Hades, Demeter, and the mythology of the Underworld

Authored by: Robin Hard

The Routledge Handbook of Greek Mythology

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  December  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138652606
eBook ISBN: 9781315624136
Adobe ISBN:


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Chapter 5 is mainly concerned with the mythology of the Underworld. After considering the myth of Hades, Persephone, and Demeter, and associated stories, the chapter examines how the Underworld was pictured at different periods, and how ideas about the fate of the dead evolved over time. The subjects covered include the geography of the Underworld, the ways in which the dead were imagined to pass below, and mythical realms such as Elysion or the Isles of the Blessed where the more favoured dead might enjoy a better posthumous existence. After examining the very ancient myths in which posthumous punishments were imposed on legendary figures such as Tantalos, Tityos, and Sisyphos, it is examined how eschatological beliefs evolved in the classical and later periods, as it came increasingly to be believed that the dead in general might be rewarded or punished in the afterlife in accordance with the lives that they had lived. The chapter concludes by considering the remaining myths of Demeter.

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