Tag Archives: Tartarus

The Romans & Greeks: Afterlife & Underworld


Both the Greeks and Romans believed in an afterlife. In Greek mythology, the Greek god Hades was the king of the Underworld, a place where souls live after death. Hermes, the messenger of the gods, transported the dead soul of a person to the banks of the River Styx to Hades (the underworld). Charon, the ferry-man who transported souls across the River Styx.  Part of the burial  was to leave a coin underneath the tongue of the deceased to pay Charon for the trip across the River. Otherwise, the deceased would have a long wait.

Charon Demanding Payment

Once across, the soul would be judged,. The soul would be sent to Elysium, Tartarus, Asphodel Fields, or the Fields of Punishment. Elysium Fields contained green fields, valleys and mountains, where pure souls lived peaceful and contented lives. Tartarus was for the people that blasphemed against the gods or were evil. The Asphodel Fields was a kind of limbo where those whose sins equaled their goodness or were indecisive , were sent. The Fields of Punishment was for sinners. In Tartarus, the truly evil souls or enemies of the gods were punished by being burned in lava, or stretched on racks.

Tomorrow,  Philosophy & Philosophers    Rita Bay

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Mythic Heroes: Hercules

Hercules in Marble

Hercules (Greek-Heracles) was the demi-god son of Jupiter  (Greek – Zeus) and the most beautiful of all women, Alceme. Hercules attributes included a lion skin and a gnarled club that was his favorite weapon. Throughout his career as a hero, he killed many monsters and made the world safer for mankind.

Hercules & the Nemean Lion

Juno hated the children of Zeus that were not hers and often gave them trouble.  When Hercules was born, Juno slipped snakes into his cradle.  Hercules killed the snakes with his massive strength.  During his adult life, Juno sent Hercules into a blind rage in which he killed wife and children.  Hercules consulted the Oracle of Delphi (we’ll visit her in a few days) for expiation.  The Oracle sent him to Eurystheus, the king of Mycenae, who (with the spiteful assistance of Juno) assigned him a set of impossible tasks that became known as the Labors of Hercules which took 12 years.  His labors included killing the Nemean lion, destroying the Lernaean Hydra, capturing the Ceryneian Hind, trapping the Erymanthian boar, cleaning the Augean stables, destroying the Stymphalian birds, capturing the Cretan bull, rounding up the Mares of Diomedes, taking Hippolyte’s girdle, returning the cattle of Geryon, delivering the golden apples of the Hesperides,  and capturing the Cerberus from Tartarus.

Kevin Sorbo as Hercules

After Hercules was married the second time, he killed the centaur Nessus with a poisoned arrow for abducting his wife.  Before Nessus died, he gave Hercules’ wife Deianeira a vial of blood and told her that the blood was a love potion that would bring Hercules back to her when he strayed.  When she suspected he had been unfaithful, she sent him a cloak that had the blood spread in it.  When he donned the cloak, the blood burned like acid and destroyed his body.  Hercules died in horrific pain.  He was taken to Olympus and deified.  His wife committed suicide in despair.

Tomorrow,  The Heroes of the Trojan War   Rita Bay

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The Titans & the Greek Creation Myth


The Greeks developed a creation myth to explain the origin of their world and place their universe in comprehensible terms. Hesiod in his Theogony related how Chaos, a yawning nothingness, was alone at the beginning of the universe.  According to the  G-rated version, Gaia, the Earth, came out of the nothingness and was surrounded by Oceanus, the primeval river god.  They were followed by Erebus, Eros (Love), and the Abyss (Tartarus).  Gaia gave birth to Uranus (the Sky) and was the mother of the twelve Titans.

Gaia Presenting Stone to Cronos

Uranus, fearing that his children might depose him, refused to have more children.  Too late, as it turned out.  The Titan Cronos deposed his father Uranus and married Rhea.  Rhea had Cronos’ children but because he feared he would be deposed also, he swallowed them when they were born. Rhea gave him a wrapped-up stone to swallow when the youngest, Zeus, was born. 

Zeus Battles Cronos

The son, Zeus, returned and deposed his father, then drugged him which forced him to throw up the children that he had swallowed.  Zeus, supported by his siblings, waged war with his father.  Cronos lost and he and the other Titans were hurled into Tartarus, a kind of hell.  Zeus and his siblings reigned supreme from Olympus.

More about them tomorrow.  Rita Bay

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