|“||The gates of Hades have never held me!||”|
In Greek mythology, the Underworld was a misty, gloomy, and volcanic realm where all mortals would be judged in the afterlife, either being rewarded or cursed. It can't, however, be called Hell, since even nice and virtuous souls were sent there after death, although The Underworld was split into different parts: there were several sections within the Underworld, including the Elysian Fields, the River Styx, and Tartarus. Heroes of the ancient time dwell in Elysium (Isles of the Blessed), ruled by the god, Hades.
In the God of War Series
Throughout the series, Kratos journeys to the Underworld numerous times, but always eventually makes it out.
Chains of Olympus
After restoring life to the Fire Steeds, Kratos was taken into the Underworld. While journeying through the dark realm, Kratos met and fought Charon on his boat along the River Styx. Charon managed to subdue Kratos and knocked him off his boat unconscious into the pits of Tartarus, where the Titans were held. While attempting to escape Tartarus, Kratos came upon the area where the mighty Atlas was supposedly imprisoned, only to discover that it is empty. Someone had released him. Kratos was eventually able to escape the dark pits of Tartarus, where he would face Charon once again and defeat him.
Taking Charon’s boat, Kratos followed the sunlight of Helios down the River Styx, coming upon the Temple of Persephone. Believing it to be a hallucination Kratos saw his daughter Calliope on the shorelines of the temple playing her song on the wood-made flute he made for her long ago.
Tracking her movements, Kratos finally arrived at the entrance to the Elysium Fields, where Calliope was kept. Instead of meeting his daughter Kratos was welcomed by Persephone, who told Kratos that in order to see his child he would have to surrender all his powers to become worthy of entering Elysium. Kratos was finally able to hold his daughter in his arms again, but their reunion was short-lived when Persephone revealed her true intentions. She would obliterate everything by using Atlas to destroy the Pillar of the World. Kratos, being forced to leave his daughter, gained back his powers by murdering the resident virtuous souls of Elysium, and followed Persephone to the top of the pillar where they would fight.
Persephone fought Kratos and while she momentarily overwhelmed him, the Spartan managed to overcome her, however, before he could finish her, the goddess used a spell to coax him into going back to his daughter which left opened for an attack from Atlas who had been called by Persephone to end the battle. But regaining his senses, Kratos avoided the strike and using the Gauntlet of Zeus took the chains of the pillar to bind the titan stopping his interference. Kratos once more engaged Persephone by using the Sun Shield and the Gauntlet of Zeus, the Spartan defeated the goddess who while dying stated "You will never be free Ghost of Sparta." with that she exploded the queen of the Underworld was destroyed along with half the pillar. Atlas still bound to the what remained of the pillar was now forced to forever uphold the world on his shoulders. The Titan cursed Kratos for his deeds asking why he would faithfully serve the Gods after what has happened to him. The Spartan replied that by following the gods they will relieve him of the nightmares from his past sins saying it is all he has to keep him going. Atlas laughed at the warrior's answer while saying they will meet again as the fates have already deemed. Because of his actions, Kratos saved both Olympus and the world from being destroyed, and helped Helios return to the sky, however, the journey and battle left him weakened, but he was saved just in time by Helios and Athena, and was taken to the Suicide Bluffs where they took back their possessions and left the unconscious Spartan on the hills thankful for his deeds.
God of War
After Kratos finally retrieved Pandora's Box, Ares learned of this and threw a pillar from the ruins of Athens far into the Desert of Lost Souls where it pierced Kratos through the chest. As he slowly died, he watched helplessly as Ares' Harpies took the box for their master.
Kratos fell to the Underworld along with many other souls. However, he would not give up so easily, and quickly grabbed onto the captain of the ship he was in at the beginning of the game who had been gripping onto the ledge of what appeared to be a massive bone. This same person was the man whom Kratos allowed to be swallowed by the horrific Hydra in the Aegean Sea. Kratos stabbed the ship's Captain, climbed on top of the bone, and kicked him off the edge into the river, ready and willing to reach the surface of the mortal world once again.
Journeying through the Underworld, Kratos encountered creatures engulfed in flame, which were the strongest he had faced yet. Large axe-wielding demonic Minotaurs appeared in all sorts of hellish areas, and screeching Harpies would attack Kratos while he tried to cross and climb paths of rotating blades. Eventually, the Spartan warrior managed to escape the clutches of the Underworld, rescued by the old Grave Digger, who helped provide Kratos a means to escape.
The depiction of the Underworld in God of War was very different from its successive appearances later on, where most, if not all, of the landmarks were made of some kind of flesh and bones, as well as rotating blades with blood stains all over them. Below the falling mortals lay the River Styx, depicted as being a current so strong even the most powerful mortal could not escape it; however, the river itself is obscured by a red mist.
Ghost of Sparta
In his quest to find Deimos, Kratos made his way into the Mounts of Aroania, where he had an encounter with King Midas, whom quickly fled at the sight of the Spartan. Later, Kratos found himself in the volcanic caves of the mountain where he again met with the weeping king, but this time Kratos overlooked him from the other side of the river of molten lava that he was knelt on. In his madness, Midas had a mirage of the Underworld and the River Styx, which led him to think he was dead, thus placing his hand on the supposed water (which was actually the lava), and burning his hand off, Midas quickly fled in pain and agony.
God of War II
After Zeus killed Kratos with the Blade of Olympus, the Arms of Hades surfaced and reached out to Kratos’ corpse. Bringing him down with them, Kratos was met by Gaia who gave him the opportunity to resurface and change his fate. The wound left by the Blade of Olympus in his chest was healed, but scarred over, and Kratos opened his eyes. Climbing upon the walls of the Underworld, Kratos was powerful enough to overcome the arms which tried to pull him down.
The depiction of the Underworld in God of War II is similar to God of War, but not very much of it is seen in the game. Kratos’ main goal is to escape by jumping from wall to wall and destroy the Arms of Hades. When he resurfaces, the ground in which he climbed from the Underworld is put back together by a supernatural force.
During the fight with Icarus, Kratos fell into the Underworld, where Atlas was holding the world upon his shoulders. The River Styx below him is still covered in the same red mist shown in the first game, but this time it is like a lava instead of blood river. He climbed the titan's hands and loosened the chains binding Atlas. After a brief tussle and exchange of power, Atlas helped Kratos reach the Palace of the Sisters of Fate.
God of War III
After the beginning sequence of the game, Kratos is unable to hold on to Gaia. He then falls in the River Styx, losing the Blade of Olympus in the process. He is left seriously injured and deprived of his godly powers. While swimming he was attacked by the souls of Hades taking his health, magic, and even damaging the Blades of Athena. He cursed the name of Zeus and in this time the spectre of Athena appears at Kratos. She told him how to destroy Zeus by destroying the Flame of Olympus. She took the ruined blades and transformed them in the Blades of Exile. While traveling in the Underworld, Kratos encountered Peirithous, who was being tortured by Hades by being place in a cage of bramble, presumably for having an affair with Hades' wife Persephone. Peirithous offered to give Kratos the Bow of Apollo, but Kratos freed the Cerberus to incinerate Peirithous, seeing no need to keep him alive. He acquires his bow and continued his quest. After climbing a cliff he encountered The Three Judges of the Underworld. Kratos needed to complete the Trials of Erebus to have an audience with the judges. Kratos ventured to the Palace of Hades where the god himself awaited for the Spartan. After the death of Hades the souls of the Underworld are free from his will and escape to the mortal world above. The realm that once belonged to Hades became a desolate place where hopeless spirits will roam forever in despair. While people above are still dying and with the Three Judges destroyed, the souls will never be judged or find peace.
- The depiction of the Underworld in God of War III differs substantially than in previous installments. It is considerably more faithful to the Underworld of Greek mythology. Overall the appearance of the Underworld is much more natural. It appears as a much darker place and the River Styx has a more transparent appearance instead of the blood red color it had in the previous games. Yet similar to God of War where the souls of the dead are constantly falling.
- It is unknown what happened to Kratos' body in the first game when he is impaled by a giant spike thrown by Ares as he is seen falling to the underworld with no abdominal scars and then seen crawling out of the underworld via the hole left by the Grave Digger. It is possible that it was Kratos' soul that fell into the underworld and it became a physical being when he escaped. The body left in the temple may have been eaten by the harpies or destroyed by some other means.
- Palace of Hades
- Pillar of the World
- River Styx
- Path of Hades
- Ruins of Asphodel
- Falls of Oceanum
- Temple of Persephone
- Elysium Fields
- Hades' Throne Room