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. 

Mythology Monday: Thanatos

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I winced when Thanatos fell into step behind me. “You don’t have to do this.”

“Yeah, I do.” He grinned. “It’s my job, remember?”

“Aren’t you busy, like . . . killing people?”

He shook his head. “I don’t kill people. People die, and I collect their souls. Well, I have my Reapers collect their souls. I rarely leave this realm these days.”

“So why are you making new Reapers?”

“I only make a personal appearance when someone is killed by a god. That doesn’t happen much anymore, but people will always find new ways to kill each other. Did you know that every second someone dies?”

“Forty thousand men and women every day,” I quoted, uncomfortable with the knowledge.

“Every day,” said Thanatos. “More Reapers allow for crazy things, like weekends off and reasonable hours. My Reapers are just souls, you know? They deserve the same respect as any other being. Labor laws aren’t only for the living.”

“They don’t look like souls,” I said, remembering with a shudder.

“They’re blessed. They can go out into the world and come back. Just like demigods.” He saw my worried look and added, “They’re completely under my control. I get the list from Moirae every day and divide it amongst them. They go, they come back. I’d know if anything else happened.”

“No free will?”

“Plenty of free will. No privacy. Still, it’s not hard to recruit—who wouldn’t want to visit the living world?” He studied me carefully, and I took a deep breath as homesickness filled me with longing.

“No one,” I whispered. “How can you possibly choose?”

“They have to meet a few requirements. They can’t know anyone in the living realm.” At my confused look he laughed. “That only takes a few decades. They can’t have drunk from the Lethe. Demigods get preferential treatment.” Thanatos shrugged. “Outside of that, it’s just like any job interview.”

~@~

With Halloween just around the corner, I thought this would be a good week to talk about Thanatos, the god of Death. There’s not a whole lot out there on Thanatos. He was mentioned in myths all over the place, but he didn’t really star in any of them. His mother was Nyx, goddess of night, his father was Erebus, god of darkness, and he was twin to Hypnos, god of sleep. So he has a pretty cool lineage.

Thanatos was once captured, and during his captivity no one could die. In my version of the story, Neither Thanatos, or the Reapers he controls, are supposed to kill anyone. They just release the souls from the bodies. If they don’t do it quick, the souls have to hang out in dead bodies, which is traumatizing for all involved. They *can* kill though. If they touch you and release your soul, that’s a death sentence.Thanatos doesn’t do much of the soul releasing, he’s more upper management. However when a human or being is killed by a deity, he has to respond to divine deaths.