The Underworld Picture

"Kratos? Returned even from the Underworld." - Ares

In Greek mythology, the Underworld, also known as Hades, was a place where ruled over by the god Hades and his goddess wife Persephone. The Underworld was a misty and gloomy realm where all mortals would be judged in the afterlife, either being rewarded or cursed. There were several sections within the Underworld, including the Elysian Fields and Tartarus. Heroes of the ancient time dwelled in Elysium (Isles of the Blessed), ruled by the Titan Cronos.

The dead entered the Underworld by crossing the Acheron, ferried across by Charon, who charged an obolus for passage, which should have been placed under the tongue of the deceased by pious relatives. The far side of the river was guarded by Cerberus, the three-headed dog defeated by Heracles. Passing beyond Cerberus were the shades of the departed who entered the land of the dead to be judged.

There were five rivers in the Underworld: Archeron (the river of sorrow), Cocytus (the river of lamentation), Phlegethon (the river of fire), Lethe (the river of forgetfulness), and Styx (the river of hate). The River Styx in particular formed the boundary between upper and lower worlds.

The first region of the Underworld comprimised of the Fields of Asphodel, where the shades of heroes wondered depondently among lesser spirits, who twittered around them like bats. Only libations of blood offered to them in the world of the living could reawaken them for a time in the sensations of humanity.

Beyond the Fields of Asphodel lay the pool of Lethe, where the common souls flocked to erase all memory, and the pool of Mnemosyne, where the initiates of the Mysteries drank instead. In the forecourt of the palace of Hades and Persephone sat the three judges of the Underworld: Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Aecus. There at the trivium sacred to Hecate, where three roads met, souls were judged, returned to the the Fields of Asphodel if they were neither virtuous nor evil, sent by the road to Tartarus if they were impious or evil, or were sent to Elysium with the heroes.
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