Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Classical Dictionary. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 29 September 2023



  • Radcliffe G. Edmonds III


Depictions of the underworld, in ancient Greek and Roman textual and visual sources, differ significantly from source to source, but they all draw on a common pool of traditional mythic motifs. These motifs, such as the realm of Hades and its denizens, the rivers of the underworld, the paradise of the blessed dead, and the places of punishment for the wicked, are developed and transformed through all their uses throughout the ages, depending upon the aims of the author or artist depicting the underworld. Some sources explore the relation of the world of the living to that of the dead through descriptions of the location of the underworld and the difficulties of entering it. By contrast, discussions of the regions within the underworld and existence therein often relate to ideas of afterlife as a continuation of or compensation for life in the world above. All of these depictions made use of the same basic set of elements, adapting them in their own ways to describe the location of, the entering into, and the regions within the underworld.


  • Ancient Geography
  • Greek Myth and Religion
  • Roman Myth and Religion

You do not currently have access to this article


Please login to access the full content.


Access to the full content requires a subscription