Talk:Pluto (mythology)

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Suggested move of Pluto to Pluto (dwarf planet)[edit]

I have suggested the move to make the disambiguation page the automatic direct for "Pluto". Please add your thoughts at Talk:Pluto The Enlightened (talk) 10:41, 11 August 2009 (UTC)


I altered a few things in order to correct the statements that imply that Pluto is a) wholly Roman, when in fact it was a name applied to Hades by the Greeks, and b) that the Roman conception of Pluto is not in large part based on Hades. While there are certainly differences, and these could be explored (though I don't know to what extent an encyclopedia article is the appropriate place, or rather, in what depth it could be accomplished in this milieu), it would be erroneous and misleading to deny the strong connections between if not the fact that the Roman Pluto is largely predicated upon the Greek deity (though there would certainly be important differences in religious practice, presentation and significance that would, I believe, warrant sgddialogue Timon in which an old man dies and his monies are "lain on parchment, sealed up and made into a parcel" (in other words, a will) in order to pass his wealth on to his heirs, which is stated in the Plutus article. So there is no conflict any longer so I'm going Be Bold and remove the conflicting page tags.

Pluto vs. Plutus[edit]

I'm confused. The second paragraph states that Pluto was originally Plutus, the giver of gold and silver and such. But later on the article says that Pluto should NOT be confused with the Greek god Plutus, the god of weath. Is this a mistake? David Mitchell 03:13, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

Pluto and Plutus appear to be different.[edit]

It seems to me that while Pluto--aka Hades--was one of Zeus's brothers, Plutus was son of Demeter and the titan Iasion (who was the son of Zeus... odd, because aren't the titans fathers of the gods?). That makes Plutus something like Pluto's nephew. The only articles of concern is that Plutus is somehow a god of wealth, while Pluto was supposed to have dominion over the earth and everything in it, including all the metal and gemstones that make up ancient wealth.

If it's structured so Plutus is the god of wealth itself, or the concept of wealth, and Pluto is the god of material items that could make up wealth--gold, silver, and gems, the problem would be resolved. Think of Plutus as a rich man who's money is all in liquid form, easily convertible from dollars to euros to yen or stocks or anything he needs it to be in. Pluto, on the other hand, is ruler of the dollar bill--or gold.


Midnight. 03:00, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

Actually Plato in Cratylus has a very interesting quote on Pluto, Hades an Plutus:
As for Pluto, he was so named as the giver of wealth (πλοῦτος), because wealth comes up from below out of the earth. And Hades--I fancy most people think that this is a name of the Invisible (ἀειδής), so they are afraid and call him Pluto 6 403
Plutus was the personification of wealth. Since in the pre-industrial era wealth came from the land and Pluto was the god of the underground they became cross-referenced but always remained separate —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:24, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

Greek Pluton (Roman Pluto) was often conflated by the Greeks themselves with Ploutos, hence the etymologizing comments in the Cratylus. This is part of a complex argument by Plato; somebody who's serious about ironing out the problems, especially the tricky matter of the names, should probably turn to some secondary material rather than sifting through the primary sources helter-skelter. As it stands, this is a pretty confused and misleading article if a student happens to turn to it. Cynwolfe (talk) 21:02, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

The picture of the statue at Nymphenburg Palace[edit]

Is this really a picture of Pluto/Hades? It carries the trident which is the symbol of Neptune/Poseidon. If the statue truly depicts Pluto I believe a note of clarification should be added, either to the talk page or to the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:57, 20 December 2009 (UTC)

I changed the picture to another one of the same statue, that shows Pluto more clearly together with Cerberus, so it should be clear now. Yet the use of the trident is somewhat strange. I raise the question to the author of the picture at commons. --FordPrefect42 13:18, 20 December 2009 (UTC)
In my Nymphenburg-Guide I read that the trident has been added later, originally it was a fork. Rufus46 -- (talk) 15:48, 20 December 2009 (UTC)
Thank you, I added this to the picture's caption. --FordPrefect42 (talk) 16:07, 20 December 2009 (UTC)

Merge with Hades[edit]

It appears that Hades and Pluto were the same deity from the beginning and not seperate deities that were associated though interpretatio romana. Pluto (or Pluton) was just another name the Greeks used for Hades (feeling it was less frightening) and when the Romans adopted the Greek gods, they exclusively called him that. This is similar to Dionysis and Bacchus and we don't have a seperate article for the latter. (talk) 00:46, 26 November 2010 (UTC)

The Pluto article isn't as good as the Hades article, so you might need to get Hades, Pluton, and Ploutos better sorted out (see discussion above). Do you have some sources you're working with? Cynwolfe (talk) 03:50, 28 November 2010 (UTC)
Oppose While extremely similar and indeed associated though interpretatio romana; Hades and Pluto were worshiped and viewed (in some regards) as separate deities, and there exists some significant differences. I think the separate topics could be expanded into longer standalone (but cross linked) articles, and therefore reason not to merge. Aeonx (talk) 04:09, 28 November 2010 (UTC)
Oppose The Romans probably considered Pluto to be the same god as Hades, but Roman traditions relating to Pluto arose separately and would have been distinct from the Greek Hades until (and probably in many cases after) the Roman and Hellenic traditions began to merge. Although the Romans considered many of their gods identical with their Greek counterparts (Jupiter = Zeus, Neptune = Poseidon, Mars = Ares, etc.), the way in which their worship and treatment in Roman culture arose and continued justifies treating them separately in all but those cases in which there was no separate Roman tradition (i.e. Apollo). P Aculeius (talk) 04:46, 28 November 2010 (UTC)
Yes but Jupiter, Mars ETC were seperate Roman gods before being associated with their Greek counterparts. The Romans didn't have a god named Pluto before adopting Greek Mythology. Just like they didn't have Apollo before adopting him from the Greeks. Pluto was another Greek name for Hades. This book collection doesn't have a section on Pluto but it does on Jupiter and the rest. (talk) 05:04, 28 November 2010 (UTC)
Think of it this way, the Greek god Dionysus was called both Dionysus and Bacchus by the Greeks. When the Romans adopted him as their own, they exclusively called him Bacchus. They did not have a deity named Bacchus that they associated with Dionysus. Dionysus and Bacchus were the same from the start. Thus Bacchus redirects to Dionysus. This is the case for Hades and Pluto. (talk) 05:19, 28 November 2010 (UTC)
I'm not entirely convinced that there was no Roman counterpart to Hades prior to the association of Roman and Hellenic mythology. The Roman tradition was to find common religious ground with neighboring peoples; they didn't just consider the gods of the Greeks to be the same as their own, but also the gods worshipped by the Gauls and the Germans. But that doesn't mean that their traditions and cults were identical. If there were no independent Roman traditions relating to Pluto, he probably wouldn't have had a separate Roman name. The fact that he isn't listed separately in some reference works only tells us that the depth of those traditions doesn't match those of the other gods.
Clearly there were differences in how the Roman Pluto and the Greek Hades were perceived by each culture. That alone justifies a separate article, in my opinion. However, taking a closer look at the article, I think that most of the contents simply repeat the Greek tradition using Roman names for the participants. This does not seem necessary or justified to the extent that it appears here, although a one-paragraph summary of the Greek tradition (using Greek names) might be appropriate. The main purpose of this article needs to be a discussion of Roman traditions relating to Pluto, not Greek myths with the names replaced by Roman ones. P Aculeius (talk) 14:21, 28 November 2010 (UTC)
Oppose for the reasons given above, which seem consistent with those I gave earlier at Talk:Hades and the proposer's talk page. We can't assume identical cults; and we certainly can't assume their identical early context. I did a quick Google-scholar search on Roman cults to Pluto. The results are disappointing but that doesn't mean there's no scholarship on the topic. Rather than merge the two articles, we might clean up and develop both as much as possible. Haploidavey (talk) 13:28, 28 November 2010 (UTC)
"I'm not entirely convinced that there was no Roman counterpart to Hades prior to the association of Roman and Hellenic mythology." There was, Dis Pater and Orcus not Pluto. If there were no independent Roman traditions relating to Pluto, he probably wouldn't have had a separate Roman name. Pluto is just a latinzed form for "Plouton" a name the Greeks gave him. (talk) 16:09, 28 November 2010 (UTC)
Oppose. "Pluto" is a Latinized Greek name, and so the lede of this article is simply wrong in point of fact; the immediate problem is to correct it. Pluto is a special case, it seems to me. Not like identifying Hera with Juno (the Juno article does a great job of showing her Romanness, by the way) or Artemis with Diana. Nor like Apollo, if he is to be taken as so quintessentially Greek that he was imported whole (more like later Hellenistic deities such as Isis, Mithra, and Serapis?). The Romans were abundant in underworld divinities, and Pluto presents his own set of questions.
  • The first thing that should give one pause is that Hades is also the place, and this is not the case for Pluto, whether Greek or Roman. See among many instances here and here and here on how the place Hades and god Pluto can be distinguished.
  • On the Plouton/Ploutos conflation among the Greeks, see Posidonius's odd remark here and Plato's discussion in the Cratylus on the nature of the conflation of Pluton and Ploutos, the latter of whom is also the Divine Child of the mysteries. The Plutus article seems to be taking the incorrect position that this conflation is Dante's, but the indefinite boundaries between the two existed in antiquity.
  • Also complicating matters is that Greek Hades = Etruscan Aita[1]; so why is this not the form of the name that entered Roman usage?
  • Orcus, like Hades and unlike Pluto, can also refer to the place.
  • Dis Pater is usually taken as a euphemistic cult title ("Rich Father"), not a theonym per se. Dis Pater is often identified with Pluto (Plouton/Ploutos, actually, if Dis means "rich"), but presents manifold difficulties, not least of which is that Julius Caesar identified him with the deity the Gauls claimed as their divine progenitor, which makes him an unlikely god of death. Dis is sometimes identified by ancient sources as a chthonic Saturn, chthonic Jove, as well as other gods — including the underworld ruler who abducted Proserpina. He's thus rather like the Bona Dea, which should be cause for alarm in terms of making simple equations with other deities. Now, the Altar of Dis Pater and Proserpina in the Campus Martius was supposed to have dated to the very founding of the republic, well before literary and religious Hellenization, and while this may be Valerius Antias stretching his imagination, the altar was certainly archaic. (Also, note that Proserpina has a separate article from Persephone, as she should.)
While WP editors have so far been unable to elucidate all the difficulties pertaining to these entities (nor have scholars), there's no reason to make matters worse by not looking at them in separate articles, each with a little section on the overlap. It's unhelpful to imply that through some commutative property what's true of one of these figures is true of all the others. The Romans had their own underworld deities, and seem to have been fonder of them than were the Greeks, so how they adopted Pluto is certainly a separate matter from the Greek conception of Hades. I second P Aculeius, but would go even further in pointing out that indeed one could have a separate article on "Apollo in ancient Rome," looking at such things as the institution of the Ludi Apollinares and the use of Apollo in Augustan PR. In other words, this mechanical borrowing the mythology handbooks seem to think the Romans did is misleading; Mars is most certainly not Ares. What's borrowed are the narratives, some artistic modes of representation, and some theology — but Roman religion is about cult and ritual, that is, practice. So the Pluto article needs to elucidate both the Greek Pluto, and how it comes to be that the Romans, who are demonstrably rich in underworld gods, came to use that name. But for now, the lede has to be corrected. Cynwolfe (talk) 18:39, 28 November 2010 (UTC)
Comment: I'm content to have separate articles. However, I am interested to know whether, by the same or similar arguments as above, Bacchus ought to be a separate article, or is the situation there different? Paul August 20:29, 28 November 2010 (UTC)
Reply to Paul. Every time this question has popped into my head I just close my eyes and murmur "I don't understand this, let someone else deal with it." I've never understood the name Bacchus as the "Roman" equivalent of Dionysus, since Bacchus is Greek, is it not? Hence the Bacchae? Haploidavey, I just saw, has been doing good things with the article Liber, who is the actual Roman/Italic counterpart, so he may have something useful to say about this. Cynwolfe (talk)
On Bacchus, yes, I think we need a separate article. There's evidence for his provincial Roman cult well before the "regulation" (euphemistic but also accurate) of the Bacchanalia. And that's a Roman story. Cicero, perfectly aware of interpretatio romana/graeca, of course, insists that Liber and Dionysus are not the same; not much later, we've Liber/Bacchus pretty much rooted in the west and Bacchus/Liber in the East. We even find both mixed up higgledy piggledy with Imperial titulature, or obscure forms of provincial Imperial cult. As far as I know, we don't find the same with Dionysus; if we do, and I'm ignorant of the fact, please tell me. So yes, not the same, therefore I think a separate article is justified. In relation to the rest of this thread, I guess I'm saying that when it comes to the stuff on the ground, everyday religion can be mostly baffling. Interpretatio romana/graeca is something the Romans and Greeks did; ecumenical on their part, I guess, but though we've a duty to acknowledge and describe their beliefs, we've no obligation to believe them. Thus modern scholarship and ancient practice as a basis, rather than direct appeals to the oft problematic and contradictory theologies of the time. Haploidavey (talk) 13:27, 29 November 2010 (UTC)
The Cicero remark is indeed a locus classicus. A curious question is why the Greek cult title Bakkhos was taken up by the Romans, and then becomes for the mythology handbooks "the Roman equivalent" of Dionysus (which, as our nameless numerical proposer suggests following, is like what happens with Pluto). This discussion of course belongs elsewhere, but if Bacchus were Roman, the Bacchanalia wouldn't have been perceived as something foreign (on the other hand, the very Roman Compitalia were also suppressed, for political reasons in some ways like those pertaining to the suppression in 186 BC). So the question of Bacchus becoming Roman, like the question of Pluto becoming Roman, is a tricky matter best kept for its own article, and not as a great out-of-balance digression in another article. Cynwolfe (talk) 14:24, 29 November 2010 (UTC)
Comment: The same is the case for Pluto. I've never understood the name Pluto as the "Roman" equivalent of Hades, since Pluto is Greek, is it not? Hence the Plouton? Dis Pater is the actual Roman/Italic counterpart. (talk)
Yes, O Nameless Numerical One. That's why the lede of this article is misleading — but the inaccuracy or less-than-ideal execution of an article is no reason to merge or delete it. It's reason to improve it. I don't see how Pluto (mythology) can be merged into Hades when the two are not identical, given that the latter can refer to the place and is not taken up by the Romans as a theonym, even though the Etruscans had the cognate Aita and often influenced the Romans in such matters. It's quite possible that the Romans took to the name Pluto because the etymological play between Plouton/Ploutos was apt for The Rich Father, whose name perhaps was secret like that of Bona Dea and the tutelary deity of Rome. (I myself like the theory that Dis was a name, not a word for "rich," but this is a minority view among scholars.) But the issue is whether Pluto is identical to either Hades or Dis Pater, or a separate topic to be explained on its own terms. Cynwolfe (talk) 21:57, 28 November 2010 (UTC)
Fine, but if we can't merge then the article needs to be rewritten. (talk) 03:38, 4 December 2010 (UTC)


In light of the discussion above, I rewrote the intro. I don't have time at present to address the numerous problems here (and hope someone does soon), but will try to provide proper citations for what I did add. Sorry not to do so now, but I felt it was more important to clarify the lede with info that shouldn't be subject to challenge, than to leave it till someone took time to cite everything. Cynwolfe (talk) 23:45, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

I've been trying to work on this, but have encountered puzzles. For instance, despite the claims that "Pluto" became the god's Latin name, so far I've seen a total of one instance when a Latin poet (Claudian, so quite late) actually uses this name instead of Dis. The references in Ennius and Cicero deal specifically with the name as a name; that is, with its meaning as equivalent to Dis, if dis means "rich." GIven that the name Pluto is used so widely later in Western literature, I had assumed Ovid used it, since he determined so much about the reception of classical mythology. But he doesn't, at least not in the whole of the Metamorphoses and Fasti, the most likely places. Vergil seems not to use it at all. I haven't found it in the extant works of Varro, either, another prime suspect — though there may still be references in the Church Fathers to uncover. It seems rather to be the case that Pluto became the preferred name of the god in the mystery religions; that seems to be how it was disseminated, according to one source, and perhaps through "Gnostic" or philosophical systems. I haven't looked at that much; it should show up in working on the Cosmogony section. But so far "Pluto" in Latin literature of the Republic and Augustan period seems to be a figment of the translator's imagination; that is, they translate "Dis" as "Pluto." Another murky aspect is the relation of the altar of Dis and Prosperina in the Campus Martius to the celebration of the Saecular Games in 249 BC, causing some scholars to assert that this represents the importation of the cult of Pluto and Persephone at that time; that is, "Dis" was invented as a translation of Plouton as Ploutos. Many scholars are themselves quite sloppy about using Pluto and Hades interchangeably, without regard to what the source text actually said; Tsagalis alone has been interested in distinguishing usage, but does offer other sources that ought to be checked. Cynwolfe (talk) 06:16, 21 December 2010 (UTC)
Difficult topic but if the background's murky, it doesn't show in the article, which is bright and lucid. A great pleasure to read. Haploidavey (talk) 12:17, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
My early impression above was mistaken in a couple of points. Vergil does use "Pluto", though so far the scholarship I've read has only pointed to the one instance in the Aeneid where he is Allecto's father. Hyginus uses the name "Pluto." I've been expecting it to turn up in Apuleius, but no scholar has directly referenced any passages in which the name Pluto is used. This has all been a surprise to me; not what I expected to find when good questions about the article were raised above and I began trying to answer them. I've seen a couple of indirect mentions in the scholarship that an alternative etymology for the name was proffered in antiquity, but haven't come upon what that might be; nor have I found an etymology of the name based on modern scientific linguistics — something the article needs. It's mostly scholars of mystery religions and philosophical systems who attempt to disentangle the names and epithets of Hades and Pluto, because Plouton was a more deliberate creation of philosophy and cult. The only major task remaining now in the article (for me, anyway) is the classical tradition: the book The Lost Girls (already referenced in the article somewhere) does a kind of roundup of the abduction myth and its dissemination in Western art and literature. It seems from that book and others I've only glanced at (fasten your seatbelt) that Chaucer introduced the figure of "Pluto" into English literature, as his chosen name for the Hades/Pluto/Dis/Orcus figure, contra his frequent source Ovid and based apparently on the one ref in Claudian, who influenced Chaucer to an extent Claudian's own reputation in our time wouldn't suggest. So the answer to the question "Why do we think Pluto was the Roman ruler of the underworld?" seems to be "Because Chaucer decided it was so." Another surprise was that not only translators, but even scholars who produce commentaries routinely refer to "Pluto" when the Latin author never uses the name, but rather writes of "Dis." Since the consensus here is that this article must distinguish Pluto from the other deities, this confusion in the secondary sources themselves has been less than helpful. Cynwolfe (talk) 13:50, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
Great plaudits to you for tackling this. It seems bruisingly difficult stuff (especially that head-on with Chaucer). I guess we must adapt consensus to suit the scholarship. Haploidavey (talk) 16:03, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
I belatedly discovered that Farnell made the point about the difference between Hades and Pluto (due to the influence of the mysteries) in The Cults of the Greek States, at the turn of the 19th/20th century — a point that recent scholars such as Kevin Clinton have pressed again in the last 20 years, after it was evidently passed over by the mythology handbooks perpetrating the notion that Pluto was a "Roman" god (a supposed "fact" that is non-verifiable). I think the epigraphic discoveries of the 19th century, which contribute a great deal to this distinction, hadn't quite soaked into mainstream thought when the classic modern mythology handbooks were codified. Cynwolfe (talk) 16:47, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

Re-raising lede/intro questions[edit]

I have no opinion on any deeper or technical matter. I would only point out to any regular editor here that the lede (intro) does not seem to broadly reflect the content of the entire article, and is essentially indecipherable in its density of jargon/technical detail, and so beyond any lay reader coming here. (Scholarship does not scare me, but its density in a general audience-directed lede is offputting.) Best wishes to regular editors with the expertise to set this in the proepr direction. Le Prof (talk) 20:43, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

Hm. Since I'm a proponent of making articles on Greek and Roman gods accessible to readers, I want to be concerned about this, but don't find the intro indecipherable. Could you point to specific sentences that don't make sense? Or to abstruse concepts?
The problem is that there's a pervasive misconception among "lay" readers that Pluto is a Roman god who is the counterpart of Greek Hades, because so many mythology handbooks state as much. As the intro explains, that is incorrect. Plouton is a Greek title for the ruler of the underworld that begins to supplant the name Hades for the god in Classical Athens. After this period, Hades is usually the name of the underworld itself, not the god. This is probably because of the influence of the Eleusinian Mysteries, which treated the god as the gloomy but not malevolent consort of Persephone, instead of as the terrifying figure of Uncle Hades the rapist one finds in older Greek texts. I don't know how you'd state the topic of this article as distinguished from Hades without this explanation.
I don't see what I'd call jargon or overly technical language in the intro, or erudition beyond the interest and ken of readers who want to know about the topic instead of the character in the Percy Jackson novels. Conflation, chthonic and cosmogony may be unfamiliar to many readers, but if they're going to read about classical mythology, they'll need to acquire these basic terms or they won't be able to comprehend the subject. They may be unfamiliar with the Eleusinian Mysteries, but if they're coming to the article to learn about Pluto, the Eleusinian Mysteries are fundamental. So while they may be compelled to learn new vocabulary or background in order to understand the topic, such is the nature of an encyclopedia article. If I read stellarator, I have to know plasma, magnetic field, and nuclear fusion just in the first sentence alone: if I'm put off by these concepts, I'll have to give up on understanding what a stellarator is, and will fare no better at tokamak. Certainly, however, if Pluto's intro is incomprehensible, specific suggestions for improvement are welcome. Cynwolfe (talk) 17:09, 9 August 2014 (UTC)
(just re-read the lead now): I'd agree with Cynwolfe that the lead does not feel unapproachable or indecipherable: it reads well and is interesting and informative. However, it achieves that by arguing a case with citations; I hope these are used and explained in the main text as they should be, with only a summary appearing here.
I'd agree with the IP user "Le Prof" that the lead does not properly "reflect the content of the entire article". For example, it does not mention Orpheus from 3.2, the Orphic Hymn (4.1), sanctuaries other than Eleusis (4.3), details of the iconography and attributes (5.1 .. 5.5), the Neoplatonic demiurge (7.2.3) and so on.
Therefore, both of you have good points to make, but the lead does indeed need to be rewritten to focus on its main task, viz. to summarize the main text of the article. If the article's main text is in fact unbalanced when it should be talking much more about what the current lead talks about - the Pluto/Plouton/Hades question - then the whole article needs rewritten (a conclusion I would not agree with). I think the lead needs rewriting. Chiswick Chap (talk) 19:13, 9 August 2014 (UTC)