Belonging to different mythologies around the world, these are some of the major as well as minor gods and goddesses ruling the terrifying Netherworld.
Underworld, the world that lies deep under the Earth, has gods and goddesses ruling it. In different mythologies especially the Greek mythology in which gods of underworld were called Chthonian gods or ‘Theoi Khthonioi’ held great prominence.
So here are some prominent gods and goddesses of the underworld.
The Greek mythology regards Hades as the ancient chthonic god-king of the underworld. A son of Titans Cronus and Rhea, he had two brothers (Zeus and Poseidon) and three sisters (Hestia, Demeter and Hera). He was often depicted with his three-headed guard dog Cerberus. He even became synonymous to the word ‘underworld’ itself.
A god of the underworld, Orcus was the punisher of broken promises in Roman and Italic mythology. He was depicted in the paintings in Etruscan tombs as a hairy, bearded giant. Palatine Hill in Rome may have had a temple to Orcus.
Persephone was the daughter of Zeus, vegetation goddess and was the central figure of Eleusinian mysteries. In Greek mythology, she was the counterpart of Hades and the queen of underworld. Homer describes her as the powerful, venerable majestic princesses of the underworld.
In classical mythology, Pluto was the king of the underworld. In the ancient Greek religion and mythology, Pluto is described as the god who rules over afterlife. Pluto also appears in other myths in a secondary role, mostly as owner of a quest object. (8.1)
The East Asian and Buddhist mythology describes Yama as the dharmapala or wrathful god. Also known as King Yan, Yanluo or King of Hell, Yama is the ruler of Narakas (Hells or Purgatories) and judge of the underworld. He is said to pass the judgment on all the dead.
Ra was the ancient Egyptian sun deity who ruled the sky, the Earth and the underworld when fused with the god Horus. When in the underworld, Ra visited all of his different forms and became the god of dead after merging with Osiris.
In Sumerian mythology, Ereshkigal was the goddess of the land of the dead or underworld ‘Kur’. The chief temple dedicated to her was situated in Kutha. The ancient Sumerian poem “Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld” and Ereshkigal’s marriage to god Nergal are the two major myths involving her. (8.2)
According to Babylonian, Sumerian and Akkadian mythology, Neti is the minor god of the Underworld. This chief gatekeeper of the Underworld and servant of the goddess Ereshkigal is mentioned notably in the epic legend of “Inanna’s Descent into the Underworld”. Opening the seven gates of the kingdom and admitting the goddess, he removes one emblem of her power at every gate’s threshold until she is left completely powerless.
Tartarus was a deity as well as a place in the underworld in the Greek mythology. Some ancient Orphic sources and mystery schools regard it as the infinite first-existing entity from which the Light and the cosmos are born.
Chernobog is a Slavic deity whose name means black god. In some of the South slavic vernaculars, ‘zla boga’ phrase (meaning “to evil god or evil of god”) is used for expressing something which is exceedingly negative.
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