Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

The Greek god of the Underworld, known also as Pluto and Dis, the latter names being primarily used by the Romans. Although he supervised the punishments to which such individuals as Sisyphus had been condemned, he was not a malevolent figure like the Christian Satan. The name Hades is also applied to the Underworld itself; it was popularly employed as a euphemistic substitute for Hell in the days when that word was considered indecent, and is used thus in some infernal fantasies, including those of Frederick Arnold Kummer. John Kendrick Bangs's works in the same vein retain some of the better-known geographical features of the Classical Hades, notably the river Styx, which formed its boundary; a slightly fuller account is included in O Men of Athens (1947) by A C Malcolm. Another of the Rivers of Hades was Lethe, whose waters induced Amnesia. The precise relationships between Hades and the paradisal Elysian Fields and between Hades and the lightless Tartarus are unclear. The most significant myths featuring the god Hades are the story of Persephone and of Orpheus's descent into the Underworld; the best literary accounts of Hades are to be found in recapitulations and transfigurations of the latter Myth. [BS]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.