When you hear the name “Hades” your mind may jump directly to the blue fiery haired, beloved, sometimes hated antagonist from the Disney cartoon, Hercules. The Disney film was released in 1997 and Hades was played by the actor, James Woods. As for some though, Hades rules in our hearts as the image of the ancient Greek god of the underworld who was determined to keep every dead soul from escaping his realm.
Disney’s Favorite Villain Versus Greek’s Ruler of the Underworld
Hades is portrayed by Disney as a fast-talking, sarcastic, and sinister god of the Underworld who has a fiery temper and a goal to take his brother, Zeus’ throne on Mount Olympus. His plans are thrown to the wind though when the Fates foretell that a hero will rise against him and end his reign, this hero being the youthful and strong, Hercules.
““Zeus: So, Hades, you finally made it. How are things in the underworld?
Hades: Well, they’re just fine. You know, a little dark, a little gloomy. And, as always, hey, full of dead people. What are you gonna do?“
Hades, in Greek mythology was not a malevolent figure. It was believed that Greek god Hades was altruistic and was known as being passive instead of having evil plots and plans. His role was often maintaining a relative balance and keeping dead souls where they should be, in the Underworld. However, the Disney version portrays him as an evil, comedic god of the Underworld that has risen him to the top of the most popular Disney villains.
Greek God, Hades.
In Greek mythology, Hades was the eldest son of six children to Cronus and Rhea. He had five siblings. three sisters; Demeter, Hestia, and Hera. Two brother, Poseidon and Zeus. Zeus is said to be the youngest sibling.
Hades and his siblings were swallowed by their father, Cronus, after he heard a prophecy that one of his children would overthrow him. Zeus was saved by his Mother, Rhea, who hid him in a cave on Mount Dicte in Crete. Instead of her child, she fed Cronus a rock in baby clothes, which he had assumed was his child.
Zeus, once he was an adult, managed to force his father to disgorge his siblings. Can you blame the gods for being messed up? Hades was said to be the eldest son, but the final sibling to be regurgitated. After all. the siblings were released from their father, they challenged the elder gods to a war and were victorious.
The three brothers drew blades of grass to ensure each brother was rewarded land fairly. Zeus received the sky, Poseidon received the sea, and Hades was given what was left, the underworld. Some believe that Hades was dissatisfied with the realm he was given but was forced to move to his new realm anyway.
For the Love of Persephone.
A popular story among Greeks mythology was the abduction of Persephone, a story line left out of the popular Disney hit, Hercules, and for good reason. The abduction of Persephone is not a topic that is a child-friendly plot line but a main event, and most important myth that Hades is mentioned in during the history of Greek mythology.
Hades obtained his wife and Queen, Persephone, through the abduction with approval and help of Zeus. Yes, Zeus, helped Hades abduct his sister, Demeter’s daughter, Persephone. It was love at first sight, for Hades.
There are different versions of the story that explains the abduction of Persephone. One of the popular stories is when Hades confided his secret in his brother, Zeus. So, the two brothers concocted a plan to trap her. While she played in a field picking flowers, they caused the ground to split underneath her. Persephone slipped beneath the Earth and Hades stole her to the Underworld where he made her his wife. This is just one of many versions of the story, but they all end the same; with Persephone being abducted by Hades.
Persephone’s mother begged her brother to allow Persephone to come back to Earth. In the attempt to make Hades realize that Persephone was not supposed to live in the Underworld, since Demeter was the goddess of harvest was allowing the world to die in her grief who would only unfreeze the earth once her daughter was returned to her like any protective mother would.
Hades and Zeus decided to allow Persephone to leave the Underworld for six months of the year, and that the remaining six months she would have to return to the Underworld. Creating the change of seasons. Hades tricked her into eating pomegranate seeds before she left so she would be cursed to return to his realm before she left with Hermes the God of messages. For those who eat or drink in the underworld must remain.
A Personality Difference.
Hades in mythology was rarely seen in artwork because so many people were afraid to even think of him. He was only depicted in artwork like pottery where he was having a dark beard and is sometimes seen sitting on an ebony throne.
Disney’s version gave a depiction of the Greek god, Hades, that could relate to our vision of how we would visualize a god of the underworld. He was beardless and had a lean, muscular build. His skin is a pale, deathly bluish-gray. His eyes are yellow. His teeth are sharp and pointed. He has blue fiery hair that changes to a yellowish tone and his face turns red with his temper and lastly, he wears a long black cloak.
Hercules: You like making deals. Take me in Meg’s place.
Hades: Hmm. The son of my hated rival trapped forever in a river of death.
Hercules: Going once…
Hades: Is there a downside to this?
Hercules: Going twice…
Hades: Okay, okay, okay, okay, okay. You get her out. She goes, you stay. Oh, you know what slipped my mind? You’ll be dead before you can get to her. That’s not a problem, is it?
Whether you are a mythology buff or a Disney fanatic, you either love or loathe this ancient god of the Underworld. He will remain as one of the top most loved villains of the Disney Universe and memorable gods in Greek History.
May Your Stories Be Written in the Stars,
-The Cursed Author