Today’s post is an interesting one because some of it will take people by surprise. It is about some of the symbols commonly associated with Haides in both the ancient and modern eras.
There are three symbols that I will be touching on in this post; the first two will be ones that most people will easily understand his association with. It is the last one that will be a surprise to many people (as it actually was to me).
Haides is usually depicted with some form of wreath in the art on classical period pottery, but is also associated with a helmet with the property of rendering Haides invisible even to the other Theoi. This is one of the symbols associated with him from the casting of lots where he was determined to be the Lord of the Underworld.
The second symbol is his staff. In classical art, it is usually depicted as having a bird sitting on the end of it — something I personally interpret as having connection to Haides sometimes having the role of a psychopomp (guide of the dead). In the Roman and modern period, his staff ends in a two-pronged fork. In either case, his staff was supposed to be capable of splitting the earth in order to allow access between the world of the living and the underworld.
The third symbol is one that I did not expect in connection with Haides, but can understand the reason for that connection. It is the Cornucopia, or Horn of Plenty, and is depicted with him on vase art from the classical period. As Lord of the Underworld, Haides is also the one who bestows the wealth of the earth — including the fertility of the soil. While Demeter is the one who gives fertility to animals and crops, it is Haides who allows the earth itself to be fertile, and as such the cornucopia is associated with him. This is interesting to me in light of his marriage to Persephone and the mythology surrounding the creation of the Eleusinian Mysteries. It is likely this connection which is emphasized in the symbol of him with the cornucopia.