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. 

Halloween Mythology Part 2: Hecate

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Hecate got really popular in (comparably) recent history. She started as a chthonic deity a generation above the Olympians. She was an only child, which was rare in Greek mythology, and her parents were Perses and Asteria, relatively minor deities in mythology. She was mostly a household goddess of good fortune who for no apparent reason, Zeus was really really in awe of. She was sort of replaced by Artemis, and I say sort of, because Hecate was worshiped in a very small region, and Artemis grew in popularity throughout most of the country. Hecate may predate Artemis, but very few people were aware of her during height of that myth.

Now Artemis and Selene both had dominion over the moon like Hecate, but Hecate had a lot more power. Artemis was sort of a moon goddess, Selene more so, and Hecate had the power OF the moon over the earth, sea, and skies. She influenced the tides, earthquakes, wind storms, you name it.

In the Persephone myth, Hecate helped Demeter find her daughter, and accompanied her to the Underworld every six months as a figure of comfort. She was either a virgin goddess, or the mother to Scylla depending on the myth. She seems fond of dogs (There’s almost always one depicted with her), garlic, and cypress trees.

Hecate was skilled with herb lore, both the healing and the poisoning variety. She taught this lore to Medea, and we all know how that went. At some point Hecate got very popular with pagan cults and her whole persona changed, but that’s going way off the beaten path of Greek mythology. I think it’s fascinating how her role evolved, but there are still people who actively worship this goddess, so I will do them the courtesy of not discussing their goddess beyond the basics.