Who is the other Hades and which are their family ties?

By: | Post date: 2016-09-20 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Ancient Greek, Culture, Literature

In this episode of Quora Jeopardy!, I find that the source OP is drawing on (Dimitris Sotiropoulos’ answer to Who is the other Hades and which are their family ties?, see comments) does not necessarily lead to the conclusion he is positing.


The answer is drawn from the first successful Google hit I got on OP’s source material: Mantziou, Mary. 1990. Euripides fr. 912 [math]N^2[/math] (inc. fab.) Dodone (Philologia) 19: 209–224. http://olympias.lib.uoi.gr/jspui…

The source text is an Orphic Hymn attributed to Euripides, and cited in two sources: Clement of Alexandria’s Stromata V 70,2, and Satyrus the Peripatetic’s Life of Euripides, fr. 37 col iii.

Let me cite Clement’s version from the Ante-Nicene Fathers: The Stromata (Clement of Alexandria)

In the most wonderful harmony with these words, Euripides, the philosopher of the drama, is found in the following words—making allusion, I know not how, at once to the Father and the Son:—

To you, the Lord of all, I bring
Cakes and libations too,
O Zeus,
Or Hades
would you choose be called;
[Ζεὺς εἴθ’ ᾍδης ὀνομαζόμενος στέργεις]
Do accept my offering of all fruits,
Rare, full, poured forth.

For a whole burnt-offering and rare sacrifice for us is Christ. And that unwittingly he mentions the Saviour, he will make plain, as he adds:—

For you who, ‘midst the heavenly gods,
Jove’s sceptre sway’st, dost also share
The rule of those underground with Hades.
[χθονίων θ’ ᾍδῃ μετέχεις ἀρχῆς]

Then he says expressly:—

Send light to human souls that fain would know
Whence conflicts spring, and what the root of ills,
And of the blessed gods to whom due rites
Of sacrifice we needs must pay, that so
We may from troubles find repose.

[I’ve corrected the translation “underground with Hades”]

The poem is addressed to a god who can choose to be called either Zeus or Hades, and who both holds Zeus’ sceptre, and rules over the chthonic souls.

Clement’s conclusion is that the Orphic hymns anticipate Christian theology, with God the Father as Zeus, God the Son as Hades, and the two being conflated as the one Substance. Satyrus thought this reflected Anaxagoras’ cosmology instead. Other historians of religion have thought the Zeus/Hades blend is Plutus, or Zagreus, or Dionysus or some other Other God, whether Orphic or Chthonic. Mantziou herself (too clever by half) thinks that since this is a necromancy, the Other God is the other god involved in necromancies, Hermes.

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