Mythology Monday: Chthonic Deities

Chthonic deities, Underworld, Greek mythology, Retellings, Daughters of Zeus, young adult greek mythology retelling, Hades, Persephone ,Thanatos , The Judges , Cerberus, Charon, Cronus , Erinyes , Hecate , Hermes , Hypnos , Moirai ,Nyx ,  Acheron , Arae,  Ascalaphus , Kakodaimones ,Empusa ,Epiales , Erebus ,  Keres , Lamia , Lethe , Leuce , Melinoe , Minthe , Mormolyceia (Mormos) , Oneiroi , Styx , Tartarus ,Daira, Eurynomus, Gorgyra, Lampades, Cocytus, Macaria, Menoetes, Phlegethon, Trophonius,

Orpheus spoke up. “Last time I saw you, you didn’t even know you were a goddess. How did you end up down here? You don’t look like you belong with the chthonic group. No offense,” he said to Hades.

“Not that it’s any of your business, but her parents are Olympian,” Hades replied.

“Chthonic? Olympian? What are you guys talking about?”

“Chthonic deities are gods associated with the Underworld. We tend to have darker features.” Hades motioned to his black hair. “Olympians were associated with Olympus, and were various shades of blond. The primordials tended to represent their element to the extreme, and the Titans were . . . well, titanic in size.”

I blinked. Gods were classified by appearance? I supposed it wasn’t relevant anymore with so few of us left, but the whole system seemed strange to me. None of that mattered, though, because Orpheus remembered the last time he saw me! I was sure my face was bright red. Hades sighed, no doubt bored by the whole conversation.

~@~

Chthonic deities were gods associated with the Underworld. Below are links to descriptions of the more important Chthonic Deities.

Hades | Persephone | Thanatos |  The Judges Cerberus |Charon | Cronus | Erinyes | Hecate | Hermes | Hypnos | Moirai | Nyx |  Acheron | AraeAscalaphusKakodaimones |   |Empusa |Epiales | Erebus |  Keres | Lamia | Lethe | Leuce | MelinoeMinthe Mormolyceia (Mormos) | Oneiroi | Styx | Tartarus 

And this is a list of the Chthonic deities too minor to get their own blog.

Daira (Knowing One or Teacher), was a daughter of Oceanus, sister to Styx, and a key figure in the Eleusinian mysteries. While Demeter was searching for Persephone, she visited a town called Eleusis, and drank water from a particular well. Daira was the Naiad attached to that well. She was also the mother of the king, Eleusis, by Hermes.

Daira initiated members into the mystery cult that worshipped Demeter, Persephone, and Hekate. Persephone and Hekate both sometimes borrowed Daira’s name in invocations.

Eurynomus (Wide Ruling), played an important role in keeping the Underworld clean by stripping the corpses of their skin. This underworld spirit was often depicted with blue-black skin and rode around on a vulture.

Gorgyra (Underwater Drain), may have been another name for the River Styx or in her other form, Gorgyra Orphne, Nyx. She and Acheron were the parents of Ascalaphus.

Lampades were torch bearing nymphs of the Underworld, and gifts from Zeus to Hekate because of her loyalty in the Titanomachy. The light from their torches had the power to drive people to insanity, so naturally they accompanied Hekate on all her nighttime hauntings and revels.

Cocytus was both a river (of tears) and a goddess (of sorrow) in the Underworld.

Macaria (not to be confused with the daughter of Hercules) was the goddess of blessed death. She is a daughter of Hades (no mother is ever mentioned, but the man was fairly monogamous). She might have been a kinder counterpart to Thanatos or she might have led the souls to the isle of the blessed, or she might not have been a goddess at all and might have just been an expression (go in peace). Very, very minor goddess.

Menoetes (Doomed Might) was a spirit who herded cattle in the Underworld. While Hercules was in the Underworld for his 12th labor, the two wrestled, and Menoetes lost. Fortunately, Persephone was there to save him.

Phlegethon (flaming) was one of the five rivers located in the Underworld and/or the god of the river of fire located in the Underworld. The river was made of fire and, in my universe, acted as the division between the Asphodel fields and Tartarus. I’ve heard a myth that says that he and Styx were in love. As rivers, they flowed into one another.

Trophonius (Nourisher of the Mind) was the demigod son of Apollo and Erginos. He and his brother Agamedes built the temple to Apollo at Delphi. As a reward, both brothers were told to do anything they wanted for six days, and on the seventh day, their greatest wish would be granted. Both brothers were found dead on the seventh day (possibly for stealing treasure) in a cave near Lebadeia in Boiotia. Trophonius is considered to be the cave spirit for what became a sacred site.

I hope you enjoyed this introduction to Chthonic Deities. If you enjoyed the Persephone series, follow up with the Aphrodite trilogy. Love and War is on sale today for .99 cents. 

Way Back Wednesday: Cerberus

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Cerberus has made his way through a lot of retellings and even popped up in some unexpected places. Here are the three that had the biggest impact on me.

Hercules

No surprise there.

Full Metal Alchemist

Nina made me think of Cerberus for some reason, which is probably why I couldn’t write a scene where Cerberus was actually present. Have I mentioned yet how much the Nina thing traumatized me?

Fluffy!

Did they not do an awesome job on Fluffy in Harry Potter the movie?

Mythology Monday: Cerberus

"Cerberus (PSF)" by Pearson Scott Foresman - Archives of Pearson Scott Foresman, donated to the Wikimedia Foundation→This file has been extracted from another file: Cerberus (PSF).jpg.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cerberus_(PSF).png#/media/File:Cerberus_(PSF).png

“Cerberus (PSF)” by Pearson Scott Foresman – Archives of Pearson Scott Foresman, donated to the Wikimedia Foundation→This file has been extracted from another file: Cerberus (PSF).jpg.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cerberus_(PSF).png#/media/File:Cerberus_(PSF).png

Charon laughed at the obvious disappointment in my voice. “Who were you hoping to meet?”

I flushed. “I was a fan of the Hercules show when I was younger.”

“He had a show?” Charon raised his eyebrows. “I only caught the cartoon.”

“I loved that cartoon!”

“Don’t let Hades hear you say that.” Charon laughed. “Or that you’re a fan of Herc.”

“Why?”

“There’s been bad blood between those two ever since Hercules stole Hades’ dog.”

“Cerberus? The myth called that a loan.”

“It was. But Hercules never brought Cerberus back, and now he’s drunk from the Lethe so he can never tell Hades where to find him.”

I blinked. Everything dead came to the Underworld. If Cerberus had never returned . . . “You mean there’s a three-headed dog running around on the surface?”

“Your guess is as good as mine.

~@~

Cerberus has come up in a few mythology Mondays before, but I wanted to go into a bit more background about the Underworld puppy.

Cerberus was the child of Echidna and Typhon. This puppy has many fearful monster-siblings, such as the Hydra, Orthus a two headed hell-hound, and the Chimera.

The number of heads Cerberus has varies widely by the myth. Sometimes he has hundreds, sometimes three. Sometimes only one, with two puppies nearby that were so clingy and so alike in thought that all three dogs attacked as a unit. In art, he is almost always depicted with three, and like most things that come in threes in Greek mythology, his heads represent the past, present, and future/ youth, middle age, and old age.

Cerberus’ job was to guard the gates of the Underworld. The dead could enter, but never leave. He was borrowed by Hercules in this mythology Monday. Odysseus once put Cerberus to sleep by playing music and snuck past him. Aeneas once drugged the puppy with honey cakes and got past him that way. So as far as Underworld guards go, he wasn’t the best.

He barks once in Paradise lost, and even makes an appearance in the Inferno as a great worm, which sounds crazy at first, but makes more sense when you read into a few of the old sources and realize that Cerberus also had a serpents mane (not sure what that would look like) and a serpents tail.

In my version of the myth, Hercules never returned the dog, so he’s still wandering the surface somewhere (possibly at Hogwarts), but we’ll never know since the search for Cerberus never turned him up :(. I’ll try that contest again one day.