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Greek gods (Hades, Hestia, Hermes)

Hades

Hades is Zeus' brother and ruler of the underworld and the dead. He was also called Pluto - God of Wealth, because the precious metals buried deep in earth were in his realm. The name Pluto was used by both the Greeks and the Romans, and it translated into Latin as Dis - "rich." Although he was an Olympian he spent most of the time in his dark castle in the underworld. Because of his dark personality he was not especially liked by neither the gods nor the mortals, he was not however, an evil god, he was stern, unpitying and inexorable, but just. Hades ruled the underworld and therefore most often associated with death and feared by men, but he was not Death itself, the actual embodiment of Death was another god - Thanatos.

Hades is always represented as a stern, dark, bearded man, with tightly closed lips, a crown on his head, a scepter and a key in hand, to show how carefully he guards those who enter his domains, and how vain are their hopes to escape. No temples were dedicated to him and his statues are very rare. Black animals were sacrificed to him and it is believed that at one time even human sacrifices were offered. Every hundred years festivals were held in his honor - The Secular Games.

Hades wife, and queen of the underworld, was Persephone daughter of Zeus and Demeter. Persephone did not marry Hades willingly, but was abducted by him, because she ate a pomegranate seed while she was in the underworld even Zeus was powerless to get her out of there when Demeter told him what had happened. Eventually a deal was worked out, Persephone would spend half the year with her mother and the other half with Hades in the underworld. The Greeks believed that while Persephone was with Hades her mother, Demeter, missed her so much that she withdrew her gifts from the world and winter came.

Hades' weapon was a two-pronged fork, which he used to shatter anything that was in his way or not to his liking, much like Poseidon did with his trident. His identifying possessions were the famed helmet, given to him by the Cyclopes, which made anyone who wore it, invisible and his dark chariot drawn by four coal- black steeds, always an impressive site.

Hestia

Hestia is the daughter of Cronus and Rhea and the sister of Zeus. She is the goddess of fire, particularly the hearth, the symbol of the house around which a new born child is carried before it is received into the family. She is one of the three virgin goddesses, although both Apollo and Poseidon wooed her at one or another. Her temples were circular and served by virgin priestesses who dedicated their lives to her. Each city also had a public hearth sacred to Hestia, where the fire was never allowed to go out. Although she was rarely depicted in art, and played almost no part in myths, she was held in high honor, by both the Greeks and the Romans.

The Roman worship of Vesta, their name for Hestia, was more elaborate. They believed that her cult was first brought into their country, Latinum, by Aeneas. One of the early kings of Rome, Numa Pompilius, built a temple in her honor, where the famous Palladium of Troy was preserved, brought there by Aeneas and believed to be an image of Athena or a shield that "has fallen out of the heaven." The welfare of the whole city was believed to depend on the preservation of the sacred flame kept in the temple and attended be priestesses called the Vestal Virgins. First there were four Vestal Virgins, later six; they were under the control of Pontifex Maximus, the head of the priestly college which directed the religious affairs in Rome. When there was a vacancy he was the one who elected a new Vestal. The candidate had to be between six and ten years old, perfect in mind and body, and of Italian birth. The training took ten years, another ten were spent in carrying out the sacred duties, and finally, ten more in training the instructing novices. At the age of forty, the Vestal was free to return to the outside world and even take a husband if she wished. The cult of Vesta was observed in Rome until the year 380, when the sacred fire was quenched and the priestesses dispersed by Byzantine Emperor Theodosius.

Hermes

Hermes was the son of Zeus and Maia, daughter of Atlas; born in a cave on mount Cyllene in Arcadia. Hermes appears more often in the myths than any other god or goddess. He is the fastest of the gods, and his position was as Zeus' messenger. He was also the shrewdest and most cunning of all the gods, he was the Master Thief, who started his carrier before his was one day old, by stealing Apollo's herds. Zeus made him give them back, and Hermes won Apollo's forgiveness by given him the lyre which he made out of a tortoise shell.

To the people Hermes was the God of Commerce and the Market, patron of traders, merchants and thieves. In odd contrast he was also the Divine Herald, the solemn guide of the dead who leads their souls down to the underworld, after Thanatos did his job.

Because of a famous statue, Hermes' appearance is well known and he is easily recognized in art. He always wore his winged sandals and his winged cap (petassos); Caduceus, a magic wand given to him by Apollo was always with him as well. He invented quite a few things, some of which are: the lyre, the pipes, the musical scale, astronomy, weights and measures, boxing, gymnastics and the care of olive trees.

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