As the Greek god of the underworld, Hades has had relationships and encounters with numerous goddesses and mythological figures over the millennia. In this article, we will explore Hades’ romantic history and catalogue the lovers he has taken.
Hades’ Marriage to Persephone
Hades’ most well-known relationship was with Persephone, the goddess of spring. The myth goes that Hades abducted Persephone and took her to the underworld to be his wife. Though some tellings portray Persephone as a willing bride, in most versions she was unwilling and had to be tricked into eating pomegranate seeds to bind her to Hades and the underworld for part of each year.
Once married, Hades and Persephone ruled the underworld together, with Persephone returning to the earthly realm each spring and summer. The cycle of Persephone’s returns and departures became associated with the changing seasons.
As husband and wife, Hades and Persephone would have had intimate relations. Persephone bore no children to Hades, however. Her role was as Queen of the Underworld at his side.
Affair with Leuce
According to some sources, Hades had a relationship with Leuce, a nymph and daughter of Oceanus. Leuce was desired by many suitors but she refused them all. When Hades pursued her, she died of fear rather than submit to him. Feeling remorseful, Hades then transformed Leuce into a white poplar tree.
The affair with Leuce shows Hades was not immune to desiring beautiful nymphs like other gods, though in this case he inadvertently caused Leuce’s death. The story underlines his fearsome reputation.
Minthe was another nymph pursued by Hades. She is sometimes described as a consort of Hades and joined him in the underworld. When Persephone learned of the affair, she angrily trampled Minthe into the ground, transforming her into the mint plant.
The involvement with Minthe occurred before Hades’ marriage to Persephone, but her fate at Persephone’s hands shows how the Queen of the Underworld responded to threats to her standing. The story acts as a warning about invoking Persephone’s jealousy.
Possible Fling with Thetis
Thetis was a sea nymph known for her beauty. She was courted by many suitors. One obscure mythic fragment suggests that at some point she may have had a dalliance with Hades. But this is not confirmed in any major myths.
Hades and Kore/Maiden Goddesses
Some scholars believe ancient cult practices associated with Hades may hint at relationships with anonymous kore or maiden goddesses. This is suggested by artifacts found at sacred sites. But any actual mythic names or details are lost.
Affair with Aphrodite?
A rare version of the myth of Adonis asserts that Adonis was the son of an incestuous affair between Hades and Aphrodite. This would indicate the two deities had relations. However, nearly all tellings say Adonis was the son of Myrrha and Theias, so this version is not widely accepted.
No Affair with Persephone’s Mother Demeter
Although he abducted her daughter, there is no mythic evidence of any affair between Hades and Persephone’s mother Demeter. Demeter’s relationships were usually with earthly kings like Iasion, not the gods of the underworld.
Demeter despised Hades taking her daughter and was instrumental in ensuring Persephone’s return from the underworld each year. She had a strongly negative relationship with Hades, making an affair unlikely.
An Unconsummated Kidnapping of Eurydice
The famous myth of Orpheus and Eurydice features Hades but no actual affair. When Eurydice died, the musician Orpheus followed her to the underworld to try to bring her back. Hades agreed to release Eurydice if Orpheus led her out without looking back, but Orpheus failed the test. While she was in Hades’ realm, Eurydice remained Orpheus’s wife.
Summary of Hades’ Lovers
In summary, these are the lovers and liaisons attributed to the Greek god Hades:
- Persephone – Wife and Queen of the Underworld
- Leuce – Nymph who died to escape him
- Minthe – Nymph who became a plant
- Possibly Thetis – Brief fling with a sea nymph
- Anonymous kore goddesses – Contestations in cult artifacts
- A minor version says Aphrodite – Mother of Adonis
Lovers Hades did NOT have relations with:
- Demeter – Persephone’s mother
- Eurydice – Remained loyal to Orpheus
Historical and Modern Culture Context
The myths around Hades and his lovers derive from Ancient Greek religion dating back to at least the 1st millennium BCE, if not earlier. The Greeks viewed affairs between gods and mortals as completely normal.
Later in the Roman era, the mythology took on renewed importance. Romans connected their gods to the Greek pantheon and imported a lot of Greek mythic lore. Myths were reinterpreted through sculpture, literature, and theater.
In the modern era, Greco-Roman mythology remains a major touchstone for literature and arts. The stories continue to be retold and reinterpreted in books, films, television programs, video games, and music. Hades and Persephone in particular are symbols of the tensions between life and death, the earth’s seasons, and love that endures separation.
Origins and Genealogy of Key Figures
To understand Hades’ relationships, it helps to review the genealogy of the key gods and goddesses involved:
- Hades – Son of Titans Cronus and Rhea; brother of Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Demeter, Hestia
- Persephone – Daughter of Zeus and Demeter
- Leuce – Daughter of Oceanus the sea titan
- Minthe – Details unclear, but a mortal nymph
- Thetis – Sea nymph, one of the Nereids
- Aphrodite – Goddess born of sea foam after Cronus castrated Uranus
- Demeter – Daughter of Cronus and Rhea; sister of Hades
While immortal, gods and goddesses still had family connections like mortals. Persephone was captured by her uncle Hades. Thetis may have been targeted by her uncle Hades as well. Genealogy helped shape the relationships.
Major Sources on the Myths
Our main sources on Greek mythology come from literature and art spanning centuries:
- Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey – 8th century BCE epic poems
- Works of the poet Hesiod – between 750 and 650 BCE
- Ovid’s Metamorphoses – Roman era mythic history poem
- Virgil’s Aeneid – Roman era epic
- Plato’s dialogues – Some myths
- Statues, vases, mosaics – Visual depictions
Later authors and artists adapted the myths for their eras. The basic genealogies, events, and relationships remain fairly consistent, however.
Relationship Types and Power Dynamics
A tableau of the relationships around Hades might look like:
|Figure||Relationship to Hades|
|Leuce||Attractive target who died escaping|
|Minthe||Temporary consort later diminished|
|Thetis||Potential brief fling|
|Anonymous goddesses||Unconfirmed affairs|
|Aphrodite||Rarely attested incestuous affair|
|Demeter||Mother-in-law and rival|
|Eurydice||Unconsummated kidnapping victim|
A few patterns emerge in the relationships:
- Hades tends to abuse his powers as Lord of the Underworld
- Brief dalliances followed by rejection or diminishing of lovers
- Persephone stands out as his long-term partner
The myths reveal Hades as more shadowy and fearsome than openly romantic. While passionate, his advances are often unwanted or bring negative consequences.
Motivations and Psychology
Why did Hades capture certain lovers or become infatuated with them?
- Persephone – her beauty, innocence, and eligibility as a goddess
- Leuce – remarkable beauty
- Minthe – availability and lack of power to refuse
- Thetis – extremely attractive due to divine beauty
- Nameless maidens – convenience of cult rituals
- Aphrodite – forced by unnatural lust
Common motivations seem to be exceptional feminine beauty combined with vulnerability or inability to resist Hades’ powers. Love did not stop him from harming lovers like Leuce and Minthe.
Hades’ psychology reflects male masters wielding absolute authority. The myths serve as warnings about dangerous male behavior. Yet Hades is still portrayed as a complex figure capable of true love for Persephone.
Relevance in Popular Culture
Today these Greek myths still resonate through references and adaptations in popular stories and entertainment:
- Hercules and Xena – Hades as villain in the 1990s TV shows
- Clash of the Titans – Hades as main antagonist in the 1981 and 2010 films
- Video games like God of War and Hades – Feature Hades as a major character
- YA novels like Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles – Reimagine the myths
- Hades and Persephone as Halloween symbols and costumes
Part of the appeal lies in the dramatic mythical narratives around gods like Hades and archetypes like the “abduction of Persephone”. The stories continue to be reinvented in fresh, engaging ways.
The love life of Hades reveals the dark side to divine passion. His affairs often brought harm, especially when pursuing vulnerable maidens who could not resist his powers. But the enduring marriage to Persephone shows he was also capable of commitment. Throughout the centuries, myth-tellers have plumbed the intriguing psychological depth of the Lord of the Underworld through his romantic relationships with goddesses and nymphs.