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You alone were born to judge deeds obscure and conspicuous. Holiest and illustrious ruler of all, frenzied god, You delight in the worshiper's respect and reverence. Come with favor and joy to the initiates. I summon you.
~ Orphic Hymn to Pluto.

Pluto, formerly known as Dis Pater or simply Dis, was the Roman deity of the Underworld and wealth, often seen as a counterpart to the Greek Hades. Pluto holds a key and scepter, which he uses to protect his kingdom and guard the dead from escaping.


Much like his Greek counterpart, Pluto was the ruler of dead, but was not the God of Death (for that was taken by Mors). He was also seen as the embodiment of wealth, as many believed the Underworld to locate deep within the Earth. Pluto was previously referred to as Dis Pater, meaning Father of Riches. The god took the name Pluto as the Roman Empire started to spread across the Mediterranean world and became more and more wealthy, notably when Greek culture was incorporated into Roman society.

The god Pluto lived in a palace in the underworld, far away from the other gods who lived at the Roman Mount Olympus. It was his role to claim the souls that inhabited his underworld domain. Those who entered were destined to stay there for eternity. The entrance gates were guarded by his own version of the enormous three-headed dog, Cerberus. The one-eyed giant, Cyclops, gave Pluto the cap of invisibility to help in his battle with the Titans. The cap enables the one who wears it to become invisible to all other supernatural and mortal beings.


The three brother gods, Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto, were charged with ruling the worlds after their powerful father Saturn died. Jupiter took the sky, Neptune became ruler of the sea and Pluto’s domain was the underworld. Eventually, Jupiter became the supreme god who ruled all of the earth and sky, while Neptune married and stayed in the sea, and Pluto happily remained in the underworld where he presided over the afterlife. Occasionally, he emerged to earth for a visit or a meeting of the gods.

The King of the Gods, Jupiter, had a niece named Proserpina. She was the daughter of his sister Ceres, the goddess in charge of the harvest. In consideration of her valuable domain, everyone, both gods and mortals, did all they could to keep Ceres happy. Proserpina was a lovely and happy young woman. One day, while she was out in the fields collecting flowers, she was spotted by her uncle Pluto. He was enchanted with her beauty and felt compelled to have her, so he quickly kidnapped Proserpina and took her to the underworld in his chariot before anyone could run interference.

Disheartened at her fate, Proserpina refused to speak to Pluto, who had fallen madly in love with her, and also refused to eat. According to the legends, one who ate a meal in the underworld would seal their destiny and never be able to leave. Hoping for someone to come to her rescue, she held out as long as she could. Finally, after a week of crying and starving, she could no longer bear it, and ate six pomegranate seeds.

At this point, back on Earth, Jupiter was getting increasingly concerned about Ceres and the crops. Ceres was absolutely miserable and tearful about her missing daughter. Jupiter decided to send his youngest son Mercury, the messenger, known for his excellent negotiating skills, to visit the underworld and try to make a deal with Pluto.

Since Proserpina had already eaten the pomegranate seeds, and Pluto was hopelessly in love, Mercury needed to think quickly. After much discourse, Pluto agreed that if Proserpina married him she would live as queen of the underworld for six months of the year and in the spring she could return to earth for six months. Proserpina also agreed to these terms, as did Ceres.

Each spring, Ceres blooms all the flowers as a welcome to her beloved daughter returning from the underworld. In the autumn, when Proserpina returns to Pluto, Ceres cries and lets all the crops die until the following spring when the cycle begins again. And so, according to the legend, this is why they are seasons.

Myths and Legends

Pluto is also symbolized by the pomegranate, the fruit of the underworld. Proserpina ate six seeds from the symbolic fruit and sealed her destiny. The hard outer shell of the pomegranate encapsulates a multitude of seeds representing fertility, prosperity and abundance. Each spring, when Proserpina emerges from the underworld and arrives on earth, she brings the seeds of fertility and the bloom of spring.

Due to being the Roman Ruler of the Underworld, he was often conflated with either Satan or Lucifer with the rise of Christianity, and his old name Dis was even given to a demon. His name was often used as that of a demon or the devil himself in medieval and Renaissance literate and poetry, and Jacques Collin de Plancy, a French demonologist and occultist, referred to Pluto as Prince of Hell (more accurately a Prince of Fire) as well as an Grand Cross of the Order of the Fly and governor of the regions in flames.


  • Pluto represents a more positive concept of the god who presides over the afterlife. Ploutōn was frequently conflated with Plutus, the Greek god of wealth, because mineral wealth was found underground, and because as a chthonic god Pluto ruled the deep earth that contained the seeds necessary for a bountiful harvest. The couple received souls in the afterlife and are invoked together in religious inscriptions, being referred to as Plouton and as Kore respectively. Hades, by contrast, had few temples and religious practices associated with him, and he is portrayed as the dark and violent abductor of Persephone.