Worshipers of Death: An Exploration of the Cultic Presence of the Lord of the Underworld
It may seem as though Haides is solely a god of mythology and that he does not exist in religious undertakings in the world. Funerary rituals, grave markers and goods, or magic calls for assistance to the underworld rarely include references to him, and there is no epigraphical record of Haides until the fourth century. Likewise, no temples or altars dedicated to the god have been found. It does not necessarily follow, however, that ‘Haides had no generally recognised cult.’ It may be that his cultic presence was in direct relation to other divinities, usually those related to the underworld in some way. One cult of Haides is attested in the city of Elis, and another – of Plouton and Kore – is mentioned at Akharaka in Asia Minor. However, there are a number of other sanctuaries which, although not directly dedicated to the Lord of the Underworld, nevertheless contain cultic dedications to him. These mainly include images of the god in sanctuaries of other divinities, but there is also one attestation of an altar dedicated to the gods of the underworld, presumably including Haides. This paper intends to examine these cultic dedications to Haides to establish an image of a god who – contrary to current popular opinion - is present in the religious lives of the Greeks. It will not only look at these instances of dedication, but also the divinities with whom they are connected and archaic and classical mythic representations of Haides in order to form a full picture of the role the Lord of the Underworld plays in daily religious life.