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Tartaros ( Greek Τάρταρος Tártaros , Latin Tartarus ) is a personified part of the underworld in Greek mythology , which lies in the deepest region of Hades .

Parentage and offspring

According to Hesiod , Tartarus emerged from Chaos as one of the first gods . His siblings are Gaia , Eros , Erebos and Nyx ; according to Hyginus , Gaia begat him with Aither .

Descendants of Tartarus with Gaia are according to Hesiod Typhon , according to the library of Apollodor Typhon and Echidna and according to Hyginus Typhon and the Giants. According to Bakchylides , he was the father of the Telchines with the nemesis .


Tartaros is the place of punishment of the underworld. It is said to be so deep that it took an anvil that fell from the earth to Tartarus nine days to reach it; as long as it took the anvil to go from heaven to earth. The Titans , Arke , Tityos , Ixion , Oknos , Phlegyas , Salmoneus , the Danaids , the Aloids , Sisyphus and Tantalus , the son of Zeus , were condemned to eternal torments in Tartarus .

According to the Platonic doctrine of the soul , after crossing the river of the dead , the deceased come before the judges Minos , Rhadamanthys and Aiakos , who would consider the souls of the dead. Should an unjust or perjured soul be recognized, it will end up in the Tartaros. Those who had committed curable crimes would be cleansed there, while the incurable would be forever condemned and thus set a cautionary example to the living. In Gorgias , Plato Socrates countered the sophist Callicles , who defended the law of the strongest, that doing wrong is worse than suffering wrong and that most of the incurable inmates of Tartarus are tyrants whose power gave them the opportunity to commit such great crimes. As a possible example he mentions Archelaos I , while Thersites , because of his unsuccessfulness, does not belong to the incurable. According to Plato's Phaedo it were in the incurable to great temple robbers and murderers as "sons who trespassed against the father or the mother in anger, this act but have regretted their lives", and murderers, after a year out of the Tartarus come out to ask forgiveness from their victims. Should they be forgiven, they would be freed from it and otherwise they would return and remain in it until they were forgiven. In “ The State ” Plato writes that the unjust runners are like runners who are ahead at the beginning, but “are mocked at the end”. He mentions the myth of the Er, one who fell in a battle, who awoke from the dead before being cremated and saw the afterlife. According to this, the length of the sentence corresponds to an adult who "has caused many deaths, [...] betrayed states or armies and sold slavery or was involved in other atrocities" for every single crime in Tartaros , ten times that of a hundred earthly years (while every good deed would be rewarded ten times).

After the Tartaros, the Tatar peoples in Europe were sometimes referred to as "Tartars" because it was assumed that they came straight from hell. The Mongols under Genghis Khan and his successors were later named that way.


The term Tartarus is also used in the Bible . In the original Greek text it is only recorded in the second letter of Peter ( 2 Petr 2,4  EU ). The Bible passage refers to the place where the fallen angels , the demons , were banished by YHWH and are locked up there until judgment. At the same time, Tartarus seems to be synonymous with the abyss . In the Gospel of Luke ( Lk 8.31  EU ) a demon called the Legion asks Jesus Christ not to send him into the "abyss". Likewise, according to the revelation of John, the dragon (or Satan ) is to be chained in the abyss for a thousand years before he is released for a short time and then destroyed ( Rev 20 :EU ).

The Septuagint uses the term in the Book of Job - ( Hi 40.20  EU ) and ( Hi 41.31  EU ) - to refer to Behemoth , a monster of Judeo-Christian mythology .

According to the apocryphal book of Enoch , the angels arrive in Tartarus, who according to Genesis ( GenEU ) have united with women. They are trapped there, waiting for their judgment. The children of angels begotten with human women are called Nephilim .

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 116-124.
  2. ^ A b Hyginus , Fabulae , introduction
  3. ^ Hesiod , Theogony 820.
  4. Bibliotheke of Apollodor 1,6,3; 2.1.2.
  5. Bakchylides , fragment 52 .
  6. Hesiod , Theogony 722-725.
  7. a b c d e Plato, Gorgias , 523a-527e.
  8. Plato, Gorgias , 482d-486E.
  9. a b Plato, Phaidon , ed. u. trans. v. Rudolf Kassner , Jena 1906, pp. 105-106.
  10. a b c Plato, Der Staat , ed. u. trans. v. August Horneffer , Leipzig 1908, pp. 348–351.
  11. The book Enoch at Gutenberg project. Retrieved September 3, 2008 .