saw the underworld as a potentially pleasant place.

It was known to the Ancient Greeks that minerals, metals, and food grew from beneath the ground. These important nutrients were seen as gifts from Hades which lead the Ancient Greeks to also refer to him as the ‘Wealth-giver.’

The origin of the god of the underworld

Hades was the firstborn son of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. Afraid this child would overthrow him, Cronus swallowed Hades at his birth. However, Hades lived and grew in Cronus’s stomach until he was eventually rescued by Zeus.

Hades was considered the last to be rescued from Cronus’ stomach so he is uniquely considered to be both the oldest and the youngest of the three supreme Olympians.

After being released from Cronus’ stomach, he went to fight in the Titanomachy, or the war between the giant Titans and the new race of gods, the Olympians. After drawing the worst lot between his brothers, Hades became the god of the underworld.

Hades is known for his intuition and wisdom, fashioning the underworld into a place where worthy souls would be rewarded and the unworthy would be punished and challenged.

Ruler of the dead

In his role as ruler of the dead and king of the underworld, Hades was feared as much as he was respected. He’s rarely depicted in art or statues but is said to be a solemn and intimidating figure constantly tolling out divine justice.

The mythology of the underworld to the Ancient Greeks is complex and much of that complexity is owed to Hades who set up obstacles and challenges to ensure that those able to cross into the realm were getting what they deserved.

It was said that there are five lakes in the underworld. The most infamous is the River Styx that’s said to wrap around the underworld seven times and separate the world of the living from that of the dead.


To cross this river, Charon, a half-demon, ferries souls across this river. To ensure that a departed soul can pay their way, it became common practice to bury the dead with coins over their eyes to ensure payment for Charon.

On the opposite shores of River Styx waits Cereberus, Hades’ monstrous dog with three heads and the tail of a serpent.

Hades and Persephone

The unseen god of the underworld was a revered and respected figure since he was a god that all men would eventually be forced to face in the afterlife. Despite this reverence, Hades rarely left the underworld.

In perhaps the most famous myth regarding Hades, Hades took a rare trip out of the underworld where he fell in love at first sight with Persephone, daughter of the goddess Demeter who was gathering flowers in a field.


Falling in love with her, Hades attempted to woo Persephone but was rejected when she was frightened of his fearsome figure. He then devised a ploy to ensnare her. As she was gathering flowers with her maidens at the Nysian plain, he caused a beautiful flower to bloom before her, leading her away from the other maidens.

When Persephone reached for the flower, the ground under her opened and Hades appeared, kidnapping Persephone and bringing her back to the underworld to be his bride.

Hades’ tricky deal with Demeter

After Persephone’s kidnapping, her mother, Demeter, the goddess of fertility, was enraged by Hades’ actions.

Her despair and grief caused a dark winter to fall over the earth and go barren. Zeus, worried about the effects of the winter on humanity, forced Hades to return Persephone to her mother.

Hades complied with his brother’s demands, but not without a play of his own. Before allowing Persephone to leave, he offered her a pomegranate before she left.


According to Greek Mythology, Persephone ate four seeds before returning to the land of the living. It was known never to eat the food of a captor and this consumption meant that Persephone was forced to return to the underworld to be Hades’ bride for four months of the year.

These four months spent in the underworld and away from her mother were considered by the Ancient Greeks to be the winter months when Demeter would mourn for her daughter and cause the earth to go barren once more.

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