Is Hades Evil? (The Truth About the King of the Underworld)

I recently stumbled upon my niece watching the popular Disney movie “Hercules.” While the film, based on Greek mythology, tells the tale of the Greek god Hercules and his battles with a rival god, Hades, king of the underworld, my attention as a theologian was captivated, and my interest was drawn toward the concept of Hades.

I immersed myself in extensive research by reading various books and articles. In addition, I sought a more in-depth understanding of the ancient mythos from a professor of mythology and ancient religion on-campus site and listened to online lectures from scholars specializing in the same field.

Last Thursday, a member of my weekly Bible study group wanted to know whether the Greek character Hades is evil.

Having acquired knowledge on the subject matter through first-hand experience with a professor specialized in the field and from my research, I was ready to expound on my conclusions.

So, is Hades evil?

Based on ancient Greek mythos, Hades is not considered evil. Hades, the god of the underworld and ruler of the dead, is depicted in Greek mythology as a neutral authority that is neither characterized by active malevolence nor goodwill. The Greek deity rarely leaves his kingdom and maintains an enigmatic background that is subject to misunderstanding.

Join me in this article as I explore insights into Hades, reasons why he is considered evil, whether he is the devil, and much more as I address the question, “Is Hades evil?”

Is Hades Evil, or Is He Misunderstood?

In the context of Greek mythology, Hades is not regarded as an evil deity. Despite the common portrayal of Hades as a harsh and unfeeling ruler, his character is nuanced and subject to misunderstanding.

Contrary to conventional beliefs, Hades was not the ultimate judge of the dead. He did not personally torture the guilty and neither was he the embodiment of evil, rather he maintained a stern yet equitable authority ensuring that the souls entering his realm received treatment aligned with their earthly conduct.

Here are some of the reasons Hades is not considered evil in the Greek mythos:

  1. He is respected among the gods as part of the divine pantheon
  2. His role as the ruler of the underworld is not inclusive as the torturer of souls and does not actively harm them.
  3. He is a complex character with an enigmatic background. Hades’ character is often portrayed as neutral rather than actively malicious or benevolent.
  4. He portrayed fairness and justness in the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. In the myth, Orpheus descends to the underworld to plead with Hades to bring Eurydice (Orpheus’ wife) back to life after she had died from a snakebite. Hades listens to Orpheus’ plea and grants him permission to bring Eurydice back to the land of the living under the condition that Orpheus must lead her out of the underworld without looking back until they reach the surface.

Is Hades the Devil?

Is Hades Evil? 
Is Hades the Devil? Image source: Pixabay

No, Hades is not the devil. Hades, an entity in ancient Greek religion, also called Pluton, “the wealthy one” or “the giver of wealth,” was a son of the titan Cronus and Rhea.

He was the brother of the immortals Zeus and Poseidon. The three brothers overthrew their father and drew lots for the division of the cosmos.

The lot to rule the underworld, wealth, and power over the dead fell on Hades.

In contrast to the biblical portrayal of the devil in scriptures such as John 8:44, which describes the devil or “the evil one” as a murderer and liar, and John 10:10, which reveals the devil’s works which are to kill, steal, and destroy, Hades’ character is notably distinct.

Given Hades’ (the Greek god) status as ruler of the underworld, he tends to be conflated with Satan/the devil who, in Biblical reference to scriptures such as 2Peter 2:4, Ezekiel 28:17-18 and Isaiah 14:12-15 descended to Sheol/hell/hades.

Three Reasons Why Hades is Considered Evil

1.Hades (the Greek deity) being perceived as evil often arises from the tendency to confuse his character with the concept of the devil in the Christian religion.

The Bible reveals the devil’s malevolent nature in various scriptures. The scripture Matthew 6:13 is a prayer to God for deliverance from “the evil one.”

As earlier mentioned, John 10:10 is indicative of the devil’s malevolence.

2.Over time, Hades’ name has become synonymous with his realm. The depiction of hades/hell as the place of punishment for the wicked, separation from God, and its association with the devil, who is the embodiment of evil according to the scriptures, leads to it being considered synonymous with evil and, by extension, Hades’ consideration as evil.

3.Hades has often been portrayed as the villain archetype in many popular films and television shows. These include; “Clash of the Titans,” Disney’s “Hercules” and “The Percy Jackson” movie.

Characters in these films and shows are often simplified into clear-cut heroes and villains. As ruler of the underworld, Hades is often cast as the convenient antagonist owing to his association with death and the afterlife.

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