Pluto (mythology)

Pluto (mythology)

Pluto was the Roman god of the underworld, known in Latin as Tertius, the counterpart of the Greek Hades.


Pluto was originally the Roman god of certain metals and, because these materials are mined, he also took on the role of god of the underworld. The Greek word for wealth is Polytonic|Πλοῦτος ("Plοutos") and it is believed that the Romans derived Pluto from the Greek because these metals, jewels and other riches lie under the Earth.

It is debatable whether in the Roman pantheon he was considered a son of Saturn, as Hades was of Cronus.Fact|date=June 2008 If so, he would have been one of the children not devoured by Saturn, along with Neptune and Jupiter. Together, they represented the grave, the water and the air, and the Romans believed that none of these things could be consumed by time, represented by Saturn.Fact|date=June 2008 After Saturn's defeat, the three brothers took control of the world, and divided it into three separate parts for each brother to rule. Jupiter took control of the skies, Neptune of the seas, and Pluto ruled the underworld (Tartarus or Hades).

The widely accepted myth about Hades and Persephone was also told of Pluto and Proserpina in Roman myth. Pluto and Proserpina are almost exact replicas of their Greek equivalents, as the Romans' ideas about the spirits of the underworld were very vague before adopting Greek mythology. Venus, in order to bring love to Pluto, sent her son Amor, also known as Cupid, to hit Pluto with one of his arrows. Proserpina was in Sicily, at the fountain of Arethusa near Enna, where she was playing with some nymphs and collecting flowers, when Pluto came out from the volcano Etna with four black horses. He abducted her in order to marry her and live with her in Hades, the Greco-Roman Underworld. She is therefore Queen of the Underworld. Notably, Pluto was also her uncle, being the brother of her parents, Jupiter and Ceres.

Ceres vainly went looking for her in any corner of the Earth, but wasn't able to find anything but her daughter’s small belt that was floating upon a little lake (made with the tears of the nymphs). Ceres angrily stopped the growth of fruits and vegetables, bestowing a malediction on Sicily. The plants died, and it became cold and dark above ground. Ceres refused to go back to Mount Olympus and started walking on the Earth, making a desert at every step. While Proserpina remained in captivity, Ceres wept, and nothing could grow or be harvested. The people of the world were dying, and prayed to Jupiter for help.

Worried, Jupiter sent Mercury to order Pluto to free Proserpina. Pluto would have obeyed, but by then, she had eaten six pomegranate seeds, whether of her own accord or through Pluto's trickery. Having tasted the food of the underworld, she could not leave, but when Jupiter ordered her return, Pluto struck a deal with him. He said that since she had stolen his six pomegranate seeds, she must stay with him six months of the year, but could remain aboveground the rest of the time. For this reason, in spring when Ceres received her daughter back, the crops blossomed and flowers colored in a beautiful welcome to her daughter, and in summer they flourished. In the autumn, Ceres changed the leaves to shades of brown and orange (her favorite colors) as a gift to Proserpina before she had to return to the underworld.Fact|date=June 2008 During the time that Proserpina resided with Pluto, the world went through winter, a time when the earth was barren. Thus, the seasons were created.

Although Hades was seen as somewhat merciless, Pluto was worshipped by the Romans for some of his kinder attributes. Although Hades took a central role in many Greek myths, Pluto was not as much of a general focus.

Most sources refer to Pluto as the Roman ruler of the underworld, and Hades as a name for the Roman realm of the underworld.

ee Also

*Pluto (dwarf planet)

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