15 Amazing Facts About the Roman God Pluto
Check out these amazing facts all about the mysterious god of the Roman Underworld - Pluto! How many of these Pluto facts did you already know?
Pluto was the god of the Roman Underworld, and is maybe better known as his Greek counterpart, Hades. Feared and worshipped by the ancient Romans, Pluto's myth is a really interesting one. So interesting in fact, that we've put together these 15 fun facts all about him! Find out where he came from, who his family where, why he's associated with the changing of the seasons, and the name of his pet dog! And if you liked these, check out more Roman facts here! How about these amazing Julius Caesar facts? Or maybe you fancy these mighty facts all about Roman gladiators? And you can check out even more facts right here!
1. Pluto is Based on a Greek God
The Romans were really good at nicking stuff, like countries, treasure and even gods! Most of the gods in the Roman pantheon are originally based on Greek gods, and Pluto is no exception. His ancient Greek counter part is called Hades, whom you might remember from the myth about Persephone eating the pomegranate.
2. Pluto is Also a Greek God
To add extra confusion, Pluto is also what the Greeks sometimes called Hades, although sometimes they were two different gods. To add extra, EXTRA confusion, there is also a third god, Dis Pater who is also the Roman god of the underworld. Let's just stick to Pluto for now!
3. Pluto is Ruler of the Underworld
Pluto was the ruler of the Roman underworld, where the Romans believed people went after they died. It's portrayed as quite a gloomy place, but not evil - its a bit more natural than somewhere like hell. Pluto is also not an evil god, like the Devil, he's just in charge.
4. He Has Some Important Relatives
Pluto is said to be the son of Saturn, the ruler of the cosmos (based on Chronos from Greek mythology) and Ops, a goddess of the Earth (based on Rhea). According to the myth, the land, sea, sky and underworld were divided up between Pluto and his brothers and sisters, the most important of the gods. Neptune, got the sea, Ceres became goddess of land and agriculture, and Jupiter, the king of the gods, got the sky. Pluto got the underworld, though he doesn't seem to have minded much.
5. He is Also God of Some Other Stuff
As well as being King of the Underworld, Pluto was also the god of a few other things. This included precious stones and metals, because they, like him, came from the ground. He was therefore associated with wealth as well as death. He was also in charge of peoples fates, so they would pray to him to give them good luck and fortune.
6. He Has a Pet Dog
Pluto is kept company in the underworld by Cerberus, a giant, three headed dog from mythology. Cerberus guards the gates of the underworld, and has a fearsome reputation. You might also recognise him from later stories, including Harry Potter, where he pops up guarding the Philosopher's Stone.
7. He's a Bit of a Loner
The Roman gods are known for their love of partying, fighting and generally being very dramatic, but Pluto is the exception. He much prefers to keep himself to himself and rarely leaves the Underworld. Most stories about him take place in the Underworld, and unlike his brothers Neptune and Jupiter, he doesn't bother messing in the affairs of mortals very often.
8. He Kidnapped His Wife
One of the most famous myths about Pluto is how he came to be married to Proserpina the daughter of fertility goddess Ceres. Venus tells Cupid to shoot a love arrow into lonely Pluto, who immediately becomes smitten when he spots Proserpina (based on the Greek goddess Persephone) hanging out with her friends. He kidnaps her and takes her to his home in the underworld.
9. He Helped Create the Seasons
Proserpina's mother, Ceres, was so upset about the kidnapping that the world started to wither and die around her. When the other gods complained, Pluto agreed to return her daughter, as long as she hadn't eaten anything in the Underworld. Unfortunately, she'd snacked on a few pomegranate seeds. Jupiter decreed that Proserpina would have to stay in the underworld for as many months as seeds she'd eaten (six) each year. So for half the year, the world is bare and cold (Winter and Autumn) and then becomes bright again when she returns to her mother (Spring and Summer).
10. He's a Big Part of the Myth of Orpheus
Pluto is also famous for his association with the myth of Orpheus. Orpheus goes to the Underworld to try and win back his lover, Eurydice, who has died after being bitten by a snake. His harp playing so impresses Pluto and Proserpina that they agree to let Eurydice go - on the condition that Orpheus doesn't look at her until they reach the earth again. Unfortunately, he can't help himself but check that she's following him, and she returns to the Underworld for ever.
11. He Hasn't Got Any Children
Most of the gods and goddesses had several children (Jupiter probably had the most) but Pluto is rarely described as having any children. Maybe he's too busy - maybe he knows it wouldn't be that fun to grow up in the Underworld!
12. He Isn't the Most Beloved Roman God
Despite being the god of death, Pluto didn't get the attention that the other gods got. There were no state festivals held in his honour and there don't seem to be many cults (small religious groups) for him either. There were some cults associated with Orpheus, but Pluto doesn't seem to get a look in - maybe people found him too depressing. There was a festival called Lemuralia or Lemuria, which is a bit like our Halloween, but apart from that he doesn't seem to have much luck.
13. People Didn't Like Saying His Name
Romans were really careful not to mention Pluto's name, because if you caught his attention, he might decide to send you to the Underworld, from which you can never return. This is probably symbolic of Roman fear of death too - death was very common in the Roman world and things like health, hygiene, disease and medicine were much less understood.
14. Sacrifices Were Made to Him
In order to keep Pluto happy, the Romans would regularly make sacrifices to him - usually animals- to keep him from taking them to the underworld. Animals sacrificed to Pluto tended to be black, like a black goat or pig, symbolising the underworld. His name can also be found on lots of curse tablets, notes people wrote in the hope of cursing someone they didn't like!
15. He's Been Depicted in Lots of Films and Books
Not only does Pluto have a Disney dog and a dwarf planet named after him, he also pops up in lots of books, films, TV and art. As well as being depicted (in his Greek form, as Hades) in the Disney film Hercules, he also appears in lots and lots of paintings throughout history, as well as more recent films like Percy Jackson.