A Month of Devotional Thought — Haides, Day 7

Today’s post discusses the various names and epithets most commonly associated with Haides. With Haides, these were generally used euphemistically because people did not want to draw the attention of the Lord of the Underworld unless the rite directly pertained to him. The Eleusinian Mysteries or funerary rites were examples of these.

One of the most well known is Πλουτων (Ploutôn) meaning “Of Wealth” or “the Wealthy One”. This particular epithet is perhaps the best known as it was often used interchangeably with his name, and in fact became used as an actual name for Hades by the Greeks. This became Romanized as Pluto, which was his name in Rome along with Dis.

Haides was also known as Θεων Χθονιος (Theôn Khthonios) and Ζευσ Χθονιος (Zeus Khthonios) with the Khthonios meaning “of the Underworld”. This renders these names as “God of the Underworld” and “Zeus of the Underworld”. Because of this, I am theorizing that there may be some linguistic evidence of the name Zeus potentially originating as a title designating a particular god as king of a particular domain — in this case the Underworld.

Homer calls Haides Πολυσημαντωρ (Πολυσημαντωρ) “Ruler of Many” and Πολυδεγμων (Polydegmôn) “Host of Many” — or “Receiver of Many” — where later tragedians called him Πολυξενος (Polyxenos) — also translated as “Host of Many” although I would also translate it as “Host of Strangers” because the word ‘xenos’ translates to stranger or foreigner as well. This would make “The Hospitable One” an acceptable epithet for use in the modern day as it captures the essence of Haides being the host of the spirits of the dead.

His specific connection to the dead is actually emphasized in the last two epithets I will be describing. The first is Νεκροδεγμων (Nekrodegmôn) which has been translated as “Receiver of the Dead”. The second, which may have had an association with the Eleusinian Mysteries, is Νεκρων Σωτηρ (Nekrôn Sôtêr). translated as “Savior of the Dead”.

These epithets demonstrate that far from being one of the Gods that was only feared, that Haides was also highly respected in the Classical period because of the role he played in the grand scheme of the Cosmos.

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